Knesseth Israel served more than just a religious purpose
for the residents of the west-end of Toronto. The Synagogue
also served a social purpose, drawing the Jewish residents
of the Junction together in times of both merriment and
sorrow. Many immigrant families, beginning their lives
anew in a strange land, made the Synagogue the center
of their lives.
after the shul was erected, the First World War began.
The Synagogue became a place of refuge, prayer, and mourning.
Residents, many of them of Polish and Russian descent,
gathered to share stories of their past and of family
members left behind in the thick of the fighting. During
the War, the shul was used as a site for selling Victory
Bonds. After the end of the War, war victims relief fundraising
was held in the shul.
the First World War, the Synagogue returned to a more
jovial social atmosphere. For example, the Congregation
had outings to High Park for summer picnics. Young boys
who attended Shabbat services every Saturday, just as faithfully, met up afterward
en route to the “Nickel Shows” to watch the
newest movie releases. Many of these boys were also members
of the Junction branch of the Jewish Boys’ Club
of Toronto, which met at Humberside Collegiate for sports
and other social events.
the most established social role of the shul was the West
Toronto Hebrew Ladies Auxiliary, presided over for most
of its years by Lily
Fundraising was an ongoing mission for the Ladies Auxiliary
who sought donations from congregation members and non-members
alike. The Auxiliary held fundraising events for Jewish
organizations on a regular basis, such as tea socials
or annual bazaars that benefited many Jewish agencies
such as: Youth Aliyah,
the United Jewish Welfare Fund, or the Moess Chittin
Fund. In addition, the Auxiliary contributed to non-Jewish
agencies, such as the Red Cross and the Canadian Cancer
Israel was therefore not only concerned with the spiritual
well-being of its members. The congregation also made
sure to provide its members with a comfortable social
atmosphere, as an additional support system for new immigrants
and long-time residents alike.
Jewish Boys’ Club, Toronto Junction Branch at
Humberside Collegiate gym
The West Toronto Ladies Aid Society picnic at High Park
(August 7, 1922)
Permit issued by the Canadian Jewish Congress, War Efforts
Fund (May 22, 1941)
Certificate of Honour