Membership FAQ 2017-12-27T09:28:44+00:00


Can you provide a general overview of Temple Har Zion? We are an egalitarian, inclusive, full service Reform congregation which prides itself on its warm and meaningful worship services, its child, youth and adult education, and its wide variety of programming. We are multi-generational and very community focused. For more information about Temple Har Zion, contact our membership chair through the Temple office at 905 889 2252.
How many families are currently members of Temple Har Zion? We currently have approximately 560 families as members.
How large do you see your congregation in the long range? We have a Long Range Planning Committee reviewing a number of key issues, this being one of them. We have experienced wonderful membership growth recently, from families of all ages and varied Jewish backgrounds, and although we enjoy the current size of our congregation, providing us with lots of opportunity to meet and really get to know the other members, we have no plans to “cap” or limit the size of our congregation.
Where exactly are you located? 7360 Bayview Avenue in Thornhill, which is on the west side of Bayview Avenue, north of Steeles Avenue and south of John Street
Do you have any plans to move? Although we have no plans to move, this is another issue being considered by our Long Range Planning Committee.
Who is your Rabbi? Our Rabbi, Rabbi Cory Weiss, joined us in 2008. He was previously with congregations in Connecticut.
What are your Rabbi’s strengths? We consider ourselves quite fortunate to have found Rabbi Weiss. Rabbi Weiss is a terrific spiritual leader for our congregation, an excellent teacher, very personable, relating well to members of all ages. He is involved in our Adult Education programming, our children’s school, and of course, adds depth and warmth to our worship. In addition, music is one of his passions which he enjoys sharing with us – these music skills wonderfully complement our Cantorial Soloist, Music Director and choirs.
Who is your Cantor? Our Cantorial Soloist, Tara Abrams, leads us beautifully in music and helps make our worship services so warm and meaningful. She also plays an active role in preparing our Bar and Bat Mitzvah students and assisting other congregants in preparing to chant Torah and Haftarah.
Can you describe your worship services? We are frequently complimented on our services by visitors. Comments typically focus on how our worship services are warm, engaging, participatory and meaningful. The services are music-filled, led in this respect by our very talented Cantorial Soloist, our Music Director, and our Rabbi, and often joined by our lay Adult Choir and our Children’s Choirs. The services include enough English so that those who are not fluent in Hebrew can still follow along.   For most regular services, we use the Mishkan T’filah Siddur which is designed to provide a certain amount of variety in each service. Melodies chosen for different prayers are also varied at times. Children are encouraged to join the Hakafah (march with the Torah) and we provide them with their own mini Torahs.
When are your Saturday morning services? Shabbat morning services commence at 10:30 a.m. and typically last 1 ½ to 1 ¾ hours and then followed by a congregational Kiddush.
When are your Friday evening services? Generally, our Friday evening services are as follows:

First Friday of the month:   “Family” Shabbat services begin at 7:30 p.m. and are followed by an Oneg Shabbat. Our Children’s Choirs usually participate.

Middle Fridays of the month:   Services begin at 6:30 p.m. and are preceded by a Se’udah (light snack).

Last Friday of the month:   Services begin at 8:00 p.m. These services typically include our Adult Choir and are followed by a guest speaker or a special music program. The services are followed by an Oneg Shabbat.

From Shavuot through the summer months, all Friday evening services begin at 6:30 p.m. Weather permitting, during the summer months we enjoy several of our Friday evening services outdoors in our beautiful Davis/Yacht garden.

Tot Shabbat is held at 6:00 p.m. on the last Friday of each month (September to May).

Do you have Tot Shabbat programs? Tot Shabbat programs are held monthly, either Friday evening or Saturday morning. Please consult the calendar in the Temple website for details.
Must kippot and tallitot be worn during worship services? The wearing of kippot and tallitot by men or women is completely an individual’s choice. Both kippot and tallitot are available in our Temple foyer for those who desire.
Do you have daily morning services? Our daily morning lay-led services start at 7:15 a.m. on weekdays and at 9:15 a.m. on Sundays and public holidays. A light breakfast is provided immediately after services. These services provide an opportunity to say kaddish for those observing a Yarzheit or fulfilling the obligations of saying Kaddish after the death of a loved one.
How old does a child have to be to participate in High Holy Day services? Children must be 7 years of age to attend our High Holy day adult services.   We have either babysitting services for children from age 2 -6 at the Temple, or, this year, we are offering special programming for these young congregants during some of our services.   There is no charge for the babysitting/programming.   We also offer Children’s services during the day on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.   Children of all ages are also welcome to attend the service on the second day of Rosh Hashanah. Please contact the Temple office for further details at 905 889 2252.
How does everyone “fit” into your sanctuary during High Holy Days? Currently we hold 2 identical services for the following:

1. First day of Rosh Hashanah morning

2. Kol Nidrei evening

3. Yom Kippur Morning

All other services during the High Holy Days are held together as one service including the service on the second day of Rosh Hashanah. For service times (early and late) please contact our Temple office at 905 889 2252.

Are High Holy Day tickets included with membership? Yes and they are also included for your children if they are unmarried and under 30 years of age.
Can we purchase High Holy Day tickets for our family members who are not members? Yes, while availability may be limited, tickets for non-member parents of members are available at $125.00 each. Other non-members can purchase tickets for $250.00 each.
We understand parking is difficult during High Holy days. How is the problem resolved? We have an excellent solution. We have an arrangement with the Church at Bayview and Steeles Avenues where you can park for free. Once parked, a shuttle bus service takes us to and from the Temple. There is no charge for the bus.
Does your school program include both Hebrew and Religious learning? Our school program is a centre of excellence at Temple Har Zion. Our junior Religious school classes (grades 6 and younger) are held Sunday mornings at the Leo Baeck Atkinson campus. Our program includes teaching about:

  • Jewish holidays and traditions;
  • important Jewish figures, Israel; and
  • Jewish values, giving the students a sound basis for their future Jewish life.

It also serves as an important foundation for long term friendships.

Our program continues on Monday evenings at Temple Har Zion for grades 7 through to Confirmation (grade 10). This post B’nai Mitzvah program provides students with an opportunity to select many of their courses, to help ensure that the topics are most interesting and engaging.

Hebrew teaching commences in grade 3 and is a self-paced program designed to provide the students with the skills they need to become a Bar/Bat Mitzvah and lead the congregation in prayer. Their Hebrew skills will enable them to participate fully in services.   The Hebrew program is currently provided Tuesdays in the late afternoon at Temple Har Zion.

For more information about our school programs, contact Ronit Strobel-Dahan, our Director of Education through our Temple office at 905 889 2252, extn. 240.

What are the school fees? School fees are $480 per child for Religious school and $480 for Hebrew school per child. Other fees, for example, for overnight class retreats and field trips, will apply in certain grades.   The fees are divided into 12 equal monthly instalments. Our school fees are slightly higher for children of non-members.
Do I have to “belong” to Temple Har Zion to send my child to your school program? A limited number of spaces are available in our school for children of non-members, up until the end of grade 3.
What is the cost of membership? Our membership contributions are based on a two-fold approach.

Age related membership incentives have been put in place for families where the oldest family member is: up to 35 years of age; between 36 – 40 years of age; and between 41 – 45 years of age.

For families where the oldest member is over 45 years of age, our contributions are based on a fair share honor system, according to a graduated contributions grid, based on gross family income.

Families with children in our school receive a 10% discount on their membership contribution beginning in year 2; for 2 or more children in our school, they receive a 15% discount. As well, for families with children in Leo Baeck Day School, they receive a 10% discount on their membership contributions, also beginning in year 2.

What if we can’t afford the amount of contribution expected of us? If a family is unable to meet their fair share obligation, we have a dues relief process that is completely confidential and any member can access this process. For more information, please contact our Executive Director at 905-889-2252 x 4.
Do you have a separate membership contribution schedule for families that are under 45 years old? Temple Har Zion has created a separate membership contribution schedule for families whose oldest member is under 45 years of age. This incentive is divided into three groups: for families where the oldest member is under the age of 35; for families where the oldest member is age 35 – 40; and for families where the oldest member is age 41-45. Please contact our Executive Director at 905-889-2252 x 4 to discuss your membership options.
Can children of members who marry receive free membership in the year following their wedding? Free membership is provided for the year following their wedding.
Does Temple Har Zion accept interfaith couples? Yes, interfaith couples are most welcome. Our Temple community is increasingly varied and diverse and we welcome Jews in interfaith relationships. Any further questions can be addressed to Rabbi Cory Weiss.
Does Temple Har Zion accept same gender couples? Yes, again, our community is increasingly varied and diverse and we welcome same gender couples.
Do you have weekly Torah study sessions? Yes, most weeks Rabbi Weiss leads us in Torah study beginning Saturday mornings at 9:00 a.m. (preceded by a light breakfast). Rabbi Michael Stroh (our Rabbi Emeritus) leads the Torah study session typically on the fourth Shabbat of each month.
I have heard great things about your Adult Education programming. How do I find out about upcoming programs? Yes, we are very proud of our Adult Education programming. We offer both an evening program and a Daytime Speaker Series. These events and programs feature interesting speakers and are very well attended.   Please check the website for a list of upcoming planned programs and events.
Do you have an active Brotherhood and Sisterhood? Yes, we have an active Brotherhood and an active Sisterhood.   Both take pride in planning and delivering high quality events and programs, some of which are educational, and some which are more social in focus.
Do you have programs specifically geared towards young families? Yes – we have amazing programs for the little ones at Har Zion! Under the
guidance of your Young Families Coordinator, once each month, children ages
2-4 enjoy our popular Tot Shabbat, complete with a crafts, simple prayers, a
Torah parade and story, and Shabbat blessings. For our children ages 5-10,
our monthly Shabbat Sheli (“My Shabbat”) program is garnering rave reviews!
Our children experience Shabbat in unique and fun ways through music, trivia,
drama, crafts, games, and so much more.The first Friday of every month, all are welcome to join us for our Family
Services geared for all ages of children. Music is provided by our primary and
junior choirs and sometimes choir leader Julie teaches a new song. Children
enjoy the opportunity to interact with Rabbi Weiss and ask questions about his
“child-friendly” Dvar Torah!Under the leadership of our Youth Advisor, our pre-teens are actively engaged
in Club 5/6 (grades 5 & 6). Our Temple youth is actively engaged in the
excellent programs provided through the auspices of the Union of Reform
Judaism: for younger teens, JHAZY (grades 7 & 8), and for older teens,
MHARZY (grades 9 through 12). These programs are instrumental in keeping
our youth committed and interested in Reform Judaism, as well as connected to
their Har Zion friends.
What types of opportunities are there at the Temple to get involved in Social Action? Temple Har Zion is committed to Social Action. We are a founding member of the York Region Mosaic Interfaith Out of the Cold program, which provides food and shelter to the homeless in our community once a week through much of the winter. We also participate in many other community programs and events, such as Meals on Wheels, the Mosaic Interfaith and Bayview Corridor programming.
Are there lots of volunteer opportunities at Temple Har Zion? We estimate that over 70% of our members are involved in volunteer aspects of Temple life. Temple Har Zion provides a great many opportunities to get involved, help out, meet new people and make new friends, while giving back to the community.   For more information on how you might want to get involved, call the Temple office at 905 889 2252 and leave a message for our Volunteer Coordinator.
Are there purely “social” activities planned by the Temple? Yes, in addition to our wonderful worship and educational programming, we offer
many events and programs that are “social” in nature. Sisterhood, Brotherhood,
and our Music Committee put together some great programming, which includes:
• Go Freddy Go Music/Dance Hop
• Casino Night
• Live on Stage: Barbara and Liza Together – A Concert
• Sisterhood Chanukah Dinner Party and Tu Bi Shvat Chocolate Seder
• Trivia Night
• Night in Bombay and Night in South Africa offered delicacies from each country, as well as exceptional music!