Kristallnacht: Remembrance and Action

Kristallnacht 2018 NLThursday November 7, 2019 at 7 pm, Congregation Emanu-El Synagogue, 1461 Blanshard Street — The Victoria Shoah Project will commemorate Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), the beginning of the tragic history of attacks on European Jews, on Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 7:00 pm at Congregation Emanu-El synagogue, 1461 Blanshard St., Victoria.

In recent years we have seen the unfortunate growth of attacks on minority groups and those who are “the other”. This highlights the need for us to stand together to protect and safeguard all peoples, regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation or other factors, which may make them targets of a hateful few. This year’s program is titled “Remembrance and Action”. It is a respectful remembrance of those who suffered on Kristallnacht and in the Shoah (Holocaust) as well as a reminder of how and why we, as a collective society, commemorate such tragic events. Remembrance is essential; however we also must act in tangible ways to protect all peoples in our diverse community. We are inviting political and law enforcement leaders as well as representatives from the diverse faith communities to join together at the commemoration to lead us in reading a Pledge of Mutual Respect and Support.

Please join us to remember the past and commit to take action a better future where we will respect and protect our neighbours, not remain silent in the face of any injustice against any person or group and work towards building bridges leading to unity and shalom (peace) in our own community and beyond.

Eco-Veggie Potluck Dinner & Musical Kabbalat Shabbat Service

Kabbalat Shabbat
Friday, November 1, 2019; 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. 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 Harry 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!
Please RSVP for the dinner at

Magic and the Rabbinate

amulets for magic 1000

Sunday October 27, 2019 at 4 pm — Rabbi Harry Brechner will open our Alternative Realities in Judaism series on Sunday October 27, 2019 at 4 pm at the synagogue with a presentation, Magic and the Rabbinate, in which he explores the use of amulets and healing rituals in the context of liberal and rational Judaism. He will delve into issues about the mechanics of prayer, Divine Providence, power of ritual and seeing sacred artifacts as a means of recognizing and invoking the magic interwoven with the ordinary aspects of our lives.

Erev Simhat Torah

Brandts 2
Monday, October 21, 2019 starting at 7:00 pm — Simat Torah is a joyous and spirited holiday.  It signals the completion of the annual Torah reading cycle and a time when we begin the cycle anew by reading from Genesis. We dance with our beloved Torah scrolls, sing and enjoy delicious food and drink.  We take this holiday as an opportunity to honour volunteers who have contributed in a significant way to furthering Jewish life at Emanu-El and in the larger Victoria community. Typically we look for individuals who show dedication and generosity of spirit and celebrate them at the Erev Simḥat Torah service. This year the Religious Services Committee has chosen to honour:

Eric and Genevieve Brandt

The service takes place on Monday, October 21, 2019 starting at 7:00 pm. Light refreshments will be served. BYOB!

Alternative Realities in Judaism

Picture1The Congregation Emanu-El Adult Education Team has arranged a series of sessions inviting us to examine some aspects of Judaism that fall outside what we might consider conventional Jewish wisdom.

Sunday, Oct 27, 2019, 4 pm: Magic and the Rabbinate

  • Rabbi Harry explores using amulets and healing rituals in the context of liberal and rational Judaism.

Saturday, Nov 23, 2019, 7 pm: Creative Midrash

  • Join Rabbi Harry and friends in an interactive evening using art and drama to expand on sacred Torah narratives in a search for deeper meaning and insights.

Sunday, Jan 5, 2020, 4 pm: Kafka and Secular Jewish Mysticism

  • Lee Henderson will take a look at the life and work of the great 20th century Jewish writer Franz Kafka and his relationship to Tanakh, the tales of Rabbi Nachman, the Midrash, Kaballah, contemporary secular political ideologies.

Sunday, Feb 2, 2020, 4 pm: Jewish Shamanism

  • Francis Landy will discuss aspects of shamanism, a term for a cross-cultural religious orientation which seeks to access alternative states of consciousness, in Judaism from the prophets through medieval and post-medieval Kabbalah to the present day.

Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, 4 pm: Renewing Jewish Spirituality after the Holocaust

  • Rabbi Daniel Siegel will guide us as we look at ways to renew our Judaism with a particular emphasis on Ḥasidism and neo-Ḥasidism.

Sessions will be held in Congregation Emanu-El, 1461 Blanshard Street, Victoria.

Entry is by donation: light refreshments will be served. Contact Heshi ( if you have any questions.


Hoshana Rabba Open Sukkah

Rabbis Sukkah 1.0

On Sunday, October 20, 2019 from 12 to 2 pm Rabbi Harry and RaeAnn Brechner invite you to their Open Sukkah  on the deck of their home in Rockland.

If you plan to attend, please let RaeAnn know by my email or on her cell phone 250-885-7552. Thank you.

Hoshana Rabba is the last day of Sukkot and a holiday in its own right. Our tradition understands that at Sukkot we are judged by how much joy we can generate. At Hoshana Rabba we gear up for praying for rain and ask for Divine protection and goodness. It is a precursor to the fun of delighting with our Torah Scrolls at Simhat Torah.

Celebrating Laurel: help sponsor a Torah scroll

Laurel NashonAs Simhat Torah approaches, let us remember one of the beloved members of our kehillah who passed away this last year. Laurel Nahshon z”l was a pillar of our community.  She was gracious, empathic, encouraging, passionate and had “Devekut” (clinging to Hashem).   And, she left us far too soon.

By her words and actions, Laurel touched multiple generations among us.  She taught our children for their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs for about 15 years. Laurel capably organized shemirah coverage when someone passed away. Call-outs for holiday minyanim were done by her. So, too, was the role of outreach coordinator – be it a warm meal, telephone call, or visit to someone who was elderly or sick.

Who can forget an invitation to Friday night dinner at her and Gidi’s home?  This gift virtually guaranteed an evening of laughter, zemirot, and delicious home-cooked meals.  Laurel embodied being an Eshet Chayil (woman of valour).  To celebrate her memory, our goal is to sponsor a “Sefer Torah” (Torah scroll) for her.  It will be a small, 150+ year old scroll in our Holy Ark. This is the companion scroll to the Torah scroll previously dedicated in memory of her bashert, Gidi z”l.

Please join us in this heartfelt endeavour.  You can donate to the Torah Fund in Laurel’s memory by calling the synagogue office directly. Monies raised – $10,000 is needed in all – will go towards the Torah Fund at Emanu-El. Thank you in advance for your generosity!  May Laurel’s memory be for a blessing.Rabbi Harry & Members of the Religious Services Committee