What is it to live Jewishly? Well for us, it’s fundamentally who we are. Both of us were raised in homes in which Jewish values permeated daily life. Our mothers were each passionate about family life and our fathers were driving forces in bringing Jewish learning and a sense of community into our lives. Sydney’s father was an outgoing leader in the community. My father was a quieter leader but contributed powerfully in helping many people. As a result, we each grew up with an undeniable and proud connection to our Jewish heritage.
But we wonder – and sometimes worry – about the next generation. How will they connect to their Jewish heritage when so much competes for their attention and identity? For so many, life is more secular and not quite as entrenched in Jewish tradition as it was when we were growing up. Perhaps it was easier for us in some ways. As such, we feel a great responsibility to try to ignite the Jewish spirit in the next generation - to find ways that resonate for them.
One way is to lead by example – with our own actions and commitments. For instance, our children and grandchildren see our deep commitment to community, to Israel and to Jewish learning; and join us for Shabbat dinners and Seders.
We hold ourselves as Jewish citizens of the world. As such, we give “Jewishly” by giving to both Jewish and non-Jewish communities -- in both our personal and professional lives. As President and CEO (Karen) of Jewish Vocational Services (JVS), I am as proud of JVS’s Jewish roots and legacy as I am ardently committed to our mandate to serve both the secular and Jewish communities in the GTA. Our staff and clients reflect the rich diversity of our city – and we are there for more than 23,000 people annually. That’s Tikun Olam!
One does not need to be affluent to give back. As hardworking professionals we know that firsthand. We can all make a difference by contributing time, leadership and money. It all counts.
We feel a tremendous solidarity with our people and blessed to be part of such a vibrant Jewish network. Whether it’s visiting Israel – our favourite destination – or other parts of the world, we’ve reached out to connect with our fellow Jews wherever we’ve travelled.
Jewish life can be so rich in experience if only one reaches out to connect. We have to find ways to help make that happen with the next generation. If we don’t, who will?