Raising a family on Tikun Olam

Two families meet in Montreal for Moroccan and Iraqi traditions, delicious food, and a whole lot of love.

When Nathalie and Freddy met on a blind date, they knew only that they came from quite different cultural backgrounds. The house young Nathalie grew up in may have physically been in Montreal, but she was raised by her parents as though she were born in their home-town of Tangiers. Nathalie loved it: “It was a magical and vibrant family atmosphere filled with fabulous traditions, food and spice!” Moroccan traditions were observed – most involving food and family – and Nathalie was educated at Maimonides.

Meanwhile, Freddy’s family were Iraqi, and had fled to Israel, where his parents met and married. Freddy had been born in a tented city for transients before his parents found their way to Canada, settling into the community, and joining the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue.

When Freddy and Nathalie got to know each other, it became instantly clear that they had a lot in common: Both children of immigrants, they had both been raised with fierce family values and a deep rooted sense of Tikun Olam.  A year later and a half later they were walking down the aisle at the Chevra Kedisha Synagogue in front of 250 friends and family from the community.

Their home became a hub for both their extended families, and Nathalie started hosting large Shabbat dinners with spreads of salade cuite, tabbouleh and baba gnouche.

In her twenties, Nathalie was dedicated to her career, and worked for over ten years in the financial industry. But when first child, Maya, was born in April 2010, followed by Myriam in February 2012, her priorities shifted. She wanted to spend more time with her family. The long corporate hours she used to love suddenly seemed like a burden which kept her away from what was most important in her life. The couple decided together that Nathalie would leave her job and be there for her children while they were young.

Nathalie and Freddy focus on giving back to the community and raising their children to do the same.

Nathalie and Freddy focus on giving back to the community and raising their children to do the same.

With time suddenly on her side, Nathalie thought this would be a perfect opportunity to finally give back to the Jewish community as well. “I have a lot of friends who are involved in the community, and I kept hearing about these amazing programs,” reflects Nathalie, “when I was finally in a place where I could give back myself, I already knew exactly what I wanted to do: Federation CJA’s Women’s Philanthropy Lunch for a Bunch program.”

Twice a week, a wonderful group of Women’s Philanthropy Tikun Olam volunteers gather to ensure that every child in our community has a nutritious, kosher lunch. On average, 142 lunches are delivered directly to 23 schools (both Jewish and public) in the greater Montreal area. “It’s just such a special program,” says Nathalie. “As a mother, the thought of any child going hungry really just eats me up inside.”

As a couple dedicated to raising their children in the spirit of Tikun Olam, Nathalie and Freddy are especially proud that their children can see them giving back firsthand – whether that’s through the synagogue, watching mom volunteer to pack lunches with Federation CJA, or through their children’s school, United Talmud Torah.

“For us, raising strong Jewish kids with good values is not just about teaching them: There’s nothing more powerful than showing your children what’s important. We wanted to give back to the community in which we are raising a family and encourage others to find ways to get involved too.”

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