HomeObituariesRoseline Usiskin (née Wolodarsky)

Roseline Usiskin (née Wolodarsky)

With great sadness, we announce the sudden passing of Roseline Usiskin on November 2, 2022 after a brief illness. She was ninety-four years old. Roseline (also known as Baba, Rose or Roz) was an important person in so many people’s lives. She was a friend and a mentor to us all; a shining example of integrity, principle and kindness.
Roz was born in 1928 in Winnipeg, the third of seven surviving children born to Joseph Wolodarsky and Florence (Litman). She married Larry Usiskin in 1949. Roz is survived by her sons Michael (Jean), Arnie (Robyn) and Len (Priscilla), and her grandchildren Jana (Nic), Josh (Shelley), Aaron (Kasandra), Beth (Rob), Jacqui (Max), Mika (Alekcei), and great grandchildren Laurence, Miriam, Konrad, Julia, Felix, Aria, Nolan, Edie, Basil, Nya and Lola as well as her sister Evelyn, brother Bill (AnnMaree), brothers-in-law Dave and Sid (Viki) and sister-in-law Marcia, and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. Her parents, Joseph and Florence, her husband Larry, her siblings Doris, Jack, Shirley and Marilyn, and her sisters- and brothers-in-law Fred, Shirley, Sid, and Martin predeceased her.
Roz lived a remarkable and engaged life, which was shaped in her youth by radical left wing family members and friends who were writers and activists. She thought critically and she was curious about the world and other’s points of view. She loved to read and debate ideas and to discuss the pressing issues of the day.
Some of her activities and accomplishments include teaching kindergarten at Peretz and Shalom Aleichem schools; director of the children’s summer Camp Husavik; completion of high school as an adult and then going on to complete a Master’s degree in Sociology and History (earning a gold medal for both); lecturer at the University of Winnipeg; published articles and book reviews focused on the Jewish radical left in Winnipeg (she was widely consulted about her research); founding executive director of the Manitoba Multicultural Resource Centre; president of the Jewish Historical Society of Western Canada where she facilitated its’ move to the Jewish Community Campus; a lifelong member of the United Jewish People’s Order (UJPO) serving for many years as local President and also as a member of the national executive board; member of the national editorial board of the Canadian Jewish Outlook; and member of Jewish Voices for Peace. Roz also translated (from Yiddish to English), edited and published two books of letters by her father and his relatives.
Roz’s social and political activism included many progressive issues related to human rights, peace and social justice. She was part of the secular Jewish movement and was passionate about preserving Yiddish language and culture. She sang in various Jewish and labour choirs and was a founding organizer of the Shalom Aleichem Cultural group.
Roz and Larry travelled extensively all over the world. She loved attending cultural events — theatre, concerts, movies, ballet and opera.
Maintaining close family connections was extremely important to Roz. She was the matriarch of both the Wolodarsky and Usiskin families and she ensured that family and friends came together for every possible milestone or simcha. She loved to host suppers and gatherings in her Winnipeg home and at her Winnipeg Beach cottage. Food was an essential part of every get together. She especially enjoyed lively conversations with family and friends, often with a cup of tea in hand.
Both Roz and Larry were supportive, loving and proud parents and grandparents. They raised three active boys in a modest bungalow on Burrin Avenue in West Kildonan. Roz was very involved in her childrens’ and grandchildrens’ lives. She was also involved in the lives of her siblings and many nieces and nephews. Many people not in our family adopted her as a mother figure. They knew they could always come to her for support and advice.
We are inspired by her enthusiasm for life, her kindness and generosity, and the curiosity and intellect she demonstrated throughout her life. Her whole family is proud of all her accomplishments and the ideals she stood for. We know Roz felt there was still much work to be done to make the world a better place for all, and she was involved in projects as recently as this past autumn. She planted many seeds for peace and justice, and her legacy will carry on to make a better world.
Roz’s funeral was held Sunday, November 6, 2022, at the Hebrew Sick Cemetery. We are planning a larger celebration of Roz’s life at Winnipeg Beach next summer. Donations in Roz’s honour may be made to: UJPO (United Peoples Jewish Order), the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, the Judaic Studies Program at the University of Manitoba, or to a meaningful organization of your choice.

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