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 on a date, though he knew his strict father would never let him leave work early.
“I remember summoning the courage to ask my dad if I could leave at eight. Instead of answering me, he turned to Harry and told him I was a lazy bum with a lousy work ethic. Before he could get much further in his rant, Harry interrupted him to stress that my date was with a Jewish girl. With my mother’s voice in his head, my father paused, turned back to me and said, ‘so what are you waiting for?’”
Irving and Ruth married in 1952 and moved to Toronto. They had three children: Alan, Michael and Susy.
Five years ago, Irving and his business partner Lionel Robins, made a significant donation to UJA’s capital campaign which helped in the construction of JF&CS’ new office space. Irving wanted to ensure that a family member stayed involved and that ‘Levine’ was not just a name on a wall. Alan was that family member - first as a Board member - and then as chair of our Resource Development Committee.
Alan’s wife, Ellen, and his sister Susy, were next to catch the JF&CS bug when they co-chaired our inaugural Jewish Folks Telling Jokes fundraising event in May 2012.
“We were raised with certain values,” says Susy. “We appreciate what we have and we give back to the community. Our children now share those same values.” With the Levines, it is truly a family affair … all thanks to a little nagging!
*Names, photos and certain identifying features have been changed in order to protect the anonymity of our clients.