CARR, JUDY FELD

CARR, JUDY FELD (1933– ), Canadian rescuer of Syrian Jews. Carr was born in Montreal and raised in the northern Ontario town of Sudbury, where her father was a fur trader and leader of Sudbury's tiny Jewish community. After Carr finished high school in 1957, she earned a degree in music education from the University of Toronto. In 1960 she married a young physician, Ronald Feld. In the late 1960s the couple became involved in the Soviet Jewry campaign but soon refocused on the plight of Jews in Syria. They organized a Syrian Jewish support committee modeled on the Soviet Jewry campaign. Their committee mailed packages of religious items to Syria which local authorities allowed to be delivered. In the process, the Felds made covert contact with Syrian Jewish leaders. Coded communication began, as did the secret transfer of money to support Syrian Jews in distress. When Ronald died suddenly in 1973, his wife continued their Syrian work. She eventually remarried a Toronto lawyer and Jewish leader Donald Carr. They formed an enlarged family of six children. In 1977 she was approached with the idea of bringing an elderly and sick Syrian rabbi to Toronto for medical treatment. Syrian authorities generally refused to allow Jewish departures but Judy, intrigued at the thought of actually removing a Jew from Syria, accepted the challenge. She soon learned that in Syria money could make the impossible happen. With bribe money quietly raised in Toronto, Judy eventually got the rabbi out of Syria. Before long, Carr was secretly engineering the exit of more and more Jews. And with every rescue came the names   of more Jews desperate to leave. Each case was different. Costs varied: an old man generally cost less than a young and single woman, a little boy more than a little girl. In addition to bribe money, the Syrians also demanded a fig-leaf excuse for allowing Jews to leave. Judy was inventive. Some were said to be departing for medical treatment, others as caregivers for the sick or for business or to visit family who had left Syria in the 1940s and 1950s, before Syria's doors were sealed. Officially, each exiting Jew was supposed to return, but bribed authorities knew no Jew would be back. When it was imperative that an individual or family leave Syria immediately, Carr dealt with smugglers who, for a handsome price, illegally transported people and goods across Syria's border with Turkey. Once in Turkey, rescued Jews were moved on to Israel. In the early 1990s hopes for a Middle East peace were high and Syria eased its restrictions on Jewish departures. Unsure how long the Syrian door would remain open, Carr threw all her energy and resources into removing Syria's remaining Jews as quickly as possible. Most left. In the early 2000s there were virtually no Jews remaining in Syria. As a direct result of her efforts, more than 3,000 Jews were rescued from Syria. Long working in secret, Carr finally received recognition for her work. She was awarded the Order of Canada, the highest award Canada can give a citizen, in 2001. She was also honored in 1995 by Israeli Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin. "Very few people, if any," wrote Rabin, "have contributed as greatly as you have." -BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. Troper, The Ransomed of God: The Remarkable Story of One Woman's Role in the Rescue of Syrian Jews (1999). (Harold Troper (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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