From the President – a correction

gavel-gRuthi (Lesley) Wicks, President Congregation Emanu-El has advised us of a correction to the Board of Directors for 2018/2019 published in the June 1 newsletter in which Alexandre Cunow-Wicks was listed as Vice-President.
She writes, “At the AGM, there was great appreciation for Alexandre’s offering to take on the position of Vice-President. Unfortunately we noted afterwards that his eligibility to serve as Vice-President is precluded by Congregation Emanu-El By-Laws which provide that no more than one member of a family may serve as an Officer of the Congregation at any given time. As Ruthi was elected President, Alexandre could not serve as Vice-President. As a result Alexandre has stepped back from this position and in accordance with the By-Laws this vacancy will be filled by election from the Directors at the next Board meeting.
We are very pleased to note that Alexandre will remain on the Board of Directors and we are grateful for his commitment to Emanu-El.  Committee Chairs (other than those held by Officers) will also be determined at the next meeting of the Board of Directors.”

Tish’ah Be’Av 2018

Tishah BeAvSaturday, July 21 at 10 pm, Sunday, July 22 at 9:30 am (Note new times)Tish’ah Be’Av—the ninth day of the month of Av—marks dark moments in Jewish history: the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, and many other tragedies experienced by the Jewish people. According to the midrash, God marked this date as a an eternal day of mourning after the spies that Moses had sent to observe the land of Canaan returned from their mission with a negative report as to whether the land could be conquered.

There is a teaching in the Talmud (Tractate Yoma) that the Second Temple was destroyed due to baseless hatred. We are entering Tish’ah Be’Av this year at a time of global anxiety and uncertainty: trade wars, conflict in the Middle East, war, refugees and immigrants being turned away at borders. Join with your congregation in commemorating Tish’ah Be’Av in a spirit of ḥesed ḥinam—free flowing love.

Tish’ah Be’Av this year commences on Saturday July 21. We will begin services at 10:00 pm on Saturday with evening prayers followed by the chanting of Megillat Eikhah (Lamentations) and the traditional liturgical poems of yearning for a Jerusalem rebuilt, all done by candlelight.

We will have morning services on Sunday, July 22 starting at 9:30 am.

May this season of escalating tensions and violence soon end. “May we see a day when war and bloodshed cease and humankind will not again know war.”

All Are Welcome!

Guide to Jewish Cemetery Draws a Crowd

Book SigningClose to 50 people came to the official book launch for the Guide to Victoria’s Historic Jewish Cemetery written by Amber Woods and published by the Old Cemeteries Society. Rick Kool was the MC on behalf of Congregation Emanu-El and the Cemetery Committee. Short presentations were given by John Azar of the Old Cemeteries Society (OCS) and Amber Woods. Gary Cohen read a short biography as an illustration of one of the three anomalies of the Jewish Cemetery. Books were sold and signed in the social hall and a few Jewish desserts were served.

The Synagogue Key Saga (aka “Tales from the Key Box”)


I am an office volunteer. Most Thursdays you can find me in the office doing whatever our office manager, Zelda, has for me. About 6 months ago Zelda asked me to organize the keys in the key box. The key box is located on the back wall of the office. Inside were 27 hooks. On each hook hung from two to ten keys. The keys were labeled, after a fashion. The labels were of every description, from plastic to masking tape, many shapes and colours – some unreadable, some mislabeled. There was a chart that told what each key was, on each numbered hook. Except that they did not match. I had my work cut out for me.

Over the next six months I worked on those keys. I visited the three levels of our shul trying keys in locks. I discovered the locked compost and hydro meters outside the rear of the shul. A key labeled storage room cupboard didn’t actually unlock anything, it was the handle to open the cupboard door. I discovered why there were 100 keys that did not work in any lock in the building: whenever anyone changed a lock or door knob, they had six copies of the new key made. Then they hung all those new keys on top of the old ones. The more the merrier. There was a key for something ancient (no one had ever seen a key in that shape). A paper towel dispenser had an upper and a lower door with key holes but the key holes were different. And one key was missing. A key labeled paper towel dispenser was from an earlier dispenser. The new dispenser was not locked. At this point nothing surprised me.

In honour of this project Zelda bought new key ring labels, all the same shape, in pastel colours. Now this key box is a thing of joy. Easy to identify and find a key, maximum two keys on a hook, numbers match keys on the chart. After months hunched over piles of keys, or roaming our historic building, I have a new appreciation for the inner workings of keys and locks. I can finally say the key box is in order. And heaven help anyone if they return a key to the wrong hook!

Now Zelda wants me to make a second full set of keys to be stored away. That should only take me three hours. Price’s Alarms, here I come.

From your Thursday office volunteer,

Sharon Fitch, alufat hamefeteḥot




Volatile Attractions: Saul Holiff, Johnny Cash, and Managing a Music Legend

Cash Holiff LondonOn June 20, 2018 the University of Victoria Libraries held a special reception and movie screening of  My Father and The Man in Black (2013) to announce the new online exhibit Volatile Attractions: Saul Holiff, Johnny Cash, and Managing a Music Legend and to celebrate the acquisition of the Holiff Family archives. Items in the collection are available for viewing in the Special Collections Reading Room. To view the online exhibit…
Continue reading Volatile Attractions: Saul Holiff, Johnny Cash, and Managing a Music Legend

Evening of Jewish Music

JCC with logo

Sunday July 8 at 7 pm Congregation Emanu-El, 1461 Blanshard Street, Victoria BC —

Join the Victoria Jewish Community Choir (Carol Sokoloff & Ken Seidman, co-directors) in Victoria’s heritage synagogue for an Evening of Jewish Music with special guest vocalist Nejama Ferstman who will performing Yiddish songs.
From the synagogue to the shtetl to the stage, the choir explores Jewish music from diverse times & lands. The program features contemporary sacred compositions, lively Hebrew folk tunes, holiday and Shabbat songs along with Kurt Weill, Burt Bacharach & Leonard Cohen numbers. Admission by donation ($15 suggested).
The choir thanks the Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island for their support of the choir and the concert.
For more information: (250) 385-3378 or