The Danforth Jewish Circle was created in the spring of 1996. A few dozen individuals gathered in a neighbourhood home to discuss a shared desire to build a community that preserved Jewish traditions and culture while reflecting our contemporary lives.

Although few of those present went to synagogue on a weekly basis, we shared a deep commitment to Judaism. And although we each interpreted that commitment on a personal level, we wished to expand and deepen it by engaging with it collectively.

Shortly after that informal gathering, we held a potluck Shabbat dinner in the basement of a local church to gauge the response to a Jewish community event. There was no formal publicity; we relied entirely on word-of-mouth to spread the word. We expected a few dozen curious souls, and were overjoyed when over 150 people showed up.

Before long, committees were struck to tap into what we now knew to be a wellspring of desire. A newsletter soon appeared. A High Holyday service was organized. A community was born.

From those humble beginnings, the Danforth Jewish Circle has grown to include 500 individuals and families. They may be looking for a school for their children (which we began in 1998), a monthly Shabbat service to feed the soul, a speakers’ series that challenges the mind, or a place to gather each year for the High Holydays. In a few short years, we have established ourselves as a community group with a long-term commitment to nurturing progressive Jewish life in Toronto.