Dorothy and Henry Dworkin were among the most influential couples in the early days of Toronto’s Jewish community. They were community leaders known for their steadfast commitment to the health and well-being of the burgeoning community. They worked tirelessly to assist thousands of European Jews with their Canadian immigration process. In addition, Dorothy was instrumental in the establishment of Mount Sinai Hospital on Yorkville Avenue in Toronto, and became the first president of the hospital’s women’s auxiliary.
Dorothy Goldstick was born in Latvia in 1890, and was one of ten children. She and her family immigrated to Canada in 1904, at the age of 14. As a young woman, she moved to the United States to pursue an education in medicine. She studied nursing with a specialization in midwifery at Mount Sinai Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. She then took her exams and received her diploma from the State Board of Ohio in 1909. After her return to Canada, she took on a position as manager at the Jewish Dispensary in Toronto which was operated by Ida Siegel and her brother Abe Lewis. Dorothy ran the dispensary during the afternoon, and made house calls throughout the rest of the day. In 1910, she helped form a women’s auxiliary unit for the dispensary which distributed pasteurized milk. They also founded an orphanage for Jewish children on Simcoe Street.
Henry Dworkin was born in 1886 in Russia and came to Canada with his family at the age of 19. In the early years Henry dispensed food to the hungry. When Henry and Dorothy were married in 1911, Henry was working for the Labour Lyceum, which he had co-founded with machinist Sam Easser. For over forty years, the Labor Lyceum was the epicentre of political activism for Toronto’s textile workers. In 1917, Henry and his brother Edward opened a variety store named E & H. Dworkin Steamship and Bankers, which grew into a tobacco and shipping agency. The name was eventually changed to Dworkin Travel. Through this business, the Dworkins helped Jews from all over Europe immigrate to Canada, with specific focus on countries like Poland, Rumania, and Latvia. They would travel to different countries in order to help the family members of their clients settle in Toronto.
The Dworkins welcomed their first and only child in 1912, a little girl named Ellen, whom they nicknamed Honey. In 1928, Henry was tragically killed in an automobile accident. The newspaper articles from the time indicated that as many as 20,000 people attended his funeral. After Henry’s death, Dorothy continued to run the travel business and committed the majority of her time to charitable work. Just a few years prior to Henry’s death, Dorothy helped to open Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, in 1922. She then became president of the Mount Sinai Women’s Auxiliary Unit, where she worked tirelessly to raise money for the hospital. Dorothy held many different positions throughout her years of charitable work. She was appointed the position of honorary president of the Sinai’s, she became a member of the Mount Sinai Hospital Board, president of the Continental Steamship Ticket Agents Association, a trustee of the Federation of the Jewish Philanthropies, and a director of the Labour Lyceum. Dorothy continued to run the family business and support Mount Sinai up until her death in 1976, at the age of 86.