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The Endowment Book of Life
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Richard Tapper signs his story for the Endowment Book of Life
  Richard Tapper

As I participate in the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba’s Endowment Book of Life in the summer of 2011; I’m told that I am the youngest signer of the book to date. I’m proud of that, but I hope it’s a distinction that I don’t hold for too long. My generation needs to grab hold of Jewish life in our community and help build a meaningful future steeped in Yiddishkeit, creativity, and pride. I want my infant son and all of his peers to benefit from vibrant institutions like I did.

I was born in 1977 to Bernie and Leya Tapper (née Cogan). I was raised on Seven Oaks, between Main and Salter, with my sister Heather. All of my grandparents came from Russia. My mom’s parents were David and Bertha. My grandmother died before I was born, but I still cling to memories of having milk and cookies with Zaida David and coming to help him at his store, ‘David’s His and Hers Shoes’. He lived with us for a while and passed away when I was just a toddler. My dad’s parents were Lily and Motel Tapper, who owned a grocery store on Selkirk Avenue.

My parents are now retired, but they did several interesting things throughout their careers. My dad sold siding and ran catering and candy businesses; my mom worked at a bank and spent some time as Rabbi Peretz Weizman’s secretary at the B’Nay Abraham, which was just around the corner from our house. Later on, they started to invest in property. We weren’t wealthy, but we never felt deprived. We participated fully in community life; and if it weren’t for the great childhood I had and my supportive parents, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. My parents taught me to work hard, and never give up on my dreams.

After kindergarten at Rosh Pina, I attended Talmud Torah/I.L. Peretz School after the schools on Jefferson and Matheson merged. Elementary school produced fabulous memories. I remember being a TV correspondent for CKND’s Kids News and having my picture on the front of the Winnipeg Sun for Chanukah. Countless school plays and concerts, and siddur and Torah celebrations still make me smile when I look back.

I went on to Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate from where I ultimately graduated. My JWC highlights included a year as student council president and playing on two championship basketball teams for the JWC Raiders. Perhaps my greatest JWC experience happened after I graduated when I had the honour of serving as the madrich (leader) for the grade 12 Israel program for two years. Another pivotal Israel experience was my participation in the March of the Living program when I was a teen. That was my first trip to Israel and it changed me forever. I couldn’t stop staring at the land.

My Jewish youth was also enhanced by my active membership in Alophim, a BBYO chapter full of great guys who treated each other with respect. I’m proud to have later served as a volunteer advisor of the very same chapter.

Camp Massad was also an extremely significant part of my childhood and teen years. I spent many summers as a camper, counsellor, and programmer. For me, Massad was pure joy. It was—and still is—a place where Jewish youth gather to celebrate Jewish life in creative, exceptional ways. For there to be a positive Jewish future, we need organizations like Massad that bring Jewish people together to do Jewish things with energy and pride. Massad isn’t just about fun, it’s about vision...but, boy is it fun!

After JWC, I moved on to the University of Winnipeg to study sciences and then went to Southern California University of Health Sciences to study chiropractic. After the program, I thought I would try to establish myself in Ottawa, but quickly realized that Winnipeg was a better fit for me. It was home, so I returned.

As I was establishing my career in Winnipeg, I started to extend low-fee and voluntary service to the clients of Siloam Mission. The media picked up on that and I was able to get a lot of publicity early in my career. I haven’t looked back and now run a busy practice in Fort Garry. I am proud of my work and believe strongly in natural health care solutions and the potential of chiropractic to improve people’s lives. As part of my practice, I have worked with professional athletes, and I’ve contributed chapters to two books: “Tired of Being Sick and Tired” and “In Service: Wake Up...Live the Life You Love.” For fun, I co-host a radio show with current Winnipeg Blue Bomber, Obby Khan. We call it “The Doc and the Jock” and we talk about sports and health.

I’m active with the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg as a member of the Board and the Cabinet, and as President of the Ben Gurion Society. I’m also President of the Chiropractic Division of the United Way. I truly love my community service work and am committed to making philanthropy a part of my life for the long term.

In 2010, I married Lauren Goldsman from Edmonton. Lauren is a neo-natal intensive care nurse, and I’m so happy that she has embraced life in Winnipeg. This is now her home. Our son Gabriel was born in 2011. As his parents, Lauren and I plan to share our values about Jewish living, tzedakah, and community service.

I once heard a speaker say: “The hole you give through is the hole you receive through.” In other words, you get back everything you give. I truly believe that, and I see the Endowment Book of Life as an important way to give. The return for all of us is immeasurable.