A Bitter Dispute in Centre Avenue Synagogue

From the Globe and Mail, April 18, 1908

Shaare-Tzedek-cta-Objecting to a Reference to Kosher Meat, Shier Herman Pulled Rabbi Levi from the Altar and a Disturbance Followed

Because he objected to the rabbi’s doctrine, Shier Herman of Teraulay street caught Rabbi Levi by his robe yesterday morning at the Tower of Justice Synagogue [possibly Shaarei Tzedek] at 29 Centre avenue and pulled him away from the altar.

There was naturally considerable hubbub in the building for some time, all the worshippers rising to their feet. A. G. Baegmann of Augusta avenue leaped to the rescue of the rabbi, and Herman was dislodged and escorted to the door with some application of force.

As Herman declared that he and his friends would cause a disturbance at the evening service, Mr. Max Rothbaum, president of the synagogue, went to Esther Street Police Station [sic] and asked for protection. Sergeant Charlton detailed Constable Townsend (170) to wait outside the synagogue, in the event of his assistance being required.

At the evening service, though, Herman attended, breathing threats, he was impressed by the show of force outside, and made no forcible demonstration of his opinion.

Seen last night by a Globe reporter at his house at 82 William street, Mr. Max Rothbaum said that indeed there had been something the matter at the Tower of Justice Synagogue. When Rabbi Levi was at the altar he spoke some words about kosher meat, maintaining that it should only be eaten after it had been killed and dressed according to the letter of the Levitical laws. There was a dispute among the worshippers at the various synagogues on the question, and Herman was of the faction opposing Rabbi Levi. ♦

Photo: Shaarei Tzedek Synagogue (at right), 1917. (Building at left may have been a Christian Mission to the Jews. Courtesy “Only Yesterday: Collected Pieces on the Jews of Toronto” by Benjamin Kayfetz and Stephen Speisman, Now and Then Books, 2013. Photo from City of Toronto Archives.