Meet Rafi Yablonsky
“This is why I do what I do.
To empower the Jewish people.”
We’re all familiar with the stereotypical Jewish mother. Nosy, loving, and wanting nothing less than the best for her children.
Rafi’s Mom was no different.
While working in software sales, Rafi didn’t feel fulfilled. But it wasn’t him who realized this- it was his mother. “It was that Jewish mother’s intuition. I didn’t even notice my own unhappiness. She’s the reason I went back to work in the community. And she was right.”
A few weeks later, Rafi sent his resume to the CEO of UJA Federation of Toronto, and the gall it took to do that launched Rafi’s career on to the frontlines of empowering the Jewish people.
“You have to be chutzpadik. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. That’s my fundraising motto.”
Everywhere he works, Rafi brings a framed Israeli flag with him to hang up in his office. This, however, isn’t your average blue and white piece of cloth. “The flag was handsewn by my grandmother, Adela Goldberg z’l, a survivor of Auschwitz, who moved to Israel in 1947.”
This flag represents the Jewish people- past, present and future, and it is what keeps Rafi’s tireless work mission-oriented.
While at the UJA, Rafi was told that in this line of work, there is no Plan B. “If we don’t raise money for the Jewish people, no one will.” Rafi was flooded with memories of his grandmother and he realized just how important it was for him to be doing this.
“This is why I do what I do. To empower the Jewish people.”
Rafi has devoted his career as a Jewish professional to many organization in Toronto such as UJA Federation and Chai Lifeline, and now works as the Campaign Director of JNF Toronto.
He lives by principles of love, kindness and action in the face of injustice.
Rafi encourages everyone to get involved in community work because “just like you need your community, your community needs you.”
Born in Israel, Rafi Yablonsky was raised in Toronto and attended Jewish day school. He completed a Bachelor’s of Commerce at York University, and, while there, co-founded “Hasbara at York”. After a brief period of working in software sales, Rafi returned to community work where he has found his calling.
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Jumans of Toronto is a window into the lives and passion of Jewish young adults making their mark in the world. A 50-part series, Jumans is inspired by Humans of New York. If you’d like to recommend someone awesome to be highlighted, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by: Adina Samuels