The idea of giving back to the community runs strong in my family. My parents of blessed memory, Faye and Joseph Tanenbaum, taught by example that we are able to make a difference in the world by helping others. I was determined to carry on the family tradition.
My involvement in the Jewish community began in 1951 when I married Marvin Mandell, who always encouraged me to do what I felt would help others. At the time, my mother was active with the National Council of Jewish Women, so I began there. Under the influence of the Council, I quickly learned how our community functioned. I became actively involved in organizing many initiatives to address the ongoing needs of our community, like the Passover Food Drive, Meals on Wheels, Seniors Clubs, and Head Start, as well as cultural events like the first Toronto Jewish Film Festival and the Canadian Jewish Book awards.
Marvin and I were blessed with three children, Auby Jay, Gail, and Jessica. Even as our family grew and our lives became more and more dynamic, my community involvement always remained constant. From enhancing Jewish education to helping children with Cystic Fibrosis, from founding the Bernard Betel Centre to establishing Earl Bales Park, my community always has been and always will be one of my top priorities.
It wasn’t long before I expanded my definition of “community.” I visited Israel for my first time in 1967, and immediately fell in love with it. I promised myself that I would try to return as often as possible; I am proud to say that I have stayed true to my word, as this year will mark my 33rd visit!
Needless to say, Israel’s vital needs overtook me. Alongside my father, I oversaw the development of many new projects in Israel, which made me feel very productive, energized and proud. Even today, with each visit, the progress we have made in Israel truly takes my breath away.
My fondest memory of Israel is when my entire extended family travelled there together in honour of my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It was so beautiful to be together in our homeland, which our family was so actively involved in building up.
My father always taught me that there is no such thing as “can’t.” That was my life’s mantra. Over the years, I have befriended so many compelling and influential people, and collectively they have enabled me to make these miracles happen.
With so many different areas of our community that need to be nurtured, I am determined to continue to lend my support for as long as possible. Through my gift to the Jewish Foundation, I am able to perpetuate my support for the Jewish community of Toronto, Canada, and Israel forever.