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Vancouver Jewish Men’s Choir / David Frum

(Use choir photo with all participants seated and with Joyce Cherry seated in the centre.)

Back L-R: Errol Lipschitz, Arthur Guttman, Geoff Berkow, Ivor Levin, Neil Loomer, Hirschel Wasserman, David Bogdonov, Dan Elezam, Michael LindeFront L-R: Arnold Selwyn, Eddie Epstein, Maurice Moses, Joyce Cherry, Stan Shear, Chazzan Yaacov Orzech, Stewart Cohen, Eddie  Lewin.

The Vancouver Jewish Men’s Choir will perform a special concert of traditional liturgical and modern Jewish music. The 16-member all- male choir is led by Musical Director Stan Shear and includes chazzanim Yaacov Orzech and Arthur Guttman together with well-known entertainers Arnold Selwyn and Maurice Moses and Accompanist Joyce Cherry on the grand piano. Musical Director Stan Shear emigrated from South Africa to Vancouver in August 2004. Apart from a Ph.D. degree in Engineering, he studied classical piano and singing from a very early age, and obtained a Licentiate in Piano. He has performed with the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra and participated in other concerts and broadcasts in South Africa.  Stan studied chazzanut and served as Cantor and choirmaster at a number of synagogues in South Africa for over 15 years.

(Photo of David Frum)

Well-known Canadian author, David Frum, will be the after-dinner guest speaker for this auspicious occasion. His address will focus on “The World Crisis and the Jews.”  Frum is the author of five books, including two New York Times bestsellers:  The Right Man:  The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush (2003), and with co-author  Richard Perle  An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror (2004). His sixth book, The Next Republican President will be published by Doubleday in early 2007.
Frum is a resident fellow at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute and writes a daily column for National Review Online, plus weekly columns for the National Post.  He contributes frequently to the editorial pages of the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.  He also appears regularly on CNN, Fox News and the BBC. In 2001-2002, David Frum served as special assistant to President George W. Bush.
David Frum was born in Toronto in 1960.  He received simultaneous BA and MA in history from Yale in 1982.  He was appointed a visiting lecturer in history at Yale in 1986.  In 1987, he graduated cum laude from the Harvard Law School, where he served as president of the Federalist Society. Frum lives in Washington D.C., with his wife, journalist and novelist Danielle Crittenden Frum, and their three children.  He is the son of the late broadcaster Barbara Frum and Toronto real estate developer Murray Frum.


Beth Israel Youth Programming
Youth photos

Beth Israel is committed to the formal and informal education of our youth and children, with the understanding that they are the future of the synagogue.  This has been a primary objective of Rabbi Daniel & Rebbetzin Batya Friedman, since their arrival in 2002.  In light of this, a vast array of youth programming has come to the fore, including the reopening of the Edmonton NCSY chapter and the revitalisation of our Shabbat and festival youth programs.  Rabbi Ben & Rebbetzin Rivky Klein have been tirelessly devoted to the cause and not a day goes by when their house is not full of the chatter and play of the children of Edmonton.  One of the first projects upon the hiring of the Kleins was the establishment of the Edmonton Jewish Youth Lounge, an exciting playground for the Jewish youth of Edmonton situated right in the Kleins’ basement, replete with big-screen TV, videogames, basketball, ping-pong and pool.  Ben’s devotion has taken him for many a Shabbat, away with NCSY teens, to places afar as Banff, Calgary, Vancouver and Seattle. Congregation Beth Israel is proud to boast the most successful youth program Edmonton has ever seen, including Jewish kids from all segments of our community.Phoenix Multi-Faith Society for Harmony

On Halloween 2000, the Beth Shalom and Beth Israel synagogues in Edmonton were firebombed. At noon November 12, 2003, three college-aged youth threw a rock through the glass plate of the Muslim Community of Edmonton (MCE) mosque in Edmonton.  These are but two examples of the hate incidents that the Jewish and Muslim communities have experienced over the years.

Both Edmonton Jewish and Muslim community leaders stood side-by-side and condemned these attacks.  The perpetrator of the Beth Shalom incident, a 21 year-old male, was apprehended with the help of the Muslim community and was brought forward to apologize to the Jewish community – to make restitution and to face charges.  The Beth Israel Synagogue and Muslim Community of Edmonton Mosque perpetrators were never found.

Over the years, incidents like these have caused concern and unease among the 5,000 members of the Edmonton Jewish community and the 35,000 members of the Edmonton Muslim community.    From time to time, historical and current world events have tended to heighten tension and risk of hate-bias incidents against these communities.

The events of September 11th, 2001, created fear of a backlash against the Muslim community.  Sol Rolingher and Larry Shaben, leaders of the Jewish and Muslim communities respectively stated that matters of Middle East concern, and indeed even those of 9/11 in New York City, should and would remain in those locales.  Both Mr. Shaben and Mr. Rolingher, along with other church and political leaders such as former Mayor Bill Smith, publicly stated that there should not be any backlash or negative reaction against the local Muslim community as a result of the actions of others elsewhere.  The outcome was that there were no significant incidents against the Muslim community in Edmonton.

In the years that followed, leaders from both the Jewish and Muslim communities have worked closely with the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) anti-Hate Bias unit to identify ways to foster harmony.  (Incidentally, both the Jewish and Muslim communities fully supported the creation of the EPS Hate Bias Crime Unit and the Chief’s Advisory Committee.)   Through facilitated meetings from 2002-2004 common ground was identified leading to the creation of by-laws for a society that were acceptable to both sides.  2005 was spent fine-tuning the nature of membership that resulted in the inclusion of the Christian faith given the shared Abrahamic roots.  Ironically, a graffiti incident at the Beth Shalom synagogue, Christmas Eve 2005, brought the whole issue to full focus when leaders of all denominations came together to denounce this event.

The incorporation of the Phoenix Multi-Faith Society for Harmony is signed by: Sol Rolingher, Larry Shaben, Archbishop Thomas Collins, Howard Starkman, Nashir Karmali, and EPS Chief Mike BoydFormer Chiefs of Police including Bob Wasylyshen, Fred Rayner, Darryl DaCosta were fully supportive of the concept during their tenure.  The society’s objectives are:
a)       to create a forum through which dialogue and discussion can take place with a view to facilitating understanding and respect for all faiths; and
b)       to  seek continued peaceful co-existence and positive relations amongst all faiths by fostering open communications, interfaith dialogue, education and participation amongst our community members and the community at large with particular emphasis on initiatives to address and eliminate intercommunity negative stereotyping, hatred, bias and prejudice.

Beth Israel Memories

Remembering the Beginnings of The Edmonton Hebrew Association and Congregation Beth Israel – (1906)

by Rabbi, Rev. Hyman Goldstick in 1977 who was then 96 years old. – Goldstick photo

During the year 1906, the Jewish people of Edmonton and Calgary made inquiries to the Rabbis in Montreal to find a young Rabbi to organize the scattered Jewish people of Edmonton and Calgary, providing he possessed all the qualifications  of a Shochet to provide Kosher meat; a Mohel to perform circumcisions; to serve as a Hebrew teacher and to serve as a Cantor; that is, to conform to all Jewish traditions.

At that time, I had a position in Toronto as a Shochet and Hebrew teacher.  Prior to this, I attended a Yeshiva in Tels, Lithuania for four years.  After graduating, I returned to Latvia where I practiced as  a Shochet and Mohel.  A year later I married and we moved to Leeds, England.  Shortly thereafter we moved to New York, and lived in Brooklyn.  During the summer months I conducted High Holy Day Services in Attleborough, Massachusetts.  We moved to Toronto in 1904.

Rabbi Hirsh Cohen of Montreal who apparently didn’t find a young man in Montreal who was qualified, made inquiries to some Rabbis in Toronto to determine if they knew of a young Rabbi who could carry out the necessary duties involved and if so, to send the young Rabbi to see him.  I was advised by a Rabbi in Toronto who knew that I was qualified in all the requirements, that I would be the proper man to organize the Jewish people in the West.  He recommended that I proceed to be interviewed by Rabbi Cohen who lived at

530 Dorchester St.

in Montreal.   The Rabbi in Toronto provided me with a letter of introduction for Rabbi Cohen, who by this time had the necessary particulars, but who wished to interview me personally regarding my qualifications.

I spent three days in Montreal and during that time Rabbi Cohen gave me a thorough examination of all my credentials that I had from Europe, the United States and Canada; as well as an oral examination of everything.  As a result, Rabbi Cohen provided me with a letter of recommendation that he signed on August 2, 1906.    I was given transportation and expenses to travel directly to Edmonton.  I arrived on August 6, 1906 whereupon I met Mr. A. Cristall, Mr. Diamond and Mr. Jack Berkman.  A meeting was called to arrange a salary and other important matters to be carried on.  Those present at this meeting included:  Mr. A. Cristall, Mr. Wm. Diamond, Mr. Jack Berkman, Mr. Frankenberg, Mr. Boyaner, Mr. Philipson, Mr. Hyman, Mr. H. B. Kline, Mr. Shugarman Sr. who lived on the south side of the river in Strathcona at that time.   Mr. Cristall was named President,  Mr. Diamond Vice President, and Mr. Jack Berkman, Secretary.  On my advice, it was agreed to name the Congregation, the Edmonton Hebrew Association and it was registered under that name.

Now came the important question of providing Kosher meat.  We selected a committee consisting of Mr. A. Cristall, Mr. Wm. Diamond and myself, to interview Mr. Gallagher who operated a retail butcher shop and packing plant.  He agreed to give us a corner in his shop with a new block and new utensils for the use of kosher meat only.  I had to be in the shop every morning.  It was very successfully carried out for a few years.

By this time, it was also close to the High Holy Days.  I was given permission to order a Torah and prayer books and other necessary things required for the services.  Everything arrived in plenty of time for the High Holy Days and we held services in the I.O.O.F. Hall on

Jasper Avenue

.  Surprisingly, we had a large turnout for the services.  People came from Calgary and from all corners of the country.  At that time, the Poderskys and the Goldbergs were homesteading in the district.

During 1906-7, I had to travel to Calgary twice a week, and sometimes more often, to provide Kosher meat for the Jewish people there and other times to perform weddings or circumcisions.

Now another problem arose in the community.  A child was born to Mr. and Mrs. Berkman in the latter part of December 1906.  Unfortunately, the child only lived a few days.  It was a very cold winter and it was our problem to bury the child.  As we did not have a place of our own, we went to the city authorities to ask if they would give us permission to bury the child in some corner in their cemetery with the understanding that we would remove the remains as soon as we could procure a place of our own.  Soon after, we bought a place and removed the remains.  Today, we possess a cemetery to be proud of.

By this time, the community was well organized.  Soon it became known to the Jewish people that they were able to get all Jewish services in Edmonton.  It wasn’t long before they came from the east and the west and from all corners.  In 1908, they were considering the building of a synagogue.  In 1910, Mr. Diamond donated a corner lot south of

Jasper Avenue

on 95 Street.  This synagogue was built and although it was not quite finished, it was good enough in which to hold our High Holy Days services that year.

Note:  Rabbi Goldstick resigned in 1912, whereupon he moved to Edson, Alberta, where he opened a men’s retail store until he retired.  As well, he served on the Edson school board, the town council and became Mayor.

Remembering the 95 St. Synagogue – (circa. 1925)
A memory from Elly Margolis, MSc., PhD — 2006 (Los Angeles, California) – Margolus photo

So the 95 St. Shul is a centenarian!  My memories of the building go back to before its Bar Mitzvah.
An imposing brick structure, I spent two hours each day in the basement where the Talmud Torah classes were held.  Even before I started spending time there, I have memories of my sitting beside my mother in the balcony, looking down at the clamour below, seeing my father’s cousin Shayah Nelson (the Shames) create order with a loud noise he created by slapping his open Siddur at his post in the centre of the shul.

When I was a child the shul was the centre of community life.  Almost everyone lived within walking distance. There was no problem looking for a tenth man for the daily minyan.

In my opinion, the principal attraction to the shul during my childhood and maturing years was the Cantor, Rev. A. Pinsky.  Edmonton’s Jewish community was lucky to have him because by himself he fulfilled all the traditional requirements: Cantor, Mohel, Shokhet and reluctantly, Rabbi.  Though he had smikha, he preferred that all but minor rabbinic matters be referred to Rabbi Kahanovitch in Winnipeg.  Rabbi Pinsky was a strikingly handsome man with a magnificent high tenor voice.  I was convinced that had he been born into a gentile family he could have become a sensational opera star.  To top it off, his children also had splendid voices and were very musical.

Traditionally, boys ended their Talmud Torah careers with training for their Bar Mitzvahs.  As the time approached for mine, I was given private tutoring, first by Mr. Wershof whose children all had distinguished careers; the youngest Max in the United Nations Secretariat, and then by my father’s cousin the Shames.  I was able to deliver my Maftir from memory in the traditional cantillation.  I could see my father glowing with pride.

Remembering First “Twins” Bar Mitzvah ― (1939)

by Harold Rodnunsky (2006) – twin photo

Peter Rodnunsky immmigrated to Canada in 1910 from Mirgorod, Ukraine, Russia to Winnipeg, Canada.  The following year, Peter sent for Mania Hardashnikov, from the town of Sorochina Poltova, Gebernia, Ukraine Russia.  Mania, along with cousins Kalman and Hodel Hardin, parents of Susky, Sarah, Isadore and Tom, who came via Wales, British Isles, arrived in Winnipeg during March 1911.  Peter and Mania were married in Winnipeg and traveled to Edmonton to join the other three family members who were already living in Edmonton since 1906 including Hyman and Sonia Satanove, Max and Malka Rodnunsky and Sam and Ann Rodnunsky.  Sonia, Malka and Sam were Peter’s siblings.  Peter and Mania had four children: Esther in 1913, Hymie in 1917 and two twin boys; Harold and Albert in 1926.

On arriving in Edmonton in 1911, Peter and Mania opened a small grocery store and snack business on the west side of 101 Street and 103 Avenue.   They attended the Congregation Beth Israel.  Peter was a charter member of the Chevra Kadisha along with Max and Sam Rodnunsky.  Mania looked after the Women’s Wing of the Chevra Kadisha.

In 1916, Peter and Mania moved to Kingman, Alberta (60 miles south-east of Edmonton between Tofield and Camrose) where Peter built his general store known as Kingman’s Farmers Supply.

In 1931, when the twin boys Harold and Albert were five years old, the Rodnunskys moved back to Edmonton locating at 107 Avenue and 95 St.  The twins were enrolled in a Jewish school located at 103 Avenue and 95 St. and they regularly attended Synagogue.

Rabbi Haft’s cousin, Mr. Levine, who lived just down 107 Avenue prepared the twins for their Bar Mitzvah which was held at the Beth Israel on Saturday August 13, 1939.  Harold presented the introductory blessing, then he said the Haftorah, whereupon Albert repeated the same Haftorah.  Albert then completed the last seven prayers.

The Kiddish that followed was held outside in front of the Synagogue with a large table in the form of a “U” shape with the Rabbi and Rebbitzen and a visitor from the Roman Catholic Parish of Legal, Father Tessier (who later became Monsignior Tessier) at the head table with Peter and Mania and the twins.  There were approximately 50 guests at the table.  Kosher delights were prepared by Mania Rodnunsky with the table served by Mania’s sisters and sister-in-laws: Aunt Rose Simons, Aunt Freda Slutsky, Aunt Rae Sorokin, Aunt Marie Hardin, Aunt Rita Hardin and Aunt Fanny Hardin.  The menu included gefilte fish with hard boiled eggs, followed by blintzes, wartuten, sour cream, salad and pickles and buns.  Dessert was kichel, bagel and sponge cake, tea and milk.

Harold and Albert continued their shul observance.  In 1945 Albert enrolled at the University of Toronto and Harold, in 1956 began teaching for the Westlock School Division at Jarvie, Alberta.

Remembering Beth Israel Choirs – (circa. 1960’s to the present)

by Sam Frohlich (2006) – choir photo

As far as Dr. Sam Sheckter remembers Beth Israel congregants participated in cantorial choirs dating back to 1937-38.

Meanwhile, I joined the Eugene Adelstein choir in 1959.  Eugene was a medical student.  Choir members sang with him as choir leader every Friday night at Kabbalat Shabbat services.  His remuneration was $25 each week.  Participants included me, William Newman, Julius Weil, Albert Charnaw, Nate Shore, Nate Siegel, Ralph Rosenberg, Dr. Bernie Adler, Sam Leibovitch, Dave Pollack, Hy Pollack, and Shai Melech.

Cantor Lutman, who served from 1961 to 1963, immediately used the existing choir to enhance the High Holy Day services when he arrived.  The Choir then took a break when Cantor Konigsberg took over from Cantor Lutman.  No one could blend his voice with the new Cantor.  Even so, Cantor Konigsberg was considered a maestro of his profession by the congregation.  When he sang his voice celebrated;  when he implored the Almighty for a good year, you felt the piety; when he told the old Judaic story, you felt the pathos.

Cantorial choirs did not remerge until Ms. Bella Brenman took over a mixed choir for a pre- Slichot production in 1997.  Participants included Dr. Bernie Adler, Esther Baram, Albert Charnaw, Eileen Cooper, Nomy Hammer, Clara Kagan, Paul Kagan, Min Leibo, Eleanor Munan, Pita Pagio, Zelda Raff, Evelyn Raymond, Rose Segal, Rebecca van de Giessen, Julius Weil and David Woolfson.  A few years later, Sam and Margaret Frohlich, Kasia, Sam and Rae Warhaft, Alfred Simons and Gabe Miller joined the choir.  Then Bella moved to Toronto and the choir took another hiatus.

During the 2005 High Holy Day Service at Beth Israel, a spontaneous rendition of the Shofar prayers was initiated by about a dozen congregants.  Previously, Rabbi Eli Lagnado had agreed to serve the congregation again as Cantor for the High Holy Day services and for some events during the year.  There was much jubilation among congregants about his decision.  Rabbi Lagnado trained as a Cantor in Africa and served in Houston, Texas, as a Rabbi / Cantor before coming to Edmonton.  Rabbi Lagnado stayed in Edmonton after completing five years as Head Rabbi and Cantor with the Congregation.  It seems as if he was destined to be the link between the old and the new, rekindling the traditional orthodox religious melodies. More recently, lay people have stepped in and served as choir members assisting Rabbi Lagnado during High Holy Day services in particular.  They include Hal Zalmanowitz, Dr. Sam Marcushamer, Dr. Bernie Adler, Robbie Pokroy, David Marcus, Dr. Jonathan Tankel and Clive Allen.

Rabbi Friedman is now revered for his Torah readings and Shabbat Davening as well as festival and High Holy Day services.  Often the Congregation hears him chime in with delightful harmonies along with Rabbi Lagnado.  He has an ear oriented toward discovering the ‘niggunim’ that would fit as the occasion presents itself.

May we continue to have many occasions for joyous song in our synagogue.  Meanwhile, let us all “in einem, in eiem, trinken a glezale vayn”.

Remembering the Beth Israel Youth Choir (1960-1963)

by Miriam Rabinovitch (2006) –  choir photos

In the years between 1960 & 1963, the Beth Israel Synagogue had a Youth Choir under the direction of Cantor Phil Lutman who came to Edmonton from New York City.  Cantor Lutman was a fairly young man at the time, with a Tenor voice and a young family.   His wife Sarah was a concert pianist who played at Carnegie Hall.  Their daughter Susan, 10 years old, had a beautiful Soprano voice.  Their son Joey, 6 years old, had a baritone voice.

Upon arriving in Edmonton, he started a youth choir whose purpose it was to sing at the Kabbalat Shabbat services every Friday evening.  The children practiced two afternoons a week after Talmud Torah. There were about 12 youth involved including: Miriam Rabinovitch, Myra (Labovitch ) Kacew , Marilyn Palatnick, Coral Bernstein, Rocky Shore and Ron Bercov.

In 1963, Cantor Lutman obtained another job offer and moved away. Prior to leaving, he presented each child with a Jewish Book and a personal gift.

Remembering A Wedding Feast (1964)
By Doreen Jampolsky (2006)

In honour of my mother, Martha Fialkow, my aunt Bessie Hacker Brown and my grandmother, Fanny Hacker and all the women who were there for each other.

The last week of July 1964, a group of mother’s friends joined us to prepare my wedding feast at Congregation Beth Israel on 119 St.  From Monday to Thursday we cooked in one of the hottest Julys imaginable.   We cooked three hundred each of the following delicacies:  knishes (both potato and kasha), stuffed red pepper and green peppers and cabbage rolls, lockshen kugels (with and without apples and raisins, sweet and sour meatballs and appetizers of eggplant caviar, chopped herring, chopped liver and vegetable platters of carrot and celery sticks and radish roses to decorate the coleslaw.  The jars of pickled cucumbers, green tomatoes, pickled beets (all home produced the previous fall) and olives were loosened so that they would be easy to put in bowls Sunday morning.  The Challah buns and rye bread were on order from Sheckter’s bakery.  The wedding fruit cake baked in Lougheed by my friend, Barbara Bratland, in new pans, was also at the bakery.  My friend Bertha was the best decorator of wedding cakes in the city.

At least two sweet goodies were baked each day:  nothing cookies, honey cakes, strudel and fluden.  The sweet table would be laden with the contributions from other friends and family as a tribute to my mother and a chance to show off their culinary talents.  No need for outside supervision of kashrut observance as all the women ran a kosher kitchen and home.

The Sunday preparations began with the pick up of the chickens from Zal’s Kosher butcher shop.  The chickens were readied for roasting, the tables set with the flowers from my friend’s gardens, the prepared food placed on trays for heating – all the last minute work done by Mary (the shul’s onsite caterer) and her crew, a marvelous part of the contribution.

I loved the stories they told of their weddings as they worked companionably through a mountain of ingredients, turning them into mouth-watering food.  We cemented our relationships in aprons and comfortable shoes and no makeup.

Then, my darling Murray turns up late one afternoon to give “his approval” while having a nosh on our hard day’s work.  He walks in rested and energized.  We, on the other hand, were hot and tired ― taking a break with a cup of tea realizing we still had to finish cleaning up the kitchen!  Suffice to say, “his approval” nearly precipitated a divorce before the wedding ever took place!

Meanwhile, all the women after working in the kitchens so hard went to the simcha “fopitzed”, jeweled and made-up.  They gaily enjoyed the benefits of participation.  They gathered together to help on small or large occasions, some happy and some not.  The Synagogue benefited from these “gitte menschen” (wonderful people).

Despite his faux-pas in the kitchen, Murray and I enjoyed a memorable wedding with family and friends.

Remembering the Mr. & Mrs. Club / Vegreville Synagogue /
Edmonton’s Kosher Butchers (1964 to present)

by Dr. Bernie Adler (2006 excerpt)  – adler photo
My wife Miriam and I joined the Beth Israel in 1960.  In 1964, a group of members got together to form the Mr. and Mrs. Club to provide parties around all the major religious holy days.   I served as Secretary and became President in 1972.  We all worked hard and had good attendance at all our functions.  Some of the members of the Synagogue’s Sisterhood also helped in food preparation.  I recall that Mrs. Merle Weinlos prepared Kosher Chinese food for one of our functions.
I came from Vegreville where at one time there was a synagogue in which Miriam and I were married in 1955.  Unfortunately, the various Jewish families from Vegreville, Manville, Ranfuly and Lavoy eventually all moved away and the synagogue was sold in 1976 to the Bank of Commerce.  The money received from the sale was sent to Israel to build a new synagogue.
When Rabbi Postone lived in Edmonton, we had a kosher butcher shop operated by Jack Woodrow, Feivel Zalmanowitz and Norman Zalmanowitz.   Jack would obtain the cows from the feedlot and take them to the slaughter house where Rabbi Postone did the Schehita (ritual kosher slaughtering of the animal including the inspection of the lungs and liver to make certain the meat was kosher).  When Jack Woodrow died, Nate Siegel and Feivel and Norman kept the butcher shop open but they had to bring in the meat from out of town.
After completing a term as President from 1973-74, and Treasurer 1980-1981 with Max Dolinko, I now keep a record of donations made by our members when they are called to the Torah on Shabbat.  I’m called the candy man now because I give out Hershey chocolate kisses on Shabbat to everyone I see.  As the team captain for Thursday morning minyanim, I provide a breakfast for these early morning risers now known as “Breakfast at Bernie’s” after the service.
We left our beloved 119 St. Synagogue because of the movement of our young Jewish families to the west end of Edmonton.  Many of our older members could not follow because of the travel distance from the downtown.  Meanwhile, we are now blessed with our wonderful Rabbi Daniel Friedman and his wife Batya.  They are full of energy and provide a lot of interesting programs for our members.  They are a great asset to the Synagogue and we hope they will be here for many years to come.

Memories of a Young Girl

By Beryl Nahornick (2006)  –balcony photo, nahornick wedding photo

One memory of the old synagogue on

95th street

was a small girl being up in the balcony where all the women sat.  Only those who had seats in the front could look down and see the men daven.  The women were very watchful not to let the children bend over the edge.  On yom tov those seats were usually taken by the wealthy women, so the children played in the yard at the back of the shule.

My most significant memory of the old synagogue on

95th street

is going to shule with my father.  When I would go with him, I would sit with the men on the smooth wooden benches.  I loved the feel of the wood.  You could slide across them easily. That is how I came to read the Hebrew words and follow the prayers.

I remember when the new shule on

119th street

was built.  My father, Ben Goorevitch,a master electrician, was very proud that this large electrical contract was given to him, my brother Morry and their men.  At the time, he managed to give the shule “state of the art” electrical wiring and lighting.  Of course, 20 years later, it all had to be upgraded.
Of course, our daughter was married in this synagogue in 1977.  The whole wedding took place there.  The wedding ceremony in the sanctuary, and the dinner, downstairs in the dining hall. It was a great wedding and we all looked so young.

The Shtabsky family

By Becky Fayerman (2006) – Shtabsky photo

Sam & Joe Shtabsky immigrated to Canada from Russia, escaping a pogrom in their village in 1924. Their lives were very intertwined with the Beth Israel Synagogue from the early 1930s to the time of their demise.

Sam Shtabsky with his wife Sonia and their four children lived on the same block as the Beth Israel Synagogue on

95th Street

. Because of Sam’s very fine voice, he was a member of the men’s choir which enhanced the services. Sam was also called upon many times to make up a minyan. As owner of Sam’s Express & Taxi service, he was asked to deliver matzos for Passover every year to the community. This was a project of the Beth Israel headed by the Shamus, Mr. Nelson.

Sam’s son Aaron vividly remembers going with his Dad on these deliveries. Aaron also fondly remembers Beth Israel’s Tallis & Tefillin group which he and his brothers Eli and Manuel attended “religiously.” In later years, they, along with their sister Becky Fayerman donated the Eitz Chaim memorial plaque honouring their parents which graced the lobby of the shule on 119 St. and is now in the present shule.

Joe Shtabsky resided in Vegreville before arriving in Edmonton. He and his wife Rose were very dedicated to the Beth Israel. Joe was a member of the board for many, many years. As financial secretary, he kept impeccable minutes in beautiful script now being preserved in the JAHSENA Archives. As a bookkeeper, he also kept very close watch on the Synagogue finances. For decades, Joe was in charge of selling High Holiday seats. Even though it was a most challenging task, he never lost his cool. As a result of his continued and devoted service to the Shule, a cornerstone was dedicated in his honour at the synagogue on 119 St.

Sonia and Rose Shtabsky were very active volunteers in the Beth Israel Sisterhood for several decades. Sam died on his 49th birthday in 1953 and Joe died in 1971. The Shtabsky family were but a few of the many volunteers who served the Beth Israel to make it the outstanding congregation it is today.

Happy Centennial Birthday Beth Israel

By Lillian Soroka (2006)

You’re celebrating a birthday Beth Israel
100 years young this year;
We’re filled with jubilation
For a synagogue we hold dear.

It seems like only yesterday
That 100 years have passed;
Since Jewish immigrants had a dream
To make our heritage last.
To uphold all facets of Jewish life they knew,
They formed a Hebrew Association
That embraced every Jew.

To provide a House of Worship
And Simchas to take place,
And create a social setting
Was essential to embrace
The immigrants who sought a better life,
To live with dignity and grace.

From the roots of the Hebrew Association
Beth Israel Synagogue was born;
Central to the Jewish population,
The landscape to adorn.

From humble beginnings
In the City’s East End,
Then locating further West
When that location was the trend.

Now this present location –
A true work of art,
Is dear to every Jew
From deep within our heart.

So live on Beth Israel Synagogue,
And go from strength to strength;
To maintain our precious legacy
And preserve our future children’s home
With blessedness and joy
Unto a great infinity.
Happy Centennial Birthday Beth Israel!

In Praise of Beth Israel Sisterhood
By Lillian Soroka (2006)

Women play a vital role
In our Society,
They help bring vibrance
And a heart
To help humanity.

And Sisterhood
Throughout the years
Has helped in many ways,
To support our Synagogue
And community
To enjoy our better days.

It took a man with vision:
Our revered Abraham Postone,
In 1950 as Spiritual leader
To encourage a Sisterhood
To unfold.

Although relegated mainly
To the kitchen domain,
To cook and bake and serve
At Simchas or at Fund Raisers,
They finally had the nerve
To ask and qualify
For representation on the “Board”.

And today our women are equal partners
With full voting power not ignored.

Sisterhood accomplishments are many,
Through Fundraisers supreme!
They built the Aron Hakodesh
A long sought-after dream.

They helped establish a Sunday School
And youth programs and such,
Providing bursaries and Camps
That help youth keep in touch
With Torah and tradition
That nurture them so much.

That this will help instill in them
The love of our heritage
To keep it strong ― we must!

And as the years move forward
The contributions of Sisterhood increase:
We take on the role of Fundraisers,
Which never seems to cease.
Our all-Occasion Tribute Cards
Help fund our varied needs,
From Memorial Plaques to Siddurim
And the like
To replenish and release.

We raised money through
A Theatre Night,
Flea Markets and Yard Sales too,
To upgrade our Kosher Kitchen
With place settings all brand new.

We’ve provided new refrigerators
And small appliance dandy,
To keep our kitchen in working mode
To make our tasks so handy.

The current Sisterhood in place
Makes baking fun and Art.
To distribute Mishloch Minot
Which brings joy to every heart.

As Sisterhood we know it’s right
To visit fellow Jews
At Lynnwood Extended Care

Canterbury Court

, our “crews”
Bring Chanuka Latke parties
With food, fun and current news.

Now we have gained
More than we give
By our Camaraderie
The friendships that we women formed
Will last an eternity.
So carry on dear Sisterhood
Take on every challenge small or great
And make our world a better place
For generations to emulate.