Remarkable beyond words

The launch of the Mænni Ruben (z’l) Autograph Book was an overwhelming event. This book captures the experience of the survivors of Theresienstadt camp while recounting the friendship, humour and desire to survive they shared. Thank you, Janna for making this project happen. Thank you, Susi (z”l) for your indomitable spirit and your endless valuing of  people. Todah rabah to everyone who made this happen! Everyone is welcome to see the exhibit, replica book and more on the website:

Special Outdoor Shabbat Morning Service: Parashat Ki Tetze

Saturday, August 29, 2020 10:00 am in Government House Grounds—Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions our outdoor Shabbat service at Government House on August 29, 2020 is cancelled. We will be together on Shabbat Ki Tetze via Zoom.  Thank you for all of your understanding.

Theresienstadt 1945 Autograph Book Exhibit Launch

MRT Autograph BookAugust 20 at 11 am PDT, live-stream exhibit & website launch—Please join the Victoria SHOAH Project as we launch a special exhibit of the Autograph Book given by Susi Deston (z’l) to Rabbi Harry. You are invited to tune in on Thursday, August 20 at 11 am PDT.

The book belonged to Susi’s first husband, Mænni Ruben (z’l), a violinist from Copenhagen, who was taken as a young man with his family in 1943 to the ghetto/camp Theresienstadt near Prague.

Beginning in April 1945 as the war was ending, the autograph book contains optimistic and hopeful greetings, pieces of music and beautiful illustrations. Music flourished in the camp during the war. A remarkable piece of history, the book is in the final stages of being donated to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

To join on line…CLICK HERE

To dial in: 1 (778) 907 2071
(For non BC residents: Find your local number here… )
Meeting ID: 848 1978 3591
Passcode: 055337

After the launch you can see the exhibit, replica book and more on the website:

Janna Ginsberg Bleviss, Writer and project coordinator
Richard Kool, Launch producer and website development
Micha Menczer, Victoria Shoah Project

SUSI’S GIFT: Theresienstadt Autograph Book

Theresienstadt Autograph Book

The Theresienstadt Autograph Book, belonging to Susi Deston’s first husband, Mænni Ruben, is being donated to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg for their Holocaust gallery. The book is in remarkable condition for being 75 years old! Continue reading SUSI’S GIFT: Theresienstadt Autograph Book

Qi gong plus kabbalah of the body

qi-gong-1282017_1920 1000Come join Rabbi Matt as he leads us in this calming and centering movement form. Qi gong (pronounced “chee gong”) is an ancient Chinese meditative martial art that is often likened to yoga for its physical, spiritual and emotional benefits. The next qi gong sessions will be on Thursdays, at 10 am. After 30 minutes of movement, those who wish to stay are invited for a discussion-based class on kabbalistic teachings about the spirit-mind-body connection. Come for one or for both!
Location: We’re looking for the best outdoor spot for qi gong and the location may change in the first few weeks. Email if you’re interested and you will be given location info and be updated if it changes.

Shabbat Services Online plus

PHOTOsanctuarysocial distancing 1000After a meaningful, safe and successful second service in our beautiful sanctuary last week we are hoping to continue holding small services with a Zoom alternative on a routine basis starting August 22, 2020 (Parashat Shoftim) followed by September 5, 2020 (Parashat Ki Tavo). We are doing our very best to help us all maintain connection to the shul and to one another through this strange and sometimes difficult time.

YOU MUST PRE-REGISTER. We are limiting this event to 36 people, including babies and children. Please register with Zelda at by 4:00 pm on Friday, August 21, 2020.  For September 5, 2020, please register with Zelda at by 4:00 pm on Friday, September 4, 2020. If more than 36 people ask to attend, we’ll do our best to give those people priority at subsequent services. Continue reading Shabbat Services Online plus

Please Keep Using Your Smile Cards!

communitysmilecardinsetEach time your Smile Card is used, Thrifty Foods automatically donates 5% into Congregation Emanu-El’s Smile Card Account. This revenue stream has proven important. Your combined efforts have helped us earn funds for synagogue projects—we were able to cover travel costs for Hebrew School students participating in a Canada-wide bible contest, to purchase a new digital phone system, and to install a new fire alarm system. Thank you so much for continuing to use your cards!

In May this year, we were approved to use our Smile funds to acquire office furniture for Susan and Rabbi Matt’s pending offices.

It’s full steam ahead despite COVID 19. We’ll re-apply for the Smile Card program next spring, and if approved, we may get a higher funding limit—that funding limit depends on how much you use your cards. The more our members use the cards, the better. So please pitch in!

Need a card – for you or someone else in your family? Please email Susan Holtz:  and she’ll mail you one. To load the card, take it to your local Thrifty Foods store.  At either the service desk or checkout counter, use your Debit, Visa or Master Card to put as much money on the card as you want. Then use your loaded card to pay for groceries.  It’s as fast as using “tap” on your debit or credit card. The cashier runs your card through, and gives you your grocery receipt, which also shows how much is left on the card.


VIJFF Retro Drive-In Theatre tickets on sale now

VIJFF 1000August 23 – 25, 2020, Legacy Drive-In Parking Lot 10 University of Victoria—Announcing the 6th annual Victoria International Jewish Film Festival (VIJFF), this year with two ways to see the best new Jewish films: a Retro Drive-In Theatre August 23 – 25, 2020 at the Legacy Drive-In, Parking Lot 10, University of Victoria and streaming films in the fall (schedule TBA). There will be something for everyone.

Tickets for the Retro Drive-In Festival are on sale now. Space is limited to 50 vehicles per screening, so don’t delay in securing your spot. The drive-in tickets are $36 per vehicle, and you can bring as many people that will legally fit into your car for the price of a single ticket. Even better, the ticket price also includes a Nosh Box full of treats (feeds 2). The drive-in film schedule, film trailers, film descriptions and drive-in FAQ are on the website now.

For more information on the festival or on how to become a festival supporter (charitable contribution means a great deal to us because ticket sales and grants provide only part of our budget) visit or contact Deborah at

Bēma presents: Peace Talks (Online)

Peace Talks graphic for NL 1000Can someone’s mind be opened in an hour? An American college student is stranded in a hookah bar in Israel—a country he’s been taught to despise. He collides with a sharp-witted Israeli, and as they clash he discovers some harsh realities of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and that it is a world which isn’t as clear cut as he thought. How can you make winning moves in a game where there are no rules? Continue reading Bēma presents: Peace Talks (Online)