Picture of His Life: a Consulate General of Israel Earth Day event

April 22-29, 2021 documentary screening,  Thursday, April 29, 2021, 4:30 pm (PT) Webinar—From April 22-29, in celebration of Earth Day 2021, the Consulate General of Israel in Toronto & Western Canada will be screening an hour-long documentary, by internationally-acclaimed filmmaker Yonatan Nir, titled Picture of His Life. This film follows the journey of world-renowned underwater wildlife photographer Amos Nachoum in his effort to photograph a polar bear up close while swimming with it – an incredibly dangerous and nearly impossible feat – all the while painting a nuanced picture of Nachoum’s complex life and relationships. Nachoum is the only underwater wildlife photographer in the world to attempt (and succeed at) this shoot, with the help of a local Inuit couple.  The film also reminds viewers of the disruptions these polar bears experience in their ecosystems due to environmental changes, and stresses the importance of preserving it.
 
Picture of His Life will be the fourth and final Yonatan Nir film the Consulate screens for its viewers in this series, and each weeklong screening period ends with an exclusive moderated Q&A webinar with Yonatan Nir.
 
Beginning April 22, you will be able to screen the film through this link: https://youtu.be/TCLUq_4Bo. On April 29, at 4:30 PT, the Consulate will be hosting an exclusive moderated Q&A webinar with Yonatan Nir. Register to receive the Zoom link here: https://bit.ly/3ghPMJY

From April 22-29, in celebration of Earth Day 2021, the Consulate General of Israel in Toronto & Western Canada will be screening an hour-long documentary, by internationally-acclaimed filmmaker Yonatan Nir, titled Picture of His Life. This film follows the journey of world-renowned underwater wildlife photographer Amos Nachoum in his effort to photograph a polar bear up close while swimming with it – an incredibly dangerous and nearly impossible feat – all the while painting a nuanced picture of Nachoum’s complex life and relationships. Nachoum is the only underwater wildlife photographer in the world to attempt (and succeed at) this shoot, with the help of a local Inuit couple.  The film also reminds viewers of the disruptions these polar bears experience in their ecosystems due to environmental changes, and stresses the importance of preserving it.
 
Picture of His Life will be the fourth and final Yonatan Nir film the Consulate screens for its viewers in this series, and each weeklong screening period ends with an exclusive moderated Q&A webinar with Yonatan Nir.
 
Beginning April 22, you will be able to screen the film through this link: https://vimeo.com/477767837 On April 29, at 4:30 PT, the Consulate will be hosting an exclusive moderated Q&A webinar with Yonatan Nir. Register to receive the Zoom link here: https://bit.ly/3ghPMJY


A celebration of trees: a GVAT Earth Week event

Tuesday, April 20, 2021 from 7 to 8:30 pm—The Poetry and Song circle at the Church of Truth invites you to an evening of poems, songs, readings, photographs, paintings, and other artwork celebrating the major role that trees play in our lives. This event is part of the Greater Victoria Acting Together (GVAT) Tuesday for Trees campaign, to raise public awareness and pressure decision-makers regarding the importance of trees and forests in protecting us from climate change, and keeping BC beautiful and healthy. This Tuesday for Trees is an Earth Week event. As Congregation Emanu-El is a GVAT member, our congregants are welcome/encouraged to attend this event.

The program will include an update on the Tuesday for Trees campaign by a member of GVAT’s Climate Justice Action Research team (ART). There will be opportunities during the evening for audience members to dialogue with the presenters, and each other.

The evening will be on Zoom, and will run from 7 to 8.30 pm on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. To get further information, and/or to register for the event and eventually receive the Zoom link, please contact  chrisbullock@shaw.ca.

Temporary newsletter publisher/editor needed

Congregation Emanu-El is looking for a temporary newsletter publisher/editor. Our editor is taking a much-needed hiatus to work on our synagogue information management system. If you have time and some experience with MailChimp, or desktop publishing skills, please contact the synagogue office at 250-382-0615 or info@congregationemanuel.ca. This is a three-month position, and there is an honorarium attached to this essential role.

Journeys in Jewish Music: Six conversations

The Victoria Jewish Community Choir invites you to a series of six conversations via Zoom on various aspects of Jewish music on Sunday/Monday evenings at 7:30 pm (PDT) from April 26 through June 20, 2021. They will feature specialists in Jewish music sharing their knowledge, some music, and answering questions from participants. All are welcome to attend free of charge.

To register for any session (or all of them) please send an email to the following address: jewishmusictalks@gmail.com

The sessions will be moderated by Carol Sokoloff, co-director of the Victoria Jewish Choir and will focus on the following subjects and speakers:

  • Monday, April April 26: Biblical Cantillation and Modes of Prayer, with Moshe Denburg of Tzimmes
  • Sunday, May 9: Songs of Sefarad with Canada’s renowned Sephardic music specialist Dr. Judith Cohen of York University
  • Sunday, May 23: Call from the East: The Mizrahi Tradition with Gary Cohen and Amber Woods of Kouskous
  • Monday, May 31: Niggunim: Chassidic Meditative Melodies with Rabbi Matt Ponak of Congregation Emanu-El
  • Sunday, June 6: Sing a New Song to G!d: New Prayer Compositions with Rabbi Hanna Tiferet Siegel
  • Sunday, June 20: The Way of the Klezmer: Klezmer and Yiddish Song with Moshe Denburg of Tzimmes

For further information on Journeys in Jewish Music,  please consult: https://www.facebook.com/Victoria-Jewish-Community-Choir-108274344696698 or contact Carol at: casjazz@islandnet.com

Beyond Enlightenment: The Best is Yet to Come

Sunday, April 25, 2021 at 7 pm—Does Judaism have an end goal for spiritual growth? Is Buddhist enlightenment the same as Hindu liberation or Christian mystical union? The Congregation Emanu-El Adult Education Team invites you to join Rabbi Matt on Sunday, April 25, 2021 at 7 pm as he considers these questions.

Religions are both traditions and innovations. Their innermost spiritual expressions change over time. In our culture, we embrace newness in technology, science, business, and the arts, but we leave spiritual innovation largely unexplored—at least openly. Religions are storehouses of tremendous wisdom that originate in ancient civilizations. However, to fully actualize their potential, we must take even their most transcendent lessons, and juxtapose them to today’s needs.

In Beyond Enlightenment, Rabbi Matt Ponak will explore different forms of spiritual realization—the end goals of meditative schools—from a multitude of mystical traditions. In so doing, he will paint a picture of what contemporary forms of enlightenment could look like. Contrary to the common view, the later stages of mystical progression vary quite dramatically from system to system. Could it be that new forms of spiritual development are waiting to be discovered?

Rabbi Matt Ponak is a teacher and student of embodied transformation. Rabbi Matt has studied with many of this generation’s leading teachers of Jewish mysticism including Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, R. Arthur Green, R. Zvi Ish-Shalom, R. Tirzah Firestone, and R. Rami Shapiro. Also holding an MA in Contemplative Religions from the Buddhist-inspired Naropa University, Rabbi Matt weaves world wisdom with ancient Jewish insights. 

Sponsored by the Emanu-El Adult Education Team. Donations to our Adult Education fund are always welcome. You may donate ONLINE or through the office at info@congregationemanuel.ca

  • Join online: CLICK HERE
  • Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
  • Meeting ID: 816 4363 6475
  • Passcode: 002731

Stories of the Holocaust: Local Memory and Transmission

Thursday, April 15, 2021 at 7 pm—Please join us on Thursday, April 15, 2021 at 7 pm for the online launch of a newly created digital exhibit featuring ten stories told by local community members whose families were devastated by the Holocaust.

Students in the Holocaust and Memory Studies course offered by the UVic Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies worked one-on-one with community members from Victoria, Vancouver, and Salt Spring Island to prepare these unique stories of the Holocaust for presentation. The exhibit centers not only on the actual stories themselves, but also on notions of relationship building, storytelling and transmission, as well as memory work, inter-generational trauma, and active remembering.
 

To register for the event, visit http://bit.ly/uvicmemory
If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Helga Thorson at helgat@uvic.ca.


The Israeli-Palestinian Joint Memorial Day Ceremony

April 13, 2021 at 10:30 am PT—Join hundreds of thousands of people from around the world in what is being called the biggest Israeli-Palestinian peace event in history. On April 13, 2021 at 10:30 am PT, we will gather to call for peace, freedom, and human rights for all. The Joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony is hosted by Combatants for Peace and The Parents Circle–Families Forum.

Register today: www.afcfp.org/memorial

Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, is a solemn day on which Israelis remember those they have lost in the years of war and conflict. Traditionally, the Palestinian narrative is erased, leading both sides into deeper despair. By acknowledging the pain of those living on the other side, the Ceremony offers us all the choice to walk a new path: the path of respect, equality, freedom – and ultimately peace. In this time of immense anxiety and separation, the upcoming Joint Memorial Day Ceremony offers hope for a better future.

Rabbi Harry invites you to join him AFTER the ceremony to share and process the experience.  

To Join Rabbi Harry online after the ceremony: CLICK HERE
Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
Meeting ID: 870 2802 1233
Passcode: 443148

Introducing Club Lev

Dear Congregants,
Our sustainable fundraising plan for a balanced budget annually is called Club Lev. We are asking those who can pay a little more to do so. This is how we can continue our tradition of not denying membership to anyone who cannot presently afford to pay the regular dues in full. It will also create stability for the future.
And that brings me to our eponymous mascots, two new Levs in our kehillah. Their beautiful faces remind us of why we donate—we must keep our traditions strong, l’dor v’dor. Thank you to both these Levs for agreeing to be the Honorary Chairs of Club Lev!

I also want to send a special public note of appreciation to the many people who have already joined: Rabbi Harry and RaeAnn Brechner, Chanah Caplan, Graham & Jean Dragushan, Ilan Handelsman and Katie Stafford, Rick Kool and Enid Elliot, Roxanna McKenzie Simons, Solomon Michaels and John Costello, Annette Rose, Solomon Siegel, Lincoln Shlensky and Caren Zilber Shlensky, Ilana and Jordan Stanger-Ross, Adele Vernon, Ruthi Wicks and one anonymous family donation. We are receiving donations with gratitude, and apologize if this list remains incomplete at the time of publication.

You, too, can be an illustrious member of Club Lev … for the annual cost of $1200. For many of us that is more than we can afford. That is fine! But for those of us who can give that additional amount without difficulty, please do so. We are working on a special thank-you for later in the year. Club Lev Members receive the benefit of knowing they are giving the extra dollars necessary to keep the shul budget balanced. When you think about everything Congregation Emanu-El does and is, your gift is in fact enormous, and enduring. Thank you.

If you are able to join, you may do so by calling the office at (250) 382-0615 or CLICK HERE to donate online. If you have any questions or want to be in touch you can reach me at (250) 813-3233.
 
Thank you
Sam Godfrey
President, Congregation Emanu-El

Four Worlds Shabbat Service:Body, Heart, Mind, and Soul

Saturday, April 10, 2021 from 10:00 – 11:15 am on Zoom—Inspired by the deep structure of the Shaḥarit Service, Rabbi Matt will lead us through Qi Gong movement, niggun (wordless melodies) singing w/guitar, spiritual reading, and meditation. The Four Worlds Service is inspired by Kabbalah and the teachings from Reb Zalman Schachter Shalomi. He taught how the four parts of Shaḥarit — Birkhot Hashaḥar, Psukei D’zimra, Shma U’virkhoteiha, and the Amidah align with the Kabbalistic worlds of physical/assiyah, emotional/yetzirah, mental/briyah, and spiritual/atzilut

As an alternative to liturgical forms of tefillah (prayer), Rabbi Matt will share practices that align with the Four Worlds that are not siddur-basedQi Gong for physical (because it involves body movement), niggunim for emotional (because they open our heart), a spiritual reading for mental (because it brings in a sense of awe), and silence/meditation for spiritual (because it is an invitation into connection with Goddess—whatever your preferred Goddess language is!). Reb Zalman taught of the “deep structure” of texts, prayers, and mitzvot and it is from the deep structure of the “Four Worlds”that this service is based. 

Specific notes on the Practices:

Qi Gong is a slow movement practice, coordinated with breaths. It originated in China and is sometimes called the “Chinese Yoga.” The practice aims to cultivate and align chi, or life-force. Benefits people can experience are relaxation, increased physical health, and a sense of “flow” in the body. The forms that I chose have resonance with specific prayers and themes from birkhot hashahar:

1. In the “Cloud Hands” form we focus the most deeply on the breath. This has resonance with the word neshamah that means both breath and soul.
2. The “Connecting Heaven and Earth” form resonates with the intention for loving our neighbors as ourselves and by utilizing our practice to be connected to the earth as well as to Spirit.
3. “Opening Up to Greet the Day” is resonant with “modeh ani” as we open our arms and our hearts to the world in both gratitude and surrender. 
4. The “Immortal Form” is meant to build inner resilience and strength and aligns with “ozer Yisrael b’gvurah.”
5.  We end with a “Closing Form” that is akin to amen and ends the Qi Gong practice.

When we sit in silence you are welcome to just sit, practice any form of meditation, or to listen to the prompts that I give. 

  • Join online: CLICK HERE
  • Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
  • Meeting ID: 824 1330 9293
  • Password: 929054

Many blessings! May we find peace in body, heart, mind, and soul.

Rabbi Matt

Where does the Jewish Future Begin?

Monday, April 12, 12 – 1:30 pm PT—How do we build Jewish Community and inspire Jewish life? How do we nurture Jewish identity that is deep and lasting? How do we use Jewish text and tradition to offer meaning to modern Jews?

Join the Jewish Theological Seminary’s (JTS’s) new Chancellor Shuly Rubin Schwartz in dialogue with the Conservative rabbis of British Columbia, moderated by Rabbi Jonathan Infeld, about what comes next for the Jewish community.

We’re delighted to welcome the participation of the following synagogues and their congregants:

  • Beth Tikvah Synagogue, Richmond
  • Congregation Beth Israel, Vancouver
  • Congregation Emanu-El, Victoria
  • Congregation Har El, West Vancouver

For more information and to register, visit inspired.jtsa.edu/CSSZ_Vancouver