My parents, Maier David and Rachel (Anjou) Hamovich came to Winnipeg from Romania in 1912 with their five children, Sarah, Julius, Victor, Louis and Ray. They migrated twice - my mother's parents were still in Romania and were not well - so they returned to Romania, and came back to Canada again in 1914. The family settled in Winnipeg's North End where I was born two years later, in 1916.
I attended Argyle School, David Livingstone, and Aberdeen School. This was the height of the depression and I realized I would not be able to go on to University. I was advised to re-take my Grade 9 at Machray School where I took a Commercial Course rather than University Matriculation, and then went on to graduate from St. John's High.
During my high school years I became involved with Young Judea and was one of the youngest to be active on the Zionist Council, serving as President of the J.N.F. in Winnipeg. At age 29, I met with the late Rube Kimmel, who asked me to become the Executive Director of the Mid-West Region of the Zionist Organization of Canada. I assumed the position on February 15, 1945. This began a life-long career of community involvement. Among a variety of activities and projects initiated by the Z.O.C. - I inaugurated and organized the first twelve Negev Dinners in our community.
In 1967 I was appointed Regional Executive Director of the newly created Canadian Zionist Federation, and that year I also conducted a special Emergency Campaign during the Six Days War. It was the second most successful campaign per capita world-wide, which undoubtedly led to my being asked to serve as Campaign Director for the Combined Jewish Appeal in 1970. I held this position until 1982 and stayed on in a consultative capacity until my "total" retirement in 1992. During my years of community service, I visited Israel nine times - including several fundraising missions. In May, 1985, my wife and I were privileged to attend the dedication in Israel of "Ralph Hamovich Lounge" at Winnipeg House (a Senior Citizens Centre in Jaffa Dalet) - built with funds raised through the Combined Jewish Appeal.
I am also proud to have been a founding member and first President of the Brandeis Lodge - receiving an Honourary Life Membership in 1973.
I married Clara Freed, whom I met through Young Judea, in 1939. We have three children, Mira (Buchwald), in Winnipeg, Jerry and Keren (Freed) in Vancouver, also eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Curling and golf have been a great joy in my life. I was pleased to be conferred with Honorary Life Memberships by the Maple Leaf Curling Club (having served as Secretary for 18 years), and by the Manitoba Curling Association. I particularly enjoyed the years when I organized the B'nai Brith Curling Bonspiels, which brought in curlers from far and wide. I have been golfing for about 50 years, having been a member at Pine Ridge, Bel Acres, and, since 1975, Glendale Golf & Country Club, where I served on the Board of Directors. (It was a special thrill for me when our son Jerry won the Manitoba Junior Golf Championship in 1963.) On June 7, 1999 I was pleased to be one of 20 people honored at the Annual Y Sports Dinner, in recognition of my participation and accomplishments in community sports.
I am concerned that Jews are becoming more self-absorbed - rather than caring first and foremost for each other. There are many ways of being Jewish, and I encourage our community to become more tolerant. I believe that our education system must continue, even be intensified, and encourage parents to aim for consistent values between home and school.