Costas Menegakisface comm oct 2019.JPG


It seems that Costas Menegakis was always destined to be a supporter of the Jewish community. As a kid, his family owned an eight-unit apartment building next to the Jewish People School in Montreal — all the tenants were Jewish. The Menegakis family naturally became part of the Jewish community, “participating in Jewish holidays, enjoying Shabbat, and loving any food that had ‘Manischewitz’ on the wrapping and baby eggplant.”

Costas’ early experiences with the Jewish community were formative. He said it exposed him, first-hand, to the burden that the Jewish people carried, and aroused in him a desire to help. “I felt that I carried it too. My life was being a Greek Jew who hadn’t converted, and whatever my friends had to deal with, so did I.”

A businessman and entrepreneur, Costas is currently President and C.E.O. of Tilwood Inc. – a national marketing and logistics company based in Ontario. But he came from humble beginnings. John and Panagiota, Costas parents, were born in a poor village in southern Greece that was decimated by the Nazis. Eventually, they were able to escape to Montreal, Canada where Costas and his two brothers were born.

But the early going was tough. John was forced to worked 18 hour days at any job he could find in order to support his young family. With time, his efforts and hard work work paid off. He was able to purchase the apartment building that deeply contributed to the life-long connection between Costas and the Jewish community.

Costas grew up and eventually moved to Ontario, married Gail – who he describes as “an extraordinary woman” – and they had two children. Today, he is a grandfather, known as “Zaidy Greek” to some friends.

In 2011, Costas entered the political realm when he was elected to the House of Commons as a Member of Parliament. He’s served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, as well as been a member of the House of Commons Standing Committees for Citizenship and Immigration, Procedure and House Affairs, Official Languages, and Government Affairs and Estimates.

Yet even in politics he found ways to seek out Jewish connections. He accompanied Prime Minister Stephen Harper on his trip to visit Israel. A trip in which JRCC’s own Rabbi Mendel and Rabbi Yosef Zaltzman also participated.

Costa’s recalls the visit to the Holocaust Museum as a powerful, impactful experience. “I burst out crying when I went into the Holocaust Museum during that trip. Seeing the faces of those children, each one lit with a candle, overwhelmed me.” The horror of the Holocaust deeply affected him, and he talks about preventing any kind of recurrence of anti-semitism in Canada as one of his major life goals. “It only reinforced my commitment to Israel and all my friends and colleagues in the Jewish community.”

His relationship with the Jewish people has also translated into a care and concern for all kinds of people who lack support, opportunity, and equality. “I am so concerned about Justin Trudeau and his support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). He is speeding up the status of refugee claimants so they can vote and he’s dumping millions of dollars into Ontario for the same purpose – while our veterans barely eke out a living and our law-abiding Seniors only get a tiny pension after a lifetime of paying taxes.”

He is an ardent supporter of programs that offer services to families particularly to our youth and elderly, and has served in advisory roles to several community-based organizations. And Costas has been recognized and awarded for his dedicated efforts. He was awarded Her Majesty’s Queen Elizabeth II Gold and Diamond Jubilee Medals, and is a recipient of Rotary International’s Paul Harris Fellow recognition.