A Life's Story
June 05, 2021
Menorah Waldman took care of herself and others in the community, squeezing every last drop out of her active, meaningful, long life
By: Dave Baxter
The sight of 89-year-old Menorah Waldman teaching her weekly fitness classes at the YMCA was always something that made those who were working out at the downtown gym sit up and take notice.
"People who were exercising would always look over at her class because it was right in the middle of the gym," 59-year-old Dovid Waldman of Winnipeg said. "And they would have this look on their face like, ‘What is going on?’"
Dovid’s mother Menorah died at the age of 95 on Nov. 1, leaving behind two children, five grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and numerous other relatives and close friends.
And as the family continues to mourn the loss of the family matriarch, Dovid said they are comforted in the knowledge that Menorah lived not only a long life, but a full and rich life that saw her stay busy and active and never ever back away from a challenge.
"She would just keep doing everything she was doing because she always had a goal and would say, ‘I’m working towards this goal or training for this goal,’ and she just did it," he said.
It was that competitive drive that saw Menorah start training at the age of 60 to become a certified fitness instructor, and ultimately teach fitness classes up until the age of 89 at the downtown YMCA-YWCA .
"Her classes were always full, they became very popular," Dovid said. "They advertised it for seniors but there would be people much younger joining the class, because it was at a level they could follow and was something that felt just a little more comfortable for them."
But it was just one of the many things she would take on, giving so much of her time and energy to the community she loved and the organizations she admired.
"For my mom, what kept her so busy and so active in the community was a strong intellectual and social curiosity," Dovid said. "She looked at what was available in her area that was of interest to her and looked for ways to get involved."
It was that curiosity and the drive that saw Menorah get involved with a long list of organizations, including Chevra Mishnayes Synagogue, the North End Yiddish Folk Choir and Jewish women’s organization Na’amat.
She also showed her commitment to the community by regularly volunteering with the Fringe Festival, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Prairie Theatre Exchange, Jewish Child and Family Services, and the Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre, where she served as board chair for several years.
Menorah also swam competitively until the age of 89, competing at the Masters level and winning dozens of competitive medals.
And during so many of her years, Menorah was also lucky enough to spend her days with the man she loved, and the man who shared her love for life and for community.
Menorah met her husband Bert when she was 15 years old and attending a Jewish youth group that he was also in. They were married in 1945 and were together until Bert’s death in 1999.
"She saw him playing baseball at the group and she thought he looked cute, so they started dating and were together right through until my father passed away," Dovid said.
"What bonded them was similar interests and similar approaches to a whole lot of things. Their views on Jewish culture, their views on politics and them both believing very strongly in the importance of community involvement.
"It’s something that was ingrained into us and kids, we learned the importance of community involvement."
Marilyn Regiec was a longtime friend of Menorah’s, as the two knew each other through their work in various community organizations.
They also bonded through the time they spent together working out at the same gym.
"She definitely was an inspiration to me, and she has had a huge influence on how I live my life," Regiec said. "She taught me the importance of looking after your body and your mind, and I was always in awe of what she was doing for her own health well into her 80s."
Regiec also saw in Menorah someone who worked for her community, because she truly cared about people.
"She believed in social justice and just really cared about the welfare of others," Regiec said. "She was just a really good and kind lady, and I am so lucky to have been able to call her a friend for so many years."