According to Toronto Police hate crimes unit, the Jewish community is the most victimized group. Whether it’s local incidents that seem to be on the rise, including harassment, antisemitic graffiti and broken synagogue windows, or high-profile international incidents, like the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting or the Poway synagogue shooting in California in April, people are on edge.

“It causes people to be very afraid,” explains Rabbi Mendel Zaltzman, CEO of the JRCC. “People get home after service on Saturday and hear news that people were killed during prayer in a synagogue, the first thing they do is ask, ‘What are we doing to make sure it doesn’t happen to us?’” In response, the Canadian government created the Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program (known as SIP), to help non-profit organizations that are at risk of being victimized by hate-motivated crime. Specifically, the fund helps with the costs of security infrastructure improvements for places of worship, educational institutions, and community centers.

After a similar grant was received to upgrade the security at the JRCC East Thornhill branch in 2017, a new $30,000 grant this year through the Security Infrastructure Program (SIP) will be used to install security cameras, security film on the windows, an alarm system and a door intercom system at the JRCC @ Rockford synagogue.

“The most important thing is to take action,” says Rabbi Zaltzman. “Being afraid, upset or angry, while understandable, doesn’t achieve anything. The call to action is, ‘What are we going to do to protect ourselves?’”

Additional articles and updates on the security project will be posted to


Several JRCC Branches host community barbecues during the summer, providing a casual setting for community residents to meet, connect, interact and enjoy an informal family experience. These types of events are a great way to get to know one another, and a great opportunity and the perfect environment in which to feel a sense of community. The barbecues featured music, activities for kids, and, of course, cold beer and great marinated food on the grill. In addition, a contingent of JRCC rabbis and community members took a road trip using the JRCC on Wheels mobile community centre to visit Jewish Russian communities in Simcoe County, about one hour drive north of Toronto. 150 people of all ages joined the three BBQ’s and get-togethers that took place in the cities of Barrie, Innisfil and Bradford, as well as plans to visit additional communities later in the summer, including Georgina, East Gwillimbury, Brampton, and Aurora. For next summer, the JRCC is working on plans to recruit rabbinical student volunteers to man the JRCC on Wheels full-time over the summer, to visit various communities and coordinate events.


The 20th of Av (August 20, 2018) marked the yahrtzeit of the Rebbe’s father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson, a kabbalist and activist who devoted his life, and ultimately gave up his life, to preserving Judaism in the FSU. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was Chief Rabbi of Yekaterinoslav (currently Dnepropetrovsk), and was arrested and exiled to Kazakhstan by the Stalinist regime as a result of his work to preserve Jewish life in the Soviet Union. The day was celebrated with a farbrengen, a Chassidic gathering for a special occasion, at the JRCC West Thornhill. The gathering was sponsored in honor of the birthday of Rabbi Levi Jacobson, director of the JRCC West Thornhill, making it even more auspicious since Rabbi Jacobson is named after the Rebbe’s father and his birthday falls on the 20th of Av. 


The JRCC’s online High Holiday Auction site is a convenient, online reservation system where you can bid on a Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur aliyahs and other honors for yourself, or as a gift for someone else. The new system, which launched last year, enables services to be more organized and flow more smoothly, saving precious time during the holy days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Place your bid at (And if you haven’t yet reserved your seats you can do so at