I was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada, where I attended Hillel Academy for my elementary education, and Hillcrest High School for my secondary studies. In 1980, I entered the University of Toronto, where I specialized in Computer Science, while simultaneously taking courses in general sciences as well as Judaic studies. Thus, courses in LISP, Basic, C, and COBOL were complemented with courses in Yiddish, Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic, forging me into a linguist in the broadest sense of the term. During my undergraduate years, I witnessed the tail end of the keypunch era of data entry, and the beginning of widespread use of those bulky, green-upon-black keypad terminals.
After graduating with a B.Sc. in 1984, I entered graduate school at the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto. My Master’s project focused on the development of a computer program for diagnosing dermatological diseases. My specific areas of research included natural language data entry, as well as rendering an accurate diagnosis despite the absence of complete data. Throughout my tenure, I expanded the database from 200 to 275 diseases, and engaged in constant testing and refinement of the system to reduce spurious false positives. Although the user interface would be considered primitive by today’s standards, DIAG can still run on modern computers. I graduated with a M.A.Sc. in 1986. To this day, I remain in touch with Dr. Kenneth Norwich, my research adviser during my Master's program.
My studies were rounded out with two periods of full time Yeshiva studies in Israel – at Ohr Somayach in the summer of 1984, and at the Darche Noam / David Shapell College of Jewish Studies in 1987-88.
After two year-long stints at small software development firms in the Toronto area, Netron and Cherniak Gottlieb, I joined the IBM Toronto Software Development Lab in 1989, where I have now been employed for over 20 years. During my early years, I was involved in the AS/400 Compiler development team. Later, I joined the team that develops the WebSphere family of products. Throughout my career, my major areas of specialty include software testing, globalization, translation, and accessibility. I oversaw remote test teams in both Cairo and Beijing (visiting the latter in person in 2007). For six years, I supervised the translation of a set of WebSphere products into 17 languages.
My IBM career took another turn in 2010, when I joined the Software Engineering Process Group. Currently my main role is to oversee the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) claim of IBM Canada, as well as administer other tax incentive programs, such as OIDMTC (Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit). I act as Science Advisor to many IBM Canada groups regarding the SR&ED claim. I am also involved in process consulting and corporate compliance testing within the IBM Canada Lab.
GENEALOGY AND TRANSLATION
Although my interest in family history commenced at a young age, my serious family research began during the late 1980s, culminating in the publication of two large family tree booklets for various branches of my family. (Due to confidentiality concerns, I do not make these publicly available on this website, but you may ask me for a copy if you have a specific interest.) In the late 1990s, I was involved in providing input and guidance for a family website for my wife’s extended family. In recent years, I have been using social networking sites such as Facebook and Geni to expand my family tree and to make contact with distant branches of my family.
As my interest and experience in family genealogy grew, Joyce Field, a cousin in Indiana who was becoming seriously involved in the nascent JewishGen organization, asked me to undertake a translation of a 14 page Hebrew article on the 1905 pogrom in Kalarash (Calarasi) Moldova, a town in which my grandmother’s family had lived prior to their immigration to Canada. After successfully completing that translation and publishing it in the Rom Sig (Romanian Special Interest Group) periodical of JewishGen, other translation jobs began to flow my way, at times in a torrential fashion. I have now been translating Yizkor Books, gravestone inscriptions, and other genealogical documents on a part-time, freelance basis for close to 15 years. The vast majority of my translations have been published at the JewishGen website. I have included a comprehensive link to my published translations at Translations.
Approximately 10 years ago, I wrote down own family memoirs as a legacy to my children and future generations. The major focus of these memoirs is my spiritual journey toward an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle. However, they also contain large doses of genealogical material, travel logs, and Ottawa Jewish communal history. I cannot make these public on this website, but you can ask me for a copy if interested.
Please see the Guest Speaker link to see how I may be able to assist you with your own genealogical work or serve as a guest speaker at your organization.
I serve on the board of our small synagogue, The Mizrachi Bayit. I also serve as a frequent lecturer on Torah topics as well as Baal Tefilla (prayer leader) and Baal Koreh (Torah reader) at various small Toronto area synagogues, including the Mizrachi Bayit, Mishkan Avraham, Emunah Shleima, and Torah Va'Avoda. I have served as a Baal Tefilla for the High Holy Days at various venues since 1994.
I serve as one of the Toronto Vice Presidents of Mizrachi Canada, and edit their newsletter. In that capacity, I was an alternate delegate to the 36th World Zionist Congress, held in Jerusalem in June 2010.
I am fully engaged in local, provincial, and federal political campaigns, and have supported and endorsed a number of candidates over the years. Over the past decade, I have been heavily involved in the ongoing struggle to secure fair funding for faith-based education in Ontario.
Saving the most important for the last, I have been married to Tzippy (neé Rachlin) since 1992. We are the proud parents of four children – Rachel, Yisrael, Hadassa, and Eliezer.