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COVID-19: A SUCCESS STORY (Winter Bulletin 5781)  

12/18/2020 09:26:01 AM


In his book, The Home We Build Together, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z”l describes three parables for society and identity: the country house, the hotel and the home. The country house divides us into hosts and guests. There are insiders and outsiders, the majority and minorities. In the hotel, everyone is a guest. You pay the price; you get a room; and you are free to do what you like so long as you do not interfere with the other guests. In...Read more...

Don’t ignore the importance of religion as part of our health care during the pandemic

12/17/2020 05:45:58 PM


Chaim Strauchler

Published Dec 17 in the Toronto Star:

Karl Marx famously described religion as an opiate of the masses. In comparing religion to a potentially lethal medication, he meant to denigrate and bury religion; we should rather elevate and praise it. 

Religious institutions place the health and well-being of our communities, first and foremost. Throughout the COVID-19...Read more...


12/16/2020 09:50:41 AM


Chaim Strauchler

In most years, Parshat Miketz falls on Chanukah, and we read the Haftorah from Zecharia that we read last Shabbat in place of Miketz’s Haftorah. This Shabbat, we have the once in a decade treat to read of Solomon’s wisdom in the famous story of the two mothers who sue for the one living child.

Why? What does the story of Solomon’s wisdom have to do with the story of Joseph?


A Chanukah Message from the Officers of the RCA 

12/11/2020 12:06:11 PM


RCA Chanukah Message 2020 - YouTube

We celebrate Chanukah at a challenging time in the life of our people and our world. A terrible pandemic grows in scope and threatens the health of so many. We do not know when it will end. We have lost dear friends and family. We mourn each neshama that Hashem has taken from us. Chanukah teaches us that we are a resilient people. We honour the memories of those who have passed on by drawing...Read more...


09/14/2020 03:18:49 PM


Rosh Hashana 5781 Bulletin Article

“Preparing for a [Pesach] without family, without guests, without shul, without friends made me feel like in some small way, I was earning the right to look Jewish history in the face, to claim my place among the countless Jews who made [Pesach] with far more determination, facing far more adversity.”

- Rivka Press Schwartz

From early in the crisis, our community recited Tehillim...


05/31/2020 10:31:31 AM


I wrote the words below as a draft for my colleagues among the Rabbinical Council of America leadership. We each recorded a paragraph – in our own voice - and we set these words to a slideshow, which we shared with our communities in advance of Shavuot.



05/31/2020 06:14:06 AM


To My Dear Community,


We are all busily preparing for the holiday of Shavuot. As another yom tov arrives, we very much miss the opportunity to gather together as a community for tefillah. While the synagogue will not be holding prayer services this yom tov, this letter provides an update on plans for the resumption of tefillah b'tzibur - public prayer - at Shaarei...Read more...


05/31/2020 06:10:14 AM


Chaim Strauchler

Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot. During these three seasons, the Jewish people gathered in Jerusalem for the shalosh regalim. Each holiday is associated with a certain physical space. Pesach is the home - where we gather for the Seder. Sukkot is the temporary dwelling, where we live for seven days. Both these holidays involve structures - the walls of the sukkah and the doorposts of our ancestors' homes. Shavuot is also linked to a physical...Read more...


03/12/2020 04:47:53 PM


Chaim Strauchler

My Pesach Bulletin article for 5780.


03/12/2020 04:39:05 PM


Chaim Strauchler

Remarks Delivered on Shabbat Zachor Parshat Titzaveh 5780 

Last night, our shul conducted a concluding ceremony for our Bat Mitzvah program. 16 young women presented divrei torah and reflections on the transition from childhood to adulthood. On the Sunday before last, Avital and I participated in another ceremony - the conversion of a young mother and her daughter, through the Toronto Beit Din. It was a very exciting day –...Read more...


12/16/2019 08:33:49 AM


On November 20, anti-Israel groups at York University resorted to violence in an attempt to disrupt a school-sanctioned panel discussion with Reservists on Duty, an organization of former members of the Israel Defence Force. This incident fits a pattern of conduct on university campuses, in which protestors attempt to silence speakers on topics they deem threatening. These incidents raise questions regarding what a university education should...Read more...


12/15/2019 11:55:49 AM


“You ain’t a real Jew,” I heard these words on a Manhattan A Train as a university freshman over 20 years ago. A Black Hebrew Israelite spoke them. I ignored the provocation; my Bronx-reared-mother had taught me, “Never engage in unnecessary confrontation.”

I imagine that until this week, the vast majority of people in this room have never heard of this sect.

Allow me to explain who they are: Black Hebrew...

90th Anniversary Address

12/12/2019 12:14:39 PM


Shaarei Shomayim begins its day – every morning at approximately 6 AM in the Weinbaum Beit Midrash. Rabbi Shore or I open the Talmud around a table of friends. On some level, the entire shul is with us in those moments. On some level, likewise, ninety years – the legacies of friends and family – are with us as we gather here this evening.

Among those legacies is the work of Rabbi David Monson, Rabbi Judah Washer, Rabbi Walter...Read more...


08/18/2019 02:09:54 PM


Rabbi Chaim Strauchler

Parshat Vaetchanan - 16 Av 5779 - August 17 2019

Two years ago, our shul hosted Eli Lebowicz – a New York based Jewish comedian – for a Saturday night comedy evening. Yes, Yes… It was during his routine that our crowd got more enjoyment watching me laugh then laughing themselves – prompting Eli to comment – “Rabbi – they’re not getting the minyan jokes – you’ve got some work to do.”

On Thursday night,...

We Are All Survivors

06/06/2019 05:13:24 PM


Remarks at Yom Hashoah Community Holocaust Commemoration May 1, 2019

“I used to sing a song to my children, a song that my father sang to me when I was a child. “Hashem is here,” I would sing, using a Hebrew name for God, pointing with my right index finger to the sky. “Hashem is there,” I would sing, pointing to my right and left. “Hashem is truly everywhere.” That finger I would use to point out...Read more...

Aging is Life's Shabbat

06/06/2019 09:25:38 AM


Remarks from MEMORY AND AGING BREAKING THE STIGMA 2019 June 4, 2019

Two themes make up tonight’s program. Physicians will address how we can diagnose and treat mental illness associated with aging. Rabbis will address the stigma that surrounds mental illness within our community and what we can do collectively to counter this stigma.

This is the fourth year that we have...

Prepare for Retirement

02/08/2019 09:52:20 AM


What do you think about when you hear the question, "Are you preparing for your retirement?" We are conditioned to think about this question in terms of money. I had the opportunity last week to visit a member of our congregation who was recovering from surgery. He told me that he was planning to retire, soon. He spoke about seeking more of the spiritual, as he gave up some of his physical pursuits.

In this week's parsha, we read...

The "You're a Human" Challenge

02/07/2019 08:09:45 AM


Chaim Strauchler

We live in an age of frivolous challenges. The latest of these is the "Ten Year Challenge." It follows the "Ice Bucket Challenge," the "Mannequin Challenge," and various "Dance Challenges." I would like to suggest a more meaningful challenge. Call it, "You're a Human Challenge" (or in Torah terms - "the tzelem elokim challenge"). 

Much has been said and written about our inability to speak civilly with those with whom...Read more...

A Torah Teacher and the Ikea Effect

01/24/2019 12:00:00 AM


This week is the second yahrzeit for Philip Zuckerz"l - Mr. Zucker served as the Shammash and Baal Koreh for our synagogue for many years, teaching a generation of our young people how to read the Torah. 

Mr. Zucker liked to share short d’vrei torah with me. He would begin with a question that often felt like a riddle or a puzzle? After waiting for me to come up with a solution – he...Read more...

In Praise of Jewish Privilege

01/17/2019 12:40:47 PM


Rabbi Chaim Strauchler

CJN January 16, 2019Published in the Canadian Jewish News January 16, 2019

If an unsuspecting time-traveler were to come across...

The Synagogue Archipelego 

12/18/2018 12:50:59 PM


Chaim Strauchler

There are things that I do, because I am a Jew. There are things that I do, because I am a rabbi. I daven every day, because I am a Jew; I daven at the front of the Shul, because I am a rabbi. I was heartbroken over the tragic attack at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, because I am a Jew; I travelled to Pittsburgh to represent my shul and the Toronto community, because I am a rabbi.

My plan was to attend funerals and shivas in...

Pre-Experience an Anti-Semitic Tragedy

10/16/2018 12:00:00 AM


Chaim Strauchler

The spray painting of anti-Israel graffiti outside one of our local Jewish Day Schools (Leo Baeck) has called attention to anti-Semitism within our city. 

Insurance companies are incentivized to help their clients mitigate risk. They are on the line when tragedy happens. Insurance companies face a great challenge when encouraging people to protect against risk, DENIAL, i.e. the seemingly innate refusal of the human mind to...Read more...

Make More Shaarei Shomayim Jews

10/04/2018 12:00:00 AM


Chaim Strauchler

I shared the follwoing remarks on Kol Nidre evening 5779:

A thousand years of Jewish history in Europe added certain words to the human vocabulary: forced conversion, inquisition, expulsion, ghetto, pogrom, Holocaust. Once hate goes unchecked, the road to tragedy is short.

One of the enduring facts of history is that most antisemites do not think of themselves as antisemites. We don’t hate Jews, they said in the Middle Ages,...Read more...

Wisdom of Not Knowing

09/28/2018 12:00:00 AM


Chaim Strauchler

This Shabbat, we read the book of Kohelet. The book asks us to think deeply about life, while questioning the value of thinking itself.

Many insights can be drawn from this book. Interestingly, the pursuit of such knowledge has become popular, today. In a recent TED...Read more...

Spite & Joy

09/28/2018 12:00:00 AM


Chaim Strauchler

aftselakhisI published an article in this month’s Commentary Magazine with my colleague Rabbi David Wolkenfeld.  It’s a response to author Michael Chabon’s provocative speech at...Read more...

Sun, 17 January 2021 4 Shevat 5781