Did you know that…
Did you know that…
23 (170323) – On March 22, 1995, FROSTY hosted 150 NFTY-NEL members from Ontario, upstate NY, Cleveland, OH and Erie, PA for a weekend of debates, worship and social activities. Temple youth hosted the first conclavette in September 1972 welcoming 45 NFTY participants from Montreal and Burlington, Vermont.Establishing a TYG (Temple Youth Group) for high school youth was an important early priority to connect our youth to NFTY, the North American Reform Youth movement. Bernie and Joyce Pagurek were the first advisors, supported by Rabbi Gerber. The name FROSTY (Federation of Reform Ottawa Senior Temple Youth) was created in 1977 by advisor Gary Viner.
FROSTY members come together at many times during the year for learning, fun, worship, community service, and fellowship to help young Jewish adults throughout the region build and strengthen lifetime ties with each other and Reform Judaism. FROSTY is a component of NFTY’s Northeast Lakes (NEL) Region serving Jewish Teens in Ontario (Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto, Thornhill, Barrie, Mississauga, Hamilton, Waterloo, London) and northern New York state, Cleveland, OH, and its suburbs, and Erie, PA. Originally Temple Israel’s youth group was part of a NFTY region that included Montreal, and Burlington, Vermont and periodically attended events in Boston and surrounding communities.
Advisors over the years have been Bernie and Joyce Pagurek, Phyllis and Marvin Silverman, Debra and Gary Viner, Tina Beranbaum and Mitch Shack, Ann and Mark Dover, Diane and Michael Parkin, Sue Potechin, Howard and Julia Herzog, Jeremy Silburt, Hana Shusterman, Margot Viner, Jasmine Albagli, Jenny Tarof and Angus Smith. The advisors have been supported by members of the Youth Committee.
A Junior Youth Group (JYG) was started for Grade 8s in 1992 and now includes grades 6-8. It was designed and implemented to complement the senior youth group FROSTY. The programming within JYG is comprised of social, religious and educational activities with the goal of developing relationships between peers, as well as within the community. The JYG advisor is Lisa Rossman.
22 (170316) – On March 12, 1967, David Alexandor was elected as the first president of Temple Israel, Ottawa’s first (and still only) Jewish Reform Congregation. William (Bill) Danson had been serving as president pro-tem since the congregation was founded the previous fall. The other members of the first executive were: Joseph Ginsberg, 1st vice-president, Ernie Potechin, 2nd vice-president; David Ritt, secretary; and Bill Danson, treasurer. Directors were Arthur Benjamin, Sam Bond, Roy Horovitch, Joyce Loeb, Harold Pearlman, Eva Ritt and Irving Singer.The installation of the board took place on April 7 following Friday night services at the Histadrut Centre on Laurier Avenue. Lawrence Marks, president of the Canadian Council of Reform Congregations, presided and spoke on “The Centrality of the Synagogue.”
Six months later, President Alexandor wrote to the members noting the growth of the congregation to over fifty families and acknowledging the support of other Canadian reform congregations. With rabbis from neighbouring communities, Temple Israel had held bi-weekly Shabbat services (on Friday nights) as well as a variety of other worship and study activities. Plans included having a fulltime rabbi and a building to house the congregation. Of immediate concern was the need to begin weekly Shabbat services, start a school to educate the children and engage a part-time or student rabbi.
To fund this plan, the board proposed continuing the membership dues process of self-assessment, recognizing “that each member is sufficiently dedicated to Temple Israel and its future to be relied upon to contribute as much as they can.” Enclosed with the letter was a schedule of recommended contributions as a guideline to assist members in determining their amount. The board recognized that “some may not be able to meet the minimums shown; on the other hand, we fully expect those who can contribute beyond the amounts indicated will do so.” This contribution philosophy continues to this day.
21 (170309) – For over fifteen years, Stuart and Lillian Lazear have been decorating the sanctuary and social hall for Purim and Chanukah. What started as a simple gift to Temple has turned into a semi-annual tradition which delights and surprises. Over the years, Stuart and Lillian have purchased, created and collected a wide variety of decorative material. Almost by magic, the space is transformed to host our community celebrations. Stuart and Lillian spend hours preparing, arranging, taping and hanging the many individual pieces. Using their creativity and imaginations, they have crafted spectacular masks and giant hamantaschen for Purim and created a giant chanukiah from our stained-glass windows for Chanukah.
When asked for a special memory, Stuart recalled that first Chanukah when the inflated dreidels were hung on the ceiling fan blades, only to come flying off during the celebration when the fans were switched on. Another favourite is the giant hamantaschen, complete with realistic prune filling that looks good enough to eat. Lillian remembered decorating the venue fo the 40th Anniversary Gala Dinner.
20 (170302) – Every Rabbi, and many congregants and children, love dressing up for Purim. In 1968, Rabbi Powell led Temple’s first celebration of Purim including a costume parade with our religious school students. Every year, we retell the Purim story in a funny musical shpiel (play) with many different themes. Each Rabbi brought their own personality to their costume and role. For many years, Hillel Taub’s “Start/Stop” sign led the graggers and booing whenever Haman’s name was mentioned. Over the years, our celebrations have included other activities such as a festive family meal, triangular hamentaschen pastries, children’s entertainers and adult activities such as a dinner/dance or wine/beer/scotch tastings.
19 (170223) – Temple Israel Religious School (TIRS) is a beneficiary of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa (JFO) and an active participant in their programs and fundraising activities. TIRS students, teachers and Rabbi Morais were part of the recent JFO Mitzvah Day. TIRS has been part of the community fundraising Walkathon since its inception. As well, Temple has supported many other community programs over the years.
18 (170216) – This week’s Torah portion continues the story of the Israelites journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. As refugees, they fled a bad situation in search of a new life in a new land. Temple has a long history of supporting refugee families from many different countries, including Russia, Vietnam, Bosnia, Syria and elsewhere, helping them to obtain freedom and settle in Ottawa.
In August, 1982, Temple “adopted” a Russian refusenik family. Dr. Mark Reitman, his wife Tamara and their two children Maria (19) and Leonid (12) had been refused permission to leave Russia four times. The only reason given was their “lack of blood relationship abroad”. Since applying to leave, Dr. Reitman lost his university teaching position, although Tamara was still able to work as a patent officer.
They had become quite despondent and were happy to learn that Temple families were supporting their request by writing letters to them, to Soviet officials in Canada and Russia, and to Canadian politicians and immigration officials. Letters sent back by the Reitmans had to be forwarded by others, since their communication was restricted. Dr. Reitman was part of a group of fifteen Jewish scientists who are all refuseniks seeking to emigrate. He described the anti-Jewish graffiti appearing in buildings in their neighbourhood.
Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Temple participated in rallies in front of the Russian embassy in Ottawa. For example, in February 1980, Temple’s Rabbi Don Gerber, coordinator of the Committee for Soviet Jewry in Ottawa, along with Ottawa Nobel Laureate Dr. Gerard Hertzberg, led a rally in support of refusenik Andrei Sakharov.
In March 1987, following the release of some refuseniks, Temple member Dr. Walter Hendelman, co-chair of the Ottawa Soviet Jewry Committee, said that “We believe that it is because of the constant pressure and efforts on behalf of Russian Jews that the Soviets have responded in the way they have.”
• Retrofitting energy efficient light fixtures and bulbs and water conserving toilets;
• Replacing the old rooftop heating and air conditioning units with much more energy efficient models;
• Introducing paper and plastics recycling bins; and
• Shabbat and dinner food service with re-usable glassware, dishes and cutlery.Some Temple programs and activities with an environmental focus have included:
• A “Tree of Life” float, created with natural and bio-degradable products, in the 1990 City of Ottawa Environment/Earth Day parade;
• TIRS Tu BiSh’vat sedars;
• Pre High Holy Day cleanup at Hogs Back Falls (our Tashlich site);
• Springtime garlic planting at Silver Spring Farm;
• 50th Anniversary Climate Change Impacts panel discussion; and
• Sukkot vegetable collection for Shepherds of Good Hope soup kitchen
170209-0 Sandra Thomas and Carolyn Shaffer with Temple’s 1990 float.
170209-1 George Speevak-Sladowski planting onions for Silver Spring Farm.
16 (170202) – The furnishings on the bimah (platform) at Temple were designed and donated by congregants in memory of special friends. The Aron Hakodesh was already described in Fun Fact #8. This week, we look at the Ner Tamid (eternal light) and the two sanctuary tables – Shulchan L’Kriah (reader’s table) and Shulchan L’Klalim (multifunctional table).
The Ner Tamid (Eternal Light) that hangs above the Ark was donated in 1979 by Dr. And Mrs. Stanley Winthrop in memory of Dr. Roy Horovitch. It was designed and fabricated by Temple member and artisan Michael Parkin. In a Temple Bulletin article, Michael described the design: “Traditionally, the ner tamid has been symbolic of the light that Israel shows to all the peoples of the world. In addition, the Eternal Light is a reminder to ourselves of the light which the Torah brings into our lives.” Michael worked with Rabbi Gerber on an appropriate Hebrew inscription for the lamp. The translation is “The righteous person is born for Him”. The Hebrew letters form an acronym for a sentence from Psalm 119, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
On February 15, 2002, a group of friends donated the Shulchan L’Kriah (Reader’s Table) to honour the life of Arnie Fradkin, a prominent community member, lawyer, father and husband. Debbie Farrow, architect and congregant, designed the table to provide a surface large enough to open the Torah scroll, have six individuals stand comfortably around its perimeter, fit in context on the raised sanctuary platform and have a strong aesthetic statement. Banded with solid cherry, the sloping tabletop covers an area approximately 4’-0” x 5’-6” with a contrasting oak inlay separating the wood surface from a functional marmoleum inset. Two curved solid cherry supports expose an artist panel to the congregation’s view with the supports designed to connote embracing arms holding the Torah manuscript. Each component of the table is separated by brushed stainless steel tubes leaving each function to stand solidly yet remain connected to one another. The art panel, provided by the congregation, was designed and fabricated by Michael Parkin. It employs a colorful film mounted on glass and includes the phrase, “let justice well up as waters, righteousness as a mighty stream”. In the fall of 2003, another group donated a complimentary, smaller Shulchan L’Klalim (multifunctional table) approximately two foot by two foot, with cherry millwork, it holds lit candles comfortably through a prayer service with the lower table top and inner shelves providing space to accommodate ritual ornaments and additional books.
15 (170126) – Our Torah scrolls have silver ornaments that represent different design styles, from traditional to modern. They have been donated over the years by congregants in memory of family or friends. The Torah ornaments, along with the mantles, are intended to reflect the garments and accessories of the High Priest as described in the Torah. Note that in Sephardic communities, the Torah is kept permanently in a rigid case, made of painted wood or metal, which is usually ornately decorated.
In the 11th century, on Simchat Torah, the Torah was topped with an ad hoc keter or atarah (crown) made from various decorative items, such as plants and jewelry. About a hundred years later, fixed crowns made of silver were used regularly to decorate Torah scrolls in the synagogue. The onion-shaped or conical crown follows the Iraqi tradition of the crowns of the last Persian dynasty. In Medieval Europe, the Torah crown was based on the local crown: two- or three-tiered in Eastern Europe and a circlet or coronet in Italy.
The finials evolved from knobs at the upper end of the ezei hayyim (wooden staves) on which the Torah scroll is wound. By the 12th century finials were being made of silver and had bells. Since the shape of the spherical finial recalled that of a fruit, it was called a tappu’aḥ (apple) among the Jews of Spain and in the Sephardi Diaspora, and a rimmon (pomegranate) in all other communities.
An ornamental shield called a tas or khosen (breastplate) hangd by a chain in front of the Torah scroll. In most cases the breastplate is made of silver or silver-plated metal. In Western, Central, and Eastern Europe the breastplate is not merely ornamental but designates which Torah scroll is to be used for the Torah reading on any particular occasion, with interchangeable plaques. Breastplates from 17th-century Germany and Holland, were either square or rectangular, and the design was influenced by that of the Aron Hakodesh (Ark) and parochet (curtain) concealing it, featuring various architectural motifs, the menorah (seven-branched candelabrum), Moses and Aaron, lions, or Torah crowns.
14 (170119) – On the High Holy Days and Festivals, our torah scrolls wear beautiful white mantles. Temma Gentles, an internationally known Jewish textile artist from Toronto, created the current set. They were commissioned by the Singer, Holzman and Sosnow families and dedicated at Shabbat Hagadol services before Passover 2012 in memory of Irwin (Irv) Singer, John Holzman and John Sosnow. The breastplate patterns represent the High Holy Day themes of Zichronot (Remembrance), Malchuyot (Majesty) and Shofarot (Revelation). The pleats in the white outer fabric are lined with embellished fabric in a fall colour scheme. Patsy Royer sponsored the creation of a complementary parochet (curtain) for the portable High Holy Day aron hakodesh (ark) in 2013 in memory of her parents Drs. Josephine and Howard Malek.
Prior to 2012, the High Holiday mantles were of a traditional style. The scroll donated by Temple Emanu-El in 1967 had an original white mantle that was destroyed in the fire at James St in 1972. A replacement scroll was provided by Holy Blossom Temple from their small chapel. This scroll had been used by a number of Temple families who had previously belonged to that Toronto congregation. Its white mantle was a traditional design with the Ten Commandment tablets supported by Lions of Judah, topped with a crown and resting on an Eytz Chaim (Tree of Life.)
In the 1980s, Temple Sisterhood purchased a new set of white mantles for Temple’s three torahs. These were also of traditional design, although of lighter weight velvet fabric. Each was embellished with traditional elements such as tablets, crown, flame, cords and vines.
13 (170112) – Quilting at Temple Israel does more than just create beautiful, functional blankets. These projects bring the congregation together for fellowship and tikkun olam (healing the world). Two examples are the large 40th Anniversary Quilt that hangs on the wall of the sanctuary and the 1000 baby quilts that have been made and delivered to families in Israel. You can be part of this longstanding effort at workshops being held this month.
The Temple Israel commemorative quilt was made by many hands, including all of the children in the Religious School, during 2006-2007. You can see the Temple Israel logo in cross stitch, the Ner Tamid, a quilted replica of a stained glass Mogen David that stands in a window reflecting light from the outdoors, and three dimensional Torahs. Amongst these representations are also the four festivals: Pesach; Simchat Torah; Shabbat; and Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The Hebrew words say Mi’dor L’dor (From Generation to Generation).
The squares serve as a beautiful frame and border around the entire work, which measures 5 1/2 feet across by 4 feet tall. Each individual square was designed and created by children in TIRS. Then, the entire piece was hand quilted. The sewing and quilting volunteers included Anne Alper, Claire Cohen, Deborah Cosman, Amy Delacretaz, Sue Gold, Hannah Halpern, Merle Haltrecht-Matte, Laya Jacobsen, Patsy Royer, Sylvia Royer, Bryan Rumstein, Carol Ruttle-Abbey, Fanny Schneiderman, Nathan Schneiderman, Verna Schwartz, Lydia Sourani, Liliane Mayer, Debra Viner and the students and teachers of Temple Israel Religious School. The handmade rod was fashioned by congregant Russell Phillips.
The baby quilt project started after the large quilt hanging was done and dedicated a year to the day after the 40th anniversary. After working for a year coordinating all the busy hands and getting it up, Merle Haltrecht-Matte came up with the idea of making quilts for babies and sending them to Israel. This was at the time when the communities of Ashdod, Sderot and Ashkelon were being hit by scud missiles.
Since 2008, over 1100 quilts have been delivered to nurseries, daycare centres, agencies, hospital wards, families, including OneFamilyFund. Many people have taken a few quilts in their luggage when travelling to Israel, notably Jane and Martin Gordon, as well as Annette Paquin, Paul Lyons, Michael Walsh, Jackie Holzman, TIRS kids on Israel trips; non-Temple Israel members; and many others. Fabricland has donated bolts of batting four times. Many volunteers donate their time, expertise and fabrics to make this an on-going endeavour.
The goal for Temple’s 50th anniversary is to make 50 quilts. Each will be labelled with the 50th anniversary logo. They will be displayed at High Holy Days 2017 and then delivered to Israel. To make 50 quilts, 1000 small squares are needed. Two “quilting bees” are scheduled on Sunday January 15 and 29 from 10am to 2pm in The Bayit (the little house beside Temple).
Anyone can get involved by bringing a loonie and designing a square. No quilting experience is needed. Please be in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to book your time to come and help. It’s fun and easy and you don’t need to know anything about sewing. This will be an ongoing project through the 50th year so please get in touch if you’d like to help anytime.
12 (170105) – Our Torah scrolls are clothed in beautiful mantles and adorned with silver ornaments that have been created or donated by congregants. This week we look at the Shabbat mantles and in future weeks the High Holy Day mantles, crowns and breastplates. Apologies in advance for any names that are incorrect or left out. Please let me know and I will update the information.
The current Shabbat mantles were created when the sanctuary was redecorated in 2002. Fabric in five colours representing the seasons (green, red, blue, purple, gold) was chosen to complement the new colour scheme. The mantles were fabricated by Elite Draperies using commercial stitching and bindery and embellished with fabric art by Margo Rosen, Elaine Singer and Debra Viner. Binders, which tie the scrolls under the mantles, were hand embroidered by Patsy Royer, Lori Shusterman, Diane Parkin and Lori Loeb. The mantles were dedicated at Simchat Torah.
The previous three mantles were created and dedicated in 1984. Each unique mantle was designed and hand needlepointed: blue ten commandments by Margo Rosen, red/blue Jerusalem skyline by Elaine Singer and blue/red/orange zigzag stitch by Debra Viner.
The mantle and ornaments from Temple’s first Torah in 1967 were destroyed in the fire at James St. in 1972. The mantle on one of the replacement scrolls was a gold embroidered Mogen David on blue velvet. The other scroll had a white High Holy Day mantle. Please let me know if you have photographs of these from before the fire that can be added to the collection.
11 (161215) – Chanukah has always been a big celebration at Temple with school assemblies, dinner dances, freedom lectures, songs, candles and latkes. In 1984, Michael Walsh and Lisa Rosenkrantz donated the large Chanukiah (menorah) we use today.
Temple held the First Chanukah Dinner Dance in December 15, 1974. Without a building of our own, that first year’s event was held at the “Bayshore Country Club” (party room) on Woodridge Crescent. As advertised in the Temple December Bulletin, this would be a Temple members’ only event offering FOOD! FUN! FRIENDS! for just $3.50 per person. On December 16, 1976, 100 guests attended the Third Annual Chanukah Dance and Buffet Supper, for the first time held in Temple’s new building.
10 (161208) – When Temple was formed in 1967, a Library Fund was established to purchase books. The current Temple Israel Library was dedicated on December 13, 1983, when new shelving units were installed across the back of the social hall. The event paid tribute to the donors – Irving Cutler, the children of the late Irwin Tradburks, Temple Brotherhood and Katrina Wyman – and the volunteers – Judy Rosberg, Marsha Maslove, Anne Holmes, and Harriet Schneider who continued as volunteer librarian. On December 20, 1991, library founders Judith Rosberg and Harriet Schneider were honoured with a commemorative plaque affixed to the library shelves. In 2010, Harriet Schneider received Temple’s Bercovitch / Singer Annual Volunteer Award in recognition of her longtime service as librarian.
As the library grew in size, the children’s collection was relocated to the lower level of the building to provide easier access for religious school students, teachers and parents. The TIRS library has a large selection of picture and chapter books on a wide range of topics from Jewish folktales to stories about Jewish History. “Special Guest” readers from the Temple Israel community are invited to read to the students on special occasions.
Today, the Temple Israel Library is one of the largest Jewish collections in Ottawa and the only one with a substantial focus on liberal, progressive, Reform Jewish thought and texts. Our Volunteer Librarian Dar Blue is always interested in receiving your suggestions of new books to buy or donations of books at email@example.com . If you like the Temple Library and want to contribute to keeping our congregation in books visit http://templeisraelottawa.ca/donate-to-our-funds/.
9 (161201) – The Four Hands piano concert coming up this Sunday is the latest classical music concert for Temple. Many have included performances by long time Temple member Dina Namer.
Following the fire that destroyed the James St shul, a benefit concert was held at the First Unitarian Congregation on February 5, 1973. Performers included Dina Namer on piano, Peter Smith on clarinet, Sally Benson on violin and Nina Alexander (also a Temple member) on cello. Tickets were $2.50.
In August 2005, the dream of a baby grand piano for Temple became a reality. Under the leadership of Nancy and Mort Bercovitch, many “patrons” purchased piano keys as part of the fundraising campaign. On January 26, 2006, a concert “Seven on a Sunday” was held at the National Archives theatre on Wellington St to benefit Temple’s Piano Fund. Guest artists included Daniel Bolshoy, Josh “Socalled” Dolgin, Ellie Glantz, Bruce Kelly, Paul Marleyn, Dina Namer and Julie Nesrallah. Tickets were $25 ($18 for students).
On Sunday, December 4, 2016, Dina Namer and Robert Dvorkin present “Duo Pianistico” in honour of Temple’s 50th Anniversary. Our beautiful baby grand piano will be supplemented with another from The Steinway Piano Gallery of Ottawa. Tickets are $25 from the Temple office or at the door. Children under 12 are free.
8 (161124) – A service of dedication was held for the Temple building on Prince of Wales Drive on October 26, 1975, only six months after ground breaking. To speed up construction and reduce costs, a basic building was constructed with modest finishings including block walls, concrete floors and a simple bimah (platform). The two torah scrolls were carried in by Ernie and Myrna Potechin and placed into the portable Aron Hakodesh / Ark. In 1976, the bimah was improved and carpeted. In 1979-80, a new Ark was constructed. This was designed by congregant Andres Silberstein and donated with his wife Rosilind in appreciation for the hospitality shown by Temple during their year in Ottawa. In 1983, Nancy Bercovitch and Sonia Tarantour Pearl collaborated on a project to enhance the Ark. Nancy designed and sewed an appliquéd parochet / curtain for the new Ark, donated in memory of her mother-in-law Leah Bercivitch. Sonia, in memory of her husband Bernard Pearl, designed an Eytz Chaim / Tree of Life symbol and carved the 75 pieces of wood to create the Ark doors. Frank Roseman supplemented extra costs in memory of his parents, Annie and Sam Roseman. The sanctuary remained the same until a beautification project was carried out in the late 1990s. Under the direction of committee chair Heather Evenchick, the sanctuary was painted, new carpeting was installed, wood trim was added, the bimah was extended and the chairs were refinished and re-upolstered. Today, President Patsy Royer and Rabbi Morais have initiated a project to “re-Jew-venate” the sanctuary including a modified and accessible bimah.
7 (161117) – This week is the 50th Annual General Meeting of the Jewish Reform Congregation of Ottawa – Temple Israel.
• When Temple was founded in December 1966, Bill Danson served as President of the pro-tem executive. At a general meeting on March 12, 1967, David Alexandor was elected the first President, the constitution was ratified and the name “Temple Israel” was chosen. Membership consisted of 48 families (84 adults and 80 children) and revenue was $1,100 from dues plus $25 in donations. The budget for 1967-68 was projected to be around $12,000.
• By the 1970 AGM, the Temple budget was approaching $30,000. President Max Sternthal announced that Temple Israel Religious School would be a beneficiary of funds from the UJA campaign of the Ottawa Vaad Ha’ir (now Jewish Federation of Ottawa) and urged all members to contribute to the annual appeal.
• At the AGM in April, 1974, led by President Irv Singer, there were 80 members in attendance. In the previous year: Temple membership had increased by another 10%; Temple Sisterhood expanded its activities; Temple Brotherhood was established; Temple Youth Group was vibrant and enthusiastic; Temple Ritual Committee introduced Saturday morning services; and Temple Choir participated regularly in services.
• Today, Temple has over 300 family membership units and a budget, including TIRS, of over $800,000.
6 (161110) – Ten years ago, on this weekend, Temple Israel launched our 40th anniversary year with a Shabbat full of activities. Merle Haltrecht-Matte, Temple member and 40th Anniversary co-ordinator said “There will be many anniversary-themed activities throughout the year. Each committee at Temple is expected to carry out at least one activity connected to the anniversary. The celebration will include as many people as possible.” The weekend’s events included: an Erev Shabbat service honouring past presidents (with prayers and melodies from the Hebrew Union Prayerbook); a Shabbat morning service honouring member veterans with guest Rabbi Dan Danson who grew up at Temple; a gala dinner/dance with entertainment and the premiere showing of Temple’s DVD about the first 40 years; and a Sunday morning program for current and past FROSTY members. The photos show the 18 Presidents who participated, some of the commemorative items and Ottawa Jewish Bulletin articles.
5 (161103) – Starting a religious school was one of the first acts of the new Temple Israel Board of Directors. In the spring of 1967, the Board decided it was time to organize a school. Arthur Benjamin, a newcomer to Ottawa with extensive experience teaching at Temple Emanu-el in Montreal, was asked to be Principal. Over the summer, along with Rabbi Powell and Earl Steingarten, he taught a Judaism course for interested parents as a way of identifying potential teachers. Phyllis Silverman and Sara Vered laid out an english and hebrew curriculum and Connie Reisman reviewed textbooks. On Sunday, September 17, 1967, TIRS opened with 90 students. The volunteer teachers were Merle Adam, Maddy Alexandor, Nancy Bercovitch, Mort Bercovitch, Gerry Brokin, Dorothy Browns, Grace Dardick, Elaine Garfinkel, Dahlia Kuwayti, Joyce Pagurek, Harriet Schneider, Violet Segal, Ann Shmelzer (Horovitch), Phyllis Silverman, Earl Steingarten, Sara Vered, Vita Winthrop, Ricki Grebler and Rachel Palay. Today, TIRS, under the leadership of Rabbi Morais and Principal Sue Potechin, remains the only synagogue based religious school in Ottawa. The photos, from a “Farewell to the Benjamins” album created in June 1969, Anne (Horovitch) Shmelzer’s Grade 4 class and Joyce Pagurek’s Grade 7 class.
4 (271016) – On October 28, 1967, Rabbi David Powell officiated at Temple’s first Consecration ceremony welcoming students to the new Temple Israel Religious School (TIRS). Last Sunday evening during Simchat Torah celebrations, Rabbi Morais and Principal Sue Potechin welcomed this year’s new students. The education of a Jewish child is a joint venture, shared by both family and the Jewish community. Consecration marks the beginning of formal Jewish study at kindergarten, or whenever a child begins his or her Jewish education. The children are blessed by the clergy and often given a certificate and miniature Torah.
3 (201016) – For fifty years we have celebrated Simchat Torah by dancing with our Torahs. Temple Israel has three Torah scrolls used for worship and a fourth scroll that was damaged in the James St fire and is only used for educational purposes. Our first Torah was donated by Temple Emanu-El in Montreal. According to then President David Alexandor, a dozen members were present at the ceremony in Montreal in April of 1967. Following the 1972 fire, a replacement Torah was immediately obtained from Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. Another Torah was donated anonymously during a Shabbat service taking place at the JCC on Chapel St. According to then President Irv Singer, later information revealed that Laz Loeb had taken his own plane and flown Rabbi Gerber to New York to choose the new Torah. Another of our Torahs has a direct link to modern Jewish history having come from a synagogue in a Czech village that had been destroyed during the Holocaust. The Nazis had confiscated, collected and catalogued Jewish religious items. After the War, the collection was curated by the Westminster Synagogue in London and individual scrolls were lent to congregations around the world, including Temple. In future Fun Facts we will talk about the beautiful mantles and ornaments that adorn our Torahs and the Aron Hakodesh/Ark in which they reside.
2(161013) – On October 12, 1972, the James Street synagogue was destroyed by fire. Temple Israel had purchased the building the previous year from the Orthodox B’nai Jacob Congregation when it amalgamated into Congregation Beth Shalom. The Ontario Fire Marshal concluded that the fire started by natural causes in the Aron Kodesh. One Torah scroll that was saved was too damaged to be used for worship. It remains in the current Ark and is unrolled each year at Simchat Torah as a teaching tool. The clock with Hebrew numbering was rescued from James Street and continues to be used in the Religious School downstairs on Prince of Wales. Two candelabra were salvaged from the fire and were stored by George Fine for many years. As noted on their dedication plaques, the candelabra had been donated to B’nai Jacob by their members. In 1994, they were passed on to David Delicate who restored them and installed them in the Prince of Wales sanctuary in honour of his daughter Jordana’s Bat Mitzvah.
1 (16106) – In October 1967, Temple Israel, under the spiritual leadership of Rabbi David Powell, held its first High Holy Day services at the Histadrut Centre, 292 Laurier Av East. This was a larger space than the Montifiore Club on Metcalfe St where Friday night services had begun in September. Evening, morning and children’s services were held for one day of Rosh Hashanah and for Yom Kippur. Members were provided with High Holy Day tickets but seats were made available for non-members if space permitted. Over the years, HHD services have been held at the Chateau Laurier, El Mirador Hotel on Isabella St (now the Palisades Retirement Home), the Unitarian Congregation, the old temple building on James St., the new temple building on Prince of Wales Dr. and the Hellenic Centre.
Throughout this 50th anniversary year, we will be sharing fun facts from Temple Israel’s history. If you would like to contribute an idea, memory or image, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.