Memories of Shirley Goldberg z”l

By Sam Koplowicz

(Edmonton) – I have very fond memories of Shirley Goldberg, of blessed memory, who was a remarkable person I was privileged to call my friend. I first got to know her at my parents’ home when I came back to Edmonton for my father’s funeral in December, 2005. On the second day of shiva Shirley showed up unannounced with a large supply of delicious, home-cooked kosher food for Shabbat, with enough leftovers for five more days. My sister and I didn’t want Mom to do any cooking and she wouldn’t let anyone else touch her kitchen, so Shirley’s thoughtfulness and generosity were very much appreciated.

A couple of years later I took early retirement and moved back to Edmonton in order to look after and take care of Mom. In about 2008 or 2009 Shirley started a Yiddish group at the Drop-in Centre and of course Mom and I began attending on a regular basis, stayed for lunch, and that began my familiarity and involvement with the Centre. Those were always fun sessions, also attended by Abe Goldberg and Mr. Goldford (z”l) and others, and usually involved lots of jokes and amusing reminiscences about the “good old days.” My own Yiddish was very rusty but it was great to listen to and enjoy. Even the struggle to form some sentences in Yiddish was a worthwhile exercise.

Shirley’s enthusiasm for life and her irrepressible sense of humour were really something special. I especially loved getting invited to her home for wonderful Shabbat dinners, which Mom also enjoyed, and those were the only breaks from cooking that Mom ever took, until she moved into Our Parents Home. The last time I saw Shirley was at her apartment on a Friday evening last fall, when she had the participants of the current Mamaloshen Group (which began again about a year ago) over for another one of her delicious Shabbat dinners. We spoke of “doing it again soon” but not long after that her health began to fail and she went into the hospital and we never got another chance. I hope Shirley knows what an inspiration she was, and continues to be, and that her memory will always be for a blessing.

In fact, you too can help keep Shirley’s spirit alive by joining me and Vaughn Seward at our weekly Mamaloshen Group sessions. Currently we are meeting via Zoom on Wednesday afternoons at 1:30 pm for an hour of Yiddish exposure, reviewing common Yiddish words and phrases, trying to have some conversation, and reading (with translation) excerpts from Yingele Ringele (A Little Boy with a Ring), a marvelous, charming children’s book first published in 1928, that I have been working on translating off and on for over 20 years.

If you are interested, please contact me in person at the Centre, leave a message at my home phone 780-758-9123, or send me an email at You do not have to have any proficiency in Yiddish to enjoy these sessions, but it’s great if you do.


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