By COLlive reporter
Photos by Ben Katan Photography
Close to 600 people filled the synagogue hall of the newly expanded building of Chabad of Markham in Thornhill, Ontario, for the opening dedication ceremony of its center on Tuesday evening, July 8.
After 3 years of planning and building, Chabad has finally opened the doors of its 18,000 square foot newly renovated and expanded synagogue and community center for the growing Chabad community on Bayview Avenue and Green Lane in northeast Toronto.
The new building seats close to 1,000 people in its majestic sanctuary and is able to accommodate close to 400 people for simches in an elegant social hall.
A three dimensional mural of Jewish life by Chassidic artist Michoel Muchnik adorns the lobby and is adorned by some exquisite sculptures by Toronto artist Marta Franco. The new library and daily Beis Hamedrosh features 16 foot ceilings and a great selection of books.
The Opening Ceremony began with a moving presentation by the popular Chabad Markham Choir. Rabbi Avraham Plotkin, Spiritual Leader and Executive Director, welcomed the excited crowd to the grand opening of their brand new Synagogue followed by heartfelt prayers for the current situation in Israel by Rabbi Meir Gitlin, the Youth and Education Director.
A letter from the Rebbe to a previous ground breaking ceremony in Toronto was then read by Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum, Head Shliach of Ontario.
Paul Klein, President of Chabad Markham who owns an advisory service firm, spoke about the anticipated growth of the community as a result of the new building and invited the congregation to utilize their new facilities for adult and children’s education.
An overview of the building project was presented by Gary Saltz, Chairman of the Building Committee who also thanked his committee and the builders for an outstanding job.
A meaningful tribute to the Rebbe, of blessed memory, in honor of his 20th yahrtzeit was made. Rabbi Plotkin pointed out that it was no coincidence that the yahrtzeit should be connected with the celebration of a new building as “The Rebbe always encouraged us to build more and to never be satisfied with our accomplishments of the past.”
The guest speaker was Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, Chairman of Agudas Chassidei Chabad International, the umbrella organization of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement and the Rebbe’s Shliach to the White House.
He was interviewed by Rabbi Plotkin who presented Rabbi Shemtov with a number of questions of what it was like to be up close to the Rebbe.
Rabbi Shemtov mesmerized the crowd as he shared with them some of the many missions he had from the Rebbe, including being contact with the United States Presidents over the years.
Afterwards the crowd was treated to a delectable buffet of original desserts prepared by the newly appointed caterers Ian and Sharon Durbach of Shazzies International Fine Cuisine.