Rabbi Chaim Strauchler
A native of West Orange, New Jersey, Rabbi Chaim Strauchler received his ordination from Rabbi Isaac Elchanon Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University. Before joining Shaarei Shomayim in August 2008, Rabbi Strauchler served as rabbi at Beit Chaverim Synagogue in Westport, Connecticut from 2005 to 2008. Rabbi Strauchler believes the role of a rabbi is to care for people. This entails being there for them in their time of need, to shepherd them through the ups and downs of life, and at the same time to inspire them to be a catalyst for personal spiritual growth. He sees the shul as a centre for addressing larger communal issues, as well as a place that cares for Jews in Toronto, Israel and elsewhere, as well as for the non-Jewish community.
In college, Rabbi Strauchler was a pre-med science student – following in his parents’ footsteps – before switching to English literature. He chose to enter the rabbinate because of the opportunity to share life with the Jewish people, teach and learn Torah in the trenches, and be with people during their best and worst times. He credits the legacy of his maternal grandfather, Rabbi Gershon Romanoff, with inspiring him to become a rabbi. Rabbi Romanoff studied at Yeshiva University under Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik in the 1930s, and died when Rabbi Strauchler was a year old.
Committed to Modern Orthodoxy, Rabbi Strauchler believes that the term 'Modern Orthodox' is useful in the sense that it reflects the basic problem of every Jew: Modernity is something that is ever present in our lives and brings many advantages. It also brings many challenges. In the modern age, people can choose. They can choose to be Jewish, they can choose not to live as a Jew. That did not exist before the modern era. At the same time, 'modern Orthodox' and 'Orthodox' are labels imposed upon individuals by others; fundamentally, we are Jews. Rabbi Strauchler stresses the importance of being able to see past the labels, towards the right and towards the left, to be able to look at a person for what they are, as opposed to the external dress they may have on at that moment.
The first Yeshiva University graduate to receive Oxford University’s prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, he earned a diploma in theology and an master’s in religious studies while there. He then received a master's degree in Biblical studies from Bernard Revel Graduate School and is a Wexner Graduate Fellowship alumnus. He publishes scholarly articles on the Bible and the Talmud in addition to publishing his own poetry. He was also trained under Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt at Riverdale (NY) Jewish Center, from 2003 to 2005.
Rabbi Strauchler is married to Avital. They have four children: Adir, Tehilla, Atara, and Zvi.
Office phone: 416.789.3213 ext 201
Cantor Avraham Sultan
Cantor Sultan immigrated with his family to Montreal at five years old from Rabat, Morocco. Three years later he started to sing as a soloist in weddings and concerts around North America and weekly in the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of Montreal choir under the leadership of Salomon Amzallag. By13 he was the acting Chazzan of the Jewish Center of Montreal.
As a young adult, he decided to combine his passion with formal education and training in Israel where he was ordained as a Rabbi, Shochet, Mohel, and Sofer by the Chief Rabbinate of Jerusalem.
Chazzan Sultan is a graduate of the Superior Conservatory of Music in Montreal. A Lyric Tenor, he is one of the few cantors in the world knowledgeable in the Nusach of Sephardic Moroccan Piyuttim, Yerushalmi and Ashkenaze . His teachers have included Cantors Salomon Amzallag, a known singer for the King of Morroco; Aryeh Ovadia; and Avrum Wilkominski, opera singer and Chief Cantor for the Israeli Army.
At the age of 20, Chazzan Sultan served as the Chief Chazzan and assistant Rabbi of the Great Synagogue Tiferet Israel in Caracas, Venezuela. During that period, he also continued his concerts in North America and Europe.
In 1993, he moved to San-Francisco California where he was the Rabbi and Chazzan of the largest Orthodox Ashkenazi Synagogue in the San Francisco and Bay area, Chevra Thilim.
Five years later he returned to Montreal where he became the Chief Cantor at the Adath Israel Poale Tzedek Anshei Ozerrof Congregation where he served for the next 10 years. During that time, he participated in many cantorial concerts where he was able to develop different approaches to chazzanut using modern music and popular melodies from Broadway and opera.
Chazzan Sultan was first vice president of The Council of Chazzanim Ashkenaze of Montreal, and vice president of The Sephardic Association of Chazzanim of Montreal.
Since 2007, Cantor Sultan is the Senior Chazzan of Shaarei Shomayim Congregation in Toronto where he brings warmth to his congregation through singing and inclusion of children. He is responsible for conducting services on Shabbat, High Holidays, and festivals. Cantor Sultan also participates in all religious and life-cycle events, including bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, brittim, funerals, and unveilings.
Some other accomplishments:
Currently completing a Masters in Jewish Education at Bellevue University
August 2012 - Nominated by the CCA Cantorial Council of America as the regional representative in Ontario from the Belz School of Music at Yeshiva University
2012 - Founder of Sephardic Council of Chazzanim of Toronto
2010 - Chazzan Sultan was nominated as vice president of The Council of Chazzanim of Toronto
1999 - Training Program for Educators and Communal leaders
1998 - Dale Carnegie Training Course – Leadership Training Program
1997-1999 - Ohr Hagolah, Yeshiva Ohr Sameach, Jerusalem-Israel
1987 - Yeshivat Midrash Sepharadi, Jerusalem-Israel, Bachelor Degree in Arts and Talmudic Law
He is married to Raquel, and they are the parents of four beautiful boys, Yaacov, Gabriel, Yonatan and Ezrah.
Office phone: 416.789.3213 ext 202
Rabbi Elliott Diamond
Rabbi Elliott Diamond has long been associated with Jewish education in Toronto and currently serves as the Vice Principal of Jewish Studies at Netivot HaTorah Day School
. Rabbi Diamond holds a B.A. from the University of Toronto, pursued his Masters in Education from the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education and received his rabbinical ordination from the late Chief Rabbi of Montreal, Rabbi Pinchas Hirzprung.
Rabbi Diamond has grown up in the Shaarei Shomayim community and served as a lay leader as well as leader of the Pray and Learn program. He currently is leader of our Downstairs Minyan
Rabbi Diamond’s engaging and inclusive manner of teaching has made him a popular and exciting teacher. Rabbi Diamond and his wife Rochelle are founding members of Netivot HaTorah Day School. Their three children, Avi, Eliana and Amiel, are all graduates of the school.
Mr. Levine is our Shamash and Baal Kriyah.