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In memoriam
May 8, 2023

Dr. Avinoam Bentsiyon Chernick

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With gratitude for his life and sorrow in his absence, we announce the death of Dr. Avinoam B. Chernick, Noam, at his home in London, Ont., on May 8, 2023.

Treasured by his life and work partner, Beryl (née Wilensky), daughters Elisheva, Yonina and Aviva Chernick, sons-in-law Paul Forster and Andrew Filion, grandchildren Talya and new groom Jamal Kett, Timothy and Omri Filion, and Raphaela Forster. Adored by his sister Lili Little and family, brothers-in-law Alan and Marshall Wilensky and David Lesk and their families, longtime office staff, housekeepers, friends, colleagues and patients.

Always thinking outside of the box, Noam’s career as an obstetrician gynecologist in London expanded to pioneering work in sexual medicine. With Beryl, they outraged, delighted and educated audiences, professional and lay, from Prince George, B.C., to Papua New Guinea. He was a key advocate for the newly formed London Childbirth Education Association, supporting the role of fathers in the delivery room. He championed the right of women to access and use contraception and medically safe therapeutic abortion, enduring, with his family, the harassment of daily picketers at home and office. With Dr. William Hyndman, he started the Sexual Assault Examination Centre at St. Joseph’s Hospital, with team education for the police, physicians, nurses and social workers involved. He organized, wrote, produced and acted in a video to teach practitioners how to humanely use the first dedicated forensic Provincial Sexual Assault Examination Kit, and how to relate to and honour the reactions to trauma of those assaulted.

Born in the British Mandate of Palestine in 1935, Noam immigrated to Canada with his parents, Sarah and Alec and sister, Lili. He was a lifelong advocate for the Jewish State of Israel, which came into being the week he became a bar mitzvah.

Noam passionately contributed to the London and wider Jewish community as a fundraiser, activist and Chair of the Boards of the London Community Hebrew Day School and Congregation Or Shalom, and Leader of the Men’s Chevra Kadisha, the Jewish Burial Society. As well, he opened minds and hearts through committee work to encourage creative innovation in Jewish learning and practice.

From the beginning, Noam showed musical talent, a sphere of interest he maintained throughout his life. At Oakwood Collegiate in Toronto, he was a member of an award-winning a cappella choir and president of the student orchestra. The flute remained his love, an instrument he played up until two weeks before his death. As an adult, he sang in the synagogue choir, at home, in the community, on hikes and in the car. He was a great improviser in both music and lyrics. He and Beryl supported Orchestra London and its successful successor, London Symphonia.

His interests were wide, including a passion for trains. Ultimately, he ran model railroads from Z to G gauge. Ten-minute stops at London’s ubiquitous rail crossings were never a burden to him, but a source of delight. His children and grandchildren remember his creative bedtime stories, poetic birthday toasts and puns. All who were close knew that a hike with Noam, or a trip to the ski hill, would surely be an adventure and end with a snack. A leader and innovator, Noam pushed the boundaries in the interest of a more just and playful society, and in Tikun Olam (repair of the world).

The family wishes to thank Dr. Richard Novick for giving us an extra 24 years with Noam, and Mike Worden who helped him to get the most out of them. Special thanks to the many caregivers who have given him and the family comfort and dignity in his last weeks, and to Dr. Caroline Despard who has cared so diligently for him for her entire career, and has been the lead in his palliative care. He has been blessed to live well and to die well at home.

To honour Noam, donations are encouraged to “The Apple Does Not Fall Far From the Tree Fund” in his memory through Congregation Or Shalom and to “The Noam Chernick Memorial Fund For Music Inspiring the Young” through London Symphonia.