Shalom and welcome to the 20th Anniversary Dinner of the Westmount Community Shul. We look back and reflect upon an amazing twenty years of our Shul’s impact on the Thornhill community. As a shul built from the ground up, we spent the first dozen years growing as a nascent group of dedicated members united by the common goal of Jewish growth and community. We moved from place to place, renting different locations, holding services, classes, and programs in numerous welcoming homes – truly the Shul of the people.
The more that we had to move around, the stronger we became. Despite the seemingly insurmountable physical obstacles, we did everything that a typical Shul would do – and so much more! We developed strong bonds with each other. Every personal simcha was a family simcha that the entire Shul felt. Every sad occasion for a member was a sad occasion for the whole Shul. Through all of these growing opportunities, an incredible foundation was being created. So many members who have moved to new neighbourhoods and cities have lamented that they only wish to have found a new shul in their new location with the special characteristics of the Westmount Shul. We succeeded in doing this all because of our most amazing members, dedicated volunteers, and generous sponsors. When Hashem saw such an amazing unity of hearts and souls, He blessed us with success beyond our natural capabilities. People are truly amazed at how much our Shul has accomplished.
Over the years, our close-knit congregation has reached thousands of unaffiliated and less-affiliated Jews. Many of them have come home to their Jewish roots, had families, and are now making weddings for their children and seeing Jewish grandchildren. Many have made Aliya to Israel or moved on to other cities, spreading the Westmount passion for Judaism to their new environments.
We have witnessed a generation of growth in our community. Endless thousands of hours of Torah have been learned. Untold thousands of prayers have been chanted. Innumerable thousands of unconditional acts of loving kindness have been performed.
Seven years ago, Hashem blessed us with a beautiful facility on Disera Drive right in the heart of Thornhill, and we now have a permanent place that we all call home. We have created amazing memories from our multi-faceted and intimate facility. There is never a visitor who is not impressed by our Shabbos and holiday services. We have maximized the use of this incredible venue which truly is our mini-temple, an oasis of spirituality and community.
The theme of the Westmount Shul’s 20th Anniversary Dinner is Generation to Generation. We are exceptionally proud to be honouring two pillars of our community Louis and Lynne Pillemer and Robert and Alla Volfson who embody the theme of Generation to Generation as they raise their children and grandchildren on the spiritual path.They represent the best of what Westmount has to offer – loyalty, dedication, and love to the Almighty and to the Jewish people. They have been with the synagogue nearly since the very beginning. They have given so much of themselves for our community and to the broader Jewish community, yet they humbly never seek to draw attention to their noble actions. No task has been too difficult or too small for them to do. Much of the success of the Shul would not have been possible without these two pillar families of our community. It is gratifying to see how the Almighty has blessed them to be young, proud grandparents, and they are seeing the “nachas” from all of their efforts coming to fruition. Fortunate is their portion!
We can fondly look back over the last generation, pat ourselves on the back, and say “Job well done!” But we will not live in the past! Yes, it is time to celebrate, yet we must look forward to the next generation of Judaism in Thornhill. We are creating a new vision to meet the challenges of the next generation in order to create more ‘Honor for Heaven” during these most challenging times. We are very excited to have the dynamic lawyer turned Rabbi extraordinaire Rabbi Josh Kaller join the Rabbinic team. As a shul that is outward focused we are expanding for all ages and levels with our singles and young families programming, the Jewish Women’s Network, and the expanded programs and offerings for our most important loyal members. The best years of the Westmount Shul are ahead, and the future shines bright.
We are so blessed with an incredible shul family who are amazing role models of Torah, Avodah, and gemilas chasadim, truly spiritually minded individuals who have coalesced into a close knit family. If the new congregants, that will become part of our next generation in our Shul are anything like the ones we have now, we will certainly be blessed to see the coming of Moshiach speedily in our times. Amen.