Accession consists of the records created and accumulated by Rabbi Joseph Kelman. The records detail Kelman's involvement with a number of organizations particluarly Reena, She'arim Hebrew Day School and Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue. They also document the numerous awards and tributes he received in his life and detail his personal life. The records primarily consist of personal and professional correspondence, event invitations, photographs, newsclippings, and biographical material. There is also one file folder related to Sol Edell, the brother of the donor, and an oversized photograph of the Harbord Collegiate choral society and orchestra.
001: Portrait of Rabbi Joseph Kelman, (Toronto, ON), ca. 1950s.
003: Rabbi Kelman meets the chief of staff of the Israeli police, Mordecai Gur, [Israel], [197-].
004: Rabbi Joseph Kelman awarded with honorary Doctorate, [198-?].
005: James Harris, Rabbi Joseph Kelman, Liberal leader John Turner and [identified], Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue, 100 Elder St. (Toronto, ON), 1984.
The records were in the possession of Rabbi Joseph Kelman until his death in 2009. They were donated to the Archives by his wife, Sara Edell Shafler Kelman on Feb. 1, 2012.
Rabbi Kelman was born in Vienna, Austria in 1927, the son of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda and Mirl Kelman and the descendent of a long line of distinguished rabbis. He immigrated to Toronto with his family at the age of three in 1930. He attended Harbord Collegiate and was ordained at Yeshiva University in New York. Beginning in 1953, Kelman became seved as a rabbi in Sherbrooke, QC, Beverley, MA, and Suffern, NY vefore accepting the pulpit at Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagoge in Torotno in 1959. At the time, Beth Emeth was a small congregation in the fledgling Bathurst Manor neighbourhood. He facilitated its merging with Bais Yehuda to form BEBY, and under his guidance it grew to become the third-largest Conservative synagogue in the GTA with a membership of approximately 1,500 families.
Kelman's life work was dedicated to providing opportunities for the developmentally disabled and learning challenged in the Jewish community. He was the founder of the Ezra and Kadima Schools, the Kadima Centre, the Camp Tikvah program, the Reena Foundation, Chai Tikvah and She'arim Hebrew Day School. He also served as a chaplain in Toronto hospitals and jails.
Rabbi Kelman was the recipeint of numerous awards for his contributions to Jewish education and community service, including a honourary doctorate from Ryerson University and Tel Aviv University. The Kelman School for Jewish Education at Tel Aviv University is named in his honour. Rabbi Kelman died on June 27, 2009 at the age of 82.
Copyright is held by the Ontario Jewish Archives. Please contact the Archives to obtain permission prior to use.
Includes approx. 50 photographs, 1 CD and 1 artifact.
Accession consists of a letter written by Rabbi Edward Elkin and addressed to members of the First Narayever Congregation, of which he was the rabbi. In the letter, Rabbi Elkin describes his purpose as follows: "I would like to cover what I see as the salient grounds in Jewish law (halakha) which led me to the point where I can comfortably say that I am prepared to officate at a same-sex marriage."
The letter was written ahead of a congregational meeting and vote on same-sex marriage set for the end of January 2004.
In 1914, Jews from eastern Galicia (now in modern Ukraine) established the First Narayever Congregation in Toronto as a landsmanshaf, i.e. a society of Jewish immigrants from the same town or region. The synagogue takes its name from the small market town of Narayev, which is located in eastern Galicia. The synagogue's founders belonged to the working class and many worked in Toronto's garment industry.
Initially, congregation members met in different locations, but by 1923 their numbers and financial means had grown such that they were able to rent a small house at 70 Huron Street at the corner of Huron and Dundas. This house served as the congregation's home for twenty years.
The congregation's first president was Israel Chaim Katz and its first meeting was held at the Katz home at 156 William Street. The congregation's first rabbi was Solomon Langner, who was hired by the congregation in 1923. He retained this affiliation despite serving the Kiever Synagogue as a full-time rabbi from 1929 until he died in 1973.
In 1943, the congregation purchased property at 187-189 Brunswick Avenue from Bethel Church. This is where the the synagogue is located today.
In 1950, Henry Young became president of the congregation. He occupied that position until his death in 1976.
Shalom Langner, the son of Rabbi Solomon Langner, succeeded Young as president.
As Toronto's Jewish population began to move north, the First Narayever continued to serve Orthodox Jews living downtown. In the 1980s, the congregation struggled to balance the needs of this older generation with the young generation's desire to make the synagogue more egalitarian with respect to gender. In 1983, the congregation's new leadership team successfully advanced a proposal to allow the full participation of women in traditional services. This innovation led to several long-standing members taking legal action, but their case was dismissed on the grounds that it was not a matter for civil law.
The First Narayever's identity continued to evolve. In 2009, its membership voted to allow its rabbi, Edward Elkin, who began serving the congregation in 2000, to officiate at same-sex marriages.