Looking Back, Moving Forward: 160 Years of Jewish Life in BC 

The Jewish Museum & Archives of BC is pleased to announce that their long-awaited book, Looking Back, Moving Forward: 160 Years of Jewish Life in BC is now available for purchase and pick up from the JMABC offices.

The book is available in two editions:

Deluxe Hardcover – $100
Softcover – $50

Both editions are 288 pages. All content is identical.

To place an order, contact the JMABC offices at: (604) 257-5199 or info@jewishmuseum.ca

Shipping is available across Canada for a fee of $20 per book.

See the Jewish Museum website for more.

Glimpses of our ice age ancestors’ lost world

Chauvet CaveTuesday, October 9, 7:30 pm, Room 159, Fraser Building, University of Victoria — In the deep past lie the answers to who we are and from where we came. Thirty-five thousand years ago, ice age hunters created striking works of art portraying the natural world around them. Emanu-El congregant & writer, Sid Tafler will share insights and images on Tuesday, October 9 at 7:30 pm in Room 159, Fraser Building, University of Victoria, from the legacy of a long-lost world when our ancestor depicted these animals deep inside the darkest places on earth. This was a time when exotic animals like lions, rhinos and mammoths roamed the European continent along with two species of humanity—Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis.

This event is part of a series presented by the Victoria Natural History Society. Everyone is welcome and admission is free.

Talk: Revolution and Counter-Revolution in the Making of the Modern Middle East

Sunday, May 28 at 2 pm


Sketches of Israel and the Middle East series

Join us on Sunday, May 28th at 2 pm in Congregation Emanu-El
synagogue, for the fifth talk in our series Sketches of Israel and the Middle Eastwhen Dr. Andrew Wender will explore
the roles of Revolution and Counter-Revolution in the Making of the Modern
Middle East

The political geography of the Middle East seems to exemplify the
pivotal, ongoing role of revolutions in (re)constructing the modern world. To
take just a few illustrations, consider how states like Egypt and Iran have
been forged by revolutions and how the now-100 year-old Russian revolution has
had myriad reverberations throughout the region. Though today, in the
tumultuous wake of such processes as the 2011- Arab uprisings, the recent
consolidation of power by a figure like Turkey’s Erdogan, and broader global
dynamics ranging from geo-strategic rivalries to discontented populism, it is
especially challenging to assess the whipsawing forces of revolution and
counter-revolution. Applying new thinking about the nature of revolution,
Andrew will offer a critical vantage point on emerging significances for the

Dr. Wender is an Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of
Victoria with a cross appointment in the Departments of Political Science and
History.  His teaching and research
interests include worldwide, historical and contemporary intersections among
politics, society, law, and religion; Middle East politics and history; and
comparative political thought.

  • Sponsored
    by the Emanu-El Adult Education Team, this series aims at increasing our
    members’ knowledge of Israel and the Middle East. Contact Heshi if you have any questions.
  • Entry is by donation: light refreshments will
    be served.

Presentations on the cemetery

June 19 @ 3:00 pm

In May, Dr. Erin McGuire (UVic Anthropology) and the
students from the Historical and Heritage Archaeology course continued last
year’s cemetery project. Students worked to photograph, record, and map
monuments within the cemetery. 

Dr. McGuire and her students would like to
invite members of the Congregation Emanu-El to join them to share some of the
research that they have been conducting over the last two years. Projects
include conservation studies, biographical research, and photographic
reconstruction of lost grave inscriptions on some of the oldest monuments. 

hope that you will join us at the Synagogue on Sunday, June 19, at 3pm for an
hour of conversation and display.

The Use of Animals in Jewish Medieval Manuscripts

Tuesday, May 24, at 7:00pm, at the synagogue

One of the most fascinating genres of illustrated manuscripts from the Middle Ages is the bestiary.
These manuscripts were
part animal natural histories―real and imagined—and part didactic allegories
about righteous human behaviour. While most medieval bestiaries are distinctly
Christian, many Jewish medieval manuscripts used animals in a similar way. 

this presentation, our own Brian Pollick will discuss with us some of the images
from these manuscripts, the ways in which they supported Jewish moral teaching,
and some of the common scriptural and classical ideas about animals that
informed the writers and artists of these manuscripts. 

About Brian Pollick

Brian is a
PhD candidate in the Art History and Visual Studies Department at the
University of Victoria. His dissertation focuses on how imagery commissioned by
merchants in Trecento Italy formed, affirmed and broadcast their moral
identity. Brian is a keen scholar of medieval manuscripts, with a particular
interest in illuminated bestiaries and the allegorical and metaphorical role of
animals. Brian and his wife, Heather, have donated three medieval manuscripts
to the University of Victoria.

Sponsored by the
Emanu-El Adult Education Team

“Us and Them: A Memoir of Tribes and Tribulations”

Us and Them: A Memoir of Tribes and Tribulations by Sid Tafler – originally launched at the Fisher Building as a paperback – is now available as an ebook at Amazon, Kobo, Apple, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.

The book by Sid Tafler, is about growing up Jewish in Montreal in the 1950s and ‘60s, as the country gradually evolved from an era of open discrimination to a place of acceptance and tolerance. It includes a chapter about Sid’s arrival in Victoria and involvement with our shul. Us and Them is especially relevant today as the Quebec government plans to prevent Jews and other minorities from wearing religious symbols at public workplaces.

Folkshul: “Letters from the Lost”/Helen Waldstein, Dec 1, 2-4pm


As part of the Folkshul: Community Learning at Emanu-El series, award-winning author, Helen Waldstein, talks about her fascinating book: Letters from the Lost, onSunday, December 1, 2-4pm. 

On March 15, 1939, Helen Waldstein’s father snatched his stamped exit visa from a distracted clerk to escape from Prague with his wife and child. As the Nazis closed in on war-torn Czechoslovakia, only letters could reach Canada through the barriers of conflict.

The Waldstein family received these letters as they made their lives on a southern Ontario farm where they learned to be Canadian and  forget their Jewish roots. When Helen first read these letters as a mature adult, it changed everything. As her past refused to keep silent, she followed the trail of the letters back to Europe where she discovered living witnesses who could attest to the letters’ contents. In the book, she has interwoven their stories with her own into a compelling narrative of suffering, survivor guilt, and overcoming inter-generational obstacles when exploring a traumatic past. Letters from the Lost has already been nominated for five book awards. As author, Helen Waldstein Wilkes has given numerous presentations to audiences ranging from book clubs to large auditoriums filled people. Her powerful impact as a public speaker along with the relevance of the book’s subject matter is garnering rave reviews.


Nominated for:

  • 2011 Book Publishers of Alberta Association Award
  • 2011 George Ryga Award (British Columbia)
  • 2011 Marsha and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award (National)

For more information, and to read Chapter 1, go to: www.lettersfromthelost.com/