Philanthropist, volunteer, woman of valour. Born in Chmielnik, Poland, on June 5, 1923; died in Toronto on Nov. 14, 2013, of a heart attack, aged 90.
“I always speak the truth. Life is simpler that way,” Rose Shore would say, and in the same breath would add: “I believe that all people are good.” Simple insights, yet remarkable when uttered, without qualification, by a woman whose life was profoundly marked by both tragedy and generosity.
As Polish Jews in the Second World War, Rose and her family were sent to Nazi concentration camps. For three years she toiled as a slave labourer in a Nazi munitions factory, which left her with greatly diminished hearing. All of her family died in the Treblinka extermination camp in 1942.
The end of the war brought Rose’s liberation, and in 1945 she married Favu (Philip) Shore. Rose was elated: She had lost her family but he was fortune in that several relatives survived, including his brothers, who formed a tight-knit group of lifetime companions. After two years in a displaced persons camp in Germany, Rose and Phil were able to emigrate to the United States in 1947. They lived on a chicken farm in New Jersey until 1966, when they moved to Canada. Phil, a hard-working entrepreneur, then built a successful real-estate business with his brothers in Toronto.
But their life was marked by the loss of both sons to hemophilia – what Rose called her “personal holocausts.” Their first boy, David, died as a young child. Son Abe grew up to be an internationally acclaimed pediatric rheumatologist at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children; he died in 1991 at 45, after receiving a transfusion of contaminated blood.
In her grief at losing Abe, Rose stopped listening to music as a sign of mourning. “But I will come and dance at your wedding,” she would say with a smile to Stacy, the daughter of Abe’s best friend.
Rose channelled her energy to ensuring that other children would be nurtured and looked after. A visit from a friend, the late Rabbi Joseph Kelman, resulted in her donating money to found a school in Toronto for children with learning disabilities – She’arim, the Dr. Abraham Shore Hebrew Day School.
Over the years, Rose and Phil made many generous donations to hospitals, such as Toronto’s Baycrest, and to organizations such as the United Jewish Appeal and Jewish National Fund. After Phil’s death in 2004, she donated their family home to the Reena Foundation to house special-needs children. Her ties to Sick Kids included a memorial lecture series on pediatric rheumatology in the name of Dr. Abraham Shore.
Rose and Phil’s philanthropy had one purpose: to relieve the suffering of others. “When a person asks you for help, you don’t ignore them,” she would say. Her deep interest in hemophilia research led to a million-dollar donation to the Hemophilia Society in Israel. “Maybe this life-threatening disease will be cured one day,” she hoped.
Rose, who had only a Grade 8 education, was a brilliant woman who would easily have aced the most difficult law school exams. She was well-read in English, Yiddish, Polish and Hebrew, and versed in history, economics, literature and scripture.
She was never bitter, never lacking for humour or faith, and her life was characterized by humility. She passed away with no one to sit Shiva for her, the seven-day Jewish mourning period that is traditionally observed by a blood relative. But her passing was marked by friends and relations, and many children will be nurtured by the legacy of her kindness and generosity.
Andrea and Stacy Rush are friends of Rose.