About Shaar Shalom

shaar-about

The Shaar

Founded in 1953, Shaar Shalom Congregation serves the needs of Halifax’s Conservative Jewish community.  Through its affiliation with the United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism (USCJ), the Shaar maintains close ties with the Conservative and Masorti movements in Canada, the United States, Israel and around the globe.

Shaar Shalom is an egalitarian congregation where both women and men participate fully in the spiritual, ritual and social life of the community. We warmly welcome people of all ages, socioeconomic statuses, ethnicities, races, gender identities, sexual orientations, and abilities. We are proudly a community comprised of Jews by birth and Jews by choice alike.

To enhance communal connection and support, the congregation offers a variety of activities and organizations: religious services on Friday nights, Saturday mornings and holidays, Jewish education and religious training for young and old alike, which includes a religious school for preschoolers to grade 7, a Chevra Kadisha (Burial Society) and cemetery, a library for community use, kosher kitchens, function rooms, and a Tree of Life.  Close ties to the Atlantic Jewish Council offer access to additional Jewish communal programmes.

Shaar Shalom serves as the focus for important Jewish communal and family life cycle events: weddings, funerals, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Baby Namings, Circumcisions, Conversions.  Religious counselling to congregants can be arranged.

In addition to the Hebrew School, worship services, and Chevra Kadisha and cemetery, the Shaar has many avenues of membership participation and support.

  • Fund-raising activities such as Gala Concerts, Clothing Sales and a Gift Shop.
  • The Congregation supports Mazon Canada and the Metro Food Bank Society.
  • The congregation sends out a weekly update to members, periodic newsletters, and Yahrzeit notices.

Proud member of USCJ

 

Leadership

head shot of Rabbi Weiss. of shaar shalom synagogue

Dr. Raysh Weiss, Rabbi

Rabbi Dr. Raysh Weiss is the spiritual leader of Shaar Shalom Congregation. She hails originally from Chicago (and is a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan), but most recently comes to us from New York City, where she was ordained at the Jewish Theological seminary and served as a rabbinic intern in Brooklyn, Long Island, Tel Aviv, and held High Holiday pulpits at Anshei Chesed in Cape Cod. Rabbi Weiss also founded and helped lead an independent, pluralistic Jewish spiritual community in Minneapolis during her years as a doctoral student in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Minnesota. In 2001, Rabbi Weiss was a Bronfman Youth Fellow in Israel; in 2006-2007, she was a J. William Fulbright research fellow in Ethnomusicology in Berlin; and, throughout her years in rabbinical school, Rabbi Weiss was a Wexner Graduate Fellow and served on the board of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. In 2015, Rabbi Weiss was named one of New York City’s “36 Under 36” by the Jewish Week. Committed to promoting widespread Jewish literacy among diverse audiences, Rabbi Weiss has contributed numerous essays and articles pertaining to Jewish culture, values, and history, including pieces for www.myjewishlearning.com, www.jewschool.com, Tablet Magazine, and Simon Schama's The Story of the Jews (PBS).

Rabbi Weiss brings to her rabbinate her passions for building vibrant, inclusive community, spiritual and intellectual inquiry, social justice activism and artistic expression, including cartooning, film-making and playing jazz and klezmer on the saxophone. She is also the founder and director of YentaNet, a network of matchmakers serving commitment-minded Jews of all backgrounds.

Rabbi Weiss is married to Rabbi Jonah Rank, and they are the proud parents of Ariana Weiss-Rank.

head shot of Jonah RankJonah Rank, Maskil

Rabbi Jonah Rank, a native of New Jersey and then New York, is honored to serve the Shaar Shalom Congregation as its Maskil ("teacher of tradition"). Rabbi Rank holds a B.A. in Music from Columbia University and a B.A. in Jewish Music from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where Rabbi Rank later received his rabbinic ordination alongside his MA in Jewish Thought. While studying at the Seminary, Rabbi Rank served Congregation Beth Israel of Gulfport, Mississippi; Congregation Sons of Israel in Amsterdam, New York; and, as rabbinic intern, the United Synagogue of Hoboken in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The child of a rabbi and a Jewish educator, Rabbi Rank has long been passionate about education. Rabbi Rank previously taught Jewish studies at the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan, and served for three years as a Community Educator to model artistic Jewish communal living at BIMA--the Brandeis Institute for Music and Arts--in Waltham, Massachusetts.

As Maskil, Rabbi Rank leads and coordinates educational programming for the community, with special attention to the youth of the Halifax Joint Hebrew School, university students, and adult learners (including conversion candidates). With Rabbi Rank's Jewish music recognized by The Forward's "Soundtrack of Our Spirit," Rabbi Rank is also excited to share creative and musical prayer and programming with the community.

Rabbi Rank, whose writing has appeared in the academic journals Conservative Judaism and Journal of Synagogue Music, enjoys learning just as much as teaching and is proud to have served as the secretary for Conservative Jewry's two most recent official prayer books: Mahzor Lev Shalem (Rabbinical Assembly: New York, NY; 2010) and Siddur Lev Shalem (Rabbinical Assembly: New York, NY; 2015).

In his spare time, Rabbi Rank enjoys ice cream, comedy and spending time with Rabbi Weiss and their family.

For the latest about Rabbi Rank, check out his blog here.

Staff

Office Administration

Tamara Daiman joined the Shaar Shalom staff as Office Administrator in 2012.  Originally from Russia and later Israel, Tamara attended the Chelyabinsk College of Economics, where she studied finance. Before joining our staff at the Shaar as Office Administrator, Tamara’s work experience includes working as a travel agent and serving as an accountant in Israel. Tamara enjoys regularly interacting with Shaar members and the deep connection she feels to the community. She is excited by the dynamic growth and development of our community.

Board & Committees

The Board

A Board of Directors manages the daily affairs of the Shaar under the guidance of the Articles of Association. The Board meets monthly, and is elected yearly by the Annual General Meeting of the congregation.  Additional general meetings are called when important decisions face the Congregation.

Members of the Board

  • Jennifer O'Connor
  • Jennifer Pink
  • Lysa April
  • Dan MacDonald
  • Shira Collins
  • Bev Hymes
  • Molly Rechnitzer
  • Arik Drucker
  • Matt Robinson
  • Joanna Wexler
  • Linda Law
  • Greg Hirsch
  • Jane Crowell
Executive Committee
  • Jennifer O'Connor
  • Jennifer Pink
  • Matt Robinson
  • Joanna Wexler
  • Linda Law
Budget and Finance Committee
  • Mark Rosen
  • Matt Robinson
Education Committee
  • Jennifer Wolfson
  • Joanna Wexler
Ritual Committee
  • TBA
Membership Committee
House Committee

Doug Raphael

Chevra Kadisha
  • Jon Goldberg
  • Rita Pink

More Information

Cemetery Committee
Tikkum Olam

Dr. Greg Hirsch

Yolana Wassersug, PhD.

Library Committee
  • Peggy Walt
Gift Shop
  • Jo-Anne Nozick
  • Sue David

Our Community

The first Jews arrived in Halifax in 1750, only a year after the city was founded. They were merchants from Newport, Rhode Island and little is known about them or their offspring. The Halifax Jewish community, as we know it today, took form in the 1890s when Jewish immigrants fleeing from the Pograms in Russia settled in the city. In 1895 the first synagogue, an orthodox synagogue, was established in Halifax. As the Halifax Jewish population grew, Jewish religious practice diversified and in 1953 a conservative congregation, the Shaar Shalom Congregation, was established. On October 5, 1954, the Shaar Shalom Congregation broke ground for its synagogue on the corner of Oxford and Pepperell Streets where it continues to serve the needs of Halifax’s Conservative Jewish community today.

In addition to the Shaar Shalom, the Halifax Jewish Community includes:

More information about the Halifax Jewish Community and those across Atlantic Canada can be found on the Atlantic Jewish Council website.