Ray Shankman

Ray Shankman

It was with great sorrow that we heard about the passing of Ray Shankman, a beloved teacher for many years at Vanier College. He passed away in hospital on June 18, 2016 surrounded by his loved ones.

Ray was a source of inspiration to his many, many students as well as to his colleagues over his career at Vanier leading up to his retirement in 2013, and he will be greatly missed.

A special remembrance ceremony was held on Tuesday, June 21st. Details can be found below. Rest in peace, Ray.


When: Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 at 2:15 PM.
Burial address: 1297 Chemin de la Forêt, Outremont (Québec) H2V 2P9.
Section: Mount Murray (MM), terrain 347-V.
Telephone : 514-279-7358, Website: www.mountroyalcem.com.
If you want to share some thoughts about Ray, please feel free to do so at the ceremony.
If you are unable to come, please send your words by email to Eliad: eliadshankar@gmail.com


Ray Shankman's current partner at the time of his death was Christiane Martin. She wrote this on her Facebook page:

"Mon amour, mon Homme, Dans une chambre, petite et ordinaire à l'hôpital. Ray, mon Homme, dans mes bras, il s'en est allé paisiblement à minuit et trente. J'étais seule dans la chambre, couchée près de lui. Sa fille Deena, dormait dans un salon pour les familles. Son fils, Eliad, une marche dans les rues de Montréal, près de l'hôpital, avec une amie et son chien. Une fièvre intense prenait le corps de mon Homme. Je me suis allongée près de lui. Une de mes mains dans la sienne. Sa respiration, si difficile. Les secrétions roulaient dans sa gorge, l'océan débordait de tous les côtés. La tempête emportant tout avec lui. Et puis, ma main dans la sienne. Il y a eu. Le calme. Sa main a serré la mienne. 15 ou 20 minutes, je ne sais plus. Il est mort comme s'il voulait amener avec lui ce que nous aimions le plus. Être près l'un de l'autre. Nos bras protégeant l'un et l'autre. Notre peau. L'histoire d'un doux tango. 7 ans. Il est mort sans déranger notre amour. Notre amour, toujours. Je ne suis pas seule. Notre amour, toujours. Rest in peace, my Man, my Love."

She also posted on Ray's Facebook page an English version:

"To all Ray Shankman's family & friends. Rest in peace, my Man, my Love, April 5th, 1940 - June 18, 2016 My Love, my Man, In a small and ordinary room at the hospital, you left our world so peacefully in my arms at 00:30. I was alone in the room, sleeping beside you. Deena, your daughter, was taking a rest in the family room. And Eliad, your son, had left 20 minutes before for a walk with a friend and his dog in the streets of Montreal. Your warm body was taken by a fever. My hand holding your hand. Few minutes after I was in the bed, your difficult breath and the severe secretions, a storm in the ocean. Your body calmed down. 15 or 20 minutes passed. You died like if you want to bring with you what we love so much. Be close to each other. Our arms protecting each other. Our skin dancing a tango's story. You died without disturbing our love. Our love, always. I am not alone, Our love, always. Rest in peace, my Man, my Love. Your woman you love with her québécois accent, with a strange way to express herself in english.

Your woman, your love, always, Christiane."



"When I was eighteen, confused, unformed, and ignorant, I walked into a classroom at Vanier College and was electrified by the teacher. This man was different than all my other teachers or anyone I knew. His classes were conversations rather than lectures, and he validated me. I was intrigued. I lingered in the class after everyone had gone. He was interested in me. The first words he ever said to me in conversation were, You've read a lot of books for a little girl your age, haven't you? I took as many classes as I could with this teacher. Then I got to know him as a person: he was married to a lovely lady with sad eyes and he had three extraordinary, beautiful children. Their home was again, different. No TV. Sprouts growing in the living room. Weird vegetables in the salad. Music and art and poetry everywhere. Then I got to know him as a poet. I went to readings and listened to him as he recited wonderful poems about his wedding, his family, the birth of his first daughter, the incredible country of Israel, his experiences as a father, a teacher, a man, and a Jew. Then I got to know him as a friend and oh, my world changed. There were so many times I was feeling alone, depressed, misunderstood, and every single time I needed him, he would say "come over." As a friend, he never held back, giving me help, love, money, advice, and always, always his attention and time. We stayed in touch for thirty-seven years - even when I lived in Israel for four years, long before the advent of the computer, in the distant 80's, we wrote and I still have his letters. I like to think I was a friend to him when he went through his difficult divorce (aren't they all difficult), and he was lonely and in pain, he used to call daily during that period, and we talked and talked. As his life changed, we kept in touch. He had new interests: tango and pottery. And he met a new love. When he became sick with Parkinsons Plus I visited as often as I could. As hard as it was to watch his physical body failing, it was beautiful to see the love between him and his woman, and to see how lovingly he was cared for. But I remember Ray as a very active seventy year old on roller blades and bicycles and skis. Bright blue eyes always twinkling with good humour. Flirting with pretty girls at every age. Preparing delicious vegetarian delights. And shining through it all was his incredible, brilliant intellect and spirit. He was light on his feet and light in his heart. And he touched everyone the same way, with light and love. He died last night. And the planet seems a little emptier, the world a little darker. I love you and I will never forget you, Ray. RIP Ray Shankman."

- Shoshana De Paz

She posted again 2 days later:

"Can't stop thinking about Ray Shankman. One cool thing about our relationship, we could go for weeks without talking, and then one of us would call the other. The cool, weird thing is that we always found out that the one who received the call had been thinking of the other for two or three days. It was amazing, many times it would happen. He would call and the feeling I would get just hearing his voice exactly when I needed him is indescribable. Or I would phone him after a period of silence and he would say "You heard me calling for you," or "how did you know I needed you?" After a while we got used to it and ceased to marvel but it is pretty amazing, isn't it? I wonder whether this happened with others."

- Shoshana De Paz

"One of the few teachers I looked up to throughout my academic years has passed away. In Cegep, he was one of, if not the most significant factor in the development of my faculties of reasoning. We kept in touch, shared some thoughts on occasion, and a laugh or two. He informed me of his cancer about a year ago, and it finally claimed him. The world just lost a great thinker. RIP Mr. Ray Shankman."

- Adam Djourian, Montreal QC

"To all those thinking of Ray, I thought that we could use a little reminder of the Sunshine that lifts our hearts and the brightness that illuminates even our darkest times. I'd to like to share a remembrance for the bright love and light of Ray's soul, that shone through his eyes, and twinkled in the corners, before exploding the veins on his forehead. It feels strange to talk about him in the past tense, he had a fiery passionate nature, a great enjoyment of life, a willingness to laugh at himself, a love of sunshine and travel, and a taste for good books, music and shows. As many of you remember he wasn't afraid to make a fool of himself, he knew how to wake up his students by dancing on the desks, or showing his belly button. Can't say that he wasn't embarrassing, but at least he lived, which is more than many of us have to say for ourselves. In his sixties alone, he perfected rollerblading, learnt to drive a motor bike and biked around Bali with us. He found his passion as a Tango dancer, where he met a very special loving girlfriend, who brought out the best in him and became his wife. Whatever your spiritual beliefs, please join me in a prayer, that all that was good, bright and loving in Ray, continues to shine, may we feel his energy in the rays of the Sun, and let it warm our grieving hearts."

- Yahserah Soleil

"In Jewish tradition - after a person dies, we place 2 letters when mentioning his name: Zayyin - lamed


They stand for the words: zikhrono - livrakha
= "may his memory be for a blessing"

These words are to RAY - zikhron-ikha li-vrakha
(may your memory be for a blessing)

Our lives are blessed for having known you.
Our lives are richer for having known you.

We will always remember your wordplay, your wit,
         your mischievous sense of humour, your chuckle, your smile ...
... your many recommendations that have broadened our lives ...
         in the realms of reading, listening, viewing, tasting

We were always in awe of your gifts.
One of these was your special enthusiasm and your wide-openness
         to exploring Life, and the World, in all its many parts
You drew upon your limitless energy in a never-ending project
         of extracting from Life as many of its treasures as you could experience,
         and then sharing many of those treasures with people around you

Our lives are blessed for having known you and Christiane as life partners:
         We have been blessed to witness your love for each other in better times,
And to witness how that love sustained and propelled you
         through the relentless onslaught of adversity and illness
Eking out - and Living out - precious moments of joy and beauty
         to the end, whenever and wherever you could touch them

Witnessing your love for each other, and your end-of-life together,
         has deeply touched us, and enriched our own lives
It has enhanced our appreciation of this complex, wondrous and inexorable process
         that is living and dying.

         Shalom Haver - your memory is surely for a blessing"

- Dr. Neil Caplan (Ray's longtime friend as well as his colleague at Vanier for many years)


This 2007 photo was taken with Vanier colleagues Neil and Marilyn Caplan (at left) in Israel.
Seen next to Ray is his very special friend and accomplished Israeli potter, Sara Ben-Yosef.

Note: If you have either info or photos of anyone listed on our Memorial website, we'd appreciate your sharing them with us. Send digital photos by email or hard copies by internal mail to Denis Lafontaine, N215. They will be treated with care and quickly and safely returned. You can email written memories to the following email address. Thank you.