Paul was born on July 3, 1940 to Clare Herman (née Emdon) and Leslie Elkan Herman. He was the eldest sibling with twin sisters and twin brothers. Growing up he was a Boy Scout and was also active in youth groups at his synagogue. Following high school, he attended Stellenbosch University. He graduated with a business degree and became fluent in Afrikaans. After graduation, Paul joined the family firm H. J. Henochsberg in 1961, the leading South African uniform manufacturer. He travelled to England and Europe visiting manufacturers and suppliers. As chairman of the Clothing Institute he helped set up a clothing training school in Johannesburg.
Paul was married on February 6, 1966 to Miriam Riva Herman (née Witkin) a medical social worker, originally from Cape Town, who was working at the Johannesburg General Hospital. They have four children, all of whom were born in South Africa: Stanley (born 1966), Rael (born 1968), Brett (born 1970), and Adina (born 1974).
Following the sale of the family business Paul went to work for Edgars Stores, a major clothing retailer, as a quality manager. A long-term decision to emigrate was motivated by a feeling that the best future for the family was outside South Africa. Miriam and Paul investigated suitable opportunities to emigrate and finally decided on Canada where the family arrived in 1982. They settled in Thornhill and the children went to Associated Hebrew Schools and CHAT.
Paul found work at Saint Hill Levine, a uniform manufacturing company, and later worked at Lady Manhattan, a blouse company. Miriam started a corporate gift business called Simply Extraordinary. Keen to be self-employed, Paul and Miriam purchased Firwin Corp in 1989, a high temperature insulation manufacturing company, in which they are both still active together with two of their sons.
Letter comparing Canada and South Africa
Letter written eighteen months after arriving in Canada, ca. 1983. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, accession 2016-3-26.
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