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School Graduations Through the Years

by Molly Lohner

As we approach the end of June, students of all ages are celebrating graduations from elementary schools, high schools, CEGEPs, and universities. Throughout the years the Shaar has hosted various ceremonies of this kind and I will highlight a few of them in this post. 



This picture shows, from left to right, Rabbi Wilfred Shuchat; Rabbi Dr. Louis Finkelstein, chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary; and Nahum Gelber, honorary past president of the synagogue. It was taken at the JTS convocation that the Shaar hosted on April 23, 1972, as part of the 125th anniversary celebrations of the congregation. At this ceremony, His Excellency the Right Honourable Roland Michener, Governor General of Canada, received an honorary Doctor of Laws from the JTS chancellor. It also featured Saidye Bronfman and Hon. Lazarus Phillips becoming fellows of the JTS Society of Fellows. Over a thousand people attended this ceremony, as can be seen in the picture below. 




The above picture is a program from the dedication service of the Rabbi Herman Abramowitz Building which functioned as an Educational Annex. It now houses Akiva School but used to be a Sunday and afternoon Hebrew school administered by the Shaar. The congregation decided to build this annex, which was dedicated in 1948, to expand the size and increase the quality of the synagogue’s educational space. 




These pictures are of the graduating classes of the Hebrew school from 1931 and 1960 (donated recently by Ron Vineberg), respectively. The graduates would have been around fifteen and had the option to continue attending classes at the Shaar during their high school years. You can find lots more of these graduation pictures up along the walls in the synagogue building today. 




The above image is the diploma of Ronald Vineberg, a former student at the Hebrew school and lifelong member of the congregation. This is one of many documents kindly donated by Ron Vineberg to the synagogue’s archives which are helping to fill gaps in our collection.



Here we can see an image from a Hebrew school graduation ceremony from sometime in the early twentieth century. 

Monday, June 17, 2024 11 Sivan 5784