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Congregation Shaarey Zedek
Photo courtesy of Shaarey Zedek

Shaarey Zedek Reports an Increase in Bar/Bat Mitzvahs held at the Synagogue and the Highest Turnout for High Holidays in a Decade; Plan for Auditorium to Receive a Cosmetic Upgrade

by Rhonda Spivak, October 10, 2017


In a recent interview with the Winnipeg Jewish Review, Ian Staniloff, Executive Director of Congregation Shaarey Zedek confirms that over the last year and a half there have been more B'nai Mitzvot at the synagogue. One reason he cites is the fact that families are able to have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the synagogue "even if they are not a member." About 4-5 years ago the synagogue changed its rule that you had to be a member to have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah there. Staniloff indicates that families who are not members make a donation to the synagogue instead of taking out membership when they have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the synagogue. "We are trying to be more accommodating for families in our community!"


Rabbi Aníbal Mass also confirms that there have been more Bar/Bat Mitzvot at Shaarey Zedek over the last year and a half than previously. "I know this because both Rabbi [Matthew] Leibl and myself have more Bar and Bat Mitzvah students than we used to."


When asked for his thoughts on why there are more Bar/Bat Mitzvot being held at the synagogue, Rabbi Mass responded that one significant reason "is because of the shorter service" (which is under two hours vs. the older service which was three hours). Additionally, Rabbi Mass noted that "We introduced more musical accompaniment in the service and we produced a new siddur in-house that is tailored to meet the needs of our congregation."  


Staniloff also says that there is more interest in having weddings at Shaarey Zedek. "We are getting more calls," he says. This is one of the reasons that Shaarey Zedek intends to embark on a cosmetic renovation of its auditorium by December 2017 or January 2018.


"We are confident that we can find the funding to do this" Staniloff reports, noting that they are already in contact with a design company to do the renovations.


"We aren't structurally changing the room but will be doing a full cosmetic upgrade, "Staniloff explains, noting that the room right now "looks tired." He believes that the cosmetic renovation will make it more likely that people will have their life cycle events, including weddings, at Shaarey Zedek.


Rabbi Mass told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that "we are trying to expand the musical component of the wedding service."


Staniloff also reports that this year Shaarey Zedek had the largest attendance for High Holy Day Services that they have had in ten years. "We had well over 1000 people for the first service and well over 600 people for the second service," he says. Last year by comparison the synagogue had 1400-1500 people in total.


"We also had an increase in the number of people attending the Family service," Staniloff adds.


He says over 200 people took advantage of the 50% off High Holy Day Seat Sale (the exact numbers were still being tallied).


"We believe this is an affirmation of what we've been doing to move forward," he said, noting that there is also an increase in attendance of people coming to Shabbat services. "A year and a half ago there were about 70 people coming to a regular Shabbat service and now there are about 125 people coming to a regular Shabbat service, so we are very pleased with this increase in turnout."

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.