Board & Volunteers

Board of Directors

Karen Charnow Lior (she/her)

President

Karen has been a member of Shir Libeynu for over 20 years and was a member of the first Board of Directors. She came to Toronto from Israel with her family in 1987, leaving Kibbutz Gezer, of which she is a founding, former member. Her time on Gezer gave her experience, knowledge and expertise in community development.

Karen has over 25 years of experience related to public policy, programs and practice. She has a B.A. from the University of Maryland and a Master Degree in Environmental Studies from York University, with a focus on community development.

Currently, Karen works for the Labour Education Centre, which is a project of the Toronto York Region Labour Council. She was the chair of the Building Heart committee of Heart to Heart, a program that brings Jewish and Arab teenagers together each summer to learn about each other, break down barriers and build civil society.

Karen is the former 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.

Connect with Karen: slboard@shirlibeynu.ca

Mark Fine (he/him)

Treasurer

As a child, Mark’s family belonged to a large Conservative synagogue in Toronto. He always felt out of place and stopped attending High Holy Day 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 Holy Day 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.

Connect with Mark: slboard@shirlibeynu.ca

Abbe Edelson (she/her)

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.

Connect with Abbe: slboard@shirlibeynu.ca

Jamie Flagal (he/him)

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 was the Co-Chair, along with Amy Matchen, of our previous Rabbi Search Committee. Jamie was also 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.

Connect with Jamie: slboard@shirlibeynu.ca

Ellie Goldenberg (she/her)

I started attending Congregation Shir Libeynu back in the late 1990s along with a couple of friends who like myself, were in their 20s and 30s, and relative newcomers to Toronto and seeking meaningful High Holiday services. I was drawn to the participatory services, the thoughtful readings, and the choir.

Since joining the choir in 2005, I have sung at High Holiday services every year and holidays would not feel complete without it. Each time I attend a service, including the virtual services we’ve had this past year, I feel uplifted and connected, and am reminded of why I joined CSL in the first place!

After completing my Master degree in Public Health from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, I have worked in a number of different fields including higher education (Accessibility Services), health research, and currently, health administration at the College of Nurses of Ontario. At UofT, I was a member of the Equity Diversity and Inclusion Committee. I also completed the Esther Myers yoga teacher training and taught yoga in the Toronto community for over 15 years.

As a new board member, I am excited about the opportunity to assist during the pandemic, to collaborate with more experienced board members, and to work with our new Spiritual Leader, as we usher in a new era at Congregation Shir Libeynu.

Connect with Ellie: slboard@shirlibeynu.ca

Dorothy Rusoff (she/her)

Dorothy has been a member of Shir Libeynu from the very beginning—from a classroom at OISE beginning. She and a friend had “synagogue shopped” for a long time, each year fussing about what they would do for the holidays and where they would go. Finally, they landed on Shir Libeynu, where they found a lot of single people like them, felt comfortable and decided to stay.

In mid-March 2020, when it seemed like the world was falling apart, she knew she wanted to make some kind of social contribution. Shortly after, at services, Karen Lior announced that the Shir Libeynu board was looking for more members. That’s all she needed to know! She called Karen and has been involved with the board ever since.

Dorothy’s involvement with Shir Libeynu includes co-chairing the Bikkur Cholim Committee, assisting congregants who need help with a variety of tasks. She has also organized Shabbat kiddishes, from purchasing and preparing food, to directing volunteers in the kitchen. Currently, she co-chairs the Social Action Committee and is involved with the education program.

Dorothy is no stranger to boards of directors. She has been involved with community organizations for many years. She has been a board member at Nellies Women’s Shelter, Riverdale Socio-Legal Services, Common Thread Community Chorus and Woodgreen Community Services (as a board member and president).

She is a retired college professor from Centennial College, Community Services Department, where she taught in the Recreation and Leisure Services and Social Service Worker programs.

Her interests include photography, writing, music, theatre and gardening.

Connect with Dorothy: slboard@shirlibeynu.ca

Rebecca Sugarman (she/her)

I have been part of the Shir Libeynu congregation for over a dozen years and am one of the most recent Board members.

I graduated with a Master’s of Social Work degree from Carleton University. I started in counselling but moved into community development to work from a broader perspective. I have worked with a wide range of populations from helping groups develop childcare programs for preschoolers to youth groups, young mothers, single parents and seniors. I was instrumental in developing a board game to sensitize the public about issues related to homecare for seniors.

My formal work experiences include providing field supervision for community development students in the MSW program at Wilfred Laurier University, district director for a federal youth program and Executive Director at the Barbra Schlifer Clinic, which provides counselling and legal services for women experiencing violence; Opportunity for Advancement, which offers support services to women living in poverty; and the Toronto Training Board. I came to understand business management through my own experiences.

I started volunteering on Boards of Directors at the age of 23 and have been on boards that focused on children, employment/training, seniors, women, local community issues and living in poverty. I have written policy manuals, annual reports and funding proposals. I’ve supervised staff and been responsible for financial management of both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. I have made numerous presentations to the public, government policy makers and other audiences, and supported many fundraising initiatives.

Connect with Rebecca: slboard@shirlibeynu.ca

Past Presidents

Shlomo Gleibman, 2018 – 2019
Laurie Goodman, 2016 – 2017
Jamie Flagal, 2014 – 2016
Harriet Eisenkraft, 2012 – 2014
Eden Nameri, 2009 – 2012 

Our Amazing Volunteers

Lorne Blumer often leads meditation workshops for our congregation. Lorne is a graduate of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s program in Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training.

Harriet Eisenkraft is our Chevra Kadisha Co-ordinator, supporting members who are at end of life or bereaved. Please connect with Harriet at: chevrakadisha@shirlibeynu.ca.

Shoshana Fainsilber often leads dance and movement workshops for our congregation. Shoshana has been involved in free-style dancing for over 30 years. She has also participated in choirs for the past nine years. Music and dance are her passions.

Jamie Flagal, Charlie Lior, Alice Newman and Vered Philip often read Torah at our services.

Zev Frishman, Lorne Gould, Harvey Weisfeld and Penny Winestock often contribute wonderful music to our services.

Eden Nameri has been telling stories in and out of shul for over 20 years, and often tells stories at our services and events. Her renditions of Biblical tales are illuminated by original midrash that provides a queer feminist perspective. She is an active member of 1001 Friday Nights of Storytelling and a member of the Board of Directors of Storytelling Toronto. Eden is also our Speaker Series & Special Events Coordinator. Please connect with Eden at: speakers&events@shirlibeynu.ca.

Vered Philip is an accomplished musician and our Choir Director. She often reads Torah at our services and has taught Hebrew classes for our congregation.

Our choir members are Barry Birnberg, Shelley Glazer, Ellie Goldenberg, Maria Meindl, Alice Newman, Abby Pope, Ariela Weisfeld and Harvey Weisfeld.

Dorothy Rusoff and Bonnie Smith are our Bikur Cholim Co-coordinators, visiting/helping members who are ill. Please connect with Dorothy and Bonnie c/o the Board of Directors: slboard@shirlibeynu.ca.

We have many other volunteers who are not listed here. They step up to help with anything and everything: schlepping bagels for kiddush, buying flowers to brighten up the sanctuary, sounding shofar, welcoming people, reading or playing music at services, reading from the Torah, storytelling and so much more!

Take a look at all the people Cantor Wunch thanked who contributed to our wonderful 2021 High Holy Day services. The very long list is at the end of “The Opportunity to Slow Down, Take a Breath” in Cantor’s Corner.

So many people contributed to the success of our first Zoom High Holy Days in 2020 that we had to make a video to thank everyone: https://youtu.be/uZKxcQjMQdU.

If you are interested in making a contribution to our community, check out our Volunteering page.