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Congregation Habonim Toronto

Congregation Habonim Toronto

Toronto (ON), Canada

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Description Congregation Habonim Toronto, founded in 1954, is a liberal reform synagogue located at 5 Glen Park Avenue in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and one of the first Holocaust refugee/survivor congregations to develop in Canada. Although currently independent of any official denomination, its early founders modeled the synagogue on the example of early Reform Judaism in Germany.HistoryThe early members of Habonim were Holocaust survivors or refugees from Central Europe, who arrived in Canada after World War II.One of its founders and first President was George Spitz, a Jewish refugee from Berlin, who unsuccessfully attempted to bring over his family from Germany in 1939 on the ill-fated MS St. Louis.Paul Alexander, also a refugee of Berlin, was an early Vice-President of the synagogue - his twin brother Hanns was most famous for capturing Rudolf Höss, the Kommandant of Auschwitz. Both served as officers in the British Army during World War II and, given their fluency with the German language, were in charge of German POWs at the war's close.Notable figuresSome of the notable figures associated with the Congregation are Esther Ghan Firestone, the first female cantor in Canada, Rabbi Reuben Slonim (author, and also associate editor of The Toronto Telegram), known for his outspoken views on the Israeli-Arab conflict, Cantor Henry Weingluck, a well known artist who was a pupil of Max Liebermann, and Avrum Rosensweig, founder of Ve’ahavta, the Canadian Jewish Humanitarian Relief Organization. Since 1987, its religious leader has been writer and filmmaker Eli Rubenstein, leader of the Canadian March of the Living and March of Remembrance and Hope programs.

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