Annex Shul: United, Growing, Expanding and Welcoming
Created by young professionals, for young professionals
By Paula Cleiman
My first time at Annex Shul was back in July 2008. I was a young, scared, and shy newcomer to this new big city and I didn't know anyone. The move terrified me, but what scared me the most was being alone.
Fortunately, my mom helped me with the move, and like most Jewish moms, wanted me to integrate as fast as possible. So what would any technically savvy Jewish mother do in such a situation? She googled "young professional Jewish community and downtown Toronto." Guess what popped up? That same week, Annex Shul was holding services, so she asked me to go, in order to meet people. I flat out refused. I did not know a single person and was deadly afraid of not being part of any circle of friends. So my mom told me she would be my friend... and along she went with me. She later sneaked out halfway through the prayer services when she saw how well integrated I already was after only a matter of minutes!
On that first day, people were happy to see a new face, welcoming me and wanting to know all about me. I did not hesitate to return a second, third and now, probably 50th time. Today, the roles have reversed and I am the one welcoming new Annex Shulians to my community. Thanks to Annex Shul, my move to this new city became easy, even fun! I always look forward to the next Shabbat to spend with my friends, my new Toronto family.
The Annex lives what it preaches. It's a vibrant, inclusive Jewish community for young professionals. It was created by us, for us. We build the Annex Shul on a daily basis by participating in social gatherings, getting involved through volunteering initiatives, and singing during Carlebach-style services (my favourite part).
Thank you Annex Shul for becoming my family. More importantly, thank you for introducing me to such wonderful people. And finally, thank you for introducing me to a wonderful person who I will now share my life with! Dan and I just got engaged, after having met 3 and a half years ago during a Shabbat dinner! I never expected that would be the day I would meet my lifelong partner.
Let's continue being united, growing, expanding, and welcoming new people just like we were all welcomed on our first day. And perhaps at the next services, instead of just singing, let's also dance to the joy of welcoming Shabbat!
The Annex Shul is a member of the 2011/2012 Downtown Jewish Community Council.