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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 Jewish Centre.

10. Parades that we had for every new Torah: donated by the Naibergs, the Winstons, the Selbos and the Kaplans. Every hug, especially with Jack Winston OB”M, is forever seared into my heart.

9. Every single kids’ party for Purim and Chanukah. With a special shout-out to the seven epic years when we held Sukkah Hops. And the annual Picnic in the Park, which really got the FHJC off the ground.

8. When we purchased the first house on the site that became the Centre, and the cigar that I had with Yaakov Kaplan in the back of that house. And the groundbreaking ceremony that was fuelled by Fred Waks and Dr. Jeremy Freedman, which the late Albert Latner was well enough to attend. And the grand opening where we danced over from the location above Starbucks.

7. All the weddings: from the one that we spontaneously made for an El Al airline staffer, to Rifky’s grandfather, Zayde Rube Idels, getting married at the young age of 90. The weddings of people who met at the FHJC. And the people who married Jewish after the Centre helped to redirect their priorities.

6. The special blessing to everyone in the room from from Rebbetzin Esther Jungries. She’d raise her hands over the heads of men, without touching them. (I remember a young Matthew, now Rabbi Meir Goodman, in her glow.) 

5. The first Rosh Hashanah… when we actually had a minyan.

4. Last year’s Yom Kippur-closing Neilah service—which was followed by the most wonderful Havdalah.

3. Being there for people in their time of need. Rushing to a hospital to pray with a family. I was once in the middle of saying the Shema with an entire family as its zayde passed away in front of us.

2. The recent Shabbat in honour of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, in which I told the confused guests before the Torah reading that our custom is to remove our kippahs, then I pulled out 200 tartan-themed ones to wear instead. 

1. When a survivor of Jaslo steps into the FHJC, where they beam upon learning that the legacy of the Polish shul lives on—just as the Jewish people do, too.

Tue, June 18 2024 12 Sivan 5784