Rabbi Meir Soloveichik Presents the Rabbi Joseph and Ruth Kelman z"l Memorial Lectures

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Program Date(s): 
2:45 AM to 4:00 AM Sunday Jun 24, 2012
Leaders & Speakers: 
Rabbi Meir Soloveichik
Rabbi Joseph Kelman, prominent Toronto rabbi and educator, was the scion of a long line of distinguished rabbis. He was married to Ruth Kelman (nee Friedman) for 45 years, and together, they worked tirelessly for the benefit of Clal Yisrael. Beginning in 1953, Rabbi Kelman served as a Rabbi in Sherbrooke, QC, Beverly, MA and Suffern, NY before accepting the pulpit at Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue in Toronto in 1959, where he served with great impact for fifty years, building the nascent synagogue of 100 families into one of the largest and most vibrant Jewish centres in Toronto. A pioneer in creating opportunities for the developmentally disabled and learning challenged in the Jewish community, he was the founder of the Ezra and Kadima Schools, the Kadima Centre, the Camp Tikvah Program, the Reena Foundation, Chai Tikvah and Shearim Hebrew Day School. He served for many years as a groundbreaking chaplain in Toronto hospitals and jails. Rabbi Kelman was the recipient of numerous awards for his unique contribution to Jewish education and Jewish community service, including honorary doctorates from Ryerson University and Tel Aviv University. The Kelman School for Jewish Education at Tel Aviv University is named in his honour. Working tirelessly for both his own synagogue and the wider community, Rabbi Kelman always approached every issue and challenge with respect, dignity and optimism. Mrs. Ruth Kelman z”l was born and raised in Toronto, to one of the few observant families there at the time. She excelled in both public and Hebrew schools, but was told at the age of 10 that, as a girl, she had completed all eligible Hebrew studies and could not continue in the all-boys Hebrew school. Using the extra time well, she plunged into her piano studies, winning both local and provincial competitions, and a music career beckoned. Instead, after beginning her studies at the University of Toronto, she was engaged at 19 to her recently ordained husband and moved to Sherbrooke, Quebec to begin her career as wife, mother and rebbetzin. Finishing two years of university studies in one year, Mrs. Kelman focused on her new tasks in Sherbrooke, and then in Beverly, MA and Suffern, NY, before returning to her hometown in 1960 when Rabbi Kelman was chosen as the first full-time rabbi of the fledgling Beth Emeth. She maintained her lifelong love of learning by taking an active role in the shul, teaching Sisterhood classes and delivering a yearly sermon, and spent some twenty years as the principal of the Ezra and Kadima Schools. She also continued to delight others with her piano, playing at numerous functions and teaching a small cadre of students. She maintained an open home for the diverse Shabbat guests in the Kelman household, offering a sympathetic ear and clear-cut, common-sense advice to the many people who consulted with her. Those who knew her remember her as an exemplary Jewish mother, devoted to her entire family, who set a very high standard for all to follow through her dignity, caring and unusual wisdom. Rabbi Joseph and Ruth Kelman, z"l, are the parents of Torah in Motion founder Rabbi Jay Kelman.

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