It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Hava Mira Berman in Toronto on Tuesday evening, October 27, 2020 – 10 of Cheshvan. Loving mother of David, Yosef Chaim and Devorah Meira, and Esther. Wonderful “Savta” to Ita Beila, Nechama Shira, and Emunah Temimah.
Hava’s life story is one of unmitigated courage and determination to save and protect her family at any cost. Born in Belarus, Hava moved to Kiev as a young woman, where she built a loving home for her three children. In April of 1986, just 90 km from Kiev, the meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor was a disaster for the world, and in particular for Hava, wreaking havoc on her young family. With her daughter Esther’s eyesight deteriorating due to the spreading radiation from Chernobyl, Hava scooped up her child and travelled across the world to seek medical treatment. Despite not knowing the language, Hava arrived in Cuba desperate to get the advice and help she had been promised. She was disappointed, however, to find inadequate facilities and treatments, and feeling dejected, Hava had no choice but to return home. On the way back, Hava and Esther’s flight stopped to refuel in Gander, Newfoundland. It was there she was told by other passengers that Toronto had excellent doctors with medical expertise and proper facilities. Hava decided to defect to Canada, and she made her way to The Hospital for Sick Children to have Esther assessed and treated.
Later, Hava brought David and Yosef to Toronto. Despite the agonizing separation from her children, the family was now reunited, and Hava fought hard to establish a warm and loving home in their new country. There were many sacrifices, and sometimes the obstacles were challenging and seemingly insurmountable. But Hava was determined to create a life of joy and fun and wonder. She imparted her love of nature to her children, giving them the best memories of summers spent swimming in Lake Simcoe, hiking in High Park, and even fishing in the Credit Valley River! Hava’s love of animals was legendary, and there was a rabbit, plus plenty of kittens and puppies to go around! Hava was a math and biology whiz, who helped her kids understand complex ideas, teaching them everything from fractions to algebra. And Esther became the youngest person in North America to receive a seeing eye dog! Hava fought hard for that, too.
In later years, Hava’s incredible joy at meeting her grandchildren from Jerusalem was felt by all who knew and loved her. Yosef and Devorah travelled many miles with their family so that Hava could spend time with the children. The joy on Hava’s face from those days is palpable in every photograph taken! Undertaking this type of journey with a young family is difficult, but to Yosef, it was a given. His mother had modelled this type of love and sacrifice years before.
When Hava got sick, David cared for his mother with abundant love and devotion that was noticed and admired by many. For thirteen years he visited her daily, lovingly feeding and caring for her. David’s commitment to his mother was truly humbling, but then again, he had learned from the best role model of all, the mother who personified love: Hava Mirel Berman, a Woman of Valor, a true “Eshet Chayil,” a devoted mother of indomitable spirit, and the quintessential survivor!
The family would like to thank the terrific team of experts at Baycrest – Special thanks to Lola, Beverly, and Lily for your compassion and care.