A conversation with Canada’s oldest Conservative rabbi, Erwin Schild, on the occasion of his 103rd birthday

Rabbi Erwin Schild in his Toronto home met with The CJN journalists Lila Sarick and Ellin Bessner on Tuesday Feb. 28 ahead of his milestone 103rd birthday.

Adath Israel’s emeritus rabbi, Erwin Schild, turns 103 on Mar. 9.

Schild, who proudly lives in the same Toronto home he bought soon after he first took the pulpit job in 1947, may be Canada’s oldest living Conservative rabbi. He is nearly as old as the large egalitarian congregation itself, which is marking its 120th year. He served for 42 years, retiring in 1989, after which he wrote four books.

Schild was a teenage yeshiva student in his native Germany and was captured by the Nazis on Kristallnacht in 1938. He survived the Dachau concentration camp. He was freed thanks to the intervention of a Dominican diplomat, only to be shipped to Canada the next year by the British as an enemy alien.

During the pandemic, Adath Israel held drive-by birthday celebrations to mark Schild’s 101st and 102nd birthdays. This year, the synagogue created a special fundraising campaign to repair a Torah that was donated to the congregation years ago in Schild’s name.

The CJN Daily visited Rabbi Schild in his home to talk about his legacy, his 50 great-grandchildren (and even a great-great grandchild), the pending merger between Adath Israel and Beth David, and his favourite chapter of the Torah.

What we talked about

  • Contribute to the Rabbi Schild Torah repair fund at Adath Israel
  • Read about Rabbi Schild’s ‘crazy angel’ in The CJN from 2019
  • Rabbi Schild looks back on 95 years, in The CJN from 2015
  • Watch the new film about Rabbi Schild’s Holocaust story which premiered at the Holocaust Education Week 2022 in November


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 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.