History

The 50th Anniversary chronology (1956) updated by JAHSENA Archivist Debby Shoctor and Beth Israel Board Member Marvin Abugov in consultation with Dr. Bernie Adler, Herschal Bookhalter, Rabbi Daniel Friedman, Professor Ron Levin, Miriam Rabinovitch, Sol Rolingher (Beth Shalom), Dr. Eric Schloss, Howard and Esther Starkman, Sue Winestock and Danny Zalmanowitz.

August 12, 1906 The start of Jewish Communal activity in the City of Edmonton. On this date, a minyan of Jewish Pioneers meets to form the Edmonton Hebrew Association, which will later become the Beth Israel Synagogue. These individuals meet at the home of Mr. & Mrs. D. Boyaner, and included Alberta’s first Jewish citizen, Mr. William Diamond, as well as Edmonton’s first Jewish citizen, Mr. Abraham Cristall. Along with L. Frankenburg, Harris Imy, A. Spiers, C. Shugarman, D. Silas, and J. S. Berkman, they hire Rabbi Hyman Goldstick to be their first Rabbi, Shochet and Mohel, so that the community will be able to have kosher meat, and introduce its new members into the covenant.
September 16, 1906 The Edmonton Hebrew Association is officially formed, and at its first meeting, Mr. Abe Cristall is elected President, Mr. William “Boss” Diamond Vice-President.
April 7, 1907 Bylaws for the organization are written and approved.
May 26, 1907 Cemetery grounds are purchased, under the direction of Jacob Baltzan, Elhanan Hanson and Samuel Shragge, with a loan of $700 from Abe Cristall.
September 1, 1907 A Talmud Torah is created for the community’s five children. William Diamond becomes the new President of the congregation, a post he will hold for the next 31 years.
November 3, 1907 Three trustees are appointed for the new school: Abe Miller, D. Shugarman and M. Phillipson.
November 8, 1907 The first Sefer Torah is purchased.
January 1, 1909 William Diamond is elected the first Gabbai of the Chevra Kadisha.
October 2, 1910 A special meeting takes place to discuss the building of the first synagogue.
October 10, 1910 William Diamond’s gift of a lot on 95th street as a site for the new synagogue is gratefully accepted.
August 13, 1911 The contract for the new synagogue is awarded at a cost of $11,700 and building commences shortly thereafter.
September 12, 1912 The first services are held in the new synagogue.
September 24, 1912 It is decided to build a mikvah next to the Synagogue on the corner of 95th St. and Grierson Hill.
1912 Rabbi Pinsky replaces Rabbi Goldstick and serves until 1933.
April 27, 1914 Permission is granted for the Zionist Council to meet in the Synagogue.
August 14, 1916 H. A. Friedman and J. Sternberg are elected to represent the Edmonton Hebrew Association at the Western Jewish Conference in Winnipeg.
September 24, 1916 William Diamond and A. Griesdorf are elected to the Board of the Western Jewish Congress.
October 10, 1921 Letters of censure are sent out to Jewish businesses which remained open on the High Holidays.
June 29, 1922 O. Friedman is given permission to open the first Kosher butcher shop.
September 6, 1922 A tax of 1 cent per pound is levied on Kosher meat in order to raise funds for the Talmud Torah and Achnoses Orchim.
September 23, 1923 Jacob Baltzan is appointed chairman of the Talmud Torah committee.
April 27, 1924 The Edmonton Hebrew Association joins the World Zionist Federation.
August 25, 1924 Fifty cents for every seat rented in the Synagogue is given to the Jewish National Fund for the purchase of land in Palestine.
April 25, 1925 The Chevra Kadisha applies for a charter and becomes a separate and independent organization.
December 14, 1925 William Diamond is inscribed in the Golden Book of the JNF for 17 years of devoted service.
September 1, 1926 Due to overcrowding, a second minyan is arranged in the Talmud Torah hall, led by A. Wershof. Mr. S. Shragge is elected Gabai.
September 1, 1927 H.B. Kline is elected Honourary Executive Member in recognition of his many years of devoted service.
September 8, 1928 Jacob Baltzan is elected Honourary Executive Member, and his name is inscribed in the Golden Book of the JNF.
November 3, 1929 J. Taradash is inscribed in the Golden Book of the JNF.
September 16, 1929 H. Margulis becomes Gabai of the Talmud Torah Minyan.
September 6, 1931 The congregation marks 25 years of activity with a special celebration.
September 26, 1932 A committee of five is appointed to investigate engaging Rabbi Eisen, who is later engaged by the newly formed Beth Shalom Congregation.
August 6, 1933 The congregation accepts the resignation of Rabbi Pinsky, who has served since 1912.
August 9, 1933 Rabbi Haft is engaged as Shochet, Mohel and Ba’al Tefillah, and serves until his death in 1941.
September 17, 1933 H. B. Kline is elected Honourary President for Life.
October 2, 1933 Hymie Baltzan is elected leader of the Boy Scout group.
January 27, 1936 Upon the death of King George V, a memorial service is arranged under the guidance of  Jacob Baltzan and  Maurice Stochinsky.
July 13, 1936 The Reverend J. Dorskind is engaged as Cantor for two years.
October 22, 1936 A new Management Committee is created, consisting of Jacob Baltzan, S. Liskear and Maurice Stochinsky.
March 21, 1937 A Silver Jubilee Celebration marking the 25th anniversary of the Synagogue building is held, and William Diamond is honoured for having donated the land on which it rested.
May 12, 1937 A special Coronation Service is held in honour of King Edward VIII.
October 23, 1938 The land title to the cemetery is transferred to the Chevra Kadisha. William Diamond resigns as President.
June 16, 1940 Rabbi Abraham Postone is engaged as assistant Shochet, Mohel and Ba’al Tefillah.
June 17, 1941 The death of Rabbi Haft. His son-in-law, Rabbi Postone, assumes leadership of the congregation for the next 28 years.
April 20, 1941 Maurice Stochinsky and Meyer Sheckter are appointed to represent the Edmonton Hebrew Association on the newly formed Talmud Torah board.
April 6, 1942 Samuel Shragge is inscribed in the Ussishkin Golden Book.
May 2, 1943 Mr. Abraham Wyman is appointed to chair a Planning Committee for the purpose of building a new synagogue.
October 31, 1943 Z. Ramelson is appointed Honourary Vice President for life.
October 15, 1944 Samuel Shragge is elected Honourary President.
September, 1944 The Talmud Torah Committee decides to engage an English-speaking Orthodox Rabbi as leader of the congregation and principal of the Talmud Torah.
April 28, 1946 The Shul is registered in the name of the Edmonton Hebrew Association.
June 6, 1945 Three lots on 113th Street are purchased for the building of the new Shul.
April 24, 1949 The lots on 113th St. are deemed unsuitable for the new Shul, as they were not in the centre of the Jewish Community. They were eventually sold in 1952.
August 11, 1949 Two lots on 119th Street are purchased on this date.
May 14, 1950 Plans for the new shul are deferred in favour of Talmud Torah.
October 26, 1950 The B’not Israel, or Sisterhood is organized, consisting of 24 women under the leadership of Mrs. Max Bornstein, at the home of Mrs. Sam Dolinko.
May 6, 1951 Talmud Torah abandons its plans for a new building, and plans for a new shul proceed. The first pledge of $1000 for the new building comes from Joe Shoctor.
May 30, 1951 The new building committee is appointed, including Samuel Shragge, Max Bornstein, H.R. Cohen, Maurice Stochinsky, Eddie Shoctor and Joe Shoctor.
August 28, 1951 Sod-turning ceremony for the new building. Samuel Shragge and Harry Cohen each contribute $5000 towards the building fund.
September 2, 1951 Excavation begins.
January 9, 1952 The old synagogue building is put up for sale.
June 12, 1952 Laying of the cornerstones of the new building. The contents of the cornerstones from the old shul are transferred to those of the new one. The new building is completed by Dominion Construction Co. in one year and is ready for High Holidays services, 1952.
October 19, 1952 Cantor Banda is engaged for one year. Harry Cohen, Maurice Stochinsky and Dr. Morris Weinlos are elected as trustees.
January 17, 1953 The new synagogue is dedicated, a banquet celebrating the opening is chaired by Joe Shoctor.
May 3, 1953 A new Sefer Torah is presented to the congregation by Mr. & Mrs. Max Bornstein.
December 27, 1953 A gala testimonial dinner is held to pay tribute to all members of the community over the age of 70, and 70 trees are planted in their honour in the Queen Elizabeth Coronation Forest in Israel. Rabbi S. Ginsberg of Minneapolis is the guest speaker.
1954   Meyer Sheckter is made an Honourary President.
February, 1954 Rabbi Louis Ginsburg takes over as spiritual leader of the Congregation.
April 12, 1954 The congregation is presented with a Sefer Torah by Mr. Harry Cohen.
June 5, 1955 The congregation is presented with a Sefer Torah by Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Shragge.
November, 1959 Rabbi Bertrand G. Fink is appointed new Rabbi of Beth Israel.
November 20, 1960 A new Sefer Torah is dedicated by Mrs. William Laskin and sons Dr. Merv Laskin and Mr. Shimon Laskin in memory of the late William Laskin.
c. 1960 The Sisterhood forms a Sunday School and Tallis & Tefillin club.
June 15 & 16, 1962 A concert by renowned cantor Leibl Glantz is held in honour of the 10th anniversary of the new building.
1966 Rabbi Lewis N. Ginsburg becomes spiritual leader.
November 20, 1966 The 60th Anniversary Dinner is held.
December 8, 1966 The first Sisterhood study group is formed.
September, 1975 Raymond Stern is appointed Cantor and Youth Director.
1969 A Sisterhood member becomes a member of the Beth Israel Congregation Board for the first time.
November 23, 1969 Maurice Stochinsky is honoured at the annual donor dinner.
1966 Rabbi Abraham D. Mandelbaum is hired.
1969 Rabbi Mandelbaum introduces the National Council of Synagogue Youth.
1970 Edmonton is chosen as the outstanding NCSY Chapter in North America.
 1972 Rabbi Aranov conducts the first Bat Torah ceremony for a group of 5
twelve year old girls (Linda Bugis, Debbie Estrin, Claire Weisz, Robin
Winestock and Mona Wise) in the Social Hall of the Shul.
June 26, 1977 Sisterhood annual dinner honours J. Motkovitch, oldest active Gabbai in North America.
1977 Rabbi Sultan supervises the installation of kosher kitchens at the new Hillcrest JCC.
1979 First Casino Licence applied for, estimated income $17,000.
Tallis and Tefillin Club started
Feb. 13, 1980 Beth Shalom Synagogue is destroyed by a fire bomb.
Feb. 16, 1980 Beth Shalom Congregation under Rabbi Hyman holds the first Friday night services at Beth Israel as guests.
January, 1981 Zane Feldman donates $50,000 for refurbishment of the synagogue.
February, 1981 Beth Israel recieves a bequest of $65,600 from the estate of Harry Cohen.
1982 Rabbi Akiva Mann arrives in Edmonton.
January 23, 1983 Sir Immanuel Jakobovits, Phd., Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth, gives a lecture at Beth Israel on, “The Contemporary Jewish Scene.”
1984 land for new synagogue is donated by the estate of the late Harry Cohen; Zane Feldman and William Lutsky.
May, 1987 Sisterhood holds its 36th anniversary dinner, honouring all members past and present.
1987 President Herschal Bookhalter begins discussions about building a new synagogue on the land donated in the west end, at the corner of Wolf Willow and Wanyandi roads.
1988 A concert by Hassidic master Reb Shlomo Carlebach is held.
1989 A concert by the Mazeltones is held.
September 9, 1989 Rabbi Akiva Mann leaves for Scottsdale, Arizona.
October, 1989 Shmuel Mann takes over as Head Rabbi.
October 13, 1990 Beth Israel honours outgoing 5-year executive director Max Grunberg and family, who are leaving for Israel.
October, 1990 Beth Israel and Beth Shalom form Shalom L’Israel religious school, a joint venture cheder.
1992 A celebration is held in honour of the synagogue’s  85th Anniversary at the Fantasyland Hotel. Nate Siegel and Noach Zalmanowitz are the honourees. A Sefer Torah is presented by Rabbi Postone and Evelyn Haft Postone in honour of her late father, Rabbi Haft.
President Eric Schloss requests a draft architectural proposal for a new synagogue from MSA Architecture, Calgary
April 17, 1994 A “Women of Valour” luncheon is held in honour of Eva Gorasht, Raye Dolgoy and Bertha Fox, Honourary Life Members of the Beth Israel Board and Sisterhood.
March, 1995 Under the leadership of President Ron Levin, the Board eliminates a projected $100,000 operating deficit and sets the stage for a renewed effort to construct a new building.
June, 1995 Zane Feldman is elected as an Honourary President, Hersch Bookhalter an Honourary Life Board Member and Eva Gorasht an Honourary Life Trustee.
The Board votes overwhelmingly to build a new synagogue in the west end of Edmonton.
October, 1996 The Board of Directors and Trustees agree that the Wolf Willow Road site is preferable. Dr. Schloss is appointed Campaign Chairman, Joe Shoctor Building Chairman, and Herschal Bookhalter Associate Building Chairman.
November, 1996 The Congregation gives its approval, through secret ballot, to build a new synagogue on the Wolf Willow site. An architectural design competition is initiated amongst seven firms.
May, 1997 The Congregation approves the selection of Manasc/Isaac Architects of Edmonton as winners of the design competition.
August, 1997 The Executive committee approves an expanded design for the synagogue with a budget between $3.5-$4 million, provided an additional $1 million is raised.
September, 1998 Joe Shoctor makes his memorable Yom Kippur “Hold on to your Yarmulkes” speech, announcing a $1 million donation from Bill Lutsky.
October, 1998 The Congregation approves the expanded plans. Rescom Inc. is employed as building construction manager. New design incorporating 26,878 square feet is adopted.
March 1, 1999 Beth Israel Congregation receives a building development permit. A new Sefer Torah is purchased by the Sisterhood and brought to Edmonton from Israel by Rabbi Yaakov Lief Cohen. Mark Katzeff designs a new breastplate and Torah Crown.
April, 1999 Construction of the new building begins. Rabbi Eli Lagnado retires.
June 20, 1999 The official Sod Turning Ceremony is held at the Wolf Willow site. Dignitaries include: Dr. Eric Schloss, Campaign Chair; Howard Starkman, Q.C., Congregation President; Dr. Joseph Shoctor, O.C., Q.C., Building Chair; Wendy Kinsella, Edmonton City Councillor; Nancy MacBeth, MLA; Ian McLelland, M.P.; The Honourable Anne McLellan, Minister of Justice; and newly appointed Rabbi Ari Enkin.
May, 2000 The Congregation takes possession of the new building. $1.2 million is raised from the membership, with an additional $1 million gift from the Lutsky family. The Aron Hakodesh in the main sanctuary is designed by artist Irene Klar, and fabricated by local sculptor Roy Leadbeater, who also designs the door handles. Elexis Schloss provides design services.
December 2, 2001 A gala celebration is held in honour of the 95th anniversary of the Edmonton Hebrew Association/Beth Israel Synagogue.
August, 2002 Rabbi Ari Enkin leaves
September, 2002 Rabbi Daniel Friedman becomes the new Rabbi of the synagogue.

 


Presidents of the Beth Israel Board of Trustees

Abraham Cristall 1906-1907
William Diamond 1907-1938
Samuel Shragge 1939-1950
1954-1955
Mayer Sheckter 1950-1954
Dr. Morris Weinlos 1955-1962
Dr. Max Dolgoy 1962-1965
Dr. Joseph Bugis 1965-1967
1969-1971
1972-1973
Sol Estrin 1967-1969
Dean Gerald Fridman 1971-1972
Dr. Bernie Adler 1973-1974
Zane Feldman 1974-1976
1984-1986
Hy Liebo 1976-1978
Dave Pollack 1978-1980
1987
Hymie Sorokin 1980-1982
Herschal Bookhalter 1982-1984
Al Cooper 1986-1987
David Seaberg 1987-1989
Eddie Aziman 1989-1991
Dr. Eric Schloss 1991-1993
Ron Levin 1993-1995
Alvin Winestock 1995-1999
Howard Starkman 1999-2003
Laurie Mozeson 2003-2005
Michael Zabludowski 2005-2009
Ram Romanovsky 2009-2011
Gordon Bushewsky 2011-

 


Rabbis of the Beth Israel Synagogue

Rabbi Hyman Goldstick 1906-1912
Rabbi A. Pinsky 1912-1933
Rabbi Isaac Haft 1933-1941
Rabbi Abraham Postone 1941-1968?
Rabbi Louis Ginsburg 1954-1955
1964-1967
Rabbi A. Fruichter 1955-1956
Rabbi Dr. Eli Kahn 1957-1959
Rabbi Bertram Fink 1959-1963
Rabbi Abraham Mandelbaum 1969-1970
Rabbi Saul Aranov 1970-1976
Rabbi Rosenberg 197?-1977
Rabbi Sultan
Rabbi Milton Polinsky 1977-1982
Rabbi Akiva Mann 1982-1989
Rabbi Shmuel Mann 1989-1992
Rabbi Asher Vale 1992-1995
Rabbi Eli Lagnado 1995-1999
Rabbi Ari Enkin 1999-2002
Rabbi Daniel Friedman 2002-

 


Cantors of the Beth Israel Synagogue

Rev. J. Dorskind 1936-1939
Rev. Banda 1952-1953
Rev. Israeli 1954-1955
Rev. Montrose 1955
Mr. Eugene Edelstein 1959-1960
Cantor Phil Lutman 1960-1963
Cantor Naor 1962-1963
Rev. Kalman Joffe 1968-1973
Cantor Radin 1973-1975
Cantor Raymond Stern 1975-1978
Cantor Jeff Siegel 1979-1985
Cantor Shmuel Mann 1986-1989
Rabbi/Cantor Eli Lagnado 2002-

 


Shamuses of the Beth Israel Synagogue

Mr. N. Green 1912
Mr. A. Berg 1913
Mr. J. Roseman 1913-1914
Mr. S. Nelson 1914-1919
1932-1952
Mr. Shlomo Estrin 1919-1932
Mr. Mayer Zalmanowitz 1955-1972
Mr. R. Rosenberg 1972-1977
Mr. Yankel Bercovich 1977-1983
Mr. Max Grunberg 1985-1990
Shlomo Gorodetsky 1995-1999

 


Gabbais of the Beth Israel Synagogue

Mr. Alex Cohen
Mr. S. Nelson
Mr. Abe Estrin
Mr. Motkovitch
Mr. Nate Siegel
Mr. Noach Zalmanowitz
Mr. Hy Liebo
Mr. S. Ullman
Mr. Shane Asbell
Mr. Gordon Bushewsky
Mr. Lewis Wasel

 


Presidents of the Beth Israel Sisterhood

Rose Bornstein 1950-1951
Anne Eaman 1951-1952
Rose Bornstein 1952-1954
Molly Shugarman 1954-1955
Elsie Phillet 1955-1956
Elsie Phillet 1955-1956
Eva Gorasht 1956-1958
Frances Betzberg 1959-1960
Helen Cramer 1960-1961
Merle Weinlos 1961-1962
Reva Bernstein 1962-1963
Elsie Phillet Berkovits 1963-1964
Raye Dolgoy, Elaine Bookhalter, and Eileen Cooper 1964-1965
Raye Dolgoy 1965-1967
Janet Fridman 1967-1968
Violet Greenberg 1968-1969
Ida Kline Year not known
Sandra Miller Year not known
Eileen Cooper 1980-1982
Paula Weil 1984-1986
Eileen Cooper 1987-1989
Lillian Soroka 1992-1996
Ruth Pakes & Miriam Rabinovitch 1996-2000
Miriam Rabinovitch 2000-2005
Caroline Ramey 2005-
Leanne Wasel 2011-

 


Special Honours

1925 William “Boss” Diamond Inscribed in the Golden Book of the JNF.
1927 H. B. Kline   Honourary Executive Member
1928 Jacob Baltzan   Honourary Executive Member, inscribed in the Golden Book of the JNF.
1929 J. Taradash   Inscribed in the Golden Book of the JNF.
1933 H. B. Kline   Honourary President for Life.
1938 William Diamond  Honourary President for Life.
1942 Samuel Shragge  Inscribed in the Golden Book of the JNF.
1942 S. Liskear   Presented with a Tallis.
1943 Z. Ramelson   Honourary Vice President.
1944 Samuel Shragge  Honourary President for Life.
1952 Harry Cohen   Presented with a cornerstone in the new Synagogue building.
1952 Maurice Stochinsky  Presented with a cornerstone in the new Synagogue building.
1954 M. Sheckter   Honourary President.
1969 Maurice Stochinsky  Honoured at annual Donor Dinner.
197? Max Dolgoy   Honourary Trustee for Life
David Herman   Honourary Life Member
Mrs. S. Dolinko  Honourary Life Treasurer
1977 Mr. J. Motkovitch  Honourary Life Gabbai
Hymie Baltzan  Honourary Life Member
Al Cooper   Honourary Life Member
Saul Dlin   Honourary Life Member
Marvin Dower  Honourary Life Member
Israel Garfin   Honourary Life Member
I. Gurevitch   Honourary Life Member
Earl Lyons   Honourary Life Member
Louis Rudolph  Honourary Life Member
1980 Nate Siegel   Honourary Life Trustee
1992 Nate Siegel   Honoured at 85th Anniversary Dinner
Noach Zalmanowitz   Honoured at 85th Anniversary Dinner
1994 Eva Gorasht   Honourary Life Members of the Board and Sisterhood
Raye Dolgoy   Honourary Life Members of the Board and Sisterhood
Bertha Fox   Honourary Life Members of the Board and Sisterhood
1995 Zane Feldman   Honourary President
1995 Hersch Bookhalter  Honourary Life Board Member
1995 Eva Gorasht   Honourary Life Trustee

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