“Let us walk in the hills together, carry the burden on our shoulders, and let us make this world a heaven, a place where we can love one another.” — Rabbi Sidney Shoham
A little known fact of Beth Zion’s beloved Rabbi is that in the late 1940’s, he was invited to the farm system of The American League Baltimore Orioles. In order to attract congregants and create a viable synagogue, Rabbi Shoham would say “if you want me to play on your team, you have to play on my team.”
Rabbi Sidney Shoham was born in Baltimore, Maryland the son of Rabbi Yechiel and Rebbetzin Ethel, Z”TL. Both of his parents were children of rabbinic scholars and well known leaders of their communities. He attended the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore grade school and then went to Mesivta Rabbi Chaim Berlin Rabbinical College, Brooklyn, New York.
While studying in the Yeshiva, Rabbi Shoham attended Brooklyn College at night and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in psychology. After receiving his Smicha, he attended graduate school at New York University, School of Psychology. He continued his studies in Montreal at the Allen Memorial Hospital of McGill University where he furthered his courses in Pastoral Psychiatry.
In the winter of 1955, he came to Montreal to visit his brother. Word of the new rabbi spread quickly. He was invited to speak to the founders of the Westluke Congregation in the town of Cote St. Luc, and by the winter of 1956, Rabbi Shoham was installed as the first spiritual leader of the newly formed Beth Zion Congregation.
In the summer of 1967 following the Six Day War, Rabbi and his wife Jewel, went to Israel. When they returned, Rabbi became active with Israel Bonds and was asked to form a Rabbinic Cabinet in Canada. Through this, he was able to create a strong group of Rabbinic and lay leadership – he remained Chairman for approximately 10 years.
On a visit to Rome and Israel in 1987 Rabbi Shoham was privileged to have a place of honour at a public address at the Vatican given by Pope John Paul II.
In 1988, Rabbi Shoham was honoured as “Man of the Year” of Boys Town, an Israeli institution that combines Torah study with technical training.
Yeshiva University bestowed an honourary doctorate and established a chair for Rabbinic and Community Leadership in the rabbi’s name in 1990.
In 1993, Rabbi Shoham received the Yovel Alumnus Award in New York City at the Annual dinner of the Mesivta Rabbi Chaim Berlin Rabbinical Academy, his alma mater.
In 1994, Rabbi Shoham led the Quebec region of the” March of the Living.”
In 1995, his input was sought in the design for the Holocaust Memorial which has its place in Yitzhak Rabin Park outside the Beth Zion Congregation.
In 1997, Rabbi Shoham became the first rabbi to Chair Combined Jewish Appeal.
In 2002, in the presence of the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, and in appreciation for Rabbi Shoham’s 50 years on the pulpit, the congregation honoured their beloved rabbi by naming the main sanctuary The Rabbi Sidney Shoham Sanctuary.
Rabbi Shoham’s community accomplishments were varied – in the early 1970’s he was the monthly host of CFCF’s “Religiously Speaking.” This led to his involvement in the creation of a television show “Making Life Meaningful.” In 1998 he was one of the founders of the Kollel Torah Mitzion, housed in Hebrew Academy.
Rabbi Sidney Shoham had an extraordinary intellect, a compassionate soul, a keen mind, authentic listening ear and a caring heart. With his generosity of spirit, he provided mentorship to people of all walks of life. He was a source of solace, spiritual guidance and sage advice to so many individuals. More than just a rabbi of the Beth Zion Congregation, he was a rabbi for the entire Montreal Jewish community and beyond.
It is with enormous pride and gratitude that the Beth Zion family had as its leader an extraordinary human being whose strength, passion, incomparable spiritual wisdom and Talmudic knowledge leaves a permanent mark. He taught us that the essential ingredients for the growth and achievements of future generations are community cooperation and oneness of purpose.
His non-judgmental persona, his vision for unity, to live and love as one, for peace, for oneness, inspires us to rise to greater heights, to honour the legacy of a dear Rabbi, friend and mentor, Sidney Shoham.
The Clergy, Officers, Board of Directors and entire Beth Zion family extend their heartfelt sympathy to Jewel Shoham, Linda and Willy Lieberman, Mindy and Dr. Adam Mamelak, Donna and Dr. Benjamin Tripp and family on the passing of our esteemed Rabbi for over fifty years
איזהו מכבוד המכבוד את הבריות
“Who receives honour, one who bestows honour upon others”
(Ethics of Our Fathers 4:1)