I became a Zionist through osmosis. My love of Israel was engrained early through childhood walks with my Zaida, Sam Feldt. He took me with him while he went door-to-door, canvassing for a brand-new country called Israel, where, he explained, Jewish people from all over the world could go and find a home. From my Zaida, an ardent supporter of the Jewish National Fund, and one of the first Negev Dinner Honourees, I understood that Zionism, as well as Judaism, was my religion.
The world of Hadassah-WIZO was the realm of my mother, Doodie Libman. Her active role in the organization and her yearly participation in their Toronto Hadassah Bazaar naturally drew me to follow her example; as a youngster, I typed her speeches and assisted on the big day, and as an adult, I took on leadership roles and chaired Youth Aliyah. Later, it was an honour for me to serve as a second-generation chair of the Hadassah Bazaar.
Through Hadassah, I encountered another important influence in my life: the late Vicki Campbell, of blessed memory. Vicki’s impassioned support of Israel and unstinting volunteer commitments were an inspiration to me. We agreed on the importance of providing role models for the next generation of Jewish community leaders.
My three children witnessed my volunteer commitments to Hadassah, to Jewish Family and Child Service (JF&CS), where I served as Board President, and now to Holy Blossom, where I am a Vice President. My son, Daniel, is the UJA Young Leaders Operations Chair and serves on the annual Barrie to Baycrest organizing committee. My daughter, Lauren Granatstein, co-founded a leadership division at Mt. Sinai Hospital called Future Sinai, and launched the annual Sinai Soiree fundraiser. My youngest daughter, Lisa Winberg Fishman, is a graduate of UJA Federation’s Joshua Leadership Institute, has led Birthright and March of the Living trips and is a co-founder and co-chair of the JF&CS Emerging Leaders Committee.
I could not have accomplished any of my community roles without the unparalleled support I receive from my husband, Jack, and we are both so gratified at the volunteer commitments and accomplishments of our children. To me, instilling through the generations the Jewish values we hold dear-- compassion, kindness, and tikkun olam--is paramount. Perpetuating those values, and caring for others through good works, is the pathway I see to the on-going vibrancy of our Jewish community.