Congregation BINA History

A marked increase in Jewish immigration from India to Canada began in the early 1960’s.

Most of the Indian Jews settled in Toronto.  Some settled in Hamilton, Montreal and a few in other parts of Canada.  As newly arrived immigrants, they had limited resources and were faced with the challenges of finding accommodations and jobs.  

Given their circumstances, those who had settled in Toronto couldn’t afford the costly tickets to attend High Holiday services. In 1970, a couple of families managed to arrange affordable High Holiday services for the Bene Israel community. For some families, it was the first High Holiday services they attended since leaving India. 

As more Bene Israel immigrants from India settled in Toronto, they felt the need to get together socially, to be supportive of each other and provide opportunities for their children to get to know each other.

In 1978, several families made a concerted effort to organize a social event. Letters were sent out and a potluck social was held in a local public school in Scarborough in November.  It was a great success! The organizing group was encouraged by the response and the participants expressed a need to continue to get together as a community and have some fun.  

In 1979, after a few successful functions, such as a Purim social and a picnic in July, some families expressed the desire to organize High Holiday services according to Bene Israel traditions. Some individuals had doubts about taking on this initiative and some others were opposed to the idea altogether.  Those in favour of the idea met and in September 1979, High Holiday services were held at the Jewish Women’s Council House on Bathurst Street. 

In February 1980, it was decided to establish an umbrella organization of Jews from India residing in North America. The process to incorporate the organization began in 1980 with the writing of the Constitution for Congregation BINA and an application was made on behalf of the group.

On March 31, 1981, the corporation was registered as Congregation BINA in our Letters Patent.

In 1982, the Board made an application for Charitable Status to the Government of Canada. This was granted in 1983, retroactive to June 1982. Work then began on writing By-Laws consistent with our Constitution and relevant to the needs of the community.