From Mother to Daughter: Love for Community

For Debby Becker Newpol and her daughter Alix Newpol, love for the community is in their genes.

Sitting across from each other engaged in lively conversation, you might get the impression the two beautiful women were sisters. The love between them is palpable, and is only matched by the energy they exude. They are Debby Becker Newpol, and her daughter, Alix Newpol.

We met in the Bronfman Israel Experience Center (BIEC) offices, where Alix is director of Montreal’s March of the Living (MOL) program. Debby has stopped by to say hello before a meeting with the Women’s Philanthropy division of Federation CJA, where she is currently involved with the Mosaic cookbook, for which all proceeds are being directed to women in need. As the conversation switches from Alix’s upcoming wedding—to a boy she met at Jewish summer camp—to Debby’s father’s recent second bar mitzvah (yes, bar mitzvah!), it is clear that community is as deeply ingrained in them as is their love for each other.

“We share a lot of interests, generally, in life, and we participate in many community events together,” says Alix.

Adds Debby, “she has always supported me in all my endeavours, and I am proud to support hers.”

For Debby, those endeavours have included an active community life and lifelong commitment to helping those less fortunate in the Montreal Jewish community. Born and raised in Montreal, Debby has been volunteering for as long as she can remember—giving back is something she learned from her family who has been deeply rooted in the Jewish community for three generations. But, she says, “as much as I give, I get back in spades – if not more.”

When she became president of Agence Ometz in 2002, it was one of her proudest moments. “Ometz is important to me –not just because I was involved with its predecessor, Jewish Vocational Services, or even because of the fact that my father, Hillel, was president of JVS/JEM in 1968-70 as well as past president of Federation CJA, but because it’s so vitally important in the infrastructure of the federation agencies, and dedicated to serving some of the most vulnerable people in the community. “

Alix Newpol and her mother Debby Becker Newpol.

Now, Debby has the privilege of watching her daughter, Alix, take the lead in her own community endeavours.

“The March of the Living was cancelled when I was in grade eleven, in 2002,” reflects Alix. “In the following years they started the young adult delegation, and they opened it up to all the kids who had missed it when the program was cancelled. I signed up immediately. And the experience changed my life forever.”

Nearly 10 years later, and living in New York, Alix got a call from her brother, Josh, who was a madrich (leader) on the trip, and who got her thinking about coming back to Montreal to possibly join the MOL team as a professional. “It just felt right,” she says. Alix was named March of the Living program director in 2013 and coordinating the MOL program has been a tremendous personal fulfillment.

In the true spirit of l’dor v’dor (from generation to generation), Alix has picked up the baton of commitment to community that had been instilled in her early on. Not surprisingly, her mother is flush with pride. But even Debby couldn’t guess what would come next: Alix suggested that her mother would make an excellent madricha.

And so, this spring, Alix Newpol and Debby Becker Newpol will stand arm in arm as they embark, together, on their first joint community effort as leaders on the March of the Living program.

“I feel,” Debby concludes with a smile, “like the luckiest person in the world.”

  • MARLENE BOURKE says:

    I applaud Tikun Olam and CJA for your wonderful and expressive account and recognition of Debbie and Ali. Since I know the Becker/Newpole clan it is no surprise to me that they are being honored in this way.
    Marlene Bourke

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