Ssh! Don’t tell the secret meaning of Purim!

Purim Secrets 2Sunday, March 1, 2020, 7-9 pm at Congregation Emanu-El—Why do we wear masks on Purim? Why do we party and drink alcohol? Why did the early rabbis say that Purim will be the only holiday that exists in the messianic era, when all other holidays are gone? And, most of all, why has all this juicy information been kept secret for so long? Join Rabbi Matt Ponak for a mystical look at the inner dimensions of this ancient holiday. This class is a spiritual preparation for Purim, a holiday that takes us beyond good and evil and into the unity of all existence.  This event is for teens and adults only.

Bridging Heaven and Earth: Introduction to Kabbalah with Rabbi Matt

kabbalahThursday February 27, 7:30 pm— Join Rabbi Matt for an introduction to Kabbalah in Rabbi Matt and Melina’s home (aka the Brechner’s). Come 20 minutes early to have snacks and schmooze.

The Zohar, a secretive and coded medieval book, is the magnum opus of Kabbalistic thought! In this class we will be begin to uncover its layers. We will look at: What is Kabbalah? What are Sephirot [Divine Emanations]? Why do people say we cannot study Kabbalah until the age of 40?

The word Kabbalah, often incorrectly used as a synonym for all of Jewish mysticism, means “receiving” or “tradition.” Kabbalah appeared seemingly out of nowhere in the middle ages and ushered in a brand new era of spirituality in the Jewish world. Written in Spanish-influenced Aramaic in the 13th century, the Zohar [The Book of Enlightenment] introduced a radical new theology, deeply informed by the spiritual experiences of its authors. Though Kabbalah became more contentious in the late middle-ages and modern era, at one time it was widely studied by Torah scholars of every ilk. Come and join Rabbi Matt for an accessible introduction to this esoteric text and the experiences embedded within.

For more information: Contact Congregation Emanu-El
(T: 250-382-0615 or E: )

Jewish Music Jam Binder

Jewish Music

Wednesday, February 19, 7:30 to 9:00 pm—Here is the link to the music binder (the binder works best if you download the pdf and read it with an adobe reader) for the Jewish Music Jam with Rabbi Matt and Kouskous (Gary Cohen and Amber Woods) on Wednesday, February 19, 7:30 to 9:00 pm at Congregation Emanu-El.  Bring your instrument, music or just come and listen and keep a beat with some egg shakers.  Some music will be provided.

Here are the “notes”Rabbi Matt has provided for the “keeners”!

The Tishrei Niggun

Hava Nagila

Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

Eco-Veggie Potluck Dinner & Musical Kabbalat Shabbat Service

Kabbalat ShabbatFriday, February 28, 5:45pm: Doors Open, 6:00pm: Shabbat Dinner, 7:00pm: Kabbalat Shabbat Service — Bring a vegetarian or dairy dish to our potluck dinner along with your own dishes & utensils for dining (that’s the “eco” part!). We’ll supply the ḥallah and wine for kiddush. The dinners are a great way to get to know each other and all are welcome. Please RSVP for the dinner at

Services will begin promptly at 7 pm, following dinner – it’s OK to come just for services if you can’t make it to the dinner. Kabbalat Shabbat is a spirited and joyful service with singing and storytelling lead by Rabbi Matt and the Shul’s very own KabbaShabba band!  Services will conclude at 7:45 pm with a tasty oneg dessert.  Fun and meaningful for both kids and adults!

Kafe & Kibitz

kafe kibitzSunday March 1, 2020 from 10:10 – 11:30(ish) am — We are excited to invite parents and caregivers to our next discussion group on environmentalism, climate crisis and parenting on Sunday March 1, 2020 from 10:10 – 11:30(ish) am in the Atrium at 808 Yates Street. We are building on our last wonderful conversation about Judaism and the Environment. Continue reading Kafe & Kibitz