Avra Rosen

I was born and raised in Montreal, and “made aliyah” to Toronto in 1978. On my father’s side, I am fifth-generation Canadian. My mother’s parents were born in Russia and the Ukraine, and she grew up in Kemptville, Ontario, a small town outside Ottawa, where there were very few Jews and no rabbi. My upbringing in Montreal was very secular, and I learned French over Hebrew — a priority at that time. In place of going to a Jewish day school, we attended afternoon and Sunday Hebrew schools, which left me with minimal affection or commitment to Judaism and its traditions.

My husband, Mark Goodman, was raised in a much different Jewish environment. He grew up in an observant household, with a very strong commitment to Jewish day school education, Jewish camping, and a strong identification with the State of Israel. Together, Mark and I have raised our daughters, Sarah and Hannah, in a home imbued with strong Jewish values, a respect for Jewish study, and Jewish traditions. Friday night is our sacred time, the most important night of the week in our family, as we welcome Shabbat with family and friends.

My parents were not involved in Jewish philanthropic or community-service projects in Montreal. Following the birth of my elder daughter, I felt the need for a connection to Jewish traditions and their history. So I became very involved at Holy Blossom Temple, which led to my service with Leo Baeck Day School and then UJA Federation. I was fortunate to be nominated to participate in the Wexner Heritage Foundation program, which has strengthened my commitment to Jewish values, Jewish study, and Jewish community service.

Recently, I have questioned whether the values we treasure and live by will endure from one generation to the next. I believe that for my children, as well as for the Jewish community both in Toronto and worldwide, continuity is the real litmus test of our survival. What does it take to endure? For me, it takes living a life of integrity and meaning, both in my professional career as a family-law lawyer and my home role as a wife and mother, and passing on these values to my daughters.

Now more than ever, we must do what we believe in with passion, so that the Jewish community will be even stronger in the next generations. That is why, with the support of Mark, Sarah, and Hannah, I am choosing to make my Lion of Judah Endowment today. We must continue to create sacred time and Jewish continuity in our homes and at our tables, and we must never forget to pass these values on to our children and grandchildren.


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