Julia Koschitzky was born in Cardiff, Wales, where she spent the first years of her life before relocating to Canada in 1949 and ultimately settling in Toronto in 1956. Koschitzky was a prominent member in the Jewish community in Toronto, as well as nationally and internationally. She served as President for the Parents’ Association of the Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto, where her children attended, and held other executive roles such as chair, trustee, and board member at numerous Jewish organizations around the world. Koschitzky was involved in Operation Exodus, playing a key role in the relationship between Canadian Jewry and Israel in the 1990s. She is decorated with awards for her service to the community and holds an honorary doctorate from Yeshiva University.
An activist, philanthropist, and leader of Canadian and world Jewry, Julia Koschitzky was born in Cardiff, Wales, the daughter of Max Podolski (b. Posen, now Poznan, 1904, d. Toronto, 1986) and Elli (Moses) Podolski (b. Berlin, 1908, d. Toronto, 2002). Her parents, who worked together in business, fled Germany in 1939 for Wales, where they had business interests, leaving for Canada in 1949 and finally settling in Toronto in 1956.
In 1963, Julia married businessman Henry Koschitzky (b. Kattowice, Poland, 1935), whose family came to Canada having lived in exile in the Soviet Union during World War II. Over the years, the Koschitzkys became increasingly prominent in philanthropy, community leadership, and Orthodoxy in Canada and Israel. Chief among their interests were Jewish education and social welfare across the communal spectrum, with major benefactions over the years to many causes, such as day schools and yeshivas and the endowment of the Koschitzky Family Chair in Jewish Teacher Education at York University in Toronto.
Jewish Communal Involvement
For Koschitzky, communal leadership meant not only philanthropy but also taking active roles in Jewish affairs locally, nationally, and internationally. She began as president of the Parents’ Association of the Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto, the community day school that her children attended. In 1985, she chaired the Toronto UJA (United Jewish Appeal) Women’s Division Campaign and in 1988–1989 co-chaired the general Toronto UJA Campaign. She served for eight years as an officer of the UJA/Federation of Greater Toronto and then (1990–1992) as president of UIA (United Israel Appeal)/Federations Canada. In the latter position, she was able to help shape the relationship between Canadian Jewry and Israel and to play a central role in Operation Exodus, the immigration of Jews from Russia to Israel. In 1998, she chaired the Toronto celebrations of the fiftieth anniversary of Israeli statehood; she later chaired UJA/Federation’s Israel Advocacy program and served on the executive committee of Israel Now. On July 1, 2015, Koschitzky was appointed to the Order of Canada, for her dedication to interfaith education.
From 1992 to 1997 Koschitzky chaired the Keren Hayesod World Board of Trustees. She became a member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel in 1990 and a member of the Agency Executive in 1996. She also served as a trustee of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Canadian Jewish News, the York University Foundation, the United Jewish Communities of North America, the Pincus Fund for Jewish Education of the Jewish Agency, and other organizations.
Koschitzky volunteered at Canadian citizenship ceremonies, where she granted citizenship to some 1,000 people. She was also involved with the Jerusalem Foundation, which seeks to invest in the future of Jerusalem as a source of inspiration for its people and the world.
Koschitzky received a number of awards for unstinting service. Among them are the Woman of Valour Award of Toronto’s UJA Business and Professional Women’s Division (1990); the Commonwealth Medal given on the 125th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation (1993); the Jerusalem Award of the Canadian Zionist Federation (1994); the Ben Sadowski Award for outstanding dedication to the Toronto Jewish Community (1997); the Israel Goldstein Prize conferred by the Lit. "assembly." The 120-member parliament of the State of Israel.Knesset for outstanding service to the Keren Hayesod (1997); the Volunteer Service Award of the Province of Ontario (1999) conferred by the lieutenant-governor; and an honorary doctorate from Yeshiva University (2003).
Koschitzky and her husband had four children: Serena (b. 1964), Hartley (b. 1965), Jonathan (b. 1970), and Leelah (Gitler, b. 1974). Her sister was Jeannette Massouda (b.1940). The Koschitzkys were recognized as an extraordinary example of a family that has been reborn from exile and suffering to success in the world of business and generosity in assuming communal responsibility.
Julia Koschitzky died on March 21, 2022.
"Community Involvement Is What Julia Koschitzky Is All About." The Canadian Jewish News, 2017, https://thecjn.ca/perspectives/opinions/community-involvement-julia-kos…. Accessed 29 Oct 2021.