Online library sets Talmud ‘free’ with full, no-charge translations

A Note from Adult Ed:

Written mostly in Aramaic, the Talmud in its most commonly printed form
also lacks punctuation or vowels, let alone translation. Its premier
explanatory commentary, composed by the medieval sage Rashi, is usually printed
in an obscure Hebrew typeface read almost exclusively by religious, learned
Jews. Even then, scholars can still spend hours figuring out what the text

And that’s not to mention the Talmud’s size and cost: 37 full volumes,
called tractates, take up an entire shelf of a library and can cost several
thousand dollars.

Now, Sefaria (, a website founded
in 2013 that aims to put the seemingly infinite Jewish canon online for free,
has published an acclaimed translation of the Talmud in English. 

translation, which includes explanatory notes in relatively plain language, was
started by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in 1965 and is considered by many to be the
best in its class. Sefaria rolled out 22 tractates of the Steinsaltz English
edition on Tuesday, and will be publishing the entire Hebrew translation over
the course of 2017. The rest of the English edition, which is as yet
unfinished, will be published online as it is completed.

Read the entire article about this fascinating new development at the
following link:

The site also offers a wealth of other texts and information. It is
definitely worth visiting.

B’shalom! Heshi

Tour the Ismaili Centre (Burnaby)

February 22, 2017

Join Naz Rayani and the UVic Centre for Studies in Religion
and Society
(CSRS) for a tour of the Burnaby Ismaili Muslim Jamatkhana and
, 4010 Canada Way, Burnaby, BC V5G 1G8 on Wednesday, February 22, 2017.

The Shi’a Ismaili Muslim Centre, designed by Bruno
Freschi, is a synthesis of traditional Islamic architectural principles and
modern construction techniques. From reports of people who have visited the
Centre, the tour leaders can assure you a most memorable day. The Centre,
inaugurated in 1985, is one of BC’s best kept architectural secrets.

Read more at the UVic website

For more information and

Sketches of Israel and the Middle East: Arabic Hebrew

How Modern Israelis Really Speak

Sunday, February 19, 2017  2:30 pm (revised date)


Join us on Sunday, February 19, 2017  2:30 pm, at Congregation Emanu-El synagogue, for the second talk in our series Sketches of Israel and the Middle East, when Jonathan Orr-Stav addresses the topic Arabic Hebrew: An Introduction to How Modern Israelis Really Speak

(A poll is available for those wishing to register interest in attending at another date)

Modern Hebrew bears a resemblance to biblical Hebrew similar to that of modern English to Shakespeare. Today’s Israelis can read and understand most or all of biblical Hebrew (depending on the text) but modern Hebrew has added extra “storeys”: some are imports from European languages (such as informatziah, qonteqst, alternativah) and form part of official, written Hebrew, but others, from the local Arabic, are informal. This “Arabic-Hebrew” has become such an integral part of everyday speech that most Israelis are unaware that many words they commonly use are Arabic. Anyone seeking to gain a true knowledge of modern spoken Hebrew, or to understand Israelis when they’re speaking, must acquaint themselves with this side of Hebrew that does not appear in any siddur or even in Hebrew language textbooks. 

In this talk Jonathan will review the most important Arabic Hebrew terms, their meanings, origins, and uses in everyday language.
Jonathan Orr-Stav (Ure Stoppi) is an expatriate Israeli and third-generation Hebrew translator and editor. His book on a radical new method for learning to read and write in Hebrew, Aleph Through the Looking Glass, is recommended reading in academic Hebrew courses in North America. Since 2002, he has lived with his family in Victoria. His hobbies are Indonesian food, Ancient Hittite grammar, and kayaking (but not necessarily at the same time).
Email Heshi at if you have any questions.  Entry is by donation; light refreshments will be served. 
The Simcha Gift Shop will be open at 2:00 pm and after the talk.

Note: To avoid disturbances to the Fiddler on the Roof rehearsals taking place in the annexe that same afternoon, please access via the Sanctuary entrance, not that of the annex.

Rabbi Harry talk at “Religions of the World” series

Thursday, January 19, 12–1pm

Rabbi Harry opens the second series of lunch time lectures
(noon to 1:00 pm) on Religions of the World on Thursday, January 19, at Christ
Church Cathedral
, Chapter Room, Quadra and Rockland. 

Christ Church Cathedral
and the Multi-Faith Society are the co-sponsors for this series of talks which
take place on Thursdays through to February 16 with a different speaker each
week. For more information call 250-383-2714 or go to website

Other speakers are:

  • January 26 – Sri Ganti (Hindu)
  • February 2 – Wayne Codling (Buddhist)
  • February 9 – Parminder Virk (Sikh)
  • February 16 – TBA (Aboriginal Neighbours – The
    Blanket Exercise) 

Bring your lunch or just sit and listen. Coffee and tea will be

Introduction to Judaism 2017

Please join Rabbi Harry Brechner for this informative 12-week course, which introduces Jewish theology, rhythms of life, peoples of the book, Jewish history, contemporary Judaism, ethics and values and much more.  

This course is open to anyone wishing to explore the many facets of Judaism.  

  • Course start date: Thursday, February 9th at 7:30 to 9 pm
  • Where:  Congregation Emanu-El Synagogue, 1461 Blanshard Street, Victoria, BC
  • Cost: $130 for members of Congregation Emanu-El; $155 for non-members

Please contact the Synagogue office: Tuesday-Thursday for course registration and payment.

If you require further information, please email Chanah

French tutoring and/or conversational group

Natasha (Nechama) is totally bi-lingual in French and English, having lived in France until she was a young adult and returning many times.
Tuition available from kindergarten to university level. Cost: $20 CAD / hour.
She is also organizing a French Conversational Group—if you are interested. 
For further details about tuition or the Conversation group, tel. Natasha at 250-361-1698. 

Sketches of Israel and the Middle East

Wednesday, January 18,
2017 at 7 pm, at 
Congregation Emanu-El,
1461 Blanshard Street

To expand our members’
knowledge of Israel and the Middle East, Congregation Emanu-El Adult Education
team has planned a fascinating series of monthly talks starting in January
2017. We have invited scholars and experts from our shul and elsewhere to
present and discuss subjects such as: colonial borders and their implications,
Arabic words in modern Hebrew, and regional environmental issues such as water

Dr. Martin Bunton, Professor University of Victoria History
Department specializing in the field of modern Middle Eastern history, will
launch the series on January 18, 2017  at
7 pm when he will address the following question,  "Are colonial borders to blame for the
violence in the Middle East?“

This promises to be an informative evening so mark your
calendars now!

Email Heshi at if you have any questions.

Entry is by
donation: light refreshments will be served

Yoga at Emanu-El

Starts Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 10 am

First class—free of charge!


Starting in January 2017, Congregation Emanu-El will offer members and non-members yoga classes led by Shayla Goldberg

Shayla employs a unique, organic, gentle approach to yoga allowing the students to practise at their own pace based on their abilities.

Each class begins with a guided relaxation focusing on the body and the mind, creating a pause from our busy lives, enabling us to begin stretching and moving through a series of yoga postures. We learn to become increasingly present to our bodies using our breath and the ground to lengthen our spines and to release tension. To integrate our experiences, we end the class with another quiet relaxation.

Shayla has taught in many settings – special education classes at diabetes clinics, yoga at retirement homes, and at a deten-tion centre, moms and baby yoga at Emanu-El and pregnancy yoga. She taught Hatha yoga classes at the studio where she did her teacher training (which provides the longest, most ex-tensive yoga teacher training in Canada). She has practiced yoga for more than 30 years.

  •  Equipment needed: a yoga mat and a blanket
  •  The class will be 90 minutes long, once a week
  •  Start date: Wednesday, January 11, 2017 until March 1 (8 weeks)
  •  Time: 10:00 a.m.
  •  Where: Congregation Emanu-El, 1461 Blanshard Street
  •  Cost: $110 for members for the full 8 weeks, $150 for non-members
  •  Drop-in: $15 for members, $20 for non-members

 Please register through the shul office (250-382-0615).

 For more information, you can email Shayla.