The CJN Remembers: Rose Kerkofsky (1921-2021)

Rakowsky family with Rose Kerkofsky as a child.

Kerkofsky, Rose M. (nee Rakowsky) died on August 7, 2021, at age 100. 

Mother of Helen Rubinoff and Barbara Skarf (Barry Skarf). Devoted wife, mother, Bubbie, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother.

Rose was born on the Shabbat before Passover, 1921 in Bedzin, Poland, the oldest child of Morris Rakowsky and Gitele Weindling. Rose immigrated to Canada with her parents and siblings two years before the outbreak of the Second World War, settling in Toronto. In 1943 she married Joe Kerkofsky.

Rose was widowed in 1957, and from that point she valiantly raised and supported her two young daughters on her own. She worked in Richman’s Bakery for many years and is affectionately remembered as the cookie lady, for distributing cookies and warm smiles to the children of customers.

Rose was known for her cheerfulness and desire to help others who were less fortunate. Even in her old age, with declining memory and mobility, she tried to help those around her and maintained a cheerful disposition. She was a brave, strong, generous, and loving role model. Rose was devoted to her immediate and extended family, opening her house to nephews and nieces. Even more distant relatives and family friends thought of her as “Auntie Rose.” She was an active member of Congregation B’nai Torah for many years, where she was often the first congregant to arrive in the women’s section. She had a love for Judaism that she passed to her children and grandchildren; all of her progeny are shomer Shabbat.  


Rose is survived by her daughters: Helen Rubinoff of Toronto and Barbara and Barry Skarf of Southfield, MI; her grandchildren: Tova and Rabbi Moshe Lemon of Beitar Illit, Yosi and Rochelle Rubinoff of Toronto, David and Sherry Rubinoff of Toronto, Dr. Michal Skarf and Joshua Meyer of Cambridge, MA, Dr. Shayna Skarf and Michael Freidson of Boca Raton; Joshua Skarf and Gila Loike of Jerusalem, and Alissa and Rabbi Yaakov Tanenbaum of Seattle; as well as her many great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. 


She is also survived by her sister, Dorothy Novak, and nine nephews and nieces. Rose was predeceased by her two brothers, Sidney Rakowsky and Stanley Rakowsky. 

Rose passed away on Shabbat, August 7, 2021, in Newmarket, Ontario, having lived for more than a century. She will be dearly missed by her family and friends.