Our History | Congregation Darchei Noam
The First Thirty Years
Founded in 1972 by a study group interested in the writings of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, Darchei Noam first operated as a small havurah that met in congregants’ homes. The group eventually became large enough to move into a series of rented spaces, the last being the B’nai Brith Building on Hove Street where it was located for more than 20 years.
With the hiring of Rabbi Joy Levitt in 1979, Darchei Noam became the first synagogue in Toronto with a woman rabbi. In 1981, Darchei Noam had grown out of its early havurah stage and became incorporated as a synagogue. At this time, it hired a full-time rabbi, Rabbi Richard Hirsh, who continues to lead services and inspire the community at the High Holy Days each year. He was succeeded by Rabbi Barry Blum, and then by Rabbi Deborah Brin. In 1991, Rabbi Larry Pinsker joined Darchei Noam and served the community for eleven years until the hiring of Rabbi Tina Grimberg in 2002.
2002-2012: The Next Phase
By 2002, Darchei Noam had grown to 460 congregants, and was providing a wide range of programming for all ages. A group of leaders emerged, dedicated to finding a permanent home for the synagogue. This team developed a vision for the future of Darchei Noam, and solicited extensive input from the community through a series of Town Hall meetings.
In the spring of 2004, an agreement was signed to purchase land, including an existing synagogue, at 864 Sheppard Avenue West. It became clear that, while that building might have been sufficient to house the Darchei Noam of 2004, it would not be appropriate for the long term. More space would be necessary. With this in mind, Darchei Noam began its first Capital Campaign.
Recognizing that a mandatory building fund did not fit our community’s values, we launched the campaign: “Fulfill the Promise, Build our Future”. Our members, most of whom received personal visits from our volunteer fundraising team, were asked to articulate their vision for our future. In less than two years, our financial goal was surpassed, with ninety percent of Darchei Noam members pledging to the campaign!
However, the beautiful building we now inhabit would not have been possible without the help of our external donors. In 2006, Leslie and Anna Dan made a generous gift of $3,200,000 to support our vision and our plans. The Dans encouraged us to think positively and constructively about our future needs, in order to advance the important values of our community.
In 2008, we moved into our new home, an enlarged and handsomely renovated synagogue designed by our member, architect Les Klein of Quadrangle. The success of our Capital Campaign says so much about our community: we are motivated, committed, egalitarian, and always looking to the future.
2012-13 (5773) marked the 40th Anniversary of Congregation Darchei Noam, and the 10th year of service by our Rabbi Tina Grimberg. To celebrate, we hosted a weekend-long Tribute, including a special Shabbat and a Fundraising Gala. For more information about our celebrations, please visit our Tribute Website at www.darcheinoamat40.ca. Tributes and pictures will be posted to this site in the coming months.
The Next Ten Years: Visioning Darchei Noam’s Future
As a forward thinking community, Congregation Darchei Noam is currently planning the next ten years of our synagogue’s life. Through the vision of Rabbi Tina Grimberg and a dedicated team of volunteers, consultations with our members have begun. We look forward to sharing our direction for our future soon!