• Menachem Freedman

    Dear CJN,
    I was greatly saddened by your article April 12, ‘Student-run Ghetto Shul to close’ written by Janice Arnold. As a member of the Ghetto shul community for five years (I am currently a law student at McGill), a member of the student board and a recently elected chairman of the board of directors, I demand that you issue a retraction in your next printed newspaper and online.
    Ghetto shul is certainly not closing. Arnold should have written an inspirational piece about our upcoming historic merger with the Bagg Street shul – the merging of Montreal’s most historic community and one of the most-talked about student-run communities in North America. Instead, she spread misinformation and critically injured the efforts of students to maintain a thriving center for Jewish youth in troubled economic and social times.
    Ghetto shul is not closing. We are not giving up our recently acquired charitable status, which was an incredible feat for a grassroots organization. We are not looking for a rabbi for next year because we voted to move temporarily to a completely student-run model.
    Despite rumours to the contrary, Ghetto shul will continue in its role as the only grassroots student-led Jewish community in Montreal, perhaps in Canada. We will continue to attract students and young professionals who are proud of their Jewish identity and who wish to take charge of their Jewish future. We will provide an alternative to top-heavy organizations that seek to mould Jewish youth to their ideals instead of letting them flourish. We will continue to provide local, organic shabbat meals, cooked by students, almost every week. We will continue to be a house of prayer, study and music and a safe space for Jewish students of all denominations, orientations and political views in Montreal’s downtown. I may not be a newspaperman, but I think that this is the story you should be telling your readership. I think that this is the sort of story they need to hear. I invite the CJN to come join us for our last shabbat of the semester, April 27th to see how incredibly OPEN Ghetto Shul is now, and please God will be for generations to come.

  • Jamie Berk

    Dear CJN,

    I am also incredibly disheartened by Arnold’s portrayal of the Ghetto Shul in this article. I am currently a 4th year student at McGill, and I have been an active member of the Ghetto Shul community since arriving at university. I actually attribute the Ghetto Shul entirely to my renewed interest in religion, and my plans to go to Israel next year, partially to further my Jewish education. Furthermore, as a former board member and current active member, I had no idea the Ghetto Shul was “closing” prior to reading this article. In fact, I don’t think anyone had this idea except Arnold herself. To my knowledge, she interviewed only Rabbi Hundert prior to writing this article, although there are 338 members of the Ghetto Shul Facebook group, a Ghetto Shul website, email listserv, and email address just for board members that she could have utilized at any time to contact Ghetto Shul members themselves. As stated by Menachem in the comment below my own, the Ghetto Shul is, in fact, not closing. We are, in fact, merging with the Bagg Street Shul, which was one option of many after a series of meetings among members, some with over sixty people in attendance. We felt this was the best option considering our financial circumstances,and because the Bagg Shul was such a welcoming and accommodating venue, as stated by Leibish before me. If Arnold chooses to edit her article, or add perspectives from actual Ghetto Shul members, please feel free to contact the Ghetto Shul board at ghettoshul@gmail.com, or me directly at JLBerk20@@gmail:disqus.com. 

    Also, for a more positive depiction of the Ghetto Shul and its vibrant community, please read this article by McGill professor Gil Troy, written for this exact publication in 2009. Clearly, we have fallen on hard times in the past, but never has the threat “of closing been present, even as we lose our spiritual leader. http://giltroyzionism.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/ghetto-shul/

  • Zachary Goldberg

    It is shameful to read an article that should be honoring Rabbi Leibish’s career at Ghetto Shul or celebrating the invigoration of the Bagg Street Shul focus on the supposed downfall of my Montreal Jewish community. The Ghetto Shul congregation is moving to the the Bagg Street Shul. This a frequent event in the course of Jewish history around the world. Our dedicated membership works extremely hard in order to run weekly Shabbos festivities, holidays, and other special events. All of these activities will continue next year and will be better next year. The Bagg Street Shul is a wonderful venue to allow the community to grow and fulfill its vision into the indefinite future.

  • Menachem Freedman

    Just to clarify – My comment above represents a personal opinion. The Ghetto Shul Community is preparing an official response to this article and we hope the CJN will publish it when it is ready. Thank you.