Tikkun Leil Shavuot

Save ShavuotSaturday May 19, 2018 — As Shabbat draws to a close and Erev Shavuot begins, join us for an awesome night of Torah learning (in its broadest sense), dairy treats to nourish you, and the camaraderie of friends new and old. We are blessed with many excellent teachers in our midst and they will engage and challenge you with their ideas.  Our learning will be fueled by an array of munchies and of course, coffee! Details to follow.

2018 Victoria SALT New Music Festival Daniel Biro: Talk & Concert

Ethica ConcertWednesday, May 9 at 7:30 pm, Congregation Emanu-El, 1461 Blanshard Street Congregation Emanu-El (CEE) Adult Education Committee is pleased to present the closing event of the 2018 Victoria SALT New Music Festival at the synagogue on Wednesday, May 9 at 7:30 pm. The program will feature an introductory talk by CEE member and composer Dániel Péter Biró about Baruch Spinoza and the Amsterdam Portuguese Synagogue. A concert featuring musicians from Heidelberg will follow the talk. Continue reading 2018 Victoria SALT New Music Festival Daniel Biro: Talk & Concert

Who were the Prophets?

נביאים3Sunday, April 29 at 2:00 pm, Congregation Emanu-El synagogue — The writings of the prophets occupy a large section of the Hebrew Bible. Who were the biblical prophets? What was their message and their legacy?
On Sunday, April 29 at 2:00 pm in Congregation Emanu-El synagogue, 1461 Blanshard Street, Dr. Francis Landy will give the first of two talks on Prophets and Prophecy sponsored by the Emanu-El Adult Education Team. Entry is by donation.

In this talk, Dr. Landy will give some background to the biblical prophets and to the historical situation to which they responded, to the relation between prophets and the prophetic books named after them, and to other strands of ancient Jewish thought, such as the priestly tradition, the historical books, and wisdom literature.

Francis Landy is a biblical scholar who has recently made his home in Victoria, after a career of over thirty years at the University of Alberta. He has published a number of books and many articles, and is a specialist in the poetry of the Hebrew Bible. He has written on the Song of Songs, Isaiah, Hosea and other books, as well as the theory of the study of religion. He is an Associate Fellow of the UVIC Centre for the Study of Religion and Society. He is a member of Congregation Emanu-El and a study partner of Rabbi Harry Brechner.

Bēma offers us Lessons!


April 12, 15, 16, 17, 19 & 22 — Bēma Productions proudly announces the Canadian premiere of Lessons, a thoughtful, compelling play by Wendy Graf about finding faith and love in a sometimes violent and alienating world, in the sanctuary at Congregation Emanu-El on April 12, 2018. The play will run for six performances.

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?

TICKETS: $22.00, available online or at Ticket Rocket, 101-804 Broughton Street, or at the door

  • Thursday, April 12   7:30 pm
  • Sunday, April 15      2:30 pm
  • Monday, April 16      7.30 pm
  • Tuesday, April 17     7.30 pm
  • Thursday, April 19   7.30 pm
  • Sunday, April 22      2.30 pm

All performances will be taking place in the Sanctuary at Congregation Emanu-El.

“A blend of wit and wisdom, “Lessons” questions, amuses and beguiles. Graf is in the long tradition of Jewish writers that include Neil Simon. And, very much like Simon, she mixes the angst in our lives with an overlay of humor that is both touching and tender.” – Ed Kauffman, Hollywood Reporter

“This quest for faith—in his case, a faith he’s never had, and in hers, a faith that she’s forsaken—is a poignant plea that touches everyone,” – KABC Radio

Wendy Graf is an award winning playwright whose plays have been produced throughout North America. “Lessons” was first produced in 2004 by West Coast Jewish Theatre and The Group at Strasberg in West Hollywood.


Let’s talk about Israel & Palestine!

Peace Tom JelletSunday, March 18, 10 am at Ruthi Wick’s Home — Join us for coffee, bagels and a discussion of events in Israel, Gaza and the occupied territories. David Berson, Chair of the Zionist organization Ameinu (Canada) and the Executive Director Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (CABGU), BC & Alberta Region, will lead a discussion designed to help our kehila better understand the nuances of the situation in Israel/ Palestine, to explore how we can play a more active role in the pursuit of peace and to find ways to involve the younger generations in the peace quest.

David will showcase the many efforts at peaceful coexistence taking place between Palestinians and Israelis which are building confidence and trust alongside understanding and acceptance.

David believes we should encourage dialogue on our side and hold forums that can bring people together to build community. A particular problem today is the reality that on many campuses Israel’s right to exist is called into question, a serious distortion of the situation. The government may be leading things in a perverse and negative direction but that is not a reason to “sign off” on Israel and her right and reason for existing.

In addition to the information and sources David will share with us concerning the engagement of Ameinu there will be opportunities to sign up for the newsletter, or the resource site, The Third Narrative or Ameinu’s connection with JSpaceCanada.

His additional suggestions may also concern the film Wrestling with Jerusalem which was screened at UBC recently – the producers are keen to stimulate dialogue and understanding with the diaspora.

And then there will be Project Rozana to talk about. We hope to have hard copies of the OpEd from the Jan. 16, 2018 The AustralianPeace is Coming But It’s Under the Radar” available. Such an inspiring article!

David is searching for ways to bring Jon Allen, our former Canadian ambassador to Israel, out to British Columbia – Jon is on the board of Project Rozana Canada. There is the possibility of bringing someone from Rozana out to our region next month.

David’s final introduction will be to the organization Women Wage Peace.


Havdalah Salon: Tales from a Calcutta Childhood

Havdalah March 17 1.2 (2)

Saturday, March 17, 7 pm — Beginning about 7 pm, Rabbi Harry will lead us in Havdalah followed by Seemah Berson telling us some Tales from a Calcutta Childhood. This presentation will launch an Adult Education Series on Sefardi Jewish life and culture.

Seemah is the author of I Have a Story to Tell You a book containing the untarnished stories and word for word accounts collected from Eastern European Jewish immigrants about their journeying to Canada and finding work in the sweatshops and needle trades of Montreal.

But Seemah has more tales to tell… She was born in Calcutta (as she says – Kolkata she does not know) into families of Baghdadi and Iranian roots who settled there during the time of the British Raj. She lived and grew up in a thriving Sefardi Jewish community, until she left for Canada in 1954.

Seemah is no stranger to Emanu-El as she visited in 2010 to present her book. Anyone who remembers that presentation will know that she is a natural raconteur who demonstrates wit and perspicacity in her writing and recounting. Now she is coming back to regale us with her tales of Jewish life in Calcutta, before it became Kolkata.

This is a Havdalah Salon not to be missed.

We will start around 7 pm, please bring desserts to share, YOB and register with the office, so we have an idea of the number to expect.

And there was light

The greatest "kippukiah" in the world IRabbi Harry lead a lighted procession from the synagogue to Centennial Square where the Victoria High Rhythm and Blues Band were warming up the crowd…

This year the privilege of lighting the Ḥanukkiah went to the children at Congregation Emanu-El’s public lighting on December 19. As it was the last night of Ḥanukkah, there were lots of delighted children.

The children’s lighting, the music, the dancing, the communal spirit and the sufganiot brought joy to those brave comers who were undaunted by the weather. Todah rabah to Aaron and his team and Shout it out for Victoria High Rhythm and Blues Band who were fabulous.

To see the photos taken by Penny Tennenhouse and Frances Rosenberg…

Worldwide Candle Lighting Service

The Compassionate FriendsDecember 10, 2017 – 7:00 to 8:30 pm — The Compassionate Friends Victoria Chapter invites bereaved parents, siblings and their families to participate in the Worldwide Candle Lighting Service, Sunday, December 10, 2017 – 7:00 to 8:30 pm at Cordova Bay United Church, 813 Claremont Avenue, Victoria BC.
This non-denominational service features a speaker, soloist, candle lighting remembrance and reception
Please bring a labeled photo(s) of your child(ren) or sibling(s) to be placed on the Table of Tribute.

Shabbaton Emanu-El

Rabbi Tsafi Lev

Friday & Saturday, December 8 & 9 — How can Judaism help each of us flourish as individuals? What will it take for our congregation to thrive for another 150 years?

Join us on Friday evening, December 8 and Saturday, December 9 for a congregational Shabbaton led by Rabbi Harry’s study partner, Rabbi Tsafi Lev who will help us explore and play with tools from the world of positive psychology, find points of integration within our personal lives and in the communal life of Congregation Emanu-El.

Rabbi Tsafi is deeply involved in exploring the nexus between Jewish practice and positive psychology. He has been studying and teaching this emerging approach to rabbis and congregations for several years now. Thanks to the generosity of a congregant, we have been able to bring Rabbi Tsafi to Victoria from his home in Los Angeles where he is the West Coast Rabbis Without Borders Coordinator, the Rabbinic Director of a Los Angeles Jewish High School and a teacher of Jewish bible and philosophy to rabbinical students.

Shabbaton Schedule

Friday, December 9

  • 5:30 pm Doors open for Pot Luck Dinner
  • 7:00 pm Kabbalat Shabbat Service
    • Spirited Friday night service with Emanu-El’s own KabbaShabba band and story telling by Rabbi Tsafi Lev

Saturday, December 10

  • 9:00 am Shabbat Service
    • Parashat Vayeshev / פרשת וישב
    • Drash – Dreams and Visions: Rabbi Tsafi Lev
  • 12:15 pm Kiddush Luncheon catered by Jacqui Ittah
  • 1:15 – 3:30 pm Learning with Rabbi Tsafi LevImplementing Torah values and virtues that promote human flourishing and happiness
  • 3:30 – 7:00 pm Break
  • 7:00 – 10:00 pm Havdallah followed by Melaveh Malkah at Ruthi’s
    • We’ll have veggie pizza available and if you’d like to bring fruit/dessert to share – perfect. Tea and coffee provided, BYOB.
    • We’ll wrap up with schmoozing, a little more learning, music and song so bring your instruments, talents, poetry etc.

Cost: For the entire Shabbaton, including meals on Shabbat, the cost will be:

  • Members: $54, couples $90
  • Non-Members: $72, couples $126
  • Some scholarships available

Please register and pay in advance with the office at 250-382-0615. The synagogue office is open from Tuesday to Thursday 9:30 am to 2:30 pm.

Note: The Shabbat service and the Kiddush are, of course, open to all. Our Kiddush fund always needs help so please consider a donation if you don’t plan on registering for the Shabbaton.