Anita Ekstein

My maiden name is Helfgott. It means G-d's help in German. As a child survivor of the Holocaust, I think that I survived by the grace of G-d. I was born in Lwow, Poland. I was eight years old when a Polish family risked their lives by hiding me from the Nazis. I lived because of the Righteous Among the Nations.

I came to Canada at the age of 14 and I was fortunate to get help from the Toronto Jewish Community, JIAS and the Jewish Camp Council. I felt that when I could I would give back to the Community. I volunteered for Meals on Wheels and Baycrest. But June 5th, 1967, our wedding anniversary, and the day the Six Day War began, my husband and I became involved with UJA and decided that we would not buy gifts for each other, but give as much as we could to UJA. The rest is history. Today the Lipa Green Building is my second home.

Ten years ago my husband surprised me by dedicating the Holocaust Resource Library in my name. There's no question that the Holocaust has shaped the course of my life. In 1988 I went to the Ernst Zundel trial in Toronto. His denial of the Holocaust motivated me to speak out about my own experiences. I feel that education will lead to better understanding about what happened to our people and a warning of how this could happen again to us and others.

This year I was appointed National Chair of the March of the Living for Canada, and participated in my sixth march. It is important that young people today learn what was lost during the Shoa - the rich culture and the life that existed. It is a grueling trip, but I love the kids, and I know that when we survivors are no longer here, these young people will continue to tell our story. Today I have 3 children who are involved in our community, and 8 grandchildren. I want them to know what the Jewish community means, that it is important to be a part of it, to contribute to it, and be proud of their heritage. To us, Super Sundays have become a family tradition.

It is a miracle that I am alive and that I am part of the Toronto Jewish Community. I need to give back to my Community of myself and my time, and I feel it is important that my endowment should continue when I am no longer here and that my gift will live on.


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