Debra Viner

Debra Viner and grandchildTemple Israel Fundraising Campaign Testimonial
March 14, 2023

My name is Debra Viner and I had the honour of serving as President of Temple Israel from 2002-2004.

As President, I attended the myriad of events, including Shabbat worship services, B’nai Mitzvahs, School celebrations, Holiday programs, Shabbat Dinner services, and the list goes on. There were countless times when a grandparent of a B’nai Mitzvah child found themselves challenged by the stairs of our Bima. The word “Aliyah” means “going up”, and having an Aliyah at a grandchild’s B’nai Mitzvah is an incredible honour- but with an inaccessible Bima, “going up” to the Bima was not an option. The honour of participating in the service was changed, to accommodate the mobility challenges. The Kiddish, held immediately downstairs after the service was inaccessible to the family members who were elderly, and could not walk down the stairs. Despite best efforts, families are separated by physical barriers, and this is unacceptable.

Temple Israel Religious School (TIRS) has always, since the founding of our synagogue, realized the importance and benefit of fostering a relationship between the “upstairs” (meaning the synagogue), and “downstairs” (meaning the school). When a member of our Temple family, no matter what age, cannot move seamlessly from one level to another because of mobility, it means that a child misses classes, or sometimes, cannot even attend any program at all. It means that a parent might not be able to participate in a school holiday celebration due to mobility challenges.

These examples occurred regularly during my tenure as President, and they remain in our current worship and school spaces over 20 years later.

These are real, urgent challenges that we, as a Temple family, must change. If we believe we are an inclusive community, we all must work together to make the Door to the Future Campaign a success!