Judith Feld Carr (b. 1938) was born in Montreal and grew up in Sudbury. She earned a Master’s in musicology from the University of Toronto, and taught music in both high schools and universities, including Yeshiva University in New York and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In the early 70s, inspired by a neighbour who was a Holocaust survivor, and by an article in the Jerusalem Post about 12 young Syrian Jews who were badly hurt when attempting to flee the country, Carr undertook a mission, together with her then-husband Dr. Ronald Feld, to help disadvantaged Jews living in Arab lands. Following the establishment of Israel in 1948, the living conditions for over a million Jews living in Arab lands became intolerable. In the following years, around 900,000 Jews were forcibly expelled from their homes across the Arab world. While the global community focuses on the Palestinian refugee crisis, few have ever paid much attention to the plight of these Jews. In Syria, Jews were barred from leaving the country (in fact, they were forbidden from traveling more than three kilometres without a permit!) and were forced to remain under terrible circumstances. Carr made contact with Syrian Jews in Canada who could help her, and then with Rabbi Ibrahim Hamra in Damascus, with whom she worked to smuggle Jews out of Syria, as well as to ransom Jews trapped in Syrian prisons. They communicated in secret by highlighting phrases in Torah texts that would be sent back and forth. Carr soon received death threats for her efforts, but persevered, even after her husband passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. In 1973, a charity fund was established at Beth Tzedec Synagogue in Toronto to assist Carr in her work. All in all, over three thousand Jews were rescued from Syria – three quarters of the whole community. Carr was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, the Order of Canada, as well as Israel’s Presidential Award of Distinction, among many others. A book about her story has been adapted to film.
Words of the Week
The three loves – love of God, love of Torah and love of one’s fellow – are all one. One cannot differentiate between them, for they are of a single essence… And since they are of a single essence, each one embodies all three. – Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Louis Lloyd Winter (1924-1965) was born in Toronto, the youngest of six children. He studied biochemistry at the University of Toronto, and after graduating with a Master’s Degree, borrowed $10,000 from his father to open his first company in the family garage. There, he would process blood work and pregnancy tests for local med offices, and his business skyrocketed quickly. Seeing that prescription drugs were way too expensive, and many could not afford them, Winter started a generic pharmaceuticals company. By 1959, he had to purchase a whole building for his operations and created Empire Laboratories Ltd. By 1964, it was Canada’s largest pharmaceutical, offered over 100 products, and supplied the US military through a branch in Puerto Rico. The following year, Winter’s life was cut short at the young age of 41 when he had a sudden aneurysm. 17 days later, his wife died of leukemia. The company was taken over by their nephew Bernard Charles Sherman (b. 1942). “Barry” Sherman lost his father when he was just 9, and grew up working for his uncle’s drug company. After graduating from the University of Toronto, then getting a Ph.D in astronautics at M.I.T, he was able to take charge of Empire. By 1974, he sold Empire and instead launched Apotex, growing it to become Canada’s largest generic drug maker. Today, the company ships its products to 115 countries and has branches in biotechnology, medical, and chemical research. Meanwhile, its charitable arm – the Apotex Foundation – has donated over $17 million in free medications. Sherman himself has donated over $50 million to the UJA, as well as a number of other philanthropic causes in the Toronto area and beyond. He is currently Canada’s 7th wealthiest man, and continues to head Apotex with a passion to bring affordable medication to the masses.
UPDATE: Tragically, Barry Sherman and his wife Honey Sherman were found dead in their home on December 15, 2017.
Words of the Week
Wherever I go, I’m always going to Israel. – Rebbe Nachman
Jacob Immanuel Schochet (1935-2013) was born in Switzerland to Jewish-Lithuanian parents. In 1951, the family moved to Toronto, and shortly after Schochet went to study at the Chabad Yeshiva in New York. There he became close with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who encouraged him to pursue academic subjects. Schochet went on to earn a Master’s in religious studies and a Ph.D in philosophy, studying at the Universities of Toronto, Waterloo, Windsor and McMaster. He became an internationally renowned scholar of philosophy, mysticism and Hasidism, writing 35 books, translating many others, and penning countless articles (click here to read a selection of these). While serving as a community rabbi for over 45 years, he was also professor of philosophy at Humber College and professor of bioethics at the University of Toronto Medical School. Schochet lectured around the world, including at Yale and Oxford. He was a champion of the Jewish cause, successfully combating Christian missionaries, particularly ‘Jews for Jesus’, and openly challenged any missionary to debate him in public. A staunch defender of traditional Jewish beliefs, he was also critical of the Kabbalah Centre, as well as messianic movements within Chabad. His piety, wisdom, and love for Israel were recognized by all who met him. Sadly, Rabbi Schochet passed away on July 27th.
Words of the Week
Do not scorn any man, and do not discount any thing, for there is no man who does not have his hour, and no thing that does not have its place. – Pirkei Avot 4:3