Oakville Synagogue celebrates 60th anniversary

Rabbi talking to children in Sanctuary
Oakville Synagogue celebrates 60th anniversary
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Stephen Wise

Rabbi Wise has focused much of his rabbinate in striving passionately to connect Jews of all ages to their Judaism. Whether its through prayer services, learning or social action, each presents a gateway to stronger Jewish identity. Rabbi Wise has worked recently developing programming for young adults in their 20-30's, starting ongoing successful groups in NYC and Florida, reigniting their connections to Judaism. Rabbi Wise is the spiritual leader for Oakville's Jewish community, and his congregation is Shaarei Beth-El on Morrison Road.

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Shaarei-Beth El Congregation of Halton, the only synagogue in Halton Region, is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. On November 21st and 22nd, the synagogue will have a weekend of events to mark this occasion.

Shaarei Beth El Congregation Oakville ExteriorThe history of the synagogue begins in Europe as waves of Jewish immigrants moved and settled into Ontario. In 1912 Morris Burke left Romania, met and married Rose in Toronto and settled in Oakville in 1922. Also in 1912, Michael Brown (Marcos Zuckerman) left Bukovina and married Becky and settled in Oakville in 1923. The two women, both pregnant, met at a baby clinic in town and the idea of a Jewish congregation was “conceived” with great optimism and community spirit.

In 1955 they founded the Oakville-Trafalgar Jewish community centre with 15 families. They planned to have poker nights for the dads, celebrate Jewish holidays together and religious instruction for the children. As they grew and looked for land to build a synagogue, the Jensen family of Oakville offered the far end of what was then called Morrison Farms. Donations came in and the building was finished in 1962 and congregation was renamed Beth El, meaning house of God.

Ground Breaking 1985, Shaarei Beth El, Oakville NewsBy the late 1960’s the congregation had grown to 100 families and hired a Rabbi. They had events in Oakville including a bazaar, bingo and fashion show in the Oakville Arena’s Pine Room. By the 1980’s the synagogue was looking to expand and merged with the Burlington Jewish group to form what we now know as Shaarei-Beth El and renovated the synagogue to the current 5000 square foot multi-function facility we have today. In recent years the building was renovated and retrofitted so that it is eco-friendly outside and beautiful and warm inside.

We invite the Oakville community to join us for our celebrations. On the morning of Saturday November 21st, we will have a special Shabbat worship service where our choir will perform a new piece of liturgical music composed for this occasion. Our longest serving Rabbi, Ed Goldfarb, will be on hand to deliver a sermon and we will honour Frimmy Burnstein with the first ever Liz Fein Memorial leadership award.

On the evening of Sunday November 22nd, we will have a Gala Dinner Fundraiser featuring archives of our 60 year history, a welcoming address from Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union of Reform Judaism representing the nearly 900 Reform Jewish congregations across North America. We will also have an exciting musical presentation from renowned Latin Guitarist Johannes Linstead.

Mayors, MP’s, MPP’s and members of the interfaith community will all join over 150 of our friends and congregants to celebrate this milestone, we hope you will join us!

The synagogue is located at 186 Morrison Road (north of Lakeshore Road East and south of Devon) which is in South East Oakville.


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