Adult Education 2018/19

Adult Education symbolThe Adult Education team invites you to examine the upcoming year’s program of classes, a lecture series and discussion groups. There are some old favourites and some new additions. The team is quite excited about the Exploring the Sephardi Legacy lecture series, and the new book and parashah discussion groups.
Beginning in the fall are the following:

  • Modern Hebrew
  • Morasha
  • Exploring the Sephardi Legacy
  • Mystic Moka
  • Ḥug Ivrit
  • Not-Your-Usual Book Club
  • Shiur al parashat hashavua

To review the program and obtain details …

NB We draw your attention to the new discussion group Shiur al parashat hashavua – a weekly study session (shiur) on the parashah (portion of the Torah) that will be read in the synagogue in the week ahead. This group will meet at Francis Landy’s home. If you plan to attend let Francis know by phone (250-370-1343) or by email (francis.landy@ualberta.)

Old Cemeteries Society tours Congregation Emanu-El Cemetery

13119047_1030145147060277_9165576666690625803_nSeptember 2, 2 pm — The Old Cemeteries Society will conduct a tour of Congregation Emanu-El cemetery on Sunday, September 2 beginning at 2 pm. This Jewish Cemetery is the oldest continuously operating cemetery in BC and has connections to many pioneers from Victoria and other places. Amber Woods, author of the OCS’s recent publication Guide to Victoria’s Jewish Cemetery, will explain the cemetery’s location and describe its people, symbolism and monuments. Meet at the main gates, Fernwood Rd. at the corner of Cedar Hill Rd. Men, please wear a hat.

Shared Motion: Science and Spirituality

Shared Motion

Sunday, June 24 2 pm at Congregation Emanu-El —  Dvora Levin will launch her new book of poetry titled, Shared Motion: Science and Spirituality on Sunday, June 24 from 2:00 to 3:30 pm at Congregation Emanu-El. Dvora and friends will read selections from her new book. Light refreshments will be served. Books will be available for purchase.

Continue reading Shared Motion: Science and Spirituality

Guide to Victoria’s Historic Jewish Cemetery

AmberJewishCemeteryOn Monday, June 18, 7:30 pm you are invited to attend the launch of Guide to Victoria’s Historic Jewish Cemetery written by Amber Woods at Congregation Emanu-El, 1461 Blanshard Street. Copies of the book will be available for sale.

Continue reading Guide to Victoria’s Historic Jewish Cemetery

Imprint: A Memoir of Trauma in the Third Generation


Sunday, June 10, 2:00 pm, Congregation Emanu-El — Claire Sicherman will speak about her book, Imprint: A Memoir of Trauma in the Third Generation, and how the Holocaust affects the third generation on Sunday, June 10 at 2:00 pm at the synagogue.  This event is sponsored by the Emanu-El Adult Education Team. Books will be available for purchase for $20 cash.

Claire Sicherman grew up reading Anne Frank and watching Schindler’s List with almost no knowledge of the Holocaust’s impact on her family. Her grandparents didn’t talk about their experiences and her mother grew up in Communist Czechoslovakia unaware that she was Jewish.

When her son nearly died at birth and her grandmother passed away, something inside her snapped. While she had always felt weighted down by unknown hurt, she suddenly suffered from chronic health conditions. Her heart held a grief so large it seemed to encompass more than her own lifetime – and she determined to find out why.

The Founding President of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, Dr. Robert Krell, calls Imprint a “thoughtful book, a powerful and helpful read for anyone dealing with the consequences of a painful past.”

Sicherman weaves together a story that honours her ancestors and also offers truth to the next generation – and her now nine-year-old son. A testament to the connections between mind and body, the past and present, Imprint is written with grace and strength, a story of love and survival.

Sicherman is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers and Langara College. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies from UBC. She is a facilitator in a multi-generational writing group called Home Words Project. She has participated in a Corporeal Writing workshop with Lidia Yuknavitch and in Writing & The Body with Jennifer Pastiloff and Lidia Yuknavitch. Claire lives with her husband and son on Salt Spring Island. 

The Many Hands of the Chuppah: our story from 2013


Opens June 3 at Congregation Emanu-El synagogue — This exhibit tells the story of what inspired the hands of a multigenerational group of 14 women—artists, quilters, and designers—to create a new wedding canopy (chuppah) in celebration of the 150th anniversary (2013) of the consecration of Congregation Emanu-El synagogue.

Enid Elliot, one of the contributors to the creation of the Chuppah, said at the festive launch of the Chuppah in 2013:
“Each woman shared some of her love and energy for this community and each square comes from the heart.  It was truly a communal effort…an inspiring project.

Here’s what inspired Annette Wigod (age 91) to create her square, The Shabbat Candles.

“When a call went out for hand-sewn squares for a new Chuppah in 2013, one image leapt into my mind: Shabbat candles glowing brightly.  The Chuppah, held over the heads of the wedding couple symbolizes a Jewish home. The sight of the Shabbat candles is a weekly reminder for the couple, and later their children, that says: We are a Jewish family. Even if there is little other observance in the home, the lit Shabbat candles carry the message.

In the early 1950s when my husband and I decided to light candles on Shabbat, I didn’t know the traditional blessing. So a friend offered to type it for me in transliteration. She asked me “What kind of accent do you want? East European or Israeli?” I asked her what kind she had, her answer was “Israeli.” My answer: “I’ll take it”. Now sixty years later the image of Shabbat candles still burns brightly in my heart, and I believe, in the hearts of my children.”

The Many Hands of the “Chuppah” Exhibit

full-chuppahOpens Sunday June 3, Congregation Emanu-El, 1461 Blanshard Street — Opening at the synagogue on Sunday, June 3 2018, this exhibit tells the story of what inspired the hands of a multigenerational group of 14 women — artists, quilters, and designers — to create a new wedding canopy (chuppah) in celebration of the 150th anniversary (2013) of the consecration of Congregation Emanu-El synagogue.

This fabric masterpiece will be displayed along with panels of text and photos about the women who contributed a square to the chuppah. For each contributor, the panel will contain her photo, a photo of the square she contributed and a short description of what inspired her to participate in the project.

The exhibit will be located in the foyer adjacent to the Emanu-El synagogue kitchen. This exhibit will mark the fifth year since the wedding canopy was gifted to the synagogue and recognize the 155th year since the synagogue was consecrated.

This wedding canopy (chuppah) features 12 unique pieces surrounding a central panel of light and colour representing a stained glass window. In the time-honoured tradition of quilting bees, the chuppah was sewn using multiple materials and diverse techniques of hand stitching, machine stitching, embroidery, and paint.

The Many Hands of the Chuppah exhibit will be available for viewing throughout the summer until mid-August. Call the synagogue office (250-382-0615) during office hours, Tuesday to Thursday 9:30 to 2:30.


2018 Victoria SALT New Music Festival Daniel Biro: Talk & Concert

Ethica ConcertWednesday, May 9 at 7:30 pm, Congregation Emanu-El, 1461 Blanshard Street Congregation Emanu-El (CEE) Adult Education Committee is pleased to present the closing event of the 2018 Victoria SALT New Music Festival at the synagogue on Wednesday, May 9 at 7:30 pm. The program will feature an introductory talk by CEE member and composer Dániel Péter Biró about Baruch Spinoza and the Amsterdam Portuguese Synagogue. A concert featuring musicians from Heidelberg will follow the talk. Continue reading 2018 Victoria SALT New Music Festival Daniel Biro: Talk & Concert

Bdikat Ḥametz

BedikasChametzThursday, March 29 9:00 pm to midnight — Bdikat ḥametz is a ceremony of searching for leavened bread, instituted in order to ensure that not even the smallest particle of ḥametẓ remains in the house during Passover. The biblical injunction, “Even the first day shall ye put away leaven out of your house” (Ex. 12:15), was interpreted by the rabbis as referring to the eve of Passover, i.e., the 14th of Nisan. The ceremony of bdikat ḥametẓ takes place on the 13th of Nisan (or the 12th if the 13th should be on a Friday). It follows the Ma’ariv prayer immediately after nightfall and before any other kind of activity is undertaken. The ceremony is preceded by the blessing: “Blessed art Thou O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who hast sanctified us by Thy commandments and commanded us concerning the removal of the leaven.”

By the light of a wax candle, with a wooden spoon and a whisk made of several chicken or goose feathers tied together, the master of the house searches every corner in the house for stray crumbs. Every room into which ḥametẓ may have been brought during the past year has to be searched. Since a blessing must never be recited without good reason, a few crumbs of bread are deliberately left on window sills and in other obvious places. The ceremony of bdikat ḥametz takes precedence even over the study of Torah on that evening. If the husband is not available, the ceremony has to be performed by the wife or another member of the family.

The kabbalistic school of R. Isaac Luria hid ten pieces of bread for bdikat ḥametz. Leaven to the mystics symbolized the ferment of base desires and evil impulses which had to be purged. Upon completion of bdikat ḥametz, the leaven collected is put away in a safe place and the master of the house recites these words: “May all leaven that is in my possession, which I have not observed, searched out or had cognizance of, be regarded as null and be common property, even as the dust of the earth.” On the morning of the 14th of Nisan, no later than 10 A.M., the leaven is burned and a similar Aramaic formula is recited. This observance is called Bi’ur ḥametz – the removal or the burning of ḥametz. The laws concerning bdikat ḥametz are codified in Shulḥan Arukh (OḤ 431 to 445).

From Encyclopedia Judaica