TORONTO — On Dec. 3, Shaarei Shomayim Congregation will celebrate the success of its year-long capital campaign – called “Retire Rebuild Renew” – at a gala dinner with keynote speaker Isadore (Issy) Sharp.
Isadore and Rosalie Sharp and family have donated $1 million to the campaign, which has exceeded its original $1.5-million goal and raised close to $4 million, allowing it to undertake a major renovation. At the dinner, the main sanctuary will be dedicated in memory of Isadore’s parents, Max and Lil Sharp.
Isadore Sharp, founder and chairman of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and his wife, Rosalie, are prominent Canadian philanthropists who have received numerous awards for their contributions to the community.
“The Shaarei Shomayim Synagogue has always been an important part of my parents’ life,” he said. “They were instrumental in helping the synagogue to grow from the first basement-only building on St. Clair Avenue to become one of the largest Orthodox synagogues in North America. It is a privilege to have this opportunity to honour them in such a meaningful way.”
The modern Orthodox shul was established in 1928 at 563 Christie St. It moved to 840 St. Clair Ave. W. in 1937 and acquired its present location at 470 Glencairn Ave. in 1966.
Michael Goldrich, co-chair of the campaign along with David Mansel, said the drive, whose full name is “Retire our Debt, Rebuild our Building and Renew our Commitment,” has received almost $4 million so far, and the shul’s 750 member families are still coming forward to participate.
The original $1.5-million goal aimed to help pay off a debt incurred for repairs to the shul’s lower level after a flood in 2010 caused by a burst city pipe, as well as repairs to the roof and a new heating and air conditioning system, said shul president Benny Osher.
But thanks to the Sharps and shul congregants, the synagogue hit its orginal target after only six months, so “we got more ambitious,” Osher said.
“The flood was a blessing in disguise,” he said, because it led to much-needed renovations to the lower level, such as new office space, a new beit midrash/chapel, a new wing of classrooms for the southern campus of Netivot HaTorah Day School and a reconfigured social hall.
But the extra money allowed the shul to go even further.
“This has been a phenomenal campaign, and we are overwhelmed with the generosity of our members and friends. Not only have we raised enough money and pledges to cover the debt from previous renovations, but we can now move forward with other important renovations to our sanctuary, lobby and exterior,” he said.
“When complete, our shul will be a beautifully renovated space for our members and for the wider Jewish community for generations to come,” he added.
“The Shaarei Shomayim family has rallied together to achieve something very special and very lasting,” Goldrich said.
Rabbi Chaim Strauchler, who played a prominent role in the campaign, said, “We are the inheritors of a great tradition at Shaarei Shomayim, both in terms of the spiritual and physical legacy that has been left to us.
“We are grateful to God for the opportunity to extend this legacy to those who will follow our lead.”
For more information, visit www.shomayim.org.