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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.


A Message from Neshama at Kol ami School

Cally Rootenberg

Neshamah School of Kol Ami

October Highlights

K-1 Re-imagined a stunning tree of knowledge

2 Designed loose parts Sukkot: jacuzzis, heaters & more!

3 Connected Torah, sweetness and what it means to them

4 Created a timelapse of the 7 days of creation

5 Explored their temptations (like Adam and Eve faced)

6 Experimented with science creating jarred rainbows7 Reflected on Parashat Lech Lecha: The B’nai Mitzvah journey; and participated in Tallit Study and Workshop

What is Talk & Tefillah?

Our students attend regular meetings in small, mixed-age groups to discuss Jewish topics and to reflect on the great things happening in our classrooms!

During this time, we welcome Rabbi Streiffer to lead our school ke-hilla (community) to recite tefillot (prayers) together.

Upcoming Dates

November 16th - Rock Shabbat @Kol Ami (learning from Grade 5 & 6)

November 18th – NEXT Neshamah for Teens

Up Next We Explore:

The Tower of Babel/ Abraham and Sarah/ Jacob and Esau/ Joseph

For ongoing school updates & pictures/videos: Follow us @Neshamah on our Facebook page.

A Message from Kol Ami Shabbat School

Judy Silver

Hebrew School is a little bit different this year!

Hebrew learning at Kol Ami starts with ordering Pizza and snacks in Hebrew and ending with T’fillah! This year our two-hour Wednesday Hebrew program is filled to the brim with three main components:

  • Individual reading time
  • Everyday Hebrew
  • T’fillah

Individual reading time begins at 5:30 on Wednesdays. This time is devoted to our students developing their reading skills at their individual reading levels. Our Hebrew program is designed so that each student works at their own pace and level. Every Saturday and Wednesday, blocks of time are given to the students to read and advance through their levels with the guidance of their teachers. You may have witnessed the excitement during SFT when a student reaches a next level and their hard work is acknowledged with a certificate and gift from the school.

Hebrew focuses on Modern Hebrew. The students respond through movement to Hebrew questions, instructions and commands in our Hebrew Through Movement program (HTM) now in its third year. This program starts in Gan and progresses all the way through Grade 7 with students actively engaging in Hebrew. In Conversational Hebrew the students learn to talk to each other, respond appropriately while learning more vocabulary and grammar along the way.

T’fillah Teams enable the students to work together in mixed grade groups to learn not just how to say the prayers, but also to learn about the meaning of the prayer itself. Each small group is led by a teacher and will focus on one prayer at a time. The students will have the opportunity to practice reciting the prayer, as well as discovering the themes, key words and root words found in each prayer. Throughout the year, the students will create short presentations for SFT or Hebrew School T’fillah, based on their exploration.

We finish our day off with T’fillah. Rabbi Streiffer and Noam Streiffer lead us in a weekday service. The younger students sit with older students as they read the siddur, sing and pray. It is a wonderful way to end the day.

Our Grade 7 B’nai Mitzvah class joins us for Everyday Hebrew and T’fillah Teams between their own core studies.

Come join us on a Wednesday and experience learning Hebrew by discovering, learning from each other and having fun!

Judy Silver, Director of Religious Education, Temple Kol Ami

President's Message

Elliot Miller

Guess what I’m not going to talk about in this article: I’m not going to mention the Jack Cahan Memorial Lecture on Sunday, November 11, or the upcoming Wednesday night Rabbi’s Learning Series: A Walk through the Prayer Book. I’m also not going to discuss our November 30 Beatles Shabbat or our December 7 Night of 1000 Candles.

Instead, I’m going to focus on two subjects with a longer timeline: planning for the 2019-2020 School year and the right of non-Jewish members of Kol Ami. As most of you know, we currently run two Religious Schools, one on Saturday morning at Kol Ami and one on Sunday morning at the Lebovic campus. And as many of you are aware, the plan is to have one school for the 2019-2020 year. Where? When? How? Those are all very good questions, for which we do not yet have an answer. A Task Force has just been created to research all the options, including location, curriculum, date and time, and submit proposals to the Board of Directors. Look forward to hearing more from the task force as their work progresses.

The Interfaith Committee has been working to address inconsistencies between our mission as an inclusive community, and our constitution, which limits the right of non-Jewish members. Kol Ami’s Vision is to be welcoming to people of all ages and backgrounds, yet we don’t allow non-Jewish members to vote or work on certain committees. The Committee has identified four proposed amendments to the constitution. You’ll be hearing more about these important amendments in upcoming months, including how and when we will vote on them.


Have a happy and healthy Movember.





Message from Judy Silver

Judy Silver

“Hebrew is more than the language of Israel—it is in many ways one of the core threads of Jewish peoplehood, connecting the Jewish people through time and space…If some of the deepest human connections are forged through language, then it follows that if we want to create a strong sense of Jewish belonging and peoplehood, Jews must own our shared language, Hebrew.” – Lori Sagarin – 


We want to create that strong sense of Jewish belonging for our students at Kol Ami by introducing Hebrew from the very start of their educational journey. Every Saturday all our students are experiencing both Modern and Siddur Hebrew in a variety of ways matched to their own learning styles and levels.

Our youngest students in Gan are introduced to the Hebrew letters and simple vocabulary through song, art and Hebrew Through Movement*. In Grades 1 and 2, they work their way through a Hebrew primer, learning the sounds and shapes of the Alef-Bet in small groups. They increase their understanding Hebrew vocabulary as they continue to participate in Hebrew Through Movement.

SFT brings all our students together at the end of the school day to sing and pray alongside their parents, with the Hebrew prayers displayed on the screen.

By the time they enter our Hebrew school program on Wednesday afternoons as Grade 3 students, our students have a solid grasp of the Hebrew Alef-Bet, some vowel sounds, are familiar with Shabbat prayers and melodies and are ready to start in the individual reading level program.

It is a wonderful start to their Hebrew learning and prepares them for the more advanced experience we offer on Wednesday afternoons. I’m looking forward to sharing some of the great changes we have made to our Hebrew program on Wednesday evenings in the next Voice! If you can’t wait until then, feel free to come and take a peek at what׳s going on at our Hebrew School every week, but be prepared to speak a little bit of עִבְרִית and eat a little פִּיצָה!

*Hebrew through Movement is a language acquisition strategy in which students learn Hebrew by hearing and responding to Hebrew commands.




President's Message

Elliot Miller

My wife Leanda, who works at Leo Baeck Day School, has not had to work a full week the entire month of September. First there was Labour Day, the next week she was off two days for Rosh Hashanah, then 1 and a half days for Yom Kippur, and finally 2 days for Sukkoth. I think she was dreading the arrival of October until she realized that she'll be off again the first two days for Simchat Torah/Shemini Azeret, then the following Monday for Thanksgiving. I tease her about it, but only because I know how hard she works the rest of the time.

Your Board and Committees have also been working hard, when not taking time to observe the holidays. Mark your calendars for the following events:

Sunday October 14, Mah Jongg Fundraiser; No knowledge of Chinese necessary, but you do need to know a bam from a crack.

Monday October 22, Community information session on the Interfaith Committee Proposal which will be presented at the:

Monday November 12 Special General Meeting.

Keep your eyes peeled for more information on these and other upcoming events.




President's Message

Elliot Miller

Wait! Is it September already? And Rosh Hashanah’s in only days!! Oy, I’d better start writing my speeches, and checking Waze for the fastest route to Avani Banquet Hall.

One thing’s for certain; this year’s High Holy Days will be a new experience for everyone involved. People who attended services at Kol Ami last year will be experiencing a new venue, for the first time since the 36 Atkinson Ave sanctuary was built around 2011. Former Neshamah members will be at a familiar location with one familiar voice (Mitch Smolkin), but will be experiencing a new Rabbi and several other new voices (David Bernstein and the Kol Ami choir). You’ll encounter a whole lot of unfamiliar faces, at least in the beginning, and the blended liturgy will have something new for everyone who attended services last year.

I’m very excited to see us come together as one group. Sure, the combination took place in July, but there’s nothing like being physically in the same place to create an atmosphere of togetherness, of belonging to the same family.

I welcome everyone and am looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible in the upcoming year. I’ll stop now because I have to save some material for my speeches. Shana Tova!

Elliot Miller

Mon, December 10 2018 2 Tevet 5779