And there was music

 The Journeys in Jewish Music series produced by the Victoria Jewish Community Choir (VJCC) wrapped up on Sunday, June 20, 2021 with an engaging session on Klezmer music by Moshe Denburg. VJCC is grateful for the funding from the Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island (JFVVI) which, along with the support of our community sponsor Congregation Emanu-El, the enthusiasm of the many who participated and those who made donations, made the program possible.

We are incredibly pleased to announce that JFVVI has granted us another generous allotment which makes it possible to continue the series in the Fall with an additional six Zoom presentations. We are now organizing this series and welcome any suggestions regarding content or knowledgeable presenters. The talks are scheduled for Monday evenings following the High Holydays, and dates and details will be released as available. If you registered for the previous series, you will automatically be notified and sent the links.

To register or send comments or suggestions please send a note to: jewishmusictalks@gmail.com.
The Victoria Jewish Community Choir is non-auditioned and welcomes all voices. The Choir will re-convene as soon as regulations permit. If you are interested in joining the choir, please contact co-director Carol Sokoloff at casjazz@islandnet.com.

Bad Faith: Why the Jews are not a religion—and shouldn’t be!

Sunday, May 2, 2021 at 7 pm—Congregation Emanu-El Adult Education  team invites you to join Daniel Boyarin 0n Sunday, May 2, 2021 at 7 pm, who argues,  “In this lecture, I intend to show that historically the Jews did not consider themselves a religion until modernity. I will argue for Jewish Peoplehood (however that may be ultimately defined and experienced). I will try to show some negative consequences of defining ourselves as a religion even now.”

Daniel Boyarin, Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture and Rhetoric, University of California at Berkeley, received his PhD in 1975 from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He has been a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow (twice), a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, a holder of the Berlin Prize at the American Academy in Berlin and a Ford Foundation Fellow.

Prof. Boyarin has written extensively on talmudic and midrashic studies. His work has focused on cultural studies in rabbinic Judaism, including issues of gender and sexuality, and research on the Jews as a colonized people. His most recent research interests centered primarily around questions of the relationship of Judaism and Christianity in late antiquity and the genealogy of the concepts of “religion” and “Judaism.”

For information and the Zoom link contact info@congregationemanuel.ca. Donations to our Adult Education fund are always welcome. You may donate ONLINE or through the office at info@congregationemanuel.ca

Rabbi Harry talks about Death and Dying

Sunday, March 7, 2021 at 7 pm on Zoom—Congregation Emanu-El invites you to join us on Sunday, March 7, 2021 at 7 pm on Zoom when Rabbi Harry will talk about Death and Dying. He will explore questions such as “Do Jews believe in heaven and hell”, “What does Judaism say about reincarnation and life after death”, and “What does Jewish burial and mourning ritual have to teach us about life and death?” Join Rabbi Harry in an exploration and survey of Jewish mystical texts and halakhah (Jewish law) with the goal of gaining new insight into death and dying and understanding the tremendous wisdom inherent in Jewish mourning practice.

About Rabbi Brechner

Rabbi Harry Brechner has been the spiritual leader of Congregation Emanu-El in Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia for the past 19 years. He is involved with various social action projects and outreach to marginal and vulnerable folk in Victoria and is a strong supporter of multi-faith, multi-cultural dialogue. With a background in early childhood education and child development, Rabbi Harry has worked both as a pre-school teacher and a special educator. Some of his sundry experiences include commercial fishing in Alaska, trail maintenance in the Northeast corner of the Cascade Mountains, tying re-bar on construction sites in Seattle. He has also served as a combat medic in the Israel Defense Forces. Rabbi Harry is a mediator and spiritual seeker who also makes a great kosher gumbo and jambalaya.

For information and the Zoom link contact info@congregationemanuel.ca. Donations to our Adult Education fund are always welcome. You may donate ONLINE or through the office at info@congregationemanuel.ca

Secret Miracles: Jewish Themes in Jorge Luis Borges

Sunday, February 21, 2021, at 7 pm on Zoom—Expanding on his earlier talk, Professor Dan Russek will focus on the work of the iconic author, Argentine Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986). Though not a Jew, Borges was drawn to Jewish literature, culture and religion since an early age, and his work constantly refers to Jewish themes. Russek will engage in close readings of emblematic texts with particular reference to Borges’ ideas on the Kabbalah, the short stories El milagro secreto, (The Secret Miracle), La muerte y la brújula (Death and the Compass), Deutsches Requiem, Emma Zunz, and El Aleph, and poems such as Spinoza and El Golem. Translations of, and/or links to, these texts are available upon request (email drussek@uvic.ca). Some of the stories may be found here…
Note: attendance at the previous presentation is not a prerequisite for attending this one.

For a review of the previous talk…

Dan Russek, a native of Mexico, is an Associate Professor at the University of Victoria in the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies. He has taught at UVic since 2004. He earned a B.A. (Philosophy) and an M.A. (Comparative Literature) from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). He completed his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago, specializing in modern and contemporary Latin American literature and visual arts. His fields of research include the links between literature and the visual arts and media, urban studies and aesthetics.

This talk is sponsored by the Congregation Emanu-El Adult Education Team. Donations to our Adult Education fund are always welcome. You may donate ONLINE or through the office at info@congregationemanuel.ca

Join online: CLICK HERE
Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
Meeting ID: 818 6160 8457
Passcode: 348469

Creative Midrash with Rabbi Harry

Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 7 pm on Zoom—Midrash is the Talmudic/rabbinic tradition of fleshing out Torah text, described best by Tillie Stanger-Ross as “rabbinic fan fiction.” We will use creative media and modalities to generate new insights and meaning for classic Torah narratives, using “Bibliodrama”a form of psychodrama developed by Peter Pitzele to uncover archetypes and emotions that stem from Torah narratives. We will also engage in collage-making and journaling, to explore and generate personal and relevant new understandings of Torah narratives.

Continue reading Creative Midrash with Rabbi Harry

The Golem Dances the Tango

Sunday, January 10, 7  pm via ZoomProfessor Dan Russek will present a brief overview of Jewish life in Mexico and Argentina as seen through four books by Jewish authors: Los gauchos judíos (The Jewish Gauchos of the Pampas, 1910) by Argentine Alberto Gerchunoff, Las genealogías (The Family Tree: An Illustrated Novel, 1981) by Mexican Margo Glantz, El libro de los recuerdos (The Book of Memories, 1984) by Argentine Ana Maria Shua, and Tela de Sevoya (Onioncloth, 2012) by Mexican Myriam Moscona; and move on to an examination of Jewish themes in the work of the most important Latin American writer of the twentieth century, Argentine Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986). Dan will discuss Borges’ attitudes towards Judaism and Israel, and analyze his emblematic texts such as his short stories El milagro secreto, (The Secret Miracle) Deustches Requiem, Emma Zunz, and El Aleph, and poems such as El Golem and Israel. Translations of, and/or link to, these texts are available upon request (email Prof. Dan Russek at drussek@uvic.ca).

Dan Russek, a native of Mexico, is an Associate Professor at the University of Victoria in the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies. He has taught at UVic since 2004. He earned a B.A. (Philosophy) and an M.A. (Comparative Literature) from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). He completed his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago, specializing in modern and contemporary Latin American literature and visual arts. His fields of research include the links between literature and the visual arts and media, urban studies and aesthetics.

The presentation will be on Zoom.

  • Join online: CLICK HERE
  • Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
  • Meeting ID: 895 5879 7019
  • Passcode: 402834

For more information info@congregationemanuel.ca

Sponsored by the Emanu-El Adult Education Team.

Donations to our Adult Education fund are always welcome. You may donate ONLINE or through the office at info@congregationemanuel.ca.

Ancient Astrology: Fatalist or Optimist

Sunday, December 6, 2020 at 7 pm—The Congregation Emanu-El Adult Education team invites you to a presentation Ancient Astrology: Fatalist or Optimist by Rabbi Matt Ponak on Sunday, December 6, 2020 at 7 pm.

Does Judaism teach that our lives are determined by the stars? Did it ever? The answer is not so simple. While Jewish teachings greatly value free will, the word mazal, as in “Mazal Tov,” literally means “constellation”. At one point, to wish someone “mazal tov,” meant to wish them good fortune under the influence of the astrological signs. So what does Judaism say about astrology? Join Rabbi Matt Ponak as he explores Talmudic stories and teachings of how Jews were and were not subject to the fate of the heavens.

Rabbi Matt Ponak is a musician, teacher, and lover of life. He serves as the Education Director and Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Emanu-El. Rabbi Matt has studied with many of this generation’s leading teachers of Jewish mysticism including Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, R. Arthur Green, R. Zvi Ish-Shalom, R. Tirzah Firestone, and R. Rami Shapiro. Also holding an MA in Contemplative Religions from the Buddhist-inspired Naropa University, Rabbi Matt weaves world wisdom with ancient Jewish insights. His upcoming book, “Torah for the New Age,” translates and comments on Jewish mystical texts that resonate with the consciousness and yearnings of our times.

The presentation will be on Zoom.

To join online, CLICK HERE

To join by phone: 1 778 907 2071; Meeting ID: 839 1579 8300; Passcode: 446221

Donations to our Adult Education fund are always welcome. You may donate ONLINE or through the office at info@congregationemanuel.ca.

A wonderful evening of learning

Last Sunday evening, Lee Henderson led a fascinating virtual literary salon discussion of the parallels and differences linking two amazing writers whose lives were separated by about 100 years. Lee expertly explained how the stories and parables crafted by Franz Kafka and Rabbi Nachman reflected both secular and religious perspectives on the often strange vagaries of life they encountered. The audience was treated to a wonderful evening of learning and no doubt will be seeking out books and articles on these two masters so they can delve further into what made them tick.

Calling All Artists project 2020

Starts Thursday, November 19, 2020 on Zoom—A light in a dark and strange time: Calling All Artists returns! We will begin our monthly meetings with Rabbi Harry on Thursday, November 19, 2020, and continue on December 10, 2020, and in 2021 on January 14, February 11, and March 18. Calling All Artists is a project inviting artists of many kinds—visual, textile, multi-media, music, poetry—to study a biblical or rabbinical text with Rabbi Harry, and to interpret this learning through their art. A kind of midrash, the Rabbi explains it. In the spring, the artists, if it is possible to meet again, will celebrate their work with a delicious and gorgeous Gala in the Social Hall.

Continue reading Calling All Artists project 2020

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