Elaine Lofchick

My Story...

I was born in 1932 to "Gentleman Jim" and Rachel (née Simovich) Gobuty. They were exceptional people — generous, kind, good-humoured, and hard-working. Throughout my life, I have tried to follow their remarkable example.

My mother was born in 1912 in Slutz, Russia, and faced adversity early on. Her mother (Yudis/Yehudit) died in Russia, and her father (Chaim) died in Warsaw en route to Winnipeg. She and her siblings — eight kids in total — made their way to Winnipeg independently and settled at the Jewish orphanage on Matheson Avenue. My mother stayed at the orphanage until she was 14-years-old when she moved in with her older sister.

My father was also born in 1912 and also came over around 1920. He was born in Vinnitsa, Ukraine, near Kiev. He was one of six Gobuty children. All of them came to Canada except for one, who chose to avoid war by moving eastward to Siberia. My father's parents were Michael and Sarah (née Rotchik). I have wonderful memories of my Baba Sarah, who lived into her 80s. She was tiny, terribly arthritic, and exceptionally positive. She rarely spoke about the past, focusing instead on remaining upbeat, funny, and optimistic. She used to go out to play poker with no plan for getting home, always announcing that she would get a cab with her winnings. She always did.

My parents were married in 1931 by Rabbi Kahanovitch and raised the family on Burrows Avenue. I am the oldest of three children; my siblings are Michael Gobuty and Gloria Katz. I remember from my youth helping my mother to raise Gloria.

Friday night Shabbat dinners and Jewish holiday celebrations were very important to my parents. I have vivid memories of going to shul at the Jewish orphanage for High Holidays where the chanting of Kol Nidre would give me chills. My father worked hard at his businesses: Victoria Leather and Dominion Cloaks. He enjoyed many close friendships, and loved to play poker and go fishing. He came by the "Gentleman Jim" nickname honestly as he was kind and warm.

My mother was a very swift and honest woman and a great kibitzer. She was honest and direct; you always knew where you stood with her. She was very active in Hadassah, and I am proud to hold on to her "Eema" pin, a memento of life membership. My parents enjoyed a rich social life and a beautiful marriage.

For school, I attended Luxton, St. John's, and United College. I also attended I.L. Peretz night school and studied piano (at my cousin's house because we couldn't afford a piano). I took one year of arts at the University of Winnipeg but decided that post-secondary education wasn't for me. Instead, I went to work for Sheps Agencies (insurance and property management) and also worked as a dental assistant.

At the age of 17, I went to visit my cousin in Toronto. I went out for dinner with my cousin, her fiancé, and her fiancé's brother — a young man named Bernie Lofchick. Bernie and I hit it off right away and were married in 1954 by Rabbi Arthur Chiel at the Rosh Pina Synagogue in Winnipeg.

Bernie and have enjoyed — and continue to enjoy — a beautiful marriage. We are blessed with three children: daughter Myra lives in Israel, close to the Western Wall, battling multiple sclerosis valiantly; daughter Mindy, who lives in Winnipeg; and our son, David, and his wife, Michelle, also live in Winnipeg. We've also been blessed with six grandchildren: Sharonne, Michael, Rachel, Courtney, Daniel, and Arielle; and two great-grandchildren: Amalayah and Eliana.

As the kids were growing up, our place was a hub for family gatherings. I love having our family and extended family together. We bought a winter residence in Florida, and even bought a second place nearby so our grandchildren can come to visit us. We kept a Jewish home for our kids, shared Shabbat dinners together, and sent them all to Ramah Hebrew School to get a Jewish education.

Over the years, Bernie and I have seen our grandchildren as if they were our own children. We love them deeply and look forward to spending time with them. I am proud that we have always been a very solid and very loving family. I learned from my parents that this is the most important thing.

In middle age, after the kids grew up, I decided to return to the workforce. I became a travel agent and took many tours to Israel. Those tours allowed me to support the State of Israel through the purchase of two Jewish National Fund projects: one in Canada Park, and one in the Galilee. I am very proud of this and all of our demonstrations of commitment to community service.

Over the years, I did a lot of volunteer work with Sertoma (Service to Mankind), raising funds for cerebral palsy, a condition that our son, David, has courageously stared down and tamed. My main volunteer role was to entertain people as a clown. I was one of 20 clowns in the group (and the only woman). We participated in the Red River Ex and collected Halloween treats for kids in hospital, among other acts of community service. I also performed (not as a clown) in theatrical productions with National Council of Jewish Women, and did other volunteer work with B'nai Brith Women and Misericordia Hospital.

When I look back at my life, the highlights revolve around family and community service. Participating in the Endowment Book of Life program is a fitting and beautiful way to celebrate these cornerstones of my life.