All three of us were born and raised in Hamilton. It was a warm, close Jewish community and a great place to grow up. Our parents, Zoltan and Yetta Freeman, created a home filled with love and Jewish values. They had many friends and our home was always open to anyone who needed a place for Shabbat or holidays.
Our father is a Holocaust survivor from Hungary. He says it was love at first sight when he met our mother in her parents' fruit and vegetable store in her home town of Montreal. They were married in 1954 and moved to Hamilton. Dad became involved in the candy business — an appropriate calling for a very sweet person who was known as "The Candy Man."
Our parents were very involved in the community. They were instrumental in founding the Jewish day school, which we all attended, and worked with many different community and Jewish organizations. Giving to the community and a strong love of Israel were extremely important to them and they definitely instilled those values in us.
In 1973, they took us on our first of many family trips to Israel. It was an amazing experience, but much more than just sightseeing. On that trip, they took us to hospitals to visit wounded Israeli soldiers — an experience we never forgot. They wanted us to understand the sacrifices these young men and women had made for Israel and for us.
We have all followed in our parents' footsteps in our commitment to community. Eventually, the three of us moved to Toronto, married and are raising our families here. We all volunteer actively with many different organizations. It's part of who we are. Now our children are carrying on these traditions and our parents are very proud.
When dad retired, he and mom moved to Toronto to be closer to us. At that time, they wanted to establish a legacy that would ensure funds would always be available to meet important needs here and in Israel. Our parents were among of the first to endow a gift to Jewish Toronto Tomorrow.
They wanted to set an example and are grateful that many others have followed their lead.
In June 2004, our parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. We decided to share our story as a tribute to them. We look forward to sharing many more milestones and simchas together.
Most of all, we look forward to handing down our parents' legacy and a vibrant community to future generations.
Yetta & Zoltan Freeman, Risa Freeman, Cindy Gordon & Debbie Kimel