Joe Gottdenker


“my message to the next generation is that we must never forget. But remembrance alone isn’t enough. Each of us must also act, speak out, and provide financial support to the causes that will protect our future. If not us, who will?”


Joseph was born in 1942 in Nazi-occupied Poland. By that time, his father has already been deported to a work camp. Joseph’s mother Bina, entrusted her new-born child to Petronolo and Wladyslaw Ziolo and joined the Polish resistance. The Ziolo family adopted Joseph and raised him as their own. Joseph stayed with the adoptive family for three years until the end of the war. When the war was over, he reunited with his parents in Germany. The family immigrated to the United States in 1948 and to Toronto in 1958, where Joe has lived since. Joe believes that one’s Jewish identity is defined by values of acceptance, tolerance and understanding – not just for our own community but for all races. To be a Jew is to be a citizen of the world – we must be in it together. Joe is a proud father of three children and grandfather to five grandchildren.