Photo Credit: Canadian Jewish News
Today, the Jewish world has lost an extraordinary leader. We are deeply saddened to share the news that Julia Koschitzky, z”l, has passed away. Words fail to fully capture the indelible impact Julia made not only here in our Toronto Jewish community, but for the Jewish people globally.
A funeral service will take place tomorrow – Tuesday, March 22nd at 9:30am – at Shaarei Shomayim (470 Glencairn Avenue). Details about a shiva in Toronto will be shared with the community once available.
Julia’s story – and that of the entire Koschitzky family – reminds us that a life of Jewish leadership and profound meaning so often begins in a home steeped in Jewish pride. Having arrived in Toronto from Wales at a young age, Julia grew up in a family characterized by a deep love of Judaism and care for our fellow Jews. That early foundation shaped her leadership for a lifetime, just as she would shape our community in countless ways – and touch countless lives along the way.
Over the past four decades, world Jewry has faced some of the most turbulent and monumental events in modern Jewish history. At virtually every step, Julia was there for her people. While there are myriad examples of her leadership, the most powerful among them include her central role in Operation Exodus – the aliyah of hundreds of thousands of Jews from the Former Soviet Union to Israel in the 1990’s. From chairing UJA’s Annual Campaign to chairing Keren Hayesod, and from serving on the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel to pioneering efforts to make day school more affordable for families through UJA’s Julia and Henry Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education…there isn’t a challenge Julia refused or a righteous cause she didn’t champion with boundless energy.
Indeed, Julia’s leadership set her apart in the Jewish world. In response to her passing, Dr. Nachman Shai, Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, reflected on her remarkable legacy:
On behalf of myself and the State of Israel, I send my deepest condolences to the Koschitzky family and entire Toronto Jewish community on the passing of my dear friend, Julia Koschitzky, z"l.
Julia's endless vision and leadership shined throughout her beloved Toronto Jewish community, here in Israel and across the Jewish world. Every time I had the opportunity to engage with Julia, I was personally touched by what a strong, inspiring, and generous woman she was.
In many ways, Julia personified Canadian Jewry's unshakable relationship with Israel. I, and the State of Israel, are deeply grateful for her incredible devotion to the Jewish people and the strengthening of the bonds between us. I have no doubt that Julia's memory and work will live on through her beautiful family and the many individuals that she touched throughout her life.
A good leader is one whom others admire. A great leader is not only admired but inspires others to grow in their own leadership. To spend time with Julia was to be in the company of a truly great leader whose example motivated each of us to become our better selves. Whether it was a kind word of encouragement, a principled decision at a defining moment, or a readiness to step forward when leadership was needed, when Julia led it elevated everyone around her to a whole new level.
Through it all, her incredible kindness, wisdom, and humility reminded us that the greatest among us have the unique ability to see greatness in every person. With that vision came Julia’s dedication to build a community defined above all by unwavering unity. Today, we see these same values in her remarkable family that was the source of so much of her joy, especially her husband and fellow community leader Henry – whose devotion to Julia was evident in the glow in his eyes every time she spoke.
With heavy hearts, we extend our condolences to Henry and the entire Koschitzky family at this time of pain and mourning. Julia’s memory will indeed be for a blessing, just as she blessed so many in our community and around the Jewish world throughout her lifetime.
Baruch Dayan Ha’Emet.