Rivka Selchen died peacefully in the embrace of her family on March 19, at the age of 95.
Rivka was born in Winnipeg on August 10, 1924, into a large Yiddish-speaking family. She was the seventh and youngest child of Abraham Israel and Fruma (Hertsman) Boroditsky. Throughout her life she remained deeply and lovingly involved with her siblings and three generations of their offspring.
Rivka lived in Palestine from 1932 to 1940, and spoke fluent Hebrew the rest of her life. Her family was returning for a visit to Winnipeg in 1940 when World War II broke out in the Pacific, resulting in many adventures throughout the Middle East, India, China, and Japan. She lived in Winnipeg for the rest of her life, except for a year in Israel in 1959-60.
She married the love of her life, Zalman Selchen, in 1946, and they lived in harmony for almost 54 years until his passing in 2000.
Rivka’s life was defined by two profound imperatives – selfless service (“doing the right thing”) and relationships. She unfortunately had to demonstrate this devotion at an early age, caring at home for her dying mother, whom she adored, while also nurturing her first, newborn child. She spent more than 20 years sustaining Zalman through many illnesses, adding years to his life.
Rivka was profoundly committed to a particular kind of duty, which extended well beyond her family. She was a regular visitor to the elderly and lonely, both in their homes and in care facilities. She never missed an opportunity to “visit” the cemetery. As her friends aged she was deeply devoted to their care and well being.
Her sense of duty also extended to the community. From an early age she was an activist in Habonim, and later in Pioneer Women and the Peretz School Muter Farein, and she helped form a successful Tanach Chug.
Her devotion to family reached far beyond her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. She had deep, ongoing relationships with a multitude of nieces and nephews and their offspring as well as the children of her large circle of close friends. Into her 90s she visited her family in Israel every year. As she got older she fielded regular, much appreciated phone calls from her devotees. A consistent theme in conversation with these extended family members and friends was that she had become a surrogate mother and grandmother for a remarkably large number of people.
Rivka was funny, joyous, and fully open to new people and experiences. She was always the “life of the party,” even at 93 and 94 at her eldest great granddaughters’ Bat Mitzvahs. She retained her interest in the arts, attending the symphony, theatre, ballet, and opera. She was always up for a new adventure--like going on a long motorcycle ride on her 80th birthday.
She remained socially engaged right until the end, establishing many new friendships in her 90s. Her sincere connection to people included the staff and workers at the Shaftesbury Park Retirement Residence, where she lived for the last 10 years. She knew their stories and was deeply interested in them and their families.
Rivka was predeceased by all of her siblings and their spouses, all but two of her many close cousins, almost all of her life-long friends, and her beloved daughter-in-law Sharon Kirsh. She is survived by her children Moshe (Cathy Skene), Daniel, and Frumie (Doug McVicar); best friend Sharon Knazan (Murray); grandchildren Michael and Lisa, David and Brenlee, Steven and Anna, Nathaniel and Zena, Sarah, Malka, and Yale; and great-grandchildren Hayley, Gefen, Leah, Eden, Zachary, Matan, Elysia, and Akiva.
Due to the Covid 19 epidemic, services were private and there will be no shiva. A celebration of her life will be held when travel and gathering restrictions have been lifted. Donations in Rivka’s memory may be made to the charity of your choice.