My wife Genia and I are both Holocaust survivors from Krakow. While living in Belgium we started making plans to emigrate to Israel but our plans changed when my cousin, Sam Waxman, convinced us to come to Toronto instead. Canada, he said, was the place to be.
So in 1950, when I was 30 years old, we made our way to Toronto to join with the few cousins remaining from my family. We thought we might still emigrate to Israel from Canada but we never did. Toronto became our home.
At first we felt strange in this new country but soon we acclimatized and quickly made many friends. I remember the generosity of so many individuals, reaching out to me and showing me the ways of Canada -- how to conduct business and live in the community and how to be charitable on a daily basis. It is these individuals who taught me one of my most valuable lessons in life. To appreciate your community, you must give back to it.
Over the years, I became involved with so many projects, including Israel Bonds, UJA, Baycrest and many more. Three, in particular, that piqued my interest were the Israel Bonds Organization in Canada, The School of Massuah and the ShaareZedek Hospital. Working with others, we fought for Canadian Denomination Bonds and ensured every major bank supported them. I established the Canadian Friends of Massuah because I have always believed that future generations must be taught about the horrific experience of the Holocaust — to ensure it doesn't happen again.
While we never did emigrate to Israel, I fell in love withour birthright country upon my first visit. It is such an important part of who we are — as Jews, no matter where we live.
Genia and I have been blessed with two beautiful children, Lili and George, and four wonderful grandchildren. Our hope is to preserve and protect Canadian Jewish life for our children, grandchildren, and future generations to come.
We must never let the spirit of giving die. We must never take freedom for granted. It is our obligation to keep the Jewish community strong and we must all do our part.