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

rabbi-raysh-rank

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.

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. Tamara lives in Halifax with her husband Vadim and their two daughters, Lily and Nikol.

Board & Committees

The Board

A Board of Trustees 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
  • Seth Bloom
  • Phil Belitsky
  • Louis Wolfson
  • Shira Collins
  • Bev Hymes
  • Molly Rechnitzer
  • Penny Harding
  • Sherri Kasten
  • Dawn Frail
  • Saul Offman
  • Valerie Shapiro
  • Joanna Wexler
Executive Committee

 

  • Jennifer O'Connor
  • Seth Bloom
  • Jennifer Pink
  • Lysa April
  • Dawn Frail
Budget and Finance Committee
  • Mark Rosen
  • Jennifer Pink
  • Tim Margolian
Education Committee

Jennifer Wolfson

Ritual Committee
  • Sherri Kasten
Membership Committee
House Committee

Doug Raphael

Chevra Kadisha
  • Jon Goldberg
  • Rita Pink

More Information

Cemetery Committee
Human Resources Committee
  • Valerie Shapiro
  • Marty Wexler
Tikkum Olam

Dr. Greg Hirsch

Yolana Wassersug, PhD.

Library Committee
  • Howard Heyman, Co-Chair
  • Sharon Waxman, Co-Chair June to November
  • Peggy Walt, Co-Chair December to May

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.

History

“If you will it, it is not a dream.”

This pithy aphorism applied to Shaar Shalom means the realization not only of a dream cherished by a handful of members a few years ago, but the culmination of something for which these same members have sacrificed, striven and worked against great odds to achieve.  As we stand on the threshold of our New Year, it is with pride coupled with humility that we give thanks to the Almighty that we have been able to erect a House of Worship to keep alive our Judaism and to be a force for good in this Jewish Community of ours.

Members of Shaar Shalom recall the difficulties we experienced in obtaining the land, the sceptics who had to be convinced that such a building was needed; even our own members at times felt that the sights we had set for ourselves were far greater than we could hope to attain – and yet – little by little – month by month we have seen our little congregation grow in size and strength; enthusiasm grow by leaps and bounds; until today we can truly say “Shehecheyonu vkiymonu vhigiyonu lazman hazeh!”

- September 1955 NY Bulletin, Rosh Hashana 5716

2004

A communal Bat Mitzvah for women of the synagogue who did not have one when they were growing up. Each woman did a portion of a Shabbat Service from Shacharit to Musaf Service. The ceremony was an inspiration for the rest of the Congregation.  This occasion launched our Torah repair appeal.

2003

The Shaar Shalom celebrated its golden anniversary filled with a year of celebrations.  

October 31, 1955

A Corner Stone was laid by the Shaar Shalom President, Mr. Noa Heinish after Mr. Max Pascal had filled the time-capsule.  Inside  the time-capsule was a brochure printed just after the getting of the land, the first bulletin announcing services in the synagogue, the names of the 43 children in the first Hebrew class held, the addresses being given on that day, two coins of 1955 and a bag of Holy Earth from Mount Sinai brought over for that purpose.

"It is a day that the Lord Hath made." 
 - Rabbi David Jacobs on the opening of Shaar Shalom Synagogue.

Tuesday, October 5, 1954

the-shaar-shalom-groundbreaking-ceremonyA Groundbreaking Ceremony was held.  The ceremony was carried out by Shaar Shalom president, Noa Heinish and Shaar Shalom Congregation’s first Rabbi, Rabbi David Jacobs.

Also taking part are Max Pascal and David Devlin to the right of Mr. Heinish.

1954

lot-oxford-pepperell-halifax-1954The lot on the corner of Oxford St. and Pepperell St., Halifax, 1954

November 1953

A vision was created when in November 1953 a Building Fund Campaign is launched. The new congregation was to have a new home.  The Founding members of Shaar Shalom congregation worked hard and tirelessly to raise the needed funds to build their new synagogue.   

June, 1953

At a General Meeting, the new congregation was named “Shaar Shalom Congregation”. 

Of the original 105 families who were the Founding Members of Shaar Shalom Congregation we still have 10 of them as members today. Many of the children of the Founding Members are members of Shaar Shalom today with children of their own.

It is a large family indeed. 55 years of 3 generations having become members of Shaar Shalom Congregation with a 4th generation on its doorstep.

Thursday, May 14, 1953

A meeting was called, 96 people assembled to determine the necessity of forming a Conservative congregation.