We have all waited such a long, long time for the City Shul. My profound yearning, and perhaps yours, has been to find a progressive, spiritual community in the place where I live. Equally important to me and my family is a synagogue that is prepared to meet us where we are – struggles, skepticism, seeking and all. That, for us, is what the City Shul is.
Downtown Toronto also holds a profound place in our family’s history – some of our parents and grandparents were refugees from the Holocaust who lived their first days of true freedom on the streets just outside these doors, the streets that my children have always called home.
What that first generation risked to come here, for the ability to freely practice their religious and spiritual beliefs, remains beyond comprehension for most of us. Only a few of those brave souls remain with us. Our family is blessed to have our remaining survivors with us tonight. For them and the others we loved who did not live to see this day, as well as those who perished for no reason other than what they believed in or who they loved, it is our task, indeed it is our responsibility to put down Jewish roots of our own, with our own true voices, here in the place where freedom is all we have ever known.
Our community gathers tonight to worship with a borrowed Torah. To create our link in the chain, from those who came before us to future generations, the City Shul will establish its collective voice by commissioning a Torah. Ours will be the first Canadian-made Reform Torah in the world that is created by a female Soferet. The scribe will join us in the coming year through study and community celebration as the Torah becomes a reality. The last letter of the Torah will be written at the City Shul and the last page will be sewn with us present in a final communal celebration.
We are honoured and moved by a generous lead donation for the City Shul Torah from the Sherkin family which moved our Torah from wishful thinking to achievable reality. The donation was made by members of the extended Sherkin family in memory of their beloved husband, father and grandfather, Husky. Many members of the Sherkin family belong to other synagogues but it was their collective desire to assist a synagogue without a Torah to obtain one. To the Sherkin family we extend our deep gratitude.
Now, we need your help. This Torah, our Torah, will be our heart and soul, a testament to our courage and our commitment to each other. Your donations will create an enduring legacy of learning and celebration.