Our parents raised us in a home that exemplified values of family, community and giving. Some of our earliest memories included traditions of family time, particularly celebrating Jewish holidays together with extended family, sharing Friday night dinners and attending synagogue for Jewish holidays. In fact, our “Break Fast” that was always at our Oma’s home, was eventually taken over by her daughter and is now, 60 plus years later, hosted by our Oma’s great granddaughter, five generations of family still going strong. As well, our parents extended a hand to family members who were in need of financial and other support. They also took family members and friends on vacations abroad and to their holiday home in the Caribbean.
There is no doubt our parents’ experiences in their youth helped to shape the beliefs, values and principles that they established in our family. Our mother had modest beginnings growing up in Canada. Our father left Germany before the war and became a POW in England before ultimately immigrating to Canada. They felt very fortunate and humbled by their experiences and this laid the foundation for their acts of generosity and kindness.
Our parents practiced Tzedakah in a very unassuming, and for the most part, private, way. We always knew that they were very kind, thoughtful and altruistic to family, friends, employees and even strangers. However, it was not until after their passing that we learned the full extent of their generosity. Their bequest to the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto, as well as to many other organizations and individuals has impacted our lives and our children’s lives and has reinforced the importance and obligation to help those in need. Additionally, it has emphasized and strengthened the far-reaching significance of family, heritage and community.
We hope that our parents’ legacy of Tzedakah will live on and be an ongoing source of inspiration, initiative and action for our children, grandchildren and generations to come.
As written by their children, Alison Polan, Stephen Wolff and Lauren Barton.