Coming from a large, loving and close extended family is amazing. It’s great to be a part of this family and I recognize and appreciate how lucky I am.
I grew up in Toronto; my wife Amy grew up in New York- and we both come from “traditional” Jewish homes where our parents supported us and their communities in different ways. Over the years these values shaped us into who we are and our parents have been instrumental in keeping our families close.
My pivotal community moment came some 26 years ago when a friend invited me to a UJA meeting. At this meeting the speaker cited a statistic of “more than 18,000 Jewish people in Toronto are living at or below the poverty line”. This struck me hard and pierced me out of my comfortable bubble. I wanted to help.
From that day onward, I became involved. For 26 years I’ve had the opportunity to support, chair and/or co-chair various roles within the UJA’s Annual Campaign. I discovered that when you give of your time, talent and treasure, as I’ve had the opportunity to do, you can make a difference. Over the years I’ve seen first-hand the impact UJA’s collective tzedakah has had.
I’m driven, both professionally and philanthropically, to help people; to help them achieve a more meaningful and significant outcome. Being in a position to do so is a privilege and this year we set up a family fund at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto for three reasons: 1) to support this important responsibility today; 2) to inspire and involve our children (Stuart, Marni & Mark) to be ‘difference-makers’ in their lives. We’ve already had conversations about where they might want to direct some funds, and this has been inspiring; and 3) to ensure this responsibility will continue long after we’re gone.
I sometimes wonder if I hadn’t been tapped on the shoulder and invited to that UJA meeting years ago - what I might have missed? More importantly, what others might have missed! I’m grateful for having had this chance to discover and follow my path to Jewish giving and community.
Let’s keep finding ways to give others a path to significance – whether they be donors or recipients.
I once heard: “Alone we go faster but together we go farther”. I look forward to having our family stand together with the community, so we can all go very, very far.