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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 much was accomplished there.

We ran a three day a week Hebrew school. We had a Minyan for Shabbos. We’d hustle the numbers needed for a Yahrtzeit or a Shiva.

Everyone in Oshawa knew everyone else’s name. A simcha in the shul was everyone’s simcha. A sad occasion was felt by all of us.

When I arrived there from Yeshiva, I thought I knew it all. But it was only when I left Oshawa that I realized it taught me all. 

The feeling is shared in many small town congregations—everyone has to chip in for things to happen. And they do. 

I felt that if we could bring some of that special sauce to the big city, at the Forest Hill Jewish Centre, that we’d be doing something right.

The distance between Beth Zion and the FHJC doesn’t feel that far today. We also have the Landons and the Selbos, who were with me in the ’shwa. And I’m blessed that Mimi, our eldest daughter, was born there.

So, thanks to the troops from Oshawa, Whitby, Bowmanville, Coburg, etc. The places where I learned how a community gets built.

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784