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Clergy and Management

Our dynamic professional team ensuring our legacy for the future



Adam Scheier – Rabbi

514.937.9474 ext.143 /


Rabbi Adam Scheier is Senior Rabbi of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim. He is Past President of the Montreal Board of Rabbis, Vice-President of the Rabbinical Council of Canada, and Senior Rabbinic Fellow of Jerusalem’s Hartman Institute. In 2015, Rabbi Scheier co-edited and published the Canadian Haggadah Canadienne, which received positive acclaim in Canada and worldwide. He is a founding member of the Board of Trustees of the International Rabbinic Fellowship, a leading Modern Orthodox organization consisting of over 200 rabbis, communal scholars, and clergy. He also serves on the Rabbinic Advisory Board of Yeshivat Maharat, the first institution to train Orthodox women as spiritual leaders. Rabbi Scheier is proud to be the rabbi of the first synagogue to hire a graduate of Yeshivat Maharat. He has been active in international Jewish concerns, and testified before a Canadian Parliamentary committee on the topic of human rights in Venezuela. Prior to his post in Montreal, Rabbi Scheier participated in the founding and development of the first Yeshiva in post-World War II Germany, and has continued to work extensively with the immigrant Jewish community in Germany. He is married to Rabba Abby Scheier, and they have been blessed with five daughters, Aviya, Ayelet, Annael, Allegra, and Arella.




Rabba Rachel Kohl Finegold - Director of Education And Spiritual Enrichment

514.937.9474 ext. 174 /


Rabba Rachel Kohl Finegold is the first Orthodox woman to serve as synagogue clergy in Canada. She is involved in every aspect of synagogue life, officiating lifecycle events, offering sermons and classes, guiding our initiatives to engage families with young children, and building innovative programming for young professionals in their 20s and 30s. She brings the latest approaches in experiential Jewish education to our congregation's preschool and supplemental school, as well as our youth and teen programming.
Rabba Rachel (pronounced “Rakhel”) is the president of the Montreal Board of Rabbis, a vice president of the International Rabbinic Fellowship, a past board member of the Bronfman Centre for Jewish Education (BJEC) and she received the Brenda and Samuel Gewurz Award for Jewish Educational Leadership. Rabba Rachel participated in the Clergy Leadership Incubator (CLI), a two-year fellowship to help rabbis become transformative change agents in the communities that they serve. She previously served as a member of the clergy of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in Chicago, is a graduate of the Drisha Scholars Circle in New York, and received her B.A. in Religion from Boston University. Rabba Rachel was ordained as part of the inaugural class of Yeshivat Maharat, the first institution to train Orthodox women as clergy. Originally from New York, Rabba Rachel lives in Montreal with her husband, Rabbi Avi Finegold, a native Montrealer, and their three daughters, Kinneret, Nedivah and Hadar.



Gideon Zelermyer – Cantor

514.937.9474 ext. 101 /


Cantor Gideon Yechiel Zelermyer is a graduate of the Tel Aviv Cantorial Institute, where he studied with Naftali Herstik, Chief Hazzan of the Jerusalem Great Synagogue. He completed his undergraduate degree at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. In 2004, Cantor Zelermyer became Cantor at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal. Gideon has a passion for illuminating the liturgy through a blend of traditional prayer modes and a modern harmonic palate, creating a distinctive style of service that makes choral services at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim a spiritually engaging and uplifting experience. Cantor Zelermyer has performed around the world as a featured soloist. He and the Synagogue Choir have toured North America and the United Kingdom and their series of recordings, “The Music of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim” has received widespread critical acclaim. Cantor Zelermyer is married to Michelle, and their sons, Max and Ben, are 5th generation Shaar members.




Yosi Even-Hen – Ritual Director

514.937.9474 ext. 119 /


As the Ritual Director of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, Yosi Even-Hen joins the Shaar Family with 25 years of experience in this field. Since the early ‘90s, Yosi has served in the capacity of both Chazzan Sheini and more recently as the Chazzan at Shaare Zedek Congregation in Montreal. He comes from a lineage of Chazzanim and teachers, and merges many attributes from these two fields into his Clergical role. He has studied with numerous Chazzanim, including his father, Rev. Benjamin Even-Hen and Cantor Aryeh Subbar. He has helped nearly 500 Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrants, and the number continues to grow, with many of whom he still keeps in touch. He is a graduate of McGill University, where he received his Bachelors of Commerce degree. Yosi enjoys a variety of hobbies, including a passion for golf, fine scotches and interesting automobiles. He joins the Shaar Family along with his charming wife Brigitte, and his two sons Raphael and Nathaniel.



Conor O'Neil – Director of Music

514.937.9474 ext. 144 /


Conor O’Neil assumed the position of Director of Music July 2020. A member of the Synagogue Choir for nearly 20 years, he was blessed to hone his craft under the guidance of his friends and predecessors, Stephen Glass and Roï Azoulay. Conor collaborated on the choral arrangements for Leonard Cohen's You Want it DarkerIt Seemed the Better Way and Puppets, as well as arranging the Shaar choir’s contribution to Candice Breitz's work I'm Your Man, which debuted at the Musée d'Art Contemporain exhibit A Crack in Everything in September 2017. A native Montrealer, Conor’s musical background is both in performance and, most notably, in composition, having earned a Master's degree in Film Scoring from Université de Montréal. Conor is also a founding member and drummer for Lakes of Canada, a band in which he plays with Shaar choristers Jake Smith and Jorge Lopez. Along with Cantor Gideon, Conor seeks to further the wonderful musical legacy of SH’MA, Shaar Hashomayim Music & Arts. Conor is engaged to be married to Christine Turcotte, and they share a home with their cat, Margaret Catwood.




Penni Kolb – Executive Director

514.937.9474 ext. 133 /


Penni Kolb assumed the position of Executive Director in 2003, on the exact day of the start of the Shaar’s $15 million renovation project. Penni’s expertise in communal administration, volunteer management, event planning, communications, and fundraising has been developed over years of professional service in the Montreal Jewish community. Her knowledge of construction and building management developed over her first few years at the Shaar. Penni graduated with both Bachelors and Masters of Social work from McGill University and a B.A. in Jewish Studies and Political Science from Concordia University. She also studied at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Prior to joining the Shaar, Penni was Director of Federation CJA’s ProMontreal, charged with creating business, employment, social and community involvement opportunities to encourage young people to build their futures in Montreal. Many of these programs continue today and have been adopted in cities throughout North America and Israel. Penni was a founder and Senior Editor of ProMontreal’s critically acclaimed monthly newspaper In Montreal. In 2002, she was awarded Federation CJA’s Award for Professional Excellence. Penni is the former Chair of the Montreal Association of Temple and Synagogue Administrators.



Emeritus Clergy

Sidney S. Dworkin – Cantor Emeritus


Cantor Sidney S. Dworkin has been affiliated with Shaar Hashomayim since 1987 when he was appointed Cantor. Born and raised in Montreal, he received his Bachelor of Music and MSW degrees from McGill University and his cantorial grounding from the late Cantor Joshua H. Rosenzweig of the B’nai Jacob-Congregation. Possessing a pure lyric tenor voice, Cantor Dworkin is still active at Shaar Hashomayim leading services and life cycle events at the request of the Congregation and its members. The popular concert series “Cantor Sidney Dworkin and Friends” was a highlight of the Montreal Jewish musical calendar during his tenure. Cantor Dworkin has released four CD cantorial recordings as well as a DVD featuring highlights of his career performances. Cantor Dworkin is a Past President of the Council of Hazzanim of Greater Montreal and a recipient of the Master Cantor Certificate, awarded by the Gila and Chaim Weiner Foundation for the Advancement of Cantorial Arts. He has appeared in numerous concerts throughout Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. Cantor Dworkin is Executive Director of Maison Shalom, an organization that provides care, support, and housing for developmentally-disabled adults. Cantor Dworkin was the host and producer of the popular weekly radio show “Cantors Corner” devoted to cantorial music, broadcast on Radio Shalom in Montreal (1650 AM,



Rabbi David Woolfson – Ritual Director Emeritus

514.937.9474 ext. 123 /


Rabbi David Woolfson grew up in Ottawa, Ontario. In addition to an extensive study of Judaism and the Talmud, he completed a degree in Business Administration at the University of Ottawa before moving to Montreal where he assumed the position of Vice-President of a major industrial firm. During this period, he privately pursued advanced Hebrew studies, delving into the Torah and the Talmud. As Ritual Director, Rabbi Woolfson was responsible for reading the Torah and Megillot, supervising the daily minyan services, leading Shacharit and Mincha services on Shabbat, Festivals, and High Holy Days, as well as sounding the shofar, working with the Parnass in allocating aliyot, administrating Yahrzeit information, and supervising kashrut. Furthermore, his duties included teaching Hebrew, shofar, nusach, and cantillation in addition to conducting Bar and Bat Mitzvah lessons. More recently, Rabbi Woolfson has studied at two yeshivot and received S’micha specializing in pastoral care, Aveilut (Laws of Mourning) and the laws of kashrut. He retired in June 2017. He is married to Norma Shears and has two stepchildren, Bryan and Stephanie.

Monday, March 1, 2021 17 Adar 5781