Radical Giving: Lessons from David Pinkus, Z”L


Written by Sabrina Malach

David in his backyard.

Shoresh is an ecosystem. We operate as an interconnected web of diverse community members who understand that Jewish values are environmental values and strive to live according to that understanding.
Today, I would like to honour and remember one of our elders and a foundational member of the Shoresh ecosystem: David Pinkus, Z”L. David was a unique donor in that he shared his land with us: the backyard of his home on Nassau Street in Kensington Market, Toronto, where he lived since 1927. As an organization that is land-based and constantly in search of a stable, reliable, outdoor, urban site, David’s generosity enabled us to develop a transformative gardening program for community members in need, Maxie’s Garden.

David admiring some beautiful flowers from Maxie’s Garden.

David hosted Maxie’s Garden, a collaborative community garden between Shoresh and Jewish Family and Child Services (JFCS), in his backyard. For five years, community members in need would come into his home and out into his yard for 23 weeks to learn how to grow food and to connect to the natural world through Jewish rituals and traditions.

David looking at Maxie’s Garden.

It is one thing to give money to a charitable organization, but it is next level to open your house to people you don’t know and let them till your land every week during the growing season for five years. Think about that. Imagine being in your 90s and agreeing to host a community garden in your backyard! This was a radical act of social justice, inclusivity and Jewish agricultural values that focused on feeding the poor.

The beautiful Maxie’s Garden.

David passed away on May 6th, 2021, one week before his 97th birthday (May 11th). His mind was open and sharp and he understood the critical importance of giving ALL community members the opportunity to get their hands dirty and the skills to be resilient and self-reliant.

David and Maxie’s Gardeners.

We are so grateful to have had him as our elder, teacher, storyteller and unique donor. His memory is our blessing and we will continue to carry forth his values through our programming with JFCS.

David and Sabrina.


© 2018 Shoresh.