Religious Professions


"Throughout all generations, every male shall be circumcised when he is eight days old...This shall be my covenant in your flesh, an eternal covenant." (Genesis 17:1-14)

The first mohelim (circumcision practitioners) in Toronto were usually the shochetim (ritual slaughterers) or hazzanim (cantors).  One of the most prominent cantors in the city was Bernard Wladowsky from Poland, who served at many of Toronto’s synagogues and completed nearly three quarters of all the circumcisions in Toronto during his career.  This combination of professions gave Wladowsky the nickname “The Singing Mohel”.

Throughout his career, Wladowsky passed on his skills to other mohelim, like Isadore Cass, the first Toronto mohel to hold a medical degree. Today, Toronto’s mohelim include both men and women practising various kinds of circumcision ceremonies. 


“For the life of every creature – its blood is its life; therefore I have said to the people of Israel: you shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood…” (Leviticus 17:14)

In order to regulate the kosher slaughtering of meat in Toronto, two well-known Rabbis--Weinreb and Gordon--formed the Va’ad HaKashruth after Rabbi Gordon’s arrival in 1905.  Under the Va’ad, all of the congregations in Toronto agreed to employ only those eight local shochetim approved b the two rabbis.  Synagogues collected a fee from each butcher shop for the shochet’s services, which was then divided among the rabbis and shochetim. 

By 1920, individual meat wholesalers and slaughterhouses were employing shochetim directly. They were paid a standardised rate according to weight.  However, congregations continued to charge businesses and pay the rabbis a fee for supervision.

Today the contemporary iteration of the Va’ad--the Kashruth Council of Canada--strives to “provide the highest level of kosher supervision using the latest scientific technology”.