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A Brief History of Our Shul and Kehilah, Shomrai Shabbos-Chevrah Mishanyos Congregation.
During the latter part of the nineteenth century, Toronto experienced an influx of Jewish émigrés from Galicia, Poland. In order to maintain their distinct minhagim and customs, these newcomers founded their own Shul in 1888. The Congregation, called Shomrai Shabbos Anshei Estreich-Minhag Sefard, was the fourth Synagogue established in Toronto. For the first ten years, the congregation was housed in various rented locations along Richmond Street.
Shomrai Shabbos purchased its first permanent location in 1899. This newly acquired building was located on Chestnut Street and had seating for 100 men and a balcony for women. A year later, the Shul made the historic move of bringing the first Rav to Toronto. HaRav Yosef Weinreb ZT"L of Busk, Galicia. For thirty years, the Shul grew and developed at this location, until the early 1930's, when the neighbourhood began to change and the Shul decided to move.
In 1933, the Shul moved to the corner of Brunswick and Sussex. This new location was significantly larger, with room for 300 seats. HaRav Weintreb ZT"L passed away in 1942 and the Shul continued without a Rav until 1950, when HaRav Gedalia Felder ZT"L of Istrik Galicia, assumed the position. Shomrai Shabbos was once again a center of Jewish life until the 1960's when the Jewish community started to move north.
HaRav Felder ZT"L who had secured a bequest from the Franklin/Robinson Estate, led the drive to relocate the Shul to its current location in 1965. At that time, Mr. Sol Kling A.H. was the Shul President and Mr. Harry Marder was chairman of the Building Committee.
During these years, the Shul continued its growth and expansion. In 1976 Shomrai Shabbos amalgamated with Chevrah Mishnayos, an old downtown Shul, thereby creating its present name.
Five years later, the Shul expanded, adding a new wing, housing a large Bais HaMedrash, a library, offices and a classroom. This addition became a permanent location for the Toronto Bais Din for Gittin (divorce), which was established by HaRav Felder ZT"L. Following four decades of distinguished leadership of the Shul and the Toronto Jewish community, HaRav Gedalia Felder ZT"L passed away in 1991. His youngest son, HaRav Yacov Felder, who had been the Assistant Rabbi for five years, assumed the position as Rav of the Shul.
From 2005 to 2009, the Shul embarked on an ambitious renovation and expansion that has resulted in a magnificent Ohel Kodesh that can facilitate the array of daily minyanim, shiurim learning and other programs, as well as beautifully updated facilities for member and community functions.
One hundred and twenty years of Toronto Jewish life lies in the history of our Shul, the oldest orthodox congregation in Toronto. Shomrai Shabbos-Chevrah Mishanyos Congregation, with a rich and beautiful past, looks forward to the next one hundred and twenty years of growth, development, and continued contribution to the Jewish community in Toronto.
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