SISTERHOOD’S JUDAICA SHOP HERSTORY
By Barbara Glaser, Sisterhood Leadership Council
Over our architectural transformation of our new sacred space in the Schwartz/Reisman atrium, the Judaica Shop has also unveiled an abundantly rich history coupled with touching memories and heartwarming stories that have been unearthed from various congregants within our community about their family members contribution to the Judaica Shop and Sisterhood. We are most grateful to hear, listen and share, these stories which will also be unveiled in the coming weeks and months especially over HB Sisterhood’s coming centenary.
We will start our journey honouring three remarkable women Hope Maissner, Mary Seldon and Pnina Margolese z”l. We would not be where we are today without these matriarchs and a long line of women in Sisterhood’s HERstory to fulfil our future while circling back with our rich history.
I had the honour of speaking with Hope Maissner and Mary Seldon, each in their own words and voices except sadly we lost Pnina Margolese in 2017. Her “sisters” Janice Babins, Etienne Kaplan and Sara Charney are sharing their moving thoughts and memories on the power of Pnina.
Hope Maissner started her wonderful volunteer work with Temple thirty years ago as the owner of a home-based business called Tikvah Tableware importing Judaica and tablecloths mostly from Israel, some from the US, and bringing in a few local artists. With Hope’s business sense and acumen, she made a proposal to Temple and provided the Judaica Shop inventory from her business on consignment. Hope has artistically and efficiently managed the Shop, along with a dedicated group of Sisterhood volunteers. Her goals have been to provide service to the congregation, fundraise for Sisterhood, educate the congregation and volunteers, concerning ritual objects, holiday observances and Tzedakah through projects like Mazon, Ethiopian made items etc. Throughout all these many years of hard work, Hope with this dedicated team of volunteers has kept the Shop thriving and has achieved a successful Temple enterprise. Due to Temple recognizing the potential, we have our present Shop in our beautiful atrium. This past and present success will continue to grow and flourish, honouring the legacy on the shoulders of all these dedicated Sisterhood volunteers of the past.
We honour you Hope and the dedicated team without whom we wouldn’t be where we are today! In Hope’s own words: “I am thrilled that Sisterhood has taken on the goal now of running the Shop as their own business in support of the Temple and that I can step away from the business end of things but remain a volunteer in the Shop.”
Mary Seldon has a true passion and love for the work she does which completely comes across and that’s where her dedication lies in her work and incredible contribution to Sisterhood and the Judaica Shop as a volunteer. As a professional volunteer, Mary’s roles encompass and cross over various giving roles, at her children’s school Forest Hill Collegiate, Baycrest, a figure skating program for ten years and the Red Cross to name a few.
Mary joined HBT in 1967 and humbly has been with the Sisterhood Judaica Shop for approximately thirty-six years! She ran the Shop with a team of dedicated volunteers for fifteen of those years where the Shop continued to be lucrative and productive. Mary later worked closely together with Pnina Margolese and Hope Maissner as a solid team. How lucky are we that Sisterhood needed someone to run the shop during that time and Mary came forward. Here we are all together those years later! We have this wisdom and knowledge to learn from, to follow and emulate.
Sisterhood Memories of Pnina:
“Sisterhood and Pnina were made for each other. Pnina’s creative mind flowed with Sisterhood possibilities. She dedicated her abundant energy, determination, organizational ability and desire to serve Sisterhood and especially the Judaica Shop. Her vision and dreams have been realized in our new Judaica Shop. Pnina I salute you I miss you.” Janice Babins.
“Pnina was often the face of Sisterhood, whether she was selling books at Temple lectures or negotiating with the Renewal Project Committee for a prominent location for a beautiful, walk-in Judaica Shop. She and I visited several synagogues around Toronto to gather ideas for the look of our new Shop. Pnina was a creative thinker and used her positive energies to benefit her beloved Sisterhood and Temple. She also devoted many years to the WRJ Northeast District board and loved to attend the District conventions as well as the WRJ Assemblies and URJ Biennials. She was a real people-person and never failed to make new friends wherever she travelled. I certainly do miss my long-standing roommate!” Sara Charney
“She was devoted to Sisterhood and the Judaica Shop. She was always willing to be there and help out when necessary. Over the years, she held many responsible positions, i.e. recording secretary and treasurer. We always had fun together at Retreat, where she was responsible for the ice-breakers when participants were getting to know each other. I would liken her to the Israeli Sabra, which is a little prickly on the outside, but soft and delicious on the inside. She could be a bit abrasive with people, but always meant well and would do her best to be accommodating.” Etienne Kaplan