Return to In-Person Worship Services

Saturday, June 19, 2021 at 10 amIt’s not a dream nor is it a fantasy!
Dr. Bonnie Henry’s announcement on May 25, 2021, signalled the possibility of a return to “in-person” worship services in British Columbia. Our plan is to start small, and to build slowly and safely. During the past year, we have missed seeing you “in-person” and davening together in our beloved sanctuary.

We are pleased to announce that we will hold our initial post-lockdown sanctuary Shabbat service on Saturday, June 19, 2021, at 10 am. As this is the first step in BC’s staged re-opening process, we can only accommodate 35 people. Preregistration is required, along with adherence to all health and safety protocols.

If you would like to attend, please REGISTER by emailing info@congregationemanuel.ca before Friday, June 18, 2021, at 3:30 pm.
The service will be broadcast on Zoom.

Rabbi Harry and Aaron Severs

Ḥanukkiah lighting during the pandemic

Zilber-Shlensky family prepares to light

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.”

For more pictures…

Choose your own High Holy Day experience

COVID-19 has forced us to become creative and expansive in order to sustain the soulful connected experience we yearn for at the High Holy Days. (Please note that all plans are fluid and may need to change based on COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island.)
Please choose your first and second preferences for the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services and let the shul office know by email at info@congregationemanuel.ca  or by phone at 250-382-0615 by September 15, 2020. 

For Rosh Hashanah Day 1
We offer three different experience blocks at different times and venues. Each block will accommodate up to fifty participants. Congregants will need to choose which block to attend and cannot migrate from one block into another. Some of the blocks are traditional and some are alternative; one block is tailored to families and children.
You will have to book your choice with the shul office  (We will do our best to accommodate congregants’ first choice. )
Block A Traditional with a Twist: 10 am to 12 noon at the synagogue (and on Zoom)
A condensed traditional service in our beautiful sanctuary. We will begin with Shaḥarit and do our utmost to cover the prayers and tunes that are most integral to us. We will read Torah, listen to a sermon followed and participate in a spirited yet abbreviated musaf service.
Block B Experiential Alternative Service: 2 – 3:30 pm at St. Ann’s Academy, 835 Humboldt Street
Led by Rabbi Harry, we will focus on contemplation, movement, niggunim/chanting and Bibliodrama and include an alternative musaf service.
Block C Family Encounter: (Block C. 1. 11 am – noon and Block C. 2. 12:30- 1:30 pm) at St. Ann’s Academy 835 Humboldt Street
Led by Rabbi Matt, this is a very special Rosh Hashanah experience tailored to families and children including music, movement, contemplation and story telling. You must choose Block C 1 or Block C 2.

For Rosh Hashana Day 2
Morning Service: 10 am to 12 noon at the synagogue (and on Zoom). We are offering a condensed traditional service similar in nature and content to Block A Day 1.
Shofar Service and Tashlikh: To keep our numbers safe and compliant we will offer three opportunities to participate in a meaningful Shofar service followed by an interactive Tashlikh service:
· Banfield Park (Esquimalt ): 2pm
· Dallas and Cook (the usual Emanu-El venue):  2pm and 3:30pm

For Yom Kippur
Kol Nidre:
September 27: 6 pm in our beautiful sanctuary an evening of haunting liturgical music letting go of unfulfilled promises marking the beginning of the Day of Atonement.  Doors will open at 5:45 and close at 6:15. 
Yom Kippur Morning service: September 28: 10 am – 1 pm with a special yizkor  at noon. Doors will open at 9:45 am and close at 10:15 am.  
Yom Kippur Nei’lah :  September 28 : 6:30 pm the final powerful closing prayers of Yom Kippur and the cathartic sounding of the final shofar. Doors will open at 6:15 and close at 6:45.

Special Outdoor Shabbat Morning Service: Parashat Ki Tetze

Saturday, August 29, 2020 10:00 am in Government House Grounds—Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions our outdoor Shabbat service at Government House on August 29, 2020 is cancelled. We will be together on Shabbat Ki Tetze via Zoom.  Thank you for all of your understanding.

Shabbat Services Online plus

PHOTOsanctuarysocial distancing 1000After a meaningful, safe and successful second service in our beautiful sanctuary last week we are hoping to continue holding small services with a Zoom alternative on a routine basis starting August 22, 2020 (Parashat Shoftim) followed by September 5, 2020 (Parashat Ki Tavo). We are doing our very best to help us all maintain connection to the shul and to one another through this strange and sometimes difficult time.

YOU MUST PRE-REGISTER. We are limiting this event to 36 people, including babies and children. Please register with Zelda at info@congregationemanuel.ca by 4:00 pm on Friday, August 21, 2020.  For September 5, 2020, please register with Zelda at info@congregationemanuel.ca by 4:00 pm on Friday, September 4, 2020. If more than 36 people ask to attend, we’ll do our best to give those people priority at subsequent services. Continue reading Shabbat Services Online plus

Special Outdoor Shabbat Service at Government House

Elisheva reads prayers 1000On June 27, 2020, Congregation Emanu-El went where it had never before ventured. The red letter day marked our first live outdoor COVID-19 restart Shabbat service on the grounds of Government House. The orchard was a perfect setting, the weather was kind and it was so uplifting to see many of our friends praying together again. About 50 eager people were present. The two-hour service had all the ingredients of a typical Saturday event, with our davening pesukei through musaf. Torah and haftarah were chanted, and a simple yet heartfelt ceremony to welcome Rabbi Matt, Melina, Orion and Sephira to our community was conducted.  The high point seemed to be the joy, smiles and virtual hugs that occupied this sacred space.

Todah rabah goes out to Rabbi Harry and RaeAnn for their leadership here. A big shout out is sent to all the volunteers who assisted in organizing the special day, and, of course, to the kehillah members who attended and helped to make this event a success.
Religious Services Committee

Unity (1918): then and now!

Unity reading screen shot

The Emanu-El Play Club held a Zoom reading of Kevin Kerr’s play Unity (1918) on Thursday, July 25, 2020. The club followed up their reading with a debriefing on the next Monday. Unity (1918) takes place in the fall of 1918, when a world ravaged by four years of war was suddenly hit by a mysterious and deadly plague—the “Spanish Flu.” The setting for the play is a small town in Saskatchewan. Our members were profoundly affected both by the reading experience and by the content of the play which raised themes and depicted experiences highly relevant in our COVID-19 world. Continue reading Unity (1918): then and now!

Special Outdoor Shabbat Morning Service: Parashat Koraḥ

Government House GardenMap-650x514

Saturday, June 27, 2020 10:00 am in Government House Grounds—Come and reconnect in person with friends for a spirited, casual, participative prayer and Torah learning experience.

If you wish to attend, please register as soon as possible HERE. Continue reading Special Outdoor Shabbat Morning Service: Parashat Koraḥ

Backyard Thursday morning minyan

Minyan with dredits

Please consider joining the minyan on Thursdays at 7 am in Uri and Leah’s backyard. If you are looking for a very sweet, welcoming prayer experience that is intimate and relaxed, this is place for you.

Services will continue to be streamed as usual on Zoom, to Join Online: CLICK HERE…

In the interests of personal and community safety as we open up this opportunity for congregational worship we must observe the following practices:

Continue reading Backyard Thursday morning minyan

Emanu-El invites you to an evening of “virtual” trivia

Trivia at home simpleThursday, June 18, 2020 7:15 pm — Come join us on Zoom for a fun evening of trivia! Bring your favourite beverage and prepare for some friendly competition! This will be a “pot-pourri” of trivia questions, some Jewish-focused, some general knowledge. Continue reading Emanu-El invites you to an evening of “virtual” trivia