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20: Final Essay

11/01/2019 03:00:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

I feel a great appreciation of my time at the Forest Hill Jewish Centre. Yet, when I started writing these 20 reflections, I still wondered if it was a healthy endeavour. 

With so many meaningful and purposeful connections in 20 years, how can I not reflect, and really thank Hashem for the opportunities he gifted Rifky and I.

On the other hand, it’s the kind of thing done by a Rabbi who’s motivated...Read more...

19: Rifky

10/25/2019 03:00:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


Now that I’m on the verge of completing 20 for 20, I can’t believe I’ve reached the 19th edition of this email project.

This exercise has been spiritual therapy for me. As I have written, so I have thought. It’s given me a chance for perspective. 

I think...

18: Job Description

10/08/2019 03:00:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


I wonder: if you asked 100 Rabbis to tell you what their role is, how many different answers would you get?

I also wonder whether the answer gets to change with the passage of time.

Growing up, I was blessed to have a very special Rabbi in life. Rabbi Yaakov Marcus was a student of...Read more...

17: Ante Up

09/27/2019 03:00:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

At many professions, there is a season. For retailing, it’s December. If you’re an accountant, it’s April. And for the Yankees, it’s October.  

The Forest Hill Jewish Centre is no different. After 20 years, I’m always looking forward to Rosh Hashana. 

And in the...

16: Oshawa Roots

09/13/2019 03:00:00 PM


All I really need to know about shul life I learned in Oshawa.

Rifky and I moved there to work as the Rabbi and Rebbitzin while still in our early 20s. Beth Zion was the only operating synagogue in Durham Region—it had absolutely no staff, besides the two of us. 

And yet, so...

15: Recollections

09/06/2019 03:00:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

I’ve been drawn to the concept of the Top 10 List ever since I first watched Late Night with David Letterman, when he was on after Johnny Carson. (No, I don’t know what I was doing up that late, either.)

So, in that spirit, here’s a list of 10 recollections from the Forest Hill...Read more...

14: Hosting

08/16/2019 03:00:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

Of all the roles for a Rabbi and Rebbetzin, none is more ubiquitous than hosting people for meals, specifically on Shabbat and Festivals.

We’ve had guests for almost every dinner and lunch for the past 20 years. When we don’t, our kids often complain that they’re bored.

The guests...

13: Go Local

08/09/2019 03:00:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

Being given the opportunity to run the Forest Hill Jewish Centre meant that there was another kind of commitment for Rifky and I to explore. 

So, the first thing I decided to do was get a haircut on Spadina Road. 

Now, my hair isn’t a big part of my life. The instructions...Read more...

12: Perks

08/02/2019 03:00:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

Spending time with so many amazing Jewish leaders, whether in Toronto or abroad, is one of the great perks of being a Rabbi.

The Forest Hill Jewish Centre has welcomed dozens of guest speakers, ranging from IDF soldiers to an actual Super Bowl champion, while establishing relationships that...Read more...

11: Mistakes

07/19/2019 03:00:00 PM


Having officiated a lot of them in 20 years, I can tell you that weddings are a time of tremendous joy.

And, now and again, they’re a time for a Rabbi to make a mistake.

I once was in traffic for four hours, and arrived super-late in such a schvitzy state that...Read more...

10: Yaakov Kaplan

07/12/2019 03:00:45 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

Every startup Rabbi needs one meshuggana to prod him along.

At the Forest Hill Jewish Centre, we were blessed with the best.

Everyone who knows the FHJC should also know that the Kaplans are our not-so-secret special sauce, which keeps the engine running and...Read more...

9: Dr. Max Glassman

06/19/2019 03:00:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

Dr. Max Glassman, OB”M, was a man who did it all. From playing baseball with the Rockcliffe Flyers, to the Royal Canadian Air Force, to the boardroom: a poor kid from Toronto who made it big.

And so, I can’t write about the history of the Forest Hill Jewish Centre without discussing...Read more...

8: Albert Latner

05/16/2019 03:00:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

You might think that when Rifky and I started out 20 years ago, we’d immediately meet Albert Latner. After all, it was his late wife Temmy’s name that graced the Forest Hill Jewish Centre.

But actually meeting him took longer than anticipated. 

Before we came on the...

7: Ohr Sameyach

05/10/2019 03:00:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

When Rifky and I moved to Toronto in August 2000, we were handed a space above Starbucks, with a name that was already chosen. 

We were supposed to be JLE: Jewish Learning Exchange.

Now, a JLE already exists in London, England. But the name didn't work for us. It didn't seem to fit...Read more...

6: Scary Word - Orthodox

04/12/2019 03:00:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

Look at this, we have a beautiful Centre, which stands for something special. 

But I have a little secret to tell you. We also still have an elephant in the room.

For many years, I hid this secret. You see, I am Orthodox and so are the standards at the Centre. There, I said...Read more...

5: The Vibe

04/05/2019 03:00:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

For a wonderful shul experience, the most important ingredient is the vibe.  

The vibe is the gut feeling each of us have about a person or place. It’s something that’s sensed intuitively—you can't buy it with a fancy Kiddush or clean bathrooms, although...Read more...

4: The Decision

03/29/2019 03:00:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

LeBron James of Akron, Ohio was with the Cleveland Cavaliers until he became a free agent on July 8, 2010. A national TV show called The Decision was where he announced that he was joining the Miami Heat. 

Close to 14 million watched. Americans have a lot of free time on their...Read more...

3: Start Up

03/21/2019 03:00:42 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


Rifky and I moved to Toronto in August 2000. Like any startup, we knew we had to have a Grand Opening to draw attention to the Temmy Latner Forest Hill Jewish Centre.

With nothing else to really work with, we purchased Canada 411, a disk that listed names and addresses in any given postal code. Our first mailing list was made up of the Jewish-sounding names in the area.

We prepared to receive 300...

2: Early Years

03/14/2019 03:00:05 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

Rifky and I moved to Toronto in August 2000. Like any startup, we knew we had to have a Grand Opening to draw attention to the Temmy Latner Forest Hill Jewish Centre.

With nothing else to really work with, we purchased Canada 411, a disk that listed names and addresses in any given postal...Read more...

1: How Did I Get Here?

03/07/2019 03:00:48 PM


Not so long ago, I was newly married and living in New York and whammo, it’s 20 years later and I’m living in Forest Hill, as the Rabbi of not only a beautiful Centre, but wonderful people. 

How did I get here?

At first, Rifky and I went to Oshawa. We assumed the leadership of...Read more...

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784