A bet on the future: why Saskatoon’s Jewish community rebuilt its historic shul and community centre

Saskatoon Agudas Israel synagogue
Donors Sherwood and Elaine Sharfe cut the ribbon under the ceremonial chuppah at the rededication of Saskatoon's Jewish Community Centre which now bears their name, and the official reopening of the renovated Congregation Agudas Israel synagogue building on Friday June 23, 2023. (Kelly Rapko photo)

Although they count just 100 member families, Saskatoon’s Congregation Agudas Israel believes there is a bright future for Jewish life in their Prairie city. Which is why the Conservative egalitarian synagogue has just completed a lengthy $3.8 million dollar renovation of their post-war-era building. Aside from improved security and accessibility, and a mikveh, it also now includes bigger space for a small but modern Jewish Community Centre, recently named after Sherwood and Elaine Sharfe: the prominent local family of philanthropists are the lead donors to the project.

On the weekend of June 23, current synagogue members and also former Saskatoon residents returned to the grounds of the building for three days of festivities to mark the official rededication and reopening.

On this episode of The CJN Daily, we speak with the synagogue’s president, Kevin Sharfe–it’s his parents’ names on the venue–and also with his cousin Grant Scharfstein, who spearheaded the multimillion dollar Legacy Project.

What we talked about

  • Learn about the renovation project at Saskatoon’s historic Agudas Israel synagogue, on The CJN Daily, from 2021.
  • Watch a promo video from the Saskatoon synagogue while under renovations, on YouTube.
  • Read more about the history of the Jewish community of Saskatoon, in The CJN, from 2016.


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our intern is Ashok Lamichhane (@jesterschest on Twitter).Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here.