Photography by David Amoils

Tony’s family history can be traced back to Iran. His ancestors moved to Iraq several generations before Tony’s father was born in Baghdad. Tony’s paternal grandfather was in the textile business and had several sons. He sent them to various parts of the world to expand the family business, including sending his father to Japan in 1932. His father settled in Kobe, Japan, where he found about 25 Sephardi families, a culture of tolerance and support of Jews among the Japanese people. In the late 1930s, some rabbis from Germany established a yeshiva in Kobe with the assistance of the Sephardi community, and it became one of the few yeshivot outside of North America that flourished during World War II.

In 1938, Tony’s uncle Abraham, who had been sent to Manchester, England, wrote to his brothers about all the nice families in Manchester and invited them to visit. Tony’s father did visit Abraham, and it was in Manchester that he met Violet Dellal, whom he later married. Together, they moved back to Kobe. Tony’s older brother, Leon, was born shortly after, and Tony followed. The family spent WWII in Japan.

After the war, the family first moved to New York City but returned to Japan, settling in Tokyo. By the time they returned to Japan, other Jewish people had settled in Japan, many of whom had come there from Shanghai in advance of the Communist takeover of mainland China. In the mid-1950s, the Jewish community in Tokyo built the Jewish Community Centre of Tokyo, and Tony was the first person to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah at the then new Jewish Community Centre.

In 1956, when Tony was 14 years old, he and his brother were sent to Ashbury College in Ottawa to finish high school, on the advice of a friend of his parents who had settled in Montreal. Tony then went on to McGill University, and soon after graduating, he moved to London, Ontario to attend the MBA program at the Ivey School of Business. There he met his wife, Elaine, also a student at the University of Western Ontario, who was from Toronto. Following their marriage, they settled in Toronto, where they raised three children, Shawna, Lara and Eli, and now have four grandchildren.