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Volunteer Spotlight

City Shul is a labour of love that is in large part the work of volunteers. Every month we profile an individual or small group that has made a dedicated contribution to our synagogue in their off-hours, to recognize them and their effort and show our appreciation.

April 2024 - Jan & Lorne Mitchell

City Shul's move from Bloor Street United to St. George on the Grange, in late 2021 was a massive undertaking. Packing up and transporting the synagogue's possessions, sacred and otherwise, across town was itself a significant effort, but a relatively straightforward one compared with what came next. 

As Jan Mitchell came to see it, the biggest challenge the transition posed was how to preserve the warmth, sanctity, and beauty that the shul's services were known for – its unique feel, the quality that had compelled her and her husband Lorne to join the community in the first place – in its new home, one that was significantly different in terms of its presence, build and layout, and the degree of support its staff and landlords would extend to us, their new tenant. 

Jan and Lorne first attended City Shul in 2015, for the High Holidays. They felt like they belonged from the outset, won over by the genuine welcome they received as strangers, the modesty of the congregation, and Rabbi Goldstein's dynamism, intelligence, and personal touch.  

Stepping up and assuming responsibility for protecting the sanctuary during its relocation was a natural extension of the sense of purpose Jan had found as one of City Shul’s Head Ushers. She discovered a virtuous circle acting in that role, a position from which she could both receive what the shul had to offer her and give back in kind. It was an opportunity to extend the sense of comfort, belonging, and unity that the shul had nourished her and Lorne with, back to the rest of the congregation, to both members and newcomers alike. Being Head Usher wasn't about attending to a set of tasks for Jan, but rather a way of dedicating herself to giving the sanctuary the foundation it needed to live up to its name, for it to flourish as a site of spiritual connection, restoration, and reflection.

The Mitchells hit the ground running upon arrival at SGG and quickly found themselves at the centre of the multidimensional effort of adapting the shul to its new reality. Jan became the main point of contact between City Shul and its new landlords, and seeing the challenges the new space presented first-hand, started addressing them in collaboration with Lorne. The two of them ultimately went on to coordinate a large share of the behind-the-scenes labour that was and remains essential to the execution of our services at St. George, especially Shabbat.

As many of you know the Mitchells recently moved to BC, to be closer to family. Filling their shoes has required the coordinated effort of a group of our other volunteers, and remains a work in progress.That it has taken many hands and months, so far, to take over for the Mitchells is a testament to how incredible their contribution was to our synagogue and community. As such it is fitting that this, our first Volunteer Spotlight is dedicated to them. 

Thank you Jan and Lorne, for everything.

Wed, June 12 2024 6 Sivan 5784