Shirley Rebecca Chernin (nee Wolfson), volunteer and community leader, was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia on October 23, 1927 to Abraham and Bessie Wolfson. Upon completing a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Toronto in 1947, Chernin returned to Cape Breton, where she married Joseph Chernin (1924-2001) of Glace Bay. Chernin resided in Glace Bay for fifty-two years, becoming an influential member of both the Jewish community and the community at large.
A member of the Canadian Hadassah-WIZO since 1948, Chernin has served as President of the Hadassah-WIZO Cape Breton Council and as the National Executive, Regional Chairperson. Chernin also co-convened the Hadassah-WIZO Bazaar throughout its successful forty-two year span.
Playing an integral role in preserving and highlighting the history of Glace Bay's Jewish community, Chernin served as chair of the six-person volunteer planning committee for the Kum A Haym (Home Coming) in 2001. A celebration of the Congregation Sons of Israel's 100th anniversary, the event attracted more than 500 Jewish people from across North America and from as far away as the United Kingdom.
A founding member, chairperson, and participant of the Citizens Service League in Glace Bay from 1967 to 1998, Chernin helped establish the many programs implemented through the organization including Meals on Wheels and the Town Day Care Centre. Chernin also served as chairperson and board member of Cape Breton Transition House and founded and chaired Friends of Transition House. Among Chernin's many other board positions include the Gerontology Association of Nova Scotia from 1989-1992, University College of Cape Breton from 1991-1997, and both the Glace Bay Heritage Society and the Glace Bay Community Health Centre in 1999.
Chernin's volunteer and leadership roles have garnered her numerous awards and honours including the Citizens Service League "Community Service Award" in 1979, the "Community Involvement Award" presented by the Congregation Sons of Israel in 1985, the Federal Government's "Canada 125th Anniversary Medal" in 1992, the Business and Professional Women's Club's "Woman of the Year" in 1994, the Order of Nova Scotia in 2002, and the Board Excellence Award from Transition House in 2005.
Chernin has two children, daughter Marta and son Mark. She currently resides in Sydney, Nova Scotia,