WOSK, family of Canadian businessmen and philanthropists. Brothers BENJAMIN (1913–1995) and MORRIS (1917–2002) came to Vancouver, British Columbia, from Russia in 1929. They were sponsored by their cousin ABRASHA WOSK (1899–1980), one of the founders of the Vancouver Jewish community's Home for the Aged and the Achduth Society, which provided loans to immigrants. Together, Ben and Morris built the Wosk department store chain and acquired considerable real estate holdings, concurrently becoming major philanthropists and community leaders. For Ben's work with such charities as the B.C. Heart Foundation and Lions' Club, and many hundreds of individuals whom he helped without fanfare, he was named to the Order of Canada in 1978. He was also a major donor to the Schara Tzedeck synagogue and new Vancouver Jewish Community Centre, which is home to the Wosk Auditorium. Morris Wosk likewise made many significant contributions to both local and international causes. He was a prominent promoter of Israel Bonds and the Jewish National Fund of Canada, as well as numerous educational and health facilities such as the Vancouver General Hospital. In 1995 he commissioned four Torah scrolls for Vancouver's newest Jewish congregations. His long association with Simon Fraser University (SFU) included capital fund donations for the construction of the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, an institute for the promotion of discussion and mutual understanding. In 1999 Morris and his son, Rabbi Dr. YOSEF WOSK, provided an endowment to establish a publishing arm for the Vancouver Holocaust Education Society. As the director of SFU's Interdisciplinary Program in the Department of Continuing Studies, Yosef has continued the Wosk family's close relationship with the university, as well as the tradition of philanthropy and support of Israel. He is the founder of SFU's Philosophers' Café, the world's largest series of café discussion gatherings. Morris's other two sons, Mordechai and Ken, have also been active in Jewish causes and philanthropy in Vancouver. Morris's wife, Dena, was a supporter of the arts, especially music.
[Barbara Schober (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.