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Naomi Palansky, z"l

Noah Palansky chosen to be the Olympic Community Torch Bearer for his fundraising efforts for Cancer Care Manitoba

Naomi behind her son Noah, with her daughter Lexi to the right of Noah. They are with Naomi's sister Cindy Yusim, Rob Yusim and their children.


[tributes by Jay Raisen, Susan Meged, Lori shapiro, Al Bennaroch, David Daien, Lena Kostovetsky, and Rhonda Spivak]

by members of Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate's Class of 1982

[Editor’s note:  Myself, Susan  (Cohen) Meged, and Lori Shapiro  [ in Toronto], Al Benarroch, all graduates of Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate’s Class of 1982,  have each written a tribute in memory of  Naomi Palansky. The tributes are compiled below.]

By Rhonda Spivak, November 10, 2010
I write this after just having returned from Naomi Palansky’s funeral.
Naomi and I were both part of the twenty-eight students who made up the 1982 graduating class of Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate, in which there were only nine girls.
I am forty six years old, the same age as her-- old enough to know what it is like to have young children. Old enough to feel that you have so much more mothering left to do. Old enough to know how precious time is, how important it is to spend time with loved ones, and how hopeful we are in wanting to believe that we [and our spouses] have many years left on our journey through life. At age 46 I am old enough to know that age 46 is way too young an age to die.
The last time  members of my graduating class of 1982 were together as a class was in October 2007 at Naomi and Bruce Palansky’s house as part of our 25th Anniversary Re-Union [the only one we have had]. We had an amazing time together, and I will always be grateful to Naomi and Bruce for hosting that party, and to Naomi, for all the work that she did in getting that whole re-union week together. When Naomi hosted that party, none of us would have ever thought that some few months later she would be diagnosed with a cancer that was terminal.
She is the first one of our class to have passed away---and with her passing, we have all aged, and our hearts ache. The circle has been broken.
Bruce Palansky had the rather unbelievable ability to deliver a speech today with a dignity, sense of purpose and spirit that is rather beyond words. He found a way to continue to parent his children though that speech, by letting them know how proud their mother was for all of their achievements, and how she had so thoroughly enjoyed mothering them, opening up her whole heart and then some, through what were obviously the most challenging of times. Bruce managed to get to the essence of Nomi’s being, the strength of her character with one statement: “She was a giver.”
The message of her life was to live and love well and deeply —to use the limited time we have on earth (and hers was all too limited) to transmit love, devotion and commitment to our spouses, our  children, our family, and our community. It is a message that Naomi knew and exhibited well before her sickness, but one which clearly became more focused in her last 31 months (she lived 31 months after being advised that she had only 9-12 months). It is a message symbolized by the fact that she made her son Noah a tallis and tallis bag, and managed to make her daughter Lexi a tallis, which will blanket her in her mother’s love when she has her Bat-Mitzvah this winter.

To Naomi’s husband, children, mother, sisters, and  extended family—may you find peace and comfort in knowing that her life and her message has touched a whole community. At Etz Chaim Synagogue this afternoon, the room overflowed with tears-tears of children, students, parents, teachers, alumni, grandparents, young and old. An entire community was there. An entire community sang the song Oseh Shalom,  something which  Rabbi Lander poignantly suggested we do as it was  the song that he last sung to Naomi before she passed away.

 And after more tears, I found myself standing next to one of my classmates, another one of the nine girls in my graduating class of 1982. We found each other, and hugged. We both know that the circle has been broken, and our hearts ache.

By Jay Raisen, November 22, 2010
To my long-time friend,
The bond of friendship…
We schooled together since kindergarten, learned the aleph bet and abc’s with many of the same teachers, the same friends, the same school. We played together, and shared a vast array of common experiences.
We reconnected relatively recently at our 25th high school reunion, not having seen each other and many of our other classmates and old friends for many years. The warm bonds forged since childhood became stronger.    As with all enduring friendships, there was a sense of immediate recognition - as if no time had passed at all. Your vibrant warmth, jolly nature, and sincerity was evident, as we reminisced about fun, innocent, and happy times. I will always remember your bubbly smile, laughter, enthusiasm, and honesty, -- you were always a mensch.
While memories may fade, our feelings and hopes remain for those lifetime friends ….and now also for their families. We grew up helping each other and learning from each other. 
Our friends pillar our past, our present and our potentials.
My heart is heavy. I pray your family can take at least a slight solace in this terrible time, in knowing how many lives you have touched so positively, and in this case I am but just one.
 I am grateful for the privilege of calling you my long-time friend… and I will never forget.
Jay Raisen
By Susan (Cohen) Meged, November 16, 2010
Naomi came into my life on the first day of grade 7. I was one of the new arrivals from Ramah School and was a bag of nerves the day I walked into JWC. It was funny though, that our small group of Ramah girls and a small group of Talmud Torah girls had gravitated towards each other and, by lunchtime, were sitting in a circle eating together. One of those Talmud Torah girls was Naomi Rosenberg, a small thing with a big smile and a big laugh! Naomi stood out with her “kookiness” and sweetness and we became great friends in and out of school.   I remember fondly, Naomi’s love for singer Billy Joel. She knew every word of every one of his songs. But it was in our Grade 12 year that Naomi got her chance to see Billy Joel. A group of our classmates attended his first concert in Winnipeg and Naomi was over the moon. Even before the concert had started, she was already screaming and crying in anticipation of seeing her idol! All I could do was laugh and encourage her to “let go”. At one point we looked at each other, held hands and proceeded to run down the steep arena’s stairs in an attempt to get on stage.
We held on tightly and pushed through the crowd. When we finally arrived at the stage, Naomi went crazy and called out “Billy! Billy! I love you”, with tears streaming down her face. I pushed hard and tried to get her on stage… but 2 burly men, grabbed us both and threw us back into the crowd! It didn’t matter though… Nomes was jubilant! Such energy, such optimism, such fun… I will never forget it.
This is one of the saddest moments in my life. To witness her funeral was more than heartbreaking. To lose Naomi is the true meaning of tragedy.
As I was driving back to work after the funeral, I turned on the radio… Billy Joel was singing “ Only the Good Die Young”…
 I love you Nomes. I will always carry you and your beautiful smile in my memory.
By Lori Shapiro, November 16, 2010
How can a few paragraphs do justice to all that Naomi embodied? She and I were classmates since pre-school until we graduated together as part of the Class of 82. I smile through the tears as I remember the fond memories: the class pictures my mother has saved over the years-the one of our kindergarten class where we are all positioned on the front steps of the Chevra Mishnayes, where Talmud Torah preschool was located at that time. Naomi has a big smile on her face. This is how I remember her best.
Over the years, I spent time playing at Naomi’s house, frolicking together in the pool on family vacations in Clear Lake, attending BBYO conventions together, hearing about her successes on the ice in ringette and being part of a fantastic group of women and men, that comprised the JWC class of ’82.
Being the shortest two girls in the grade, she and I would tell each other how good things come in small packages...and what a package she was. Naomi’s bubbly personality and effervescence were her trademarks and this is how she approached life. Naomi was nice to EVERYBODY. She knew no other way.
When the emails started connecting us all some 25 years after our high school graduation, Naomi took up the task of coordinating the weekend. Moreover she offered her house for the Saturday night get together where we shared in Havdallah together and renewed our friendships. After all her efforts in making that weekend a success, and what a success it was, she told me that her skills were honed for her next mission, bar mitzvah planning for her son, Noah....and in so saying the words, she flashed me that big smile that could light up a room. As they say “it's not what you know, but what you do with what you know that matters”.
Naomi knew how to see the good in people and how to make those around her feel good. There is now a missing link in the chain of the Class of '82 and my heart aches for its loss.
May her memory be an everlasting inspiration.
By Al Bennaroch, November 17, 2010
My last interaction with Naomi was on the High Holidays of this year. As sick as she was, she felt it was important to make two trips to shul, not just one, on Yom Kippur. Surrounding herself with her family and the holiness of the day, oxygen in tow and a smile on her face, she was determined to be present and to actively participate in the Yizkor service and then return later in the evening for Neilah.
I was tremendously moved by Naomi, who was climbing mountains of eternal strength from a very spiritual place in her soul.

In all my years as a traditional Jew, I have never in that way experienced a depth of spirituality on Yom Kippur. At the end of the evening service, with a smile and hug, Naomi, my classmate and friend since nursery school, gave me the most heartfelt and sincere wish for a happy and healthy New Year. She meant every word. That was the type of person Naomi was.


By David Daien, Toronto, November 18, 2010.

This year I decided to come home for Yom Tov and I looked forward to many things including seeing Naomi and her family in my father's Shul the Chevra Mishnayes. That shul is the same shul where Naomi and I went to Kindergarten 40 years ago. As fate would have it,  while Naomi and her family were planning to come to shul, she became  more ill and Naomi and Bruce diverted to the hospital.

While I was obviously extremely saddened reflecting on Naomi's situation (as I had been during her entire struggle), I did however get the chance to meet her daughter Lexi. What struck me about her, aside from the obvious visual likeness to the way I remember her Mom from Kindergarten, was the bright eyed warmth and wonder emanating from her and the poise she had in meeting me.

I have also been following with my own wonder the incredible efforts of Naomi's son  Noah as he courageously and doggedly raises funds in support of the cure for the disease that was overtaking his mother and ultimately took her life.

It strikes me that there will be no greater tribute to the beautiful life that Naomi lived and no greater comfort to those that she touched, that the qualities and values that Naomi lived her life by, are already displaying themselves in her children and in their wondrous lives her spirit will live on.



 by Lina Garber (Nee Kostovetsky), November 18, 2010

Naomi was one of the first people I  met, when I came to Grade 9 at JWC. I was a newcomer to Canada.[from the former Soviet Union] My family arrived to Winnipeg just three months prior. I still had difficulty with the English language and thus communicating with my peers was a challenge, especially among teenagers. Naomi and I became friends and were very close throughout our high school years. I remember Naomi as a very positive, cheerful and friendly person. She was always ready to lend a helping hand. Having her as a friend made my JWC experience so wonderful and memorable.
Due to family circumstances, I left Winnipeg in 1986 and our lives’ paths took us in different directions. I have lived overseas for many years and we  lost touch. It was during the planning of our class’s 25th reunion that we reconnected. Al and I started corresponding and  initiated the planning of the reunion. Naomi was one of the first people to offer her help in planning and hosting the event, despite the fact that she had a family, little kids,  work and daily errands.   The most amazing thing is that we all picked up where we left off many years ago. As if the 25 years had never happened. 
On that Saturday night in Naomi’s home, there was a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It was as if we were transported back to one of the weekend retreats we’ve had during our high school years. Naomi and Bruce were perfect hosts, just like Susan was the night before, when she cooked a delicious meal for all the “Grads” who attended. I think I can speak for all our friends, who’ve attended the reunion, when I say that the whole atmosphere of that weekend was full of harmony and friendship. Naomi’s energy and spunk have largely contributed to the weekend’s success. 
We have all planned to get together for our 30 reunion in Israel and I remember one of said “We should not wait that long to get together again…”    Now, the link is broken…
I am guilty of being “sucked in” by my daily routine, being too busy with problems – my family’s, my friends’, my own. I did not had a chance to speak to Naomi after our reunion. We, human beings, always seem to think that there may still be time…but life teaches us otherwise.
To Naomi’s family I would like to express my deepest condolences. She was a wonderful daughter, sister, wife and mother. She was a bright, talented, warm and caring woman. She was a dear friend. Her absence has left a deep void in many people’s hearts.
Naomi, may you rest in peace. And may memory of you guide us all in the years to come.

Editor's note:  Rhonda Prepes, has also written a beautiful tribute piece to Naomi and others who have passed away at a young age. Rhonda's piece was also written  shortly after returning from Naomi's funeral. Her piece is now in the local news section of this issue. To read it, please click here:


The following are two articles written by Naomi 's son  Noah Palansky, which seem especially appropriate to reprint at his time.


By Noah Palansky, Special to the Winnipeg Jewish Review

My name is Noah Palansky and I’m a grade 8 student at the Gray Academy. In April of 2008 my mom, Naomi [Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate Alumni class of ‘82] was diagnosed with cancer.

It was a big shock because she had always been so healthy. I wanted to help but didn’t know what I could do since I was only 12.

I decided to join the Challenge for Life 20k Walk. I have set a lifetime goal to raise one million dollars for Cancer Care and research.

This year will be my 3rd year doing the walk and in my first 2 years I’ve raised over $60,000.

I like the Challenge for Life because all the money raised stays in Manitoba and goes toward research and helping Manitobans in their battle with cancer.

This year I met with Cancer Care Manitoba and they accepted my proposal to head-up a Kids Count Division of the walk.  The Kids Count Team is run by kids for kids.  I’m trying to get as many kids as possible to join my Kids Count team and participate in the walk.  It involves a commitment to raise at least $1,000 and to make healthy lifestyle choices to reduce their risk of getting cancer. Anyone under 18 can join.

Please help me show that although we are younger, kids count and together we can make a difference.

Thanks, Noah 

p.s. Anyone wanting to join my Kids Count Team or make a donation can visit my web page by googling

Editor’s note: Below is an article Noah Palansky wrote this past January which is being reprinted for the readership of the Winnipeg Jewish Review.


By Noah Palansky

Hi, my name is Noah Palansky, and last week I was the Olympic Community Torch Bearer for Winnipeg.  I was asked to write a little bit about my experience.

Earlier this year I studied about Greece in school and did a project about the Olympics.   I learned that the flame starts in Greece and travels through the country hosting the Olympics.   I realized that during my run I was the only person in the world responsible for keeping the olympic flame and all it stands for alive.  This was pretty amazing to me.

The day before my torch run was kind of a weird day at school; 3 tv stations had sent reporters and camera crews to follow me around and interview me at school.

Finally the big day arrived.  We left in the shuttle bus, and I was told that I was sitting in the exact same spot that Sidney Crosby sat earlier in the month.   My family and I are big hockey fans and my 10 year old sister Lexi said “Wow you sat in the same seat as Crosby!   You should never wash your butt again.”

As I lit my torch, tons of people started to cheer and chant my name.   Once the flame was passed to me, 8 RCMP surrounded me for my entire walk.  I could not believe how big the crowd was.  I ran onto the stage and lit the cauldron and everybody cheered.  

I was picked by Mayor Sam Katz to be the Olympic Community Torch Bearer because of my fundraising for the Challenge for Life 20K Walk for Cancer Care Manitoba.  In the past two years, I have raised more than $60,000 for cancer care and research.  Last year, I set a life time goal of raising $1 000 000 and this year, although I am signed up for the Challenge For Life in June, another priority for me is my “Kids Count Campaign”.

I created the Kids Count Campaign to show that although kids are younger than adults we can still do important things; it just takes a little more effort.  I have been trying to get as many kids to walk, donate or get involved with raising money as I can.  I have been going to schools asking the schools to fundraise and I started a “Kids Count Toonie Tuesday” which is basically getting schools to ask all the kids to bring a toonie or any other donation to support my fundraising. This year Toonie Tuesday will be on May 11th.

This year I am also going to be heading up the “Kids Count Division” of the Challenge for Life for Cancer Care Manitoba.  The Kids Count Division will track all the money raised by kids and my hope is that we can make up a significant percentage of the overall walk.

I have received a lot of attention and recognition for my fundraising, which is nice, but it is not why I do it. It makes me feel good to know that I am helping the many Manitobans dealing with cancer.  To all the kids out there, please consider enrolling in the walk, committing to raise $1000, and committing to making healthy lifestyle choices to reduce your own risk of getting cancer.  Together we can make a difference.

p.s.  To access my fundraising webpage to browse or donate, please google Challenge for and search for my name as a walker.



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