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Terry Schwarzfeld: Gourmet Terry

Cover of the cookbook


A Cookbook and A Hadassah-WIZO Daycare in Israel to remember Schwarzfeld who was senselessly killed by an attacker in Barbados while vacationing

By Bobbi Soderstrom and Rhonda Spivak, December 7, 2010

Terry Schwarzfeld,  who had just become the National Presdient of  Hadassah-WIZO Canada, was vacationing in Barbados with her family, when she and her daughter-in-law, Luana Cotsman, were accosted and brutally beaten by a mugger on February 28, 2009.  Luana recovered but Terry, who was 60 years old died from her injuries on March 18, 2009.  Extensive media coverage captured the tragedy of her death. (Editor's note: A Tribute written following her death is reprinted at the very end of this article.)


By Bobbi Soderstrom, December 7, 2010

Family came first for Terry, but she had boundless energy. She was committed to community. She loved the outdoors and was an avid hiker, dragon boat racer, and cross-country skier. She would sign off her emails with, "May the forest be with you".
Perhaps Terry's greatest talent was cooking. Terry could spend the day hiking in the woods and entertain 30 people for a gourmet dinner at her house that night.

Terry talked about writing a cookbook with her friends that not only contained recipes, but told stories about where the recipes came from and the times when they were enjoyed. After her death, ten of Terry’s friends, calling themselves “Friends of the Forest,” resolved to fulfill Terry’s unrealized goal. It took a year of tracking down relatives and friends around the world to gather the stories and photographs, to trace down the origins of Terry’s recipes and to decipher and interpret the instructions on Terry’s recipe cards.  

Terry's Cookbook is now available. The recipes, pictures and stories celebrate Terry's life - her love of food and nature - her strong connections to community - and the family and friends who love and miss her. Profits from the sale of Terry's Cookbook will be donated to the Terry Schwarzfeld Ottawa Daycare Centre, taking care of disadvantaged Arab and Jewish children, located in Akko, Israel.


By Rhonda Spivak, editor of the Winnipeg Jewish Review and cousin of  Terry Shwarzfeld, z"l, December 7, 2010

There is a place in this world where the generous and loving spirit of Terry Shwarzfeld lives on--- a small oasis of peace and hope and spirit of co-existence, in a neighborhood that  is otherwise quite challenged and disadvantaged in the sea side town of Akko, in Northern Israel. It is a place my children and I  were fortunate enough to see with our own eyes, a place situated between crowded apartments where there is otherwise very little green space.

It is a place where the memory  and legacy of  Terry Shwarzfeld lives on, in the bright  and glowing eyes of the young children who  greeted us along with Terry's extended family and many friends who journeyed there in June 2010 for the inauguration of the Terry Shwarzfeld daycare.

On the day we visited the sun shone, and shone and shone and the daycare staff and children had put in so much effort to host and entertain their guests. Every detail was attended to--from the signs  that greeted us to the many kinds of  snacks and food that were set outside near the neatly ordered white plastic chairs we sat on. 

The daycare's  children, both Jewish and Arab, stood in a line with Israeli flags in hand, singing, and visibly excited to greet us.

We came into the newly renovated centre, (which had been renovated with the funds donated to Hadassah-WIZO  in Terry's memory) and  we toured each carefully designed room and could see the new sinks and bookshelves and everything that had been made mini-size for the children.

When we entered the music room, we sat  downs  as the chilren spread out a parachute and sang and danced until we were all laughing, and (possibly) crying at the same time. It reminded me of Montessori school in Winnipeg and I was rather amazed to find something so similar in Israel. Terry would have loved it, and  I remember thinking that  she was there that day with us--as if she were the sun shining down upon us, spreading her warmth and generousity everywhere.

I do not remember all of  the details in the number of beautiful speeches that were made that day about Terry--except I do remember one thing. Terry's  younger sister Aviva (who has the same rather amazing organizational skills as Terry did)  said that it is not the case that this daycare was renovated because Terry died. For if Terry had still been alive, she would have ensured that the funds would have been raised to renovate the daycare under her leadership. It was a project that she had already taken under her wings before she died. And anyone who knew Terry knew that she completed every task she took on and  she completed it not barely or with mediocrity, but she completely it  well- to the very last detail.

Near the end of our visit we went into the small yard behind the daycare and watched Terry's family members plant  saplings--saplings that would grow into trees that  will provide shade, protection and respite for little children.  Tears flowed down my face as I watched Terry's cute little grandson Ben (who  looks so much like his grandfather Steve Cotsman, Terry's husband) as he bent over to plant his tree in his grandmother's memory--and I remember thinking that luckily he was too young to really appreciate the fullness of his own loss, in being deprived of a grandmother who would have had enough love stored up inside her to nurture him and all the other little children in the garden that day.

Terry's Cookbook can be purchased for $25 a copy  from any Canadian Hadassah-WIZO centre office (for information go to,  by mail order from General Store Publishing in Renfrew, Ontario, Canada  (  and  from many individual "Friends of the Forest". In Winnipeg, contact Melanie Richters at [email protected] or 204-798-8385.
Profits from the sale of Terry's Cookbook will be donated to the Terry Schwarzfeld Ottawa Daycare Centre, taking care of disadvantaged Jewish and Arab children, located in Akko, Israel.  



By Rhonda Spivak, April 2009

Jewish community leader Terry Shwarzfeld, who had recently become the 20th national president of Canadian Hadassah WIZOo died on March 18th, after being brutally attacked on February 28 by a lone man while vacationing in Barbados.

Shwarzfeld, age 60, was walking with her daughter-in-law, Luana Cotsman of Guelph, on an isolated stretch of Long beach  in the afternoon, when they  were approached by a would-be robber who had an imitation handgun. After it became clear that the two women had no money on them, the attacker left but then returned with a hunk of wood and struck Shwarzfeld on the back of the head, knocking her unconscious. She was flown back to Ottawa and succumbed to her head injury three weeks later.

On witnessing her mother-in-law being attacked, Luana Cotsman, struggled with the killer (whose face was covered), and was  knocked unconscious. She regained consciousness within hours, and is currently recovering from her injuries.  

Although this terrible event has been covered extensively in the Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Sun, the Canadian Jewish News, The Jewish Tribune, and others, I write about this not as a journalist, but as a family member.

Terry Shwarzfeld was my cousin. Her late grandfather Ephram Portigal and my late grandmother Rose Spivak (nee: Portigal) were brother and sister. I joined her grieving family in Ottawa, for the latter part of the shiva week. There are no words to describe how horrific, senseless, and tragic her death is.

The killer made off with a camera and Luana Cotsman’s wedding ring. Nothing more. According to Terry’s sister Aviva Shwartzfeld, the attacker apparently never tried to take off Terry’s wedding ring  as “there were no bruises” around her ring finger.

I am told by those present at Terry’s shiva, that her funeral was one of the largest in  the Ottawa Jewish community. The largest synagogue [ Agudath Israel], was overflowing with more than 800 mourners who gathered to share their heartfelt memories of a woman who was by all accounts an energetic, driven,  passionate, and caring person devoted to her family, the betterment of her community, and k’lal Israel.

Glyne Murray, high commissioner to Canada for Barbados, and Leroy McClean, Barbados consul general in Toronto were present at the funeral.

As president of Canadian Hadassah WIZ0, Terry was planning to raise funds for many women’s causes -- Hadassah hospital, Israeli day-cares, youth villages, drop-in-centres and a women’s crisis hotline. A recipient of the Ontario Volunteer Service Award, Terry had recently stepped down as executive director of Ottawa’s Agudath Israel Congregation.

As Terry’s son David (married to Luana ) told me , “My mom was visiting Israel for Hadassah [Wizo]  in January of this year. She was in Ashkelon when rockets hit the town.” 

It’s hard to fathom that for Terry, a vacation in Barbados turned out to be far more dangerous than visiting Southern Israel during a raging conflict with Hamas.

My children, ages nine and ten, have both asked me about why Terry was killed.  There are no easy answers. I told them that there are people in this world who do evil.  As Terry’s younger sister Joan Shwarzfeld said, her 8 year old son has been asking many questions, and the more the questions, the fewer the answers.

During shiva , I read the eulogy delivered by Terry’s son Adam, who spoke at the funeral  on behalf of his two brothers, David and Simon, and his father, [Terry’s husband of 37 years] Stephen Cotsman. I was struck by the power of the following words:

“If somebody had to be taken between Luana and my mom, my mom would have wanted it this way. Mom would have wanted my brother’s wife to survive and for her and David to make each other happy for many years and raise her grandson [Benjamin, age 14 months] in the loving way that helped teach,” said Adam Cotsman.

Adam also said, “No matter what was going on, it was undeniable how much my parents were in love.”

Aviva Shwarzfeld said in her eulogy that as a result of Terry’s death, “We [our family] are no longer whole.”

The day after shiva ended, a Barbados police investigator was in Ottawa to interview  Luana Cotsman  and  Stephen Cotsman.

Following Terry’s death, Barbados police  announced a reward for information that could lead to an arrest of the killer.

Curtis Joel Foster, a 24 year old man has been charged with Terry’s murder, and media reports say the Barbados police is paying out the reward.

The Ottawa Sun reported on March 27, that  days earlier Foster pleaded guilty to five robberies against tourists on the same stretch of Long Beach where Terry and Luana were attacked, and was sentenced to two years in jail. He has also been charged with the rape of a German tourist last July, and has another theft charge.            .

As Aviva Shwarzfeld told me, “This all makes it worse. If only Terry had known about what had been happening on that stretch of beach, she could have stayed away.”

The Ottawa Citizen reported on March 26 that since Terry’s death, others have come forward with cases of theft and robbery on Long Beach, including a Montreal woman who had items stolen on that same stretch of beach one day prior to Terry’s being attacked.

I can’t help but wonder whether the police in Barbados ought have been more vigilant in protecting and warning tourists on that beach.

Stephen (Steve) Cotsman said that if he and Luana are required to go to Barbados to testify, they will. “We need to make sure this can’t happen again to someone else,” he said.

Canadian–Hadassah-Wizo has named a daycare in Akko in Israel after Terry.

“The day-care was on mom’s priority list,” said son David Cotsman.

As Steve told me, Terry had been to that daycare on a previous visit to Israel, and “was very impressed by it” and “we talked about how to raise money for it.”

The daycare has a lot of children of single mothers, some special needs children, and children of welfare recipients. In addition to Jewish children, it has five Arab children. 

As Steve said, “That daycare is so Terry.” It combines so many of the causes she championed in her life that was cut short so suddenly.

Steve also told me that he has learned that the Barbados government has made a donation to the day care. Since the daycare needs major renovations, the government of Israel is going to match contributions made.

On my next trip to Israel this summer, I intend to go to Akko to see this day care, and I’m sure I will shed a few tears as I look into the eyes of those children and think of Terry’s blessed memory.

Donations in Terry Shwarzfeld's memory can be made through the Ottawa office of Canadian Hadassah WIZ0, at 613-798-7644, or through the organization's website,



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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.