I grew up in a strong and supportive Jewish community. In the homes of my friends, at Montreal’s Snowdon YM-YWHA, at camp and at school, my Jewish identity was formed and the groundwork laid for a life committed to building community.
The “Y” in particular, played a pivotal role. It was where I learned to swim and spent my summers, but it was also where I celebrated my first Shabbat and paraded with my friends on Purim. At a young age, I was captivated by the beauty of Jewish tradition, however, what I learned and saw in the community around me was not what was practiced at home. At the “Y” I was a hero – the first of my peers to swim in the deep end – but when it came to lighting the Shabbat candles, I did not know the brachot.
In time, I learned the blessings, and brought Shabbat into my parents’ home. Friday night became family night – a time to be together. It is a practice my husband Peter and I have continued in our own home where Shabbat is observed and the holidays are celebrated with family and friends.
As a child, I did not receive a formal Jewish education, but Peter and I sacrificed much in order to send our children to Day School and to Jewish camps. Today, our son and daughter are both Jewishly literate, knowledgeable and involved in their community. Josh is passionate about Israel, and Sarena and her husband are dedicated Jewish volunteers who this year blessed us with our first grandson. I know that as their family grows, their children will be raised in a beautiful, welcoming, Jewish home as well.
I have experienced first-hand the powerful role that a community – its people, facilities, and programs – can and must play in shaping our future. And, as the Director of UJA Federation’s Tomorrow Campaign, I am proud to be playing a unique role in building and strengthening Jewish Toronto for generations to come.
I view my gift to the Jewish Foundation as an extension of my professional commitment and a personal expression of faith in what can and will be. My gift will help to ensure that every Jewish child has portals to connect them to Jewish life, and this, for me, is the sweetest gift of all.