Congregation Emanu-El will have a Pesaḥ Market!

With Purim upon us, it must be time to speak about Pesaḥ! The annual Pesaḥ Market at Congregation Emanu-El will happen. We will have our usual products: matzah & matzah products, (including gluten free), jarred & frozen gefilte fish, jams, grape juice, lots of sweets and blintzes, candles, and some Israeli products such as olives, pickles, spices, bamba and bissli.
The “how” of our Pesaḥ Market will be a lot like last year: you will complete an order form and your completed order will either be delivered or you will pick it up at the shul at a designated time. We expect the orders to be ready for distribution about a week before Pesaḥ begins.
Keep your eye on this space next week for the order form and further plans. We are very excited to be bringing Pesaḥ to your homes despite the uncharted waters we are still living in.
Please call Leah Levi at (250) 370-1246, if you have any questions. Thank you for supporting Jewish education at Congregation Emanu-El.

CNOY! Avodah did it!

I am elated to let you know that our Avodah team raised $6942 for this year’s Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) campaign (more than double what we raised last year) and the third highest amount raised by the 58 Victoria teams. This impressive result is due to the outstanding enthusiasm exhibited by the team members every step of the way and the wonderful generosity of our 124 sponsors!  It was most gratifying to see the heartfelt, generous support of our congregation and community for Our Place, our neighbours down the street. And, as heartening as it was to see the money raised, equally gratifying was the joyful time we had doing this together. 

Here are some photos showing members of our Avodah team on our COVID-19 compliant, Coldest Night of the Year walk on February 20, 2021 in aid of Our Place, the  place of “hope and belonging” for so many in need in our city. Because of COVID-19, our team members couldn’t all walk together this year  but we were very much together in spirit!
With sincere thanks to those who contributed to making this important social action such a success and wonderful experience.
Penny Tennenhouse
Avodah CNOY Team Leader

Tu Bishvat at House of Commons

Everyday when the House of Commons is sitting, there is 15-minute period when any member who is not a minister is permitted to address the House for up to one minute on virtually any matter of local, provincial, national or international concern. On January 28, 2021, Victoria MP Laurel Collins delivered a statement marking the occurrence of Tu Bishvat. To view her presentation… 

Finding Joy in an Upside Down World

Deadline Shpiel submissions, Friday, February 12, 2021, Megillah reading, Thursday, February 25, 2021, 7 pm—Let’s take a deep dive into the Purim pool for some frolic and fun. Although this year we will be celebrating Purim a little differently, we can still take time during the lead-up to this joyous holiday to find the humour in the meshugas, the absurdity and uncertainty of our daily lives.

In the weeks before Purim, we invite you to create a video Purim-Shpiel—a short skit or parody (aim for 2 min) about the ups and downs you experience in family or with friends. Design a piece of self-mockery, kvell about a new skill you have learned or are learning during lockdown, or just share in your own creative way something that helps to highlight the levity and joy of Purim. Please send your Purim-Shpiels by Friday, February 12, 2021. Contact Susan at for instructions on how to upload your submission.

Please join Congregation Emanu-El on Thursday, February 25, 2021, at 7 pm for a night of animated and joyous Megillah reading and the opportunity to swap the medical masks for some real masquerading and colourful costumes.  We’ll share some of your Purim-Shpiels throughout the evening. Let your wild and crazy side emerge. Feel free to dine on delicious appies, hamantaschen, or other food and drink, with your family (or social bubble).

This year, let’s reclaim and celebrate joy in a world turned upside down.
All are welcome.

  • Join online: CLICK HERE
  • Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
  • Meeting ID: 814 8217 3114
  • Password: 161772

Thank You, Leah!

Last Sunday, some of our long-standing Hebrew School teachers, helpers and Rabbi Harry gathered on Zoom to watch as a parcel was delivered, and to say thank you to our dear Leah Levi for her 30 years of dedicated and loving leadership of the Congregation Emanu-El Hebrew School.

Leah knew something was happening—we had to make sure she’d be at home—but she had no idea what. Her face, as she unwrapped the parcel, read the words of the dedication and saw Noga’s beautiful calligraphy, was alive with delight.  It was evident she was deeply moved.

Even though we could not hug her as we longed to do, we had the pleasure of seeing the love and appreciation in her eyes. Thank you, Leah, for all you have given us.

The trees are dancing—why shouldn’t we?

On Sunday January 24, 2021, Emanu-El members and friends explored our relationship to nature through a variety of media: food and drink, music, and a presentation. Rabbi Harry conducted a lively Tu Bishvat seder and explained the symbolism behind the traditional foods we eat. It was a rich sensory experience, replete with savouring the look, smell and taste of fresh fruits, nuts and wine. Elisheva Gray facilitated a sharing of the Kudoboard photos and write-ups of people’s experiences in the great outdoors. Rabbi Matt brought a joyous musical flair to our festival. “The trees are dancing, why shouldn’t we?” he joked. Numerous Hebrew School students attended for a portion of the program, lending a multigenerational feel to the workshop.

Lastly, we welcomed our guest speaker, Jane Welton, a volunteer with the “Climate Justice” Action Research Team (ART) of Greater Victoria Acting Together (GVAT). She delivered a powerful talk about the importance of trees in the climate emergency, and the need for urgent action to protect these valuable resources. Sadly, our old-growth forests in BC continue to be logged at an alarming pace…CLICK HERE for the text of Jane’s presentation.

Why I Knit Toques and Mitts for People in Need

Penny Tennenhouse (our wonderful congregant photographer) writes: “Frances, I was so impressed with all the wonderful toques and mitts you have made for people in need (which Avodah has helped distribute) that I wonder if you would be OK with my putting a little item (with a photo of these beautiful toques) in our newsletter. I think it would make people feel good to see this kind offering (and maybe encourage them). I just think it would lift people’s spirits to see your good work.

Frances Aknai (our wonderful congregant knitter) responds: I enjoy knitting and crocheting; I love working with yarns in different colors. By making these items, I am also helping myself. They help to fill up any time I have on my hands.

Mazel Tov, Zelda on your Retirement!

Emanu-El’s beloved Zelda Dean is retiring from her position as Office Manager. Please visit our Kudoboard and leave Zelda a note, photo, or video message to say Thank You. Zelda has been a part of all that we do for many years, and many people will want to say a few words of congratulations and thanks.
To visit our Kudoboard, CLICK HERE…

Want to go beyond talking about social justice?

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 from 7 – 8:30 pm on ZoomGreater Victoria Acting Together (GVAT) Core Teams Workshop on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 from 7 – 8:30 pm on Zoom provides its member organizations with an opportunity to learn how to build support for GVAT purposes and activities from its members and to help them make the world a better place.

Congregation Emanu-El is a founding GVAT member. This workshop is an opportunity for Congregation Emanu-El members to explore whether participating in GVAT projects offers them a suitable opportunity to pursue social justice.

If you wonder about GVAT and whether it is a right fit for you, please see the GVAT orientation document…
If you wonder about GVAT Core Teams see here…

For information about the workshop and how to register, head over to or to register directly head here. I

Kristallnacht: Commemoration in times of COVID-19

Congregation Emanu-El was host to a very different, and beautifully presented Kristallnacht program last Monday, November 9, 2020. Restricted by COVID-19 public health orders from gathering, the Victoria Shoah Project produced a commemorative video and showed it via Zoom. Instead of pronouncing The Pledge of Mutual Respect and Support collectively from the bimah, the leaders pledged individually while holding a placard highlighting their commitment. Kristin Semmens  and Susanne Snizek spoke of the persistence of the creative process among Jews during the Third Reich. Misha Menczer and Elisheva Gray led the recitation of the Kaddish of the Camps. Jeanne Lamon and Christina Mahler performed a number of soulful musical works. The program was recorded, and will be available online. Heartfelt thanks to all those who contributed to this beautiful program.