Both my parents (Rubin and Helen) were Holocaust survivors who immigrated to Canada after the war to build a Jewish life together. As I was growing up, my parents told me numerous stories of the horrors they experienced during the war, although it was extremely difficult for them. But the one story that always stood out above the rest wasn't really about the Holocaust.
This particular story was about my parents arriving in Canada in their mid 20’s with their five-year-old child. They got off the boat with no money, no education, no job, no place to live and barely able to speak the language. I thought to myself what a terrifying situation…what would I do? How could I survive? My parents said they couldn't have been happier. I asked how is this possible? If I were in that situation, panic would quickly set in. My dad smiled at me and said when someone has been through the Holocaust experience, surviving in a country of opportunity is a welcoming challenge.
What an interesting perspective! There is a very important lesson we can all learn from this. Everything is a matter of attitude and one's approach to life. My parents were motivated to better their lives. They worked day and night, and all through the years never lost faith of their Jewish heritage. They sent all four of their children to Hebrew school, regardless of the financial burden, kept a Jewish home and still somehow managed to give tzedakah to their synagogue and other Jewish organizations. In their later years, they enjoyed the fruits of their labor, but what they really savored was the journey.
It wasn't until I grew up, got married and had children of my own that I realized what incredible sacrifices they made so that we, the next generation could benefit from their wisdom which they silently shared. It is written in Ethics of our Fathers, “Who is rich?” Answer… “He who is happy with his portion”. Although my parents never had the opportunity to read this powerful book of our sages, they led by example in all their actions.
The Rubin and Helen Tencer Memorial Holocaust Education Fund has been established by their loving children (Joel, Willy, Betsy and Hersh) so that people of all ages may learn about the tragedies of the Holocaust.
As told by the youngest sibling, Hersh Tencer.
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