Hakhnasat Torah and Siyyum HaTorah a Resounding Success


Aaron Severs writes: “At 10 a.m. on October 20, the crowd gathered at the corner of Pandora and Vancouver. Undeterred by grey skies above, participants had already begun to dance to the music of Avram Yuval & Friends. The restored Sifrei Torah were placed under the brand-new chuppah canopy. Proceeding west on Pandora towards the shul, we danced, sang and strolled with purpose. 


"Children and adults alike, we accompanied and danced about our heritage Torah scrolls, carried by Sharon and Ed Fitch.


"At the parking lot behind the shul, an impromptu Hora broke out:


"Eventually we all entered via the sanctuary doors, and the newcomers (i.e. heritage scrolls) were greeted into the synagogue by our resident Torah scrolls, held by Leah and Uri Levi.


"Rabbi Harry welcomed the masses and explained that today’s simḥah was similar to a wedding ceremony. Torah is the covenant in our relationship with Hashem. A short drash by Marc Michaels, one of the sofrim or ritual scribes followed (Avielah Barclay taught later on).


"The last 12 letters of Deuteronomy were next to be filled in. All eyes in the room (about 150 participants) seemed transfixed on the front of the sanctuary. A big screen showed the programme, while the Torah to be completed lay open on a table, next to the sofrim and their Jewish scribal materials.


"The excitement mounted. One by one, groups of leaders/volunteers in our kehillah joined the sofrim in the completion of one letter each. Hebrew School teachers and kids went first, then Bnei Mitzvah teachers/tutors and USY/Kadima, then our Elders, Avodah Social Action and so on. Each leadership group stood next to the scribes and were encouraged to lay hands on the scribes. The energy in the room was palpable. Awhile later, once all the letters were filled in, the scribes declared the Torah scrolls to be kosher.


"The last portion in the Torah was chanted, then a t’kiah g’dolah was sounded and more dancing ensued. A specially written prayer for the kehillah was read aloud. More music was performed by the Jewish Community Choir, and a delicious Kiddush lunch followed.


"For many of us, participating in the Siyyum was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There was joy and pride and a renewed commitment to Torah.”


Gone But Not Forgotten!


On September 29, Our Legacy: Celebrating 150 of Congregation Emanu-El – an exhibit that exemplified the rich history, intrepid pioneers and beautiful ritual items of our congregation, came to a close. 

It was a bitter sweet few days as Sharon Fitch and I worked with the kind assistance of Daryl Levine and Amber Woods. We took apart each case and display, undressing mannequins, then carefully checking and wrapping each item for return to congregants’ homes.
The delicate silk 1864 chuppah, Henry Nathan’s store sign, and JP Davies commemorative watch, along with 4 display cases and mannequins are now back at the RBCM. The good news is that we have two large exhibit cases in the Social Hall – one is available for future exhibitions and the other will be transformed into another permanent display to compliment the two in the Sanctuary.
The Synagogue also has had several artefact donations over the summer and these will be exhibited together with items provided by Rabbi Harry.


Do not let the memory of Our Legacy fade. Please be sure you have a keepsake copy of Allan Mandell’s outstanding Commemorative 150th Anniversary Exhibit/Art Calendar with 16-month calendar, still available in the office for $20.00. Net proceeds go to Congregation Emanu-El’s Building Restoration Fund

It has been a amazing 4 months. The Synagogue and Exhibition was visited by many travellers, tour groups and local residents. A special thanks to our excellent docents and guides, especially Shoshana Litman dressed as Elizabeth Davies Schultz, and Amber Woods and Gary Cohen who provided that extra-special ingredient to visitors’ experience.
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to curate this marvellous event which highlighted and celebrated our 150th year.
Todah rabah,
Janis Diner Brinley, Our Legacy Curator

Farewell to Adele!


Saturday Kiddush, Oct. 26
Adele Vernon is leaving Victoria to live permanently in San Luis Obispo, California. We will miss her! Adele has been a significant part of shul life for many years.

A special Kiddush is being held in her honour on Saturday, October 26 after services. Please come, enjoy a nosh, give her a hug and say goodbye. Wear something colourful, give her a smile, and share a story or two.
If you wish to be a sponsor and contribute to the Kiddush, your contributions are welcome. Please send your donation to the shul office, marked “Kiddush for Adele”.

New: Upload page for news or classified ads


Hard on the heels of the new Congregation Emanu-El Classifieds Page (password: 1461Blanshard) launched last week, we are now offering a special Congregation Emanu-El Upload page, where you can send us text and images for news items or classified ads (just mark as applicable). Note that we prefer text and images, rather than PDFs, as we cannot publish the PDFs as they are. Thank you. 

Jewish Arts 2013 Grand Finale

Sun, Nov. 24, 2:30 pm

The Lafayette String Quartet, with pianist Arthur Rowe, and tenor Benjamin Butterfield at Congregation Emanu-El.

Admission $30; tickets available at Long & McQuade, Russell Books, Ivy’s Bookshop, Tanner’s Books in Sidney, Shul Office and at the door.

There are only 275 seats in the synagogue’s heritage sanctuary, so buy your tickets early! Doors open at 1:45 pm.

Jewish Arts Presents: An Evening with Eleanor Wachtel

Sat., Nov. 9, 7:30 pm

The award winning literary interviewer, and host of CBC Radio’s Writers & Company, Eleanor Wachtel will speak about her interviews with contemporary writers and how they shape our literary consciousness and enrich our lives.
Admission is $25; tickets available at Munro’s Books, Russell Books, Ivy’s Bookshop, the Shul Office and at the door.
There are only 275 seats in the synagogue’s heritage sanctuary, so buy your tickets early! Doors open at 6:45 pm.

Kabbalat Shabbat – Friday, November 1


Our first Kabbalat Shabbat of the New Year will be on Friday, November 1st at 6:30 p.m. As this is an eco-friendly potluck event, please bring:

  1. A vegetarian/dairy main dish (casserole, dinner salad, lasagne, etc.), large enough 6 to 10 people to share (to respect food allergies, it would help if you labelled your dish if it contains peanuts, treenuts, soy or milk or if it is gluten free).
  2. Something to drink (such as juice and pop)
  3. A simple dessert.

Eco-friendly means bringing your own dishes, glasses and cutlery and then taking them home.REMEMBER: The kitchen will be closed. Think indoor picnic!

The only energy we burn will be our own community spirit! The shul will provide the ḥallah and some snacks, appies and Rabbi Harry’s famous punch so people have something to drink and munch on as they arrive. Start the evening off with ruaḥ, davening and singing in the sanctuary. If you’ve done this before, you know how Rabbi Harry makes this a very dynamic way of welcoming in Shabbat with friends and community. Don’t miss out! Start planning your culinary creations now.

Walking Tour of Jewish Victoria


Hebrew Ladies Hall, 1910s (Courtesy of BC Archives)

Discover the Past Presents:  Pioneers, Shopkeepers, Frontier Merchants, Legislators, and Curio Dealers:  A Walking Tour of Jewish Victoria.

Peel back the layers of time to discover how a very small population of Jewish pioneers was so instrumental in shaping early Victoria.  Their contributions include, first Jewish Mayor, first Jewish Judge, first Jewish Member of the Legislature as well as building what is now the oldest synagogue in continuous use in North America.  Walk in the footsteps of the early Jewish pioneers and of those in subsequent waves of Jewish immigration to get a better idea of the Jewish Community in Victoria, then and now. 
The Walking Tour of Jewish Victoria is a gentle 1½ walk through the main streets of downtown.  Beginning at the synagogue and ending near Yates and Government which was THE hub in gold rush days.  This tour is part of John Adam’s new Discovery Walks and lead by Gary Cohen
  • Starts at 10:30 am, Rain or shine
  • Meet outside of Congregation Emanu-el, 1461 Blanshard Street (Corner of Blanshard and Pandora)
  • Adults $15 (cash); Students or Seniors (over 65) $13 (cash)
For more information, obtain group discounts or to arrange for an alternate tour day contact: John Adams: www.discoverthepast.com

Adult Education events, starting October

  • Parashat Hashavua – from Tuesday, Oct. 1
  • Mystic Mocha – from Friday, Oct. 18
  • Biblical Hebrew Level 1 – from Monday, Oct 21
  • Introduction to Judaism – from Thursday, Oct. 24
  • Hebrew School (cheder) for Adults – from Sunday, Oct. 27
  • Tichon Hebrew High – from Sunday, Oct. 27
  • Hebrew Poetry – from October 30 – January 22 (new dates!)

Parashat HaShavua – Beginning Tuesday, Oct. 1

Come study the weekly Torah portion through the teachings of Talmudic Sages.  We study of the Torah Temmimah, a collection of Talmudic teachings that relate to the weekly Torah portion. Class meets Tuesday evenings at 7:30 pm starting with Bereishit (Genesis) on October 1st.  For more information contact rabbiharry@gmail.com


 Mystic Mocha – Beginning Friday, Oct. 18

Come and explore the weekly Torah portion to search for deeper meaning and understanding.  Grab a nosh and join Rabbi Harry for this weekly learning.  Fridays at Solstice Café, Pandora Avenue from 12:30 to 1:30 pm.


Fall Hebrew Literacy Class: Biblical Hebrew Level 1

with Gidi Nahshon, from Monday, Oct. 21

This is a beginner’s level course, and is designed for the individual with very little or no previous knowledge of the Hebrew alphabet.  You will be introduced to the Hebrew language, using the Shabbat evening service as a guide.  The goal of the class is to enable students to learn to read simple Hebrew prayers, including learning the melodies.

**Monday evenings at the Synagogue 7-9 pm, starting October 21, 16 classes**.

NOTE: registration for this class is now over.


Introduction to Judaism

from Thursday, Oct. 24

This is a 13-session class that gives participants a macro-view of Judaism, spanning issues from Jewish law to holiday celebration, from learning the basics of keeping kosher and Shabbat to Jewish history and theology.  Classes begin on Oct. 24, 7:30 pm in the synagogue.  


Hebrew School (Cheder) for Adults – CANCELLED

from Sunday, Oct. 27

Dear Adult Hebrew School (Cheder) Students,

We have a glitch in our programming. There is no room at the shul for another class – ours. It is my hope that we will have our space issue solved by the Spring and will launch this class next year. Meanwhile if you were planning on attending and have an interest in learning basic Hebrew, learning about our holidays, blessings and the like let me know and we can try to work out some private lessons. Kol tuv,

– Rabbi Harry


Tichon Hebrew High

from Sunday, Oct. 27

Great Pizza dinners and conversation!  This year we will learn about Social Action from a Jewish perspective and we will perceive, plan and implement a meaningful project.  The first gathering on Sunday, October 27, 6:00 pm at Rabbi Harry’s home, 1373 Craigdarroch Road, Victoria.  Contact Rabbi Harry at rabbiharry@gmail.com if interested


Hebrew Poetry 

October 30 to January 22

Enter the world of Hebrew poetry through a unique combination of learning that will marry the mechanics and beauty of poetic expression with the exploration of the history, culture and context of Hebrew poets and the richness of the Hebrew language. Poems will be studied in the original Hebrew, with English translations. Knowledge of Hebrew will be helpful, but not necessary.  All are welcome to take this unique poetic journey through Jewish history. Co-taught by Hebrew language teacher Gidi Nahshon and poet/teacher Barbara Pelman.Wednesday evenings, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.Textbook: $35.00, Course fee: $150.00Please contact Elisheva Gray for further information or to register at 250-472-6408 or elishevag@shaw.ca