Community engagement wasn’t something that I grew up with. I was in my twenties when a family friend, active with State of Israel Bonds gave me a nudge to get involved. I dove in and quickly discovered that once you become involved with the organized community, new and interesting opportunities continue to present themselves. I am truly grateful because my involvement with community and Tzedakah over the years has changed my life for the better.
As I write this story some 30+ years following that early experience, I’ve had the privilege of serving as a volunteer leader with many organizations including: UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, Jewish Federations of North America, CIJA, Shaare Tzedec Hospital, and the Sinai Health Foundation, among others. These organizations operate with mandates that serve local, national, and Israeli philanthropic needs and I’ve seen first-hand the impact that we can have when we work together to lift others up or advocate for a particular outcome.
I’ve come to appreciate that the rewards of giving are immense. Not only in the good feeling that comes with sharing of your time, financial resources, and skills, but the great friendships that my wife Lori and I have made over the years that have brought immeasurable meaning to our lives.
Philanthropy and involvement in the community has become woven into our family life as a core value. Lori is extremely active in her volunteer life which makes it even more meaningful and far easier for our family to be involved. Tzedakah is a family priority and to that end, we have established a family fund with the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto so that we can actively involve our three children Rachel, Lilah, and Ben in ongoing discussions about good causes and fund allocation.
We are privileged to live in a strong Jewish community in a great city like Toronto. We are blessed with the ability to give but we also recognize it as an obligation.
Everyone can be part of that effort no matter the size of their contribution. My message to others, especially the next generation, is to find a cause that resonates with you and then figure out a way to help. Start small and commit and you will become part of something larger. And don’t forget to give someone else a nudge to get involved. You just might change their life for the better too.