President’s Message

abramson neil 2015 web

Our tradition teaches that if we save one life it is as if we have saved the whole of humankind.

I am immensely proud to be able to advise you that Temple Sinai will be sponsoring a family of Syrian refugees likely to arrive at some point within the next year.

Allow me to share with you something of both the process by which this decision was arrived at and the specifics of what is contemplated.

A little more than a month ago, a group of passionate and committed Temple members came together and determined that the unimaginable humanitarian crisis unfolding in Syria is not something to which we could simply turn our backs. Thus, under the leadership of Rabbi Mikelberg, this group approached me and asked that Temple’s imprimatur be placed upon involvement in a Syrian refugee sponsorship project. Naturally, there were a number of issues which came to mind, chief among them was that this would be a decision for our Board of Directors. Thus, I asked that this group of individuals endeavour to refine the details of their proposal. This gave rise to a number of conversations as between Temple representatives and the Jewish Immigration Aid Service (JIAS) and among Temple’s Social Action Committee and various group members. What ultimately emerged was a detailed and considered set of written materials which was provided to our Board well in advance of our last Board meeting so that the issue could be meaningfully discussed there.

I am delighted to confirm that after a lengthy, thoughtful, and mutually respectful conversation, very strong support was given to the notion that a family of four (4) Syrian refugees, who likely currently reside in a refugee camp and who will be resettled among their own family in the Greater Toronto Area, will be sponsored by Temple Sinai. The cost of this sponsorship is approximately $40,000. No monies will come from Temple’s ordinary operating funds. Rather, funds for this initiative are being raised separately. Temple members have already volunteered to assist in the resettlement of this family by committing to such tasks as securing medical appointments, driving to dental appointments, assisting with grocery shopping, and the like.

Let me take this opportunity to thank that core group of members (Anne Moorhouse, Sarah Sternfels, Lori Swartz) who initially presented this idea, to thank Rabbi Daniel Mikelberg for his stewardship, and to thank your Board of Directors for having had the courage and wisdom to approve of, and support, this initiative.

Obviously, we cannot put an end to the untold human suffering which millions upon millions are currently enduring as Syrian refugees. Indeed, there is far too much suffering all around the globe. Nonetheless, as a people, our collective memory of having been turned away from safe harbour in our moment of need, not that long ago, surely reminds us of how important it is that we take even this comparatively small step.

To make a donation that will go to sponsoring our Syrian refugee family, please click here.

If you would wish to lend volunteer hours, I would ask that you contact Hayley at 416.487.4161 or

Best wishes

Neil M. Abramson