Each of our parents immigrated to Canada in the 1920's to create a better life for their families. The Somers, from Poland, and the Revzens from Russia, shared common values – a commitment to family, to Israel and to their community.
Joan, one of three daughters, was born in St. Catharines, the daughter of Morton and Caroline Revzen. The Revzens were dedicated Zionists and major supporters of UJA and the Jewish community in St. Catharines.
I was the eldest of three children. My parents, Irving and Rose Somer were also pillars of their Jewish community in Kitchener. My grandfather was a Gabbai and my parents were active in fundraising and perpetuating Jewish values. Many cousins and 'landsmen' were located after the War, and encouraged and assisted to make Kitchener their home.
Just as our parents modelled for us, Joan and I share that commitment to our community and to Israel. We lived in Kitchener and over the years, I held positions including President of our local B'nai Brith, President of Beth Jacob and UJA, while Joan was active in Hadassah Sisterhood and was an integral part of the first ladies' UJA Campaign. Our involvement and financial support was constant and meaningful. Our three daughters, Debra Somer Sternberg, Gail Somer Wilson, and Nancy Somer Latowsky first witnessed and later participated actively in their Jewish and greater communities.
Joan and I, her sisters and their husbands were proud to establish a school in Jerusalem and a Shul in Ashdod, to honour Joan's parents, Morton and Caroline Revzen. All of our children were present for the dedication. Three years ago, our youngest granddaughter celebrated her Bat Mitzvah at the "Wall", and we, along with some of our children and grandchildren were able to revisit the sites – momentous occasions which instilled in their minds, powerful memories of incredible family trip(s), a love for Israel and a concrete example of what our donor dollars can do.
We continue to support the Morton Revzen Perpetual Scholarship at Hebrew University as well as a Physics Library Fund at Technion.
In our 53rd year of married life, Joan and I made 'aliyah' to Toronto to be close to our children, Debra Somer and Irv Sternberg; Gail Somer and Kevin Wilson and Nancy Somer Latowsky, our wonderful grandchildren, Jessie and Samantha Sternberg; Stephanie and Robert Meth; Sarah and Josh Latowsky; Zachary, Samantha and Taylor Wilson and our exceptional great-grandchildren, Noah and Jordyn Sternberg and Leo Meth.
By establishing a donor advised fund through the Jewish Foundation, we are able to demonstrate to our children our ongoing commitment to – and responsibility for – meaningful Jewish life and values, and to ensure that our children have a vehicle to designate funds to causes they feel need support.