Berta KoganBertha Kogan.JPG

Real Estate Broker


Tell us a little about your career.

I began my higher education in Saratov, where I enrolled in medical school. When my parents emigrated to Israel, I continued my studies at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva. In 1975 I joined the Medical School of the University of Rome, where I studied for three years. While in Rome I got married – we had a beautiful chupah in the main synagogue in Rome, and my eldest daughter was born in Rome. Today she is an endocrinologist and mother of three children. Later, our family moved to Toronto where, for various reasons, I was not able to continue my medicine studies. In 1982, I began a successful career as a real estate broker. I found that my natural characteristics –sociability and the desire to help people – translated successfully in this field. I am proud of my accomplishments: In thirty-three years of work I have helped hundreds of people find a home and financial stability, because real estate is the most expensive and important investment people can make. My son is also a real estate broker.

Where is your family from?

My family is originally from the city of Bendery in Moldova, where there was a large Jewish community. We had a large Jewish family there, with numerous uncles and aunts and cousins. My mother, of blessed memory, was born in Ukraine. She always studied a lot and my grandmother – my mother's mother – helped to raise me and my brother, giving grandchildren all the warmth and love of her heart. My father instilled in us a sense of belonging to the Jewish people, the culture and religion of our people, as well as a sense of pride in our nation. At some point my father studied in a Jewish school, and he was familiar with Judaism and Jewish prayer, Jewish history and tradition. We had a real Jewish home, where Yiddish was spoken, and my father even taught my brother to read Yiddish. I remember how every year, behind tightly closed shutters, my father led the Passover Seder. He read the Haggadah in Hebrew, and, as my mother did not know Hebrew but did know Yiddish, my father translated the text into Yiddish for her. My mother, in turn, translated into Russian, so that it would be clear to my brother. So in our home we performed the entire Seder and Passover Haggadah in three languages.

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

We arrived in Toronto in 1978. We first settled in the Bathurst and Steeles area, where our son was born in 1980. Some time later, we moved to Thornhill. We chose this area because it was important for us to ensure that our children grow up surrounded by Jewish friends. For us it was very important.

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

I love classical music. I used to play the piano. In general, my parents were always thinking about the future and optimistically hoping to see us free, and tried to teach us a lot. Even in our small town, my parents gave me and my brother a great education. At six years old I had a private teacher of English, and my brother played violin. In addition, we visited many clubs. In addition to music, I also love theater, traveling, and am happy to spend time with my children and grandchildren, and pay great attention to engaging in physical activity regularly.

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

I'd like to sit and talk with David Ben-Gurion. He was one of the founders of the State of Israel and its first Prime Minister. My father was also a Zionist, and I grew up close to the ideals of Ben-Gurion. I respect the man who laid the basic structure of the institutions of Israel, and how his gaze was always directed to the future.

How involved are you in JRCC programs?

Rabbi Zaltzman arrived at almost the same time we did, so we became involved in youth programs with the organization since its inception. For me the existence of the JRCC is very important, a place which serves the Jews of the former Soviet Union, who had always been denied the opportunity to live a Jewish life.

What are your future plans?

I plan, with G‑d’s help, to continue an active lifestyle, maintaining a positive outlook on life. I am an optimist by nature, and, in spite of the difficulties that I had to go through, I strive to perceive life in a positive light and focus on the joyful side.