History

Congregation Etz Chayim was born in August 2002 when Beth Israel, Bnay Abraham, and Rosh Pina synagogues joined together to form a new, vibrant home for the observance of Conservative Judaism in Winnipeg.

After two years of planning and negotiation under the leadership of Jack London, CM, QC, the Province of Manitoba passed The Congregation Etz Chayim Amalgamation Act. It was seen as less of a merger and more of a marriage as three remarkable congregations came together to enhance the synagogue landscape in Winnipeg.

While still a new congregation, Etz Chayim rests on a foundation of more than three centuries of combined history of its three legacy synagogues.

Beth Israel started as the Hebrew Sick Benefit Association in 1906. It opened a cemetery in 1911; the city’s first apartment complex for Jewish seniors in 1970; and the synagogue itself on Sinclair Street in 1976 following a merger with Tiferes Israel Synagogue. Bnay Abraham was born in 1916 as a free loan and sick benefit society. It opened its cemetery a few years later and then built its synagogue on Enniskillen Avenue in 1958. The building was expanded in 1970 and in 1973, there was a merger with Ateres Israel Synagogue. Later, the congregation built an adjoining seniors’ apartment complex. Rosh Pina originally opened its doors at Martha and Henry in 1893. It also established its own sick benefit program and cemetery. Rosh Pina re-opened in 1952 at 123 Matheson Avenue East and later built a housing complex for seniors.

Today, Congregation Etz Chayim is making its own history, one anchored by a strong sense of joy, community, goodness, and a celebration of Jewish life.