We were both blessed to come from families who taught us well and instilled in us a pride and passion for being Jewish.
"You have a responsibility for your community" — was a core value for both sets of parents. We were born in 1948 and only two years old when our parents, as Holocaust survivors, met in a Displaced Persons Camp in Fohrenwald, Germany. This was a place where you had few possessions but you had community, and a sense of shared values.
This sense of community and of helping one another continued to shape our families' lives and values as we, respectively, settled in Montreal and Annapolis, Maryland. Growing up as immigrants, we learned all too well what it was like to start over with nothing. But we could always count on our community and be counted upon as well.
Later as adults, we reconnected, married and together established our own family in Toronto. We recognized that our connection to survival, community and Jewish life was a gift. This was the foundation for the values we would share with our three sons Alan, Nathan and Herschel.
In the Perlis home, tzedekah is indeed a family affair. More than an obligation, it is simply who we are. Our family endowment was established to make a difference for today and for tomorrow — but also, to set an example for others who can do the same. And it embodies more than financial resources. We give of our time and our passion.
Because of our past, tzedekah is natural for us. But this may not be so for everyone. The question is how can we ensure the next generation continues to care for the community? Our hope is that the next generation will not forget their obligations. It is not enough for Jewish community to simply survive. We must thrive.
We share a history. Let's ensure a strong future.