Esterita Chananie Rajsky

"From generation to generation" has always been my motto. I was fortunate to have grown up in Montreal with two sets of grandparents from Lithuania and Russia. My grandfather, Jacob Chananie was one of the first Jews in Montreal. He was a founder of the Chevra Kadisha, and of the Hebrew Free Loan. I take great pride in seeing his name on many plaques in the city. My grandmother, Toba Chananie, and my aunt Dora Stern, started the Women’s Mizrachi in Montreal.

Growing up I went to the annual Mizrachi bazaar to help out, and before Rosh Hashanah my mother sent me out with a dime booklet to canvass our neighbours. Although I found it embarrassing at first, my mother explained that it was for poor people who needed the help, and that I was doing a mitzvah. My parents always emphasized that we had been blessed with a good education and lived comfortably and that it was our responsibility to help others.

As a modern Orthodox family, my parents were involved in our synagogue and various charities, and always stressed “Me dor le dor” from generation to generation.

Some of my earliest and favourite memories include Shabbat at my Soloway grandparents’ home. There was a row of pushkas on a shelf, and a picture of the Kotel. My grandmother would give us coins to put in the charity boxes before Shabbat while explaining what each one was for.

When I met my husband, I was happy to see that his family values were similar to mine. On Sunday mornings a steady stream of rabbis and people involved with various Yeshivas came to visit. My father-in-law would invite them in for conversation. He was very generous and contributed to them all. When I told my parents about his Sunday morning ritual, they agreed that this was a good family to marry in to.

I was involved with UJA in Montreal, and when I moved to Toronto I was invited to come to Young Leadership meetings. Before long I was canvassing and was on the board of UJA Women. I was soon asked to join the Mt. Sinai and Baycrest boards.

I have tried to pass the tradition of caring about our community and Israel to my children. Last December I invited all my children and grandchildren to join me in Israel, which was a great education for all.

I pray that my family continues to do what it can for Israel and for our Jewish community with love for each other and for all "Am Yisroel".


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