Gan Yeladim - Letter to Parents

Fran, Jesse, and Shelley - all Gan Yeladim regulars

Dear Parents

While I do not often share personal stories and reflections via letters to parents, I feel compelled to write to you in this manner today. Sometimes, parents do not read the Centre's newsletters and notices… it is not because they are not interested, they just get busy with other things. For those of you who do read this, I thank you for taking the time and hope that you are glad that you did.

In May of this year, I completed my 20th year of employment at Gan Yeladim.  In our early years, Gan Yeladim was Toronto's only Jewish Day Care Centre and our spaces were very much in demand. Keeping the Centre full was an easy task and vacancies did not often become available. In my second year at Gan Yeladim, a very persistent mom named Fran Yacoubov began calling me regularly, asking for a space for her son Yoni.  Each time she called, I promised her that I would call her as soon as a space became available and I actually began to dread her almost weekly inquiries.  When a space finally became available and I called her, she was overjoyed and in my office within minutes. 

Yoni began attending Gan Yeladim when he was 2, followed a year later by his 18 month old brother Jordie.  By the time Fran's third son, Jesse, was 18 months old and ready to attend Gan Yeladim, two things had happened. This mom had become active in Gan Yeladim as a Board Member, and she had become my best friend. Her Board affiliation and our friendship continued long after her 3 boys had 'graduated' from Gan Yeladim.

For those of you who do not already know, Fran passed away suddenly last week.

Her loss has been a tragic blow to her husband Haim, her 3 sons, her mother, sisters and to our entire Gan Yeladim family.  Fran was a very good friend to us all.  She supported our Centre with great devotion and passion for 18 years.  Whenever she visited the Centre, she made a point of greeting everyone with warmth.  Some of you were fortunate enough to have met Fran during her visits or at our year-end BBQ in June.  It was obvious to all that Gan Yeladim had a very special place in her heart.

What I never fully realized was the role that Gan Yeladim played in the life of the Yacoubov family. During the week of shiva, I witnessed a parade of Gan Yeladim alumni that touched me more than I have words to express. As a close family friend and frequent visitor to the Yacoubov home, of course I knew these kids were all still friends.  As they visited the shiva, one by one, I heard them introducing themselves to Fran's family with the words 'we have been friends since we were 2 years old at Gan Yeladim'. Their parents came as well, again recalling their roots at Gan Yeladim. 

By the last night of shiva, I was totally overwhelmed and finally put a word to what I was feeling.  It was pride. I cannot adequately express to you how wonderful it feels to be part of the community that was the root of the wonderful, warm, loving and supportive friendships that began at Gan Yeladim.  It is an absolute career highlight for me.

As you know, our Gan Yeladim Staff is a close-knit group of dedicated individuals. The core of our staff has been with the centre for over 10 years, several many more. It is not often that I take the opportunity to publicly commend and thank them, but today I will. As you can imagine, Fran's death has been very difficult for everyone.  Yet, each day, your children's teachers have set aside their emotions and tears and continued their work without fault.  I am very grateful and feel truly blessed to work with this wonderful group of caring and supportive people and I am very proud to be a part of Gan Yeladim.

Fran's death has left a great void in our Gan Yeladim family and she will certainly be missed. Most of all, by me.

As we enter a New Year, I extend very sincere wishes to you for a year full of good health, happiness and prosperity. 

Shana Tova.