Excerpts from the eulogy for Judy Shuhendler – Devora Leah bat Yitzchak u’Fruma as delivered by Rabbi Jarrod Grover
The reading from the book psalms reminds us of where we are and why we are gathered. It is with mournful spirits and sorrowful hearts that we come today to offer a final measure of tribute to the memory of a wonderful woman taken too soon. Judy Shuhendler came to Canada with very little in terms of physical possessions, but with an abundance of values, traditions, and morals, and surrounded by love. With those qualities of spirit, she embarked on a life that we look back on with admiration and pride. We grieve today for our world and our lives that have been impoverished by her loss.
At a funeral, we turn to God who is the author of life and death with the words: Baruch Dayan Emet – resigning ourselves without choice to God’s true judgment. At the same time, our thoughts turn to a bereaved family who mourn the passing of their loved one.
The Talmud says: ein ish met ela le’ishto – that a person’s death is most painfully experienced by their spouse. In that spirit, we turn first to you Mordey, as we celebrate the 47 years of marriage that earned you the title of a super couple. Judy wasn’t just a wife, clearly, she was someone you admired, appreciated, and loved being with. We offer you our deepest condolences. And to you Adam, and your wife Karey, and your two girls Adeline and Fiona, the three of whom could not be here to mourn with you because of these unprecedented times. And to Erika, who unfortunately could not be here today for similar reasons. Judy lives on through you, and you all know that you were the light and the purpose in her life until her very last days. And finally, I want to acknowledge Judy’s brother George, and honour your special relationship, and your kindness and devotion as a brother.
Judy touched the lives of many, many people. If we were allowed, we would be gathered today in much larger numbers. Her generous spirit attracted many people. Friends, students, colleagues, and more. May God give you all courage and strength. May we learn to regard Judy’s life as a precious jewel entrusted into our care. May we look back with gratitude on all the fond memories she leaves behind. May her memory be a blessing, and may her soul be bound up with the souls of the righteous. O God, grant that all who are bowed in grief may find by Your grace, consolation. And let us say: Amen.
Moses, as you know, is called Moshe Rabbenu, Moses our teacher. And perhaps this commandment helps us understand why. A teacher, yes, must teach lessons. But a great teacher guides, mentors, and directs the people in way that lifts them up in life.
It’s a lesson I thought of when trying to frame Judy’s life. In many ways, Judy followed in Moses’s footsteps in this regard. It takes a very special person to devote herself to educating
kids with special needs. Not just because it requires patience, skill, and creativity, but because it requires the ability not just to teach facts, but to lift up. To give others self-confidence, reassurance, and pride. Not only did Judy have these skills, but she also loved her job precisely for those reasons. She was an optimistic person who saw the potential in everyone. And was more than willing to help others succeed in whatever capacity she could.
We see these skills in many different parts of her life. She liked to shop, but she loved to shop for others. She took good care of herself, but she took great care of her family and others. She loved not just meeting new people but also learning about them. She liked casual friendships, but loved deep meaningful friendships with sharing, honesty, and sisterhood. With a listening ear and a non-judgmental modern way of thinking about people and the world, you could not help but like Judy.
Judy was an uplifter to her family. Yesterday, we talked about her story. How she came to Canada as a refugee, fleeing oppression, with her family. She revered her parents and tried to live up to their values and expectations. She encouraged Mordey and they became an inseparable couple. She passed on the values of family and tradition to her children, while sharing special moments as a Mama to her granddaughters. This was truly the highlight of her life. An elegant lady, a dedicated volunteer. A woman determined to make a difference in the world and be a source of good.
Adam and Mordey did not hesitate when I asked if Judy had a good life. She didn’t have a good life – she had a great life, you said. We are all unbelievably saddened that it was cut short, but we ought to remember that there are those who live many years, but don’t leave behind the kind of legacies that matched the many years they were granted. On the other hand, there are those whose lives are cut short who leave an abundance of deeds and values that might take the average person two lifetimes to achieve. Without a doubt, that’s the sense I got hearing about Judy. And those deeds will endure way beyond her lifetime. Think of all the people who have been uplifted because of Judy’s life and career. We should all aspire to leave behind such an impact on the world.
We trust in the words of our sages who taught tzadikim, zichronam livracha. May the memory of a righteous women endure among us as an everlasting blessing. And let us say Amen
Memorial donations may be made to the St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation c/o the ICU https://stmichaelsfoundation.com/donate/.