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true stories


Andrea & Myriam

My name is Andrea Pines, and I am both a staff member at Jewish Family and Child Service and a child of two Holocaust Survivors. I have had the beautiful privilege of working at JF&CS for over 22 years. My current role is Volunteer Services Coordinator, and I often work directly with Holocaust Survivors. In collaboration with the Bernard Betel Centre, I coordinate a program called Café Europa. Café Europa is a monthly social and cultural get-together for Holocaust Survivors. 


We launched the program in November 2002 and began with nearly 40 Survivors in attendance. Today, Café Europa serves between 250-300 Holocaust Survivors each month...



Caroline was always very close with her mother. They would talk on the phone multiple times a day, run errands together throughout the week and meet for brunch every Sunday. When Caroline’s father passed away, it just seemed natural for her mother to move in with her and her daughter. Caroline was a single mother so the extra help around the house didn’t hurt either!


The family quickly got into a routine and they were thriving in their new living arrangements. Her mother would even help out with carpool to give Caroline some time to herself. Four months later...



Mira immigrated to Canada with her husband and two young children. When she came to JF&CS, she was separated from her husband but living with her two children in an apartment where her abusive husband was the superintendent of the building. This put Mira and her children in a very precarious and unsafe position.

Not only did he have access to her unit, but he also had the opportunity to berate and abuse her on a daily basis. She couldn’t afford to move and  was scared because of the poor credit and...



Marni met Dan on a blind date arranged by a mutual friend. They fell very quickly in love and Dan surprised her by proposing just three months after their first date. She believed that Dan was everything she was looking for in a husband and accepted his marriage proposal happily.

They were married six short months later and right after the honeymoon, Dan asked Marni to quit her teaching job. He told her she should let him earn the money – explaining that if she were more relaxed, they could start to work on having a family. He was persistent and she agreed. 



Alex seems a lot like any other young professional. He works out, takes care of himself and is an avid baseball, basketball, hockey and poker fan. He’s honest, kind, extremely easygoing, and he loves his family. But under the surface lies a difficult, yet inspirational story.


Alex was born in Moldova in 1987, his older sister Tatiana was five and his mother had already divorced Tatiana’s father and remarried Alex’s. When Alex was only a few years old, they all moved to Israel together. Unfortunately, her second marriage, like her first, lasted only a few years and...



Jillian was thirty-six when she was diagnosed with a plum-sized, malignant and inoperable brain tumor. Her oncologist predicted that she would have fewer than six months to live.

Though she felt overwhelming hopelessness, she knew she had to remain strong and competent for her seven-year-old, Abby, while it was still possible.

Jillian contacted JF&CS and was connected to a social worker in our Jewish Hospice Program who helped her plan for the challenges that would lie ahead. She knew she would soon start to lose... 

Jenn and Jesse

Jenn and Jesse Brodlieb

Jenn and Jesse wanted to create and donate simcha baskets in lieu of centre pieces at their daughter’s baby naming. A friend suggested they look into the needs of the Family Resource Centre (FRC) at the Promenade Mall.


The FRC is an initiative of JF&CS and the Prosserman JCC. It’s a warm, supportive environment where kids and their caregivers can play, learn and relax together. Jenn visited the FRC with her mother and was immediately charmed. As a social worker, Jenn recognized the...



Shael told his mother he never wanted to go to back to junior high school again.


He hadn’t had many friends before, and now it seemed, he had fewer. He was painfully shy and significantly shorter than most boys his age and he quickly became the target of his new school’s worst bullies.


Shael fought with his mother relentlessly that first week; he begged her to transfer him to any...



Zoey was born to a young mother with bipolar disorder - a condition that caused her moods to fluctuate, often very quickly, from extreme highs to severe depression.


When Zoey was five months old, a neighbour in her apartment building heard prolonged screaming coming from next door.  She knew a young woman and a baby lived there and she grew concerned.  She knocked on the door and called out several times but got no answer and could hear the baby crying loudly the whole time. Unsure of what to do next, she phoned the police. 

Levine family

The Levine Family

“At least three times a day, my mother would complain to my father that we were the only Jewish family in town,” Irving Levine recalls, smiling.  “She told him her kids would never meet or marry anyone Jewish.  She nagged him constantly!”


The town his mother was referring to was Grimsby, Ontario where Irving’s father owned a clothing shop in which Irv and his brother, Harry, worked each night until ten o’clock. The family also had a cottage in Crystal Beach, about an hour away.  That’s where Irving first met Ruth. He asked her...



Pearl was living with her daughter and son-in-law in Israel when a tragic car accident took both of their lives. Not having any family left in Israel, Pearl’s 25 year old grandson sponsored her to come to Canada. Once here, she was only able to afford to live in subsidized housing and sought the help of JF&CS. 

Through our Multilingual Access Program (MAP), we connected Pearl with a volunteer translator who spoke Russian and could help her apply for the Ontario Disability Support Program for...


Gitta Ganz

Gitta Ganz was born in a small village in Romania, into a family of eight children. Six family members miraculously survived the concentration camps.  At the end of the war, at a German displaced persons’ camp, she met Sam z"l; he was 18 and she was 19.


“Dating an older woman was best thing that happened to me,” Sam jokes. “I was a little nothing. She calmed me down pretty good!” In 1948 they came to Canada and married three years later.



David first called JF&CS years ago for supplementary financial assistance. He was 45 and had lived with his mother all his life. She had recently passed away leaving him with no income other than monthly social assistance from the government.


David couldn’t work, nor could he visit JF&CS due to agoraphobia, a condition that caused him extreme anxiety in environments that were unfamiliar including wide open spaces and crowded areas. He simply sat at home watching television and reading books from his mother’s vast...

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