In Memory of Alex and Alyce Orzy

August 17, 2021 / 5 mins read

We are enormously grateful to the Orzy family for establishing the Rabbinics Award in Memory of Alex and Alyce Orzy which was presented for the first time in 2021. Here’s their story.

Why did you establish this award in memory of your parents?

Our parents were leaders of the Jewish community in Kitchener, Ontario. They were each the President and leader of every major Jewish organization there (multiple times), and our father was the force behind the building of the Beth Jacob synagogue and Jewish Community Centre.

He was President of the synagogue, Chair of UJA (then Federated Charities), the Council of Christians and Jews, Israel Bonds and others. Our mother became Ontario Vice-President of United Synagogue Sisterhood. She organized many courses and study groups on Jewish themes and topics, and attended Torah and other classes regularly.

Both were fervent supporters of Jewish education, especially our mother, who began Kitchener’s association with Camp Ramah, United Synagogue, USY and other important institutions. It was their big regret that Kitchener had no Hebrew day school (just a limited afternoon and Sunday Hebrew school). They were ecstatic to see their three grandchildren attend Hebrew day school, and two of them (Noa ’10 and Zev ’12) attend TanenbaumCHAT.

They are also remembered, among other things, with an Award in Jewish Teacher Education in the Jewish Studies Program at York University. This award [at TanenbaumCHAT] fits right into their example of supporting worthy causes, especially Jewish education.

Tell us a little about their lives.

Alex Orzy (1923 - 2020) was born in Lida (then Poland, now Belarus). His grandfather was a founder of the Beth Lida Synagogue on Gilgorm Street in Toronto. He grew up in Kitchener where his father was the kosher butcher. He attended the Waterloo campus of the University of Western Ontario and, in 1949, he became one of two original Volkswagen dealers in Canada who were Jewish. He sold the business in1968, and then worked for many years as a private commercial mortgage lender. Alyce Orzy (1926-2000) was born in Hamilton, Ontario, attended McMaster University and moved to Kitchener after marrying in 1947. She gave birth to three children: Deborah, Judith and Rick, and served as a leader in almost every Jewish organization in Kitchener.

When our parents left Kitchener in the late 70s, the entire community (Jewish and non-Jewish) hosted a major dinner in their honour with press coverage, speeches by the mayor and other politicians and visiting dignitaries. They moved to Toronto where they continued to be active in many synagogues and charitable organizations.

Why support TanenbaumCHAT?

TanenbaumCHAT is a cornerstone educational institution in Jewish Toronto. It turns out students who have learned a great deal, work hard and are prepared for success and accomplishment.

The school teaches tolerance for opposing opinions, but also the ability to argue against them effectively and with substance when considered wrong. TanenbaumCHAT builds bridges by emphasizing knowledge, learning and community building.