Jewish Music & the Holocaust

Sunday, May 30, 2021, at 7 pmCongregation Emanu-El Adult Education Team invites you to join Dr. Suzanne Snizek, when she will introduce the concept of “suppressed music” through musical examples and biographical sketches, and discuss some of the contemporary issues and challenges related to reinstating music that was marginalized for racist and ideological reasons during the Shoah.

Suzanne Snizek has performed and presented extensively throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Dr. Snizek’s groundbreaking research on Music in WWII British Internment Camps has been published by Böhlau Verlag-Vienna, Routledge-New York, the Council of Europe, Berghann-New York, Armand Colin-Paris, and online by the World ORT website.

A former winner of the national Flute Talk Magazine Competition, the UArts Concerto Competition, the New York Flute Club Competition and the Mid-South Young Artist Flute Competition, Suzanne Snizek has performed with the ESO (National Orchestra of Taiwan), and was an active freelance orchestral and chamber musician before receiving her DMA at UBC (Vancouver) in 2011. Currently an Associate Professor at the University of Victoria, Dr. Snizek released her critically acclaimed CD titled Chamber Music (Re)Discoveries in 2016, and subsequently received the 2017 REACH award for “Excellence in Creative Expression” from the University of Victoria.

Join online: CLICK HERE
Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
Meeting ID: 851 7500 7001
Passcode: 141429

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

Call from the East: The Mizrahi Tradition

On Sunday, May 23, 2021, at 7:30 pm, Journeys of Jewish Music sponsored by the Victoria Jewish Community Choir continues with a Call from the East: The Mizrahi Tradition with Gary Cohen and Amber Woods.

For centuries, Jews resided in Arabic countries where their music was influenced by and influenced this culture. This music has been called Mizraḥi, a Hebrew term meaning ‘Eastern’. Gary Cohen and Amber Woods of the world folk duo, Kouskous, will share the flavours and rhythms of various regions of the Middle East and Mediterranean basin including Morocco, Turkey and Yemen. Through musical examples, they will explore the influence of the Sephardic populations, the features of Arabic music, and the unique traditions of several regions. With infectious rhythms and intoxicating melodies, this promises to be a most engaging journey to the East. 

Gary Cohen began his musical career as a teenager. He was inspired by his mother’s singing of Jewish songs, and was greatly influenced by his friend, teacher and mentor, Moshe Denburg. Gary was a co-founder of Tzimmes, and has played in a number of bands, ranging from Greek to Klezmer.  Currently he fronts the world folk music duo, Kouskous.

Amber Woods came to music through many years of folk dancing, and her studies of Egyptian Dance with Carol Sokoloff.  The wonderful rhythms moved her to study the Middle Eastern hand drum and tambourine.  She is the other half of the world folk music duo, Kouskous.

To register for this session, please send an email to the following address:

For further information on Journeys in Jewish Music,  please consult: or contact Carol at:

Register Now for Camp Miriam Day Camp

For the second consecutive summer, Camp Miriam will be running a day camp (kaytana) in the city. Campers going on to Grades 2 to 10 are invited to join at the Jewish Community Centre (JCC) for fun activities (pe’ulot)—including: Israeli dance, arts and crafts, discussions, games, excursions (tiyulim) and so much more. Opportunity to be with other Jewish kids, have fun, and create community together.
Two one-week sessions: June 28 – July 2; July 5 – July 9 from 9 am – 4 pm each day
For more information: Leah Levi at 604-782-1201 or

From our Anti-Racism and Equity Working Group

The Congregation Emanu-El Anti-Racism and Equity Working Group held their second meeting on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Considerable time was spent discussing what is happening in Israel and Gaza, and Rabbi Harry’s email on the recent events. The group addressed the importance of having space to unpack in ‘real-time’ what is taking place, and how to support critical learning opportunities. In this connection, the group began refining their scope and mandate, and focused on education.
As a next step, the group plans to participate in the three-part REDI (Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) series, “focused on helping participants to start building stronger communities and transform the ways in which our institutions create meaningful Jewish experiences for people of all backgrounds” offered by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
The first session will occur on Thursday, May 20, 2021 at 5 pm PST with the other sessions on the following two Thursdays—spanning May 23 to 29, 2021, which is “Anti-Racism Awareness Week” in the Province of British Columbia. This training is open to anyone, and free of charge. We encourage everyone to participate! Please click here  to register…
The Anti-Racism and Equity Working Group will next meet on Thursday, June 10, from 6:30 – 8 pm. Everyone is welcome. Please email the office for the Zoom link.
“It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work,  but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.“-Rabbi Tarfon (in Paul Kivel’s Uprooting Racism 1996).

You Count. Be Counted.

Invitations to participate in the 2021 Census are now arriving in the mail. The Government of Canada uses census information to plan important community services, such as employment programs, public transit, schools, hospitals, and more.

The last census under-reported Jewish Canadians by a large margin, impeding our Jewish Federation of Victoria & Vancouver Island’s ability to address important issues we all care about—such as antisemitism, security, housing, healthcare, and fighting poverty.

One in every four census questionnaires is the long-form version and includes questions about ethnicity (Question 23) and religion (Question 30). So that the perspectives of Jewish Canadians are reflected in public policy, and to ensure we receive our fair share of programs and services, it is important for Jewish Canadians to be recognized by the Government of Canada as a thriving, growing, and engaged community.

If it is important to you to be counted as Jewish then write “Jewish” in responding to Question 23, Question 30—or both! For Question 23, which pertains to ethnicity, you can include multiple answers – for example, “Russian” and “Jewish” or “Moroccan” and “Jewish.”
For more information…

Tikkun Leil Shavuot: Torah as Personal Narrative

Sunday, May 16, 2021, 8 pm – 12 midnight—Each year at Congregation Emanu-El, we offer deep and relevant spiritual learning on the night of Leil Shavuot. Unlike other years, we will not remain awake all night for Torah this year. However, we will have meaningful learning via Zoom. This year’s theme is Torah as personal narrative. We are asking congregants to participate and share their personal truths as expressions of Torah; to share wisdom that teaches about our relationships with the Creator as a means of reflecting our authentic selves and aspirations.  Through teaching and dialogue, we will generate together a virtual time capsule, documenting life in our congregation through this historic pandemic. 
A core aspect of Shavuot is celebrating and internalizing the Divine Source’s revelation at Mount Sinai—the giving of Torah. Jewish folklore tells that on the morning when our ancestors were to receive Divine Revelation, they accidentally slept in. To enable cosmic repair, there is a custom of staying awake through the night, immersed in Torah study in preparation for receiving God’s Torah.
Presentations/sharing will be short (10 minutes max), with time in between presenters for discussion. If you would like to be a presenter, please send a message to Rabbi Harry at to get on the official roster. We will allow time for spontaneous sharing.
Lastly, what Jewish festival would be complete without food? There will be a slice of the evening to display your favourite dairy delicacy (aka cheesecake) so that others can savour it virtually.

Join online: CLICK HERE
Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
Meeting ID: 864 7428 0604
Passcode: 421268
With blessings for a renewing and meaningful Ḥag Sameaḥ,
Rabbi Harry and Aaron Severs

Songs of Sefarad

Sunday, May 9, 2021, 7:30 pm—The Victoria Jewish Community Choir presents the second talk, Songs of Sefarad, in the series, Journeys in Jewish Music with Dr. Judith Cohen on Sunday, May 9, 2021, 7:30 – 8:45 pm.

Dr. Cohen will take us through the repertoire and stories of Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) songs from northern Morocco, and the former Ottoman regions—now Turkey, Greece, the Balkans and Israel. Her program will include narrative ballads of errant royalty, wedding songs combining piety with a hint of eroticism, songs of the Jewish year, and the songs with which people are most familiar—love songs from the late 19th century. Judith will sing some examples live, and play extracts from old documentary recordings illustrated with photos of people and places. Questions welcomed!

Dr. Cohen is a Canadian ethnomusicologist, medievalist, singer and storyteller. Known for her long-time work in Sephardic music, she has also worked with the Crypto-Jews of Portugal for 25 years. As a singer, she also performs Yiddish, Balkan, French Canadian, Portuguese songs, medieval music and pan-European balladry. She teaches part-time at York University in Toronto, is the editor of the Alan Lomax 1952 Spain recordings, and can’t wait for it to be safe to resume her far-flung travels.

To register for this session, please send an email to the following address:

For further information on Journeys in Jewish Music,  please consult: or contact Carol at:

Anti-Racism & Equity Working Group Update

We are happy to announce that the Anti-Racism and Equity Working Group held its first meeting on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. We have identified ourselves as a “working” group because we recognize that receiving an ongoing anti-racism and equity mandate requires evidence that we are committed to learning and action.

Our first meeting was welcoming and generative, as it was framed around the anti-racism panel the community held last July, and the basis proposed for taking action in Jewish communities was grounded in the pillars put forth by No Silence on Race ( We had a lively discussion centred on our individual perspectives, our entry points into anti-racism and equity work, our future educational goals, and our desire for events and resources that would galvanize the cultivation of a sustainable, textured, and equitable Jewish community.

We identified several specific initiatives that we anticipate concretizing and sharing with the broader community in the future. The first chapter of Rabbi Jill Jacobs’ (2011) text, Where Justice Dwells: A Hands-On Guide to Doing Social Justice in Your Jewish Community was shared as a follow up reading (please email us if you want a copy).

Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 11, 2021 from 6-7 pm on Zoom. All are welcome. If interested, please contact the Office to get on our email list, and receive our Zoom link.

Biblical Cantillation and the Modes of Prayer

Monday, April 26, 2021 at 7:30 – 8:45 pm PTMoshe Denburg will open the Journeys in Jewish Music series on Monday, April 26, 2021 at 7:30 pm. He will delve into the practice of Biblical Cantillation, an original Jewish invention, and cover the traditional modes of prayer, and how these vary with the occasion (Sabbath, Holiday, Weekday Service etc.), and with the prayers themselves. Musical examples will be sung and illustrated, and participation will be encouraged.

Moshe Denburg is an award-winning composer, arranger, and music educator whose  works have been widely performed in Canada, the US, and internationally. Moshe hails from a well-known Montreal Rabbinical family and moved to the West coast in 1982. Having grown up in the synagogue, his knowledge of Jewish liturgy and musical practices is deeply rooted. He has traveled worldwide, living, and studying in the US, Israel, India and Japan. A life-long musician, Moshe has been singing and songwriting in Jewish and Middle Eastern idioms extensively. He started his ensemble Tzimmes in Victoria in 1986, and attended UVIC studying composition. Moshe is committed to presenting Jewish Music in its many styles and languages. His music incorporates Klezmer (European), Sephardi (Mediterranean), and North American Folk influences in several languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, and English. Moshe is also the founder of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (VICO) and has written many large scale compositions which bring together the instrumental and musical resources of many cultures. 

To register for this session, please send an email to the following address:

For further information on Journeys in Jewish Music,  please consult: or contact Carol at:

Bad Faith: Why the Jews are not a religion—and shouldn’t be!

Sunday, May 2, 2021 at 7 pm—Congregation Emanu-El Adult Education  team invites you to join Daniel Boyarin 0n Sunday, May 2, 2021 at 7 pm, who argues,  “In this lecture, I intend to show that historically the Jews did not consider themselves a religion until modernity. I will argue for Jewish Peoplehood (however that may be ultimately defined and experienced). I will try to show some negative consequences of defining ourselves as a religion even now.”

Daniel Boyarin, Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture and Rhetoric, University of California at Berkeley, received his PhD in 1975 from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He has been a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow (twice), a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, a holder of the Berlin Prize at the American Academy in Berlin and a Ford Foundation Fellow.

Prof. Boyarin has written extensively on talmudic and midrashic studies. His work has focused on cultural studies in rabbinic Judaism, including issues of gender and sexuality, and research on the Jews as a colonized people. His most recent research interests centered primarily around questions of the relationship of Judaism and Christianity in late antiquity and the genealogy of the concepts of “religion” and “Judaism.”

For information and the Zoom link contact Donations to our Adult Education fund are always welcome. You may donate ONLINE or through the office at