A dear friend from our pre-teens often reminisces about my mother's constantly raising tzedakah at a Montreal shopping centre in the 50's. My late father also had numerous Jewish community involvements. My parents and their circle of friends belong to the generation that overcame the Depression and War, modernized Montreal's Jewish community infrastructure and supported the new State of Israel from its infancy.
Coming from this rich traditional backdrop to Toronto as a newlywed, opening a wholesale business on Spadina and starting a family, I had nothing but what I needed to make a fresh start. It is amazing how strongly the past can influence the future, how the humblest beginnings can nevertheless be a lifelong inspiration — and a roadmap.
One of my first contacts was with B'nai Brith. I was determined to connect with the Jewish community, and were they ever prepared! They repeatedly sent members to bring this stranger to events, and today, I am thankful and proud to count these women among my closest friends. Not only did they help me satisfy my need to belong, they inspired me to take a more active role in my community. It began more with volunteer work before I developed my real estate agent career, and as I became successful I was also able to contribute more financially.
Through 45 years of hindsight in this community, I can say that giving in any form — time, leadership, participation, money — has been near the top of my life's rewarding experiences. It has brought fulfilment to me, pride to my 91-year old mother, Shirley and to my husband, Larry Silverberg, and it is my example - my tradition - to my children and stepchildren, their spouses, my late sister Anita's children and to our 11 grandchildren for the future. To nurture the instinct for giving, it has to start early with the family. Many charities today provide schools and students with programs and templates through which they can raise money for charity here and in Israel â€“ with the support of their family.
Jewish values have played a significant role in my family life, friendships and business relationships. They set my moral compass and, I hope, my influence on the people closest to me. It is never too soon, or too late, to be an involved member of the Jewish community. My Lion of Judah Endowment will support the community in perpetuity and sustain it through growth, as the immigrant generation of our grandparents did for us. Today it is up to our generation to secure tomorrow's Jewish community. Every generation has this responsibility — to provide support according to one's means. I am fortunate in being able to make a lasting contribution to the community that welcomed me in what seems a lifetime ago. I hope that my example will inspire others to share the gratification of giving.