Article by Barbara Weisfeld.
My grandmother was born in New York City. She started performing from the age of five with Gus Edwards. She later became a Vaudeville performer, met George Gershwin and had her picture on the sheet music of Irving Berlin. During the war she travelled entertaining the troops. In 1920 she married, came to Toronto where her mother-inlaw took her directly from the train station to Holy Blossom Temple and the rest is history. That history goes back 92 years.
Hortense Geldsaler was a staple at Holy Blossom Temple and a core member of the Sisterhood during its humble beginnings; so much so that she earned the title of “Mrs. Holy Blossom Temple”. She was elected Sisterhood president from 1946 to 1948; she was a Temple Warden and she was made Honourary President of Sisterhood in 1975.
I remember her always at the Temple, in the kitchen, at a meeting, planning an event, baking for events, performing in Temple shows.
I did have the pleasure of performing with her and my mother in a Sisterhood show when I was 18. I still have the photos and the recording of that event! To say Hortense Geldsaler and not connect her to the Temple is just not possible.
My family has been part of the Temple for as long as I can remember. I, however, had been “in” and “out” of the Temple for a long time as I just could not find where I belonged. After my mother passed away, I came back for a brief time but left yet again.
In 2004 I had my adult Bat Mitzvah. I joined Temple Singers but that didn’t last long. I was “out” again. However on the occasion of the Temple’s 150th, my family were Patrons for this momentous event. How could they be Patrons and I not be a member! I joined again! But this time, I didn’t leave. I was determined to find where I belonged. I needed community. I re-joined the Temple Singers because music is in my blood and a few years later, I was asked to join Sisterhood.
My first thought was “Sisterhood? My Grandmother’s Sisterhood? Do I have to be in the kitchen? I don’t cook, I microwave. Do I have to wear gloves and nice dresses? I wear leggings and cowboy boots! Don’t even ask me to wear a hat! Not happening! Do I have to drink tea? I hate tea; I drink lattes! Aren’t I too young to be in Sisterhood?” They were nice enough to invite me and I didn’t want to be rude so I decided to check it out.
Two years later and I’m still here! I’m still in my cowboy boots and drinking my lattes. However, these few years have been very insightful and rewarding. Sisterhood is on the move in a new direction and embarking on a new initiative. We are re-inventing ourselves, re-branding if you will. To start, last month we met with a facilitator who led us in a day of reflection and future planning.
We want our programs and events to reflect our membership, to be current with the issues that matter to women today, to you, our membership.
As we embark on this new initiative, we will be blogging our progress and invite you to follow us on our journey. If you would like to become involved, even in a small way, we invite you to join this wonderful group of women in any way you feel comfortable doing so. If you are like me and are looking for some small way to become involved in our Temple Community or even a big way, this is a wonderful time to join us as we transition into the future. Your support, thoughts and input are so important to the process.
This was my Grandmother’s Sisterhood. It’s mine now but I learned from the best!