Welcome to the Westmount Shul and Learning center!
The Westmount Community Shul and Learning Centre is sui generis – truly one of a kind. It is a warm and welcoming community where Jews from all backgrounds and affiliations gather together. The shul offers superb learning opportunities, and is a community that endeavours to make a difference in the Jewish world. With a close family like environment and a dynamic and learned Rabbi and Rebbetzin, thousands of Jews have been inspired at the Westmount Shul since its establishment in 1996. The Westmount Shul is a forward thinking, growth oriented shul focused on the contemporary needs of 21st century Jews.
The Shul utilizes cutting edge and innovative technology while being firmly rooted in Torah and tradition. The shul’s gorgeous interior with its modern design is quite inviting, where timeless tradition meets modernity like its modus operandi. The shul has a fireside lounge replete with a fireplace, full size flat screen TV which syncs with the shul’s iPads for classes, a library, and a coffee and tea bar. Many classes take place in the fireside lounge and most of the shul programs are held onsite in the welcoming facilities.
The Westmount Shul is a fun place. A place where people don’t talk during davening, rather they pray, sing, and sometimes even dance. A place where people of various means give charity well above and beyond their resources to the numerous causes championed by the Rabbi and Rebbetzin. A place where so many Jews began their journey of Jewish growth and spread the message of Westmount to be a passionate Jew who takes initiative and leadership in the community. A place where everyone takes ten minutes before the Torah reading to wish all guests and members a Good Shabbos and to enjoy a delicious Kiddush. A place that runs the most innovative programs to engage and inspire Jews from all backgrounds. A place that travels well beyond the Greater Toronto Area including trips to Israel, Detroit, New York, and beyond. A place that hosts challah bakes, numerous guest speakers, concerts, kumzitzes, and intellectual and inspirational classes geared to all levels. A place where the Yom Kippur Neila is a highlight of the year. A place which at its core is a learning community, a growing community, a place to flourish as a Jew. A place of truth and dynamic Jewish growth. A place to call home.
The three pillars of The Westmount Shul are: Torah, Avodah – Service of God/Prayer, and Gemilas Chasadim – Acts of Kindness.
Torah: The foundation of The Westmount Shul is Torah growth, and every week there are numerous learning opportunities for all levels including more than 30 weekly classes! The offerings range from the daily Talmud classes offered in the morning and evening, to classes on the weekly Torah portion, Kabbalah, Jewish laws, and much more. The classes are offered at the Westmount shul and also at various home study groups. There are many individual learning opportunities that are offered. Undoubtable many classes offer refreshments as well! Before every holiday numerous classes are taught on how to prepare for the holiday, and there are ongoing classes on how to live as a Jew. There are also learning opportunities for the youth and teens and the Bat Mitzvah program is a very popular option. Throughout the year many leading Rabbis and guest speakers visit the Shul to teach and inspire. The reach of the Westmount Shul spreads well beyond Thornhill. Thousands of classes are available on the Shul’s website and tens of thousands of Jews across the globe have been inspired and have grown as Jews through the online Torah classes.
Avodah – Service of God/Prayer: The Westmount Shul offers all daily prayer services where one can pray in a schmooze-free environment (no worries, after davening there is always lots of schmoozing!) and truly focus on the prayers. Every Friday night there is an inspiring “Carlebach” service with lots of singing and some dancing! On Shabbos morning there is an option for everyone which includes the main sanctuary minyan featuring a joyous and heartfelt prayer service, an early Kiddush before the Torah reading, the Rabbi’s inspirational talk, and a delicious Kiddush. There is also a family minyan followed by a Kiddush and a class, and two alternative classes during the traditional service. Not to be missed is the famous “Shalosh Seudos in the Dark” where we bid farewell to Shabbos with a full menu of food, singing, and timely Torah thoughts.
Gemilas Chasadim – Acts of Kindness: The Westmount Shul’s essence is one of giving, and the members embody that spirit. Throughout the year numerous campaigns are launched to help support the Jewish community. Some recent campaigns include adopting a Kollel in Israel, hosting Shabbatons for Chevron and the Deaf Yeshiva, running food and clothing drives, sponsoring barbecues and tzitzis for the IDF, and much more. The hospitality of the community is legendary and it’s no wonder that many Jews have experienced their first Shabbos at the homes of Westmount Shul members. The Westmount Shul members support causes throughout the community, and many members have taken on leadership roles with various organizations in the community.
The Next Twenty Years:
The Shul has accomplished unimaginable accomplishments in the first twenty years by reaching thousands of people who have started their Jewish journey at the Westmount Shul. The future looks very bright with a growing membership and a very engaged constituency from many backgrounds. With a constant eye on the changing needs and requirements of the community, the Westmount Shul has recently expanded to address those additional needs with two new branches:
The Jewish Women’s Network: Led by Rebbetzin Gail Michalowicz, the Jewish Women’s Network is focused on reaching out to the women in Thornhill by offering inspirational and motivational classes, innovative programs, and trips to Israel. The Jewish Women’s Network offers programs to both members and non-members of the Westmount Shul, and hundreds of women participate in its offerings.
Led by Rabbi Josh Kaller, the dynamic lawyer turned Rabbi extraordinaire, Go Gather is for singles, young couples, and young families who are looking for alternative means of Jewish involvement. Go Gather includes social events, family programs such as the wildly successful Friday Night Lively, marriage workshops, weekend getaways, and more. This program has been generating a lot of excitement and is continuously expanding. Ultimately the Westmount Shul is made up of amazing people who want to grow as Jews and who take responsibility for the well being of their fellow Jews. It’s a place to call home.