Shalom Life | April 17, 2014

High Holiday Services Attract Israeli Community

No one who can’t afford to pay is ever turned away at the door. For almost thirty years, Toronto’s Sephardic community has been faithfully attending Rabbi Revah’s High Holiday services.

By: Dan Verbin

Published: September 21st, 2009 in News » World

High Holiday Services Attract Israeli Community

For almost thirty years, Toronto’s Sephardic community has been faithfully attending Rabbi Revah’s High Holiday services and this year looks to be no different.

Rabbi Revah, of Beth Midrash Bar Yochai Sephardic Congregation, said that people are drawn to his holiday services not only because they come throughout the year and grow attached to the services and the rabbi. They also attend High Holiday services because, for some, the melodies bring back happy memories.

“There are many Sephardic tunes, some of them are Moroccan. Some people long for the melodies that they heard when they were young,” said the Moroccan-born Rabbi with a background in education who left home after his bar mitzvah to study at a yeshiva in New York City where he stayed for 14 years.

However, it’s not only the familiar childhood memories that attract congregants. Some Ashkenazi Jews also attend. All told, several hundred people have been coming to Rabbi Revah’s High Holiday services for many years, including a large number of Israelis. This year, he expects a similar amount to be there.

The Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services attract such a large crowd that each year the services

have to be moved to a rental space so that all the extra people can be accommodated.

This year Beth Midrash Bar Yochai will be holding services at Eitz Chaim Girls School, 80 Yorkhill Boulevard.

However, Rabbi Revah hopes that next year, or in the near future, his congregation will have more space. He explained that the congregation purchased a piece of land on Bathurst across from the Promenade, where two houses used to stand. They’ve knocked down the houses and plans have been drawn up to build a new, larger permanent location. They are just waiting for more funds to begin construction.

“If we have money we can start right away. We have plans already. We have plans already but the plans were not realized because of lack of money,” he said. “And now we’re trying to build a shul and if somebody wants to help, we should be blessed. “

Another difference between Rabbi Revah’s High Holiday services and most other synagogues in the Toronto area is that there are no tickets as such.

The Rabbi said that while people who attend are expected to pay something, no one who can’t afford to pay is ever turned away at the door.

“People come to us during the year so they are attached to our place,” he said.

For more information about the congregation or to attend services, call 416-787-4602 or 905-731-7855 and leave your name and phone number.

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