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We value all of our Temple members and are
proud of our inclusivity and the warmth of our
community. We look forward to including you in
our Temple Family.
Rabbi Jordan Cohen & Cantor Baruch
Educator Dora Ann Cohen Ellison
Temple Leadership and Staff
Membership Committee
P A G E 0 3
How these families ended up in Hamilton will probably never be known, but why they left Germany is pretty clear.
In 1848, the March Revolution took place in the states of the German Confederation. This largely working class
revolution stressed pan-Germanism. Liberals, intellectuals and others deemed to be counter-revolutionary, were
forced into exile to escape political persecution. Not a comfortable political environment for Jews.
Citizenship had been conferred on the Jews of Prussia as early as 1812, although this by no means resulted in full
equality with other citizens. Jews remained barred from holding official state positions. In Austria many laws
restricted Jewish trade and Jews were burdened with heavy taxes and forbidden to settle in many territories. The
revolution made it even more uncomfortable.
These post-enlightenment educated Jews recognized that their pursuit of modern culture would not assure them the
civic status they desired. It was time for a change. Many who were able decided to immigrate to North America,
bringing with them the Liberal Judaism that they had come to know at home.
Once settled in Hamilton, early meetings of the members of Anshe Sholom were held in members homes and
religious services were, at first, largely restricted to the High Holy days. Regular religious services began to be held
in 1856 and, within the next year, a half-acre plot was purchased as a cemetery site.
In 1866, a room was rented above a leather goods shop in downtown Hamilton to be the first formal synagogue
location for Temple Anshe Sholom. Less than 20 years later, a site was chosen at 143 Hughson Street South, at the
southeast corner of Hughson and Augusta Streets, and the necessary funds were raised to construct a synagogue.
Often referred to as the Hughson Street Temple, this building was dedicated in 1882. This Temple building served as
the congregations home for almost 70 years.
One hundred and sixty-nine years ago, 16 German Jewish families gathered over a store on Hamiltons James Street
South when they decided they needed some form of Jewish communal life. Three years later they incorporated under
the name of the Hebrew Benevolent Society Anshe-Sholom of Hamilton. Canadas first Reform Jewish congregation was
Edmund Scheuer served as President of Anshe Sholom for thirteen years from
1873 to 1886. Scheuer was born in 1847 in Beincastel, on the Moselle River in
Prussia. He came to Hamilton in 1871 to join his brother-in-law Herman Levys
jewellery business. At that time the congregation he joined consisted of 30
families totalling 131 people. The young Scheuer quickly became a leader of the
congregation, organizing the Hamilton Sabbath School, the first Jewish
religious school in Ontario. That was crucial, he declared because, If Judaism
were to take footing in this new country Jewish children must be taught
Hebrew, the history of their people and the tenets of their faith In 1873, at
age 26, Scheuer was elected president of Anshe Sholom and held that office for
the rest of his 15 years in Hamilton. He was instrumental in building the
Hughson Street Temple.
Scheuer, known as the Father of Reform Judaism in Canada, was an early pro-
ponent of interfaith understanding. Under his leadership Anshe Sholom pioneered
in introducing English into the service, both in prayer and in the sermons, which had previously only been given in
German. Women no longer sat in a separate gallery; families sat together in pews and music was introduced into
worship, both instrumental and vocal. In 1886 Scheuer moved to Toronto where he took charge of the Religious
School of Holy Blossom Temple and soon became the President of that congregation, guiding it in its transition from
Orthodox to Reform and serving as treasurer of the fund for the building of the Holy Blossom Temple building.
Scheuer also served as the first president of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Toronto. Scheuer died in
Toronto in 1943 following a collision with a streetcar and is buried in the Holy Blossom Cemetery.
Scheuers sister, Camilla Levy, also had a profound influence on the development of Jewish life in Hamilton. She
immigrated to Hamilton from Prussian with her new husband Herman in 1866. Camilla was widely respected for
her work on behalf of the needy, serving on the executive of many aid societies and womens organizations. In
1870 she helped form the Deborah Ladies Aid Society of Congregation Anshe Sholom the first womens group
formed in Canada for the purpose of uniting in a body for the purpose of assisting the poor, visiting the sick and
dispensing general charity for those of Jewish persuasion. Camilla remained the president of the Deborah Ladies
Aid Society, later the Deborah Sisterhood, until her passing in 1916. She is buried in the Temple Anshe Sholom
The great wave of immigration that swept into Canada in the late 19th and early 20th centuries brought many
families, mainly Orthodox, to the community. During this period, men and women from Anshe Sholom were
instrumental in founding such vital Jewish organizations as the Bnai Brith, Council of Jewish Organizations,
Jewish Social Services and the Council of Jewish Women.
After the Second World War, Temple Anshe Sholom became the first synagogue in Hamilton to make the post-war
move westward. Upon his arrival as the new rabbi in 1949, a young Bernard Baskin declared of the Hughson
Street Temple, Our present physical structure is shamefully antiquated and woefully inadequate for the needs of
a progressive, growing and vital congregation. On April 15, 1951, the sod was turned for a new synagogue on
vacant land at the corner of King Street West and what was then called Cline Crescent. In June of 1952, a
dedication weekend saw the scrolls ceremoniously installed in the Ark. Rabbi Maurice N. Eisendrath, the former
Rabbi of Holy Blossom and President of the UAHC, preached the Dedication Sermon. Thirteen years later, the
addition that houses the present Reiss-Frank Auditorium, Religious School classrooms, library, youth lounge and
offices was erected, more than doubling the size of the building on its present site.
Throughout the years, Anshe Sholom has been blessed with capable and
dedicated rabbinical leadership. Records of the congregation show that
the following have served as spiritual leaders: Wolf Landau, Herman
Birkenthal, Joseph Friedlander, Jacob Minkin, Julius Berger, Iser
Freund, Arthur A. Feldman, Arthur Lebowitz, Emil Fackenheim,
Luitpold Wallach, Bernard Baskin, Irwin Zeplowitz and Phil Cohen. Our
current rabbi, Jordan D. Cohen, Anshe Sholoms first Canadian born
Rabbi, began his service to Anshe Sholom on January 1, 2007.
Arthur Feldman, who served as rabbi from 1926 to 1941, was a gentle and
kind leader, a great scholar and a personal friend of Sigmund Freud. He
led the congregation throughout the difficult days of the depression and
the rise of Hitler. He held a doctorate in philosophy from from Vienna,
and a profound understanding of Freudian psychology. Outspoken in his hatred of sham, bigotry and hypocrisy,
Rabbi Feldman was a pioneer in interfaith activities and left an indelible imprint on the thinking of his
Rabbi Emil Fackenheim served the congregation from 1944 to 1949 before departing for a distinguished career as
a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto and the Hebrew University and exercised worldwide
influence as a leader of Jewish thought. The depth of Rabbi Fackenheims insight and the unique character of his
spiritual message as well as his valuable work in the community won him a lasting place in the hearts of his
congregants. During his incumbency, the first of the Interfaith Institutes was held at Anshe Sholom, with well-
known Rabbis and church leaders on hand.
Rabbi Bernard Baskin served as rabbi from 1949 to 1989. Under his
wise and devoted leadership, the congregation grew from 100 to 475
families, attracting many members who had previously been
unaffiliated. The congregation was extremely active and a wide
variety of spiritual, educational, social and cultural events and
programmes flourished. Family life cycle events and religious school
enrolment increased dramatically. The congregation worshiped on
the traditional side of Reform. Rabbi Baskin has served on and held
office with countless local, regional and
national organizations, both Jewish and non-Jewish, and built a
genuine sense of goodwill, respect and understanding within our
Jewish community and between the Jewish and general
communities. Among the many honours he has been awarded are a
Doctor of Laws degree from McMaster University and a Doctor of
Divinity degree from HUC-JIR. A highly respected and distinguished
speaker, writer, teacher and leader, we are privileged that Rabbi
Baskin serves as our Rabbi Emeritus, and continued to play an
active role in our community until his relocation to Toronto in 2018.
With the strong foundation established by Rabbi Baskin, Rabbi Irwin Zeplowitz arrived in 1989. The
congregation was fortunate to enjoy this dynamic and caring Rabbi. His family-based innovations enabled the
synagogue to grow in a number of ways, ranging from enriching educational opportunities and congregational
dinners to involvement in mitzvah projects and challenging issues of the day. He encouraged the congregation to
be more inclusive and promoted greater participation of young people in congregational life. He played an
important role in the decision to hire a full-time educator in 1992 and worked with our educators to revitalize
our school. Deeply committed to social action and interfaith understanding, Rabbi Zeplowitz also strengthened
our ties to the people and land of Israel. He introduced liturgical and ritual changes, including increased use of
Hebrew, and innovations to make services, life cycle events and ritual observance more engaging and
meaningful for people of all ages and backgrounds. He combined a respect for the past with optimism for the
At this time, Temple Anshe Sholom is traditional yet innovative in its
worship and ritual observance. Under the dedicated leadership of Rabbi
Jordan Cohen, Cantor Paula Baruch and Dora-Ann Cohen Ellison, our Dir-
ector of Religious Education, the congregation is welcoming, inclusive and
embracing of diversity. Its core values include pluralism, education, social
justice, egalitarianism, creative expression, con-gregational participation
in prayer and leadership, strong identification with Israel and dynamic,
relevant spirituality. There are joyful music based Sabbath and Holy Day
services, vibrant religious education programs for students from Kinder-
garten through High School, popular youth groups and camp programs,
family retreats, seniors programs, and a multitude of adult learning op-
portunities. The Temple building also serves as home to the Temple
Playhouse Multicultural Enrichment School and the Kehila Jewish Com-
munity Day School, and hosts many community organizations such as a
Storytellers Group, The Shalom Community Teaching Garden, The Asper
Foundation Human Rights and Holocaust Studies Program, The Jewish
Genealogical Society of Hamilton, various community meetings and gather-
ings and several youth arts and activities programs and summer camps.
The members of the Anshe Sholom congregation are actively involved in all
Jewish communal activities and are committed to every aspect of the life of
the greater Hamilton community. At Temple Anshe Sholom, we strive to create a place for everyone..
Saturday Morning - SHABBAT SHELANU
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