Kafka, Nachman, Kabbalah and Neuroses

Sunday, November 15, 2020 at 7 pm—Congregation Emanu-El Adult Education Team invites you to the first of our 2020/21 “one-off sessions” on Sunday, November 15, 2020 at 7 pm featuring a discussion of Kafka, Nachman, Kabbalah and Neuroses by Lee Henderson, an Associate Professor of Writing at the University of Victoria. Lee will discuss Franz Kafka, his writing, his life, and the influence of Jewish mysticism and kabbalah on his themes and style, and in particular, Kafka’s familiarity with the great Hasidic storyteller from a century earlier, Rabbi Nachman.

Continue reading Kafka, Nachman, Kabbalah and Neuroses

Zoom in for a Super Ruaḥ Kabbalat Shabbat

Join Rabbi Matt and Rabbi Harry for an evening of spirited song, storytelling and joy, as we bring in Shabbat together. Pull out your maracas and bongo drums; get ready to sing along and make some spirited noise as we gather holy sparks together and build a palace in time. This is an intergenerational family style event that offers us a chance to come together and delight in each other and Shabbat.

Join online: CLICK HERE
Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
Meeting ID: 862 9549 4072

Thank you for your care!

Each year our sanctuary is transformed to mark the High Holy Days, and this is made possible through the contributions and efforts of members of our community. Lindy and Stan Shortt arrange to have the parokhet changed and the Torah and shulḥan covers cleaned. Barbara Humphreys polishes all the silver. The beautiful flowers came to us from Barbara and Tim Humphreys, Janna Ginsberg-Bleviss and Morris Bleviss, and Leah and Uri Levi.

Many thanks to you all. This continuing care is deeply appreciated each year and this year particularly as it was a joy to see that we can continue to do the things that are so meaningful to us.

What if we took better care of each other?

Congregation Emanu-El (CEE) members were graced with an enthusiastic Greater Victoria Acting Together (GVAT) panel that included Rabbi Harry, CEE congregants Robert Oppenheimer and Ruth Shreier (shown above) and GVAT Lead Organizer Chet Phillips. The panelists briefed us on GVAT’s past and present; they invited us to consider what a world where we took better care of each other might look like. They were passionate; they promised to provide us with ways to individually and collectively explore how Congregation Emanu-El might connect with their vision and help make things happen. They made it clear that they had given up “begging bowls” and planned to be more than “latté liberals”. Their policy development is oriented toward action. GVAT wants to collaborate more actively with Emanu-El and will take steps to make this happen. Our President, Sam Godfrey and many of our Board members attended this inspiring panel. Stay tuned! (For a few more pictures…)

Adult Education: Ongoing sessions

Adult Education 2020-2021

Congregation Emanu-El Adult Education & Events team has arranged an interesting mix of ongoing and one-off sessions for the coming fall-winter term. Of course, the COVID pandemic has made the process a bit more challenging since most of what will be taking place will be on Zoom for the foreseeable future. See below for information about our ongoing sessions.

Continue reading Adult Education: Ongoing sessions

An Honour for One of Our Own

Emanu-El member Mark Leiren-Young, has just earned top honours for his children’s book Orcas Everywhere: The Mystery and History of Killer Whales.  
He is the winner of the City of Victoria Children’s Book Prize, now in its 13th year.  Mark’s entry topped several well-known locals to take the $5,000 prize awarded during a virtual gala last Sunday evening.
Congratulations, Mark, from all of us!

Kristallnacht: Creativity Emerging from the Shards of Tragedy

Monday, November 9, 2020 beginning at 7 pmThe Victoria Shoah Project invites the public to the annual commemoration of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), the beginning of the tragic history of attacks on European Jews. This year we will live-stream the commemoration on Monday, November 9, 2020 on Zoom beginning at 7 pm. The title of the program is The Persistence of Creativity Emerging from the Shards of Tragedy.

Continue reading Kristallnacht: Creativity Emerging from the Shards of Tragedy

Safety information for participants at Emanu-El services & events

For all in person Emanu-El services and events


  • You must pre-register. Unless the program information states otherwise, preregister at info@congregationemanuel.ca.
  • When you register, please provide name, phone number and email for each person you are registering. You will receive more information about our COVID-19 Safety Plan after you register.
  • Please, do not register if you don’t intend to come as we may have to turn people away.
  • Please, if you or anyone in your household is ill, stay home.
  • Please, if you are at higher risk for severe illness, seriously consider staying home.

Masks and/or face coverings:

  • You will have to wear a mask for the duration of the activity.
  • Bring your own mask and put it on before joining the activity.

Cleanliness and Physical Distancing:

  • When you arrive, you will have to sanitize or wash your hands.
  • To help everyone stay six feet apart you will have to follow instructions about where to go.

For Shabbat services in the Sanctuary

  • Doors will open at 9:45 AM and they will be closed at 10:15 AM. PLEASE NOTE: NO admittance will be possible after 10:15 AM.
  • Please bring your own tallit.
  • Please obey instructions about handling the shul’s books and obey arrows marked on the floor

GVAT Forum – WHY we should engage…

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at  7:00 pm on Zoom—Rabbi Harry invites you to participate in a special zoom GVAT (Greater Victoria Acting Together) forum for Emanu-El Congregants. The goal of this forum is to acquaint congregants with GVAT’s purposes and activities and to inform them about the opportunities that GVAT provides Emanu-El for tikkun olam. The speakers at this forum will include Chet Phillips, GVAT Lead Organizer and the Congregation Emanu-El members who participate in GVAT Action Research Teams. Find the ways to join Rabbi Harry below:

Join online: CLICK HERE…

Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071 Meeting ID: 890 6466 8356 Password: 649002

The purpose of this Forum is to highlight the importance of GVAT’s work, particularly given the damaged and fragmented state of our world today and our own forthcoming election. It will highlight the necessity of ensuring an active and committed Jewish voice in GVAT’s processes and procedures. We were once a lead voice in Faith in Action, with your help we can take up a similar role in GVAT. We owe it to our tradition, to our community, to ourselves and our kids, not to mention grandkids – they deserve a future, whatever that future may look like, where safety and security continues to be a given.

Our tradition tells us we do not need to complete the task of repairing the world, tikkun olam, but we are obligated to contribute to its repair. That has always been CE-E’s tradition. Indeed our very own Bernice z”l, a campaigner for justice like no other, has that call inscribed on her headstone “Justice, justice, shalt thou pursue”.

Our world is on fire, recently in the very real sense of the Americas, from the wetlands of the Pantanal and the Amazon rainforest all the way up to the State of Washington. On fire also, in the more metaphorical sense, from the ubiquitous injustice and inequality we see around us, to the South of us and across all the world’s continents, from homelessness to systemic racism, from mental health to the migration of peoples, brought on by war, conflict and climate change.

What I am saying will resonate with those of you who, like me, were privileged to hear Rabbi Harry’s drash on Yom KippurHineni! Let us make a Rosh Hashanah 5781 pledge to join in the October Forum on GVAT where we will discover how a good Jewish boy, (a lawyer called Saul Alinsky) in the Chicago of the 30s, was able to vastly improve the lives of so many and to found an international organization dedicated to the pursuit of justice, through his actions, his philosophy and his writings. That organization is still active today and GVAT is a part of it.

Remember, we’re “The Little Shul That Could”. As members of Emanu-El, you are already members of GVAT; let’s join together to ensure an active and engaged Jewish voice in formulating and pursuing GVAT’s goals. Join the Forum and check out GVAT’s web site to find out more.

If you’re interested, please contact Ruthi W., either directly or through the office.

Join us for a COVID-19 compliant Simḥat Torah celebration

Sunday, October 11, starting at 10 am—This year, let us bring as much joy to ourselves, our congregation and our tradition by dancing with Torah on the South Lawn at Craigdarroch Castle on Sunday, October 11, 2020 starting 10 am. COVID-19 means we need to innovate new ways of celebrating and bringing joy. And so, this year we will dance with mini Torah scrolls, stuffy Torah scrolls, and holy books as we bring some love and honour to Simḥat Torah. This is an intergenerational family event. As we are limited to 50 participants, please register with Zelda at info@congregationemanuel.ca or by phone (250) 382-0615. Let’s close this festival cycle with lots of ruaḥ (spirit). Park in the neighborhood, and join us on the South Lawn. There will be no public washrooms available on site.

For safety information for participants…

Simḥat Torah is a joyous and spirited holiday. It signals the completion of the annual Torah reading cycle and a time when we begin the cycle anew by reading from Genesis. We take this holiday as an opportunity to honour volunteers who have contributed in a significant way to furthering Jewish life at Emanu-El and in the larger Victoria community. Typically we look for individuals who show dedication and generosity of spirit and celebrate them at the  Simḥat Torah service. This year the Religious Services Committee has chosen to honour all “Congregation Emanu-El Kehillah (members) and Friends.