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8: Albert Latner

05/16/2019 03:00:00 PM

May16

Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

You might think that when Rifky and I started out 20 years ago, we’d immediately meet Albert Latner. After all, it was his late wife Temmy’s name that graced the Forest Hill Jewish Centre.

But actually meeting him took longer than anticipated. 

Before we came on the scene, Rabbi Nota Schiller had a long-standing relationship with the Latners. And it was Rav Schiller who pitched Albert on the idea of opening up a Centre named for Temmy.

It was only later I learned that the Latner name was on a lot of other buildings.

For many years, in fact, I’d say I was the top giver to the Latner Palliative Care Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital. Not because I actually donated, but because I forwarded many wayward phone calls from people who accidentally called the FHJC instead.

Persistence paid off, and I finally met Mr. Latner: a man full of life, who loved to study, and cared a lot about the Jewish people. 

In his study, there was a gorgeous Chagall-style Aron (Ark) with several Torah scrolls inside. I’ve opened many of the books that were in his library, and I can tell you that dozens and dozens of them were read and underlined. 

I told him that it’d be a long road ahead for me here, because I was a baseball guy, and not so into hockey. 

Sure enough, he called me into his office, and left two tickets: front row, centre ice for the Leaf game that night. (Oh, how I wanted to scalp those instead.)

They say that Albert raised his game because of his wife. Everyone would speak about her in glowing terms. It saddens me that I was never able to meet her. 

Mr. Latner was at our groundbreaking ceremony, but he passed before we moved into the new building. So, at our rooftop dedication, we officially added Albert to the name of the Centre.

People choose to support many things. But creating a Jewish landmark is something that will pay dividends for generations to come. And I know that both Temmy and Albert are shepping lots of nachas in Heaven. 

Rifky and I feel blessed that we’re connected to four generations of Latners, a family whose newest members are growing up in the Centre, which bears the name of their great-grandparents—the couple who foresaw what’s been built.

Mon, July 4 2022 5 Tammuz 5782