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It takes a village

This High Holy Day season was particularly uplifting because we were finally able to welcome everyone in to see many of our new and renewed spaces.  Just this glimpse was enough to be able to imagine how creative communal life will take root in our Atrium and flourish throughout the campus.  Temple President Judy Winberg and Jeff Denaburg, the Vice President of the Department of Worship, join me in wishing everyone another round of blessings for the New Year and another round of thanks to the many people who contributed skill and precious time to make our thirty services so meaningful.

At the risk of missing someone, here is evidence of how it really does take a village to bring our congregation together for prayer, reflection, and celebration.  If we have inadvertently missed someone here, first, please forgive us – next Yom Kippur is a long way off!  And then, please let us know so we can add your name for proper acknowledgment.

In addition to our Rabbis and Cantors, many congregants help to lead our many and varied services.  Thanks to their talents and devotion, we are able to offer services designed especially for families, for young professionals, for little kids, big kids, and teens.  They are:


  • Avishai Sol
  • Brenda Saunders
  • Darren Sukonick
  • David Gershon
  • Dr. David Greenberg
  • Jared Gershon
  • Jeff Denaburg
  • Lisa Isen Baumal
  • Mark Weinstock
  • Michael Cole
  • Michael Leese
  • Nadine Charendoff
  • Robert Sniderman
  • Sydney Greenberg

Our Torah and Haftarah Readers bring honour to our sacred texts.  They practice for months to ensure every letter and every note elevates the occasion.  Under the leadership of Cantorial Soloist Lindi Rivers they are:

  • Adam Sniderman
  • Adam Sol
  • Adrienne Klein
  • Benji McLean
  • Brenda Saunders
  • Brian Lidsky
  • Camille Lisser
  • Caroline Ingvaldsen
  • Charly Warwick
  • Cynthia Good
  • Daniel Abramson
  • Debra Bennett
  • Dr. David Greenberg
  • Eli Sol
  • Ellen Lupu
  • Ellie Davidson
  • Elliott Friedland
  • Eric Petersiel
  • Gail Kerbel
  • Helena Fine
  • Jane Herman
  • Jaryd Diamond
  • Jason Baker
  • Jeff Denaburg
  • Jennifer Shiner
  • Jill Kamin
  • Jonathan Toker
  • Judy Malkin
  • Levi Cassidy
  • Lindsay McLean
  • Lior Sagi
  • Lisa Isen Baumal
  • Maddy Toker
  • Matthew Diamond
  • Max Mickelson
  • Mike Morgulis
  • Nathan McLean
  • Neri Slan
  • Nisa Diamond
  • Oona Nadler
  • Paula Warren
  • Robert Steiner
  • Robyn Blatt
  • Samantha Sherman
  • Susan Baskin
  • Suzanne Hersh
  • Taiga Lipson
  • Ted Shafran
  • Yonit Landskroner

A Gabbai is like the stage manager, who ensures that the bimah rituals are performed inclusively and gracefully.  Under the leadership of Jill Hertzman our High Holy Day Gabbaim are:

  • Adam Sniderman
  • Alberto Quiroz
  • Avra Rosen
  • Barry Silver
  • Brenda Saunders
  • David Mock
  • Dr. Barry Borden
  • Dr. Michael Davis
  • Ellie Davidson
  • Eric Roher
  • Etienne Caplan
  • Harley Jonatan
  • Jane Herman
  • Lisa Isen Baumal
  • Lori Gershon
  • Mark S. Anshan
  • Mark Schlossberg
  • Mel Olsberg
  • Phyllis Denaburg
  • Sam Sapera
  • Ted Shafran


Organizing the dozens of congregants who carry mitzvah-honours throughout our High Holy Day services is deceptively complex.  Many thanks to Judy Malkin, Karen Abells, and Brenda Saunders for overseeing the process from beginning to end.

Our Shofar Blowers call us to attention throughout the month of Ellul and ring in the New Year with kavanah (soulful intention).  Under the leadership of Cantor Maissner they are:

  • David Gershon
  • Dr. Peter Dan
  • Dr. Yoel Abells
  • Ethan Krangle
  • Howard Goodman
  • Michael Cole
  • Robin Malach
  • Ryan Bockner
  • Sam Sapera
  • Steven Dan
  • Tal Maissner

Our Temple Singers lift the words of the Machzor (High Holy Day prayerbook) off the page and transform them into sincere prayer.  Under the direction of Cantor Maissner and Nadia Adler, and together with our devoted professional choir members, our Temple Singers are:

  • Anne Dublin
  • Barbara Grossman
  • Carla Baudot
  • Caroline Ingvaldsen
  • Catherine Mayers
  • Dena Perlmutar
  • Denise Gordon
  • Ellen Cole
  • Helena Fine
  • Jack Kugelmass
  • Janice Babins
  • Jeff Baker
  • Jill Kamin
  • Joanne Roher
  • Judy Wilansky
  • Lew Molot
  • Lily Shain
  • Lynn Glazer
  • Marla Powers
  • Michael Greenstein
  • Pam Halpern
  • Ron Hart
  • Sandi Schafer
  • Saul Ship
  • Sharon Miller
  • Sheila Weinstock
  • Shelley Miller
  • Susan Baskin
  • Susan Cohen
  • Susan Fremes
  • Uriel Priwes

Our Ushers fulfill the essential mitzvah of hospitality, ensuring that everyone is safe and comfortable.  Under the leadership of Gerry Prendergast, John Morrisey, Larry Babins, and Abe Neufeld our High Holy Day Ushers are:

  • Alan Gordon
  • Alexis Singer
  • Arnold Englander
  • Bambi Katz
  • Barry Silver
  • Bob Charendoff
  • Bob Cooper
  • Carole Sterling
  • David Tartick
  • Devin Horowitz
  • Diana Goodman
  • Dr. Barry Borden
  • Dr. Brian Hands
  • Dr. Fred Saunders
  • Esther Bergman
  • Etienne Kaplan
  • Fern Lebo
  • Gail Goodman
  • Gary Goodman
  • Harley Mintz
  • Johanna Faulk
  • John Morrisey
  • John Phillips
  • Judith Slan
  • Marilyn Hahn
  • Mel Olsberg
  • Merle Kriss
  • Michael Ryval
  • Reuben Bromstein
  • Richard Lorie
  • Rick Howard
  • Rob Herman
  • Robert Schenk
  • Rosalie Sussman
  • Stuart Gibson
  • Yehuda Beni

 Our Greeters are the first friendly faces you see as you approach Holy Blossom Temple.  They answer our questions and point us in the right direction, which was especially important this year with our new spaces.  Under the leadership of Corinne Black, our High Holy Day Greeters are:

  • Barbara Hodes
  • Caroline Ingvaldsen
  • Cheryl Sylvester
  • Claudia Paradis
  • Dylan Aster
  • Elana Fehler
  • Elana Paice Lidsky
  • Ellen Karabanow
  • Erin O’Connor
  • Jan Simonsky
  • Jeff Denaburg
  • Jill Kamin
  • Judy and Allan Borodin
  • Judy Winberg
  • Julie Solomon
  • Karen Abels
  • Karen Mock
  • Liam Vrooman
  • Marcia Zemans
  • Nadine Charendoff
  • Richard Vrooman
  • Rob Simonsky
  • Robert Charendoff
  • Sara Charney
  • Sheila Smolkin

Many physicians are on-call and strategically placed throughout our prayer spaces.  In addition to the first responders on site, these devoted congregants are here should anyone need medical attention.  Under the leadership of Dr. Barry Borden, they are:

  • Dr. Chris Hassell
  • Dr. Joel Kirsh
  • Dr. Melissa Nutik
  • Dr. Michael Davis
  • Dr. Rhonda Wilansky
  • Dr. Ruth Hussman
  • Dr. Yoel Abells

It is our custom to pause in the midst of our prayer services on Yom Kippur afternoon to allow for communal learning. 

Thanks to Cheryl Sylvester for her Yom Kippur afternoon Meditation and Study on The Divine Attribute of Patience.

Thanks to our panel of architects from Diamond Schmitt — Martin Davidson and Duncan Higgins.  Thanks to representatives from our Renewal Project Steering Committee — Tom Friedland, Cary Solomon, David Rosenberg, Judy Winberg and Russ Joseph (unable to be with us were Joan Garson and Jonathan King).  The questions I asked and the answers they provided helped us to “study the text” of our new spaces.  The design is a beautiful expression of our congregational values and our stories.

We thank Consul General Baram for addressing the congregation and bringing official greetings from The State of Israel.  It is always an honour to welcome her and her family to Holy Blossom Temple.

We thank our Director of Facilities, Jim Westcott and his team, who work round the clock to ready our building – inside and out.  They are:

  • Aaliyah Williams
  • Dante Thorne
  • Elliott Raphael
  • Lauren Demers
  • Terry Nicholson

We thank our Office Manager, Judy Amsterdam and our devoted Administrative Team, who organize countless details and pay careful attention to every special request.  They are:

  • Anna Gurevich
  • Cindy Zimmer
  • Elana Fehler
  • Ella Vatagsky
  • JoAnne Bieman
  • Lindsay Mockler
  • Marco Bernardi
  • Mari Lynn Rusak

Our Director of Community Engagement, Tema Smith, welcomed 79 new families to Holy Blossom this season.  Our Education Team — Director of Education, Debbie Speigel, Director of Youth Engagement, Lisa Isen Baumal, and Interim Early Childhood Principal, Pam Hamovitch — welcomed 150 children into our schools.  Our Director of Communications, Deanna Levy, published countless bulletins and e-newsletters, Facebook campaigns and programming brochures, posters, postcards, and lawn signs.  Our Director of Development, Jonathan Ain, oversaw our successful Annual Campaign and launched our Hineini (Capital) Campaign.  And finally, thanks to our Executive Director, Russ Joseph and to our Temple Warden Gary Posen, who oversaw all the pieces of the High Holy Day puzzle to ensure they came together as one seamless whole.

Here’s to 5779!  May it be a year of creativity and fulfillment for our Holy Blossom community.  May it be a year of greater justice and compassion for Canada, for Israel, and all the world.


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Showing 2 comments
  • Cheryl Sylvester

    So many good people! Kol hakavod to this village of dedicated volunteers and Temple staff.

    Kol hakavod to our Clergy for their inspiring spiritual leadership of our village over these High Holydays! (And always)

    So exciting for all of us to be on the verge of realizing this Renewal.

  • Debby Vigoda

    It truly does “take a village”! The icommitment and involvement of so many has resulted in an axcitement and energy that one can “feel”. Yosher Koach. Fondly Debby Vigoda

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