Instruments of Faith: Toronto’s First Synagogues 2005

This project explores six downtown Toronto synagogues that were established in the early part of the 20th century and remain active today. I was drawn to this project by the beauty of the buildings and their connection to the City’s history. It was also of great interest to me that of some 30 active synagogues that were established in downtown Toronto by 1930, only six remain vital today. These buildings are distinctly urban in character; their exteriors, which share limited space with the adjacent businesses and residences, embrace the street. Like the buildings themselves, the sanctuaries are confined by the limited footprint of the structure, which accentuates height over elbow room encouraging the congregations to crowd together for services. These intimate one room designs are steeped in the history of the communities which created them. Memories of founders and congregants are incorporated into furniture, light fixtures, wall tablets and built ins. The resulting space, created as ‘instruments of faith’ to encourage spiritual life and community bonds, have a uniquely timeless quality. Robert Burley
For additional information see: Exhibition Website