The Community Today

Today, both Beth Jacob and Temple Shalom are still in operation and a joint committee is looking at ways they might work together on occasion. Temple Shalom has a permanent part-time Rabbi, Lori Cohen, and the 2008-2009 president, Doug Dykaar, has high praise for its “superb selection of lay leaders that educate and impress.” Beth Jacob’s Rabbi is Yosil Rosenzweig from Windsor, who has been there since 2005. Beth Jacob’s full-time Talmud Torah and adult education programs continue. At Temple Shalom, young Jewish families from K-W, Cambridge, Hanover, Guelph and Stratford come to enjoy the growing Tots program and twice-weekly Temple Shalom Religious School.

Membership at both synagogues has been supported by the continued growth of the universities, hospitals and businesses, and a number of Israeli newcomers. The 2009 Beth Jacob Membership chair, Carole Gumprich, recruited 14 families in 2008-2009 and was very enthusiastic about the synagogue’s future.

The celebration of Beth Jacob’s centennial on 26 October 2008 was attended by more than 200 people. Generations old and young reunited for a special dinner and celebration. Speaker Bernie Papernick honoured parents and grandparents for their “heroic” work to make the community so strong and vibrant.

The Hadassah community directory for 2008-2009 lists 186 member families for both congregations in Kitchener-Waterloo. In addition, there are still many unaffiliated Jews in the area, including academics and students. They are served by the Albert and Temmy Latner Jewish Students’ Centre at the University of Waterloo and Chabad of Waterloo Region, which was inaugurated in the fall of 2008. Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig says that one of his current goals is a “unity program,” to bring in unaffiliated individuals and families. At the other end of the spectrum are the many familiar family names that still appear on the membership lists in Kitchener-Waterloo. Today, the members of these families carry on the character and dedication of their ancestors, the first pioneers of the Kitchener-Waterloo Jewish community.