Shavuot 2020: more than cheesecake


Congregation Emanu-El had its first Zoom Tikkun Leil Shavuot on Thursday, May 28, 2020. We had an engaged group of congregants, many of whom persevered to the end just after midnight. Rick Kool spoke about how COVID-19 has shown humans how much have to unlearn, e.g., we have to unlearn that humans are exceptional and that humans are not subject to the laws of nature. We have to unlearn that the services nature provides through pollination, provision of water and more are free and of no concern to our economies. We have to unlearn that our food just appears in the supermarket and we have to unlearn that we don’t have to consider those people, often dark-skinned and under-paid, that bring it to us.
For the full text of Rick’s talk…

Rabbi Harry opened a dialogue about trust by recalling the story of Jericho, Rahab and the red thread, which led to a discussion of gratitude for the place where we live—for its beauty, for its safety, and for the sense of community engendered by our leaders. Concern was expressed for the impact of “distancing” on the young who are already physically distanced through their engagement with social media; for the rising antisemitism and the challenge that engagement with the greater community presents when you feel your own community is under attack; and how humans should take note of the adaptability of the coronavirus.

Devy Stone introduced us to the concept that “art” is a verb—always moving and changing— by walking us through her home art show, which was quarantined from the gallery by the coronavirus. Next Frances Rosenberg invited us to think about the ethical considerations related to the allocation of scarce live saving resources and how secular ethical thought may differ from the teaching offered us by Torah and Talmud.

AND then there was cheesecake…

Post cheesecake, Enid Elliot introduced us to two Jewish pioneers of pedagogy and invited us to consider how their understanding about the growth of the child as a citizen might inform our approach to caring for children during this pandemic. Aaron Severs shared his passion for superheroes beginning with an introduction to these comic characters and ending with a remarkable testimonial for our Victoria COVID-19 heroes. Rabbi Matt discussed the commentary of Ohr Ha’meir on the essential relationships between Torah, study, teaching and G-d. Francis Landy and his class spoke about their experience probing the trials of Job and the linguistic/semantic difficulties of the text.

Our session closed with Rabbi Louis drawing our attention to how our actions must incorporate ḥesed (loving kindness) and gevurah (might) as we move forward.

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An inclusive, warm, and progressive Conservative synagogue in Victoria, B.C.

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