SIMCHA, his Hebrew name, which connotes joy and celebration, was such a remarkable, optimistic survivor-that even at the age of 96-still too young, and too soon, Daddy!
His eloquent, often haunting, commemoration of victims of the Holocaust, were also songs of hope; prayers for tolerance and redemption. Recognition for his writing and scholarship in Yiddish, extended well beyond borders of language or religion. He was an honoured guest of the Polish government who invited him to lead ceremonies in his home town of Otvotsk, and put a translation of ‘Stepchild on the Vistula’ on its high school curriculum.
Irving Layton, once his English teacher, praised an early poem ‘Sanctifying God’s Name’, saying it should be recited in synagogues. Elie Weisel wrote an introduction to ‘Stepchild on the Vistula'; as did James Deahl, to another collection of poetry. Raymond Souster, born the same day, in the same year, was a valued friend, with whom he explored what it means to be a poet of the people, whichever people.
Most remarkable? Despite everything, he was never marked by bitterness.
SWEET. KIND. GENEROUS. A MAN WHO MODESTLY PURSUED THE PRINCIPLES OF AN ETHICAL LIFE.
He will be keenly missed by his immediate family–his daughters, Itta, and Miriam, his son-in-law, Vince, and his beloved grandson, Michael. By his extended family. And, by the larger Jewish community in Toronto, who knew him from his many years as librarian and curator of the Museum of Judaica at Beth Tzedec Synagogue, and through his unstinting efforts to preserve the Yiddish language.
Donations can be made to the Simcha and Freda Simchovitch Fund for Yiddish Education and Culture care of the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto – 4600 Bathurst St, Toronto ON M2R 3V2. Phone: 416-631-5703.