Bernard Grempel with his sister, Ettie Shurack. (photo from Grempel family)
Ettie Shurack’s life has been upside down since May 14, her emotions a chaos of desperation, pain, anxiety, frustration and grief, peppered with pinpricks of immense gratitude, appreciation and, always, a glimmer of hope.
May 14 is the date her brother, Bernard Grempel, age 28, went missing. He was last seen at 11 p.m. on the SkyTrain and on bus 340, heading towards the North Delta/Surrey area. Since that time, Shurack, her husband, her parents, friends and volunteers in the Jewish community and beyond have been searching relentlessly for any traces of the young man who mysteriously disappeared. They have scoured the bus routes, knocked on the doors of strangers in those neighbourhoods, interviewed commuters on the transit system and sought out footage from video cameras in relevant areas.
Shurack has created a Tehillim (Psalms) signup sheet with the goal of having the entire book of Tehillim recited until Grempel has been found. She has launched weekend searches, posted flyers, liaised with RCMP in multiple cities of the Lower Mainland and her family is offering a $20,000 reward for anyone with information leading to his safe return home.
She’s emerged, five weeks into the search, feeling very disillusioned with the efforts of the RCMP to help locate and bring her brother home. She noted that the photograph of Grempel initially used was more than a year old. She was also concerned that a police release requested the public’s assistance in locating a missing person who, the release stated, “is apprehendable under the Mental Health Act.”
“Yes, he has mental health problems, but he was living on his own prior to disappearing. I’m confused why they would state he should be returned to the hospital,” she said.
“A mental health diagnosis does not equate to suicide,” she said, responding to one of the theories of what might have happened to Grempel. “My brother was taking his medication daily, seeing his counselor regularly and attending appointments with his psychiatrist. His mental health team had seen him the week he went missing.”
If determination had a face and name, it would be Ettie Shurack. She, her husband and parents are deeply committed to continuing the search for their missing son and brother and thank those who share their quest.
“I ask the public to continue helping with our search parties and to share our search on social media. In Surrey, 64th and Scott Road, and 72nd and Scott Road, are our focal points but we ask that anyone and everyone in the Lower Mainland continue to keep their eyes out for him.”
She asks that anyone with information or the ability to help email her at bringbernardhome@ gmail.com or call 778-838-5095. She has a WhatsApp group at 631-320-8225 and a Facebook page called Let’s Find Bernard Grempel.
Lauren Kramer, an award-winning writer and editor, lives in Richmond. To read her work online, visit laurenkramer.net.