There are many teachings in Judaism intended to inspire and shape meaningful lives. There are two in particular that resonate with us. The first is ‘Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh B’Zeh’— ‘all of Israel are responsible for each other’. The second from Pirkei Avot is ‘We are not obligated to complete the work but neither are we free to desist from it’.
These moral principles have guided us in both our philanthropy and volunteerism, and our parents and grandparents also set a wonderful example.
We were both born in Toronto and, though our parents’ early lives differed greatly, we immediately bonded over a love of Israel and a common commitment to family and community. Giving to others who were less fortunate was always present in each of our homes growing up, and as soon as we could, we began donating and volunteering in the community.
My (Sandra’s) parents were active volunteers in the Toronto Jewish community. So much so, that the telephone number of the charity where my mother volunteered was as familiar to me as my own home number. Jack is the son of Holocaust survivors and that shaped so much of who he is. Their extensive loss and suffering from the war reminded him to live every day with purpose, and not to burden his parents with trivial issues.
Our activity with the Jewish community has been wide ranging, from being a founding member of a Hadassah chapter, involvement with UJA in various roles, The Hebrew University, and the March of the Living, to name a few. We have always prioritized volunteering and tzedakah. All of this activity was done with passion and dedication. Most importantly, it demonstrated to our children that participation in the community is a responsibility, not a choice.
Today, our children are adults who are very active volunteers and donors in our community. We are very proud of their commitment and involvement, and hope to see the same in our grandchildren. We want them to understand the value we place on the Jewish community, Jewish continuity, and community involvement, and we hope they will give back in whatever way they can.
The Book of Life lets us share our story and we hope it will inspire others, particularly the next generations, to do their part.