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Our History

Marching our Torah scrolls home to our new sanctuary - September 2011.

In 1988, a small group of families came together to create a special Jewish community. Their vision was to establish a synagogue that was inclusive, informal, and welcoming, where families could learn and pray together, and Shabbat was at the centre of Jewish life. And so, Kol Ami was born!


The first services were held in members' homes, and later at the Dufferin Clark Community Centre. In 1990, Rabbi Nancy Wechsler joined us as our first rabbi and inspired us with her spiritual leadership and her gift of music. By then we were holding services and religious school within the Leo Baeck Day School, first on Kenton Avenue in North York, and later at Leo Baeck’s new campus on Atkinson Avenue in Thornhill. Cantorial Soloist Dawn Bernstein added her vocal talents to our services from 1994 to 2012, ensuring that our worship and prayers, whether chanted or sung, really made us kol ami – the voice of my people.


Rabbi Daniel Gottlieb served as our rabbi from 1996 to 2011. During his tenure the Kol Ami community grew exponentially, truly becoming a presence in York Region. Throughout this time we pursued our dream of establishing a permanent home for ourselves. Finally, the seeds were planted of what can best be described as a “There’s no place like home” movement: We would share space with the Leo Baeck Day School, creating a hub of Reform Jewish learning, prayer, and living in York Region. We broke ground in 2011 on the renovations that turned 36 Atkinson into our permanent congregational home.


In 2011, Rabbi Micah Streiffer was appointed Kol Ami’s spiritual leader. He brought with him a new sense of excitement and a renewed commitment to music, learning, and inclusive Jewish community. Since his arrival, we have seen a boom in participation and excitement in nearly every area of our congregational life. Partnering with Cantorial Soloist David Bernstein since 2016, our clergy team leads a congregation that stays true to its roots as a haimische chavurah (a warm and inclusive community of friends), but isn’t afraid to innovate or lead.


 

Our Sacred Space

 

"Let them build Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them." (Exodus 25:8)
 

Kol Ami is a Makom Kadosh­ - a Holy Place, built on the passion and commitment of the people who make up our community. We are also a unique and forward-thinking congregation whose creative choices are paving the way for new types of partnerships within in the Jewish community.
 
In 2011, Kol Ami entered into a partnership with the Leo Baeck Day School, Canada’s only Reform Jewish Day School, to share its northern campus at 36 Atkinson Avenue, effectively transforming that building into both a school and a synagogue.
 
At the time, Kol Ami President Kathy Stein had this to say about the arrangement: “We believe that this partnership – between school and synagogue, between Jewish learning and Jewish living – can be a beacon for the community and create opportunities for families to be Jewishly involved in new ways.”

Since then, we have renovated and beautified key sacred spaces within the facility, including refurbishing the sanctuary and social hall/gym, and creating  a new chapel and youth lounge. The result is a beautiful, functional, holy space that both Kol Ami and Leo Baeck can call home.

 

Mon, October 23 2017 3 Cheshvan 5778