From the Israeli Merchant Marine to Member of the Board
Reflections of a Sailor Who Became a Governor
by Dory Tuvim
Little did I know in 1967, when I was job hunting in a scarce job market, that one day I would return home to my beloved Haifa as a governor with the prestigious university that was not in existence back then.
I left my hometown after the 1967 War to seek my fortune in Canada. I landed in Montreal—as far as my ticket and money would take me. Being a sailor and having done much manual work, it was not difficult to find odd painting and maintenance jobs in private homes and construction sites - anything that I could get. It was not an easy beginning in my adopted country.
I was not a stranger to hard work as anyone in the Israeli Merchant Marine can attest. Over time, my work took me into the area of ship repairs, and this is where I discovered the then newly emerging way of transporting goods, containers. I established the first container repair and terminal operation, which grew into the largest such company of its kind in Canada.
As every successful businessman knows, my road to success was full of potholes and traps, which I had to endure and overcome. Through it all, I recognized and appreciated the fundamental values of leading an ethical life; dealing fairly with others, putting in a hard day's work; and keeping a sense of humor. These were the things that I was taught in my hometown of Haifa. Haifa shaped me to what I became.
In 1995, when I was driving to Daliat El-Carmel to visit my godson Dory Chalaby, grandson of my childhood friend, Saya Chalaby [see Focus, Spring 2001—Ed.], I was struck by the beautiful site of the University campus. This stopped me in my tracks, and I ended up on the 27th floor, in the office of the vice-president for development, Ms. Yael Metser, discussing a scholarship program in the names of the late Saya and the brothers Elkeles, also childhood friends in Haifa.
I could never have imagined that this impulsive decision—my way of doing things— would turn into a wonderful saga; or, if you will, a love story between me and this awesome university. I dare say I was much smitten. The scholarships put me in touch with the vibrant energy of our Israeli youth. With people who strive to do better in life for themselves and for the society in which they live. It is a guiding principal in my life.
When I returned to Montreal, the scholarships led me to the Canadian Friends of Haifa University, where I told my story to Canadians while urging their support. I continue to do so with every opportunity. This is not a chore; it is a heartfelt pleasure.
In time, the University’s President, Prof. Yehuda Hayut, invited me to join the Board of Governors. I have to admit that of all the awards that I received over the years, nothing can match the value and prestige that I place on this invitation. My first Board of Governors Meeting last year was, for me, a homecoming party that I will cherish for the rest of my life. It was as though my people were embracing me with their open hearts and welcoming me with affection second to none. I was the long lost son coming back home.
I am no longer the young, cocky boy that left Haifa. I am older and wiser and ready to help in any way I can. To give back to the community that gave me so much in my youth.
British Columbia, Canada, May 2002
Board of Governors member Dory Tuvim of Canada (r.) had a chance to speak with Haifa Mayor Amram Mitznah at the opening event of this year's Board Meeting.
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