Jewish community and tzedakah have always been part of my life. Even as a young child, I remember my mother being very involved in Hadassah. She would work tirelessly in the days and weeks leading up to the Hadassah Annual Bazaar. She worked so hard and loved every minute of it. At the end, she would be exhausted but completely gratified.
I guess you could say I learned by her example. Her commitment, energy and passion rubbed off on me. My parents were not wealthy but they gave generously. This taught me that everyone should give what they can.
When I married and started my own family I carried on the tradition my mother taught me. I was an active volunteer with UJA’s Women’s Division for many years; I worked the telethons, went to conferences and so much more.
I learned to believe to carry forward the value of tzedakah. It has to become ingrained and part of your life -- and part of your children’s life too. I am so proud of my children, Allan and Susan, who as adults have shown to be very generous in their giving. I am also so proud that both my daughter and daughter-in-law have each established a Lion of Judah gift.
When I established my Lion of Judah gift I did so with a great sense of pride for how the Jewish community has evolved over the last two decades. There is such a strong presence in the GTA with the new buildings, community campuses, and the good work UJA and its various related agencies do in bringing Jewish life and values to our communities. I only wish my mother could see how far Jewish Toronto has come.
I feel safe as a Jew in Toronto -- and free to express my pride and love of being Jewish. Going forward, I hope this strength continues. My hope is that future generations can also experience a strong, safe, and vibrant community.
Recently, I met someone who converted to Judaism on her own volition and not because of marriage. One might wonder why one would do that. What is so special that they would want to convert? On reflection, I see how much good there is in the Jewish way of life and in this very special community.
Let’s keep it that way. Here’s to the good and growing Jewish community in Toronto.
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