The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council has awarded $5 million in partnership grants to two projects helmed by Emanu-El members:
Holocaust historian Charlotte Schallié is co-directing “Visual Storytelling and Graphic Art in Genocide and Human Rights Education” with Andrea Webb. The project builds on their innovative approach to Holocaust education through co-creating graphic novels based on survivor testimonies, which we have covered here.
UVic historian Jordan Stanger-Ross is leading “The Past Wrongs, Future Choices” project, with co-director Audrey Kobayashi, and project manager Michael Abe (also pictured). The initiative will connect community partners and researchers from 40 organizations on four continents to explore the long-neglected connections among injustices toward people of Japanese descent (Nikkei) in allied countries across the Americas and the Pacific.
For more information on these projects, as well as Stanger-Ross’ and Schallié’s other work, read UVic’s article.
Mazel Tov to Jordan and Charlotte on their accomplishments!
For the month of July, Chanah Caplan is sponsoring the Shabbat Gift Bag Program in memory of her grandparents, Shalom and Rachel Caplan.
Shabbat Gift Bags are being delivered to community members every month. This warm-hearted project began as an Outreach initiative to reach congregants in need of connection or support on Shabbat. The project is growing, and the Outreach Committee hopes to reach every member of the community over the next few months. If you would like to volunteer or support Outreach in their many projects, please contact the shul office, 250 382-0615.
8th annual Victoria International Jewish Film Festival “Captivating Cultural Cinema”
November 1st through 6th, 2022 – Running Tuesday through Sunday, the 2022 VIJFF will again be a ‘free admissions’ / ‘donations appreciated’ event.
In-Person Film Events: Each of the 5 in-person evenings will be a film event, with live pre-show music, a specially catered nosh, and the film screening (note: there will be no film event Friday night).
Online Film Screenings: Via VIJFF’s virtual cinema portal, 3 other films will be available for screening.
Shoah Project Film Event: Wednesday evening’s film event, co-programmed with the Victoria Shoah Project, links the experiences of Indigenous People, Jews, and others.
Family Film Event: For families with children, Sunday afternoon will feature a short (English) film, live entertainment, and special nosh!
Door Prizes: Chateau Victoria is sponsoring a 2-night stay!
Donor Appreciation Movie Lover Lounge: On Sunday afternoon, in advance of Sunday’s closing night film event, and specially & solely for donors (>$150 / $250 for individuals / couples) & sponsors, the VIJFF will host a Movie Lover Lounge. Mingle with fellow community members and film enthusiasts. Nosh on a special VIJFF menu of sweet & savoury snacks and alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages. Invitations forthcoming.
VIJFF Website: Take a look at the brand new site at vijff.ca.
Coming Soon: The 2022 program of VIJFF-screened films.
Save the date! Kind thanks for your continued support!
Mazel tov to Ethan Goldberg, who became a Bar Mitzvah last Shabbat! We asked if he would allow us to publish his drash, and he graciously agreed. His Torah portion was Naso.
In my Torah portion, Naso, we learn about a ritual called sotah. This part of the Torah is not exactly PG-13. The sotah is literally a woman who is accused of adultery. The word sotah in Hebrew, comes either from the meaning to go astray or the word shtoot, which is a silly error or mistake. The woman who is accused of being unfaithful must drink bitter waters. It involves a kind of magic where if the woman is guilty her hips will sag and her belly will become distended, basically her reproductive system will explode. If she is innocent she would become pregnant. This was a painful and humiliating ordeal, a test of innocence that has nothing to do with finding the objective truth. When I first thought of “bitter waters,” I thought of it like a Harry potter potion: Avadakadavra!
A major issue with this ordeal, this test of innocence, is that it only works for the jealous husband–the wife has no way to test the loyalty of her husband if she thinks he was unfaithful. To me, this feels very unequal and sexist. I also wonder if this kind of ordeal which seems like punishment really fits the “crime” or situation. It also seems like something crazy from the distant past. I think Torah must have something to teach us right here and now. So, how do we deal with difficult torah teachings that feel both old and wrong? Or, if it doesn’t make sense morally? First off, it’s good to know that we don’t have any proof that our ancestors ever put women through this ritual ordeal. And we also know that, over 2,000 years ago, the Sage, Yochanan ben Zakai, abolished this ritual altogether. Another way to understand this passage is to interpret it in its time and place. So, maybe at a time when most women were considered property, this ritual was not so bad. I don’t buy this. Maybe all we can do is think about and feel the pain that this kind of ritual may have caused. And, maybe we can create a new ritual. What is written in torah will always stay the same, but how we understand it and how we use that wisdom always changes, and I hope the change is for the better.
Maybe instead of the sotah ritual we could have a new ritual where there is equality? Where one person doesn’t have power over the other, that the power in the couple is shared. So what could the sotah look like today? I told you at the beginning that the sotah is the Hebrew word for mistake. What do we do today when someone makes a mistake? We take responsibility and we apologize. I think communication, apology, and forgiveness would be a much more constructive pathway to resolution. One that helps restore trust. Today, we are learning about gender and sexuality in new ways, that are liberating and allowing people to be who they truly are. I think this is an example of us evolving.
When we take new understandings from science and use it to better understand morality and God, I think we are creating new Torah. I think Torah is evolving. I know that I am now a bar mitzvah and can add my own understanding to Torah and I hope Torah will be one of the things that guides me in my life.
I think only when the Torah really is evolving, and has other kinds of wisdom, that then the Torah can really guide me. A big thank you to Samuel Simons for helping me learn Hebrew. He was incredibly encouraging and amazing. For any kid that doesn’t have a tutor, I really hope you get Samuel. Samuel, you will always be a legend to the B’nei Mitzvah. I also wanted to thank Rabbi Harry for helping me write my speech and learn Hebrew over the years. A couple other people I want to thank is Coen for being the best brother I could ever ask for (besides when we fight)
Also thank you so much, Sandy Hershcovis, for helping me edit my speech. Thank you so much to all the people that have traveled from out of town. And also thank you Mom and Dad for always making time for me whenever I need it. Thank you guys for being so proud of me. It means a lot to me. And, also one last thank you for every time I was in a bad mood and you guys would always cheer me up. Also, thank-you, Mom, for working your butt off 24/7 to make this special day. I want to acknowledge my grandma, Shirley Ann Goldberg who passed away a few months ago. I know she really wanted to be here for this day. And thank-you everyone who could be here today. I also wanted to mention that I am very happy my grandpa, Dean Hardy, could be here today after his very recent surgery. And I’m so thankful that my grandma, Bernice McLaren, is here too.
Shabbat Shalom, Ethan Goldberg Bar Mitzvah 11 June 2022
At Last! Toast your Anniversary Kiddush! We’re celebrating our special relationships with cake and a toast on Shabbat 18 June! June is a traditional month for weddings so come and toast your own anniversary, or the anniversary of special people in your life, at the kiddish following the service on Shabbat 18 June. We’ll have cake and prosecco with a light luncheon.
This kiddish is sponsored by our Membership committee, in order to celebrate our kehilah coming together again and to celebrate our many couples. At last! All are welcome!
At last! The skies above are blue My heart was wrapped up in clover The night I looked at you
(At Last, written by Harry Warren, sung by Etta James)
It’s a month of celebrations!
Pride Kabba Shabba Potluck: Friday 17 June 6:30 PM Gonzales Beach (see article)
At Last! Toast your Anniversary Kiddish: Following the Shabbat service 18 June starting at 10:00
Aufruf and Kiddish: Come celebrate the marriage of Ellen Dragushan and Derek Campbell Shabbat 25 June
After over 100 years we can now listen to “The Charge at Dawn” composed by Victoria’s own Judge Samuel Davies Schultz, the first Jewish judge in Canada.
Click here to find out more about Judge Schultz; musician, composer, journalist, pitcher and former Vice President of Congregation Emanu-El (1897 to 1902).
Amber Woods came into possession of an original copy of the published score from a descendant. Before donating it to the Jewish Museum and Archives, she made a copy. After a couple years of false starts, she found Jan Stirling, who performs the piece on piano.
To hear the piece:
Many thanks to Amber Woods for her remarkable research. Her rigorous scholarship is a gift to our community that gives us precious information as well as a sense of continuity with our past.
To see more of Amber’s work, and to explore more Jewish history in Victoria, click:
June 12, 11AM to 4PM – Mark Leiren-Young will be appearing at World Oceans Day at Fisherman’s Wharf. He will read from two of his books for younger readers – “Orcas Everywhere” and “Orcas of the Salish Sea” – and answer questions about the southern residents, and orcas everywhere. Readings at noon, 1PM, and 3PM.
Four Holocaust survivors and three graphic artists have worked tirelessly to co-create a series of three autobiographical graphic novels about one of the darkest times in human history. Now, a multi-year global effort culminates in a beautifully rendered, one-of-a-kind collection that frames the enduring lessons of the Holocaust.
The book is available in local bookstores. Click here for details.
Charlotte Schallié is a UVic scholar and Holocaust historian who is leading the graphic novel project. Back in February, our newsletter published links to her remarkable UVic Continuing Studies course: Reconstructing Holocaust histories through visual narratives. UVic has published a fascinating Q &A about her ongoing work supporting the creation of “survivor centred Holocaust graphic novels.” You can read it here.