My parents, Helen (Rosen) and Gordon Clarfield z”l met in 1951, and were engaged three weeks later. They married in Toronto on June 8th, 1952, then lived, and loved, together for 41 years, until my mother passed away in 1993. My dad kept on loving her until he too passed away, in June 2004. They left behind 2 sons, 2 daughters and 2 grandchildren.
My parents shared a familiar story with many Jewish people of their generation. Their families came to Toronto from Poland in the early 20th century and they grew up in Kensington Market. They were the first generation that made the transition from shtetl life in eastern Europe to modern, urban life in Toronto. They were a bridge connecting traditional Jewish values with contemporary Canadian culture.
When I think of these combined values, a mix of Jewish tradition and Canadian urban, I think they well represent my parents. My parents strongly believed in the foundation and principles of the Jewish religion and culture. They also strongly believed in the freedoms, opportunities and responsibilities of being a dedicated Canadian and an involved Torontonian.
They were deeply involved in all facets of the Toronto Jewish community. Whether it was Jewish family services, education, religious study and practice, day camps, overnight camps, health services, sports, arts & performing arts, community activities, outreach, support of Israel.
My family participated actively, and have been both the lucky participants and dedicated supporters of these programs in the Jewish community. My parents' generation was dedicated and strong enough to have envisioned, built and cultivated these institutions. Our generation has been lucky enough to take them for granted as being part of everyday life.
When I think about my parents' lives and their connection to the Jewish Community, it begs one important question - how will we continue to support their interests? How will we continue to make Jewish community programs just as ubiquitous and available for future generations?
I think my parents' story can provide some guidance. My parents loved and believed in our community, and did everything they could to support it, including providing a legacy through UJA Federation, as a way to ensure these combined Jewish and Canadian values.
I hope our community will continue to thrive, and my parents' commitment will live on for generations to come.
Written by Stuart Clarfield,
on behalf of the Clarfield family
(Janice, Sarah, Dana & Jonathan Clarfield, Robert & Jeremy Wulkan)