The following eulogy was written by Sylvia Posner’s son, Matthew:
It is a solemn yet daunting task to compose a eulogy for a parent. On the one hand, you seek to highlight the qualities and extol the virtues of the person who gave you life and nurtured your development, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. On the other hand, you recognize your innate deficiencies in being able to fully encapsulate the essence of someone’s being in a concise synopsis, and fret over your inability to adequately honor their many contributions to this world. Within the context of this quagmire, I offer the following thoughts of my mother, Sylvia Shaw Posner.
Sylvia Shaw was born on August 29th, 1926 to Morris Shaw and Dorothea (Petal) Shaw. She was the middle of three children, having two brothers, Marcus the elder, and Harvey, the baby. They were the first Canadian-born generation of their lineage. The early years were spent in Edmonton, but the formative years of their childhood materialized after they had relocated to Montreal. Mom’s dad worked as a traveling salesman, which required her mother to shoulder the lion’s share of the responsibilities of raising the children. When my mom was 14 years old, tragedy befell the family when her father passed away. This calamity was compounded by the fact that World War II was raging, goods were in short supply, and society at large had yet to embrace women in the workplace, with the notable exceptions of teachers, nurses, and secretaries. Borne out of necessity, and armed with gumption and a steely resolve, my grandmother went to work and ensured that her children wanted for nothing, and received a well-rounded education. I believe that these life-changing events from her early years are the source of my mother’s fierce independence and legendary coping skills, courage and perseverance in the face of hardship, overarching sense of self-sacrifice and responsibility for others, and humble spirit and kind heart.
Soon after the war ended, my mother and father, Edward Neil Posner, met, and following what in contemporary times would be considered a brief courtship, they married on February 22, 1947. They settled in Winnipeg, my father’s hometown. In short order, they added branches of their own to the Posner Family tree. They raised five children, Miles, Cynthia, Stephen, Alex, and Matthew. Like her mother before her, Sylvia applied her can-do attitude and prodigious work ethic to all of her innumerable responsibilities and commitments. She worked tirelessly both in and out of the home, with the latter inadvertently becoming an outlet to develop and showcase my mom’s talents at professional baking. Weekdays, during school hours, my mom would work at Sharon’s Linens, first on Bannerman, and later on Main Street. Her only quiet times were the pre-dawn hours, which were spent laboring at crossword puzzles or a game of solitaire while enjoying a cup of black coffee, piping hot. The weekends were claimed by the Sildor, the family business that served as a banquet hall for the community. My mom would sell liquor tickets for the Friday evening socials until the wee hours of the morning, and on Saturdays would prepare desserts for hundreds of people that would attend weddings being held later that evening. Sundays were devoted to family, with the early years of married life being a time when the extended clan would enjoy an impromptu gathering simply to visit. Over time, the arrival of grandchildren enriched family time, and many happy hours were devoted to babysitting. The number of progeny swelled through the years that followed, and the final tally included nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. In later years, my parents opened a delicatessen out of the Sildor that operated during the week, affectionately called Pal Joey’s after my dad’s favorite movie, and unsurprisingly, my mom created all the baked goods sold there. After the Sildor was sold, my mom and her first cousin Debbie Israel started up a business together, baking high quality desserts for many local restaurants and private affairs. Some of you may recall the name of their business…Sinfully Delicious. Indeed it was, especially their cheesecakes. As an aside, when my wife Brenlee and I moved away from Winnipeg in 1987, my mom lovingly put together a book containing all of her prized recipes so that she could start a business of her own. As many of you know, Brenlee and Sylvia shared an inseparable bond as well as a birthday, and out of an abiding sense of love, gratitude, and respect, my wife called her business Syl’s Secrets.
What I have shared with you thus far amounts to the structural framework of what you shall see was an exemplary life, distinguished by chesed and measured by the fulfillment of the sacred mission of Tikkun Olam. Let us turn our attention to more substantive aspects of my mom’s life whereby her character and values can be appreciated. This is where the divine spark of Sylvia Posner resided, and illuminates the impact that she had on the lives of countless individuals. My mother Sylvia was one of the most exceptional and endearing people that I have ever met throughout my life. During childhood, there is a naive tendency to take one’s parents for granted. Time, maturity, life experiences, and the transition to parenthood cause us to become more reflective, and comprehend, with a renewed perspective, the various dimensions of their character, values, priorities, and personal qualities. The delicate interplay between these entities define and determine how one interacts with, and is perceived by the outside world. Through the lens of adulthood, we see our parents anew, and become acutely aware of the full extent of our good fortune. As a young man, I realized that I was profoundly blessed to have Sylvia Posner as my mom. This conviction has only strengthened over the years, and will forever enshrine her as my first, and most enduring hero and exemplar.
My mom had several gifts, and it is debatable as to which one was the most iconic. She had this uncanny ability to instantly put people at ease, making them feel welcomed and valued from the moment she made their acquaintance. She was unpretentious, authentic, and possessed a knack to always see the hidden potential in people that had escaped the recognition of others. This may explain her lifelong staunch support for the underdog and disenfranchised. Her natural tendency was to effusively praise and graciously elevate others as she understood the power of kindness to boost self-esteem, dignify one’s spirit, and transform pernicious attitudes. Her kindness, generosity, and hospitality knew no bounds, and it easy to see why our home was the preferred place for our friends to congregate.
Always thinking of others, and never one to complain or adopt a woe-is-me mindset, Sylvia was a continuous source of inspiration for others. Hers was not an easy or charmed life, but there was always joy in her heart. She confronted the struggles of life with steadfast determination and savored the joys associated with its simple pleasures. Syl was an avid reader with mysteries being her preferred genre, and I would be remiss if I failed to mention her affinity for scrabble, where she garnered the reputation of a formidable opponent. My mom was never bored and filled her days with an endless array of activities. The consummate social butterfly, she would often host friends and family in her apartment at the Portsmouth Retirement Residence. Her solitary pursuits enabled her to indulge her creative instincts which centered around knitting. This was likely an extension of her artistic tendencies that first manifested as a teenager, when she would produce advanced oil paintings. Knitting was a hobby that provided endless satisfaction, and the quality of her creations could easily sell for a small fortune. I still treasure things that she made for me over four decades ago, and they remain in pristine condition. She delighted in her children and grandchildren and celebrated their every activity and accomplishment, but her main source of pride derived from their menschlichkeit. Her friendship was warm, genuine and loyal. I can’t count how many people over the years have shared with me how special my mom was, or that she was their favorite, or that her hearty laugh and incessant good cheer were positively contagious. Syl had a larger than life personality with a sense of humor, razor-sharp wit, and affectionate and expressive disposition to match.
Another aspect of my mom’s narrative relates to her sense of responsibility and penchant to serve others. At times, this took the form of being there physically for others during a period of need, without hesitation or reservation, despite tremendous personal hardship and sacrifice. On other occasions, she was simply available to offer a sympathetic ear or supportive shoulder. Of course, there were plenty of situations where her wise counsel and honest assessment were sought, and this need, I surmise, may have served as the impetus for the development of speed dial. Regardless of the circumstance, my mom was a reliable and consistent source of comfort, encouragement, and sagacity. As long as Syl was available, you never felt overwhelmed or alone. She was trusted and trustworthy. Sylvia’s humility sometimes veiled her savvy, though her posse was well-acquainted with her towering intellect and capacity for nuanced thinking and creative problem solving. My mother, ever the selfless caregiver, insisted on caring for my father and grandmother in their homes as failing health hijacked their independence and vigor. She would not allow others to care for her loved ones as long as she had the physical strength to do so, for she couldn’t be assured that they would safeguard their precious dignity during this most vulnerable phase of life. On September 17, 1999 Sylvia bid farewell to Eddie for the last time, after 52 years of marriage. It would be accurate to describe my mom as a truly selfless human being. Unicorns may actually exist after all.
My mom was a proud and independent woman, whose biggest fear was to develop dementia and become dependent upon others. It is the cruelest fate that robbed this giant of her cognitive faculties in her twilight years. True to form, in the early stages of her decline, with a full awareness of her condition and prognosis, my mom accepted her situation with an abundance of grace, dignity, and humility that was both sublime and edifying to behold. Her kindness only increased. Her concern for others only magnified. And never did she submit to bitterness or engage in self-pity. Her courage, a consistent feature throughout her long life, was unfailing and on full display during this final titanic struggle. I remember having lunch with her during a visit to Winnipeg, and witnessing the grace with which she conducted herself as she interacted with others. I learned through her powerful example, to accept each phase of life with serenity, and that within the act of acceptance, there is a dignity bestowed upon the human spirit. Fear dissolves when denial and resistance are extirpated. My mom was a shining light for me and countless others during her life, guiding us along the uncertain and precarious path. We honor her memory when we incorporate her teachings and examples into our everyday demeanor. As we accept the torch from her noble hands, we shall aspire to be a light unto others, so that her legacy of goodness and giving may be perpetuated through the generations that follow. You have my eternal love, gratitude, respect and admiration. May G-d rest your blessed soul mom. Shalom.
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
Our loving mom and baba, Sherry Chochinov, passed away on January 7, 2024, at the age of 97.
She was predeceased by her husband Ben Chochinov; her parents, Chana and Max Rubinfield; and her sister Naomi Wolfe. She leaves behind her brother Jack Rubinfield; sister Eddy Werier (Lawrence); children, Alecs (Ruth Graham), Cindy (Charles Guberman), Lori (Andy Rafelman), Shale (Sary) and Michelle (Morry Murad); and grandchildren, Janna (Peter), Michael (Nataliia), Matthew, Noah, Ethan, Leah, Adam, Maya, Sydney, Annie, Eden and Jonah.
Sherry was born Sarah Rubinfield in a small town near Mokre, Poland. She immigrated to Canada in 1929, at the age of four. Canada was much safer than Europe in those years for a Jewish family but was also on the threshold of a depression. Her family lived in the back of a small grocery store on Alfred Avenue, across from Isaac Newton, where she went to school. She didn’t know it at the time, but she would grow to have a life of incredible richness, though not in the literal sense.
As a young teen, Sarah wanted a more modern, fashionable name so when her friends nicknamed her Sherry, it stuck. While her younger siblings played tennis and volleyball, socializing was Sherry’s preferred sport. She regaled her kids with stories about her dates as a teenager, but once Ben came into the picture, that was it. They were together for 73 years and she gave up her social life almost entirely, but willingly, for her family.
Mom waited seven years before Alecs was born but by the age of 45 she had five children and a vibrant household, where there was never a quiet moment, only the sounds of children. Those sounds were music to mom’s ears.
Sherry was a beautiful young mother, in every sense of the word. In the early 1960s, her shopping excursions with the kids left indelible memories. Lori and Cindy would watch with rapt attention as she transformed into a model from Vogue magazine, putting on her lipstick, gloves, fancy hat and outfit. A day at The Bay would often end at the Paddlewheel, with chocolate cream pie for all of us, Sherry included. She really seemed like the perfect mom – glamorous, nurturing, gentle, patient and happy.
Later, as teenagers, she’d wait up for us with coffee and cinnamon buns on Friday and Saturday nights, and we’d chat for hours. Mom was eternally curious about the details of our lives and those of our close friends.
Even after the kids left home – each departure a great upheaval and one of the rare times we would see mom cry – she called her daughters every day for years, until they had stable relationships of their own. She just needed to know that her babies were safe, even though the youngest of those babies was already an anesthesiologist in Toronto.
Sherry had an unflinching belief in the ability of her kids to achieve whatever they put their minds to, which gave us the confidence to be independent and successful in our own lives.
She knew who she was, lived life on her terms and didn’t care a whit about what anyone else thought. She was as strong, smart and determined as they came, yet incredibly gentle. Her independence of mind and stubbornness were hallmarks till the end, and her eccentricities will be the stuff of family legend.
Sherry’s home was a haven for her and her brood for her entire life. She is still at home now, in the only lasting home we can ever have, in the hearts and loving memories of her kids and grandkids, where she will remain, smiling, forever.
Mom’s generosity extended to everyone she touched in her life and was especially evident in her relationship with the ladies who cared for her these last eight years, after Ben passed away: Shirley Halpenny, Cresilda Magno, Susan Genido, Lisa Comia and Gloria Laconico. Sherry had a special relationship with each of them, and they clearly loved and took exceptional care of her. Our family will be forever grateful for their devotion and kindness.
Donations can be made to the Sherry and Ben Chochinov Fund at the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba.