TORONTO — Judy Shaviv, who served as a personal assistant to two British chief rabbis and an Israeli president before moving to Canada from Sydney, Australia in 1994, died Dec. 2 at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, six years after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 57.
A native of London, England who was born into a staunchly Zionist family, Shaviv met her husband Paul, now director of education at the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto, in 1971. He was director of Hillel House in London at the time, and she was working in the office of Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits.
In a eulogy at Shaviv’s funeral in Toronto preceding her burial in Israel, Paul Shaviv recalled his wife, a former Zionist youth movement leader who spent a year in Israel before it was popular to do so, as “an outstandingly efficient organizer” and “skillful diplomat,” traits that played a significant role in her work life.
In 1986, Shaviv accompanied then Israeli president Chaim Herzog on a tour of southeast Asia as his personal and diplomatic secretary.
“There were very few Jewish political, philanthropic or rabbinical leaders worldwide whom she didn’t know,” her husband said.
Shaviv’s former employer British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, in a tribute that was read at the funeral, called her “one of the most capable people I ever had the privilege of knowing.
“The phrase aishet chayil might have been written for Judy Shaviv. She was a woman of strength in every sense, gracious, giving, helping others,” he wrote. “Her whole life was given over to serving the Jewish people, which she did effectively and efficiently, never seeking recognition.”
Shaviv also worked for Simcha Dinitz when he headed the Jewish Agency in the late 1980s, and for philanthropist Charles Bronfman and his late wife Andy in Montreal, when Paul was principal of Bialik High School from 1994 to 1998. Most recently, she worked for a high tech venture capital company in Toronto.
A mother of three grown children and four granddaughters – the youngest just six weeks old – Shaviv loved young people, her husband said. When the couple worked at a Jewish boarding school in England from 1978 to 1982, he recalled, Judy spent much of the week preparing food for a weekly kiddush for the students.
Rabbi Baruch Taub of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto Congregation said in a eulogy that Shaviv was “a rare human being” who combined “sterling Torah character traits with proper British propriety.”
She leaves Paul, her husband of 35 years; children Miriam, of London, England; Aron and Gidon, of Israel; sister Ruth Edel, of Israel; brother David Kosky, of London; and four grandchildren.