What we believe

Dedication of our Beth Torah’s new Sanctuary and Building

Rabbi Yossi Sapirman, September 2009.

“As we complete the dream of our founders and our congregation, we are all in awe of what our collective determination has accomplished.

It was unimaginable to our founders, Holocaust survivors and first-generation Canadians, that their vision of a Shul built for families in the Dufferin and Lawrence area would reach such extraordinary fulfillment. Not because they lacked imagination or determination, but rather because they were focused on the task at hand- that of building a synagogue that was warm and welcoming to the entire community. When they were unable to complete the entirety of their plans they simply put it aside so that they could ensure that their primary purpose was a success.

Indeed Beth Torah became the “little Shul that could” and after many years of community building, and many Simchas and fond memories, they were ready to look once again at their dream.

Robert Louis Stevenson famously wrote, “everyone who got where he is has had to begin where he was”. As we dedicate our exquisite new building at Beth Torah, we recognize that where we are and where we ‘was’ are equal ends of a remarkable story.

We are grateful to the past presidents of our congregation who were instrumental in ensuring that this project indeed went forward in a responsible way and at the appropriate time. Of course without the commitment of our new members and the dedication of our founders and older member families, this dream would never have happened.

I am honoured to be the Rabbi of such an extraordinary congregation encompassing men and women of vision, action, and determination; we will always know that our future is housed in an exquisite place built by a beautiful community.

Mizmor Shir Chanukat Habayit, let us sing the praises of those who dedicate a new house of worship.”

Welcome to our Family Shul!

Beth Torah Congregation serves the spiritual, communal, and educational needs of more than 500 families with warmth and vibrancy. Existing at the nexus of tradition and modernity, Beth Torah offers the wisdom of the ages gleaned from the Torah while speaking to the modern concerns of its congregants with relevance and meaning.

For almost 55 years, Beth Torah has played a central role in the lives of its congregants and the community, promoting Jewish values through its services; unique educational programs for young children, B’nai Mitzvah, and adults; lifecycle celebrations; and community events.

Rabbi Yossi Sapirman, building on the tradition of its founding families, leads the congregation with vision, passion and optimism, galvanizing the congregants to an inspired practice of their Jewish identity. Under Rabbi Yossi’s dynamic and compassionate leadership, members are encouraged to look both inward toward constructing a personal relationship with their heritage and outward toward their community and world with an emphasis on tikkun olam.

Beth Torah is a hub of progressive Judaism that embraces the Jewish tradition as one that is relevant, timely, and meaningful. Rabbi Yossi calls this philosophy “Now Judaism,” which empowers individuals to embrace the Jewish narrative and experience by applying traditional Jewish values to their everyday lives and decisions. It’s about engaging tradition and history while embracing modernity and the future. It’s about seeking transformation by looking toward the past with new, modern eyes.

At Beth Torah, Jewish identity and practice is a beautiful hybrid of Judaism’s traditional wisdom with modernity’s progressive values.

The pillars upon which Beth Torah stands are…

Inspiration

Beth Torah inspires connection, meaning, identity, and action. It inspires a greater connection to one’s Jewish identity with authentic meaning and timely relevance. It inspires action to make a difference in one’s community and the world within the context of ancient Jewish values.

Interconnection

Beth Torah engenders interconnection among its members by celebrating in their successes and sharing in the pain of their sorrows. We are more than a congregation of members. We are a community of friends.

Inclusion

Beth Torah celebrates inclusion. Everyone is welcome irrespective of race, national origin, sexual orientation, or level of ability.
Read Here about BTC’s receiving an inclusion award for building a wheelchair accessible bimah to include those with exceptional needs in our services.

Our Humble but Proud Roots

Early 60’s

  • Founding families of Beth Torah, once congregants of Rabbi Schoichet’s shteibl on Carousel Court, decide to establish their own synagogue with a Conservative service.
  • The first High holiday service is held in an industrial building owned by Joe Tenenbaum of Runnymede Steel. 700 people attend.
  • A decision was made to buy a piece of land upon which to build a synagogue. The new congregation is named “Beth Torah.”
  • Jack Hauer, a chartered accountant, and Angie Del Zotto, a real estate developer, meet with Max Tenenbaum of York Steel, who owned a piece of land at 47 Glenbrook Ave. A deal was made to purchase 3.5 acres for $85,000. Jack handed over a deposit of $10,000 that morning with another $30,000 that followed several months later. Ten founding families, young newlyweds, each signed a $1000 guarantee to the bank to make up the down payment.
  • Benjamin Hauer becomes Beth Torah’s first rabbi.
  • A portable is purchased for $500 from the Catholic Diocese of Mississauga to hold Shabbat and holiday services. Yearly dues for families are $300.

1963:A mortgage for $150,000 is arranged with the Bank of Montreal to construct the building. 21 families sign personal guarantees. Construction of Beth Torah begins.

1964:The building is completed. Family dues increase to $400 with an additional $100 levied for a building fund.

1965:Rabbi Michael Celniker becomes the Rabbi.

1969:Beth Torah’s Hebrew School is established under the leadership of Rabbi Moishe Baker (Bakerspiegel). Classes are held on Sundays and twice a week after school. Rabbi Baker teachers Bar and Bat Mitzvah lessons and introduces the Aleph Bet and Torah Tots programs.

1970:Rabbi Solomon Domb becomes the Rabbi and Cantor.

1975:Cantor Moishe Frank joins as assistant cantor. Eager to get a minyan, he grabs people off the street on their way to work.

1982-1986:Rabbi Dr. Stuart Rosenberg assumes the position of Rabbi.

1983:Cantor Samuel Frankel z”l serves as Cantor, teaches Bar and Bat Mitzvah lessons and intermediate Hebrew, and leads a small choir. Rabbi Wolf Kelman leads the High Holiday services.

1991:Rabbi Charles Freundlich assumes the position of rabbi.

1998:Rabbi Yossi Sapirman joins Beth Torah, the youngest in Beth Torah’s history.

1999:Cantor David Young joins Beth Torah, leading the adult and children’s choirs.

2005:Completing the Dream campaign is launched, co-chaired by David Glick and Howard Wolkin.

2006:Phase 1 of the campaign is completed and celebrated at an evening with singer/songwriter Jann Arden. The campaign surpasses its goal of $3.5 million, reaching $4 million.

2009:The campaign raises $6 million and realizes its vision with the building of a new sanctuary and renovation of the social hall. 100 new families join the congregation.

2010:Our renovation is completed by Dalton Engineering and Construction Ltd.and Cindy Rendely Architecture. Read more here!

2013:Beth Torah celebrates its 50 year anniversary with a campaign chaired by Ellen Scheinberg.

2015:Beth Torah partners with JWRP (Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project) and sends its first women’s group to Israel to be inspired by Judaism and empowered as Jewish leaders.
First year of “The Rosh Is On” High Holiday programming, a new BTC initiative to make modern services accessible and compelling.

2016:Cantor Ben Silverberg becomes a welcome addition to our clergy.