Beth Tzedec Congregation

Beth Tzedec Congregation (Hebrew: בית צדק, lit.'House of Righteousness') is a Conservative synagogue on Bathurst Street in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was founded in 1955 with the amalgamation of the Goel Tzedec (Hebrew: גואל צדק, lit.'Righteous Redeemer') and Beth Hamidrash Hagadol Chevra Tehillim (Hebrew: בית המדרש הגדול חברה תהלים, romanizedThe Great House of Prayer of the Congregation of Psalms) congregations, established respectively in 1883 and 1887.[3] The synagogue has some 2,200 member units, representing over 4,000 members.[4]

Beth Tzedec Congregation
AffiliationConservative Judaism
  • Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl (emeritus)
  • Rabbi Steve Wernick (senior rabbi)[1]
  • Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin[2]
Location1700 Bathurst Street
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Location within Toronto
Location within Toronto
Shown within Toronto
Geographic coordinates43°41′44″N 79°25′28″W / 43.6954689°N 79.4243774°W / 43.6954689; -79.4243774Coordinates: 43°41′44″N 79°25′28″W / 43.6954689°N 79.4243774°W / 43.6954689; -79.4243774
Architect(s)Peter Dickinson
Date established1883; 139 years ago (1883)
Completed1955; 67 years ago (1955)


Early yearsEdit

Goel Tzedec Synagogue, 1924
Beth Hamidrash Hagadol, c. 1920

The Goel Tzedec ('Righteous Redeemer') congregation was founded in October 1883 by (primarily Litvak) Eastern European Jewish immigrants to Toronto, as an Orthodox alternative to the Reform Holy Blossom Temple.[5] The synagogue purchased the building of a former church at University Avenue and Elm Street the following year.[6] Meanwhile, some of its members (mainly Russians and Galitzianers) left in 1887 to establish a new synagogue, Chevra Tehillim ('The Congregation of Psalms').[7]

In 1905, Goel Tzedec appointed as spiritual leader the Volozhin Yeshiva graduate Rabbi Jacob Gordon,[8] who would serve as senior rabbi until his death in November 1934.[9] That same year, a building site on University Avenue near Armoury was purchased, and the new building was dedicated in February 1907.[10] With seating for 1,200, the synagogue, designed by architect William Limberry Symons [Wikidata], was the largest in the city.[11] In 1905, Chevra Tehillim purchased the New Richmond Methodist Church on McCaul Street, designed by architects Smith & Gemmel,[7] and was renamed Beth Hamidrash Hagadol Chevra Tehillim ('The Great House of Prayer of the Congregation of Psalms'; informally the 'McCaul Street Synagogue').[12][13]

Goel Tzedec adopted English-language sermons in 1913,[7] while Chevra Tehillim did so only in the 1920s (and only on High Holy Days).[14] The former joined the Conservative movement in 1925,[15] though it retained most of its traditional practices. Among other changes, insistence on decorum during the service, the seating of women on the main floor, a new prayer book, and the addition of some English prayers were introduced at Goel Tzedec in the mid-1930s.[16][17][18]

As Toronto Jewry began moving further north, Goel Tzedec in 1946 purchased the synagogue's current site on Bathurst in York Township. In 1949, it established with the McCall Street Synagogue what would become the Beth Tzedec Memorial Park. The congregation held Canada's first bat mitzvah ceremony in 1950.[19]: 14,17,20 

Amalgamation to presentEdit

Goel Tzedec and Beth Hamidrash Hagadol amalgamated in 1952 to form the Beth Tzedec Congregation, and in December 1955 dedicated their new building, designed by architect Peter Dickinson of the consulting firm Page and Steele.[19]: 33 

Judy Feld Carr became Beth Tzedec's first female president in 1983.[19]: 92  The synagogue began granting aliyahs to women in the mid-1990s, and counting women in minyanim shortly thereafter.[19]: 105,110 

Beth Tzedec briefly withdrew from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism in 2008, but rejoined in 2014.[20]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Fraiman, Michael (September 27, 2018). "Conservative leader steps down to head Beth Tzedec". Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved August 26, 2021.
  2. ^ Rose, Alex (August 19, 2019). "Toronto welcomes two new female rabbis". Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved August 26, 2021.
  3. ^ Shefa, Sheri (December 9, 2015). "Coffee table book celebrates Beth Tzedec's 60th anniversary". Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved August 26, 2021.
  4. ^ "About Beth Tzedec". Beth Tzedec Congregation. Archived from the original on 22 April 2021. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  5. ^ Levine, Allan (2018). Seeking the Fabled City: The Canadian Jewish Experience. McClelland & Stewart. p. 52–53. ISBN 978-0-7710-4805-0.
  6. ^ "Goel Tzedec Synagogue". Toronto Historical Association. Archived from the original on 28 August 2021.
  7. ^ a b c Graham, Sharon (2001). "An Examination of Toronto Synagogue Architecture, 1897–1937". Journal of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada. 26 (3–4): 15–24. hdl:10222/70894.
  8. ^ Kaplan, Kimmy (2007). "Gordon, Jacob". In Berenbaum, Michael; Skolnik, Fred (eds.). Encyclopaedia Judaica (2nd ed.). Detroit: Macmillan Reference. ISBN 978-0-02-866097-4.
  9. ^ Traub, S., ed. (1938). History of the McCaul Street Synagogue: Golden Anniversary. Toronto.
  10. ^ Lipinsky, J. (2011). Imposing Their Will: An Organizational History of Jewish Toronto, 1933-1948. McGill-Queen's studies in ethnic history. McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-7735-3845-0. Retrieved 2021-08-27.
  11. ^ Lipinsky, Jack (2015). "A 'Magnificent Dome': The Great University Avenue Synagogue". In Lorinc, John; McClelland, Michael; Scheinberg, Ellen; Taylor, Tatum (eds.). The Ward: The Life and Loss of Toronto's First Immigrant Neighbourhood. Coach House Books. p. 171–175. ISBN 978-1-77056-419-0.
  12. ^ Caplan, Kimmy (2009). "There Is No Interest in Precious Stones in a Vegetable Market: The Life and Sermons of Rabbi Jacob Gordon of Toronto". Jewish History. 23 (2): 149–167. doi:10.1007/s10835-009-9079-x. JSTOR 40345569. S2CID 159997264.
  13. ^ "Finding aid" (1905–1952). Beth Hamidrash Hagadol. Toronto: Ontario Jewish Archives.
  14. ^ Perin, R. (2017). The Many Rooms of this House: Diversity in Toronto's Places of Worship Since 1840. University of Toronto Press. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-4875-2017-5. Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  15. ^ "Finding aid" (1889–1917). Goel Tzedec Synagogue. Toronto: Ontario Jewish Archives. 1979.
  16. ^ Dedication. Toronto: Beth Tsedec Congregation. 9 December 1955.
  17. ^ Landau-Chark, Susan J. (March 2008). Community, Identity, and Religious Leadership as Expressed through the Role of the Rabbi's Wife (PDF) (Thesis). Montreal: Concordia University.
  18. ^ Brown, Michael (2009). "Platform and Prophecy: The Rise and Fall of Rabbi Stuart E. Rosenberg as Foreshadowed in His Early Toronto Sermons on Leadership". Jewish History. 23 (2): 195–217. doi:10.1007/s10835-009-9078-y. JSTOR 40345572. S2CID 159529723.
  19. ^ a b c d Gladstone, Bill (2015). The History of Beth Tzedec Congregation. Toronto: Beth Tzedec Synagogue. ISBN 978-0-9948767-0-6.
  20. ^ Shefa, Sheri (16 July 2014). "Beth Tzedec rejoins United Synagogue umbrella". Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved 31 August 2021.

External linksEdit