Here is the introduction to the blessings over the candles provided by Gabbai Aaron Severs at our congregational Zoom Ḥanukkah celebration on Tuesday, December 15, 2020.
“To begin, I’d like to say just how thrilled I am to see so many of you here on Zoom this evening. Normally, we would be holding the event outdoors in Centennial Square with a huge life-size Ḥanukkiah. The Victoria High Rhythm & Blues band would be playing their hearts out and we’d be having a raucous dance party. In 2020, we find ourselves in a unique and challenging year. Fortunately, we are still able to gather and share our light and warmth via the magic of the internet.
The pandemic has given us all the opportunity to slow down, take a breath and think about whom and what’s really important in our lives. And, the chance to share acts of loving kindness (gemilut ḥasadim) and compassion with one another. It is a time to appreciate the real-life front-line heroes in our midst. They may be health care workers, grocery store staff, teachers, or volunteers at our local non-profit organization. One miracle for certain, this Ḥanukkah, has been the arrival of the first shipment of Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines on Canadian soil.
On a personal level, 2020 has humbled and taught me the message of having “an attitude of gratitude”. For the many blessings, large and small, in my life. And, to recognize with a good eye (“tov ayin” as Rabbi Harry says) the good that happens each day. I do feel privileged to be part of a larger, caring and progressive Jewish community on Canada’s real west coast. So, as we get ready to light the Ḥanukkah candles this evening, I invite you all to rededicate yourselves to joy, to hope and to gratitude.
With this in mind, it gives me great pleasure to call upon our next 3 presenters. They are volunteers and part of our leadership team at Congregation Emanu-El. [OK, everyone out there in Zoom land, this is your cue…please have your Hanukkah menorahs ready, and if you are able, show them on your computer screen. We will say the blessings first, and then light.]
The first blessing will be recited by Sam Godfrey, President of our Board of Directors. [although you are all muted, feel free to join along and sing at home]. Sam has his family by his side. Whenever you are ready, Sam…
The second blessing (berakhah) will be said by Ilana Stanger-Ross. Ilana serves as our Vice President and Hebrew School Liaison. She is joined by her family this evening. Ilana, whenever you are ready.
Akharón akharón khavív… For our third blessing, I’m honoured to call upon Caren Zilber-Shlensky. Caren is a member of our Hebrew School Committee, and along with Ilana, has also been quite active on the Emanu-El COVID-19 response committee.
Thank you to all our presenters. Now, feel free to “rev your engines”, light up your menorahs and let’s share the warmth, light and ruach (spirit) of the holiday with one another. This is very exciting, there are so many menorahs on the screens!
I am now pleased to turn the floor over to Rabbi Matt who will continue with the next step in tonight’s program.”