Although most of the early members of the Minsk moved up north, as was the trend in the 1950s, the shul continues to fill a vibrant role in the Jewish community. It remains the only downtown shul to hold three daily minyans. Shabbat shacharit services, led by Cantor Rueben Schwebel for over fifty years, attract more people. Most of the congregants include men who work in the city and need a place to pray during the day, students who live in the nearby University of Toronto area, and Jews who either never moved north or have moved downtown. Many tourists come to services as well, since it is centrally located and is an historic site in itself.
Rabbi Spero, who is originally from Cleveland , Ohio , became the Minsk 's leader in 1988 and has revived its unique spirit. He was largely responsible for attracting a younger crowd. While keeping true to Orthodox traditions, the Minsk welcomes people of all religious backgrounds. Programming includes free Friday night Shabbat dinners and Passover Seders , study sessions, Shabbatons , and the Minsk 's popular Purim and Chanukah parties. For visitors, there is even an apartment available within walking distance from the synagogue, since Jewish law prohibits driving on Shabbat.
The historic synagogue is often the venue for Jewish events such as lectures, concerts, and seminars, in addition to weddings and bar-mitzvahs . The Minsk has also participated in Doors Open Toronto in recent years, and receives many visitors, since it is one of the few historic buildings that has not changed its original function. In addition to being on the City of Toronto 's inventory of heritage sites, the Minsk is an essential stop on the Ontario Jewish Archives' "A Sense of Spadina" walking tour which explores downtown Jewish Toronto's history. The shul has collaborated on programs with many other Jewish organizations like NSCY, Aish Hatorah, Jews for Judaism, Hillel, and Beit Halochem. While many events and programs have been held at the Minsk , the congregation also provides support to the poor in the community.
The Minsk currently has about 200 members. Many have retained their membership, despite having moved out of the area, because they are fond of the shul and its historic significance to the community or to their family. The Executive continues to hold meetings on a monthly basis and an unofficial sisterhood operates within the shul as well.
Plans for the future include renovations that will provide space for a Jewish learning centre and daycare, as well as installing more washrooms and beautifying the front areas. These additions will be designed to respect and preserve the historic spirit of the shul.
As more and more young Jews move downtown, and the enthusiastic response to programming at the Minsk continues, the future of this historic synagogue looks promising.
The Minsk today, 2003.
Chanuka at the Minsk , n.d.
Dancing at the Minsk 's Purim party, n.d.
Listening to a guest lecturer at the Minsk , n.d .
Passover at the Minsk , April 2003.