Michael Cole Appointed Warden of The Congregation
Respectfully submitted by Sheila Smolkin
At Sukkot services, on October 30, Michael Cole was named “Warden” of the congregation, an honour he richly deserves. Having worked with Michael for many years in the Temple Archives, I know how passionate he is about our synagogue and its values. He has worked tirelessly to preserve our important stories and to find ways to share those stories with others.
While celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 1956, the congregation established the category of Warden as a way to honour individuals who have given long and devoted service to the synagogue. Members who have been named Warden include among others Hortense Geldsaeler, Marilyn Farber, Morris Vigoda, Leonard Levy and David Hart. Michael joins Mary Seldon and Gary Posen, the other two Temple members who currently hold this title.
When Michael accepted the honour of Warden, he delivered the following remarks:
Thank you, Rabbi Splansky; thank you to the Board of Trustees for this honour.
I am deeply moved by this tribute. It’s an honour to join our current Wardens, Mary Seldon and Gary Posen, who have been stalwarts of Holy Blossom Temple for many years. Mary is always with us at shacharit services, either in person or online. Gary, together with Bambi Katz, for many years has helped me host visiting groups to Temple.
I stand on the shoulders of many of the Wardens who have gone before me and, alas, are no longer with us. I became active in many of my pursuits at Temple because of their encouragement.
Over fifty years ago, David Hart brought me into Brotherhood and into interfaith work, and, years later, Sheila Smolkin, introduced me to the activities of our Archives.
Morris Cooper (not the past president of Holy Blossom) brought me into leading Shiva services. Morris was, I believe, the very first coordinator of what we then called the Mitzvah corps of Shiva readers.
During my bachelor days, over forty years ago, Morris Vigoda would wake me up at 7:30 on Sunday morning to join him in doing the rounds of Toronto’s bagel shops in preparation for that morning’s Breakfast Club. In those years, we had an interesting guest speaker every week at Breakfast Club, and Morris showed me how to persuade these people to come to Holy Blossom for the fee of a free bagel.
Marilyn Farber and Leonard Levy were good friends, and, along with David Hart, shared their memories of Bond Street in the first of our ongoing Archival Oral History interviews.
To all of them, and to all of you, Todah Rabbah for this great honour. I hope and pray that I prove worthy of it.
Shabbat shalom and chag sameach!