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  Tribute to Sylvia Allen

Hundreds crowded into Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church in New Waterford on Monday, July 16th,2007 to pay tribute to a Jewish woman in a remarkable display of word and music.

Sylvia Allen, an indefatigable member of the community, who passed away in May at the age of 68, had been the choir director of the church for 10 years. Before that, she had directed the choir at Calvin United Church in the town for two years.

Father Don MacGillivary, who had been the curate of Mt. Carmel when Sylvia became choir director told the audience he wasn’t sure how the choice of a Jewish woman for the position would be received, but, he said, when Sylvia was introduced, she was given a standing ovation. He said Sylvia would later jokingly introduce him to her Jewish friends as “her parish priest”.

Her brothers, Leon and Les Dubinsky ,sister Evy Carnat, sister-in-law Beth MacCormack, and niece Ella Dubinsky lovingly reminisced about Sylvia’s dedication to family and music and sang some of her favourites, including several in Hebrew. Sylvia’s children, Shayna, Roz, Stephen and Jonathan paid tribute to their mother and thanked all for coming.

The public tribute, called “Farewell To A Friend” was “an interfaith gathering of tribute and celebration to her life”, according to organizer Brine MacIsaac. He said Sylvia will be remembered as a friend, who even after her passing, continues to touch and influence the lives of many. MacIsaac said following her death it was felt that because Sylvia had meant so much to so many people, it was decided to do something special for her and her family, and since music was so important in her life this was the best way to show their love and appreciation for all she had done.

Sylvia Allen was deeply involved in Jewish community, having been choir director of the Temple Sons of Israel in Sydney and a choir member since the age of 10. She was active in Hadassah and took a major role in the planning, direction and presentation of the annual Holocaust Memorial Observances at the Sydney synagogue.

Professionally, she was a long-time music teacher in the New Waterford school system and after retirement continued her involvement in music,teaching piano and directing choirs.

The evening tribute to Sylvia ended with all in attendance singing “Rise Again”, a well-known song that has been adopted as the anthem for the annual March of the Living, written by Sylvia’s brother Leon.

She died Friday, May 25th, surrounded by her family.

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