High Holy Days Seating

please-noteAs we approach the High Holy Days, please keep in mind that reserved seating is no longer available for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. During 2016 High Holy Days, we found that reserved seats were often empty. New members and others attending services for the first time found it difficult to determine where they could sit. We will do our best to accommodate people with disabilities. If you have special needs, please contact our Synagogue Director Betsi Boeno during office hours at 250-382-0615.

Preparing for the High Holy Days

HIgh Holy Days

Note this is a date change! Wednesday September 13, at 7 pmPrepare our Hearts and Minds for the Days of Awe. The High Holy Days are fast approaching. Our Religious Services Committee has arranged two preparatory evenings – Wednesday, September 13, at 7 pm and Saturday, September 16, at 9 pm.

On Wednesday September 13, at 7 pm, we will Prepare our Hearts and Minds for the Days of Awe. Continue reading Preparing for the High Holy Days

High Holy Days 2017/5778 Service Schedule

Cong Emanu El

(For a printable (PDF) version of the schedule, click here)



Wednesday, Sept. 13 Elul Retreat

  • Ÿ 7:00 pm Prepare our Hearts and Minds for the Days of Awe

Saturday, Sept. 16 Leil Sliḥot

  • Ÿ 9:00 pm Sliḥot Service

Wednesday, Sept. 20 Erev Rosh Hashanah

  • Ÿ 7:30 pm Ma’ariv Service
  • Ÿ 6:57 pm Light candles

Continue reading High Holy Days 2017/5778 Service Schedule

Cantorial Soloist Shefa Siegel Returning


For the third consecutive year, High Holy Day services at Emanu-El will feature the davening of Shefa Siegel. Shefa mixes the traditional modes, or nusaḥim, of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, with the songs of Leonard Cohen, melodies of Shlomo Carlebach, Persian classical music, and original compositions. He approaches prayer as devotional storytelling, using nusaḥ, liturgical poetry, and song to create sacred experience.

Song, especially our old sacred modes, springs from a spirit more ancient than law or scripture. Before any revelation of holy writ, Sinai still in the distance, the Israelites learned the “Song of the Sea” while travelling across the ocean floor, where music has its source. And long after all wisdom goes into oblivion, there still will be song, for in the beginning was not the word, but a melody.
On Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur we go on a pilgrimage of the imagination. We chant our way to places marked by the sacred exploits of ancestors before following the pure sound of the shofar to the origin in a blinding moment of union.  

Prayer may no longer spring so naturally or easily out of daily life, but the key to unlocking its sacred experience is nothing more complicated than sincerity. Each prayer has its own mode, nusaḥ, whose arabesques transfigure liturgical poetry from words on a page to worlds appearing like islands on the sea. Just as a navigator knows that if you see the image of the island in your mind, you will never be lost, prayer uses these old modes to know ourselves, by remembering how we got here. “You’d sing,” Leonard Cohen writes. “You’d sing, not for yourself, but to make a self.”

Rabbi Harry and Aaron Severs our Gabbai will from time to time call out page numbers from the Maḥzor, the High Holy Day prayer book.  This does not mean that you, as a participant, need to jump to the page.  If you are reading or studying a part of the Maḥzor that is speaking to you by all means stay where you are.  If you are connecting to the music and the vibe in the synagogue and want to put down the prayer book that is a great thing to do as well.  Tfilah(”prayer” in Hebrew) is about being reflective and connecting to the Transcendent.  In Yiddish the word davennen holds the word divine within it.  Prayer can be about allowing ourselves at a soul level to connect to Divine Source.  Using the music and the beautiful light in our sanctuary as a place of meditation can be a powerful and renewing exercise.  

Before various prayer segments of the service Rabbi Harry will give a short teaching about the intentions of the prayers, deconstructing the technology of the liturgy, teasing out what the liturgy is trying to accomplish.  

We are excited to connect with everyone this upcoming holiday season and we look forward to davening and learning together.

Shana Tovah u’Mtukah
Rabbi Harry & Shefa Siegel

Leil Sliḥot

Preparing our hearts, mind and soul for the Days of Awe

Saturday night, September 24

Rabbi Harry for Motza’ei Shabbat starting at 8:00 pm and an evening of spiritual cleansing, chanting, guided
meditation and a traditional annulling of empty promises followed by a Sliḥot
service. The Sliḥot service is a concentrated effort to stir compassion and
forgiveness before Rosh Hashanah, the day of judgement. The service is based on
ancient liturgical poems and prayers of forgiveness.

Thank you, David Levine

“The Membership Committee sends heartfelt thanks to David Levine for
organizing and taking charge of High Holy Days reserved seating in the
sanctuary. David took on this task to carry on the well-loved tradition of
reserved seats. We know that the congregation members appreciate this service.
Kol HaKavod, David, from your grateful committee.”  

–Sharon Fitch

Rabbi’s message for the High Holy Days

tradition has a blessing for
everything; from going to the bathroom (we thank
God and remember
what an amazing gift it is that our body
works) to
hearing thunder (we invoke
God’s presence and
acknowledge that God’s power
and might fill
the world). A very curious blessing is the one
which we say upon meeting a friend after a very long absence, over a year
to be exact. In it we thank God for
reviving the dead. This seems like a rather
to greet a friend—until
look at it from a different
and, perhaps,
more profound perspective. Friendships and
relationships gain a life
of their own. Individuals co-create
the entity we call friendship. Friendship requires presence,
and seeing a friend after
a long absence,
revives the life of that relationship.

Think about the Shma—one
of our most powerful prayers and
affirmations. We affirm God’s unity and uniqueness in the universe,
and in doing so, we are mindful that we
humans, as individuals and
a collective, are part
of the One. In
Leviticus, we are commanded to
“Love the other
as you
love yourself.” To really love
the other, we must recognize this “other” as part of
self. When we relate
to another from our soul,
we generate love.
This is why
the commitment to love HaShem, our God, with all our heart
and with all
life force, comes directly after the Shma,
where we invoke our awareness of God’s unity—ainod milvado—there is only

When we connect with one
another from a
Martin Buber would
co-create a holy
relationship: we
create an angel. When we spend time
together, we nourish our angel. When we are apart and not
sharing with
one another and not
holding the awareness that we are
connected, our
angel weakens. If we
are not together for a year,
angel has no
power and is as if it were dead. This is why we invoke the blessing that
God revives the dead when we
reconnect. We are reviving the angel of our
relationship. It is through our relationships that we
encounter Presence. This happens when we recognize other as part
of self
our connection with
God. When we engage
in this kind of soul-to-soul
encounter, we
create angels.

saw a quote today from Pierre Teilhard De Chardin: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience: we
are spiritual beings having a human experience
.” This quote reinforced for me the work that I need to do to prepare
for the High Holy Days. To deepen
my relationship with “other”, I need to
on my relationship with my “self”.
work of tshuvah—of returning to authentic self—returning to
life groove in harmony with God, must begin by recognizing and nourishing my own soul. If I cannot recognize my own soul,
how can I truly generate
love? In order to
connect with others from my soul,
I must first revive my angel
through my relationship with myself and
within me.

In what seems like the distant past, one
of my teachers, Rabbi Mychal
Springer, taught that, as rabbis,
the only way we can teach authentically
is from our soul to
our congregants’ souls. Human egos constantly name,
categorize, analyze
and judge others and otherness. The constructs we create as human beings only seem like
reality. We think we know because we
can name and judge—but when we are
stuck in our
we miss encountering

 If we
spend too much time in
the realm of doing (which is connected to ego) and not
in the realm of being (connected
to soul),
we weaken our soul angel. If we
spend too much
energy and time in a storm of media bombardment that
fuels fears and anxiety,
we weaken our
soul angel. If we spend too
in the realm of the material, we weaken
our soul angel.

My hope for
us right now is to care
for our soul angel. Take the time to reconnect with the deepest parts of
self. Enter the realm of being,
to be
nourished by Presence
and to sense God’s Essence in our
world. Rabbi Shlomo
Carlebach z”l used
to teach that when you say
Shanah Tovah—“[Have] a
year”it is not
a simple platitude. When you say Shanah Tovah, you need to
really mean it.
This means that
are really saying,
“I will do everything I can to be with you, to witness you and to care for you, for you to have
a good year
.” It means, “I want to nourish our
.” To nourish the angels we co-create with
others, we must nourish the angel
within our
self—the angel of our soul.

“Shanah Tovah u’Metukah—a good and sweet year of hope, joy and wonder for
us all”

– Rabbi Harry

High Holy Days, 5776/2015 Services Schedule

(For a printed (PDF) version of this schedule, click here).

  • Saturday,
    Sept. 5
     | Leil Sliḥot
    • 8:30 pm Program at synagogue: Planetary screening/discussion
      and Sliḥot service
  • Tuesday,
    Sept. 8, 7–10 pm | 
    Introspective retreat: Turning my life around, again
  • Sunday,
    Sept. 13
     | Erev Rosh Hashanah
    • 7:13 pm Light candles
    • 7:15 pm Ma’ariv Service

  • Monday,
    Sept. 14
     | Rosh Hashanah Day 1
    • 9:00 am Service
    • 11:00 am Children’s Blessing
    • 5:30 pm Tashlikh (on beach at Cook & Dallas)
    • 8:15 pm Light candles
  • Tuesday,
    Sept. 15 | Rosh Hashanah Day 2
    • 9:00 am Service
  • Tuesday,
    Sept. 22
     | Kol Nidrei
    • 6:15 pm Service
    • 6:54 pm Light candles
  • Wednesday,
    Sept. 23 | Yom Kippur
    • 9:00 am Morning Service
    • 1:00 pm Yizkor
    • 5:00
      pm Minḥah followed by Ne’ilah
    • 7:57 pm Fast Ends
    • 8:00 pm Community Break Fast
  • Sunday,
    Sept. 27
    Erev Sukkot
    • 6:44 pm Light candles
  • Monday,
    Sept. 28
    Sukkot Day 1
    • 9:00 am Service
    • 7:46 pm Light candles
  • Tuesday,
    Sept. 29
    Sukkot Day 2
    • 9:00 am Service
  • Saturday, Oct.
    Shabbat Ḥol Hamo’ed
    • 9:00 am Service
  • Sunday,
    Oct. 4
    Hoshaana Rabbah
    • 9:00 am Service
    • 6:29 pm Light candles
  • Monday,
    Oct. 5
    Shmini Atzeret
    • 9:00 am Morning Service, including Yizkor
    • Leil
      • 7:30 pm Service
      • 7:31 pm Light candles
  • Tuesday,
    Oct. 6
    Simḥat Torah
    • 9:00 am Service

May you and yours be
inscribed for a healthy and sweet New Year ahead 

– Religious Services
Committee, Kehilat Kodesh Emanu-El

Introspective Retreat:  Turning my life around, again!


Tuesday, September 8, 7–10pm

Now is the time for soul accounting and spiritual preparation for the High Holy Days.  Join us for an evening of connecting, sharing and learning in an intimate supportive environment on Tuesday, September 8 from 7–10 pm at the Pardes—Mike and Jill’s farm in West Saanich.  Caravans leave from the synagogue 

Bring comfortable clothes a sweater, flashlight, food for sharing, a pillow and/or yoga mat.

How to get there:

  • From Victoria,
    take Blanshard St./Pat Bay Highway to Royal Oak Dr. (exit 11).  
  • Left on to Royal Oak Drive.  
  • At the 3rd set of lights, turn right onto
    West Saanich Road.  
  • After 5 km, just past Red Barn, turn left onto Wallace Drive.  
  • Continue for 2.2 km past Willis Point
    , past rifle range 
  • Turn left onto Durrance Road (not Durrance Lake!).  
  • Take 1st right onto Castlerock Road and
    2nd driveway on the right is your destination.  There is a big sign: Castlerock

Billeting Out of Town Members for High Holy Days

Do you live north of Mill Bay, or south of Colwood? Do you feel you live too far away to attend services at Congregation Emanu-El? We have a list of families and individuals who are offering to host our out-of-town members for the High Holy Days and Shabbat. For further information, please contact Judy Honickman-Fuller, Central Vancouver Island Membership Team Liaison, 250-244-6519, or by email