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Parashat Terumah and the Shaar’s Building


What is the connection between Parashat Terumah and the Shaar’s Building? In this week’s parshah (Terumah) G-d provides the instructions for the construction of the Mishkan, the temporary and portable sanctuary that the Jews carried with them while wandering in the desert. Eventually the Jewish people would work to building a permanent sanctuary that became the Beit Hamikdash. Though perhaps less epic by comparison, the Shaar too has through the years carried out construction projects in the goal of establishing our own sanctuary. This week we will be featuring some photographs, documents, and drawings from some of those plans from across the years, beginning in 1885. 


Program cover from the Shaar’s 110th anniversary in 1957, which includes drawings of old building on McGill College, the Sanctuary built in 1922 where we still are today, and the Rabbi Herman Abramowitz Building opened in 1948.



McGill College, 1885

This is the program cover from the laying of the corner stone for the McGill College synagogue building in 1885. Pictured also is the trowel that was presented to John E. Moss, then President of the congregation, who subsequently lay the cornerstone himself. At this time the Shaar was still being officially referred to as the “English, German & Polish Synagogue.” It was not until the dedication of the building a year later in 1886 that Rev. Elias Friedlander, then the rabbi of the congregation, declared the synagogue would hence be known as Congregation Shaar Hashomayim.






Cote St. Antoine and Kensington Avenue, 1922





This program and invitation are from the dedication of the new synagogue building on Cote St. Antoine on September 17, 1922. On that day there was a procession from the old building on McGill College to carry the Torah scrolls to the new building. This was followed by beautiful dedication service which concluded with the singing of Hatikvah and God Save the King. If you had a good look at the year, you’ll have noticed that this year will mark 100 years in Westmount! 



 “Progress Through Expansion” Shaar Building Extension/Expansion


In this building the congregation has expanded and grown over the years. The Rabbi Herman Abramowitz building was erected in 1948 as an educational annex. In the 1960s the building was expanded once again to meet the demands of a growing congregation, during which whole new wings and rooms were added, including the new entrance lobby, the social halls, meeting rooms, kiddush rooms, and more. These images are renderings of what the proposed additions would like as part of the 1965 campaign to raise funds for the expansion project.




Link to “Order of Proceedings of the Laying of the Cornerstone of the English, German and Polish Synagogue”


Link to “Progress Through Expansion”

Saturday, May 18, 2024 10 Iyyar 5784