Every life has its pivotal moments that shape one’s values and view of the world. My own values and Jewish perspective were indeed shaped through a prism of varied life experiences.
I grew up in Bathurst Manor and attended Beth Emeth Synagogue for seven years where I was exposed to Jewish laws, rituals and customs. But traditional -I was not. I left home at age fifteen. From then on, always independent and creative, I carved my own path.
In my early 20’s, I travelled to India with my future husband. Inspired by the textiles we saw there, we operated a successful fashion business for eleven years. I knew nothing about it when we began. I used my instincts and taught myself the ins and outs as I went along. We designed and manufactured in India and wholesaled across Canada. The ‘India years” opened my eyes to the overwhelming need there is in our world. In India I saw poverty and suffering beyond words. I’ve never forgotten this experience and it fostered my desire to help those in need.
In Toronto, I also became very involved in the alternative support system when my youngest of three children, who is autistic, was badly bullied at public school. We then enrolled her in the Jerome D. Diamond Adolescent Centre (JFC funded). There, the staff showed such kindness, generosity and compassion to my daughter that they profoundly influenced my view of what makes a person and an organization -Jewish. It’s not just about laws, rituals and customs. To me, Judaism also equals kindness.
Over the years, I have lived in various Toronto neighbourhoods. I’ve also learned a great deal about different cultures in our city by working in real estate for the last thirty years. But I have never lost sight of my Jewish identity raising my children to appreciate our music, food and humour, as well as a love of Jewish life and community.
I’m also passionate about the arts. My late mother, Rae Goldman was a talented artist instilling in me a love for the arts that I hope my children carry on.
Recently, I have felt a greater pull to participate in the Jewish community. I recognize that there are so many unmet needs to support: senior care, housing for those with special needs and the fight against anti-Semitism. Therefore, I’m especially proud to contribute to the UJA. I toast my father, Murray Goldman, whose generosity helped me establish a fund with the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto.
To my own children, Shana, Jordan and Alyssa and to future generations of children: Never forget where you come from but find your own unique path. Be kind, be generous and be a Jewish citizen of your world by giving back as best you can.