Kolot Mayim’s History

From a speech by Dr. Joel Fagan at the installation ceremony of Rabbi Lynn Greenhough, September 6, 2019.

  • As Gilda has explained our Congregation convened for the first time in 1997
  • Initially we met monthly at the JCC. As our numbers grew we met every 3 weeks, then every 2 weeks.  After several years Len Jaffe proposed that we meet weekly.
  • Initially our name was the Victoria Reform Jewish Congregation, and in 2000 our name became Kolot Mayim Reform Temple. Kolot Mayim means voice of the waters, and the words are part of a Psalm.  Randy Enkin proposed this new name.
  • In September 1998 our first High Holiday Services were led by Cantor Karen Gillat from Seattle They were held in a meeting room at a nearby branch of the Victoria Public Library
  • Our first ark was built by the late Charlie Schneider, and it was subsequently expanded and beautified by David Torontow
  • Now I would now like to honor the memory of the late Louis Sherman. He died in October 1999, just 2 months shy of his 92nd birthday  In his working days he was a professional violinist, and for 20 years was a member of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.  He retired here in Victoria in 1979.  While here he was a generous benefactor to many musicians, including  the Victoria Chamber Orchestra, and the Lafayette String Quartet. Pamela Highbaugh Aloni, who is a member of this Quartette, has played at our Erev Yom Kippur Service for many years. Our Congregation was very dear to Louis’ heart, and upon his death he left us a significant bequest, which enabled us to purchase our Sefer Torah.  Our Torah dedication service occurred in February 1999, and was led by Rabbi David Fine, of Seattle. A year or so after this, Caroline and Martin Hergt proposed the creation of the annual Louis Sherman award, both to honor his memory and to annually recognize   an individual who made an outstanding contribution to Kolot Mayim over the previous year.  So each year at our AGM, the latest recipient is asked to choose the newest recipient, and the names of each of these people are contained on this plaque.
  • In the early years of our existence we were fortunate to have the services of a number of Student Rabbis from Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles.
  • We have also been fortunate over the years to have been served by a number of ordained Rabbis , including Rabbis Shimon Moch, Louis Sutker, and Leigh Lerner. We are greatly indebted to each of these fine people.
  • We have also been most fortunate to have been served by a number of lay leaders in the past, including Jenny Laing, and our friend Julie Elizabeth.  I would like to specifically mention the exceptional contributions of Jenny Laing who founded our Religious School in 1999 and supervised its operation until 2010.  Jenny was our lay leader, or Shaliach Tzibur from 2000- 2010, when she moved to Calgary.  Many of you will remember her enthusiastic commitment to our Temple family.
  • Lastly, I would like to mention with the greatest gratitude 2 deceased members of Kolot Mayim, whose generous bequests to us have been of immense help in our continued operation. The first is the late Tony Goldman, who was a professional artist known as Anthony Thorn.  Some of you may know his work.  The second is a lady whose first name was Wlady.  She attended our services for a very short period of just a few months.  She was very quiet, and sadly none of us can remember her last name. However, she also left us a very generous bequest upon her death, and for this we are most grateful.
  • And so, from the humblest of beginnings, we have reached this wonderful milestone. Thank you to all who have made this possible, including the countless people whom I do not have time to acknowledge.  Mazel Tov Rabbi Lynn.