Megan Stephens, Director
My family and I have been members of Holy Blossom Temple since making Toronto our home in 2006. Holy Blossom has been a wonderful and welcoming place for our family to carve out new traditions and lay down roots in the Reform Jewish community.
Neither my husband, Daniel, nor I grew up in the Reform Jewish community. When I converted to Judaism in 2003, Daniel and I chose to do so through the Reform Jewish community, as those values resonated strongly with both of us. Reform Judaism was not just a change for me, however; it was also a change for Daniel, who grew up in a conservative shul in Ottawa. Holy Blossom has made that change an easy one for both us, allowing us to feel connected to important traditions, but in a modern and inclusive way.
Daniel and I have three wonderful children – Shoshana, Jakob, and Tasha – all of whom have grown up at Holy Blossom. When they were young, we enjoyed attending Tot Shabbat services at Holy Blossom, and all three of our kids have been active participants in the temple’s Youth Education Centre. Our two oldest children have already become b’nei mitzvah in the Sanctuary – and we look forward to our youngest becoming bat mitzvah in 2024. Shoshana, our eldest, has kept engaged with JTEM – meeting lifelong friends and enjoying all aspects of its programming.
In recent years, I have been actively involved in Holy Blossom’s Women’s Advocacy Group, working with others to form the group, craft its mission, and then pull together on-line programs for the temple’s membership and broader community during COVID. My involvement with the Women’s Advocacy Group has proven to be truly rewarding, connecting me with others in our community with a shared passion for addressing women’s social justice issues – and tikkun olam more generally.
Professionally, I’ve been a lawyer for almost 20 years. I started my own practice in 2021, with a focus on assisting women and gender-diverse people in their encounters with the justice system. I have a long-standing interest in improving the justice system’s responsiveness to gender-based violence. I teach a seminar I developed at Osgoode’s Professional Development LLM in Criminal Law & Procedure, “From Victimization to Criminalization – Gendered Experiences in the Criminal Justice System”.
Before starting my law practice, I was the Executive Director & General Counsel at the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF). I also spent more than a decade working as crown counsel at the Crown Law Office – Criminal in the Ministry of the Attorney General, developing an expertise in constitutional issues, as well as appeals involving gender-based violence, such as sexual assault and human trafficking.