Sofia Krupnikov



How long have you lived in Ontario, and why did you choose Thornhill?

We arrived in Ontario with three children aged 6, 12 and 17 years in the fall of 1990. We’ve lived in Thornhill live for past 9 years. We chose this neighborhood because of the presence of a strong Jewish community. Our home is across the street from the Gallanough Library, where we enjoy participating in the JRCC East Thornhill programs organized by Rabbi Mendel and Chanie Zaltzman, whom I love as my own children.

Where does your family come from?

My mother is from the town of Mozyr, Belarus. Her grandmother, my great-grandmother (whose name I bear), came from a very wealthy religious Jewish family. My mother's father, since the late 1930s, was incarcerated in Stalin's camps several times over 5 years. In the 1970s we met secretly with an agent of the Jewish Agency, who urged us to emigrate to Israel. My father, Berl Kantorovich, was born in the town of Slutsk, and also came from a religious family. He always begins a sentence with the words: "With God's help ..." In Slutsk, where my parents lived, to avoid persecution Shabbat prayers took place secretly in a different house each week. My mother would go to the market to find out which house prayers would be conducted in that week.

What do you do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?

I am interested in politics and art. But over the years my priorities change: I became more interested in Jewish tradition, and I started finding my way back to my roots. So I read a lot on various topics in Judaism and try to pass this one to my children, to pique their interest in Judaism. In addition, I love being a grandmother, and spend a lot of time with my grandchildren.

If you were given the opportunity to meet anyone, alive or dead, who would you choose, and why?

I would like to talk to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who I often turn to in the difficult moments of life. I ask his advice, help, blessing, since he is a man of G‑d. He is an amazing person, so I would like to meet with him.

When did you begin participating in JRCC programs?

When I left the Soviet Union, my father told me, “As soon as you get off the plane, immediately go to the rabbi!" Following my father’s request, the first thing after my arrival I went to Rabbi Yoseph Zaltzman to help me find a Jewish school for my daughter. My daughter enthusiastically brought home the Jewish knowledge she learned in school into our lives, and it became part of our home.

What is the most important thing about the JRCC, to you?

For us personally, we left an oppressive regime to come to a free country. My eldest son, who was 17 at the time initially resented it, since he was preparing to become a doctor and our move ruined his plans. But a few months after our arrival, when we joined our first real Passover Seder with Rabbi Zaltzman, he thanked me for bringing him to Canada so he could learn what it means to be a Jew, something he is very proud of. This is just one example of how the JRCC helped assimilated Jews from the former Soviet Union reconnect with their roots, and I think that is what we need, especially today, and what Hashem wants. 

What are your future plans?

First of all, I want to be healthy and I hope that with G‑d’s help, so be it. I want to enjoy the success of their children, as well as the success of the community, of which I am. I am very pleased that the JRCC East Thornhill branch found a new home, which Rabbi Mendel and Chanie Zaltzman are planning with great love and care so that everyone will feel welcome, including people with disabilities. I take this opportunity to invite all to the opening of our new centre, which, with G‑d’s help, will take place on Passover. I want to celebrate the upcoming holidays of Purim and Passover. Today, when anti-Semitism is becoming more aggressive, I urge all Jews to unite: We need to be, more than ever, united and set an example for other nations. I wish you, all the rabbis, Jews and all people around the world, good health and prosperity.