Simone Sherman

There was never a time when the Holocaust was not part of my life. My parents, Ben and Esther Ingber z”l, my three maternal aunts, and everyone I met when we went to High Park on the weekends, were all Holocaust survivors. My parents were from Poland (Oshek and Staszów), and when the Nazis invaded they were caught up in that horror from the start. It is miraculous that they survived over 4 years in concentration camps that were meant to crush their body and spirit and ultimately take their lives. After the war, they were able to immigrate to Canada to start a new life.

Life in Toronto was not easy. My father worked in a shoe factory and my mother in a coat factory. Later, after my sister and I were born, my mother took in boarders and did piecework at home — even into my teen years — to supplement my father’s meagre wages. I can still remember when I was very small my mother having to decide which item — eggs, milk or bread — to leave at the supermarket checkout, because she was short a few cents to pay the total bill. To have to choose which staple to deny her family was a memory I still carry.

When I was growing up, my mother stressed to me the value of a penny. It may seem like nothing today, but with her careful husbanding of those “pennies”, my parents flourished and were able to attain financial security, and to give back to their community.

During the hard times, my mother never considered accepting charity, even though she certainly qualified. Through all they endured, my parents were proud to know that they always provided for themselves and were never a burden to others. They brought me up to be self-supporting and resilient. These are wonderful qualities that I believe I instilled in my four children.

I am truly blessed to have had parents who imbued me with love for Israel and the Jewish people. I always spoke Yiddish with my parents, and my husband David and I brought up our children with Yiddish as their first language as well. Although we can never revive the world that was destroyed, Yiddish allows me at least a “ta’am” of that world.

Only now as a grandmother do I realize what I lost by not having grandparents. The Holocaust affected multiple generations, and only with Jewish education can we honour those who were lost, as we face a future where memory dims and the very fact of the Holocaust is doubted.

As a community, we need to be able to rely on each other. I am grateful for my parents’ hard work and sacrifice, and optimism for the future. Through education and determination I have been fortunate to realize goals that allow me to help the Jewish community here and in Israel. I know that the Jewish Foundation will use my bequest wisely — for Holocaust education, Jewish education, and programs for families dealing with trauma. I know my parents would be proud of my choices.