As I write this piece, I truly cannot believe that one absolute angel of a human being has been taken from us well before her time and in such shocking fashion.
Just over a week ago, Judy Roth Brook and her family followed the path of most Canadians. They went to vote in the federal election and awaited the results. All was normal in the household, with much to look forward to. Judy could not be happier with her lot in life. She was married to the love of her life for 37 years, Côte Saint-Luc`s most notable Jewish butcher Avi Brook. Her mother Marianna, the legendary Jewish chef known to most as simply "Mrs. Roth" lived under the same roof as her and the two were close. Eldest son Daniel and daughter-in-law Joyce had given her two grandchildren. Son number two Joey was about to graduate from Law School November 2. Her two others, David and Amanda, remained the apples of her eye. By day, she loved her administrative job at BCM College.
When Justin Trudeau was elected our new Prime Minister, Judy sat around the comfortable family home and shared her thoughts. The following day she did not feel well. Was it a flu? She remained in bed for days. At one point Avi suggested they get some medical attention, but she insisted this was not necessary. How many of us have been in the same boat as her? These illnesses can linger, but they generally clear up on their own. By Saturday her condition had worsened significantly. A hospital visit was inevitable. Just about 24 hours later Judy left this earth. She was only 55 years old. A mysterious bacteria had attacked her vital organs and there was nothing the doctors could do to stop it.
Funeral services were held on Monday and despite very little notice, Paperman and Sons was packed. Some people from out of town got into their cars Sunday and drove all night. At the shiva house, everyone who walks in does so shaking their heads. How can this be possible?
I have known the Brook-Roth family for several years now. It all began when I walked into their store, CSL Kosher on Westminster Avenue, and took a look at Mrs. Roth's appetizing chicken schnitzel. "Is it good?" I asked? Mrs. Roth cut me a piece and asked, "You tell me?" It was more than good; it was the most spectacular thing I ever tasted. I was soon introduced to Avi and became a regular. Avi and I became friends and every now and then he'd ask me to stop by the home to chat. When I did, Judy would there with her huge smile to welcome me inside. Her home was the ultimate "drop in" center. There were always people stopping by. Whenever I was there, she did not know what to cook for me first. There were times when I had already eaten supper, but her cooking - like that of her mom's - was so good, I could not refuse. She'd always send me packing with doggy bags as well.
Judy and I would end up developing our own routine. She loved the computer and was quick at sending and receiving emails. We were in regular touch. Our last communication was just over a week ago when she wrote to commend me on a piece I wrote about the late Rabbi Shoham.
No matter how long a work day she'd endure, Judy came home to cook and make supper for anyone who came by. For years she opened her dining room to visitors from Israel. "Every Monday night like clockwork she'd have these people over," said Avi. "She knew that when our kids travelled to Israel there were always homes welcoming them. She wanted to do the same."
Esther Roth, Judy's sister, said what was at the tip of everyone's tongue: "This all seems like a bad dream. How could she be gone? She had so much to live for?"
Her relationship wirh Avi was special. He was 15 and she 14 when they first met. Four years later they married.
In her way too short five and a half decades on this earth Judy Roth Brook touched so many people. Her legacy will live on with her husband, children, grandchildren and other family members. A kind, caring and loving individual has left us and we are all the poorer for it.
BROOK, Judy (nee Roth). Surrounded by her loved ones, on Sunday, October 25, 2015. Beloved wife of Avi for thirty-seven years. Adoring mother and mother-in-law of Daniel and Joyce, Joey, Amanda, and David. Cherished Bubby of Mason and Micah. Loving and devoted daughter of Marika and the late Laci Roth. Dear sister and sister-in-law of Esther and Luigi; sister-in-law of Ada and Yanki, Yochi and Violetta. Judy will be sadly missed by her nieces and nephew Cheli Joey,and Alexandra and by Steven and Frieda Spiro, their families, and all who knew her and loved her. Funeral service from Paperman & Sons, 3888 Jean-Talon St. W. took place on Monday, October 26, 2015. Shiva at her home daily. Contributions in Judy’s memory may be made to ICU Unit c/o the Jewish General Hospital Foundation, 514-340-8251.