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President's Message

Elliot Miller

RELAX, this article is not about membership dues. Well, to be honest, it is somewhat about membership dues, but not about Kol Ami membership dues. Or Costco membership dues. Or gym membership dues. But I do promise not to use the words “membership dues” again in this article.


Why not?


Because Kol Ami is not a major retailer or an athletic facility. It is a community, supporting its members and supported by its members. Kol Ami provides us with what we want and need (e.g. religious events, learning, social events, holiday observance, music) and we sustain Kol Ami.


How do we do that? Through our voluntary contributions, commonly referred to as VCS (Voluntary Community Support). It costs a lot of money to run a congregation (more about that in future correspondence) and most of that has to come from members.


Kol Ami switched from membership dues (oops, I said it) to VCS last year and I am pleased to announce that it was a good start (more about that next time). But it’s a long road to full financial sustainability and we’ll be counting on you to do your part in the months ahead. We’ll provide lots of information, both for those of you who went through it last year, and those learning about it for the first time. And we’ll provide plenty of opportunities for you to ask questions about VCS and how important it is for you and for Kol Ami.


Since you’ve read this far, and I still have room on my page, here are a few important and completely truthful notifications:


  • In recognition of her many years of tireless work on important social action issues, the Board of Directors has elected to rename the Social Action Fund as the Marleine Kay-Levin Social Action Fund. Marleine, who passed away recently, was the long-time Chair of the Social Action Committee.
  • Purim is coming! Our Purim spiel and carnival is scheduled for Wednesday March 20. This year’s play is called Shushan Rhapsody, based on the music of Queen. If you’re not afraid of acting like a fool, let Michael know at
  • Talking about acting like a fool, we will soon be accepting nominations for the 2019-20 Board of Directors. Let me know if you are interested in running for a spot on the board.


L’shalom, Elliot


A message from Neshama School Of Kol Ami

Cally Rootenberg

January School Highlights

Looking at the Exodus from Egypt, our students took an interesting approach to telling/retelling and interpreting the story in their own lens. When Passover rolls around (no panicking, it's still a ways away!) our teachers and students will focus on the traditions of the seder and the customs of the holiday. Each grade class took part in bringing a piece of the story to life and at the end of the day participated in a museum walk featuring our student's fantastic contributions. We are absolutely blown away by the creativity of our students and staff!

Want to see pictures?  Follow us @Neshamah on our Facebook page.

School Reimagining Town Hall Meeting

Thank you to parents who came to the town hall meeting on January 20th, your voices are crucial in deciding the educational philosophy moving forward for next year’s school model. We appreciate your dedication to our community and to your children’s Jewish education!

Check out some of our students reflective storyboards from our December 16th session. These will be submitted to the task force as student’s perspective on their learning at our school, as their voices are just as important as ours!

NSKA Welcomes Michael Assistant Director of URJ Camp George

On January 27th our school welcomed Michael, the new assistant director of URJ Camp George. He talked to our students about the awesomeness of camp. For more information about camp, check out:

Upcoming Dates

February 3rd Neshamah Next- Our school welcomes Josh Nezon Regional Director of NFTY-NEL who will be meeting with the teens to talk about Jewish leadership.

February 10th Join us in the cafeteria at 12pm for Tefillah with Rabbi Micah Streiffer.

February 22nd Grade 3 and 4 Rock Shabbat Presentation @Kol Ami, 36 Atkinson Ave.

February 23rd (Saturday) Grade 7 students will participate in a study session and attend a classmate's Bar Mitzvah, 9:00am - 12:30pm at Kol Ami (36 Atkinson Ave.) This will replace the Sunday program on February 24th at Lebovic campus.

Up Next We Explore

Hiddur Mitzvah and Shabbat!


A Message from Kol Ami's Shabbat School

Judy Silver

I venture to say that what we teach at Kol Ami school is typical of most of the schools in the GTA: Hebrew, Torah, Life Cycle events, holidays, the value of Tikun Olam and prayer are part of Jewish curricula across the city. However, what is not typical is how we teach these lessons!

Every Saturday, I walk around the school and visit each class, talk to the students, ask questions and see what they are up to. This past Shabbat was no different. Here are just some of the things I witnessed this past Shabbat, which happened to be Shabbat Shira (Shabbat of Song), celebrating our freedom and the week of T’u B’shvat (The New Year of the trees).

Our Gan students had completed their Hebrew Through Movement session, read T’u B’shvat stories with their reading buddies from Grade 7 and were conducting taste tests of various dried fruits from Israel.

In Grade 1-2, the students were putting away their Hebrew materials, and preparing their own ceramic pots with designs, getting ready to plant parsley seeds to take home and watch grow just in time to put on the Seder plates on Pesach.

The Grade 3-4 students were busy creating mini-Torahs and tallitot for their “babies” (stuffed bears) for their B’nei Mitzvah unit as they learn about the Jewish life cycle. They had just finished marking Shabbat at their Shabbat Table and were preparing their T’u B’shvat seder learn about and taste the Sheva Minim**.

In Grade 5-6 the students conducted their own T’u B’shvat Seder and were now in the middle of making intricate and colourful T’u B’shvat pictures to bring home.

One peek in the door of our Grade 7 class showed the students busy sorting and bagging all of the donated items for their Blessing Bags mitzvah project. The finished bags were being collected together to redistribute to our families at SFT so that our school community could engage in the mitzvah of giving to those in need.

Our Madrichim were already busy in each of the classes, taking pictures, working with the students and assisting our teachers after an hour of learning about Jewish ethics and modern issues.

We finished the morning at SFT with a special D’var Torah from Rabbi Streiffer. With the Torah opened wide for all of us to see the uniquely presented weekly portion of Beshalach, Rabbi Streiffer chanted the portion while the families lifted their arms and recreated the parting of the sea. It was a lovely way to mark Shabbat Shira.

I welcome all our parents to join me on a Saturday morning and take a peek into what happens each week and see that each week brings a special celebration, unique experiences and anything but typical learning.

**Traditionally, we celebrate T’u B’shvat by eating The Sheva Minim, or, Seven Species: fruits and grains that are native to the land of Israel: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. Try it at home!



A Message from Kol Ami Shabbat School

Judy Silver

Mitzvot come alive in Grade 7 @ Kol Ami

It has been a very busy first semester in Grade 7 at the Saturday school. We have done several mitzvah related activities in preparation for our upcoming B’nei Mitzvot. Some have been personal, some in our Kol Ami community, and some beyond. 

On a personal scale, we created our own Tallit, fulfilling one of the core Mitzvot from the Torah.

In the Kol Ami community, we ran two different collection drives to help those who were less fortunate: Chai Lifeline Toy Collection and Blessing Bags.

With Chai Lifeline, we collect Chanukah toys for their annual drive which are distributed to children and families affected by serious illnesses.

Thank you to everyone who contributed toys! The collection box was so overflowing with donations that we had to open a second box!

We also continue to collect toiletries, winter essentials, and other small items to make into blessing bags, which we hope to give back to members of the Kol Ami community to distribute to the homeless in our community.

WE ARE STILL COLLECTING ITEMS FOR OUR BLESSING BAGS, TO HELP THE HOMELESS THROUGH THE COLD CANADIAN WINTER. Please deposit items into the collection box at the Kol Ami office. You can also refer to the Blessing Bags list.!! to see what we are looking to include in each bag. Thanks!

Our last week at Hebrew school will be spent volunteering with Out of the Cold, where we will be serving the Kol Ami sponsored dinner to the homeless, who sleep over at our sister synagogue, Temple Har Zion.

In the new year, we aim to continue our Mitzvah projects and continue to do the important work of Tikkun Olam. -- Aiden Orzech

A HUGE thanks to all our teachers who helped us inform all the families about the unforeseen closure of school on Dec. 15!

Dates to Remember:

School resumes on Wed. Jan. 9- Hebrew School, Saturday Jan 12- Religious School

Judy Silver


Neshamah School of Kol Ami

Cally Rootenberg

Neshamah School of Kol Ami

December Highlights:

Chanukah School Wide Program:

Our school wide Chanukah program was a blast! With activities like “Light the Night”, “Maccabee Power!” And “Re-create the Story”, our students learned about different ways Jews use light and wrapped beeswax shamash candles. They created a four part model using loose parts to show the miracle of the Jewish army prevailing over the large Greek army and designed Maccabee shields, connecting to the Jewish power phrase Mi Kamocha Ba’lim Ado-nai (who is like you oh G-d).

A Coat of Many Colours and Many Traditions

Celebrating and understanding diversity is a theme we are exploring this year at school. Reflecting on Joseph and the 12 tribes of Israel, our grade 4-7 students learned about the diverse cultural traditions of Jews from around the world.

Guest Speaker: Canvas Arts Action

Our students and school community welcomed guest speaker, Jessie from Canvas Arts Action, who led workshops for our senior grades on gender diversity and inclusivity through a Jewish lens.

NSKA Storyboards:

Chronicling the first half of our time at Neshamah School of Kol Ami, our students used pictures and critical thinking prompts to create a storyboard reflecting on activities they experienced at our school.

This activity is deeply rooted in our school values…..

הִתְבַּטְּאוּת (Hit-bat-oot) expression, we want our students to know that what they have to say is important to us and we are listening. הִתְעַסְּקוּת (Hit-as-koot) engagement, their storyboards will help us plan with their learning in mind. שַׁיָּכוּת (Sha-ya-chut) belonging and שְׁלֵמוּת (Sh’lay-moot) well being. Our teachers want to know what makes our students excited to come to school on Sundays, and this activity is all about learning how we can do more of the things that tap into that excitement.

It is fitting that our learning theme this past week was “lomed m’kol adam”, learning from and listening to all people!

Upcoming dates:

  • Classes resume Sunday on January 13th 2019
  • Our NEXT classes resume on February 3rd

Thank you to Rabbi Streiffer for leading an engaging parent talk on December 9th at the Lebovic campus. Thank you to Adam Fisher and Dana Glickman for helping to organize the event!

And thank you to our school families who donated to the Chai Lifeline Chanukah Toy drive!

Want more updates? Follow us @kolami on our Facebook page.

Have a happy and healthy winter break!

Cally Rootenberg


President's Message

Elliot Miller

I’m sure you’ve all been bombarded with “Change is Good” messages, imploring you to go “outside your comfort zone” and leave your “safety net”. But we all know that change isn’t easy, that we like things the way they’ve always been, and want them to stay that way.


But sometimes circumstances present themselves that make it impossible to do things the same. One such example was a few weeks back, when smoke from an HVAC failure on Friday afternoon caused a smoke-filled evacuation of the Kol Ami Atkinson building


With no way of knowing whether the building would be safe or heated on Saturday, we made the quick decision to move Torah Study and Shabbat services to another location. Fortunately, Dana Glickman had a contact who was able to secure two rooms in the Kimel Education Building of the Lebovic Campus (yes, the same building where we have our Sunday Religious School). It took a bit of juggling, and we had to cancel Saturday Religious school classes, but we otherwise had an enjoyable experience that morning.


I’m now going to draw an analogy to this year’s combination of the Neshamah and Kol Ami congregations. Over 100 families have had to leave their comfort zones and join a congregation with a new name, new location (except the Sunday school), new Rabbi and new fellow congregants.


We’ve been pleased to see an increasing number of new faces at events we’ve held since High Holy Days. We know it’s not easy going to services and events where you might initially only know two or three other people. But we’ve all had to leave our comfort zone at some point, otherwise we’d all still be living with our parents and none of us would have ever experienced the community that is synagogue membership.


So, drop that safety net, embrace change, and join us for one of our many fun, or serious, or meaningful events or services. Many of them are listed in this version of the Voice.


Shana Tovah - Happy Secular New Year!




Neshamah School of Kol Ami

Cally Rootenberg

November Highlights

K-1 Created Plasticine emoji’s to help tell the story of Jacob and Esau.

2 Decorated signs of G-d glasses, looking for kindness and G-d wherever we go!

3 Reflected on the Tower of Babel and what people are obsessed with.

4 Designed the interior of a room to be the most hospitable like Abraham and Sarah.

5 Illustrated a modern-day comic of Rebecca at the well

6 Presented at Rock Shabbat about dreams and dreaming, with inspiration from our         forefather Jacob, Herzl, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and more. (Also in grade 5)

7 Welcomed the grade 2’s in to their classroom to learn about Jewish value of hospitality, hachnasat orchim.

NEXT –Discussed the existence of G-d in a two part series with Rabbi Micah Streiffer

Brit Stars

In Talk and Tefillah this past month we reflected together about our forefather and mother Abraham and Sarah, the covenant they made with G-d and the blessings G-d promised them. We created brit stars filled with what our students hope to be blessed with and what they could do to show G-d they want to be a part of the covenant.

Upcoming Dates

December 7th Night of 1000 Candles 6:30pm @Kol Ami (36 Atkinson Ave)

December 9th Discussion with Rabbi Streiffer 9:30- 10:30 @Lebovic Campus  Raising Jewish Kids in a Multicultural Society

December 16th Neshamah NEXT for Teens


Up Next We Explore

Jacob and Esau/ Joseph/Chanukah!

Want to see more pictures? Follow us @Neshamah on our Facebook page.

A message from the Grade 7's

Judy Silver

Two Great Ways to Give!!


Our Grade 7 class is sponsoring two different mitzvah projects for December and beyond!


Chai LifelineToy Drive: There are several ways to be a Chanukah Hero!


  • Please bring in unwrapped new toys or gift cards and drop them off in the huge donation box located in the Kol Ami office from Monday, Nov 19 to Friday, December 21!
  • Send toys straight to Chai Lifeline with the TOYS R US Wishlist: Go online and donate to organization #10577229. Donations over 25.00 will receive a tax receipt (remember to fill in your name and mailing address in the comments section)
  • You can “adopt” a family and make their Chanukah really special by fulfilling their wish list. Call 647 430 5933 ex. 1803


Blessing Bags:


Kol Ami’s Grade 7 class will be assembling Blessing Bags, 1-gallon Ziploc bags filled with different essentials that they will then distribute to those in need. The class needs your help in gathering the supplies needed to stock these blessing bags. Below is a list of the types of NEW and UNOPENED supplies they are looking for.


Please drop off your items in the Kol Ami office or to Judy during school hours. The class will take the donation and assemble them into Blessing Bags. These will be redistributed to members of our Kol Ami community who will commit to distributing them whenever the chance arises!


The Grade 7 class really appreciates your support and donations to both of these worthy endeavors!




President's Message

Elliot Miller

If I told you that very little of Kol Ami’s activity takes place during the weekend, you might laugh. “Services and Religious School are on the weekend, what other activity is there?” you might ask.


I’m glad you asked.


Most of what makes Kol Ami “tick” happens outside of the weekend. Rabbi Streiffer and Office Manager Joanne Shinwell have full Monday to Friday schedules and commitments. Your Board and Executive meet during the week and on evenings. And all of the following volunteer committees carry out their important work during the week, via e-mail, phone calls and the occasional meeting. Browse the list. I’m sure you’ll find something that interests you and that you could fit into your busy schedule. And I’ll bet they won’t say No if your offer to join!


  • Ritual/Worship -. Takes care of the honours list on Shabbat mornings. If the Rabbi is to be absent on a Shabbat, assists in scheduling lay leaders for services and Torah study.
  • Chesed - provides moral support for congregants who are ill and during times of bereavement. Organizes shiva services
  • Adult Social - organizes regular events to encourage social interaction among members.
  • Adult Education - develops and administers the adult education programs in cooperation with the clergy. Sources lecturers and teachers from within and outside the community
  • Social Action – offers programs to inform and educate the congregation on social and public affairs issues that are of concern to the community. May include interfaith dialogue
  • Membership - recruits, integrates, and retains members. Works with other committees to make connections between members and create opportunities for involvement.
  • Communications (internal) - oversees the editing and publication of the temple newsletter or bulletin. Ensures timely and ongoing open communications to members.
  • Communications (external) – uses marketing and public relations activities to publicize synagogue events within and outside the congregation
  • Music - works with the cantorial soloist and choir to assist with the musical content of synagogue programs. May assist with sound equipment and related technology
  • Philanthropy Council – engages Sustainers and promotes multi-year fundraising commitments.
  • Cemetery - oversees the administration of the temple’s cemetery plots. Recommends policy to the board. Acquires plots as necessary
  • Outreach/Interfaith - welcomes non-Jewish partners of members and interfaith households; plans programs to educate and support outreach issues for interfaith couples, Jews-by-choice and their families, and parents of children who have intermarried

Please contact Joanne (905-709-2620, or me (416-779-0792, for more information on joining a committee.

Elliot Miller



Elaine Page

Below is the speech Elaine Page gave on Saturday, November 1st at our Solidarity Shabbat

Shabbat Shalom – I would like to start off by welcoming all of you and thank you for #showingupforshabbat. To those of you from the Noor Islamic Cultural Center who have come today in a show of friendship, support and solidarity against hate. Thank you – your presence honours us. We have received beautiful and heartfelt messages of condolences, expressions of shared outrage, sadness from the Noor Centre as well as several other Muslim groups and we are so very grateful.

As you all know last Shabbat around this time of day- Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon; Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal. Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Jerry Rabinowitz, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax, Irving Younger, and Rose Mallinger were all doing exactly what you are doing right now. Attending a Shabbat service, to gather, to study to pray and to be together in sacred community. Their lives were snuffed out in an instant. What killed them was not a singular crazy man that had far to easy access to assault weapons, rather what killed them is the insidious ramping up of hatred spear headed by the far-right wing.

We as Jews have lived this story before. It is after all Holocaust Education Week. Closer to home and in more recent times we have lived it in a mosque in Quebec. We have lived it in a church in Texas and only a few days before the Pittsburgh massacre in Jeffersontown Kentucky an armed man tried to storm the First Baptist Church only to be thwarted by church security. Instead he went to the local supermarket and shot two African American patrons. Their crime was having the wrong skin colour.

  1. in all its strains is a disease and it is spreading. We in North America are no longer insulated or immune from the disease. It is here at our door and here in the house of god, and it has shaken us to our core.

Like you, I am horrified, heartbroken, angry and I am not ashamed to admit I am scared. In fact I have been scared for a while now. So much so that I have found myself hiding my Star of David necklace while in public places. I tuck it in underneath my shirt when I am on the subway platform or on a crowded street. I know that I am not the only in this room that feels that way. My star, like your mezuzah, your chai, your hamsha are all identifying symbols of your faith. It doesn’t feel safe to be openly Jewish anymore.


Many of us attended at the vigil on Monday night. Thousands of Jews and allies gathered to honour the dead, to publicly mourn and to stand in solidarity with Pittsburgh. It took courage to go. The thought that crossed my mind while I was there and I am certain crossed the minds of everyone in attendance, was how safe is it to be here? We were like fish in a barrel. One crazed lunatic with a gun could easily kill many of us before being stopped. We all felt vulnerable yet we made the decision to come in the face of the danger. We showed up. We all understood a singular core value. Hate cannot prevail.

  1. say in earnest that I don’t understand blind hate. Yes of course you can give me explanations about how hate manifests itself, how propaganda and social media is its fuel. You can tell me all of that and I am certain that I would understand it as much as I understand calculus. Only calculous is provable and rational, hate isn’t.

I look to this community, my community. The Kol Ami community is predicated on the principle of Tikkun Olam – the Healing of the World and loving Acts of Kindness- this is who we are.

We are a community that gathers on Saturday mornings, feeding each other breakfast and studying together. And when a regular doesn’t show up we worry and reach out.

We are a community that sings together, prays for a better world together.

We celebrate when one of our children becomes a Rabbi, or a cantorial soloist, or has an extraordinarily high bowling score

We dance at each others simchas, and we support each other through tragedy.

We are writers – we are readers.

We are volunteers. We show up.

We gather at the home of a dying woman and watch on facetime as her and her husband renew their wedding vows from her hospital bed just days before she passes. And In their home we celebrate them even if they can’t physically be there

We arrange a meal train for the family that lasts for months. Meals lovingly prepared and served to a family in a desperate and tragic situation.

The Chavaruh has opened their homes on the last Sunday night of every month for the past eighteen years to share a meal and learn from each other.

We are bridge builders.

We annually open our doors and our minds to our neighbours, to learn about their religion, their practices, and to create understanding.

We host the first openly gay orthodox rabbi for a scholarly weekend.

We celebrate the extraordinary musicianship of our members at our annual coffeehouse.

We enter into a dialogue to discern how we can make our community more inclusive for our interfaith families.

We go to nursing homes, and to veterans wings and we entertain them with song and schtick.

We weekly acknowledge and embrace our Indigenous friends

We open our doors and our hearts to our Muslim and Christian friends and stand with them when hate touches their community.

We are lifelong friends.

We play baseball.

We participate in the Out of the Cold program.

We raise money for refugees.

We delight in our children and kvell with pride as they reach new milestones.

And so much more.


That is who we are – and that is who the members of Tree of Life are too, in fact that is what every congregational Jewish organization is. And so in that knowing – I simply cannot understand, cannot fathom what would inspire so much hate as to want us dead.

Upon reflection - As I name these things that we are – I feel a sense of overwhelming pride bursting forth and I hope that you do too. I am grateful to be part of this community. If this is what it means to be a Jew then I am proud to identify and be counted as one. No longer will I hide in the shadows. My star of David will take it’s rightful place – on top of my clothes and near my heart for all to see.


I claim my birthright, my heritage, my faith. I do so with the understanding that there is work to be done, and that it comes with responsibility. I cannot be silent. I must speak out when I hear the veiled, and the overt language of hate, of anti-Semitism, of bigotry and racism in all of its forms. I must support this community by showing up, not just for Shabbat but at other times too. I must become political – and respectfully challenge leadership on issues that threaten all of us who wear the moniker “other”. I must use my vote, it is my voice. Mostly though you and I need to continue to open our doors to the stranger invite them and teach them who we really are, and do so with love and pride.

We will heal.

We are stronger than hate.


Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon; Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal. Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Jerry Rabinowitz, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax, Irving Younger, and Rose Mallinger, may your memory always be a blessing and an inspiration.


Sat, February 16 2019 11 Adar I 5779