Mazal Tov Marcus Brandt

Mazal tov to our very own Marcus Brandt, from Victoria, on receiving the Young Leadership Award of the Jewish Federation of Vancouver. Marcus is a role model to be watched.  Well done, Marcus.

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Time to increase our light

Last week three Israeli teens were kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists.  I am sure that each of us thinks of them everyday and prays for their safety and return home- may it happen now.  Our prayers are for us, for those boys and their families to keep hope alive. 

I do not know how widespread the troubling Palestinian three finger social media campaign is but I find it detestable.*  I cannot imagine celebrating kidnapping.  Kidnapping unarmed teens is not courageous nor heroic.  A.D. Gordon—a Zionist pioneer and philosopher—taught that the only way to battle and dispel darkness is to increase light.

* [I have since learned that the troubling three finger salute was in reality a kind of twisted hoax, which I believe only reinforces the need for greater symmetry and understanding from both sides of the conflict.  It turns out that many of the photos showing young Palestinians saluting with three fingers were mined social media photos of last year’s  talent show Arab Idol.  The pictures simply show support for the Palestinian contestant who was number three. This is just further proof of how crucial it is that we (Palestinians and Israelis) have mediums that truly promote greater understanding.Like it or not, we (Israelis and Palestinians) are stuck together in this conflict.  We are entangled with one another in a chronic conflict that deeply affects us both.  I feel that we need to peel away the external layers of ideology, fear and hatred that allow us both to no longer see the basic humanity of other.  I sense that when you see the other stripped down to core identities, father, sister, brother, mother, grandparent it becomes much harder to dehumanize that person and transform that human into a monster.]

I learned as an Israeli, and later as a Jewish educator, that the prime method of teaching is through example through being a dugmah tovah.  Parallel to the kidnapping escalation there is also tension around Gaza and Southern Israeli communities.  I know that a child in Gaza was killed through the collateral damage of Israel attempting to clear rockets that are being fired from Gaza on southern Israeli communities.  I know the names of the three Israeli boys who are held captive.  I know of their lives and have heard their parents anguish and witnessed their parents courage.  I do not even know the name of the child who was killed in Gaza. 

I feel that it is time for us to fully witness the suffering for all of us that results from this conflict.  It is my hope that the Israeli and Jewish press will begin naming and giving us short profiles on everyone who is victimized by the conflict.  I believe that this will increase the light.  It will allow Palestinians to know that we do not celebrate their suffering; that we want to see them as people like us. 

The dehumanizing propaganda and the ridiculous media war, that rages on college campuses and shuts down meaningful dialogue and cultural exchange, is merely an attempt to prove legitimacy to a small piece of land through suffering is in essence a horrific Chad Gadya Machine.  Just a means of feeding further escalation that often results in violence.  We must find ways to transcend the conflict so we can be a dugmah tovah, and lead by example.

In the meanwhile we pray for Gilad, Eyal and Naftali.  We join with Jews around the world in reciting Psalms 121 and 142 and we keep the light of hope for peace alive.

Shabbat Shalom

– Rabbi Harry 

Farewell kiddush to Rabbi Louis Sutker, June 14

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Rabbi Louis Sutker has accepted the position of interim Rabbi at Congregation Or Shalom and will be leaving Victoria for Vancouver at the end of this month.

We will miss him greatly and want to send him off with lots of love and good wishes.  

Join us this Shabbat, June 14, where we will honour Rabbi Louis with a small kiddush lunch following services.

Donations to contribute to the kiddush are welcome

Wild Play, June 22 for congregation teens

Back by popular demand!! 

We have decent funds left over from the fall Apples & Honey fundraiser, so this event will be heavily subsidized for everyone.  The cost is just $10 per person and includes both the Wild Play course as well as pizza and drinks after the course.  This event is for all students in grades 6-12 (and their parents!).
To participate, everyone under the age of 19 must have a waiver signed by a parent – adults can NOT sign for kids that aren’t our own, so please be sure to print, sign and send your child’s waiver with your child on the day of the event.

Also, kids under the age of 12 will need a “buddy.” Please check out specific details at
Since Wild Play is a bit of a drive (for some of us), it’s a very good idea to car pool – please reply early so we have an idea of who will attend, how many adults we’ll need (for “buddies”) and who is able to drive.
This is a super events for both kids and parents, so don’t be shy if you’d like to participate! Also, let us know if you are available to “buddy” someone under 12 in case there is a child wanting to participate who’s parent isn’t able to attend.