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Large group of Temple Israel members marching.

Temple Israel was officially founded in 1985, but our roots can be traced to the London Jewish Family Association a decade before. This group of approximately 18 families wanted to teach their children Hebrew and celebrate the Jewish holidays, but didn’t want to join London’s Orthodox or Conservative synagogues.

The group held its first Chanukah service at London’s Jewish Community Centre. By 1985, classes for Religious Education were offered. At this time, the congregation consisted of 35 families and 18 children were enrolled in classes.

Temple Israel’s first president was Rael Wienburg and in 1987 the congregation hired its first rabbi, Joel Wittstein (z”l). Rabbi Wittstein and his wife Ailene were instrumental in establishing a Temple Israel as a strong voice for Reform Judaism in London and Southwestern Ontario.

Rabbi Wittstein passed away in 2010. When Rabbi Debra Dressler joined Temple Israel in June of that year, she became the London’s first full-time female rabbi. Rabbi Dressler continues to lead our congregation today.

Over the years, Temple Israel has called many places home – from a suburban basement, to a building on Adelaide Street, to a house on Windermere Road. After many years of searching for a suitable permanent location, the shul moved into its current premises at 605 Windermere Road. This former family estate provides plenty of space for future expansion as our congregation continues to grow.

Source: A History of the Jewish Community of London, Ontario by Bill Gladstone

Our Torah Scrolls

Our Torah from the Memorial Scrolls Trust

Left - Torah (MST#357) from the Memorial Scrolls Trust. Right - Torah from Beth Israel, Stratford, ONOur Torah (MST#357) was one of 1,564 Torahs from Czechoslovakia rescued by The Memorial Scrolls Trust in London, England. We use it with great reverence for its history and for its continued reminder that Am Yisrael Chai, the People of Israel, continue to live by exercising our precious right to worship and study together.  

Our Torah is from an unknown town.  We consider Teplice as its honourary home town, in honour of our member, Pepa Livingstone (z”l). Pepa lived in Teplice with her family until 1938.


View a video about Temple Israel’s Westminster Torah Scroll, by Rael Wienburg.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzIb4aDMcPk

Learn more about The Memorial Scrolls Trust http://www.memorialscrollstrust.org and The Story of the Jewish Torahs of Czechoslovakia http://www.czechtorah.org/thestory.php

Torah from Beth Israel, Stratford, ON. The Torah is dressed in an embroidered cloth cover, breastplate reads “It is a Tree of Life to those who hold fast to it.”Our Torah from Beth Israel, Stratford, Ontario

Our second Torah comes from Beth Israel in Stratford, Ontario. In this photo the Torah is dressed in an embroidered cloth cover, and you can see the text on the breastplate which reads “It is a Tree of Life to those who hold fast to it.”

Mon, 23 September 2019 23 Elul 5779