Rabbi Matt: Shabbat D’var Vayakhel/Pekudei

Rabbi Matt Dvar Torah

Shabbat Shalom! There’s a story that’s told of a group of birds, a flock that would spend their time together, go flying in groups, nest near one another. One day, someone came along while this whole group was together and they cast the net on top of all of the birds. The strongest bird tried to lift the net but it was too heavy. Other birds started trying, but they couldn’t do it. Then someone said, “What if we all try together?” So every single bird took a section of that net and together they flapped their wings and they managed to lift it up and toss it to the side. And all together they became free. Continue reading Rabbi Matt: Shabbat D’var Vayakhel/Pekudei

Responding to Homelessness Pandemic Needs

Homelessness VictoriaUrgent Action needed: Spread compassion, Stop diseases. — You can help. Our homelessness service providers need more funding to respond to this crisis. Please donate generously to Avodah who will ensure all monies go directly to those organizations working on the front line.

On a typical night about 1,500 people in the CRD are homeless. These people face special challenges during this pandemic. Homeless people tend to be vulnerable to infections due to the combination of daily stress, chronic diseases, and poor nutrition. They often lack basic hygiene resources like sinks and clean toilets, and opportunities to bathe and wear clean clothes. They are often in crowded conditions and share food and cigarettes. Crowded shelters are particularly risky environments.

Public health officials advise people exposed to or infected by contagious diseases to stay home and minimize contact with other people. Quarantines are difficult enough for people with stable homes and reliable incomes; they are virtually impossible for people who are homeless or living in crowded or unhealthy homes. If they do become infected, they will need to stay in hospitals, using scarce beds, adding stresses and costs to overburdened public health services. Everybody benefits if we can reduce the risks of infectious diseases to homeless service providers’ clients, staff and volunteers.

Homeless service providers are acting to reduce infection risks, including more frequent cleaning of their facilities and equipment, and providing information and support to their clients. Some are closing service altogether. These efforts reduce risks to clients, staff and volunteers, but leave critical gaps and will be inadequate if COVID-19 becomes established in our community. On March 18, Our Place closed down its drop-in space, computer lab, courtyard, hygiene, and clothing area but plans to continue operating its washroom facilities, transitional housing, shelter spaces, and providing three daily meals. Cool Aid is closing its dental clinic and community centre. Our homelessness service providers need more funding to respond to this crisis.

You can help. Our homelessness service providers need more funding to respond to this crisis. Please donate generously to Avodah who will ensure all monies go directly to those organizations working on the front line. The synagogue office is closed but Zelda can access the shul’s telephone number and is working from home. Send her an email or call (250)-382-0615 and if necessary leave a phone message, letting her know that you wish to donate and she will get back to you.

NO Emanu-El Communal Seder

Seder plateWith regret, Congregation Emanu-El will not hold a communal seder this year. We cannot hold such an event and sustain the recommended distance between people, nor can we manage with our space constraints to serve food for so many except as a buffet, which again is unsafe in these circumstances.
The Board, Rabbinic and Administrative staff are making this decision now, rather than waiting to see if things improve, for several reasons:

  1. We want to ensure the health of our members. A communal seder presents numerous risks better avoided.
  2. Cancelling early gives people time to make alternative plans with family and friends.
  3. There are costs involved that we can avoid by deciding now, before they are incurred.

We know that this will be a disappointment to many, particularly to those for whom the community seder provides their main opportunity to observe this mitzvah.  We will endeavor as a community to find ways to connect meaningfully and safely during this holiday.

Community Support: Our Outreach Team is Active


  • It’s a very difficult time and not always easy to appreciate who needs support.
  • If you feel you’d benefit from having regular phone calls at this time, or help with shopping, or you need a meal or some kind of support, please email the Synagogue’s Outreach team through Jill Swartz at jillswartz@gmail.com. We’re unable to visit people right now, but will resume visits again in the future.
  • Also, if you’re interested in volunteering to help with community support, please email Outreach at Jill Swartz’s email listed above.

Thank you
Jill Swartz for the Outreach Team

Calling all Millennials, Gen Z’s, and Anyone Else Who is Good with Technology

online communicationWe are looking for people to help train our community members with technology. Can you use Zoom? We’d love to have you do an online tutorial for us! Is FaceTime, Whatsapp, or Skype second nature? Please let us know and we can link you up with someone who could use some guidance. It would be a huge mitzvah to help our congregation to stay connected!

Please contact info@congregationemanuel.ca and let them know you’re interested in helping out.

Loneliness Niggun

Screenshot_2020-03-19 A Healing Melody if You Are LonelyHere is a melody that Rabbi Matt shared at the Emanu-El Living Room Chat on Tuesday. Rabbi Matt says, “This melody [niggun] came to me when I was feeling lonely after first moving to a new city. I started singing it and it helped me feel better. This recording starts with just one voice, and then more and more join along. It’s great for listening or for singing along. May it be a comfort to you if you’re lonely.”