Being Present with the Unknown: Shabbat D’var Vayikra

Rabbi Matt Vayikra

 Shabbat Shalom, When I was in undergrad, I had a roommate who was from Edmonton. She, among other things, besides being an artist, was also an improv actor. She told me about an event that happened at the main improv theatre in Edmonton every year. It was a 24 hour straight improvised performance with a whole team of improv actors.

I had not done improv acting myself, so I asked her about it, “How do you do that even for a minute? How do you create an entire performance that has a narrative arc, with funny moments and serious moments? How do you create all of that on the spot?”

What she told me was that it’s all about trust.

Continue reading Being Present with the Unknown: Shabbat D’var Vayikra

How is this Pesach Market different?

Pesach Market - photo

The Congregation Emanuel Pesach Market is keeping up with the times and therefore it is going to be different than we expected. Please read further to understand what this means.

The simple story is that there will be NO personal shopping. You will submit an order and will either schedule a pick up outside the Shul or have it delivered to you.

We are very happy to say that we have most of the usual items which you enjoy during Pesaḥ. You will see on the order form that we have a number of different kinds of matzah, including gluten free, gefilte fish in jars and frozen, horseradish, macaroons, chocolate, jams, candles, frozen cheese cake and blintzes. You are encouraged to read the list very carefully so as to not miss one of your favourites!

We regret that we are not able to supply frozen poultry, Osem Matzah or Soup Mix, Bamba or kosher l’Pesaḥ dairy products this year. Please note that if an item is not on the list, we don’t have it!

This is how the 2020 Pesach Market is going to work:

How you will submit an order: Download and complete this form. It is a fillable pdf. (In order to complete and email the form you MUST download this form. The form as viewed in the link is not fillable. Use the download symbol in the upper right to download the document. Complete the form and email it to Leah Levi: using envelope on toolbar at top of screen. If you wish to make an order over the phone, please call Leah at 250 370 1246, with the form in front of you for reference.

How will you pay: by cheque made out to Congregation Emanuel or by e-transfer to We will supply the possible questions for the e-transfer. We will not accept cash. You will indicate on the order form how you will pay.

How will you get your order: you will indicate on the form how you wish to receive the order, and once it is packed, we will notify you of the cost, and when to pick it up or when it will be delivered. No one will be entering the shul – pick up will be in front of the shul.

Volunteers will be working hard to ensure that everyone gets what they order. Orders will be filled in the same order as they are received. We expect to sometimes have to use our discretion as to how many of one item we can sell to one household.

We ask for your patience as we endeavour to ensure that every one of you is looked after as best as we can.

Our Simcha Gift Shop has some Pesaḥ supplies such as haggadot and seder plates. Information about how to order will be coming. You will be able to pick up your Simcha order at the same time as your Pesach Market products, although you will pay separately.

Thank you so much for supporting educational programs in Congregation Emanu-El Hebrew School.

Leah Levi & the Hebrew School Families


Rabbi Matt: Shabbat D’var Vayakhel/Pekudei

Rabbi Matt Dvar Torah

Shabbat Shalom! There’s a story that’s told of a group of birds, a flock that would spend their time together, go flying in groups, nest near one another. One day, someone came along while this whole group was together and they cast the net on top of all of the birds. The strongest bird tried to lift the net but it was too heavy. Other birds started trying, but they couldn’t do it. Then someone said, “What if we all try together?” So every single bird took a section of that net and together they flapped their wings and they managed to lift it up and toss it to the side. And all together they became free. Continue reading Rabbi Matt: Shabbat D’var Vayakhel/Pekudei

Responding to Homelessness Pandemic Needs

Homelessness VictoriaUrgent Action needed: Spread compassion, Stop diseases. — You can help. Our homelessness service providers need more funding to respond to this crisis. Please donate generously to Avodah who will ensure all monies go directly to those organizations working on the front line.

On a typical night about 1,500 people in the CRD are homeless. These people face special challenges during this pandemic. Homeless people tend to be vulnerable to infections due to the combination of daily stress, chronic diseases, and poor nutrition. They often lack basic hygiene resources like sinks and clean toilets, and opportunities to bathe and wear clean clothes. They are often in crowded conditions and share food and cigarettes. Crowded shelters are particularly risky environments.

Public health officials advise people exposed to or infected by contagious diseases to stay home and minimize contact with other people. Quarantines are difficult enough for people with stable homes and reliable incomes; they are virtually impossible for people who are homeless or living in crowded or unhealthy homes. If they do become infected, they will need to stay in hospitals, using scarce beds, adding stresses and costs to overburdened public health services. Everybody benefits if we can reduce the risks of infectious diseases to homeless service providers’ clients, staff and volunteers.

Homeless service providers are acting to reduce infection risks, including more frequent cleaning of their facilities and equipment, and providing information and support to their clients. Some are closing service altogether. These efforts reduce risks to clients, staff and volunteers, but leave critical gaps and will be inadequate if COVID-19 becomes established in our community. On March 18, Our Place closed down its drop-in space, computer lab, courtyard, hygiene, and clothing area but plans to continue operating its washroom facilities, transitional housing, shelter spaces, and providing three daily meals. Cool Aid is closing its dental clinic and community centre. Our homelessness service providers need more funding to respond to this crisis.

You can help. Our homelessness service providers need more funding to respond to this crisis. Please donate generously to Avodah who will ensure all monies go directly to those organizations working on the front line. The synagogue office is closed but Zelda can access the shul’s telephone number and is working from home. Send her an email or call (250)-382-0615 and if necessary leave a phone message, letting her know that you wish to donate and she will get back to you.

NO Emanu-El Communal Seder

Seder plateWith regret, Congregation Emanu-El will not hold a communal seder this year. We cannot hold such an event and sustain the recommended distance between people, nor can we manage with our space constraints to serve food for so many except as a buffet, which again is unsafe in these circumstances.
The Board, Rabbinic and Administrative staff are making this decision now, rather than waiting to see if things improve, for several reasons:

  1. We want to ensure the health of our members. A communal seder presents numerous risks better avoided.
  2. Cancelling early gives people time to make alternative plans with family and friends.
  3. There are costs involved that we can avoid by deciding now, before they are incurred.

We know that this will be a disappointment to many, particularly to those for whom the community seder provides their main opportunity to observe this mitzvah.  We will endeavor as a community to find ways to connect meaningfully and safely during this holiday.