Shalom Life | April 17, 2014

Top 20 Under 40 - Bram Belzberg

From the Cool Shul to improving School: Bram Belzberg does it all

By: Daniel Horowitz

Published: February 2nd, 2011 in Culture » Society » Interviews

Top 20 Under 40 - Bram Belzberg

Shalom Life is proud to introduce our inaugural ”Top 20 Under 40” list. This list encompasses 20 individuals of diverse occupations and backgrounds from businessmen and businesswomen and innovative entrepreneurs, to philanthropists, entertainers, doctors and more, the inaugural list places a spotlight on the myriad of talented, creative and passionate Jews, all under 40, who call Toronto home. Each day we'll introduce a new profile. We hope you enjoy the list and look forward to expanding it to other cities in the coming year.

Bram Belzberg

Bram Belzberg is a cool guy. After all, the Toronto native is the founding member of what many residents of Hogtown have affectionately dubbed “the cool shul”, that being The Annex Shul.

Known for its fun, modern environment in the Carlebach tradition, the Annex Shul was actually inspired by a Montreal institution, known as the Ghetto Shul. It was while Belzberg attended Montreal’s McGill University for his undergraduate degree, that he got involved with the Ghetto Shul -a grassroots student synagogue in the McGill ghetto neighbourhood. Upon graduation, Belzberg moved briefly to New York to pursue an investment banking career, but soon moved back to his home, Toronto. Upon his homecoming, Belzberg spent a few months searching for a meaningful Jewish experience one that would replicate the ghetto shul phenomenon.

"When I was unable to find an existing synagogue, my friends suggested that I start one for them," said Belzberg. "I sent around an e-mail with my vision, asking that it be forwarded on, and before I knew it, I was getting hundreds of responses, including from Rich Meloff who shared my vision and would become co-founder."

Belzberg created the shul with the idea that it should be "run by its members, celebrate Judaism, create a fun environment through song and dance, and yet still be somewhere that young professionals can come and celebrate their Judaism."

"My vision is that The Annex Shul should continue to evolve and be an important part of downtown Judaism in Toronto," Belzberg said. He sees the Shul as having found the balance between traditional Judaism and a progressive inclusive membership base which allows them to attract hundreds of people to all of their events.

He now sits on the shul’s advisory board and provides guidance to the current chair of the board as well as the spiritual leader. Belzberg also helps with fundraising and community relations, which includes programming partnerships with other organizations.

No stranger to communal voluntarism, Belzberg is co-chair of the Ben Gurion Society of Toronto, a division of UJA Federation’s Impact Toronto. In the past he has been chair of ONE COOL DAY, head of the Young Finance Division, co-president of the Harvard Business School Jewish Students Society and co-chair of the CJPAC Action party.

After leaving Harvard Business School in 2009, Belzberg, a member of the board of Whitespark, a non-profit incubator for Jewish start-ups, joined Kev Group - a company that provides accounting and payment processing software solutions to over 5,000 schools across the U.S. and Canada – as COO, and in only six short months, after proving his worth as only Belzberg can, the was promoted to CEO and Chairman of the Board.

What began as strictly an accounting business, KEV Group quickly saw a need to be filled by expanding into an on-line business, where, with only the click of a mouse from the comfort of their own home, parents no longer have to worry about their children bringing cash or cheques to school to pay for programs or books, and possibly losing it.

“Also, believe it or not, teachers spend 15 hours a year managing students’ money,” explains Belzberg. “Our business is growing very quickly, expanding into new markets in both the United States and in Canada. Imagine a world in ten years from now it would be hard to imagine parents not paying their kids’ school expenses on-line. We want to make it as easy and convenient as possible for the parents, their kids, while also letting parents know that their kids are spending their money on what they’re supposed to be spending their money on.”

Andrew Garfield Insists That Spiderman is Jewish Andrew Garfield Insists That Spiderman is Jewish TrendingWill Chelsea Handler Take Craig Ferguson's Late Late Night Hosting Gig? Will Chelsea Handler Take Craig Ferguson's Late Late Night Hosting Gig? TrendingREVIEW: 'The Sound of Music' on Stage in Toronto REVIEW: 'The Sound of Music' on Stage in Toronto Trending
 

Hitler Wine For Sale at Glasgow Auction

April 17, 2014 | By Shaleni McBain
Hitler Wine For Sale at Glasgow Auction

The rare bottle of 'Fuhrerwein' is expected to fetch nearly US $3,500, though experts say it's not safe for drinking

Read More

Tel Aviv Named 'Best Beach Party Spot on Planet'

April 17, 2014 | By Viva Sarah Press
Tel Aviv Named 'Best Beach Party Spot on Planet'

Israel's White City triumphs over Cape Town, Ibiza, Goa and even Phuket as the world's No. 1 sun-water-sand destination

Read More

Meet the Israelis Looking to Arrive on Mars

April 17, 2014 | By Margarita Erbach
Meet the Israelis Looking to Arrive on Mars

The Mars One Project hopes to colonize Mars, and has offered four crews the chance to win a one-way ticket to the red planet

Read More

Man Creates Spiderman's Webshooter [VIDEO]

April 17, 2014 | By Shaleni McBain
Man Creates Spiderman's Webshooter [VIDEO]

In anticipation of the release of the Amazing Spiderman 2, hardware hacker Patrick Priebe has developed a real-life webshooter using an electromagnetic launcher

Read More

Scientists Discover That Romanian Troops Massacred Jews in 1941

April 17, 2014 | By Shaleni McBain
Scientists Discover That Romanian Troops Massacred Jews in 1941

After investigating a grave discovered in 2010, the finding 'proves' that the Holocaust took place in Romania

Read More

Startup Club: Bitstrips

April 17, 2014 | By Zak Edwards
Startup Club: Bitstrips

We look at the popular comicstrips starring YOU and your friends that have taken over your Facebook feed

Read More

Missouri Mayor 'Agrees' with Kansas Shooter

April 16, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Missouri Mayor 'Agrees' with Kansas Shooter

Dan Clavenger, the mayor of Marionville, Mo., said Frazier Glenn Miller, who killed three people at Jewish centers Sunday, was "nice and friendly"

Read More

‘The View’ Co-Hosts Past and Present to Reunite For Barbara Walters Farewell

April 16, 2014 | By Sarah Bauder
‘The View’ Co-Hosts Past and Present to Reunite For Barbara Walters Farewell

All 11 co-hosts of 'The View' will appear on stage together for the first time

Read More

More Headlines