The Ontario Heritage Foundation lists Holy Blossom as the first Jewish congregation in Canada, west of the Ontario/Quebec border. In September 1856, 17 members of Toronto’s then small Jewish community met to form a congregation in time for the approaching High Holy Days. At first they called themselves “Sons of Israel” but soon changed the name to “Holy Blossom.” For twenty years, traditional orthodox services were held in a rented room over Coombe’s Drugstore on the south-east corner of Yonge and Richmond streets.
In 1876, the congregation built its first synagogue a block east on Richmond Street. By the 1890s this was too small for the growing community of 119 families, so a new one was built on Bond Street and dedicated on September 15, 1897. This building was sold and is now St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church. The congregation continued to grow to over 250 families and in the 1930s again found that it needed more space. Money was raised, land purchased on Bathurst Street and the present sanctuary built. This was dedicated on May 20, 1938. Today, Holy Blossom has more than 7,000 members and will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2006.
For more about Holy Blossom see the www.holyblossom.org website.