Do I ever ask you guys for anything? No. Never. Well, I’d like to tell you all about the Ghetto Shul. A few years back, a bunch of students got together, and totally on their own started this Carlebach style minyan called the Ghetto Shul in downtown Montreal. Initially, the organized Jewish community saw this as a threat and some people in Federation actually wanted to shut it down. Montreal Hillel and its director Simon Bensimon however were very supportive and today the Ghetto Shul has one of the busiest Friday night minyans in the city as well as offering a wealth of programs to downtown Montreal denizens. Even Federation came around, paying for Rabbi Leibish’s salary and other stuff. It still remains a very grass roots group and while being orthodox, is still inclusive and friendly and open to everyone.

Often though, grass roots means underfunded. In the past, every shabat minyan was followed by a meal that cost a very modest amount of money. No one was ever turned away and there was always enough food. This might all change next shabat. If not enough money is raised by tomorrow afternoon, the Ghetto Shul will go hungry for the first time since its inception. So what I propose is lets help them out. Click on the PayPal donate button on the Ghetto Shul Web site. Lets spot ’em a couple of bucks. Why not? And if you can’t do it, ask someone who can. Preferably someone rich. Do it. And if you work for Federation … why does it have to come to this?

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • I heard about the Ghetto Shul a while ago. It’s a great idea.

    I am a McGill alum and the choices one had for shul-wise downtown were VERY slim when I was a student there (mid-late 90s) — you could shlep to Shaar Ha-Shomayim in Westmount, which most of us found to be a pretty cold place, or you could go to Chabad House, or find an Orthodox family in Snowdon or Cote-Saint-Luc. For a main-line Conservative or Conservadox type Jew there was nothing. They tried organizing a Conservative-style Shabbat morning minyan at Hillel while I was there — three people came.

    In light of this the Ghetto Shul is great news. If it had been around when I was there I would have gone for sure. Some aspects of the Montreal Jewish community strike me as unusual, though == Why are the Jewish powers-that-be opposed to a shul that caters to the student and other McGill-affiliated but non-native-Montrealer community? Someone please fill me in.

  • I think Federation likes to run a tight ship. At first I think they saw it as a threat to Hillel but now they’re all on board, more or less and Hillel and Ghetto Shul play very well together. Ghetto Shul services are great, very lively and warm and the aprés shul scene is also fun and friendly. And it’s not just out of town students either. It’s downtown residents and many people from the suburbs spend shabat in the city specifically to go to the ghetto shul. Whenever you’re back in Montreal, check the schedule and definitely pop by for a visit.

    Now kick in some cash yo!

  • Remind me to tell you my woeful tales from Dysfunctional Jewish Organizationland at some point. Now that’s a taking-lemons-and-making-lemonade story if ever there was one.

  • Much love to all ghettos and shuls, but a lot of Jewish students in Montreal would find the word “hippy” insulting. JMHO

  • I used the term “hippy” as one of endearment. They know I totally love ’em – I go there and built their Web site for free.

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