Ben Copelovici was born March 25, 1922 in the Town of Harlau, Romania. Harlau was a town that had three thousand four hundred Jews, and about one thousand five hundred gentiles. Mr. Copelivici boasts that on Shabbos, you could not even buy a nail because the town was shut down for the day of rest.
During the War Mr. Copelovici was taken to Besarabia by the Nazis to do forced labour. He built highways for four years and was only allowed home for ten days in that time. Mr. Copelovici’s father died when he was seven of appendicitis and he had a sister who died of meningitis. His mother and brother survived the war. His whole extended family survived and after the war lived under the Russians.
His wife was also raised in Barlau and they married in 1949. Although she had lived under the Nazis, he feels that they were not as mistreated as the Jews of Transnistria who were deported. Her whole family survived.
They traveled to Israel after the State was established, but then returned to Europe until their papers came through for Canada. Ben picked up English doing manual jobs in this country and spent part time as a student at Ryerson. Soon enough he went to work in a furniture store “Olympia Furniture” on St. Clair Avenue. After a time, the owner took him on as a partner. They bought two buildings in 1957. In 1970 he sold the property and went into the wholesale furniture business, traveling to Italy and South America to buy inventory. He established “CDR” – Combined Distributors and Representatives as the years went by. Over the years, because of business and for pleasure he has traveled to thirty three countries.
Mr. Copelivici is a proud Canadian. Over the years he has sponsored twelve people to come to Canada. At the time he was sworn in as a Canadian citizen, the Judge told him that he had an opportunity to anglicize his name. He proudly told the Judge that he was content with “Copelivici”. He is a supporter of Baycrest, the Mount Sinai Hospital and the Hebrew Day Schools. He has generously donated to the Shaarei Shomayim Synagogue.
Mr. Copelivici’s wife has passed away. He describes his life as “soup without salt”. He dearly loves his children, son Jack, a lawyer, and daughter-in-law Ida, who works with him and is a musician; granddaughter Rebecca who is Deputy Director with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, as well as grandson David who works in the sound industry. He is justifiably proud of the fact that grandson had his bar mitzvah at Massada. His son and daughter-in-law have done volunteer work in Israel over the years, a very worthy and commendable activity.
In his nineties now, Mr. Copelivici leads a meaningful and active life. He gives thanks for all the goodness that has come his way but is still cognizant of very trying times that he endured.