Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue concludes the year’s celebrations of its 60th anniversary on June 7 with a gala whose theme is Dancing with Diamonds.
“With much pride, Beth Emeth has celebrated a major milestone in its history. From a small group of dedicated individuals with a pitched tent in Bathurst Manor, led by the tenacious Rabbi Joseph Kelman, Beth Emeth began its modern-day journey 60 years ago, and has emerged as a vibrant, 1,100-family strong institution,” synagogue president Michael Kerzner said.
The past year held many highlights with a calendar filled with celebratory events.
At the kickoff launch, founding members shared personal stories of Beth Emeth in its early years. David Anisman, Margo Grosbein, Pearl Ginsler, Bertha Rosen, Robert and Jeanie Seigel, and Wilfred and Ruth Silverberg spoke of memorable moments and what the synagogue means to them today.
“The amalgamation with the Beth Yehuda synagogue was achieved while I was president of the synagogue,” Anisman reminisced. “An additional item was the fact that we paid off the mortgage on the shul at that time. Most importantly, during my tenure, we began the purchase of State of Israel Bonds.”
The others recalled different memories.
“I think the groundbreaking ceremony was probably one of the highlights, and the time when the sanctuary was completed and we had our services in the sanctuary,” Wilfred Silverberg said.
Margo Grosbein cited another first: “My most memorable time has to be the fact that I served as the first woman to ever hold the position of a synagogue president,” she said.
“The shul means I have a place to go on holidays and services on Saturday,” Anisman said.
“A comfortable place,” Robert Seigel added. “A place of community where people get together. You need a place to belong to. Everybody should have someplace that – even if you don’t use it a lot – it’s there if you need it, and if you want it.”
“Beth Emeth Synagogue, for us, is a legacy to pass on to our families,” Wilfred Silverberg said.
Ilene Kuchinsky, gala co-chair, has been involved since the day the shul began.
“We are both celebrating our 60th!” she said. “My parents are founding members of the synagogue, and I was a member when I was in my mother’s womb. My family are now third-generation members. It’s the only shul I have ever known.”
But the synagogue has been able to change with the times. “To hit a milestone like this is quite unbelievable,” Kerzner said. “Over our 60-year history we have embraced reinvention and constantly evolved to meet the needs of our members.”
All are invited to share in the celebration. “We’re hoping families who used to be members and have left the shul will come to enjoy the gala. However, it’s an evening open to anyone and everyone,” said Stephen Werger, gala co-chair and a past president.
“Our logo for the 60th year is to honour the past, celebrate the present and build for the future – and that’s exactly what this year was,” Kuchinsky said.
Highlights included a dinner honouring Anisman, the founding president, who, at 101 years old, never misses a Shabbat service and attended educational workshops, concerts and fundraising events in the synagogue, where people could participate in the Wall of Honour to mark the 60th anniversary lifecycle event.
“I think about millennial outreach and engagement,” Kerzner said. “There has been a generational shift in membership. You can see what’s happening in the demographics of the area – there are a lot more younger families coming back into Bathurst Manor.
“Once you have the stability of bricks and mortar, then you build a community, and this is what makes the difference between ground zero and what it looks like after 60 years – our trees have flourished,” he added.
Gala guests will enjoy a gourmet dinner and dance to the musical rhythms of George St. Kitts and his orchestra.
“The gala will be a lovely, fancy party to celebrate our existence to end our year on a high note and begin the next 60 years on a high note,” said event chair Joan Segal.
“We are hoping to have the shul so full we are bursting out the doors,” Werger added.
Tickets are $136 and can be purchased through the synagogue office at 416-633-3838.