Live big. Give big. This is what living a meaningful life is about for me. This mantra speaks directly to passion - my core signature that I express in my life through four main pillars: family, business, tzedakah and Israel.
I have been blessed with abundant opportunities to learn, to contribute and to step into leadership roles both in business and in community. I like to make a difference. I believe it is incumbent for business leaders to use their skills and influence for the betterment of community. In this regard, I take pride in doing just that and am fiercely shameless in leveraging all that I can to take a stand for others who can’t ask for themselves. This is not just an obligation. It is a privilege.
My passion for Israel and Jewish continuity sparked in 1970 when my parents, Henry z”l and Sylvia z”l Waks (both Holocaust survivors) brought my family to Israel for my bar mitzvah. While this first experience planted some early seeds to grow my love for Israel and Jewish life, it wasn’t until my early 40’s when I returned to Israel on a mission that my passion really took root. This experience was truly life-transforming and was the pivotal point that inspired me to really step up my commitment to Israel and community leadership.
I’ve never looked back. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to contribute to and serve in community leadership roles with so many exemplary organizations including: UJA, JNF, the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem, the Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation, Shaarei Shomayim Congregation, Bialik Hebrew Day School, the Koffler Foundation – and many more. I’m particularly proud of having co-chaired the Israel Emergency Campaign during the second Lebanon War as well as the Israel at 60 Celebrations. And as I write this story, I am just starting my role as Chair of the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto as well as establishing new tzedakah projects with my family.
I know that there will be countless more needs and opportunities to come, and I embrace these opportunities to serve. There is still so much to be done to preserve Jewish identity, to build strength for the wellbeing of Israel and our global Jewish community. My greatest hope for the future is to see the next generation take up the call and do its part in this work.
My greatest reward to date has been to see my family walk with me and live the values of giving big. They have each stepped up to tzedakah in such meaningful ways. To my wife, Linda, and our four daughters, Jessica, Marlie, Whitney and Ariel – I am so proud of you. You are my greatest passion of all.