I was fortunate to be raised in a traditional Jewish household that included my grandparents, who were quite observant. My family’s connection to B’nai Brith, Beth Shalom and Pride of Israel synagogues set an example of community involvement for me from the time I was very young.
My own personal involvement began when, as a young, stay-at-home mother of two, I was approached by the board of Mt. Sinai Hospital to become involved in a volunteer capacity. With a master’s degree in social work, I had always assumed that I would spend my life giving back to my community, but I had stopped my work at Baycrest and my teaching of psycho-geriatrics at George Brown College to raise my two sons. From that initial request to participate, though, I moved from volunteering, to chairing committees, to taking on the role of vice-president of the Women’s Auxiliary. Fundraising, chairing galas, and writing cookbooks, including a Canadian bestseller for Mt. Sinai, became the norm for me as my family grew and matured.
Ten years ago, a health crisis caused me to understand on the most visceral level the importance of giving through the incredible support afforded me by so many, including my sons, Max and Eric, my husband, Rob, and my extended family, Sharron and Jack Borenstein, Simon and Jan Zucker, Trudy and Lorne Cappell, and Hersh Borenstein. After multiple surgeries and the eventual loss of my leg below the knee, I recognized how lucky I was to be alive. My crowning achievement, during a gala I had chaired for St. John’s Rehab, was dancing with my husband in front of the staff who had been so dedicated and instrumental in my recovery.
I feel strongly that my Lion of Judah commitment to UJA Federation continue in perpetuity, particularly to assist in areas of geriatric care. My sons are proud and delighted at the bequests I have designated in my will and know how important it is to me that they carry forward what I have started in my support of our community. I am equally proud that they and their partners have now begun their own individual community initiatives.
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” and my hope is that each of us recognizes the blessings our society provides, and channels our strengths into acts of tzedakah, compassion, and support for our wonderful Jewish community and all it represents in our increasingly fragile world.