150+ Canadians Day 108: Rabbi Arthur Bielfeld

Rabbi Arthur Bielfeld contributes to peace by working passionately to improve conditions for those living in poor social conditions.

“What Canada has going for it is potentially a breadth of perspectives that makes it an interesting and dynamic place. My greatest hope is that we will retain that outlook and not return to some more narrowly focused perspective, where either through law or through attitude we discourage that true multicultural spirit.”

Rabbi Bielfeld emigrated from Massachusetts to Toronto, becoming a Canadian citizen in 1968. He served as the spiritual leader of Reform Temple Emanu-El for 33 years, retiring in 2001.

He identifies his formative influences as his four notable female friends, Barbara Frum, Jane Jacobs, Margaret Lawrence and June Callwood, who taught him not just what it meant to be Canadian, but “what it meant to be a human being.”

Bielfeld believed that it was unconscionable that governments in Canada, one of the richest countries in the world, were not doing more to combat poverty affecting individuals and families. He took action to help those he could. Bielfeld founded the Leo Baeck Day School; he also served as co-chair of the June Callwood Coalition to End Child Poverty, past chairman of the Board of the Energy Probe Research Foundation, founding chair of MAZON Canada, a Jewish response to Hunger, founding chair of the Campaign Against Child Poverty, past board member of the North York Committee on Community, Race and Ethnic Relations, past board member of the United Way of Greater Toronto, and past board member of the Casey House Hospice which provides support for those with HIV/AIDS. 

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