Synagogue still in search of new home


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Councillor James Pasternak believes city property ideal for a worship space.

Last summer, the Shomer Israel congregation was asked to vacate the portable classroom they had been using as a synagogue on the Rockford School property for more than three decades. The congregation is still in search of a home, but several suggestions have been floated, including the establishment of a tennis clubhouse or community centre at Rockford Park, which could be used for services.

Shomer Israel congregation vice-president George Adler said he is still appalled at how unceremoniously the group was told by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) to pack up and leave the small classroom where they held Shabbat services on Fridays and Saturdays.

“It was really not causing any disruptions or any problems,” said Adler. The group’s Torah scrolls and prayer groups’ materials are now in storage.

Though he laments not being more aggressive, Adler said the TDSB was fairly unresponsive. “We couldn’t even get a meeting.”

Members of the congregation had to get through the High Holidays of the fall and winter without a place of worship within walking distance, which Adler said is essential, not only because of the aging population of the congregation. “A lot of people don’t drive on a Saturday,” said Adler.

Coun. James Pasternak is still actively searching for solutions, his preferred solution being the establishment of a community centre or tennis clubhouse at Rockford Park, just west of the Rockford School, which could serve as space for the group.

“We are hopeful that we might be able to use that facility for services on Friday nights and Saturday nights,” said Pasternak. He’s eager to see the congregation find a new home. “It’s been very hard for them.”

Adler said he and his group have become discouraged and he is not positive about an alternate arrangement being achieved. “I’ve become rather dejected regarding the possibility of that being resurrected.”

Pasternak is more optimistic that the community centre idea will pan out. “These kinds of ideas don’t happen overnight,” he said.

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