Lifecycle Celebration & Support

In Jewish tradition, we benefit from laughing, celebrating, crying and mourning together as a community. Below are some lifecycle events that can be marked through Jewish practice and participation. To read more about “Jewish Tradition and the Lifecyle,” visit: My Jewish Learning.

Birth

We rejoice with you and your family in the birth of a new child. We welcome all members to plan a baby naming or welcoming ceremony with us at a Shabbat service so the community can celebrate with you. Some members choose to sponsor the kiddush after the celebration, or make a similar matanat simcha (celebration donation) to the synagogue in honour of the happy occasion.

If you are interested in arranging a brit milah (bris), Cantor Wunch offers referrals to a mohel (male) or mohelet (female) who are sensitive to the needs of same-sex, interfaith or intercultural families. Connect with Cantor Wunch at cantorwunch@gmail.com.

B’Mitzvah*

With our strong tradition of embracing diversity and welcoming everyone, regardless of your level of Jewish experience or education, your family can count on a fulfilling B’Mitzvah experience at Shir Libeynu. Wherever possible, we celebrate B’Mitzvah ceremonies at our monthly Shabbat services so the community can celebrate with you. Some members choose to sponsor the kiddush after the celebration, or make a similar matanat simcha (celebration donation) to the synagogue in honour of the happy occasion.

If your child is interested in having a B’Mitzvah ceremony with the Shir Libeynu community, we will support them in every way to prepare them for the occasion, including tutoring for the Torah portion and working with you to plan the simcha. If you would like more information about planning a B’Mitzvah ceremony with Shir Libeynu, please contact Cantor Wunch at cantorwunch@gmail.com.

Spiritual Life - Lifecycle Celebration and Support

Marriage

We welcome all couples—same-sex, trans, heterosexual and interfaith. Cantor Wunch would be pleased to discuss all aspects of your upcoming wedding with you, including planning and officiating a personalized and meaningful ceremony. She is also a certified pre-marital counseling facilitator, and can help guide you through preparing for your marriage, as well as your wedding day. (Note that these services are not included in your membership.) Please connect with Cantor Wunch to discuss how she can support you in your marriage or commitment process: cantorwunch@gmail.com.

On the Shabbat before their wedding, some couples celebrate with an aufruf (being called up to the Torah for a blessing). Many couples and their children have also joined us at services to celebrate anniversaries and receive special blessings from the community. Some members choose to sponsor the kiddush after the celebration, or make a similar matanat simcha (celebration donation) to the synagogue in honour of the happy occasion.

Choosing Judaism

Congregation Shir Libeynu has partnered with several other independent congregations in Downtown Toronto to offer a holistic education program for anyone who is interested in enhancing their Jewish knowledge or formalizing their commitment to Judaism. The program introduces the central Jewish ideas, practices, texts and experiences that will form the foundation of a Jewish life. If you are thinking about conversion or are interested in embarking upon this learning, please contact Cantor Wunch who will guide you through these steps: cantorwunch@gmail.com.

Illness

Our Spiritual Leader, Cantor Cheryl Wunch and our Chazzan Daniela Gesundheit are available to comfort members during illness. Please feel free to reach out to them:

Cantor Wunch: cantorwunch@gmail.com

Chazzan Gesundheit: chazzan@shirlibeynu.ca

Our congregation can also offer support if you are ill and do not have family or friends to rely on, or if they need respite or comfort themselves. Support may include phoning or visiting, shopping, preparing meals and arranging transportation to medical appointments. If you are ill and need assistance, please connect with our Bikkur Cholim (visiting the sick) volunteers, Dorothy Rusoff and Bonnie Smith, c/o the Board of Directors: slboard@shirlibeynu.ca.

End of Life

Our Shir Libeynu community is here to support you during these painful times. When faced with the end of life or death of a loved one, there are many difficult decisions that need to be made.  Cantor Wunch, Chazzan Daniela Gesundheit and our dedicated team of volunteers can guide you through this process, walk with you in your grief, and ensure that your loved one’s memory is honoured.

If you need support during the palliative stage, please contact Cantor Wunch (cantorwunch@gmail.com).

In the event of the death of a loved one, please call our synagogue Administrator Lillian Radosevic at 416-465-5488 or Cantor Wunch at 647-880-5750 to inform us of the death. Harriet Eisenkraft will ensure that notice of the death is shared with our community as appropriate.

If it is before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm, or if your call is answered by voicemail, please leave a message and continue with your next call to one of the Jewish funeral homes listed below. Please make sure to tell the funeral home that you are a member of Congregation Shir Libeynu, so that they can continue to connect with us as well.

If Cantor Wunch is officiating the funeral service for you, she will be in touch to arrange a time to meet.  Regardless of who your officiant will be, please do inform us so that our Chevra Kadisha (lit. sacred community) volunteers can reach out to you and provide support if you wish. We can be with you throughout the funeral, shiva and mourning process.

Jewish Funeral Homes

Benjamin’s Park Memorial Chapel
2401 Steeles Ave. West
Toronto, ON M3J 2P1
416-663-9060
https://www.benjaminsparkmemorialchapel.ca/

Hebrew Basic Burial
3429 Bathurst Street
Toronto, ON M6A 2C3
416-780-0596
https://www.hebrewbasicburial.ca/

Steeles Memorial Chapel
350 Steeles Ave. West
Thornhill, ON L4J 1A1
905-881-6003
https://steelesmemorialchapel.com/

Burial Plots

Beit Olam: A Jewish Burial Site

Congregation Shir Libeynu has a designated section at Beit Olam, with a limited number of plots reserved for our congregants. Beit Olam is a section of Glenview Memorial Gardens at 7541 Hwy 50, Woodbridge, Ontario (near Pearson Airport, just north of Steeles).

Beit Olam welcomes people of Jewish faith, interfaith families, and those with Jewish connections. Burial at Beit Olam is made in accordance with Jewish customs and protocols, and monuments are expected to contain Jewish symbols or be non-denominational. A rabbinic advisory group oversees Beit Olam to ensure that established standards of ritual and practice are honoured and upheld.

For more information on Beit Olam, please contact family service director Tanis Floom: 647-467-7365.

David Goldberg plaque

Beit Olam uses only bronze markers on pillow granite bases. Bronze markers can accommodate desired design, and Hebrew and English inscription.

Mourning, Yahrzeits and Memorials

Shiva: Our Chevra Kadisha volunteers can help to provide service leaders and other support throughout the shiva period. Please be in touch with Harriet Eisenkraft (chevrakadisha@shirlibeynu.ca) to help you make these arrangements.

Shloshim: It is customary to read the names of departed loved ones out loud at services during the first 30 days of mourning. If you would like us to honour your loved one in this way, please let Lillian know by emailing admin@shirlibeynu.ca.

Unveilings: It is customary to dedicate a headstone anywhere from 6 months to 1 year after a death.  If you would like to have an unveiling ceremony, please contact Cantor Wunch to make arrangements.

Yahrzeits:  Many of our members choose to honour their loved ones at the Shabbat service closest to the anniversary of a death. It doesn’t matter how long ago your loved one passed away. This can be done through an English reading or poem, reading Torah, or other participation in our service.  Others simply choose to have the name of the deceased read out loud at the time of the Mourner’s Kaddish. If you would like to honour your loved one in this way, please contact Cantor Wunch.

As a community, we also honour our loved ones at our Yizkor (remembrance) service on Yom Kippur morning.

Many people also choose to make a donation to the synagogue in honour of a yahrzeit. If you feel moved to do so, please contact Lillian at admin@shirlibeynu.ca.

It is also customary to light a memorial candle on the anniversary of a death. Some people choose to say a prayer or recall memories of their loved one at this time. If you are struggling to find the words, here is a prayer that might inspire you:

Eternal, I light this candle on the Yahrzeit of my dear ____. May I be inspired to deeds of charity and kindness to honor his/her/their memory. May the light of this candle be a reminder to me of the light that my beloved ____ brought to my life. May his/her/their soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life. Amen.

*We are choosing to use the gender-neutral term “B’Mitzvah” (of the commandments), instead of the gendered “Bar” or “Bat” Mitzvah (son/daughter of the commandments).