The Community Today

On the May 17th weekend, 2002, B’nai Israel celebrated the 100th anniversary of the community. A huge fundraising campaign was undertaken by George Goldford to launch a project called the Window of Recognition. The Revzen children contributed funds to name the window in honour of their parents, Morton and Caroline Revzen. The window contains sections purchased by a variety of individuals recognizing family members who contributed to the shul. During the celebration event, a chuppah was set up as well as a display, consisting of items such as the early rabbi’s marriage book, the first key to the synagogue, as well as photos and other memorabilia. The celebration included an extended Shabbat service featuring Cantor Howard Shalowitz, followed by a gala dinner on Saturday night.

The following year in 2003, the synagogue organized a Bat Mitzvah program which included 22 women aged 28 to 86. Many of these women had little or no Hebrew education. Rabbi Eliyahu Courante led the classes. And on 13 December 2003, the women participated in a group Bat Mitzvah, reading from the Torah for the first time. It was also the first time women were given aliyot on their own without men present.

Recently, B’nai Israel established a foundation using the funds generated after the sale of land they had originally bought to build a new synagogue. The purpose of the foundation will be to help subsidize the congregation during a period where the numbers are on the decline, in order to ensure that they can pay their bills and maintain programming activities.

In January of 2000, Temple Tikvah amalgamated with the Conservative B’nai Jacob Synagogue in Niagara Falls. Together they had about 60 member families and 40 students attending Hebrew school. The co-presidents were Bob Muller and Chuck Shulman. This merger suited both congregations well, since they were suffering from a lack of members and wanted a permanent building to rely on for services and social functions. Today, Mike Wierzba from Mississauga serves as their spiritual leader and Bob Muller, the president of the shul, oversees services when Mike is away. The congregation has become completely egalitarian and has around 30 families as members. It runs a religious school on Sundays for the children, as well as an adult education program and a very active youth group.