Memorial for Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Victims


Dear Ones,

I am sure for all of us this has been an intense and emotionally trying week. The massacre in Pittsburgh touched a deep chord in all of us. I will share with you some of the thoughts and feelings I expressed at the VVI Jewish Community memorial gathering on Tuesday night and at the UVic Hillel vigil on Wednesday morning. I spoke about the outpouring of support our community received from so many diverse faith communities and from individuals, the people who came by with bouquets of flowers and notes of sympathy and care (including a very generous donation in memory of a Jewish friend), and the notes and emails from our local MP and MLAs.

I spoke about how incredibly intense it is right now for Jewish professionals in Pittsburgh asking for intentions of support and care for the members of the burial society, the medical professionals, the first responders, the trauma counselors… and prayers for healing for the wounded including the super brave police officers who put their lives on the line to protect others.

Then I got personal. I spoke about being afraid— that I feel scared; how I had learned this week about a Yitzchak Rabin quote on anti-semitism from Leah Levi in which he said something to the effect that I do not fear for my person but I am afraid of the phenomenon. I sense a whirling climate of anti-semitism that I think we all feel— but the answer to this fear is not to meet violence with violence. Beefing up security will not make us feel safe. A difficult aspect of modern life is that there is no real security and the answer to fear is courage.

Courage transcends fear. We must be courageous and reach out to others. While we are experiencing a kind of collective mourning, remember we live in Victoria, a benign, open community that still holds striving for common good as an integral value; we can experience comfort and empowerment when we come together as a community; this is a time for unity.

I spoke with the students about how we are living through a time when we experience or deeply perceive lack— a lack of environmental quality, a lack of personal security and a lack of economic opportunity. The choices we have are competition or collaboration. I expressed the belief that the only way for us to deal with the problems facing our planet is together. Rav Louis once told me that his teacher Reb Zalman taught, “The only way to get it together is together.” To come together and to resist the divisiveness and fear, we need to turn up our kindness volume. We need to be patient and give others the benefit of the doubt. We need to see other humans as beings created in God’s image.

B’virkat Shalom with blessings and wholeness,
Rabbi Harry


4th Annual Victoria International Jewish Film Festival


Starts November 3, 2018 7 pm — It’s almost here: the 4th annual Victoria International Jewish Film Festival (VIJFF) scheduled from November 3 to 6, 2018 at The Vic Theatre, 808 Douglas St. With screenings of acclaimed Jewish-themed films from Argentina, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Israel and the United States, the festival starts with The Cakemaker and an opening night reception at the Union Club with live music, a glass of bubbly & tasty sweet bites. Continue reading 4th Annual Victoria International Jewish Film Festival

Human Rights from a Faith Perspective: Victoria Multifaith Society AGM 2018


Sunday October 28  2 – 4:30 pm Victoria Multifaith Society 2018 AGM will include a keynote address on Human Rights from a Faith Perspective (details below), as well as an annual activity report, upcoming activities, partnership updates and refreshments.

Our keynote speaker for this year’s AGM is Moussa Magassa, who has been nominated for the Muslim seat of the Victoria Multifaith Society. Moussa Magassa is the Human Rights Education Advisor for the UVic Dept. of Equity and Human Rights. His areas of interest include human rights education, global and transformational leadership, ethics and social justice activism, social transformation and peacebuilding, and immigration and refugee studies. Moussa is a PhD candidate in Curriculum and Instruction at UVic. He holds an M.A in Human Security and Peacebuilding from Royal Roads University in Victoria, and a BA (Hons) in Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies from the Kwazulu-Natal University, South Africa.

The AGM will be held from 2:00 to 4:30 pm, Sunday, 28 October, at the Ismaili Jamatkhana, 1250 Esquimalt Road, Victoria. Parking is at the rear of the building, off Park Terrace. There is no charge.

VMS membership can be renewed at the AGM or at any other event, at $10 per year for an individual member, or $50 per year for an organization or faith group. 2017 AGM minutes can be found here.

Winter with its ink of showers, … pen of lightning


The first session of our Exploring the Sephardic Legacy series opened on Sunday, October 14 when Shamma Boyarin delighted a small but fully engaged group in a highly interactive session on Sephardic poetry. The excursion lead by Shamma began with the poetry of Shmuel Ibn Gabirol and the words contained in the headline. All present appreciated Shamma’s knowledge of and love for his subject. Kudos, Shamma!

In the next session of the series booked for Sunday, November 18 at 2 pm, Rick Kool will talk about the Amsterdam Sephardim from whom he descends.

Bēma Productions & Langham Court Theatre present: Lessons

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November 10 – 12, 2018: 3 performances only — Bēma Productions, in collaboration with Langham Court Theatre, proudly announces a remount of the play Lessons previously presented at Congregation Emanu-El in April 2018.

  • Saturday November 10 7.30 pm
  • Sunday November 11 2.00 pm
  • Monday November 12 7.30 pm

Performances at Langham Court Theatre, 805 Langham Court, Victoria.

Lessons is a thoughtful, compelling play about finding faith and love in a sometimes violent and alienating world. Lessons is performed by Christine Upright (last seen as Edna in Bēma’s Prisoner of Second Avenue) and Alf Small (Horowitz and Mrs Washington). Zelda Dean directs. When Ben finally decides to have a Bar Mitzvah (at his age!) he hires Ruth, a Rabbi who’s lost her faith, to tutor him. The two characters forge a friendship as they each search for healing and forgiveness while wrestling with their own deep-rooted problems. Lessons is a touching, funny and poignant drama that asks the question: Can we find healing and forgiveness when our beliefs are questioned?

“Small and Upright are magnificent as Ben and Ruth, with a naturalistic acting style that compels careful attention—not a moment of this two hour play is wasted.” – Janis La Couvee

Proceeds of these performances will be donated to The War Amps.
TICKETS: $23 – available online at or by phone at Langham Court box office 250-384-2142.

ENQUIRIES:  Zelda Dean  Telephone 250-881-2094

Alice’s Gift: The Life and Music of Alice Herz-Sommer


Saturday, November 10 & Sunday, November 11Bell’Arte Music Drama is thrilled to have the opportunity to perform again Alice’s Gift: The Life and Music of Alice Herz-Sommer. Performances will take place on Saturday, November 10 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, November 11 at 2:30 pm at 2875 Tudor Avenue, Victoria V8N 1L6.  Tickets $25 each can be purchased at or call 1-800-838-3006.  For more information call 250-721-2121 or email

This musical one act play written by Elisabeth Wagner and performed by Lina de Guevara with Elisabeth Wagner at the piano lasts for one hour.  There will be a short “Question and Answer” session following each performance.

Alice Herz-Sommer was born in Prague and lived through World War II playing piano recitals in Theresienstadt ghetto. At the time of her death, at 110 years of age, she was the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor.  Besides having a remarkable story of a cultured upbringing, and a story of endurance and survival, Alice had an extraordinary ability to embrace life and the people she met. In the play, the audience is warmly invited into her living room and given the opportunity to hear some of her stories, her music and her simple but profound wisdom.

Book Launch: City in Colour

Wong in color.pngTuesday, November 7, 2018 – 7 to 9 pm at 1644 Hillside Avenue — Join Bolen Books in celebrating the release of May Q. Wong’s new book, City in Colour, a collection of rediscovered stories of Victoria’s pioneers, trailblazers, and community builders who were a people of diverse colour. It includes a story about Congregation Emanu-El, Judge Samuel D. Schultz, and Amelia Copperman. Meet the author, join in on a discussion about the unsung individuals of the city’s history, and pick up a signed copy of the book.

Often described as “more English than the English,” the city of Victoria has a much more ethnically diverse background than historical record and current literature reveal. Significant contributions were made by many people of colour with fascinating stories, including:

  • the Kanaka, or Hawaiian Islanders, who constructed Fort Victoria, and members of the Kanaka community such as Maria Mahoi and William Naukana
  • three Metis matriarchs—Amelia Connolly Douglas, Josette Legacé Work, and Isabelle M. Mainville Ross
  • the Victoria Voltigeurs, the earliest police presence in the Colony of Vancouver Island, and who were primarily men of colour
  • Grafton Tyler Brown, now known in the United States as one of the first and best African American artists of the American West
  • Manzo Nagano, Canada’s first recorded immigrant from Japan
  • and many more

With information about various cultural communities in early Victoria and significant dates, May Wong’s City in Colour is a collection of fascinating stories of unsung characters whose stories are at the heart of Victoria’s history.