Renee and I are a couple that represent unlikely unity. In our early lives, we shared very little. I was born in Egypt while Renee was born and raised in Detroit-Windsor. In 1956, in the height of the Suez Canal Crisis, my family was expelled to France because my parents held French passports. In France, we encountered much hardship including rampant anti-Semitism until we reached Canada in 1957. Renee, on the other hand, was living a relatively secure life in a small but active Jewish community that lived in harmony with other groups. Most significantly, my Jewish experience was rooted in Sephardic tradition while Renee’s was Ashkenazi through and through.
Today, Renee and I are extremely proud of who we represent as a couple, particularly in Toronto’s Jewish community. Israel and Middle East politics are at the core of our interests. We have married many of our younger experiences and now share new and old with our three sons, Russell, 23, Rory, 21 and Ryan, 19.
Since his participation on the March of the Living a few years back, our youngest son, Ryan, served as my conscience, reminding me that I was compelled to go back to Israel. And so, after a hiatus of several decades, I did. Our proudest shared moment as a family was being together in Israel last year, as I co-chaired UJA’s Prime Minister’s Mission.
Our family’s involvement dates back to my parents, Roger and Liliane. From them, we learned that commitment to community enables opportunity. We were, after all, once refugees and new immigrants ourselves and could empathize with other newcomers. And by endowing our insurance policy, this commitment will be carried on.
The Book of Life is so important because it is a testament to the rich history and evolution of our Jewish community. It is our duty as parents to be certain our children do not forget how this history was shaped and how they now play a part in the ongoing story. Our gift is a family gift and it imbues a commitment that will continue through our children.