Janice & Abe Glowinsky

We are both exceptionally proud Torontonians and have a long history of communal involvement and Jewish pride but how we came to this shared value are two vastly different paths.

Janice’s Toronto roots, on her mother’s side, date back to the 1920s. Growing up, she had no direct knowledge of anything relating to the Holocaust other than some neighbours who were ‘newcomers’ from Europe after the war.

Abe, alternatively, is the son of new- comers originally from Lodz, Poland who survived the atrocities of the Holocaust. His older brother was born in a DP camp, and the family settled in Toronto before Abe was born. Abe’s early memories include being sent to Yiddish classes while all his friends were attending Hebrew supplementary school. His parents held firmly to their old country traditions and views, with his mother being an ardent Zionist, while his father was a Bundist.

The Holocaust and its impact on our family remains the greatest reason for our involvement. Abe chaperoned the March of the Living Toronto student contingent in 1998 and later chaired the adult mission. He has visited Poland 10 times. One of the most memorable and touching moments of these many visits was during the 2014 March of the Living when we unveiled a tombstone in the Lodz cemetery for Abe’s maternal grandparents who died in the Holocaust—an honour they had been robbed of some 70 years earlier.

And our involvement does not stop there. Between the two of us, our volunteerism encompasses our Synagogue, JNF, UJA Federation, our children’s schools, the JCC, and more. We have visited Israel too many times to count.

We both feel it is only natural to give back. In our retirement years, we are busier than ever. We do it for our children and for our future. We want our kids Steven, Jesse, Michael and Joanne and their spouses, as well as our grandchildren, to be secure in ways we were not. Secure in that they will always have the organized community to lean on. And in turn, they will follow our lead and give back in their own way.

In these increasingly tense times when we see antisemitism rising at an alarming rate, we cannot help but draw parallels to our parents’ generation. And it is terrifying. But we find strength in what differentiates us today from the 1930s and 40s: we have Israel and we have a very strong and united community here in Toronto. Being a Jew is fulltime work but we love the task and are ready and willing to do our part, always.