Rafi Yablonsky

There isn’t a single day that I am not thinking about and connecting with Jewish community. For as long as I can remember, this is my daily life experience. I was just two and half years old when my family emigrated from Jerusalem to Toronto. I guess you can say I’m a “product” of the good work that UJA and its community agencies do. JIAS (Jewish Immigration Aid Services) helped my family in the early days when we were newcomers to Canada. Through the generosity of the Julia and Henry Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education, my siblings and I were able to go to Jewish Day School (Associated and then TanenbaumCHAT). 

We received -- and now giving back is part of my own DNA. This is not out of obligation but from a place of purpose and passion. In high school, I served as President of the National Council of Synagogue Youth (NCSY); and as a student at York University, I founded Hasbara at York in 2007, 
a student advocacy organization for Israel which flourishes to this day. And much more.

After university, I focused on building my career in business and spent less time volunteering with community. I felt the gap and wasn’t happy, so I refocused my career to bring my skills to community. I landed a role with UJA where I get to build strategic community initiatives, partnerships --- and engage others in our mission of ensuring Jewish continuity where our people thrive. After my first year as Manager of UJA Young Leaders, I was honoured with the prestigious Notable.ca 2015 Award - Best in Not for Profit in Canada. I was thrilled but the real reward comes daily with the satisfaction of making a difference. 

As I write this story, we’re seeing great momentum and activating engagement with the next generation – my peers. This is critical. Those before us set the stage and laid tremendous foundation for our community’s well-being.  If we don’t step up to carry this forward – who will? It’s up to us to be there for the Jewish community. No one else will.

In making a gift to the Jewish Foundation at such an early stage in life and career I’ll be assured of leaving a legacy of great impact. I learned that there are strategies to make this a very viable and affordable option. You need not be wealthy. All you need is the desire to make an impact. 

My office wall is adorned with a beautiful Israeli flag made by my grandmother, Adela Goldberg z”l, a Holocaust survivor, from used sugar sacks. I see it every day to remind me of my purpose and the importance of legacy. I hope my story encourages others to join in and create our community legacy together.


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