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Chabad Lifeline blog

Some people see this stuff in the movies. We see it every day...

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Eleven years ago Emma* and Gabriel* walked into Chabad Lifeline with nothing but two garbage bags filled with their clothing.

They had left their home after their son Jonathan* had been taken into child custody. They were in desperate need for help. 

What had been a 25 year cocaine addiction for both Emma and Gabriel rapidly escalated for the worse after experimentation with crack cocaine. This led to leaving work, owing money to bad people, and serious neglect of their 10-year-old son.

Montreal police had raided their house after neighbours overheard an altercation between Gabriel and shady debt collectors. Jonathan was swiftly taken into child custody. This was the wake up call they needed but knew they could not turn their lives around alone. Desperate to get their child back, they packed their clothes into two garbage bags and took a taxi to Chabad Lifeline.

"Coming to Lifeline was the best decision we ever made," said Emma. "It changed our lives."

Emma and Gabriel got involved in our treatment program for addicts. They followed the instructions of our treatment plan, which included individual counselling, group therapy, urine tests, and being involved in the 12 step fellowship.

They worked very hard at their sobriety and three months in, were able to reunite with their son, who entered and benefited from Chabad Lifeline's youth program. Addiction affects the whole family which is why we purposefully design programs for the whole family to grow and heal.  

Today, Jonathan is a McGill student on the Dean's List, working on getting into the MSW program. "I want to be able to help other kids who have gone through what I've gone through," he stressed. "And I see this is the best path."

We are extremely proud of Emma, Gabriel, and Jonathan, who took control of their lives and are role models for others struggling with the chaos of addiction.

*Please note: identifying information in this story has been altered to protect the anonymity of the family.

Feature Focus: Karen Dubrofsky

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Today we'd like to introduce you to one of Chabad Lifeline's guardian angels!

Karen Dubrofsky.

In the world of philanthropy, Karen is one of the rare few philanthropists who support non-profits because of a genuine desire to helping those in need, even though they don't know the individual on the receiving end uplifted by their donations.  

Fundraising with Cookbooks

Karen and her husband Lionel have advocated for numerous charitable causes, raising significant funds supporting causes they believe in.

In 2007, Karen authored a cookbook titled "Montreal Cooks: Recipes from Montreal's Finest Restaurants," raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for gynecological oncology at the MUHC, despite the fact that she had no connection to women's cancer.

Over the next two years, Karen met with world class chefs across Canada together with photographer Fahri Yavuz, leading to the publication of another best-selling cookbook featuring over 90 recipes: "Cooking with Canada's Best: Signature Recipes from our Finest Chefs." 100% of the proceeds were donated to the Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group at the University of Western Ontario, even though Karen had no personal connection to autism.

Her third cookbook was titled "Nourishing Friends: Recipes for a Healthy Life." Released in 2013 and co-authored with Chef Gigi Cohen, the book delivered 115 flavorful budget friendly recipes with a focus on vegetables and grain, and was one of the few cookbooks certified kosher by the MK Certification Agency. Sales of this popular book raised a significant amount of money for the Alexia and Anthony Calvillo Fund for the Cedars CanSupport Program.

In total, Karen raised over 1.5 million dollars for the three organizations! Something to be very proud of, not only because of the nominal figure, but the creativity and dedication she put into creating these meaningful cookbooks that in turn touched thousands of lives for the better. 

When in Florida...

Karen's connection to Chabad Lifeline began in Florida, where Executive Committee Member Heleena Wiltzer asked her what she's got planned for April. Heleena invited Karen to Lifeline's Open Speaker's Meeting on a Tuesday.

"I didn't really know what I was walking into," Karen recalled. "What struck me was the number of youth in the meeting."

At the meeting, a young man poured out his story with an open vulnerability, relating his continued struggles with addiction and his path to recovery. Karen stuck around to chat with others after the meeting, and was asked to help launch Chabad Lifeline's first annual film screening fundraiser. She immediately accepted much to our delight!

She became an integral part of the Chabad Lifeline's Executive Committee, ensuring the success of Lifeline's raffles and film screenings. She has raised tens of thousands in support of Lifeline, even though she has no personal connection to addiction.

"I think there's a tremendous need for support of those affected by addiction," she stressed. "It's a taboo subject that flies under the radar and most people try to sweep things under the rug. There's a need for it and Chabad Lifeline is a well run organization doing amazing work, particularly with the youth."

Chabad Lifeline Director Rabbi Benyamin Bresinger expressed his gratitude to Karen for her support. "A significant portion of the monies brought in by the film festival comes from Karen and Lionel Dubrofsky's efforts and philanthropy," he said. "Karen's wisdom and experience coupled with her passion for making the world a better place is something that inspires me every time we talk."

From all of us here at Chabad Lifeline, Thank you Karen!


We encourage our readers to attend a Tuesday Open Speaker's Meeting and see for themselves the impact of addiction. If you would like to make a donation and support our lifesaving work, click here.

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