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…

The Light of Ḥanukkah: Dedicating Ourselves in the Time of Pandemic

Tuesday, December 15, 2020 from 5:30 – 6:30 pm on Zoom—During this year of pandemic, we share our compassion and acts of loving kindness for each other. We share gratitude for the small things and miracles that happen each day. These personal and collective actions can help to overcome the struggle, anxiety and fear of the unknown that seem widespread in our new normal COVID-19 world.

Join Congregation Emanu-El for an hour of blessings, songs, games and bringing in the light of Ḥanukkah. Come ready to light your own Ḥanukkiah. Bring your best dreidel—see who can spin the longest! We’re going to have a Jewish themed pub-style quiz with prizes, and we’ll have songs, which may lead to mixed dancing!  Let’s fill our screens and the winter night with candle light and share the lights of Ḥanukkah together.

All are welcome.

Join online: CLICK HERE
· Regular Dial-in:
Call: 1 778 907 2071
· Meeting ID: 815 8619 1122
· Password: 402437

Sharing the light: Ḥanukkah 2019

Sameah Hanukkah!On December 22, 2019, a crowd gathered in Centennial Square to celebrate the first night of Ḥanukkah. The musical headliner was the high-octane and popular Victoria High Rhythm and Blues Band. After lighting a large free-standing menorah (“shout out” to Ed Walker), the music and dancing began. Holiday joy, ruaḥ (spirit) and “horas” filled the square. Participants were invited to let their inner light shine amid the darkness of the season and, at times, our troubled world. Generosity and kindness led to many donations to the Avodah “8 for 8 campaign” to support the food bank at St. John the Divine. The backdrop of the “Lights of Wonder” exhibit encouraged more attendees than usual (too many to count!) to show up at the menorah lighting. Lastly, a heartfelt thanks goes to the Downtown Victoria Business Association who partnered with us in this successful and memorable evening.
For more photos (taken by Penny Tennenhouse, Frances Aknai & Frances Rosenberg)…

Avodah serves latkes at Our Place

Now we serveAvodah got Ḥanukkah off to a delicious  and freilach start with our 7th annual well-oiled Big Latke Lunch at Our Place. Our enthusiastic, dedicated volunteers, led by our exceptional latke-maker, Daryl Levine, fried and served an amazing 600 latkes while the ever-loving spirited Klezbians once again came to the aid of the party with their joyful klezmer music including the dedication of a special song to Rabbi Harry—the Rabbi’s Hornpipe and somehow getting Rabbi Harry and Penny to sing with them! Continue reading Avodah serves latkes at Our Place

Avodah sponsors 8 for 8

1161212_avodah_8for8-2On or before December 22, 2019 — Avodah invites you to bring 8 items – one for each night of Ḥanukkah to the Menorah Lighting in Centennial Square, Sunday, December 22, 2018 at 5:00 pm or to the synagogue office during office hours.

Let’s share our abundance with the Emergency Food Service at St. John the Divine.

Suggested non-perishable, new items for donation are:
• canned fruit                                    • canned salmon
• tins of meat, chicken                    • granola bars
• condiments                                    • honey
• jam                                                   • cereal, canned milk
• chunky soups                                 • crackers
• cookies                                            • margarine
• eggs                                                  • razorsCanned goods with pull tab tops are encouraged.Thank you from the Avodah Social Action Group!

JFSVI requests gift card donations for Ḥanukkah 2019

JFSVI LogoDeadline December 15, 2019 — Every year Jewish Family Services of Vancouver Island (JFSVI) runs Ḥanukkah gift donations and food drives, hand delivering gift baskets to over 40 families and individuals in our community who are struggling. Currently our client list is growing primarily due to the high cost of living in the Victoria area. This year we are promoting Gift Card donations by multiples of $18 (ḥay). Continue reading JFSVI requests gift card donations for Ḥanukkah 2019

A Public Menorah Lighting

CEE Hanukkah 2019 Blk Txt 1000Sunday December 22, 2019, from 5 pm, Centennial Square — In a world beset by politics and division, we ask you to shine your light. Share your own special brand of kindness, thoughtfulness and faith in one another. Shine your light to demonstrate your belief that together we are better, respect eases the journey and miracles do happen. Join Congregation Emanu-El for a joyous and raucous Hanukkiah lighting, illumine the path of hope amidst the darkness, and let your inner light shine. Continue reading A Public Menorah Lighting

Festival of Lights Dinner: you’re invited

Hillel Hanukkah 2019Thursday, November 28, 2019, 6 pm — The UVic Jewish students together with other cultural groups on campus will hold a Festival of Lights Dinner on Thursday, November 28, 2019, 6 pm at which they will share experiences and customs of light festivals in support of diversity and respect of the other. Hillel invites community members to join in this special dinner. The admission is free but community members that wish to attend must RSVP by November 26, 2019. Here is the link to RSVP…

Ḥanukkah 2018: with lotsa ruaḥ

P1050585On December 9, 2018 an enthusiastic crowd gathered in Centennial Square to celebrate the final night of the Jewish Festival of Lights. Our youngest participants led the way at the public menorah lighting, and lit up the large Ḥanukkiah, designed by Ed Walker. Then the partying began in earnest, spurred on by the high-octane singing and passion of the Victoria High Rhythm and Blues Band. People danced with abandon to a long-play version of Havah Nagilah. Other Ḥanukkah favourites, along with a number of R & B tunes, followed. Attendees generously brought non-perishable items to support the food bank at St. John the Divine Anglican Church.

Huge Thank Yous go out to the many volunteers who stepped up to make this evening a rousing success. Todah rabah to Rabbi Harry who led by example, both with his spirited dancing and wise teaching about this year’s Ḥanukkah theme “The Light of Courage – Demonstrating Resilience in the Face of Hatred and Fear

For more photos… (Penny Tennenhouse & Frances Rosenberg)… and a ruaḥ video… (Frances Rosenberg) …