The Chevra Kadisha Congregation was founded in 1893 as a Burial Society associated with a small synagogue conducting services in a loft on lower St. Laurent Boulevard. The first edifice of the congregation was erected in 1903 on St. Urbain and St. Catherine. In 1912 when Lazar Paperman established his company the congregation ceased being a burial society. When fire destroyed the building in 1920, the synagogue relocated on Jeanne Mance near Milton from 1920 to 1928, and on Hutchinson corner Fairmount from 1928 to 1955. The B’Nai Jacob Congregation was founded in 1886 in downtown Montreal on St. Constant (now DeBullion) Street, relocated in a new building on Fairmount near Esplanade in 1918 and to the modern present location on Clanranald, when the synagogue amalgamated with Congregation Chevra Kadisha in 1956.
The Chevra Kadisha-B’Nai Jacob Congregation represents a merger of Montreal’s oldest orthodox Synagogues. The imposing community Centre serves the religious and educational needs of families, embracing young and old in a comprehensive program of religious services, Adult Institute of Jewish Studies and active Sisterhood and Brotherhood. At the 40th anniversary celebration we paid tribute to the remarkable accomplishments of the past and present dedicated leaders and loyal members of our congregation.
The congregation is proud of its enviable record of leadership throughout the community and its efforts towards the support of the State of Israel. Among its most prized achievements in its glorious history are the yearly Israel Bond Dinners. We were the first synagogue in Montreal to have hosted these affairs to raise funds for Israel. Many of our members have been honoured and held executive positions. We were the first synagogue to hold a function on behalf of the mass Aliyah of Russian Jewry. The Israel Welfare Fund was our way to distribute monies to hospitals, youth clinics and yeshivot in Israel.
Throughout the years many illustrious speakers have come to our Congregation, who have imparted to us their wisdom in the fields of religion, history and politics. Among featured guests were the Honourable John Diefenbaker, Jean Charest, Robert Bourassa, and Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin. Since the amalgamation we have been honoured by the spiritual guidance of our esteemed Rabbis David Roth, Dr. Chaim Denburg, Marvin Pachino, Benjamin Hauer, Dr. Gavriel Newman, and presently, our dynamic young Rabbi, Asher Jacobson.
Our Sabbath services were always enhanced by the melodic voice of our dearly beloved late Cantor Joshua Rosensweig until 1983, followed by Cantors Ze’ev Toren and David Bagley and our present Cantor David Harel. In 1980 Reverend Benjamin Even Hen became our Khazzan Sheini. This is a highly respected and integral position in our Synagogue, attending to the daily functions and needs in our community. Prior to his arrival we were diligently served by Reverends Aaron H. Greenberg and the late Chaim Dunec.
The Executive Directors who perform the daily operations of our Shul have been Nathan Shuster, Nathan Caplan (20 years), Moe Kravitz, Irma Dubin and Nathan Rosenshein. Our Shabbat Shira services are always memorable for their liturgical renditions under the direction of our esteemed Choir Master Ari Snyder.
Women are the most important role models for our youth. They provide them with the necessary background in the various customs, traditions, and values. These traits led to the formation of the Ladies Aid Society in The Sisterhood assists the congregation in raising funds through their many activities. The Brotherhood works with the Sisterhood in celebrating our Jewish heritage through the sponsoring of all holiday celebrations. Fourteen years ago, the Creative Social Centre was established. It evolved from the demand of our retired and senior members. Today, it is well attended as a daily drop in centre offering friendship and entertainment, as well as holding classes in creative art, choir, exercise and a host of other activities. As society has changed, so has the synagogue.
To meet the needs of today’s working families, the Synagogue has established the "Generations" Pre-nursery program in 1993. This program provides child care for children ages 2 to 4 and is progressively expanding its range of service each year. To date the beauty and dignity of our building has been maintained, upgraded and refurbished. This has been achieved by the generosity of many caring and devoted families.
We are proud to salute the Congregation and its leaders, throughout the years, its past achievements, its present ones and look forward to the future. With G-d’s help, united in our zeal, we shall move forward with the realization of our goals