Judy Feld Carr Honoured by Markham Chabad Women

Published: March 30th 2010
in News >> Local

Judy Feld Carr

“We were buying Jews, one by one, from a hostile government.  It was the best kept secret in the Jewish world.”


For over 28 years this Canadian musicologist and mother of six lived a double life, caring for her family and at the same time, virtually alone, enabling the rescue of thousands of Syrian Jews. It was the best kept secret in the Jewish world.


“There were no typical days,” recalled Judy Feld Carr. “This wasn’t like the Russian exodus that was done by the world. This was me running the operation at home and in secret.”


She was the keynote speaker and honouree at a fashion show at the Queen St. Bay store, organized by the Chabad Lubavitch of Markham’s Sisterhood, Women of the World (WoW). A portion of the money raised will go to ASTEH, Alternative Short Term Emergency Housing, a community based kosher housing facility for Jewish abused women and their children.


The catalyst for Judy and her late husband, Dr. Ronald Feld, was an article in the Jerusalem Post about 12 young Jews whose bodies were mutilated when they stepped on a minefield while trying to escape from Qamishli. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Syria burned synagogues and forbade Jews from leaving the country. Restrictions reminiscent of Nazi Germany were enacted. Jews were not allowed to travel more than three kilometres without a permit and were forced into ghettos. Business and educational opportunities were strictly limited and those who tried to escape were often tortured and killed. Identification cards were issued with Jew in red letters.  Secret police monitored their every move. The government moved Palestinians to houses next door to Jews to spy on them.


“If you had told me in those days that I would eventually be running a rescue operation, I would have told you that you’re mad,” said Judy.


Her husband died at 40 of a heart attack, and the entire burden fell on Judy alone. The first rescue was in 1977 and the last family came one hour before September 11, 2001.


“The pressure was often unbearable. I was going to quit almost every second day. But I had figured out an underground system and people depended on me. All they knew was their way out was Mrs. Judy in Canada.” She could tell no one. “One word of what I did would have been fatal.” In Israel the Prime Ministers, Mossad and Shin Bet knew what she was doing, but not how.


Judy used funds from the Dr. Ronald (Rubin) Feld Fund for Jews in Arab Lands, established in 1973, donated privately. Donations were by word of mouth. When they heard about her rescue work, Beth Tzedek decided to give her money. “Aside from a shul in Baltimore, that was it. No dinners, no professionals, no salaries and no UJA or Congress.”


For those for whom she couldn’t buy legal exit visas, she plotted escape routes. She paid off Muslim drug smugglers to take the Syrian Jews across mountains, and mined borders. “Lebanon was too dangerous. I re-routed them through Turkey. I had to make sure there were no Syrian double agents among them.” In the ‘70s, the ‘80s and the ‘90s, she was buying Jews one at a time.” She became their last route out of the country – Mrs. Judy in Canada. That’s all they knew.


She delayed her father’s funeral one hour to get a mother and six children out. “The last day of the mourning period I got a call – “Judy, they’re out”.


The last rescue – a family with seven children, arrived the morning of the cataclysmic September 11th.


In all, Judy had saved 3,228 Syrian Jews. The Jewish population of Syria numbered 4,500 people.


She ended her presentation with a strong message. “All of Israel is one and we’re all interdependent. Each one of us doesn’t have the luxury to sidestep and leave to others the existence of our people.


Harold Troper has written a book about Judy Feld Carr. It’s called The Rescuer – The Amazing True Story of How One Women Helped Save the Jews of Syria.

Related articles: (Judy Feld Carr, Syrian Jews)
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