Coldest Night of the Year: 2021

Saturday, February 20, 2021This year, the Coldest Night of the Year walk to raise money for charities serving people experiencing homelessness, hurt, and hunger will be a covid-safe and family-friendly one. Our Avodah members will walk independently or in their own “approved by Bonnie” bubbles,  to raise money in support of Our Place. Don’t let this fundraiser succumb to COVID-19! 

If you  would like to support the Avodah initiative, please go to the Coldest Night of the Year website where you can donate to the Avodah team.  You are welcome to contact Penny Tennenhouse at pennyt@shaw.ca if you would like any further information. 

Hilary Marks: first recipient of Kim Manton Spirit Award

We extend a sincere mazel tov to congregant Hilary Marks, the first recipient of the Kim Manton Spirit Award
 
Kim Manton was a well-respected Victoria labour and political activist who died in June 2020. Kim’s sunny disposition, enthusiasm, passion and energy made those around her want to work harder, do more and reach further to make the world a better place. To honour her life, Kim’s colleagues created the Kim Manton Spirit Award, which recognizes an outstanding individual in Victoria who upholds the belief that everyone, particularly those in greatest need, deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities.
 
Hilary Marks embodies the spirit and intent of the Kim Manton Spirit Award. Generous with her time, respectful and caring, Hilary is deeply committed to the well-being and dignity of those living in poverty. For decades, she has worked for the rights of people struggling on low incomes, those who are homeless, and those dealing with addiction or mental illness. The Kim Manton Spirit Award publicly acknowledges Hilary’s significant history of work—both paid and volunteer—that has improved the lives of others. Hilary is someone who has reached further and done more to improve conditions for those whose voices we rarely hear. 

Continue reading Hilary Marks: first recipient of Kim Manton Spirit Award

Ḥanukkiah lighting during the pandemic

Zilber-Shlensky family prepares to light

Here is the introduction to the blessings over the candles provided by Gabbai Aaron Severs at our congregational Zoom Ḥanukkah celebration on Tuesday, December 15, 2020.

“To begin, I’d like to say just how thrilled I am to see so many of you here on Zoom this evening. Normally, we would be holding the event outdoors in Centennial Square with a huge life-size Ḥanukkiah. The Victoria High Rhythm & Blues band would be playing their hearts out and we’d be having a raucous dance party. In 2020, we find ourselves in a unique and challenging year. Fortunately, we are still able to gather and share our light and warmth via the magic of the internet.

The pandemic has given us all the opportunity to slow down, take a breath and think about whom and what’s really important in our lives. And, the chance to share acts of loving kindness (gemilut ḥasadim) and compassion with one another. It is a time to appreciate the real-life front-line heroes in our midst. They may be health care workers, grocery store staff, teachers, or volunteers at our local non-profit organization. One miracle for certain, this Ḥanukkah, has been the arrival of the first shipment of Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines on Canadian soil.

On a personal level, 2020 has humbled and taught me the message of having “an attitude of gratitude”. For the many blessings, large and small, in my life. And, to recognize with a good eye (“tov ayin” as Rabbi Harry says) the good that happens each day. I do feel privileged to be part of a larger, caring and progressive Jewish community on Canada’s real west coast. So, as we get ready to light the Ḥanukkah candles this evening, I invite you all to rededicate yourselves to joy, to hope and to gratitude.

With this in mind, it gives me great pleasure to call upon our next 3 presenters. They are volunteers and part of our leadership team at Congregation Emanu-El. [OK, everyone out there in Zoom land, this is your cue…please have your Hanukkah menorahs ready, and if you are able, show them on your computer screen. We will say the blessings first, and then light.]

The first blessing will be recited by Sam Godfrey, President of our Board of Directors. [although you are all muted, feel free to join along and sing at home]. Sam has his family by his side. Whenever you are ready, Sam…

The second blessing (berakhah) will be said by Ilana Stanger-Ross. Ilana serves as our Vice President and Hebrew School Liaison.  She is joined by her family this evening. Ilana, whenever you are ready.

Akharón akharón khavív… For our third blessing, I’m honoured to call upon Caren Zilber-Shlensky. Caren is a member of our Hebrew School Committee, and along with Ilana, has also been quite active on the Emanu-El COVID-19 response committee. 

Thank you to all our presenters. Now, feel free to “rev your engines”, light up your menorahs and let’s share the warmth, light and ruach (spirit) of the holiday with one another. This is very exciting, there are so many menorahs on the screens!
I am now pleased to turn the floor over to Rabbi Matt who will continue with the next step in tonight’s program.”

For more pictures…

Ancient Astrology: Fatalist or Optimist

Sunday, December 6, 2020 at 7 pm—The Congregation Emanu-El Adult Education team invites you to a presentation Ancient Astrology: Fatalist or Optimist by Rabbi Matt Ponak on Sunday, December 6, 2020 at 7 pm.

Does Judaism teach that our lives are determined by the stars? Did it ever? The answer is not so simple. While Jewish teachings greatly value free will, the word mazal, as in “Mazal Tov,” literally means “constellation”. At one point, to wish someone “mazal tov,” meant to wish them good fortune under the influence of the astrological signs. So what does Judaism say about astrology? Join Rabbi Matt Ponak as he explores Talmudic stories and teachings of how Jews were and were not subject to the fate of the heavens.

Rabbi Matt Ponak is a musician, teacher, and lover of life. He serves as the Education Director and Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Emanu-El. Rabbi Matt has studied with many of this generation’s leading teachers of Jewish mysticism including Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, R. Arthur Green, R. Zvi Ish-Shalom, R. Tirzah Firestone, and R. Rami Shapiro. Also holding an MA in Contemplative Religions from the Buddhist-inspired Naropa University, Rabbi Matt weaves world wisdom with ancient Jewish insights. His upcoming book, “Torah for the New Age,” translates and comments on Jewish mystical texts that resonate with the consciousness and yearnings of our times.

The presentation will be on Zoom.

To join online, CLICK HERE

To join by phone: 1 778 907 2071; Meeting ID: 839 1579 8300; Passcode: 446221

Donations to our Adult Education fund are always welcome. You may donate ONLINE or through the office at info@congregationemanuel.ca.

Why not give Mysterious Moses a try?

Come join us for Mysterious Moses—a super fun game (aka Gamadim and Anakim 5781)—spread light all through the eight nights of Ḥanukkah, and stay connected through these dark COVID-19 days.
 
Leah Levi ran the game over Sukkot, calling it Gamadim and Anakim—some comments from players:
“It was fun to be part of a real-life community-based activity! We had fun thinking up small gifts to bring delight to our Gamadim. Of course it was fun to receive gifts too! We will certainly participate again during Ḥanukkah.” Katie S.
“This game was fun and rewarding. We felt the joy of secretly delivering small gifts, being spoiled in return and finding we made new connections. We can’t wait to play the game again.”Alexandre CW
 
Everyone who wishes to play for Ḥanukkah should register by 9 am, Sunday, December 6, 2020 at the latest, CLICK HERE for registration form…
 
How it works: Once registered, Leah will twin each family/person with another family/person, the idea being to anonymously gift your twin with small things. It could be one or more gifts, given at one or more times, in different ways. It can be something you’ve made like a pot of jam, cookies, a candle, a possession you’re gifting or a little thing you’ve bought. To deliver, you can use the postal service, another person, or find a way to deliver it yourself.

GVAT Forum – WHY we should engage…

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at  7:00 pm on Zoom—Rabbi Harry invites you to participate in a special zoom GVAT (Greater Victoria Acting Together) forum for Emanu-El Congregants. The goal of this forum is to acquaint congregants with GVAT’s purposes and activities and to inform them about the opportunities that GVAT provides Emanu-El for tikkun olam. The speakers at this forum will include Chet Phillips, GVAT Lead Organizer and the Congregation Emanu-El members who participate in GVAT Action Research Teams. Find the ways to join Rabbi Harry below:

Join online: CLICK HERE…

Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071 Meeting ID: 890 6466 8356 Password: 649002

The purpose of this Forum is to highlight the importance of GVAT’s work, particularly given the damaged and fragmented state of our world today and our own forthcoming election. It will highlight the necessity of ensuring an active and committed Jewish voice in GVAT’s processes and procedures. We were once a lead voice in Faith in Action, with your help we can take up a similar role in GVAT. We owe it to our tradition, to our community, to ourselves and our kids, not to mention grandkids – they deserve a future, whatever that future may look like, where safety and security continues to be a given.

Our tradition tells us we do not need to complete the task of repairing the world, tikkun olam, but we are obligated to contribute to its repair. That has always been CE-E’s tradition. Indeed our very own Bernice z”l, a campaigner for justice like no other, has that call inscribed on her headstone “Justice, justice, shalt thou pursue”.

Our world is on fire, recently in the very real sense of the Americas, from the wetlands of the Pantanal and the Amazon rainforest all the way up to the State of Washington. On fire also, in the more metaphorical sense, from the ubiquitous injustice and inequality we see around us, to the South of us and across all the world’s continents, from homelessness to systemic racism, from mental health to the migration of peoples, brought on by war, conflict and climate change.

What I am saying will resonate with those of you who, like me, were privileged to hear Rabbi Harry’s drash on Yom KippurHineni! Let us make a Rosh Hashanah 5781 pledge to join in the October Forum on GVAT where we will discover how a good Jewish boy, (a lawyer called Saul Alinsky) in the Chicago of the 30s, was able to vastly improve the lives of so many and to found an international organization dedicated to the pursuit of justice, through his actions, his philosophy and his writings. That organization is still active today and GVAT is a part of it.

Remember, we’re “The Little Shul That Could”. As members of Emanu-El, you are already members of GVAT; let’s join together to ensure an active and engaged Jewish voice in formulating and pursuing GVAT’s goals. Join the Forum and check out GVAT’s web site to find out more.

If you’re interested, please contact Ruthi W., either directly or through the office.

Jewish Cemetery Tour

Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 2:00 pm RSVP required … Fraternal organizations were an important part of community life in early Victoria. With the help of Mark Anderson and Diana Pedersen, Amber Woods (author of the OCS’s publication Guide to Victoria’s Historic Jewish Cemetery), will tell stories of the Jewish Freemasons and Woodmen of the World buried here. Meet at main gates Fernwood Road at corner of Cedar Hill Road. Men, please wear a hat.

Cost is $2 for members of the Old Cemeteries Society and $5 for non-members.

COVID-19 Protocols for Old Cemetery Society’s tours for safety:
1.     Social distancing will be required.
2.     Masks are optional.
3.     Maximum capacity of this tour will be 20 people.

Registration is required. Space will be filled on a first come first serve basis. A second tour at 3:30 pm will be offered if needed. Please send an email with your name, contact information and number in your party attending to oldcem@pacificcoast.net. Please put Jewish Cemetery Tour in the subject line.

Copies of the Guide to Victoria’s Historic Jewish Cemetery will be available for purchase outside of the cemetery. Please bring cash or a check made out to Old Cemeteries Society.  Books are also available at Simcha Gift Shop at Congregation Emanu-El, Munro’s and Bolen Books.

Concerned about racism, climate change, public health, affordable housing…?

GVAT revised
If you are concerned about racism, climate change, public health, worker’s rights, affordable housing, colonialism, mental health, a just recovery…—here’s help getting organized! Greater Victoria Acting Together (GVAT) is offering leadership training in a series of sessions on June 30, July 2, 7, 9, and 14 from 10 am – 12 pm.

What will you learn?

Continue reading Concerned about racism, climate change, public health, affordable housing…?

JFVVI establishes emergency pandemic relief fund

JFVVI EPRFundThe JFVVI has established an Emergency Pandemic Relief Fund to provide as much help as possible for members of the Vancouver Island Jewish Community who are facing financial challenges as a result of the coronavirus/COVID19 pandemic. The fund will be administered by Jewish Family Services of Vancouver Island.

Donations received before April 6, 2020 will be generously matched by the Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island
as part of their Pandemic Emergency Response Plan.

JFSVI will purchase gift cards from Aubergine Specialty Foods and mail them to any household that is in difficulty at this time of the Coronavirus closures.

Please donate online www.jfsvi.ca or send cheques to: Jewish Family Services VI JCC, 3636 Shelbourne Street, Victoria, BC V8P 4H2.

JFSVI collects Ma’ot Ḥitim – or “wheat money”

90462847_2799300823458537_6275698207372607488_nMa’ot itim – or “wheat money” is the traditional practice of Jewish communities that collect money to help cover the cost of Matzah for those in need. This custom was mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud more than 1600 years ago.

As our tradition continues, Jewish Family Service of Vancouver Island (JFSVI) is asking you to kindly donate to help the needy amongst us to be able to fulfill the mitzvah of Passover. JFSVI will purchase gift cards from Aubergine Specialty Foods and mail them to any household that is in difficulty at this time of the Coronavirus closures.

Please donate online www.jfsvi.ca or send your cheques to

Jewish Family Services VI JCC, 3636 Shelbourne Street, Victoria, BC V8P 4H2.