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Educators' Corner

Judy Silver & Cally Rootenberg

Kol Ami's Shabbat School

There is so much to look forward to!!

I think I can safely say that we are all glad that February is now history and we can look forward to Spring and all that it brings. Was it a coincidence that Purim fell on the very first day of Spring? I’d like to think not! Our Purim celebration was everything that we could hope for - an amazing Purim Service and Spiel were filled with music, laughter and the retelling of our story of perseverance and freedom. The carnival and Haman’s Hideaway provided something memorable for everyone and we couldn’t have done it without the cast of volunteers, actors, and donors. Thank you all.

It usually feels like the school year speeds very quickly to the end of our school year once Spring arrives, and yet there is so much to look forward to!

With Spring in the air, our students and teachers will be diving into everything Pesach! I look forward to taking in the aromas and sounds of Passover in the hallways of our school.

Our Madrichim are putting together an Israeli Shuk experience for the whole school!

Our Grade 7 students will be celebrating three more B’nai Mitzvah together and visiting the Mikvah together!

Our Gan and Grade 1-2 class will be participating in the final Rock Shabbat of the school year! Grade 6 families will spend time experiencing Jewish literature with Heather Berger.

Our students will continue advancing in Hebrew and moving onward and upward in their Hebrew levels.

Our teens will enjoy some time at retreats, escape rooms, and NFTY Spring Kallah together and with other teens from the GTA!

(And if I may, the Blue Jays season will be well underway – hopefully a great thing this year!)

Have wonderful first moments and Spring and all the joy that it may bring!

Judy Silver


Neshamah School of Kol Ami Highlights 

Chag Purim, Chag Purim! Students explored the holiday by putting their acting skills to the test, designed hero masks, unique greggors and more!

And our Purim clothing drive for Ve'ahavta was a great success! Students packaged bags reflecting on the Jewish value of matanat l'evyonim (giving to those in need) as well as the physical and emotional needs of the homeless in our city. Kol hakavod to our school community for helping make this possible! And to Heather Slapack and the Social Action Committee for helping bring the packages to Ve'ahavta.

Social Action Committee for helping bring the packages to Ve'ahavta.

It was a day of food and feasting! Students learned about the special manna that G-d gave the Jewish people in the desert. Reflecting on the upcoming Jewish holidays: Purim, Passover and Shavuot - students experienced eating and preparing special foods for these holidays. Ready to bake at home Hamantaschen. Toaster Matzah in under 18 minutes! A bagel and cream cheese schmooze.


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

A Message from Neshamah School of Kol Ami

Cally Rootenberg

Neshamah School of Kol Ami

February School Highlights

Hiddur Mitzvah: Our students learned about the beautiful ways Jewish people in our community express their connection to G-d.

Shabbat: Each grade group focused on different Shabbat rituals and customs and decorated/designed candles, challah covers and Kiddush cups to have in their homes.


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

Grade 7 Mitzvah Project: Raising Awareness for the Passover Food Drive

Our grade 7 students have been learning about poverty and hunger in our community, the affect it can have on families and what we can do as a community to help make a change. They will be taking an active role in our school to inspire their fellow students and will be collecting non- perishable food to support the NCJWC Passover Food Drive. (Collection bins will be beside the storage room at Lebovic campus and at the Kol Ami office closer to the drive)

Upcoming Dates

March 3rd Neshamah Next: How To Do The Most Good - with speaker Mark Rootenberg

March 20th Kol Ami Purim Carnival @36 Atkinson Ave.

April 7th School Bingo Fundraiser @Lebovic Campus

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

Up Next We Explore!

Judaism and food/ Purim


President's Message

Elliot Miller

This month’s President’s Message is about two Jewish holidays that I think about a lot in March: Purim and Rosh Hashanah!

I’m sure some of you are wondering whether I’ve been consuming some new type of edibles, since those two holidays happen 6 months apart and have nothing in common – other than on both occasions I get up in front of a group of people and make a fool of myself.

At the risk of confusing you any further – here are the reasons I think of both holidays in March. Purim is kind of obvious; it’s the fun holiday, where we get to dress up, drink and act silly. Kind of like a frat Halloween party. And Kol Ami gets in the Purim spirit with a party for all ages; our annual Purim Carnival and Spiel, to be held on Wednesday March 20th at Kol Ami, 36 Atkinson.

For me the highlight is the musical parody, or spiel. This year, in honour of the film that picked up 4 Oscars, we present Shushan Rhapsody, based on the music of Queen. A bunch of your favourite Kol Ami ham actors, including Dana Glickman as Esther, Ben Burko as Haman (booo), Aiden Orzech as Mordechai and Ryan Berger as King Achashverosh, will have you singing and laughing at the outrageous story. Look for me in the critical role of “Minister #2”.

After the play, the fun hits another level. The kids make a beeline for the carnival, with fun games and activities, while the adults sneak upstairs to Haman’s Hideaway, where adult beverages will be served. Overall, this is a night not to be missed.

Okay, what’s with Rosh Hashanah? Together with Yom Kippur, they comprise our High Holy Days, one of the most important events of the year. If you were at Avani Event Centre last year, you surely noticed how beautifully the hall was set up for our services, and how seamlessly all the people and the moving parts worked together.

But that doesn’t happen by itself, and preparations for High Holy Days start as early as March (actually, booking the hall happens even earlier). That is why I am thinking of High Holidays at this time of year. WE NEED VOLUNTEERS! The High Holy Day Committee will start meeting soon to make sure that everything is in place for September 30, 2019 Erev Rosh Hashanah. Please call 416-779-0792 or e-mail me ( if you would like to help in any capacity.



A Message from Kol Ami Shabbat School

Judy Silver

It has been a wild, wintery month of school! Our students have celebrated Tu B’shvat, continued along in Hebrew each Saturday morning, sung up a storm with Jared, and created gorgeous art projects to bring home and share. Guest speakers met with our Madrichim and we welcomed students from Kol Ami’s Sunday program to study and pray with our Grade 7 class. Parents came in to learn more about Jewish literature with their children for Family Education days with Heather Berger and became Torah scribes with their own quills and ink.

The next few months will be filled with fun celebrations and wonderful holidays. Please join us on March 20 at the Purim celebration – the Megillah reading and Shushan Rhapsody Purim Spiel along with a fantastic Purim carnival! Prizes, games, food and fun! It will be a great way to celebrate Purim together!

If you have some time, please check out It’s a great resource for short videos covering everything from Jewish stories, Parashot, Holidays with a space just for younger kids called “Shaboom”. It’s an excellent website to explore with your kids.

President's Message

Elliot Miller

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


Why not?


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


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


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


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


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


L’shalom, Elliot


A message from Neshama School Of Kol Ami

Cally Rootenberg

January School Highlights

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

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

School Reimagining Town Hall Meeting

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

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

NSKA Welcomes Michael Assistant Director of URJ Camp George

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

Upcoming Dates

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

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

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

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

Up Next We Explore

Hiddur Mitzvah and Shabbat!


A Message from Kol Ami's Shabbat School

Judy Silver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



A Message from Kol Ami Shabbat School

Judy Silver

Mitzvot come alive in Grade 7 @ Kol Ami

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dates to Remember:

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

Judy Silver


Neshamah School of Kol Ami

Cally Rootenberg

Neshamah School of Kol Ami

December Highlights:

Chanukah School Wide Program:

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

A Coat of Many Colours and Many Traditions

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

Guest Speaker: Canvas Arts Action

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

NSKA Storyboards:

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

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

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

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

Upcoming dates:

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

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

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

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

Have a happy and healthy winter break!

Cally Rootenberg


President's Message

Elliot Miller

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


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


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


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


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


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


Shana Tovah - Happy Secular New Year!




Sat, September 18 2021 12 Tishrei 5782