Canadian Doris Ekdahl z”l lived a quiet and humble life devoted to helping others through her many volunteer efforts in her community and, ultimately, through her generous legacy to Yemin Orde’s at-risk youth.
When Doris passed away in March 2016 at the age of 86, she stated in her will that she wanted to help Israel’s young victims of war and trauma. Thanks to Doris’s deep concern for Israel’s fragile children, Yemin Orde Youth Village will receive a gift of $400,000 (Canadian) to help support its Therapeutic Treatment Center and Remedial Learning Program.
The center and program play important parts in empowering the Village’s fragile teens to achieve educational success and lead productive adult lives.
Rabbi Philip Bregman, who served as head spiritual leader for more than 30 years at Temple Sholom in Vancouver, British Columbia, where Doris attended Shabbat services, helped facilitate his former congregant’s bequest. Rabbi Bregman said that Doris came to trust him and, according to her will, designated him to select organizations in Israel to receive the gift of her generosity.
Rabbi Bregman first visited Yemin Orde Youth Village in 2016. His visit made a lasting impression and “Yemin Orde was at the top of my list when Doris’s opportunity presented itself,” he said.
A Life Well-Lived by Helping Others
Today, Rabbi Bregman serves as Hillel director at the University of British Columbia. He first visited Yemin Orde with participants in the university’s Project Tikkun, (photo, right) which engages students in discussions about Israel, education, bias and genocide.
“Doris would come to synagogue and she was very quiet,” Rabbi Bregman said. “I do know that she was impacted by the wars in Israel and the tremendous stress that wars place on people and, in particular, on children. She wanted to do something to help these individuals.”
A Private and Humble Person
Doris Ekdahl was born in London, England in 1930 and fled with her family to North America during the start of World War II. As an adult, she traveled extensively throughout Canada and the United States and worked in a variety of service industry jobs including bar owner, a nanny, salesperson and accounts manager, among others. In her more senior years, she kept busy managing property she owned in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Doris lived privately and quietly and enjoyed traveling throughout the world aboard cruise ships. She was active in a variety of Canadian cultural and religious communities, and volunteered for church groups, synagogues and homeless shelters.
In 2015, when Doris’s health began to decline, she reached out to friends for assistance in securing a legacy for her wealth. She had great compassion for children who suffered loss and trauma from war and terrorism in Israel and, at this time, established her bequest to help at-risk youth.
Doris Ekdahl’s Message of Hope
At Yemin Orde Youth Village, many of its 430 youth at risk fled conflict-torn countries where violence against Jews and anti-Semitism posed daily dangers. Many of the Village’s youth suffered tragic loss of family members while fleeing to Israel and others endured extreme poverty and educational failures while trying to adjust to life in a new homeland.
“Doris’s message to the youth at Yemin Orde would be ‘don’t give up.’ At times, life can be hard and challenging but there are people in the world who do care about you,” said Rabbi Bregman.
Doris Ekdahl’s gift will help strengthen the center’s psychological program, allowing troubled youth to heal emotionally; achieve educational success; and enable traumatized youth to refocus their energies from daily struggles and survival to leadership and productivity.
The Village will also hire staff members who speak the children’s native languages and share their native backgrounds.
“Yemin Orde is honored to be selected by Rabbi Bregman as a recipient of Doris Ekdahl’s generosity and compassion for Israel’s at-risk youth, said Shmuli Bing, director, Yemin Orde Youth Village.
“Every child deserves the best possible start in life and an unrelenting belief in their potential. All of us in the Village really put our heart and soul into the Yemin Orde vision, forever seeking new ways to empower and promote our children,” Bing said. “It will be an honor to fulfill Doris’ wish to benefit Israeli children in need at Yemin Orde.”