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Congregation Etz Chayim To Take Possession of their New Building on 1155 Wilkes Avenue by May 31, 2023

message of Avrom Charach, Oct 28, 2022


[Editor's note: The following is a message sent by President Avrum Charach to the membership of Congregation Etz Chayim today October 28, 2022 outlining that they have purchaed 1155 Wilkes Avenue and will take possession on May 31, 2023. Note that I have visited the site and it is located next to the Fun Park Amusement Centre and the Golf Dome is next to the Fun Park. The building purchased by Etz Chayim is 12,000 square feet]


President's Message


Dear Friends,
In my Kol Nidre address, I confirmed that Congregation Etz Chayim was in negotiations to purchase a building in the Southwest part of the city to serve as our new home.  I advised at the time that there was due diligence to be completed and promised that as soon as all documentation was complete, all parties were in agreement, and our Board had signed off on the purchase, that I would share the details with you.
Today is that day!

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am excited to officially confirm that Congregation Etz Chayim has agreed to purchase the building located at 1155 Wilkes Avenue (the current home of the Khartum Shrine).
While due diligence has been completed to the satisfaction of the parties, I do want to caution, however, that we still have one last step to pass with the City of Winnipeg.   Assuming that this is achieved (and we have every reason to believe that it will be), Congregation Etz Chayim will take possession on May 31, 2023. We will then commence any renovations that we determine appropriate with the expectation of being operational next fall.
More than three years ago, this building was identified as a prime choice to suit our needs due its proximity to our membership, its size, and its age. We are pleased that it came to market and that the Khartum Shrine worked with us over the last two months to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
We are scheduling a “Members Only” town hall meeting in conjunction with our AGM on November 22, 2022.   It will be held both in person at the synagogue as well as on-line,   however, it will be necessary to register in order to participate. A formal notice will be sent out in the coming days.
This event will allow us to share some of the important details of this transaction and the transition process with you, and allow you to ask questions.  Most importantly, it will allow us to lay out a picture of our future.
The Board and administration have begun a comprehensive review of programming, our budget, and our long-term goals as we work on the relocation. As we have said many times over the last year, a synagogue is just a building; a congregation is a community. 1155 Wilkes is just a building. What matters most is what goes on inside: the services, the programs, the celebrations.
We are excited to join together with you to ensure that Etz Chayim is bustling with meaningful activity that enhances Jewish life in Winnipeg.
Your involvement in the process is critical to our success, and I am confident that with your help, our new home will be a warm place to gather, to pray, to learn, and to celebrate.  To paraphrase and old expression, “you can take the shul out of the North End...but you can’t take the North End out of the Shul”.
I want to thank Mark Binder, Sabrina Bokser, Sam Katz, and Myron Schultz for joining me on the Due Diligence Committee, and the entire Board for their thoughtful engagement and leadership as we arrived at this major decision.
This is a time of great promise, excitement, and hard work. I thank the many of you who have shared good questions and kind words. Your continued engagement is essential as we forge ahead and create a beautiful and meaningful spiritual home together.
With gratitude,
Avrom Charach













(Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from Avrom Charach's address to Congregation Etz Chayim during the Kol Nidre service Oct 4, about an offer to purchase a new building contigent on due diligence, which offer has been accepted. Charach is President of  Congregation Etz Chayim. Although Avrom did not say this, The Winnipeg Jewish Review  learned from several sources prior to Yom Kippur that the building is the Khartum Shriner's building on 1155 Wilkes Avenue. )


"As has been expressed many times over these past 2  ½ years  – as we have grappled with the challenges and opportunities of virtual programs and services – a synagogue is a building, but a congregation is a community....the clergy, the members, the families.  And it is a community that we are working to grow and enhance...a community that includes you building a future that involves you.



"Having said that, we also know that being able to physically gather in one critical to the life of a congregation......a congregation of our size can not survive without a building to call home.

"As we know, and has been reported many  times over the past 10 + years - this building is getting old and needs millions of dollars of investment to bring it back up to the standard we would want for the foreseeable future.  Even then, it is too large for our needs, too expensive to operate, and too far from the large majority of our current and future membership.  The time came to either invest in this old building or invest in our future in a new home.

"Over the last decade, our shul has discussed moving to the southwest part of the city where the majority of our congregation lives, and where we have the best opportunity for future growth.  In fact, over the past 4-5 years there have been proactive efforts to achieve this objective. However for various reasons – not the least of which has been Covid – we have until now not found the right opportunity, one that made good sense to move forward.

"It is in this context that I want to address the many rumours circulating about the state and future of this synagogue.  So let me be perfectly clear.  We are NOT closing our doors! We are very much alive and we are committed to moving forward in a way that is financially responsible, as seamless as possible, sensitive to community demographics, and focused on enhancing the spiritual life of our community.

"As I wrote to you all last June, the board committed to the process of relocation – with the first step being to list our current home for sale.   Was it an easy decision?  NO!  Many of us have a deep emotional connection to this building, including me. But change is inevitable and it was concluded many years ago, that this could not be our home forever. So we took that leap of faith, and have put this building up for sale. I am re confirming that our home is up for sale. The listing details are being finalized and a sign will be up shortly.

"As fate would have it – or maybe it was something bigger than fate given that we are a shul – within 24 hours of signing the listing agreement, we learned that a building we had expressed interest in a few years ago was coming up for sale.

"With the guidance and leadership of one of our members, we drafted and submitted an offer to purchase. We met with the vendors to negotiate terms, and subsequently held a special board meeting to review the details. The board approved the purchase contingent on due diligence to ensure that the property is as advertised.  On September 14 the vendors accepted our offer.  Both parties have agreed to keep the details confidential until due diligence is complete at the end of this month.

"In short I am confirming that we are in the process of securing a new physical home for Congregation Etz Chayim

"Now I caution, there can be a variety of issues that will impact a prospective purchase. So while we are optimistic, we must also be realistic and careful. While we firmly believe that the deal will be finalized, it is NOT yet a done deal. Still, we felt it was imperative, given that rumors have been flying in recent weeks, that you hear from me – on behalf of the Board – what the facts are.

"No doubt you all have questions...and we want to be forthcoming with answers.   In fact, it is our responsibility to keep you informed of what we are doing. Assuming the due diligence clears, we will be arranging a town hall meeting during November that will be dedicated to this subject. If the due diligence does NOT clear, we will develop contingency plans for a temporary home so that the sale of the current building can proceed.

"This is an exciting time. It’s an emotional time. And it’s a stressful time. But most of all, it’s simply time to move forward.

"So where does this leave us as we pray to be inscribed and sealed in the book of life for another year?  It leaves us with a vibrant shul, one that is dedicated to conservative practice and values, looking to the future with great excitement.

"In the meantime, we still have serious business in front of us. The Board and administration will begin a fulsome review of programming and budget and setting long-term goals as we come closer to finalizing plans to relocate.  Most importantly, you are all a key part of this process – your participation is vital to the our successful transition and our successful future. I will report further on these subjects at the AGM in November.  I hope to see you there.

"Your board and staff will continue to work hard to help us all Find Meaning in Jewish Life, as our vision statement requests of us. As always we want to hear from you – what you think we are doing right, and where you believe we can improve.  Like teshuva, our responsibility of running your shul is a journey, not a destination. 

"Before I close what will likely be my last High Holiday address to the congregation, I want to thank you all for allowing me the privilege of helping lead our congregation through both trying and very exciting times and hopefully into a rebirth in our new home."


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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