…to be a Congregation guided by Torah teachings, Spirituality and ideals of Community, welcoming all Jews as equals and all people as Children of G-d.
Congregation House of Jacob-Mikveh Israel is a modern Orthodox synagogue. Its mood is that of historic Judaism as applied to contemporary society.
Congregation House of Jacob-Mikveh Israel believes:
Our Torah is the word of G-d.
The Torah and Jewish law, having patterned the life of our people for almost 3500 years, are applicable to all social situations, in all ages. It continues today as a major, vital, progressive force in Jewish existence.
Many of our present members have faced the problem of correlating the level of their personal observance with the standard of observance set by traditional Judaism. Specifically, they were troubled with the seeming inconsistency of someone who is not a fully observant Jew belonging to an Orthodox synagogue.
The synagogue serves as a spiritual center that points out the goal which we strive to attain for ourselves and our children. Each of us has room to grow in our personal commitment to Jewish living. The important thing is the recognition of the goal towards which we are striving.
RABBI YISROEL MILLER
Born into a rabbinic family in Boston, Massachusetts, Rabbi Miller studied in yeshivot in New York and Jerusalem, and spent seven years at the Institute for Advanced Learning in Lakewood, New Jersey. Among his teachers were his uncle, Rabbi Avigdor Miller, Rabbi Shneur Kotler of Lakewood, and the internationally-recognized authority on Jewish law Rabbi Moshe Feinstein.
In 1978 Rabbi Miller moved to Pittsburgh as a founding member of that city’s Community Kollel, becoming the Kollel’s Director of Community Education Programs in 1983. In 1985 he became the spiritual leader of Pittsburgh’s Congregation Poale Zedeck, a position he held until moving to Calgary and House of Jacob Mikveh Israel in July of 2009.
Rabbi Miller served as an officer of Pittsburgh’s Jewish Family & Children’s Service, and on the Executive Committee of Pittsburgh’s Rabbinical Council. He founded and directed Pittsburgh’s Volunteer Chevrah Kadishah, co-founded and directed that city’s non-profit Kashrut Council, and co-founded the Pittsburgh Bet Din for Conversion to Judaism, recognized as the Regional Rabbinic Court affiliated with the Rabbinical Council of America.
Rabbi Miller has been honored with Rabbinic Leadership Awards by the Orthodox Union, by Torah Umesorah/National Society for Hebrew Day Schools, and a special award by United Jewish Federation for his work in the Unity Project, which seeks to build bridges between Jewish groups of different orientations. He is the author of four books of essays on Jewish thought: “Guardian of Eden”, published by Feldheim; and “What’s Wrong With Being Human?”, “What’s Wrong With Being Happy?”, and “A Gift for Yomtov”, published by Artscroll. He recently completed work on a book of essays tentatively titled “Questions You Forgot to Ask Your Rabbi”.
Rabbi Miller has served as scholar-in-residence in congregations in England, Scotland, Canada, Mexico, and communities across the United States, as well as the Council of Rabbis of the Provinces of Great Britain, and alumni of New York’s Yeshiva Chafetz Chaim. He is well-known for an approach that is rich in content, intellectual yet accessable, with an added dose of humor to bring his message home.
Rabbi Miller’s wife Debby, whose father was the Rabbi of Great Britain’s third-largest congregation and the author of several books on Judaism, grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, and graduated with a degree in Jewish education from the world-famous Gateshead Jewish Teachers Training College. Over the last thirty years she has taught virtually every grade in Jewish day schools, and currently teaches at Akiva Academy.
The Millers are the proud parents of eleven children and over thirty grandchildren.
When a family joins House of Jacob-Mikveh Israel, they are expressing a desire for true religious identification. Time, study, prayer, and association with like-minded individuals will bring them to that level of observance they desire in their hearts.
No it is not inconsistent to join a traditional synagogue if one is not a strictly observant Jew. It is an expression of a desire to improve one’s religious life and the lives of one’s children. Nothing could be more commendable, or more promising.
Congregation House of Jacob-Mikveh Israel is the oldest Jewish organization in Alberta. Jacob Lynn Diamond, the first permanent Jewish settler in Alberta, came to Calgary in 1888 from the Vilna area as a fur trader. He and his wife Rachel became the pillars of the town’s fledgling Jewish community. Their home in East Calgary was the Synagogue, ‘Jewish Center’, and even the funeral chapel, until the first Synagogue building, located on 5th Ave. SE, was consecrated in 1912.
Formal organization of the congregation took place in 1909, and it was appropriately named ‘House of Jacob’. Over the years, it spawned independent Jewish organizations such as the Chevra Kadisha, Calgary Talmud Torah, and others.
By the late 1950’s the membership of the parent House of Jacob began to decline. Its original historic site gave way to urban renewal, and the aging congregation found a second home near 12th St. and 12 Ave. SW. Since then, the congregation has succeeded in reestablishing its membership, which now includes many young families drawn to the Synagogue by the warmth and beauty of Jewish life.
House of Jacob is now located at Jerusalem Rd. and 92 Ave. SW. In keeping with its early beginnings, the revitalized House of Jacob-Mikveh Israel has again asserted the role of traditional Judaism in Calgary. Thanks to the gracious support of members and friends of the congregation in Calgary, and in other cities in Canada, and in particular the Koschitzky family of Toronto, Alberta’s oldest center of Jewish life can now look forward to a second youth and a bright future.
Today the Synagogue has a strong family and youth orientation, as well as a strong emphasis on Jewish adult education and outreach through innovative and educational programs. Its future is guaranteed by the new generations growing up in its environment.