A Timeline of Events and Remembrances Compiled for the Shaar Shalom's 60th New Year Bulletin
Reflections of the Past
Corner Stone Laid
On 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.
“SHAAR SHALOM CONGREGATION TO HOLD HIGH HOLIDAY SERVICES IN BEAUTIFUL NEW SYNAGOGUE.”
1955 ~ 5716
“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 Sixty years ago, but the culmination of something for which these same members have sacrificed, striven and worked against great odds to achieve. As they stood on the threshold of a New Year, it was with pride coupled with humility that they gave thanks to the Almighty that they had been able to erect a House of Worship to keep alive their Judaism and to be a force for good in this Jewish Community.
Members of Shaar Shalom recall the difficulties they experienced in obtaining the land, the sceptics who had to be convinced that such a building was needed; even their own members at times felt that the sights they had set for themselves were far greater than they could hope to attain – and yet – little by little – month by month they have seen their little congregation grow in size and strength; enthusiasm grow by leaps and bounds; until this day they can truly say “Shehecheyonu vkiymonu vhigiyonu lazman hazeh!”
Shaar Shalom is an egalitarian congregation where both women and men participate fully in the spiritual, ritual and social life of the community. 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.
Ten Years of Firsts
Shaar Shalom Congregation created.
Birth of Women’s League.
Mrs. Dave Devlin (Wineberg) became 1st president of Women’s League
Rabbi David Jacobs became our spiritual leader.
First High Holy Days services took place at Dalhousie University.
First Talmud Torah classes were conducted by Mrs. Zipporah Jacobs, held in recreation room of Mr. & Mrs. L. Stern - 26 students.
Articles of Association (By-Laws) drawn up.
First Hannukah Sale & Tea at home of Mr. & Mrs. Noa Heinish.
Shaar Shalom “Varieties” sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. J. Silverman presented at Queen Elizabeth High School.
Purim Ball sponsored by Men’s Club.
First Bat Mitzvah – Natalie Jacobson – daughter of Mr. & Mrs. David Jacobson.
Men’s Club yachting cruise.
Sod breaking ceremony. Mr. Noa Heinish turned first sod. Participating were Lt. Gov. Alistair Fraser, Premier Henry Hicks and Mayor R. A. Donahoe.
First Bar Mitzvah in congregation Allan Jay, son of Mr. & Mrs. Julius Silverman.
Dedication Services – laying of cornerstone by Mr. Noa Heinish.
Mayor Leonard Kitz present in official robes. Dr. Max Artz, vice chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and Rabbi and Mrs. S. Kessler came to Halifax to be with us on this special day. Three beautiful Mezuzahs, hand- wrought in Israel, affixed to the building in honour of Dr. I. Perlin and Mr. J. Nathanson. All members of Jewish community were invited.
First services conducted in Shaar Shalom Synagogue. Choir in attendance under direction of Mrs. Arnold Feder.
First Tea and Sale held in synagogue auditorium.
First Hannukah dance sponsored by Men’s Club.
First Birthday Dinner in honour of 3rd Birthday of Shaar Shalom.
First Marriage solemnized - Miss Iris Esther Cappell and Lloyd Merrill Newman.
First Men’s Club Breakfast. 25 men in attendance.
Junior Choir organized under the direction of Florie Fineberg.
First New Year’s Dance sponsored by Men’s Club.
First Mother’s Day Luncheon.
First New Year’s Bulletin. Mrs. D. Glass, Editor-in-chief
First confirmations held at Shaar Shalom: Nancy Herschorn and Harriette Pascal.
First Hebrew School High School classes held.
Jewish music on CHNS-FM radio initiated.
15th Annual Conference – Eastern Canadian Branch of National Women’s League, at Shaar Shalom
Mordecai M. Kaplan renowned Rabbi, philosopher and author and Mrs. Kaplan visited our congregation for an inspiring weekend.
First Congregational Passover Seder observed in synagogue.
Past 60 Years of Leadership
M. Schwartz & P. Belitsky
2010-2011 Executive committee on a rotation basis, consisting of Lysa April, Donna Assh, Rosalie Fine, Mark Rosen, and Mitchell Zusman.
2011-2012 Joint Presidency of Rosalie Fine, Mark Rosen and Mitchell Zusman
PERSONAL REFLECTIONS ON PAST LEADERSHIP
Respectfully submitted by Marianne Ferguson
From the very beginning of Shaar Shalom, nearly 60 years ago, leadership has been great. There was a lot of enthusiasm in the congregation and the board, together with various Rabbis, ran the synagogue very well. We had excellent Presidents and although in the last couple of years it has been difficult to find a president, several members of the board have been doing the job together very successfully.
In earlier years we had the Women’s League which took a lot of pressure off the Board of Trustees by doing all of the fund raising, social functions and the weekly Oneg Shabbat and Saturday morning kiddushes. I think they were of great help and instrumental in making the synagogue a success.
Dr. Irving Perlin was taking the place of a Rabbi during the times we were without spiritual leadership and even acted as Cantor when we did have a Rabbi. He was a busy doctor, yet he seldom missed a service. He also delivered most of the babies born to our members. Many of those children are now middle aged. Many other congregants also were very much involved with the running of the services. I will not mention them for fear of leaving someone out.
As I was very much involved myself in many aspects of synagogue life, especially the Chevra Kadisha, I want to say that all the leaders of the synagogue treated me with the utmost respect and valued my opinions and suggestions.
A new generation must take over as time goes by and I feel that things are running smoothly under the present board, as they have for all these many years.
60 YEARS OF LEADERSHIP
Respectfully Submitted by Lloyd Newman
Of course I have known all the Rabbis and Presidents over the last sixty years.
The Shaar was formed by a group of families—their names appear on a bronze plaque in the synagogue—that broke away from the Baron D’Hirsch in the early fifties. I believe the break was as much for sociological reasons as for differences in views on religious practice. A major issue at the time was the hierarchy that existed in the predecessor synagogue, particularly maintaining the leadership in a stagnant manner. Among the religious issues under contention were allowing Alliyot to be auctioned off; not acknowledging the changes necessary to satisfy many younger families, e.g., particularly the women sitting upstairs and men down; and certain prayer practices including Duchaning.
There were immediate differences between the newly created Shaar and the Baron D’Hirsch. There were frequently prayers in English. Microphones were used. The congregation chanted together in an orderly fashion. Girls were trained for Bat Mitzvah and called to the Torah for their maftirs. Young boys were called upon to lead sections of the service. The early Shaar was almost unrecognizable from the Shaar of today. It certainly was not egalitarian in those early years. That came later.
The Rabbis listed have led us from the ethos of the Conservative Movement of the 1950’s, Rabbi Jacobs our founding Rabbi, to one Rabbi urging upon us much more right wing views under which the Congregation bridled. Some Rabbis were successful and some caused significant controversy. Throughout its history the Congregation chose the more liberal views. After a long struggle led by Simon Gaum to make it so, the Shaar became a fully egalitarian congregation in 1953.
The long list of synagogue presidents have all done yeoman service responding to the continuous queries, questions and difficult issues that have developed over the past sixty years. (It is unfortunate that our membership in recent years has been unable to find an individual willing to take on the presidency, although we are grateful that co-leadership has been found.)
Few would recognize our congregation today compared to sixty years ago. In a real way we have gone from strength to strength, both with the religious thrust of our congregation and our financial strength, all now under the wonderfully capable leadership of Ari Isenberg.