In Featured at HBT, renewal

When Michael and Janette Diamond first joined Holy Blossom Temple in the 1980s, they were struck by the eloquence of the rabbis, the splendour of the music and the beauty of the physical building. In their eyes, while the clergy and the music have never faltered in their excellence, the building has not fared nearly as well.

“You couldn’t continue in that physical plant without this renovation,” says Mike, who was part of the core team that launched the Renewal Campaign in 2005. “With the exception of the Main Sanctuary, it had become drab, and the layout was confusing. It was also inefficient and very costly to operate and maintain.  A renovation was badly needed.”

When the Diamonds first joined the Temple, it was just the two of them.  Today, their family includes Jesse (and his son Taiden), Cole and Shelby (and their newborn son Aidan ), and Ari and Carly.

For Mike and Janette, the most distinguishing feature of the design is the Central Atrium. “The old building did not encourage congregational life because it had no centre,” says Mike. “Once the new building opens, whatever you are doing at Temple, you’re going to enter and exit through that Atrium. The Atrium will become the beating heart of a stronger congregation. In terms of building community, the return on investment for this project will be astounding.”

The Diamonds strongly believe that the new building, with its dramatic, light-filled spaces, contemporary materials, and easy way-finding, will foster an ambiance that will bring the congregation to ever greater heights. At the same time, in selecting a naming opportunity to recognize their gift to Renewal, they chose to eschew the modern and name a Torah scroll in memory of Janette’s parents, Mila and Jack Penn.

“When it came to the dedication, we went traditional,” says Janette. “We wanted to do something in honour of my parents who were holocaust survivors and also founding members of Beth Emeth Synagogue. When the opportunity of naming a Torah in their honour arose, that immediately sang to us.”

For Janette, who did not grow up within the Reform movement, Holy Blossom Temple has always seemed like a logical spiritual home for her family.  “It’s just the right fit for us,” says Janette. “We may not come every week, but each time we do attend services, we always leave saying that we should come more often.”

“Services at Holy Blossom are very enjoyable and uplifting,” says Mike. “When I go I into the Sanctuary, it has an impact on me. You mix the splendour of the Main Sanctuary with the beauty of the music, and then top it off with the very impactful words of Rabbi Splansky, and you have the perfect spiritual experience, at least for us. This is worship at its best, and it should be supported.”

According to the Diamonds, who have not only donated to the Renewal Campaign but have also continued to make regular donations to the Temple’s annual campaign, every Holy Blossom member who has the financial ability to do so should contribute generously to the Renewal Campaign.

“If you care about the Jewish community, then you understand that a central element of that community is its synagogues,” says Mike. “If you want to have a place that feels good and takes care of your needs now and into the future, I urge you to give whatever you can afford to this capital campaign. This is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to impact future generations, so take advantage of it. Be part of it.”

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