For the first time in nearly 100 years, Belleville’s synagogue can’t offer High Holiday services—because no one will lead them

Norm Weddum, the president of Sons of Jacob Congregation. (Photo courtesy of Sons of Jacob/Facebook)

The Sons of Jacob Congregation, Belleville’s only synagogue, has been servicing the town’s tight-knit local Jewish community for nearly a century. During the Second World War, its numbers swelled due to the number of Jewish soliders stationed in the area; today, however, fewer than 30 paying members support the historic institution.

They managed to keep things going even during the pandemic, but this week, despite the best efforts of their long-serving president, they announced that they couldn’t hold regular High Holiday services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur—because they couldn’t find anyone qualified to lead them.

The shul can’t afford to pay what they call “Toronto prices” for someone who will—even if that person isn’t a rabbi or a cantor. Norm Weddum, the congregation’s president, joins to discuss the situation—and how it’s hardly unique in the country.

What we talked about:


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 learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.