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Monette Malewski's speech

I was educated by my parents to pass on our Jewish traditions and teaching from one generation to the next “Dor l'Dor.”

My parents had a number of difficult years during their early life together, starting from the day of their wedding: June 18, 1942. During the ceremony, which took place in my grandmother’s home, the Gestapo came knocking on the door to ensure that everyone who was Jewish was wearing their yellow star. This is how their life as a couple began.

They were living in Liege, Belgium, at the time. My parents, my uncle, along with my father's sister and her family, decided to leave Belgium as soon as possible.


Within two weeks, they set out to climb the Alps and go to Switzerland, which was a neutral country. The border guards placed them in a hard labour camp, near Lausanne, where they stayed until the end of the war in May 1945. It was in this camp that my mother gave birth to my brother. On top of nursing him, she generously shared her milk with other newborns whose mothers weren’t able to nurse. My father worked relentlessly in horrendous conditions. In spite of all this, he remained positive and full of hope.

Both my parents’ entire families were killed during the war with the exception of my uncle, a cousin who was hidden by Catholic friends during the war and my immediate family of four.

It was my parents’ passion for life that enabled them to survive. They possessed a deep appreciation of life, the ability to see the world as a good place even in a labour camp.

In 1949 when communism was threatening Europe, my parents decided they wanted a more secure life for their children. So they immigrated to Canada. When they got here, it was Jewish tradition and values that helped them through. Members of the Jewish community who had come to Montreal before them had already set up societies to help newcomers create new lives.


When I was a child growing up, we always had a little blue box for collecting coins for the poor. Every Friday evening when we got our allowance for the week, we had to put 10 per cent into the little blue box.

My mother and father provided as best as they could for their three children and always helped others in need, even when they had very little. Giving was a part of the education they passed on to me.

Our traditions and teaching about giving come from the word Tzedakah. It is the Hebrew word for acts that we call charity in English: giving aid, assistance and money to the poor and needy or to other worthy causes.

But charity suggests benevolence and generosity, a magnanimous act for the benefit of the needy. The word Tzedakah is derived from the root Tzedek, meaning righteousness, justice or fairness. In our traditions, giving to the poor is not viewed as a generous act; it is simply an act of justice and righteousness, the performance of a duty.

For over 30 years, the administrators at M Bacal Group have been actively involved in the communities where they live and work. They give time, energy and money to many associations, institutions and individuals from the cultural, financial, social, education and community sectors.

Philanthropy is defined as the love of humanity, benevolence towards the whole human family, universal good will; desire and readiness to do good to all men and women. So an everyday philanthropist is someone who gives unselfishly for the good of humanity.

It is not necessary to be worth millions to make a difference. There are many avenues you can take to connect with the causes that you feel most passionate about.

Key trends in philanthropy include:

·        -  Selfdirected giving through private foundations or donoradvised funds;

·        -  Integration of giving and taxable/estate planning.

Today, the approach to fundraising is “donor centric.” When we solicit potential donors during an annual campaign, we do everything possible to accommodate their needs and wishes, including providing a plannedgiving option.

Planned giving is about matching individual donors’ tax and estate planning with their philanthropic ideas. It refers to increasing the amount of gifts through a systematic, focused and personalized program. People become interested in planned giving when 1) they believe that their gifts will have an impact on the cause they believe in; 2) they trust the organization’s leadership; and 3) they have assets to give.

I have faith in the integrity of the human soul, the resilience of the human spirit, and the intellect and passion of the human heart. I believe that if individuals find the personal power from within themselves, then these individuals will make a conscious choice to live in a fully engaged way with integrity, truth, compassion and trust. I believe the world will be made better by them.