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.
Did you know that…
35(170628) – Summer camp is a popular activity including day camps, specialty camps and Jewish sleepover camps. Camp George, in Ontario’s Muskoka region, is the Reform Jewish Movement’s only Canadian camp. Since its inaugural season in 1999, Camp George offers a camping experience of informal Reform Jewish education, the Arts, a state-of-the-art Waterfront program, an intense Ropes Challenge Course, and great athletic facilities. Over the years, many Temple youth have attended Camp George as campers and staff and our Rabbis have served as Jewish faculty. Rabbi Morais is currently a member of the Camp George Steering Committee. Find out more about URJ Camp George on their website at https://campgeorge.org/. Happy Summer!
34(170621) – In 1975, Rabbi Gerber officiated at the first wedding ceremony in the new Prince of Wales sanctuary for Margo and Frank Rosen. Later Nancy Bercovitch designed and crafted a chuppah (wedding canopy) for Temple. It hangs on the wall above the main staircase and some couples use this chuppah to create the homelike shelter under which their ceremony takes place. Others choose their own chuppah, décor or venue.June is a very popular month for Temple weddings. In June 1986, Lisa Rosenkrantz and Michael Walsh were married by Rabbi Marcus. Thirty years later, in June 2016, Rabbi Morais performed his first wedding at Temple for Laura Hay and Casey Rosenberg. Mazel Tov to all.
33(170614) – Temple has used a different siddur (prayer books) over the past 50 years which show an evolution of worship style, language and usage. At its founding in 1967, Temple used a 1961 printing of the Union Prayerbook (UPB). First published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) in 1892, it became the official siddur of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), now known as the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). The little black book was consistent with Reform Jewish worship practice at that time. The language of prayer was predominantly English, with formal Thee’s and Thou’s and masculine God language. In those days, “Friday night was Temple night” and the emphasis was on the Erev Shabbat service containing Torah reading and sermon. It was revised in 1910 and newly revised in 1940. To assist congregational participation, Temple used a Hymnal of Songs for Synagogue and School, little red covered books that were presented to Temple in 1971 by the Horovitch family. These contained the prayers and songs of UPB Shabbat services in English transliteration.
Like most Reform congregations, Temple embraced the new Gates of Prayer – Shaarei Tefillah when it was published in 1975, although this was not without controversy. The need for a new Reform Siddur had been expressed for some time. At a meeting of American and Canadian Reform leaders held in Toronto in June 1966, an announcement was made that the CCAR’s Committee on Liturgy would begin a “re-evaluation and research” process aimed at a rewrite of the Union Prayer Book. The new Shaarei Tefillah – Gates of Prayer, the New Union Prayer Book, was announced in October 1975, incorporating more Hebrew content and updated to be more accessible to modern worshipers. The “Thee”s and “Thou”s of the UPB were all changed to “You”. There were many changes in wording aimed at gender neutrality, such as changing “our fathers” to “our ancestors”, however, the masculine form of God was retained. The version Temple acquired used the optional Hebrew opening format which was offered for the first time. At over 700 pages, the Gates of Prayer offered a wide variety of prayer options, including ten Friday night services, six for Shabbat morning and others for holidays, weekdays and other special occasions. Although well received, a process to develop a newer, more cohesive, smaller, gender neutral prayer book was initiated within a decade. Temple uses several interim prayer books including a gender neutral version Gates of Prayer for Shabbat and Weekdays (also referred to as Gates of Grey) at morning minyan services and Gates of Prayer for House of Mourning at shiva services.
The process to develop a new Reform siddur ultimately took 25 years and resulted in the release of Mishkan T’filah – A Reform Siddur in 2007. It offered a very different worship and graphic format. Each prayer utilized a pair of pages, featuring a more traditional service with Hebrew text, translation and transliteration on the right page and additional and alternate readings in English and Hebrew on the left, concluding with a common chatimah, a one-line conclusion, before moving on to the next prayer. As well, Mishkan T’filah used
gender neutral God language and was inclusive of matriarchs and patriarchs.
Meanwhile, here at Temple Israel, we had also been struggling with the limitations of Gates of Prayer. Over time, the congregation had come to use an abbreviated version of the Shabbat Morning Service I, with some modifications such as the addition of the names of the Imahot (Matriarchs) and a Mi Shebeirach for healing written by Debbie Friedman. We had also begun to use gender neutral God language, even though it was not found in the English text of Gates of Prayer. As well, in 2004 an early evening Kabbalat Shabbat / Mincha Service replaced the congregation’s later Erev Shabbat service. Congregants had also expressed the desire to have a smaller, lighter weight book, with easy to read typography. A review process took place to evaluate a few potential models including the draft version of Mishkan T’filah. None were found to meet the needs expressed by Temple worshippers. As a result, Rabbi Garten, Ritual Chair Hal Burnham and Siddur Sub-Committee Chair John Cox led a team of congregants to research, develop, design and produce our own Tefilot L’Shabbat – Shabbat Prayer Book for Temple Israel. This group included Eric Cohen, Karen Shiller, Norm Leckie, Hillel Taub, Vickie Kearney, Ranit Braun, Caren Weinstein and Margot Montgomery. Publication and printing of the prayer books was made possible by the families of Gracie Khazzam, John Sosnow and Harold and Frances Garten. In 2016, under the direction of Rabbi Morais and the Ritual Committee, a draft transliterated version of our siddur was created by Reg Angel. Without changing the layout of the siddur, facing pages containing the transliteration of the Hebrew text were added. Through the generosity of Daniel Chemla and Barbara Crook, pilot versions were photocopied to test and fine-tune this approach.
32(170607) – In the fall of 1967, the first Temple Israel choir was formed under the direction of David Alexandor with a handful of members to enhance the High Holy Day services. Since then, there has always been a volunteer choir providing music during Temple worship and community events. By 1974, with the introduction of regular Saturday morning services, the Temple choir began participating on a regular basis. In 1976, an electric organ, donated in memory of Dr. Roy Horovitch, added a new dimension and depth to the music of our services. An electronic keyboard was later donated by Barbara Okun. Under the leadership of Nancy and Mort Bercovitch, our beautiful grand piano was obtained for Temple.
Over the years, the choir has operated under a variety of names (Choir, Choral Group, Liturgical Choir) and with many dedicated directors and accompanists. The choir has always consisted of talented and committed Temple volunteers. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur continue to be the highlight of the year when the stirring choral melodies blend with the voices of our professional and lay cantorial soloists. The choir also enhances festival services on Sukkot, Pesach and Shavuot, and special services such as Shabbat Shira, Yom Ha’Shoah, Yom Ha’Atzmaut and Temple Anniversaries. The choir regularly performs at community events, such as a June 2006 “A Community in Harmony” four choirs concert and a May 2015 “Let the People Sing” Interfaith Community Choral Concert. The Temple choir regularly sings for residents of Hillel Lodge and was recognized as “Volunteers of the Month” in July 2005.
On June 10, please join our 50th Anniversary Shabbat morning worship where the choir, under the direction of Ellen Asherman (a longtime choir leader and member), along with accompanist Carol Garofsky (daughter of former choir director Carol Garofsky), and some 36 current and former choir members, will lead us in liturgical music from the past and present. Mazel Tov and Yasher Koach to all.
31(170601) – The first Temple congregational picnic was held on Sunday, May 26, 1968 at Vincent Massey Park to celebrate the end of the first year of Temple Israel Religious School. Bill Danson, 1st Temple President, and Arthur Benjamin, 1st Principal, organized the event with help from members of the Brotherhood and teachers from TIRS. There were running, three-legged, wheelbarrow and potato sack races for children and adults with prizes and ice cream for all. Volunteers included Syd Mortimer, Mark Goldblatt, Ray Caplan, Anne and Tom Swadron, Jean and Sam Bond, and Grace Dardick. A fee of $10 was paid to the NCC to reserve the picnic area. Subsequent picnics were held at Vincent Massey and at the Ginsberg family farm on the Eardley Road in Aylmer. The 50th Anniversary picnic will be held on Saturday, June 3 from 4 – 7pm at Andy Haydon Park.
30(170525) – Confirmation is one of the youngest Jewish lifecycle ceremonies. It was created by the Reform movement and added to the Shavuot service. Sixteen year olds make an individual and group affirmation of commitment to the Jewish people following a year of study, social action and a class trip. Rabbi Powell presided over Temple’s first confirmation ceremony on May 28, 1970. The confirmands were Lawrence Erdile, Jay Kassirer, Michael Pearlman, Joe Reisman, Margo Singer, Karen Waisglass and their teachers were Hersh Levy and Rob Libman.
The silver rings ceremony was added later. A previous confirmand, often a family member or friend and “one whose link is affixed to the endless chain”, invites the new confirmand “to confirm their place in our unending story” by adding an engraved ring to the chain on the sanctuary wall.
The 2016 class is shown in the photo with Rabbi Morais and Rabbi Emeritus Garten, TIRS Principal Sue Potechin and teacher Michael Parkin. The 2017 service takes place on May 30, Erev Shavuot.
29(170518) – Temple’s monthly bulletin has used a number of designs over the years reflecting available publishing and printing practices. Originally it was typewritten and mimeographed, eventually photocopied. The advent of desktop publishing enabled design improvements. More recent software allows photographs, colour and other effects. Also evident is the evolution of Temple’s branding (logo, font, etc). Today’s Bulletin is fully integrated with Temple’s website and social media feeds. We salute the many volunteer and professional authors, editors, designers, web and social media team and communications coordinators.
28 (170511) – Temple hosted the biennial convention of the Canadian Council for Reform Judaism (CCRJ) on May 4-6, 1979. The Canadian Council for Reform Judaism (CCRJ) is the Reform movement’s Canadian arm representing 27 congregations from Montreal to Vancouver with over 30,000 members. Until a few years ago, CCRJ was the Canadian chapter of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the largest Jewish denomination in North America. URJ, formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) includes over one million Americans and Canadians in almost 900 congregations. It also comprises the organizations and institutions that support Reform lay leaders, clergy, and Jewish professionals including Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) which trains Reform rabbis and cantors. Following a recent reorganization of the URJ, only a small CCRJ office remains in Toronto to deal with Canadian issues, specifically the issuance of tax receipts. Now, Canadian congregations receive URJ services through centres in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Atlanta.
Temple hosted the biennial CCRJ convention of the Canadian Reform movement several times over the years. The first time was in 1968 just after the founding of Temple. The next time was in 1979 during Temple’s Bar Mitzvah year. The convention was held from May 4-6 with meetings at the Holiday Inn on Kent St and Shabbat services at the relatively new Temple building on Prince of Wales Drive. At that convention, former Temple President David Alexandor was elected CCRJ President.
Temple hosted the CCRJ again in 1992, our 25th anniversary year. That convention was chaired by Temple member Nancy Bercovitch, who went on to become CCRJ President in 1998. In a 1998 Ottawa Jewish Bulletin article about becoming CCRJ President, Nancy talked about her many years as a volunteer at Temple Israel and plans as President of CCRJ. “I want to further Reform Judaism in Canada if I can” she stated. She was particularly excited about the opening of Camp George, the Reform movement’s summer camp in Parry Sound, Ontario and the role it would play in Jewish learning and fun. Temple hosted the CCRJ biennial again in November 2000.
27 (170504) – The Israeli flag on our bimah was custom made for the opening of the Prince of Wales Drive building in October 1975. President Jules Harris, along with Rabbi Don Gerber, addressed the congregation and guests. At that time, Israeli flags were not available for purchase in Ottawa. Flags for the bimah were needed for the official opening ceremony. Congregant Shari Fine bought blue and white material from a local fabric shop. She commissioned a drapery manufacturer to create the flag. As a result, the flag does not have proper hardware or reinforcing to enable it to be flown. A commercially-produced Canadian flag was purchased. Over the years, Temple members have supported Israel at many rallies and events such as the 2003 rally on Parliament Hill (shown in photo). Over time, however, the flagpoles and bases of our flags were damaged, pieces were lost and the flags themselves showed wear and tear. Several years ago, Debra and Gary Viner offered to refurbish the flags. They purchased and donated new poles and bases. The original Israeli flag was dry cleaned six times to remove all the dirt and stains. It still graces our bimah on this 69th anniversary of Israeli independence – Yom Ha’atzmaut.
26 (170427) – Temple artists and artisans have been displaying their work for many years. The first exhibition, “In Praise of Jewish Hands”, was presented by Temple Suisterhood in May 1979. Artists included Debra Viner, Michael Parkin, Morton Baslaw, Bonnie Gerber, Sandra Thomas, Teena Hendelman, Diane Parkin, Naomi Summers, Gloria Hanff, Barbara Rootman, Irene Brownstein, Helen Makow and many others. Another large showcase and sale was held in September 2005. “Temple’s Got Talent” 2017 exhibition is Sunday, April 30.