For Canada’s Jews, news of the sudden, shocking deaths of community philanthropist Barry Sherman and his wife Honey last Friday was almost too stunning to bear.
What made it particularly so was the ghoulish, horrible imagery surrounding their demises.
Barry, a 75-year-old Torontonian said to be worth £2.7 billion from his drug company Apotex, and Honey, 70, were found side by side hanging from a bar next to the basement swimming pool at their Toronto home, just hours before the onset of Shabbat.
Mr Sherman had not appeared at his office the previous day.Homicide investigators were quick to deem the deaths “suspicious”, but a media report that the police were treating the case as a murder-suicide was vehemently rejected by the Sherman family, despite the absence of a suicide note or sign of forced entry at the home.
The Shermans have four children.
For friends, family, and community recipients of the couple’s charitable largesse, it was simply inconceivable that Mr Sherman — known as simultaneously as a selfless, extraordinarily generous community figure and a hard-nosed, workaholic businessman — would be capable of taking his wife’s life, or his own.
Just the preceding week, Mr Sherman had reportedly talked with friends about the couple’s impending winter break in Florida. Canadian Conservative Senator Linda Frum, a close friend overcome by grief at the news, is convinced they were victims of a double homicide.
Wherever happened, the deaths of the Shermans left the organised Jewish world in Canada reeling and dazed, especially in Toronto, and not quite knowing how to cope with an event so tragic and unprecedented.
“Honey and Barry Sherman were inspiring leaders for UJA Federation, the Jewish community, and Canadian society,” said UJA’s president Adam Minsky.
“Anyone who knew them was struck by their drive to make life better for people here in Toronto, across Canada, in Israel, and around the world.”