Chaim Bekermanchaimbeck.JPG


North York

Where is your family from?

I was born and raised in Moldova, in the small town of Orhei, 98 years ago. My parents always had a real Jewish way of life, including kosher
food, the observance of the Shabbat and holidays. As a small boy I was taken to Cheder, and still I remember my first teacher - Reb Mendel. After Cheder, I went to school half a day and learned half a day in the yeshiva. At the age of 12 I apprenticed for a tailor, and soon I mastered the skill of sewing. My parents were from a wealthy family and owned their own grocery store. They gave me most of their earnings to poor Jews, helping them buy food, especially for Shabbat and Jewish holidays. My father, Yehuda Leib Beckerman was called by everyone the the "Finer and Mench" - “refined and humane” - a way of describing a wonderful, giving person in Yiddish. When the state of affairs broke down and our fortunes fell, I was forced to go into training with the tailor, and this profession became my lifelong affair. As a result, I myself did
not have the opportunity to receive a proper education, but I have used every opportunity to learn something new, and have done a lot of reading. And I encouraged my children to pursue their own edication, and I am proud of their accomplishments - my son studied physics and my daughter is an engineer. My wife and I have always worked hard to give our children the opportunity to receive higher education. When the war started, I was evacuated to Chelyabinsk, where I sewed clothes for the army. In Chelyabinsk, I met my future wife - Sheyndl. We were married there and my oldest son was born there. After the war, we moved to Czernowitz, where we lived before leaving for Israel, and then eventually to Canada.

Why did you choose to live in North York?

My wife and I live in the Bathurst and Steeles area, because my synagogue, the JRCC @ Rockford, is a ten minute walk from our house. I have been attending since we arrived in Canada in 1984. Until now, I never missed a single service. I am often called to the Torah, and I like to read the haftorah in the holy language after the Torah reading on Shabbat.

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

All my life I sewed all day long, and I’ve never really had any free time. I worked hard to ensure that my children would receive an education. When I did have some time to myself, I always spent it reading books to make up for my lack of education.

If you were given the opportunity to meet anyone, who would you choose?

I would use this opportunity to once again make Lechaim with my friends at the synagogue - Slava Kasimov and Nahum Liberman. They compose and sing great Jewish songs, and I love to listen to them. And Nahum tells the story of his service in the Israeli army. We enjpoy each other’s company very much over Kiddush on Shabbat.

You are 98 years old. What is the secret of your longevity?

The secret of my life is my beloved wife, Sheyndl. She always takes care of me, sees to it that I eat healthy and wholesome food. We have been married 71 years, which is quite an accomplishment. Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent us greetings from him and his wife on our 70-year anniversary. Sheyndl, my partner and best friend, we are planning to live together for many years.

What are your future plans?

I enjoy life with my family: I have two children, four grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren. All of them are brought up in the love of Jews and observance of Jewish traditions. My son became a religious man, and his son - my grandson - Vidal Bekreman - became a rabbi, an emmisary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe at York University. We are all very proud of belonging to the Jewish people.