Attention parents: Kafe & Kibitz

kafe kibitz

Sunday, April 28, 10:15 am to noon, 710 Pandora Avenue lobby — Come hang out with other parents in a warm & welcoming environment; feel free to bring along any young children currently in tow. We look forward to engaging conversation, laughter, reflection, support, and, of course, caffeine. Everyone is welcome, including non-members. NEW LOCATION: We’ll be meeting in the lobby of 710 Pandora Avenue (the new building at Pandora & Douglas) beside Sherwood Cafe.

Bear This in Mind!

Bear stuffiesThis year, the Hebrew School tried something new and different on Tuesday afternoons: teachers Beatrice and Leah asked students to bring in teddy bear ‘stuffies’ to serve as symbolic (and cuddly) surrogates for learning about Jewish life-cycle events.

The students chose Hebrew names for their ‘stuffies’, which they gave the bears at a “naming ceremony” in December, for which each student also made her or his bear a kippah and a wimple (usually used to tie Torah scrolls) to use as a sash.

Later, the bears were prepared for a ‘Bear-Mitzvah’. To do this, each student was given a mitzvah to do on behalf of his or her bear, such as visiting the sick or helping someone in need.

It was very moving for educators and parents to see these children talking about what Jewish life-cycle events mean to them. The students also explained how they understand the meaning of the phrase, in the Ve’ahavta prayer, that calls upon Jews to “impress them” (i.e., the words of the shamma prayer) “on their children.”

The ‘Bear Mitzvah’ finale event was held during a Friday night family Kabbalat Shabbat on March 1. Students chanted prayers, sang songs, and, together with their bears, stood under a “Bear Mitzvah” tallit shawl for a blessing from the congregation.

The Jewish bear project has been a wonderful means of imparting Jewish education in ways that are meaningful to children. It also attests to the educational value of Tuesday afternoon Hebrew School classes, where there is more time and space to focus in depth on a learning project.

So, is the Jewish bear project now over? Maybe not. We hear that somebody’s preparing for a wedding! Stay tuned for a bear ḥuppah


Attention parents: Kafe & Kibitz

kafe kibitz

Sunday, February 24, 10:15 am to noon in lobby, 710 Pandora Avenue — Come hang out with other parents in a warm & welcoming environment: feel free to bring along any young children in tow. We look forward to engaging conversation, laughter, reflection, support, and, of course, caffeine. Everyone is welcome, including non-members. NEW LOCATION: We’ll be meeting in the lobby of 710 Pandora Street (the new building at Pandora & Douglas) beside Sherwood Cafe.


Shabbat Shebang

Kabbalat Shabbat

November 30, 7:00pmKabbalat Shabbat Service: Come join the Hebrew School and experience a joyful, spirited Kabbalat Shabbat service with our amazing Kabba Shabba Band.  Services are spirited, interactive, and family oriented. If you are looking for intergenerational Jewish fun replete with singing, dancing, storytelling, great food and company, this is the place in Victoria. Services followed by a dessert Oneg at 8 pm.

November 30,  5:45 pm — Hebrew School & Community Shabbat Dinner: Before the Kabbalat Shabbat service, join Hebrew School families and friends for an eco-pot luck vegetarian dinner. Bring a vegetarian/dairy main course or salad and a small dessert along with your own dishes and cutlery (because many folk don’t have kosher kitchens, we can’t use the Shul’s dishes).  Label your dish with ALL ingredients. Please RSVP to if you plan to attend dinner so we know how many tables to set up.
Noise-alert: there will be an element of frenetic kid energy at this dinner. Feel free to come just for services.
Looking forward to an evening full of joy and connection!

Organic Apple Juice Hebrew School Fundraiser

From CastleRock Pardes  Farm — Made from a mixture of crisp Spartan, Red Delicious, MacIntosh and Granny Smith apples, this apple juice has been filtered and passed through UV cold pasteurization, retaining its exquisite complex taste and total nutritional value. The jugs can be frozen and imbibed throughout the year.  Fill your freezer!!
  • All proceeds will be donated to Hebrew School children.
  • Fundraiser price per 2 litre jug – $10
  • Please call Jill or Mike at 250-544-8870 or send an email to to arrange pickup at the synagogue.
  • You can also pick up juice this Sunday, October 14, from 9-9:30 a.m. or at 12:30 pm

Emanu-El students capture 1st and 3rd prize in National Bible Contest

20180506_112743-1-1Last week seven Congregation Emanu-El Hebrew School students travelled to Vancouver to compete in the National Bible Contest. They wrote three separate exams on over 25 chapters of Exodus; no easy feat for people of their age. When the finallists were announced, we were thrilled that we had three students in the mix: Ephrem Boyarim, Tillie Stanger-Ross and Sam Roubini. Then they wrote the final which had a question in honour of Israel’s 70th birthday – when and in what context was the land of milk and honey mentioned in Exodus? Not easy, right? Anyway, when the winners were announced Sam Roubini took 1st prize and Tillie Stanger-Ross took 3rd prize.

We are proud of all the students who wrestled with the material all year, wondering why God stiffened Pharaoh’s heart and made the Egyptians suffer so much and why wasn’t Aaron punished for making the golden calf.

Mazal Tov to everyone!

Many thanks to those of you who supported this trip financially and to the Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island (JFVVI) who continues to support Hebrew School activities.

Todah Rabah,
Leah Levi and the students.

Lots of amazing learning!

Hebrew SchoolWhat’s new at the Hebrew School? Lots of amazing learning is happening (in Hebrew with a smidgen or two of English)!

We have seven Hebrew School students scheduled to compete in the National Bible Contest in Vancouver on May 12-13 weekend. During the past year among their many other Hebrew School activities, they have studied more than 25 Exodus chapters for this contest.

After Havdalah on Sunday April 15, in celebration of the upcoming Yom Ha-atzma’ut (April 19), Leah told students the story of the modernization of Hebrew started by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda in the late 19th century after 2000 years during which Hebrew was exclusively a liturgical language of Torah and prayer.

Leah asked students to name other languages exclusively spoken by Jews, such as Yiddish, Ladino and Judeo-Arabic. The students (and a few parents who were in attendance) were fascinated by the remarkable story of Hebrew’s reinvention in the context of early Zionism. Leah ended the story with the establishment of the State of Israel, but we know that modern Israeli Hebrew speakers continue to expand the language – so let’s remember this as we break out the עגבניות (tomatoes), מלפפונים (cucumbers), פטרוזיליה (parsley), בצל (onion) and מיץ לימון (lemon juice) for a tasty “Israeli salad” snack!

In late April, we said goodbye to some of our beloved Hebrew School teachers who are UVic students; these students are now out of school and off to partake in their own summer activities. So, goodbye and thank-you (להתראות ותודה) to Sarah Friedman, Etz Greenfield, and Hannah Faber, and a very warm welcome to our newly minted Hebrew School teachers Grace Gardner and Carolyn Blum! ברוכים הבאים (welcome)!

Finally, we say many thanks to the volunteers who helped and to the shoppers who supported the Hebrew School by purchasing Passover supplies and other goodies at our Pesach Market. תודה רבה (Thank you very much)!

Lincoln Z. Shlensky

Pesaḥ Market Open for Extended Hours


Wednesday, March 21, 6-8 pm, Sunday & Monday, March 25 & 26, 11 am-2 pm — Our Pesaḥ Market is a Fundraiser for Emanu-El Hebrew School. The Hebrew School thanks you for your ongoing support. We are pleased to announce that we have received additional goods and have extended our market hours. Continue reading Pesaḥ Market Open for Extended Hours

Hebrew School News

Hebrew School Photo 2

There have been lots of fun activities happening at Hebrew school through February and March. On February 25, there was a Purim spiel with costumes and a talent show. Many of the children and families also attended the Purim party and carnival later in the week.

On March 25 the children in Leah’s grade 4-6 class wrote the Regional Bible Exam. The class worked really hard and learned Exodus inside and out. The group will travel to Vancouver in early May to participate in the National Bible Study competition, as well as some fun activities as a group.

Finally, March 11 was the last class before Spring and Passover break. Parents were invited to stay for a family workshop with activities including a ametz hunt and making matzah. The class is now on break until April 8.

Essay Writing Contest for Teens

Essay-Contest-Flyer-2018smDeadline March 5 2018Rethinking Zionism  ~  What Does Zionism Mean to Me?


  • Three Scholarships in the amounts of: $1,000, $850, and $650 USD.
  • The scholarship will apply to any Conservative Movement sponsored Israel program (including Israel programs taking place from June 1, 2018 onward).


Applicants must be residents of North America, in grades 7-12, and a member of a Conservative synagogue. Each participant may only submit one essay for consideration.


  • Essay Contest Opening: October 15, 2017. Entry forms and additional information can be found at,, or
  • Deadline for Entries:
    • Entries must be submitted electronically by 9:00 am EST March 5, 2018. Late entries will not be accepted. MERCAZ and Women’s League cannot be responsible for delayed or misdirected entries. Read receipt requests are recommended.
  • Announcement of Winners:
    • Winners will be notified by May 8, 2018.
  • Essay Format:
    • Essays must be submitted as a standard letter-sized document (8.5×11 inches) in Word or PDF using 12 point regular font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, with the entry form as a cover page. Essays should be double-spaced, up to 1000 words. Submitted essays must be the entrant’s original work, with quotes properly cited. (Citations do not count towards the word count.)
  • Submission:
    • Entries must be submitted via email. Mailed entries will not be accepted. Essays, the accompanying cover page, and photo should be emailed to with the subject MERCAZ USA/CANADA/Women’s League Essay Contest”. By entering this contest, the student agrees that all information submitted becomes the property of MERCAZ – WLCJ to publish at their discretion.