TORONTO — Beth Lida Forest Hill Synagogue, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, has renovated its sanctuary and social hall.
On Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m., the community is invited to join the members of the congregation at a reception to celebrate the completion of their renovation and to honour their major donors.
Appropriately, Beth Lida, as it is affectionately known, chose Tu b’Shvat, the New Year of the Trees, to celebrate the restoration of the shul.
Beth Lida, also known as “the neighbourhood shul,” is located at 22 Gilgorm Rd, in the Eglinton Avenue-Chaplin Crescent area.
“The beautiful new sanctuary, which accommodates 124 people, will help to ensure our continuation as a warm, welcoming home to everyone in the community for generations to come,” says Eshai Hirshberg, Beth Lida’s president.
In 1912, immigrants fleeing from tyranny and religious persecution from an area that is now part of Belarus, founded Beth Lida on Terauley Street (now Bay Street).
As the congregation grew, 12 years later, the Orthodox shul moved to the Kensington Market area to a cottage on Augusta Avenue. In 1950, as the Jewish community in Toronto moved further north, Beth Lida moved to its present location in a former church on a quiet one-way residential street.
Beth Lida, with 60 member families, has regular Shabbat and festival services. The shul does not have a full-time rabbi. Guest rabbis and congregants lead the services and the members deliver sermons and present shiurim with emphasis on congregational participation and singing.
“Since our founding in 1912, Beth Lida’s strength has always been the generosity, loyalty and commitment of our members, who have contributed their support to the shul in a myriad of ways,” says Hirshberg.
“A great deal of love and devotion has gone into this project and we’re delighted with the results.”
Hirshberg adds, “As Toronto’s beloved neighbourhood shul, we look forward to welcoming the entire community to daven with us, enjoy the best hot Kiddush in town, and take part in great programs for singles and families – all in our new surroundings.”
Interior designer and minyan regular Joseph Bigio told The CJN that the two-month renovation extended the bimah, updated the lighting, improved the entrance to the sanctuary, and updated the finishes.
“There were multiple challenges inherited with very old buildings,” says Bigio. He adds that he decided to work with the building and fit the old with the new.
“We worked around existing features such as the Aron Kodesh wall with its Roman travertine stone cladding, the curved ceiling, and the existing wood flooring,” Bigio says.
“The result is a much brighter, vibrant and elegant environment, to the great satisfaction of the members of the congregation.”
Martin and Nurit Bloomberg spearheaded the donor renovation campaign.
The Schlussel family will dedicate a shulchan cover in memory of the late Sidney Schlussel, the shul’s beloved shamash for many years.