It brings great sadness to announce the passing of Chana Kempner Stern (Z’L) who was the beloved wife of Max Stern who pre-deceased her. She leaves to mourn her step-son, David Stern, as well as many cousins and friends in Canada, Israel and US. Chana died in Winnipeg on June 16, 2022, and was buried in Israel on June 29, 2022.
She was 94 years old. There will be a celebration of her life event to be held in her honour, with her step-son, David, along with relatives and friends, in Winnipeg next month.
The following obituary was written by Esi and Amy Zion, cousins of Chana’s, from Edmonton, AB:
Chana Kempner Stern nee Shapiro was my grandmother’s cousin and was like an aunt to my mother and a great-aunt to me. Chana and my grandmother grew up together in Suchedniow, Poland; she went to Beit Yakov, a school for girls where she learned to read and write in Yiddish as well as Polish school. Chana was the eldest of three children in her family: Asher and Hershel were named after their zaidas. At age 12, she went to work in Factory Camp B, then A, in the nearby Skarzysko-Kamienna concentration camp on the false promise that it would save the rest of her family. On our last visit together, I recorded her story. She said that in fact, her family was rounded up on Yom Kippur while she was working in the camp, and they were taken to Treblinka. She was spared because she was working and she never saw them again. My grandmother, and my grandmother’s brother, and another cousin, Rochshe, were her only surviving relatives. After liberation, she recalled the cold reception from her fellow Poles who were surprised to see that a Jew had survived and would not let survivors enter the emptied Jewish homes.
Recovering from a lung problem after the war, she was found in a German sanitarium by shlichim who were looking for orphaned survivors to populate kibbutzim. Once she recovered, they went through the Alps into Italy with fake passports bound for Israel. Her boat reached the port of Haifa, but was re-routed by the British to Cyprus. Chana was almost 17 at the time. After about nine months in Cyprus, once the State was declared in ’48, Chana was sent back to the port of Haifa where she was ordered into a tank with the barrel pointed at the sky. They told her to shoot at any enemy airplanes. Thankfully, she recalled, she never had to pull the trigger. In Israel, she learned Hebrew, she met her first husband, her great love, Judah (Yehudah). For many years they lived in Petach Tikvah, where Chana worked as a telephone operator. Chana found a new life in Israel and a new family in Judah.
Judah passed away decades later, but Chana never stopped speaking about what a good and kind person he was. Eventually she got remarried to a Canadian, Max Stern, and relocated to Winnipeg. In Winnipeg she had a wonderful life with Max, found friendship in the large Jewish community where she could speak Yiddish fluently while learning English day by day. They were avid card players. Chana excelled in bridge and enjoyed trips to the casino until the end of her life. She and Max welcomed people into their home like family – she enjoyed constantly entertaining, cooking traditional Jewish food for her guests, and recounting funny stories and memories.
In 2005, Chana was widowed a second time. She continued to have a zest for life in spite of all that she went through. Chana was a loyal and committed friend, and a joyful presence in everyone’s life. A complaint was never uttered from her lips; she always focused on gratitude for the simple pleasures and privileges in life. During Covid, she would list the items in her house that she was thankful for: her TV, her phone, having heat, and enough to eat: “What more could I ask for?” Always on the phone with friends or family, she remained a telephone operator of a different sort, until her last day. Chana was not only our family – she was a dear friend and advisor to my mother and me. She was always interested in our lives, always listened, asked questions, and wanted to know everything. We loved calling her and speaking to her, there were always laughs to be had, and Chana always laughed from the belly.
I remember begging her to get a Covid vaccination, and she only relented when she found out she would otherwise be barred from the casino and the bridge club at Gwen Secter. She was practical to the enth degree. She was the last Holocaust survivor in our family, and the last first-hand witness of the atrocities that took most of our relatives. She was a model in how she not only survived, but lived and flourished in spite of everything. But as she told me when she spoke about the war, regardless of the smile on her face, such pain as losing her family all at once never leaves you, nor the guilt that went with it. “Thank G-d I’m alive – or do I? That is a big question, and some questions cannot be answered.”
We cannot believe she is gone. We will miss our Chana’le dearly. We take solace knowing that her final wish was fulfilled: to be buried beside Judah in the land of Israel that took her in when she had no one.
CLARICE DANZKER (née YAREN) December 29, 1924 -January 9, 2024
After a life well-lived, the family of Clarice Danzker announces her passing on Tuesday, January 9, 2024 at the age of 99.
Clarice was born in Winnipeg to Nessie and Abraham Yaren, exactly 3 years to the day after her future husband, Ernie. She was the youngest of five children. She grew up in Winnipeg’s North End during the depression, and always described her childhood as happy. Her passing marks the end of an entire era as the last of her generation on both sides of the Danzker and Yaren families. She is survived by her children, Simmie (Larry) Nasberg, Lainey Danzker (Michael Werier), her grandchildren Steven Werier (Kimi Wertman), Alissa Nasberg, Nessa Werier(Jason Lichtman ), Benji Nasberg, her great-grandchildren Jacob, Sofie and Ozzie. She was pre-deceased by her husband Ernie, her siblings Lil Popeski, Jack Yaren, Harry Yaren, Sima Yaren and many in-laws, nieces & nephews.
Clarice and Ernie met on a blind date over a game of bridge. They were married in the great flood of 1950 and as the story goes, they relocated their wedding from the Alexandra Hotel to a relative’s home, which they accessed by boat. This elegant lovely woman, together with Ernie, the gregarious man who was her inseparable partner for over 60 years of marriage, built and sustained a family full of happiness, empathy, and love at which they were the constant center. Their home was characterized by singsongs, guitar, laughter and people on every possible occasion.
In the way she lived, Clarice taught those around her invaluable lessons. She was the eternal optimist, always finding something to be happy about. Nothing gave her more joy in her last years than spending time with her great-grandchildren. She was open-minded, progressive, fair, insightful, and dedicated. She treated everyone with respect & had a kind word for all. She was a person of strong convictions. She lived by the philosophy of healthy mind and healthy body, and she remained active in both throughout her 99 years.
Clarice was involved in many organizations, National Council of Jewish Women, the Shaarey Zedek sisterhood, school organizations, camp organizations, and the arts, which she loved – the symphony, the ballet, the art gallery, the theater.
Clarice & Ernie & their family shared amazing times at Winnipeg Beach, Naples, Florida and over 30 winters in Rancho Mirage, California, honing their golf skills and mastering their bridge games. They made lifelong friends everywhere they went.
Clarice always said “your visits made my day”, but it was she who made ours magical.
The family would like to thank Tess, Baby, Maybelle, and Letty for their dignified care these last months and Dr. Kristen Creek for her exceptional and compassionate care.
Funeral services were held on January 11, 2024
Donations in Clarice’s honour may be made to the Ernie and Clarice Danzker Family Fund, c/o The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba or to a charity of your choice.
Trudy was born July 29, 1926 in Winnipeg. She grew up in River Heights, attended Mulvey Elementary, continued on to graduate from Gordon Bell High School, and studied at a technical college to become a bookkeeper.
Trudy and Moe Yusim married on June 30, 1952 and raised their family, Alan, Norman, Susan and Robert.
Trudy was smart, beautiful, poised, dignified and elegant. She enjoyed bowling, playing bridge (she was a Life Grand Master who played well into her 90s.)
Moe’s sudden death in 1977 was heartbreaking. and Trudy faced her heartbreak with resolve, determination, strength, and resilience.
Trudy continued to live in the family home for another 35 years. She was an amazing cook and her meals brought the whole family together many times a year and for holiday celebrations. It was hard for her to leave the family home after her health took a turn, but during her 12 years at the Shaftesbury Residence she found continued comfort and a place to be social, to join activities, and a place where she could proudly entertain her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
As a grandmother she was Nanny Trudy. Her love for and interest in everything her grandchildren and great- grandchildren were doing was obvious. She absorbed their interests and made them her own. She celebrated all their accomplishments and achievements, both personal and professional.
Trudy passed away peacefully on January 8, 2024 at the Simkin Centre. The family is grateful for the tender care she received during her final months. Trudy leaves behind her four children and their spouses, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her parents Rose and Max Thow and her beloved husband Moe and her great- grandson Leo.
The family would like to thank Rabbi Matthew Leibl for officiating at Trudy’s graveside service. As a long-time family friend his eulogy to Trudy was both personal and poignant.
In conclusion, here are words written by Trudy’s eldest granddaughter:
“She was the strongest woman, going through the tragedy of losing her beloved husband suddenly and at a young age. Left with 4 children and without the love of her life. She persevered, and became a more independent woman than she ever was before. She still enjoyed life and continued on to live another 47 years with grace and love. She lived a full life of 97 years, with many different chapters. We love her and will miss her always.”
May Trudy Yusim be at peace.
And may her memory be a blessing.
Anne Novak (née Fink) passed away peacefully in her 100th year on January 24, 2024. She lived a life that spanned three continents and two centuries. Born in Sanok, Poland on March 18, 1923, Anne was the second of five siblings born to an observant Jewish family. Her early years in Poland were happy, but life became bleak when Hitler invaded in 1939. Before long the Fink family fled to their grandparents’ home in the Russian controlled part of Poland seeking safety. Unfortunately, the Russians deported the family to the depths of Siberia where they were resettled in work camps. The war years were filled with hunger and depravation, but ultimately six of the seven family members survived.
When the family was allowed to leave Siberia, they made their way to Germany and ultimately to Canada.
By the time Anne arrived in Winnipeg in 1948, she had married her beloved husband Oscar Novak and had her first child Carol. Having worked in kindergartens in Russia and Germany, she got a job at the Peretz School as a kindergarten teacher. Like many other immigrants, her husband bought a small grocery store and the young family began to grow and thrive. Two more children, Phil and Allan, completed the Novak family.
Anne’s best times were with family. Her siblings Sally, Sol, and Ruth were an important part of daily life and all lived close by. Last year, they were designated by the Shoah Foundation as the oldest Holocaust survivor siblings in the world. Her son Allan Novak recently made a film about the Fink family which had its world premiere in New York six days before she died.
Anne also took great pride in her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren, delighting in their visits, family celebrations, and accomplishments.
Anne was a wonderful cook and baker, making legendary tortes and cakes for special occasions. Food was love to her and she showered her family with tasty delicacies until well into her 90s. No visit to her kids in Toronto was complete without a box of food containing homemade treats.
Although she was a quiet and refined person, she also had a great sense of humour and enjoyed the funny side of life. She was always kind to the people around her and was the peacemaker in the family.
The family would like to thank Dr. Hamedani and the nursing staff at the Grace Hospital for their kind attention in the final weeks of her life.
She will be sadly missed by her surviving children and their spouses Carol and Brian Sevitt, Allan Novak and Keely Sherman, her grandchildren and their partners Julia Sevitt, David Sevitt and Alexa Abiscott, and Evan and Samantha Novak, and by her great-grandchildren Theo, Zac, Miles, Simone, Matthew and Phil.
In memoriam donations can be made to Jewish Child and Family Services of Winnipeg https://www.jcfswinnipeg.org/donate