The 1960s


Exterior view of Beth Israel Synagogue on Reid Street, ca. 1964

As the 1960s opened, it was agreed that the Reid Street facility was inadequate to meet community needs. Of special concern was the growing population of young people and the need to provide them with youth programming. A first proposal to erect an addition was abandoned in favour of a plan to build a brand new synagogue and community centre, but opinion remained divided. A management committee was appointed, headed by then president Harry Schwartz along with Myer Cherney, Morton Golumbia and Harry Silver. They purchased a lot on Weller Street from the Civic Hospital and eventually engaged Eberhard Zeidler, who was a friend of Isadore Black, as architect. Zeidler won an award for his synagogue design. He later went on to create major works including Toronto’s Eaton Centre.

Eb Zeidler gave the community a unique and beautiful building, complete with courtyard, fountains, sculpture and a lofty sanctuary. A Diamond Jubilee Souvenir book, produced by the community in 1965, features the new building. The book describes the synagogue in glowing terms and contains photographs of the sod-turning ceremony. It also contains many other historical items about Peterborough and its Jews. The messages of support and congratulations that are included come not only from prominent Jewish community members but also from Peterborough’s Mayor, W.G. Powell, Ontario Premier John P. Robarts and Lester B. Pearson, Prime Minister of Canada.