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President's Message

Dana Glickman

I’ve now had the honour of my role as President of Kol Ami for about 8 months…

Here’s what I have learned so far:

You like to learn, sing, laugh, hug, support, eat, pray, and love; not necessarily in that order.

I have had the pleasure of running into some of you occasionally and some of you more often. There are members who attend weekly Torah Study and there are Members who show up once a month (maybe) to a Rock Shabbat Service.

Have you looked at the Kol Ami Calendar to see what is going on for March and April?

Besides the usual Shabbat Services, Adult Torah Study, Hebrew, B’nai Mitzvah & Talmud Classes:

Sushi & Study on March 5th

Purm Shpeil & Carnival on March 9th

Challah Cover Making on March 25th

Book Club on March 26th

Paint Nite on April 2nd

Family Bowling on April 4th

2nd night Passover Sedar April 9th

Coffee House May 2nd

AND more Events and Volunteer opportunities will be popping up!

So, what’s missing from your Kol Ami Community? What would you like to see happening at Kol Ami that isn’t already here? Would you like to help plan something? We are always looking for ideas and feedback.

This is your home away from home. Your safe place. Your sanctuary. Your community. In the building or out. We are here for you in happy times and in times of need. All you have to do is show up, reach out, join in and get involved.

I can’t wait to see you at the Purim Shpeil and Carnival on March 9th ! It’s going to be a fantastic evening and you don’t want to miss it!!!



President's Message

Dana Glickman

Have you heard? Liberation 75 is coming to Toronto!

Holocaust Memorial Stories are emerging all over Social Media.

Here are a few that have caught my eye:


On another note:

Are you experiencing the February Blues?

There is a cure for that - Music! (& of course, Chocolate)

TKA has the antidote with upcoming Shabbat Shira, Rock Shabbat, & "ABBA" Purim Celebrations!

If you are seeking something a little lower key there's Sushi & Study, Talmud Study, and Torah Study. for all the info.

See you soon and we'll indulge in some chocolate together.





We Jews are a very special people. We get to look back and reflect not once but twice a year.

During Elul, the last month of the Jewish year prior to Rosh Hashanah, we spiritually prepare for the High Holiday season with reflection and repentance. Elul is traditionally a time of introspection and personal stock-taking, known in Hebrew as cheshbon hanefesh - literally “an accounting of the soul.” Then again when the Gregorian calendar changes on December 31st/January 1st we repeat the season of reflection and repentance. 

Two opportunities to take inventory of our lives, evaluate what went well (what didn't) and consider what we'd do differently. Two opportunities to think about what's missing from our neshamah, our soul. Unlike the pause we take at Shabbat (most welcomed), to stop and consider the people in our lives and how we live day-to-day. 

Personally, I don't like New Years resolutions. I'd rather to look back and assess my year - my time with loved ones, work, volunteer commitments and my personal time. I want to reflect back and feel whole. That doesn't always happen.   

In this day and age of over-commitment it’s far too easy to find ourselves overstimulated and overwhelmed. This year instead of making a list of things we have intentions of following through with but not fulfill ie: resolutions, why not make a shorter list of things to give up in exchange for more happiness?

I repeatedly read that happiness is a choice. It’s a shame that most of us complicate our lives to the point that we can’t see it when it’s in plain sight. 

So how do we reset? Here’s a list of 10 things you can give up in exchange for happiness. (borrowed & tweaked from online)

1. Give up control. Learn to let go, plain and simple. Learn to embrace the new and welcome change. After all, a definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

2. Give up caring what other people think of you. Spending time worrying about what others think of you is a waste of energy. It’s impossible to please everyone and once you let go of the need to know what others think of you it's really quite freeing. 

3. Give up trying to please everyone. You’ll naturally attract the people who are supposed to surround you when you are truly being the best version of you that you can be.

4. Let go of insecurity. There is only one version of you. Hold your head up high. Own it. Absolutely stop worrying about it. No one really watches us that closely or cares as much as we think they do.

5. Quit worrying. Worry is investing time and energy into something we don’t want to have happen. Learn to let go and trust.

6. Don’t participate in gossip. Those sharing gossip with you will gossip about you. Choosing to believe personal or sensational facts that have not been confirmed is naive.

7. Give up the past. We’ve all been hurt. We’ve all made mistakes. Every experience in life has taught you something or made you stronger.

8. Give up anger. Anger only hurts the person holding onto it. Let it go for good.

9. Give up spending money on what you’d don’t need in effort to buy happiness. We complicate our lives by spending too much money and filling our homes with “things”. Save your money. Exchange “things” for experiences. Less is more.

10. Stop taking everything personally. Most people are too consumed with themselves to really notice what you’re doing. Most people’s reactions have nothing to do with you.

I wish for you to fill your neshamah, be happy and look back and feel whole.


L'shalom and healthy 2020!

Dana, Nathan, Samantha & Tanner


January Message from the Director of Family Learning and Engagement




I want to let you know about the exciting things we have coming up in our school in the new year. 


Progress Reports January 31: This will give you an idea of how your child is performing within the program.


Full School Prayers and Pizza: February 8, March 28, May 9


Rikudiyah (Israeli folk dancing) will start January 11 and is open to grade 3-6 students. 


Is your child interested in participating in the Rikudiyah dance festival taking place on Sunday March 29 at the Schwartz/Reisman Centre. Rikudiyah, the Israeli Folk Dancing Festival of Jewish Day and Supplementary Schools, is one of the key cultural events of the Jewish educational calendar. The festival celebrates Israeli music and dance and introduces these vibrant cultural arts to Toronto's Jewish children. 


Your children would participate in 1/2 hour rehearsals with Maya Cohen during religious school on Saturday mornings from January to March in preparation for the festival on March 29th. 



Please look for these upcoming announcements for events: 


Challah Covers: We had so much positive feed back about our Tallit making, we will be hosting an adult evening with Miriam Sharpe, for making hand painted Challa Covers in the new year.


Paint night: An adult evening out of creativity and socializing


Family Bowling: A fun Sunday of bowling with family and friends


President's Message

Can you believe that Chanukah is just a few short weeks away? Have you started your shopping yet?  What are your family traditions? Do you light the menorah & sing songs? Do you play the dreidel game with pennies, pretzels, chocolate coins or actual gelt? Do you make latkas in your kitchen and stink up the whole house or apartment?  Or have you gotten clever and take the production outside using the BBQ and plug-in Electric Burner or Hot Plate? Whatever your family traditions are I’m sure they are just as fun as mine. One of my favourite Chanukah traditions is when we get together for dinner and play the Chanukah Harry Exchange Game.  Everyone brings a wrapped gift valued at $25.00 (we change the value every year). All the gifts get placed in the middle of the room. There are numbers written on little pieces of paper and everyone draws one out of the hat. The person who drew number 1 gets to pick the first gift. Person 2 gets to either take the gift from the first person OR take an unwrapped gift.  If they take the gift from the first person then the first person gets to pick another gift. Next is person 3-they can either take the gift from number 1 or gift from number 2 or an unwrapped gift. This goes on and on until everyone has a gift in their hands. We had to instill a rule that a gift could only get stolen 3 times otherwise we’d never end. It’s a lot of fun and people are getting rather creative with their gifts!  Plus, it’s kind of nice to give and receive something on Chanukah as an adult. Why should the kids have all the fun?

Speaking of fun...

Have you ever been to the “Night of 1000 Candles at Kol Ami? What a beautiful & mesmerizing experience!  AND this year we are having it on Shabbat! 

Mark your calendars, Friday December 27 at 6:30pm.  See you there!

Wishing you & your loved ones a happy & healthy Chanukah & 2020!


Dana, Nathan, Samantha & Tanner


Educator's Corner

Chanukah traditions create positive memories for children and help bond us to those we love. There is a reason we intentionally maintain and create traditions. They bring meaning to our celebrations and help bond us to those we love. They lend a nurturing connection, giving us a sense of belonging. Children crave the warmth and promise that comes with familiarity. All families can find ways to create little things that everyone looks forward to doing (i.e., lighting menorah and singing, eating special food, etc). Holiday traditions tell children a story about who they are and what is important to their family by creating a feeling that they are a part of something special.

There are a lot of great things happening at Kol Ami. Please check out all our great happenings!




Strong Hebrew and Judaic teaching will always be central to Kol Ami and our Hebrew program expectations have remained the same, but it has become increasingly important that young people receive an educational experience that maximizes who they are as individuals and as a community. This occurs through communication, collaboration, empathy, and creativity. Our teachers have begun a three- part professional development series on Social/Emotional Learning (SEL) and we are working to incorporate these strategies.


SEL Chart

Self-awareness: Know your strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a “growth mindset.”

Self-management: Effectively manage stress, control impulses, and motivate yourself to set and achieve goals.

Social awareness: Understand the perspectives of others and empathize with them, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Relationship skills: Communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and offer help when needed.

Responsible decision-making: Make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety, and social norms.

CASEL 2107


Upcoming Events:

November 2: TAKAY -  Movie 

November 8: Grade 5/6 Rock Shabbat

November 16: NFTY Grade 6-8 

We need volunteers for:
* Rikudiyah 

* Snack Shopping

Please let me know if you are interested


TAKAY Goes to the Movies



PJ Our Way Event

Get to know the author behind the books your kids know and love!


Sunday November 24, 2019

1:30 pm to 3:00 pm

Prosserman JCC, 4600 Bathurst Street, Toronto


Cost: $5

All proceeds will go to the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre

This program is appropriate for kids aged 8 and up.

Click here for more information and to register.

A Message From The Director of Family Learning and Engagement


It has been a great start to the school year. I wanted to review the school policies and procedures.

L’ Shanah Tovah


School Policies and Procedures


Saturdays use main entrance.  All our classes are located in the east end of the upper floor.  Students that arrive before 9:00 am have an assigned area to wait.  Two staff and madrichim walk up the students at 9:00 am. Students that arrive after 9:00 am are allowed to go straight upstairs (please escort younger students) and check in at the main desk in the upstairs hallway.  



Students KJ - 2 in SFT (family services) will be dismissed from there.  Students in grade 3 - 10 will be dismissed from the front hall. There is always staff supervision at arrival (from 8:55 am) and at dismissal.  Please be aware that we also have a security guard on site as well.  


Early Departure - Students

The school day ends at 12:30 

If early dismissal is required, the following procedure ensures the safety of our students:


  1. A written note from parents/guardian must accompany the student to the class or an email to

  2. Please make sure to indicate who will pick up the student, especially if it is not a parent. 

  3. Students will wait at the upstairs desk (with staff) when it is time to leave school to meet the parent/guardian who is picking them up.    


Parents please do not go to the classroom, sanctuary or chapel yourself for early pick up.


Wednesdays: Use Kol Ami entrance (North side)


Please arrive on time! 

We pack a lot into our time with your child so please ensure that they are ready to go at the start of program. That means 9 am/5:30 pm SHARP.



Our Admin team and teachers will take attendance each session. Frequent and/or patterned absences are tracked. We encourage and expect full participation in all of our programs. Poor attendance may affect your child’s ability to progress successfully through our program. We ask that you refrain from booking appointments and programs whenever possible during program times.  If it is at all possible, please let us know, by phone, e-mail or a written note if your children will miss class for any reason. Follow up phone calls will be made if there is a pattern of frequent absences.  


Emergency School Closing or Snow Days- 

Check Kol Ami’s website for updates.




Please ensure that snacks do not contain any of the following products: lard, shellfish or meat products.  This is in accordance with building policy and the laws Kashrut. 

In addition, we have participants with severe nut allergies - we cannot permit any snacks that may contain nuts & their by-products or those products with nut oils, into the building at any time.

 If you are sending food items to school, please check with the classroom teacher to see if there are any other food allergies in your child’s class group.


Shabbat Family T’fillah Gan-Grade 2 – 12:00 in the Chapel

Formal T’fillah Gr.3-6- 11:00am in the Chapel

We ask that all Gan- Gr. 2 parents join us in the Chapel for this important time of T’fillah.  Your child(ren) will be sitting with their class or they may sit next to you. Please arrive on time, find a seat and enjoy this half hour of prayer and song with your family.    


Collection and Release of Information-

Information is collected pursuant to the Education Act.  Limited information may be disclosed beyond the scope of Kol Ami.  This may include the release of students’ names, ages and grades, photographs, artwork, writing or other school related work to the media for publicity, displays, newsletters, etc.  Please complete the photo decline form that was sent home. 


Behaviour Policy-

If a teacher finds that a student is consistently unable to behave with Derech Eretz, and according to the rules of the classroom (e.g. disrupting the learning environment), the teacher will respond to small matters in class.


 If the student shows disrespect to the degree that the learning process cannot proceed, that student will be sent to the office to talk with the Director of Family Learning and Engagement  If a student is sent to the office frequently, parents and child will be asked to meet with the director and teacher. The student will not be able to return to class until a plan is in place. 



Update this content.

 President's Message


L'Shanah Tovah

This is on behalf of a fabulous group of people who help run our Temple Kol Ami and wonderful Community, my fellow Executive (Ed Yudin, Jay Kowal, Adam Fisher & Dan Berchuk) and Board Members (Brian Forman, Anna Flisfeder, Phil Gertler, Erin Keller, Elaine Page, Gabriella Prut & Brynna Takht).  

A BIG thank you to our High Holy Day Committee chaired by Melanie Burko, our beautiful Choir and Musicians, and all our Volunteers for their time and dedication towards a successful High Holy Days at Avani Event Center.  Thank you as well to Rabbi Micah Streiffer, Cantorial Soloist David Bernstein, our new Director of Family Learning and Engagement; Raquel Black, our new Office Administrator Elana Fehler, our Choir Director Matias Memmel, and Jeff Bornstein who took care of all the sound.  

Toda Raba everyone!

I’m just going to mention a few exciting things that are happening at Kol Ami…we got married!   No gifts please, but we’ll always take a donation ;) Neshamah and Kol Ami have joined in holy matrimony and it has been a beautiful partnership. 

School is now exclusively Saturday mornings for JK though Grade 12 with a Wednesday Elective for Grades 3 and 4.  We have a wonderful Madrichim program for Grades 8-10 where students earn their volunteer hours and are actively engaged in learning about Judaism relevant to teen life.  Our Student teachers in grades 11 and 12 take on more of a leadership role in the school. All our Teens are encouraged to join TAKAY (The Temple Association of Kol Ami Youth).  We are thrilled to have the PJ Plus Program with us! Children 18 months-3 years along with their guardians come for an hour of hands- on Jewish fun! I’m happy to share we are offering a Taste of Kol Ami-where New Students can come and try our school program for free for 2 weeks without a temple membership. 

Speaking of membership, Temple Kol Ami has moved to the Voluntary Community Support model (VCS) replacing the traditional flat fee membership dues.  There are many benefits to the VCS Model. “Membership dues” are a transaction; VCS is voluntary support of your congregation, to the best of your ability. The VCS model speaks to our value of inclusiveness: there is no Dues Relief process; all levels of contribution are appreciated.  Just as we share as a community all that Kol Ami has to offer, together as a community we share the cost of supporting the congregation. Please contact the Temple or visit our website for information about membership and school.

These last few weeks I've been asking myself, "when does it end"?   At the age of 13 or 14 or 15 after my Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation and Reaffirmation I thought I was done. I thought I put in my time... but I was left with this empty feeling.  Then a door opened… it was Youth Group and when that was done, another door opened and it was when I went to University and wanted Jewish connection, and then more doors opened, teaching at different Hebrew Schools, and Birthright, and then another door opened, starting a Hebrew School and being a Principal, then more doors opened, Boards and Committees, and now our new home here at Temple Kol Ami.   Now at 45…am I done? This need to connect, this pull to turn the knob and see what’s behind the door, it keeps growing. You get what you give… you give what you get. What you put in you get out.   

Kol Ami has SO many doors for you.      

You might had noticed a few tables set up in the Lobby at Avani.  I had mentioned at Rosh Hashanah to stop by those tables and take a look at the different committees and groups that are available for you to participate in at Temple Kol Ami.  Community doesn’t happen on it’s own. Community is your Cultural home, a place where you can learn and grow. A place where you can find comfort, support, friendship, acceptance, and respect.   Kol Ami is your second home. For more information in joining a committee or group please reach out to me.

Shana Tova U'metukah.       

Committees and Groups:

Adult Education     School/Parent

Chesed                   Membership

Social                      Ritual 

High Holy Days       Social Action/Tikun Olam

Interfaith                  Sacred Space

Choir                        Baseball

Mitzvah Bakers        Book Club

Shtyx: Rock Shabbat Band




Please read the words of Kathy Stein, past president of Kol Ami from July 2011 to June 2013 and her inspiring d’var Torah from Rosh Hashanah.


Good morning.  This summer I was talking to someone about joining Kol Ami and then we went on to discuss how much they were going to pay, you know, as their voluntary contribution.  They said that they were willing to pay the cost of a high holy day ticket, as they only went 2 days a year, and that’s what it was worth to them. My initial reaction was annoyance, even anger - I was dismayed by the concept that being a member of Kol Ami or even their Jewish identity had a monetary limit.  What it’s “worth” to them!????  Remember, people paid with their lives for being Jewish!

I asked them why they bothered to come at all, and they said they were doing it because their family expected it of them.  Alright then. Better than nothing. I acknowledged their words, shrugged my shoulders and went on my way, externally calm and internally seething.

This bugged me on two accounts – the monetization and then dismissal of belonging to Kol Ami (or to any synagogue I guess) and secondly – doing something grudgingly based on a perceived obligation rather than finding something in it as a personal motivation or value.

I reflected on this exchange for quite a while and came to the realization that I shouldn’t have reacted in anger and that I needed to try to understand other perspectives.

But why did I react this way?  My Judaism is very valuable to me. I wasn’t born Jewish, and I’ve worked hard at becoming first a Jew, and then a practicing Jew. In Kol Ami I found a community of scholars and singers, family and friends.  A bunch of ordinary people whose Judaism was worth something to them and who wanted and offered connection and community. And my Jewish identity and connection grew strong.  

But I realize that not everyone feels this way – and in fact I may be in the minority.  

In 2013, the Pew Research Center did a survey of American Jews to examine their identities, values and experiences. The results showed that they were moving away from traditional religious affiliations and were increasingly saying that they have no religion at all — despite identifying themselves as Jews.  These “Jews of no religion” were far less likely to marry other Jews, to raise their children Jewish, to belong to Jewish organizations, and to feel connected to the Jewish community.

What about trends in Canada? The Environics Institute for Survey Research conducted a national survey of Jews in Canada in 2018.

Today, only one in three Canadians who identifies as Jewish considers religion very important in their life. For most Canadian Jews today, the basis of Jewish identity is less about religion than about culture or ethnicity.  But with Jews in Canada, more than half report that most of their current friends are Jewish.  Apart from formal affiliation, being Jewish in Canada seems to be about social connections. 

So, what drives connection or lack of it, to institutions like synagogues and to the Jewish community?

There are several reasons for Jews not wanting to become more connected to Jewish life. Some are simply not interested in doing so. Others have obstacles that make it difficult, such as a lack of time or resources. A third concern is not feeling Jewish enough, which may be about not identifying or feeling comfortable with the local community.

The feeling is more prevalent amongst younger Jews.  How do we welcome and connect with our Jewish kids? – young adults who were born Jewish, may have been schooled Jewish and camped Jewish but just don’t feel a connection the same way their parents do?  They don’t see organized Judaism, synagogue affiliation or communal prayer as an obligation or even as an occasional necessity – yet they identify as Jews. 

Despite a trend to less synagogue involvement, people are still looking for community, and people are looking for meaning. This yearning for meaning intensifies during this High Holy Day season, with Jews of all ages looking to connect with Jewish tradition.

Now let’s consider “looking for meaning” for a moment.  What is meaningful Judaism?  Is it found in obligation or in options?  In prayer? Is it in culture or lifecycle events? Is it in social action and tikkun olam? I think it is different for everyone.

But whatever it is, people need to take ownership on finding meaningfulness in Judaism beyond thinking it is expected of them or just to please others. They need to ask…”what connects me to our people?  Does it have a value?  What is important to preserve today and for the future? “

And what about different attitudes towards synagogue membership? 


Rabbi Michael Knopf shares the following insights:  the major flaw in the traditional synagogue model is not necessarily the fixed cost associated with membership but, rather, the notion of membership itself. The word “membership” is a transactional term. A member of an organization is typically one who pays some sort of premium in order to receive certain benefits at no additional cost. It is, therefore, the very definition of fee-for-service. Consider what we are members of today: a gym, Costco, Netflix. One thing in common is that they offer consumers a number of products and services in order to keep you as a customer.

Synagogues, however, hope to be communities, not merely service providers. While a member of an organization is primarily interested in what they receive for themselves, a participant in a community, while not necessarily sacrificing their own needs, is also interested in the welfare of their neighbors and in the success of the community as a whole.

Rabbi Knopf suggests that perhaps we can employ a term other than “membership,” How about the term “friend” instead of “member”? Why? Because there are few words more symbolic of a partnering relationship than “friend,” a concept that embraces support, interdependence, and sharing.

However, friendship isn’t free. As a midrash in Sifre Devarim puts it, “One only acquires a friend through great effort”.

So, synagogues must also make clear to potential friends that belonging to a community is not a fee-for-service transaction. True friendship also takes a commitment of one’s time and talent. Becoming a friend of a synagogue community also requires active personal involvement – in addition to monetary commitment. Kol Ami’s Voluntary Contribution model supports the monetary commitment aspect of this friendship – by asking you as friends, to understand what the financial needs are of our community and encouraging you to contribute to the best of your ability. 

So how do we encourage someone to consider being a friend to our community?  What is our responsibility? The Union for Reform Judaism promotes the concept of Audacious Hospitality…  let me paraphrase:


“Audacious Hospitality is one of the core priorities of the URJ’s 2020 Vision. …to actively work to engage uninspired and unaffiliated Jews, partnering with congregations … to eliminate the barriers that prevent people from finding their place in Jewish life. To acknowledge demographic shifts of the Jewish people and embrace our full diversity… we seek to create opportunities for learning that strengthen our relationships with one another and build meaningful Jewish communities … We welcome all.”


So now a moment to reflect ….What are we doing to welcome people – our own families, friends, acquaintances, people we’ve never met before? How welcoming are we to uninvolved or reluctant Jews? How do we welcome interfaith families, LGBTQ, Jews of colour?  Do we befriend Jews and their non-Jewish partners who might not look, act, live or love like us?

Welcoming the stranger is one of Judaism’s most time-honoured virtues. Our tradition directs us to be an inclusive people. The commandment to be hospitable appears in the Torah 36 times – more than any other commandment.

If we are going to welcome the stranger, we are then responsible for their experience. Maya Angelou gets it right in that “…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


We also need to redefine what it means to be affiliated. We need to accept that affiliation could be expanded to include all those who act upon their Jewish identity in any way.

By broadening the definition of affiliated, then we can widen the scope of connection. We can make Jews of all walks of life and non-Jews who are connected to our community feel comfortable and give them the opportunity to explore for themselves how they want to (or don’t want to) live Jewishly.

Let’s continue to provide even more options for connections at Kol Ami – through communal opportunities to study, to pray, to celebrate.  Whether we see a movie together or provide a lecturer, go bowling or apple picking, play baseball or poker; let’s support Jews, new-Jews and non-Jews and welcome them openly.  We need to appreciate what they do come to, and not be frustrated for what they choose not to attend.  And we need to make it welcoming and friendly and easy for them to return and participate again. 

To those of you who are here because you are doing it for your family, or because it is expected, or because you feel some undefinable cultural attachment – embrace your own presence as Jews and as part of the Kol Ami community and find in it something meaningful for yourselves.  And maybe this year, consider trying to connect in new ways, both socially and spiritually.

And to those of us who are comfortable, who may take for granted our Judaism and our connection to the Kol Ami community – realize that not everyone feels the same way all the time.  We can be better friends and offer connection and appreciate what is given back. And we can nurture and support on every level.

Human beings will always crave meaning and community. It’s up to those of us who find both in Judaism and here at Kol Ami to prove its worth to others.  Thank you.




Fri, May 7 2021 25 Iyar 5781