In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, The CJN presents 40 profiles of some of the most prominent Jewish Canadians throughout our history.
The late Philip Granovsky, who died from leukemia in 1995 at age 74, set the gold standard for community leadership.
His wife, Shirley, said at the opening of the Shirley and Phil Granovsky Palliative Care Unit at Baycrest in 2005, that her husband was passionate about the Jewish community.
“There wasn’t a Jewish cause he wouldn’t support,” she said. “A generous man with tremendous compassion, he established an endowment fund in both our names to support many diverse needs within the Jewish community, near and far.”
She added that both she and Phil came from humble beginnings but were blessed later and fortunate to be able to give to the community. “Giving is an honour and an obligation. Whether you are of great or modest means, we always shared a view that one can give generously.”
Phil Granovsky was born in Romania to Abraham and Pearl Granovsky, and moved to Toronto with his family at the age of five. He was a student at the Brunswick Talmud Torah. He married Shirley Rockfeld in 1946.
He and his father founded Atlantic Packaging Products in 1945. The Granovsky family started the privately owned company in a small converted plant in downtown Toronto. The Granovsky family – Phil’s brother, Irving, joined the company in 1950 and remains chair – built Atlantic into one of the largest and most respected companies in Canada. Through forward-thinking vision, timely acquisitions, and a service driven mantra, the Granovsky family transformed Atlantic Packaging into an industry leader, focused on delivering quality sustainable packaging products to large and small customers alike.
Granovsky was also a sports fan. He was part of a group that tried – unsuccessfully – to bring the Blue Jays to Toronto. He did become a part owner of the Toronto Raptors.
In addition to his business success, Granovsky was regarded as a formidable fundraiser and devoted many years assisting the United Jewish Appeal in their annual fundraising campaign. He was also past president of the United Jewish Welfare Fund of Toronto and president and chair of United Israel Appeal Canada. Under the auspices of the United Jewish Appeal, and of his own initiative, Phil Granovsky was a frequent visitor and supporter of Israel.
In recognition of his dedication to his community, UJA created in his memory the Phil Granovsky Award for Campaign Excellence, which honours individuals who exemplify the best in United Jewish Appeal campaigning. When it came to the welfare of world Jewry, few were more committed than Granovsky, who saw Israel and the Diaspora as an extension of family. Phil’s selfless legacy continues to help countless people in the community every year.