Imprinted in my mind’s eye is a very strong vision from my teenage years: my father sits at the kitchen table each December, a slew of solicitation letters fanned out before him, his cheque book in hand. Every organization that asked for a donation received a little something from my hard-working father.
My mother was an active volunteer at my Jewish Day School; she followed in her parents’ footsteps of giving of their time to the community.
Barry’s early memories come from a large family of ardent Zionists. Barry even lived for a short time in Israel, shepherding a flock on a kibbutz. For him, Israel’s right to exist is paramount, and he believes strongly that we must do whatever we can to ensure its vitality.
As teenagers both in B’nai B’rith Youth and United Synagogue Youth, volunteering was very much a part of our daily lives--for me, in hospitals, and for Barry, as a youth leader. So that active community involvement has continued in our life together, we have participated in Health Mission Outreach, which offers free dental services for all, as board members for the Canadian Association for Ben Gurion University of the Negev, in leadership at Mount Sinai Hospital, and in United Jewish Appeal and its affiliates. A treasured gift from my involvement on one committee is a decades-long friendship with an immigrant family from Sarajevo.
I had long thought about establishing an endowment fund, as my parents before me had done. The catalyst was the enormous relief I felt upon hearing the doctor’s good news about a health issue Barry had been grappling with. It suddenly became imperative for us to demonstrate our thankfulness for the blessing we had been given. We decided then and there to put our good fortune into action.
For him, it is unfathomable that people in our own city are without food. Feeding the hungry and caring for the elderly are his main community concerns. The interrelated principles of tzedakah and tikkun olam, continued into the future, are vital to ensuring that future generations maintain balance in the world. If we all work together, we can make sure that the scales don’t just tip one way.