Kehillat Ahavat Hesed


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Kehillat Ahavat Chesed no longer functions as a sh.., 05-28-2008

By: Anonymous

Kehillat Ahavat Chesed no longer functions as a shul. It was founded by a few families looking for an egalitarian participatory minyan in around 1985/6. The Shachter, Lesk, Carniol, Wyman, and Grushcow families formed a major part of its foundation. Rabbi Larry Troster also helped in the early years. It met originally in people's homes and for many years in the library of the Zionist centre. For some time after its strongest years it met for high holiday services. Many families flowed through the Kehillah (as it was known) at a time when Toronto had little in the way of egalitarian shuls. It was a warm and casual environment and was very welcoming to newcomers. The Kehillah rarely had a specific ordained Rabbi and the davening was led by community members. Shalom Schacter and Lieba Lesk were particularily instrumental in leading the Kahall. The Kehillah was unaffiliated but it could be argued to have been closest to the Conservative or Reconstructionist movements. Learning and community were strongly stressed, with study groups and pot lucks being important parts of the Kehilla's functioning. Women led services, read torah, and had alliyahs, at a time when this was not the trend in Toronto. It was an important value of the Kehillah to make people feel included, and being a small shul it was easy to have everyone take part in at least some aspect of the service. Many people who had never had the opportunity were able to have there first alliyahs, in particular women who had never had such a chance.
One popular tradition of the Kehillah was to have the children of the community perform a play of the story of Jonah on Yom Kippur.
It is also worth noting that a number of members of such a small group went on to become rabbis- In particular; Shalom Schacter, Shaun Zevitt, and Lisa Grushcow.

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