Joel Cuperfain

I grew up in Halifax, in a small, loving, inspiring and committed Jewish community.

My parents were very involved in community; chairing the men’s and women’s Chevrah Kadisha for over a decade, serving on the shul board including a term as President and heading the annual Israel Bonds drive. Halifax had the only synagogue with a daily minyan east of Montreal. If they were short a person the phone rang. When you were called, you came.

Lesson learned early and often: when the community calls, answer the call.

Dad’s experiences during the Holocaust were unknown to me until he was interviewed for Spielberg’s Shoah project. He spent much of the war in Poland in hiding with his mother. He tells a story of hiding in a potato cellar on a Polish farm. One day a German soldier burst into the cellar but the cellar was so dark the soldier couldn’t see my father cowering just a few feet away from him. The soldier turned around and left. These stories came to us with a clear message: never again.

At first, it felt easier to be involved in a smaller Jewish community. I found Toronto a more difficult place to make connections when I arrived in 1984. But things have changed. Toronto is one of the few cities where our community is growing. Connections are easier to make, thanks in large part to Federation, which does an incredible job of outreach. Federation donors support diverse programming, creating niches for all to get involved in some way, and this creates opportunities to come together and stand together.

As an Estate Planner, I talk to people about their overall goals and plans in life. Legacy planning is part of that. This year, I am Chair of the Jewish Foundation’s Professional Advisory Committee whose mandate is to provide members with awareness, insights and knowledge so that they can encourage their clients to donate. It’s important for us to lead the way. I’ve reached a point in my life where I am able to bequest a legacy gift to the Jewish Foundation. I feel confident that this Fund will be directed to help the community where most needed, in perpetuity.

We are blessed with a tremendous Jewish history; diverse and textured, that continues to thrive and evolve. It is essential to nurture and support all aspects of Jewish life by giving to Israel and giving to our community, living a life of Jewish traditions, and always finding the time to give back – through volunteering, philanthropy and by sharing our expertise. Through my Jewish Foundation gift, I honour my parents, David and Reni; and also create a meaningful legacy for my three children, Ari, Noa and Maytal.

Do what you can, when you can, and how you can; and always remember that when the community calls, answer the call.


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