Emanu-El Youth Group Ḥanukkah Bash

Hanukkah BashSunday, December 2,  5 – 7 pm — All post-B’nei Mitzvah youth (grades 8-12) are invited to join us for a Ḥanukkah Party on December 2, between 5:00 and 7:00 pm in the Social Hall at the synagogue! Come and light the ḥanukkiah, have a party, and dance the horah. Bring a T-shirt for tie-dye, and don’t forget your appetite.. no latke must remain uneaten. See you there!


Amsterdam’s Portuguese Synagogue: My Heritage

My HeritageSunday, November 25 at 2:00 pm — Congregation Emanu-El Adult Education team invites you to the second presentation in the Exploring the Sephardic Legacy series on Sunday, November 25 in the synagogue at 1461 Blanshard Street when Dr. Richard Kool will present. 

In 1675, the largest synagogue in the world opened in Amsterdam. This building, the crown of the Amsterdam Sephardim, stands as a monument to the success that this community, formed of religious refugees including families that spent three or more generations as crypto-Christians in the Iberian countries, was able to attain in the tolerant Dutch republic. The presenter will talk about the Sephardim of Amsterdam including his own family which, on both his maternal (Waas/Vaz) and his paternal (Henriques Pimentel) sides, made the journey in the late 16th/early 17th century from Spain and Portugal to the Netherlands.

Dr. Richard Kool is a member of Congregation Emanu-El’s Board of Directors since 2001, and has served as secretary, vice-president, member at large, and cemetery director. Rick immigrated from Boston to British Columbia in the early 1970s, came to Vancouver Island to work at what was known then as the BC Provincial Museum in 1978, and has lived in James Bay ever since. He is now a professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University.

Project Tikkun Olam Hillel

Hillel Blanket Drive image

Pick-up November 21 – 22, 2018 — Warm the winter for the homeless. UVic Students have launched a blanket drive with pick-up scheduled for November 21 – 22, 2018.  Please support this cause by donating a blanket for the homeless (new or gently used). The students will pick-up your donation from your home.  For information contact Ora Stefanic, UVic Director at 250-361-7661 or ora@hillelbc.com

Discernment Day: the time we have been waiting for!

GVAT Discernment

Sunday, November 18, 2018 from 2:00 – 5:30 pm Over the past two years, Greater Victoria Acting Together (GVAT) has recruited organizations, trained over 300 people in community organizing and listened to the concerns of hundreds of people across the Capital Regional District (CRD). Now the listening season is drawing to a close and the time has arrived for the GVAT alliance (which includes Congregation Emanu-El)  as a whole to come to a consensus about the community issues we will work on. We will do this on Sunday, November 18, 2018 from 2:00 – 5:30 pm at Cadboro Bay United Church. Congregation Emanu-El wants to see as many congregants there as possible. Please make sure to RSVP at http://www.gvat.ca/discernment.
This is going to be a monumental day when in discussion and in relationship the GVAT alliance will build a consensus on a scale never seen before in Victoria. Only member organizations will have the opportunity to vote at this event.

Memorial for Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Victims


Dear Ones,

I am sure for all of us this has been an intense and emotionally trying week. The massacre in Pittsburgh touched a deep chord in all of us. I will share with you some of the thoughts and feelings I expressed at the VVI Jewish Community memorial gathering on Tuesday night and at the UVic Hillel vigil on Wednesday morning. I spoke about the outpouring of support our community received from so many diverse faith communities and from individuals, the people who came by with bouquets of flowers and notes of sympathy and care (including a very generous donation in memory of a Jewish friend), and the notes and emails from our local MP and MLAs.

I spoke about how incredibly intense it is right now for Jewish professionals in Pittsburgh asking for intentions of support and care for the members of the burial society, the medical professionals, the first responders, the trauma counselors… and prayers for healing for the wounded including the super brave police officers who put their lives on the line to protect others.

Then I got personal. I spoke about being afraid— that I feel scared; how I had learned this week about a Yitzchak Rabin quote on anti-semitism from Leah Levi in which he said something to the effect that I do not fear for my person but I am afraid of the phenomenon. I sense a whirling climate of anti-semitism that I think we all feel— but the answer to this fear is not to meet violence with violence. Beefing up security will not make us feel safe. A difficult aspect of modern life is that there is no real security and the answer to fear is courage.

Courage transcends fear. We must be courageous and reach out to others. While we are experiencing a kind of collective mourning, remember we live in Victoria, a benign, open community that still holds striving for common good as an integral value; we can experience comfort and empowerment when we come together as a community; this is a time for unity.

I spoke with the students about how we are living through a time when we experience or deeply perceive lack— a lack of environmental quality, a lack of personal security and a lack of economic opportunity. The choices we have are competition or collaboration. I expressed the belief that the only way for us to deal with the problems facing our planet is together. Rav Louis once told me that his teacher Reb Zalman taught, “The only way to get it together is together.” To come together and to resist the divisiveness and fear, we need to turn up our kindness volume. We need to be patient and give others the benefit of the doubt. We need to see other humans as beings created in God’s image.

B’virkat Shalom with blessings and wholeness,
Rabbi Harry

Winter with its ink of showers, … pen of lightning


The first session of our Exploring the Sephardic Legacy series opened on Sunday, October 14 when Shamma Boyarin delighted a small but fully engaged group in a highly interactive session on Sephardic poetry. The excursion lead by Shamma began with the poetry of Shmuel Ibn Gabirol and the words contained in the headline. All present appreciated Shamma’s knowledge of and love for his subject. Kudos, Shamma!

In the next session of the series booked for Sunday, November 18 at 2 pm, Rick Kool will talk about the Amsterdam Sephardim from whom he descends.

Remember Kristallnacht: Choose Action Over Indifference

Kristallnacht 2018 NLThursday, November 8, 2018,  7 pm — The Victoria Shoah Project invites the public to the annual commemoration of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) on Thursday, November 8, 7 pm at Congregation Emanu-El Synagogue, 1461 Blanshard Street, Victoria, BC V8W 2J3 . We will remember what took place on the evening of November 9, 1938 when, targeted solely for their ethnic identity, Jews were the victims of planned attacks on Jewish owned stores, buildings and synagogues in Germany and Austria while authorities did nothing to stop the assault.

The name Kristallnacht refers to the pieces of broken glass covering the streets after the windows of Jewish-owed store were shattered. It represents the broken lives, forever changed by this tragedy. Kristallnacht was only a hint of the greater harm to come. Not only is Kristallnacht a painful scar in the pages of Jewish history, it is a call to all humanity to respond promptly and loudly at the first appearance of injustices targeting any group. This is a message particularly significant in today’s world when acts of irrational and violent prejudice are all too common.

Our program will remember all who perished in the Holocaust with a candle lighting ceremony by survivors, second- and third-generation descendants, as well as students and youth, representing our ongoing hope for a future of peace. In addition, the program will include a variety of other speakers, musicians and the reading of our Pledge of Mutual Respect and Support by politicians, multi-faith representatives and law enforcement leaders from the Victoria community and others in attendance.

Please join us to remember the past and envision a better future where we will respect and protect our neighbours, not remain silent in the face of any injustice against any person or group and work towards building bridges leading to unity and shalom (peace) in our own community and beyond.

For additional information, contact Peter J. Nadler, Victoria Shoah Project
Email: victoriashoahproject@gmail.com
Website: https://www.victoriashoahproject.ca/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/victoriashoahproject