Our synagogue was first established in 1928 as the Hillcrest Congregation at 563 Christie Street.
Membership was $5 per year and included two tickets for High Holiday services. A ladies auxiliary was formed in 1932. Two years later, the name of the synagogue was changed to Shaarei Shomayim Congregation, with a membership of 41.
Shaarei Shomayim occupied a permanent location at 840 St. Clair Avenue West In 1936 and membership had increased to 186 people.
In 1937 the shul’s Sunday school was established with 45 students. Dues were raised to $18 in 1941, and Cantor Alexander Steinberg, the first-full time Chazzan, was hired. Dues were raised once again in 1942 to $25, which included cemetery privileges.
In the late 1940s, the Brotherhood was formed. By 1947, the shul building was finished. Most important, however, was the decision to formalize the direction of Shaarei Shomayim as a modern Orthodox congregation.
By 1948 membership grew to 400. The year was also notable for women with three members of the Sisterhood invited to sit on the Board of Governors.
As the years went by, Shaarei Shomayim continued to flourish and the congregation realized the neighbourhood in which they were located was changing. Members were moving north. Under the direction of Mr. Ben Kaminker, in 1966 Shaarei Shomayim also moved north to 470 Glencairn Avenue, where the shul remains today.
Today, Shaarei Shomayim boasts approximately 750 families as part of its membership and remains a vibrant centre of Jewish life for all ages. The shul is among the largest modern Orthodox synagogues in Canada.
The beauty of the St. Clair location has been preserved through the stained-glass windows that are now on display in the newly renovated downstairs floor of the shul. Read the full story featured in the National Post: Historic stained-glass windows preserved as Toronto congregation readies to bid shalom to old synagogue (12/09/14)