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news from kol ami


Read about current events, articles on happenings around the congregation. To submit your article, please e-mail

A Message From the President

Mark Wolpert


In just a few short weeks, my term as President of Kol Ami will come to an end, and Elliot Miller will be taking over as President. Before I step aside and officially become Immediate Past President, I would like to offer my thanks to all of those who have helped me over the past two years. I have been fortunate to have had two very capable Boards whose tireless work and commitment has made an incredible difference to our Kol Ami community. Thank You. To the Chairs of our Kol Ami Committees who’s work impacts our members most directly, thank you for your commitment and hard work in support of our congregational goals.

I have been very fortunate to have had the support of our Past Presidents who were so involved in the discussions and negotiations of our new lease agreement with Leo Baeck and Zareinu. Your guidance and wisdom is greatly appreciated.

And a special thanks to my Exective team – Nicole Arnold, Caryn Silver, Elliot Miller, and Aviv Haras. Over the past two years, we have dutifully met each Wednesday at noon to discuss and review all open issues at Kol Ami and ensure we were moving our congregation forward. Thank you so much for all of your hard work.

I would also like to thank our full time professional staff, Rabbi Micah Streiffer and Joanne Shinwell, who I have had the pleasure of working with on an almost daily basis during my time as President. It has truly been a great partnership. I would also like to thank our part time professional staff, Judy Silver, David Bernstein, Mathias Memmel, Aron Katz, and all of our teachers for all you do for Kol Ami.

Lastly, I would like to thank our Kol Ami members who have reached out to me with advice, expressed their concerns, or just given me words of encouragement, thank you for putting into action your passion and care for Kol Ami.

Kol Ami is a small congregation that acts like a big congregation and we can only do this through the support and dedication of all of our members and staff. Thank you all.


A Message From ARZA Canada

Rabbi Benjie Gruber


I have now been living and working in Canada for four months and I have four more months to go. I am so happy to feel and see the love of Canadian Reform Jews to Israel. It is inspiring and it fills my heart with joy. I have been meeting many many people and feeling the love and support to Israel.

This is great and amazing, BUT I feel and think, we have a problem. Being a supporter of the State of Israel is very important. Knowing whom to support and how, is what makes a real difference. ARZA Canada (and The Israeli Reform movement it supports) is more than another Zionist organization. It is a cause we should all support and believe in.

We can make a real difference. We can help shape the Jewish character of the State of Israel.

Issues of religious pluralism, recognition of conversions and weddings, Rabbis’ salaries, Women of the Wall and more, are issues that we can influence by supporting ARZA Canada. This should be the mission of Reform Jews regarding Israel. This is not less (and I as one who served and serves in the IDF, think even more) important than supporting the IDF. It already has an enormous budget.

Israel is a successful country. We have an army, we have hospitals, we have agriculture and hi-tech, and so much more. We have made tremendous progress in the almost 70 years since the creation of the State.

But, in the issue of religious pluralism we are way behind the other areas we have made progress in. The issue of making sure Reform Jews in Israel and around the world receive rights and are recognized as a legitimate stream of Judaism is urgent. Reform Jews in Israel must have the same rights as Reform Jews in Canada. For this to happen, Israeli Reform Judaism must be recognized as a religious stream with the same legal rights as the Orthodox.

I am asking you all to recognize the urgency of this matter. This is not different than when we hear of Israel needing our help on one issue or another. The past has shown that you rally around Israel in times of crises and I am sure you will do this in the future. But now, for us to continue to develop a pluralistic and egalitarian country we need your help.

We (ARZA Canada, IMPJ) are pioneers. We are struggling for recognition. The chance to be a Chalutz, a pioneer, helping to build the country physically was 70-80 years ago. Now we are the Chalutzim influencing the spiritual and moral aspect of Israel. Come, join us, be a pioneer, make a change.

I call upon you, be a member of ARZA Canada, be a pioneer and help make Israel an even better country than it is now. Please make a donation to IMPJ through ARZA Canada by clicking here.

Benjie Gruber

a message from our director of education

on Wednesday, 23 November 2016.

Experiential Learning at Kol Ami

“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.”
― John Dewey

Along my journey these past two years towards earning a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education, I’ve been introduced to the educational philosophy of John Dewey. He believed that students thrive in an environment where they are allowed to experience and interact with the curriculum, and all students should have the opportunity to take part in their own learning.

Simply put, instead of learning about something, students are learning by doing.

Last year, UJA’s Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education partnered with the Jewish Theological Seminary to offer Toronto’s Supplementary Educators the opportunity to learn more about “Jewish Experiential Education” and how we can bring it to our supplemental schools. They have provided our school with a generous grant so that we may introduce Experiential Learning to Kol Ami. I attend the seminars and Kol Ami’s teachers, in turn, are learning from me.

What is unique about Experiential Learning? We start by altering the space, even leaving the classroom completely. We provide opportunities for the students to dynamically interact with the subject material, using multiple senses and methods, such as researching, playing and building. And why do we do this? We do this to create a greater sense of community. We want to give the students time to reflect on their learning. Just as we sometimes remove the classroom from the learning, we want to take the learning out of the classroom, into the world.

You may have noticed some Experiential Learning going on already:

  •  Lights turned low in a classroom, a Shabbat table set with candles, kiddush cups, challah, flowers, and kippot for a weekly welcome to Shabbat.
  • Students experiencing the Jewish Life Cycle by “raising” dolls and modelling the rituals as they grow up.
  • Students shopping for art materials using play Shekels in an Israeli Shuk to complete a High Holiday project.
  •  Students creating their own Sukkot and demonstrating their understanding of the rules that guide Sukkot building.
  •  Moving and responding to Hebrew commands during “Hebrew Through Movement.”
  •  Playing games that require co-operation, active learning, and community building through Jewnior Games.

We are currently planning an all-school Chanukah program that will feature Experiential Learning at its core. Our students will be able to explore Chanukah through the lenses of History, Tradition and Freedom.

As we introduce Experiential Learning to our students, you can join in the learning. When your students hop into the car at the end of the school day, try asking,  “What did you do today?” rather than, “What did you learn about today?” I hope these questions and conversations will bring their learning out of the classroom and into your homes

Judy Silver

a message from the president

on Monday, 21 November 2016.

As all members are now aware, Leo Baeck Day School has announced that they will be moving out of the building at 36 Atkinson by September 2017 and that they plan to sell the building. Leo Baeck has also advised that any sale would not go into effect for at least 12 months.

When Kol Ami decided to make our permanent home in the Leo Baeck Day School building, we signed a partnership agreement with Leo Baeck that contained a number of provisions that would protect our interests, in the case of such an event. Over the next few weeks, we will be carefully reviewing our agreement to ensure we understand our options and so that we can plan an appropriate path forward. We are led to believe that there is a buyer interested in purchasing the building and that this buyer would like to maintain the current agreements that are in place without any changes. You have my assurance that as things develop over the next little while we will provide the congregation with regular updates. If you have specific questions please feel free to contact me at or on my cell at 416-768-1611.


a message from our director of education

on Sunday, 25 September 2016.

Kol Ami’s Madrichim

Kol Ami is so lucky to have over 20 dedicated teens from grades 8-10 volunteering in our school as “Madrichim”!

What do our Madrichim do? 

  • They are part of the “Hebrew Crew” working one-on-one with students from Grade 3-6 during the morning Hebrew session. Each sit with a student and listen to them read or assist them with their writing.
  • Each madrich/madricha is assigned to a class as a teacher-aide. Within the class, they will assist the teacher with class preparation, assisting in projects, and working with the students. 
  • The madrichim have their own one-hour study sessions with Shoshi Streiffer, our Madrichim educator and co-ordinator. This year’s topics are Reform Judaism and Hot Topics. 
  • They will plan, organize, and carry out All-School programs. Last year they organized our end of the year Maccabia sports day.

Our Madrichim gain invaluable experience working with children, earn community service hours towards their high school diploma, and continued Jewish learning alongside their friends.
Our Madrichim show our younger students that Jewish learning and Jewish living does not have to end after the Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremony. They are a wonderfully energetic and compassionate group and excellent role models in our school. Our school is the better because of their involvement and dedication to Kol Ami. 
Todah rabah, Madrichim! We are so glad you’re here!

Judy Silver

a message from the president

on Sunday, 25 September 2016.

As the High Holy Days approach, we are looking forward to some wonderful services as we welcome David Bernstein as our new Cantorial Soloist and Mathias Memmel as our new Choir Director. Our Clergy, Choir and High Holy Days Committee have been working very hard over the summer to bring you our amazing brand of Kol Ami services filled with music, reflection, discussion, and prayer. I look forward to seeing you there in October.

On behalf of the Board, I would like to extend my best wishes for a happy, healthy, and sweet year to our Kol Ami community.

Shana Tova,

kol ami blood drive

religious school update

on Sunday, 28 August 2016.

Meet your new teachers!

We are very excited to have 5 new teachers joining the Religious School team:

Kali Singer – Grade 4 and TICKY advisor

My name is Kali Singer. I have my Bachelor of Arts Honours in Sociology from the University of Guelph and my Masters in Teaching from OISE at the University of Toronto. I have spent the better part of my 26 years working and learning with kids either within my family, at camp, tutoring or in school. I have a passion for learning and teaching. I love to read, watch the Blue Jays and listen to some good down home country music. I am looking forward to a great year ahead!!


Aiden Orzech - Grade 5

Aiden is a student in the Jewish Teacher Education Program at York University. He loves reading, seeing movies, and playing with his puppy.






 Ally - Grade 6

Ally comes to Kol Ami with eight years’ experience working in the Reform education community as a classroom teacher. Ally brings her passion for Jewish learning executed, with her unique creativity and finesse, to ensure a positive and thrilling religious school experience. Ally has helped manage a dental practice for the past 23 years, she is married to Brian and together they have two lovely teenagers. Ally's classroom moto: Always strive to be a mensch and keep your neshamah shining!





Deborah Blay – Student Support
Hello, my name is Deborah Blay. I am an Ontario Certified Teacher. I earned my Bachelor of Education Degree at York University. I am dedicated to the success of my students. I enjoy working one on one with students to increase their confidence in themselves and the material they are learning. I have taught at Associated Hebrew School. I enjoy reading, listening to music and hanging out with my family.

Zoey Schwartz – Student Support
Zoey is a graduate of York University with a background in education.
A mother of three, she enjoys playing with the kids, taking child friendly excursions, and loves reading. Children, her own and others, have always been a central point in Zoey's life. She is eager to begin working with the families and children at Kol Ami.

a message from the director of education

on Sunday, 28 August 2016.

I just finished my week on faculty at Camp George. For my part, it's been a week of planning, teaching and meeting wonderful colleagues from across Ontario. However, my greatest pleasure has been watching our Kol Ami "kids".

Throughout the week I have seen our counselors engaged warmly with their campers, showing them compassion and kindness. I have witnessed with great pride Kol Ami campers enthusiastically engaged in Limudim (Educationals), strut their stuff on stage in a production of Lion King, enduring injuries with humour and grace, participating in T'fillah, jumping and singing to Hebrew songs, and wishing their friends and counselors a Shabbat Shalom.

Camp George is not just another Ontario camp, it's our camp, and our Kol Ami kids live and breathe Judaism here, while being their own unique wonderful selves. What a privilege it was to experience camp alongside them.


a message from the president

on Sunday, 28 August 2016.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year...” – Remember that commercial for back to school shopping with happy parents and dejected kids? Well at Kol Ami it is also the most wonderful time of the year... except the kids are happy too as our wonderful Religious School is gearing up for another year of fun, song, learning and prayer. We are looking forward to all of our members returning in numbers to Torah Study, Shabbat services, Adult Education programs, and especially to our High Holy Day services.

This year we are offering completely free Family Services to families with young children as well as opening our Yom Kippur Services to the general public. This is our effort to showcase Kol Ami to members of the community who have not had a chance to experience our community. If you know of anyone who would like to attend, please have them contact our Office Manager, Joanne Shinwell (905-709-2620 or

I am also pleased to advise that all of our High Holy Day services will be streamed live from a link on our website to those who are unable to attend our services in person. With our new streaming technology, all will be able to enjoy services with high quality video and audio.

And just as a final word, if you have not yet renewed your membership, please take a few minutes to fill out the short form (click here), it should take no more than 5 minutes, so we can send out your High Holy Days tickets on time.


Monday, May 29 2017 4 Sivan 5777