Karen has been a member of Shir Libeynu for over 20 years and was a member of its first Board of Directors. She came to Toronto with her family in 1987, after living on a kibbutz for 13 years. She is a founding, former member of Kibbutz Gezer. Her time on Gezer gave her experience, knowledge and expertise in community development.
Karen has over 20 years of experience related to public policy, programs and practice. She has a B.A. from the University of Maryland and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies from York University, which focused on community development.
Currently, Karen is the Director of the Working Green Program at the Labour Education Centre, a project of Toronto York Regional Labour Council. She is also involved with Heart to Heart, a program that brings 20 Israeli teenagers—half Jews, half Arabs—to Canada each summer. The program’s focus is to break down barriers and build civil society.
In September 2019, she finished her term as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre, an organization in Toronto’s downtown west that serves populations that have difficulty accessing primary health care.
Ilana grew up in Keene, NH, and her family was active in the synagogue there. She attended Hebrew school twice a week leading up to her Bat Mitzvah, and stayed engaged by regularly leading services, presenting Jewish poetry and chanting Torah. She moved to Toronto from the United States four years ago with her wife, RB, and found Shir Libeynu soon afterward. She was drawn to the strong LGBTQ presence and emphasis on music in services. She served on the Rabbi Search Committee before deciding to join the board.
Ilana has a BA in psychology and theatre and a MAT in elementary education from Smith College. She has worked in a variety of fields including technical theatre, early childhood education, elementary education, the non-profit arts and children’s mental health. Ilana is currently a full-time mom of a toddler and offers home childcare and child behavioural consultation services. She is also an occasional storyteller and writer of both fiction and nonfiction.
Ilana brings her passion for education, social justice, and community engagement to Shir Libeynu.
As a child, Mark’s family belonged to a large Conservative synagogue in Toronto. He always felt out of place and stopped attending High Holiday services after his Bar Mitzvah. This discomfort followed him through his life. When his daughters were young, his family tried several downtown congregations, but they weren’t the right fit for him.
About four years ago, his wife, Amy, suggested they try out High Holiday services at Shir Libeynu. He immediately felt at home and comfortable. They have been members ever since. Recently, Mark and Amy became grandparents.
Mark’s earliest career was as a Stage Manager and Technical Director in alternative theatres in 1970’s Toronto. Since 1988, he has owned and operated AirMagic, a special effects business, focusing on live performance and events. The company provides special effects for all the Mirvish shows, the Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival and theatres across Canada. It has contracts with the Air Canada Centre, MLSE and the two large casinos. Running a small business is challenging. Running a niche business is extra challenging. Mark’s company survived and thrived through a recession in the 90’s, the great recession of 2008, 9/11 and SARS. Two members of his staff have been part of the team for over twenty years.
Dahlia became a member of Shir Libeynu about five years ago. She grew up with a strong sense of Jewish identity but little religious observance. Going to synagogue was not part of her experience. When she attended her first Shir Libeynu service, she realized she had been missing something.
Dahlia has been the editor of Shir Libeynu’s newsletter for about a year. She is a freelance researcher, policy advisor and writer. Current clients include the City of Toronto and Community Legal Education Ontario. She is also a volunteer writer/editor for Merchavim – The Institute for the Advancement of Shared Citizenship, an organization working to promote diversity, fairness and inclusion in Israeli classrooms, communities and society.
She recently retired as a Senior Policy Advisor/Writer with the Ontario Public Service after 27 years. She worked in a number of policy areas, including employment equity, human rights, accessibility for people with disabilities, social assistance, culture and heritage conservation. Prior to government, she coordinated community-based adult literacy programs and taught English as a Second Language.
Dahlia served on the board of a non-profit housing cooperative for a number of years.
Jamie has been active in the shul for many years. He served on the board for two three-year terms. He served as President from 2014 to 2016. Prior to that he served as Secretary from 2011 to 2013. Jamie is currently the Co-Chair, along with Amy Matchen, of the Rabbi Search Committee. Jamie has also been the shul’s High Holiday Coordinator for several years.
Jamie found himself in the mid- to late-1990s without a shul after becoming disillusioned with the Conservative shul his family attended. After coming out in the early 1990s, he felt like a stranger in that setting. For several years, Jamie stopped attending shul altogether. But for Jamie something was missing without being part of a part of a shul, particularly during the High Holidays. When Jamie attended his first Shir Libeynu service at Cecil Community Centre, he immediately knew he had found a place he felt he belonged. Jamie is extremely indebted to all those who founded and have contributed to the Shir Libeynu community.
Jamie has worked as a lawyer for the Province since 1994, practising in the area of environmental law.
Abbe was raised in a politically progressive, secular Jewish family. She has been attending Shir Libeynu for several years. She has been active in a number of volunteer activities including the women’s and peace movement. Abbe has served on the finance committee of the Cawthra Mansions Housing Cooperative and the Board of the Grenadier Villas Co-Ownership Association. More recently, she has been active in community-based planning groups including CORD (Communities Organizing for Responsible Development), the Ward 6 Community Action Team, Lakeshore Planning Council and the Mimico Community Lakeshore Network.
Abbe has many years’ experience as a writer, researcher, editor and producer and had an extensive career in print media, radio and television. More recently, her writing has focused on community-based research and social policy.
She has worked on projects such as the Anti-Poverty Community Organizing and Learning Project (APCOL), two community hubs project in association with WoodGreen Community Services, and the Benefits Blueprint project (writing business cases for social programs in New Brunswick), a tri-level project for Hardy, Stevenson and Associates.
Abbe has taught presentation skills for graduate students at the University of Toronto. She recently completed her PhD in Sociology and Equity Studies (Social Justice Education) at OISE.
Other Shir Libeynu Volunteers
Barry Birnberg: Shabbat Volunteer
Harriet Eisenkraft: Life Cycles Coordinator; Shiva Helpers’ Coordinator (Chevra Kadisha)
Dahlia Klinger: Newsletter Editor
Vered Phillips: Choir Director
Dorothy Rusoff – Co-director, Bikkur Cholim (Visiting/Helping Ill Members)
Jonathan Silin: Education Director
Bonnie Smith – Co-director, Bikkur Cholim (Visiting/Helping Ill Members)