Knesseth Israel
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The Tanenbaums

Abraham Tanenbaum was a founder and early member of Knesseth Israel synagogue. He migrated to Toronto in 1911 from Parczew, Poland with eight dollars to his name. He later became a peddler, collecting scrap metal around the city. In 1914, after he had saved enough money, he brought his wife, Chippa Sura, and two sons, Joseph and Max, to Canada. The Orthodox Jewish family lived in the Junction in a house on Maria Street, directly across from the Synagogue. Abraham would often be found studying the TalmudTalmud: [from the Hebrew root meaning "to learn"] refers to the oral law and rabbinical discussions compiled in efforts to interpret the oral law. in YiddishYiddish: [literally, "Jewish"] language spoken by Jews in Eastern Europe. Yiddish is a blend of Hebrew and German, but is written using Hebrew characters., or having lunch on ShabbatShabbat: the period between Friday at sundown and Saturday one hour after sundown in which Jews are required to refrain from all forms of work. with visiting rabbis.

Abraham made his fortune brick by brick, by demolishing old buildings free-of-charge for the right to search through the rubble for salvageable scraps. He later established the Runnymede Metal and Salvage Company, which became the second largest steel fabricator in Toronto. With the help of his sons, Abraham built his profitable business into an empire based upon steel fabrication and real estate.

Abraham and Chippa Sura were generous people who lived by the Jewish principle of philanthropy and benevolence. Joey Tanenbaum, Abraham and Chippa Sura’s grandson, followed the charitable teachings of his grandparents and became a well-respected philanthropist in Toronto in the area of arts and culture. Joey also funded the restoration of Knesseth Israel synagogue and donated the heritage plaque in his grandparents’ memory.




Tanenbaum family portrait
(March 26, 1939)



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