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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.




Educator's Corner


Resilience in Children


When you hear the word resilience you often think of adults bouncing back after something has happened to them. We are finding many children need to learn how to be resilient in today’s society, because we have created a culture of everyone wins and some children never have experienced failure . For example, everyone playing on the team will get a medal when they are in first and second grade and the first time that this isn’t the case, the child often feels very let down as they have not experienced not being the one recognised. There are many things that we can do to aid our children in becoming stronger, more resilient members of society.


From :

Resilience Guide for Parents & Teachers


We all can develop resilience, and we can help our children develop it as well. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned over time. Following are tips to building resilience.

  1. Make connections
    Teach your child how to make friends, including the skill of empathy, or feeling another's pain. Encourage your child to be a friend in order to get friends. Build a strong family network to support your child through his or her inevitable disappointments and hurts. At school, watch to make sure that one child is not being isolated. Connecting with people provides social support and strengthens resilience. Some find comfort in connecting with a higher power, whether through organized religion or privately and you may wish to introduce your child to your own traditions of worship.
  2. Help your child by having him or her help others
    Children who may feel helpless can be empowered by helping others. Engage your child in age-appropriate volunteer work, or ask for assistance yourself with some task that he or she can master. At school, brainstorm with children about ways they can help others.
  3. Maintain a daily routine
    Sticking to a routine can be comforting to children, especially younger children who crave structure in their lives. Encourage your child to develop his or her own routines.
  4. Take a break
    While it is important to stick to routines, endlessly worrying can be counter-productive. Teach your child how to focus on something besides what's worrying him. Be aware of what your child is exposed to that can be troubling, whether it be news, the Internet or overheard conversations, and make sure your child takes a break from those things if they trouble her. Although schools are being held accountable for performance on standardized tests, build in unstructured time during the school day to allow children to be creative.
  5. Teach your child self-care
    Make yourself a good example, and teach your child the importance of making time to eat properly, exercise and rest. Make sure your child has time to have fun, and make sure that your child hasn't scheduled every moment of his or her life with no "down time" to relax. Caring for oneself and even having fun will help your child stay balanced and better deal with stressful times.
  6. Move toward your goals
    Teach your child to set reasonable goals and then to move toward them one step at a time. Moving toward that goal — even if it's a tiny step — and receiving praise for doing so will focus your child on what he or she has accomplished rather than on what hasn't been accomplished, and can help build the resilience to move forward in the face of challenges. At school, break down large assignments into small, achievable goals for younger children, and for older children, acknowledge accomplishments on the way to larger goals.
  7. Nurture a positive self-view
    Help your child remember ways that he or she has successfully handled hardships in the past and then help him understand that these past challenges help him build the strength to handle future challenges. Help your child learn to trust himself to solve problems and make appropriate decisions. Teach your child to see the humor in life, and the ability to laugh at one's self. At school, help children see how their individual accomplishments contribute to the wellbeing of the class as a whole.
  8. Keep things in perspective and maintain a hopeful outlook
    Even when your child is facing very painful events, help him look at the situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Although your child may be too young to consider a long-term look on his own, help him or her see that there is a future beyond the current situation and that the future can be good. An optimistic and positive outlook enables your child to see the good things in life and keep going even in the hardest times. In school, use history to show that life moves on after bad events.
  9. Look for opportunities for self-discovery
    Tough times are often the times when children learn the most about themselves. Help your child take a look at how whatever he is facing can teach him "what he is made of." At school, consider leading discussions of what each student has learned after facing down a tough situation.
  10. Accept that change is part of living
    Change often can be scary for children and teens. Help your child see that change is part of life and new goals can replace goals that have become unattainable. In school, point out how students have changed as they moved up in grade levels and discuss how that change has had an impact on the students.



President's Message


Summer is NOT over yet.  Just because the school year has started, doesn't mean we have to think of boots and jackets.  Autumn officially begins September 23rd, so we've got LOTS of Summer days still to enjoy. In fact, the weather experts just reported we are going to have a warm and beautiful September and October.  I for one am thrilled. This means more outdoor fun, more family walks, more fresh air and less computer time for my kids. This also means we can really appreciate the beauty of Autumn colours and take full advantage of the Fall harvest.  Apple picking, pumpkin patches, hayrides, fruits, vegetables, flowers and honey fresh from our local farms.

My favorite honey can be found right around the corner at the Kavanah Garden run by Shoresh.

Mmm...Honey!  Makes me think of apples and honey cake and my dad.  My dad loved the holidays. I remember when I was a very little girl, maybe 5 or 6 sitting next to him in Shul watching him hum and sing along to the prayers and songs.  I wanted to be able to sing along with him so I paid close attention to the tunes and words. After one or two verses and choruses, I found myself humming along and kind of half singing as well.  I felt happy.  

When Neshamah combined with Kol Ami I along with many others had to learn new melodies to prayers.  It didn't take long to catch on. I have found that after attending a few Friday night Shabbat Services I am now quite comfortable with the music.  The same for Saturday morning. Like anything, the more you do something, the easier it becomes. I also have found Shabbat services at Kol Ami to be a perfect place to reflect on my past week.  Life is busy. I am a full time working mother and wife. It's difficult to find time to press the pause button. With Shabbat services I have found that. The added bonus is beautiful music and a wonderful community.     

As we enter into the High Holiday season I wish you and your family a healthy, happy and joyful 5780!  May you find the time to pause and reflect during these Shabbat services leading up to Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.    



Dana Glickman & family


Book Review - Judas

Howard Mintz

Howard Mintz of Kol Ami gives his take on Judas by Amos Oz, the last novel of the late and great Israeli writer.

About 18 months ago, the Kol Ami Book Club discussed Judas, the final novel of late Israeli writer and political activist, Amos Oz. Oz believed in a vision of both Jews and Palestinians mutually recognizing each other’s national aspirations within two separate nation states. I am dedicating this review of Judas to his memory ....

Life is difficult for Shmuel Ash, a graduate student at Hebrew University in the late 1950’s. His long-term girlfriend has left him to marry someone else, who is financially more established. His parents’ business has gone bankrupt and struggle to support him financially while he studies. Shmuel’s research on Jewish views of Jesus, during his lifetime, seems to have stalled, and much to the consternation of his academic advisor, he decides to drop out and look for work. This is how Judas begins.

Shmuel finds work as a live-in caregiver for a cantankerous old man named Gershon Wald, who is physically disabled and largely wheelchair bound. Wald is a retired history teacher with a passion for heated intellectual discussions with people on the telephone. Part of Shmuel’s duties involve engaging in discussion with Gershon Wald. Shmuel is an idealist who is involved in a tiny socialist group at the fringe of Israeli politics.

Atalia Abravanel is the third presence in the home. She is the beautiful daughter of a deceased Zionist leader and is also Gershon Wald’s daughter-in-law. Shmuel is attracted to her intellectuality and beauty. She sends mixed messages to Shmuel regarding her interest in him and their relationship is fraught with difficulties.

There are two deceased characters in the book. One is Shaltiel Abravanel, Atalia’s father, who was expelled from the Zionist executive, under Ben Gurion, for not supporting the establishment of a Jewish state, but advocating, instead, for a bi-national Jewish Arab state. He was viewed as a traitor by the Jewish public, was shunned, and lived the rest of his life in isolation.

Gershon’s son, Micha, was a brilliant mathematician who was Atalia’s husband; he was killed in the Israeli War of Independence. His body was savagely mutilated. Judas Iscariot (Yehuda Ish Kariot) is also discussed at length by Oz. In Christian tradition, Judas is viewed as a traitor to Jesus for informing on him to the Sanhedrin for 30 silver pieces. Oz claims that Judas was not a traitor to Jesus, but a loving supporter.

The intellectual discussions in this book are often centred around the complexities of the Jewish-Palestinian national conflict and the difficult historical experience of the Jewish people in Christian lands.

To many in Israel, Oz had been considered a traitor due to his dovish views on the Palestinian issue.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is open to considering a range of perspectives on Jewish history, political Zionism, the origins of Christianity, and the concept of being a traitor.


President's Message

Elliot Miller

On March 1st we sent an informational email on Voluntary Community Support to the entire congregation. Those of you who were members of Kol Ami last year are probably wondering how successful was the transition from fixed membership dues to Voluntary Community Support.

Those of you who are new to Kol Ami this year are probably wondering about the Sustainer level, how it was calculated and what does it reflect. This President’s Message will attempt to address both those questions.

In general, we were very pleased with the results. Among returning Kol Ami members, 40% contributed a higher amount and overall contributions were up 8%. However, with 26% contributing the same, that means that 34% contributed less than the year before. We were fortunate that those that gave more gave twice as much as those who contributed less, hence the overall increase.

For all our new members, plus the 34% who contributed less than the previous year, it is critical that everyone understand the importance of “sustaining” the congregation. The Kol Ami sustainer level was calculated by looking at the total cost of salaries, office expense, school expense, occupancy cost, High Holy Days etc, divided by the number of membership units.

The sustainer level for 2019-2020 is $3,100, the same as this year. While that, at first glance, can seem like a significant amount, remember that it includes the cost of running the religious school. Therefore, if you are paying religious school tuition, you are already contributing toward the sustainer cost.

We know that not everyone is capable of contributing at the sustainer level. This year, 40 members contributed at or above the sustainer level, helping to offset those who couldn’t. But only by supporting Kol Ami to the best of our ability (tax deductible and available in monthly instalments) can we ensure the long-term viability of our congregation, meeting its members’ needs for simchas (e.g. B’nai Mitzvah), Chesed, lifelong education (school, Adult Ed, Rabbi’s learning series), ritual observance, and an overall feeling of community.



A Message from Judy Silver

Judy Silver

Editor’s Note: Judy Silver will be departing shortly to take on a new position. We all wish her the best!


Thank you!


Back in 2011 when I first set foot into the Kol Ami school as the Madrichim Coordinator, I had no idea that I would have the privilege of being part of this wonderful community for seven more years.


For the past eight years, I felt lucky to have a foot firmly planted in two congregations that I called home. It started at Temple Har Zion with my parents as founding members and my dad as the first Director of Education. I grew up there and was launched towards a Jewish career, first as a student teacher, then camp at GUCI, and finally living in Israel for three years. I realized that this is where I wanted to be - in a Jewish world doing Jewish things.


A move to Minnesota and a first taste of being a Director of Education in a small inclusive temple in Minneapolis gave me the “aha” moment. One day I came home from work and said to my husband Ian “This is what I’m supposed to do”.


Eleven years later, I’m back in Toronto, and looking for a new job. A call to Chari Schwartz was all it took to find yet another amazing welcoming community – Kol Ami.


In my time here, I have seen your children grow and learn, take on the task of learning a new language and command the Bima on their B’nai Mitzvah. I’ve watched them struggle, discuss, build their own friendships and engage in Reform Judaism. I have welcomed many new kids and their families and said goodbye to others. I have worked with professional, fun, dedicated and caring teachers. our little Kol Ami office, we worked together to make programs happen, meet deadlines and catch up on life. We supported each other through our struggles and celebrated our victories together.


Thank you for welcoming me into Kol Ami and into your children’s lives. Every student that has come through our doors and learned in our classrooms has a special place in my heart. I will truly miss them. It has been an absolute honour meeting and getting to know your kids and watching them grow and learn. Thank you for helping me grow as a person and as a Jewish educator.


If you ask any of our students what “Shalom” means, they will reply “Hello, Goodbye and Peace”. Thank you for your warm hellos when I first arrived, it will be difficult to say goodbye and I wish you all Shalom in your future.



  1. להתראות



Interfaith Discussion

Interfaith Committee

We wish to briefly summarize for you, the work of the Kol Ami Interfaith Committee as it pertains to our community development.

Kol Ami established an Interfaith committee in August 2016 to identify and examine interfaith issues at Kol Ami. Kol Ami recognized that interfaith families are a growing reality in the Jewish community. As Jews, we can feel a responsibility to connect with our fellow Jews who choose to construct their own Jewish lives in an Interfaith construct; they do not choose to run from Jewish life but rather to construct a Jewish path that includes a non-Jewish partner (with or without children).

Moreover, we can choose to engage non-Jewish partners in a manner that reflects our respect for their choice to be a part of our community and facilitates their learning, identification, and engagement. It is an opportunity for us to embrace each other, grow and mature our community just as Jewish communities have done so for centuries.

Our committee, together with our community, has considered how to extend this embrace in a way that respects our values as Reform Jews and provides a respectful, helpful pathway for non-Jewish partners who seek to engage our community and Jewish life, more fully.

Over the course of the past two years, the committee received community input through numerous interviews and focus groups, provided a series of educational programs (scholar in residence weekend, invited speakers, Torah study) and held a series of discussion forums to educate and dialogue on the relevant issues.

After community consultation and extensive within-committee discussion, it became clear that a primary matter of concern was the existing constitutional restriction on the rights of non-Jewish members of Kol Ami. We examined those restrictions, again soliciting input in 2018 from the community through a community program and consultation from the board of directors, school committee, choir, snow birds, and individuals who responded to our outreach. Based on our congregational consultations and approaches used at other congregations, our committee recommended that our constitution be changed to remove several restrictions. We presented this to the board in the Spring 2018 and decided to present it at the 2019 AGM to discuss and then vote as a larger community after our merger took place.

We will be putting forth resolutions related to participation of non-Jewish partners in Kol Ami community life in June 2019. These resolutions will be the subject of voting at the AGM.

Our hope is that it provokes thought and engenders open-hearted discussion. Our intent is that we embrace one another in discussion and extend the conversation moving forward to strengthens us as a community. We hope many of you will come for discussion and voting!

Informational Session - May 27, 2019 AGM June 17th, 2019

Warm wishes,

Interfaith Committee, Kol Ami

Anita Small & Norman Rosenblum [Co-Chairs]; David Bernstein; Audrey Diamant; Peter Diamant; Andrea Gregor; Tomas Gregor; Elaine Page; Sylvia Starosta; Rabbi Micah Streiffer [Ex-Officio]

President's Message

Elliot Miller

When I was growing up in Montreal (St-Laurent to be specific), we had four sets of cutlery and dishes; meat, dairy, Passover meat and Passover dairy. I was never sure which plates to use when we ordered pizza with pepperoni on it, so we usually ate that directly out of the box.

We were members of an Orthodox shul, although we often drove to services, and we never ate pork, unless it was disguised with a name such as “spare ribs”.

What I suppose I’m saying is that I grew up Reform, without knowing it. I was raised with a love for Judaism, its holidays and traditions, the land of Israel, the Hebrew language and the prayer liturgy. It didn’t matter that we weren’t kosher or shomer-Shabbat, we were proud to be Jewish and celebrated it in our own way.

That is part of the attraction to Reform Judaism in general, and Kol Ami in particular. The essential elements of Judaism are front and centre: we celebrate the holidays, in the sanctuary and in our schools, we make connections to Israel, we teach our children to read Hebrew and to pray and to be proud of being Jewish.

And at the same time, we are inclusive, non-judgmental and welcoming, regardless of how many sets of dishes you have, and which ones you use when eating pepperoni pizza.

So celebrate being part of your community by continuing to observe it in the way that is most meaningful to you, knowing that you will always be welcome at Kol Ami.



Sun, February 5 2023 14 Sh'vat 5783