Rabbi Harry talks about Death and Dying

Sunday, March 7, 2021 at 7 pm on Zoom—Congregation Emanu-El invites you to join us on Sunday, March 7, 2021 at 7 pm on Zoom when Rabbi Harry will talk about Death and Dying. He will explore questions such as “Do Jews believe in heaven and hell”, “What does Judaism say about reincarnation and life after death”, and “What does Jewish burial and mourning ritual have to teach us about life and death?” Join Rabbi Harry in an exploration and survey of Jewish mystical texts and halakhah (Jewish law) with the goal of gaining new insight into death and dying and understanding the tremendous wisdom inherent in Jewish mourning practice.

About Rabbi Brechner

Rabbi Harry Brechner has been the spiritual leader of Congregation Emanu-El in Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia for the past 19 years. He is involved with various social action projects and outreach to marginal and vulnerable folk in Victoria and is a strong supporter of multi-faith, multi-cultural dialogue. With a background in early childhood education and child development, Rabbi Harry has worked both as a pre-school teacher and a special educator. Some of his sundry experiences include commercial fishing in Alaska, trail maintenance in the Northeast corner of the Cascade Mountains, tying re-bar on construction sites in Seattle. He has also served as a combat medic in the Israel Defense Forces. Rabbi Harry is a mediator and spiritual seeker who also makes a great kosher gumbo and jambalaya.

For information and the Zoom link contact info@congregationemanuel.ca. Donations to our Adult Education fund are always welcome. You may donate ONLINE or through the office at info@congregationemanuel.ca

Creative Midrash with Rabbi Harry

Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 7 pm on Zoom—Midrash is the Talmudic/rabbinic tradition of fleshing out Torah text, described best by Tillie Stanger-Ross as “rabbinic fan fiction.” We will use creative media and modalities to generate new insights and meaning for classic Torah narratives, using “Bibliodrama”a form of psychodrama developed by Peter Pitzele to uncover archetypes and emotions that stem from Torah narratives. We will also engage in collage-making and journaling, to explore and generate personal and relevant new understandings of Torah narratives.

Continue reading Creative Midrash with Rabbi Harry

Howie’s Challah Baking Zoom Workshop

pizza picture-001

Join Howie Herzog in this four part interactive workshop where we will make challah together in our own kitchens. Please come to the workshop from your kitchen with the ingredients ready to go.

  • Part 1:  11:15am – 12:15pm: Make the dough
  • Part 2:  2:00pm – 2:45pm: “Take challah” and braid
  • Part 3:  3:30pm – 3:45pm – In the oven she goes
  • Part 4:  4:15pm – Challah!

Continue reading Howie’s Challah Baking Zoom Workshop

Renewing Jewish spirituality after the holocaust

Jewish Spirituality1000Sunday, February 23, 2020, 4 pm at Congregation Emanu-El—The Emanu-El Adult Education Team invites the community to attend the fifth presentation in the Alternative Realities in Judaism series featuring Rabbi Daniel Siegel discussing Renewing Jewish Spirituality after the holocaust on Sunday February 23, 2020 at 4 pm. Entry is by donation: light refreshments will be served.

There is little doubt that the combination of the European tragedy, the creation of the State of Israel, and the growing awareness of the need to transcend tribalism have combined to mount a strong challenge to traditional forms of Jewish identity. In this session, Rabbi Daniel Siegel will guide us as we look at ways to renew our Judaism with a particular emphasis on Ḥasidism and neo-Ḥasidism.

image-assetRabbi Daniel was the Rabbinic Director of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal and is currently the Rabbinic Director of ALEPH Canada. As the founding director of the Integral Halachah Institute, he organizes teleconferencing classes, edits and publishes the teachings of Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and others, is the editor of Siddur Kol Koreh and other resources for prayer. As the first Dayan in ALEPH, he responds to questions and has written extensively on halachic issues. His writings can be found in his blog and in the ALEPH ReSources Catalogue (alephcanada.ca). He has served the ALEPH Rabbinic Program as Associate Dean, teacher, and director of studies. He is a trained mediator and is deeply involved in his local, Hornby Island community.

He is married to Rabbi Hanna Tiferet Siegel, the father of Noah, Shefa, and Elisha, and grandfather to Eden and Avna.



Kafka and Secular Jewish Mysticism

Kafka postponed!POSTPONED from Sunday, January 5, 2020 due to illness. Will announce new date when available. —The Emanu-El Adult Education Team invites you to the third presentation in the Alternative Realities in Judaism series when Lee Henderson will take a look at the life and work of the great 20th century Jewish writer Franz Kafka and his relationship to Tanakh, the tales of Rabbi Nachman, the Midrash, Kaballah, as well as contemporary secular political ideologies.

Kafka and Secular Jewish Mysticism

Lee & Kafka 1000

Sunday, January 5, 2020 at 4 pm at Congregation Emanu-El, 1461 Blanshard St.  — The Emanu-El Adult Education Team invites you to the third presentation in the Alternative Realities in Judaism series when Lee Henderson will take a look at the life and work of the great 20th century Jewish writer Franz Kafka and his relationship to Tanakh, the tales of Rabbi Nachman, the Midrash, Kaballah, as well as contemporary secular political ideologies. Continue reading Kafka and Secular Jewish Mysticism

Limmud Vancouver 2020 registration is now open!

72987352_1152846838238694_1600107177274507264_oEarly bird fees in effect until December 31, 2019 — What do a Juno nominated singer, an expert on Jewish women in early modern Amsterdam, a former drag queen turned rabbi, and another rabbi immersed in the North American Jewish Persian community have in common?
They are all presenting at Limmud Vancouver 2020! Spend a great weekend on Feb. 29 & March 1, 2020 upping your Jewish game and expanding your network. An exciting program is on its way! LimmudVan’20 received more than 70 proposals for presentations, and the program committee is busy sifting through them to produce a varied and interesting program. Early bird registration fees are in effect until December 31, 2019. Be sure to register early and get this great deal.
For more information and registration…

Creative Midrash

Creative MidrashSaturday, November 23, 2019 at 7:00 pm at Congregation Emanu-El, 1461 Blanshard Street — Join Rabbi Harry Brechner for an interactive evening using art and drama to expand the sacred Torah narratives in a search for deeper meaning and insights. In the first part of the workshop we will experiment with hands on Midrash, using torn paper collage to unpack and explore stories from our Biblical ancestors. In the second half of the workshop we will employ techniques of “Bibliodrama” to flesh out poignant Torah narratives.

Rabbi Harry trained with Peter Pitzele the founder of Bibliodrama, a form of psychodrama that conjures up deep archetypes, often seeing Torah narrative through the lens of “a cast of internal characters,” allowing participants to traverse their inner worlds in search of personal insight and greater spiritual awareness.

This is the second presentation of Alternative Realities in Judaism series.  Admission is by donation; light refreshments will be served.

A magical moment

IMG_0323-001Rabbi Harry did not disappoint those magic seekers who came to the synagogue last Sunday to hear about Magic and the Rabbinate. He explained how traditional and non traditional Jewish teachings had lead him to various life serving understandings; that it is all “g-d” – the good and the bad, compassion is a trusty guide, let your ego go, know what you are loyal to and be willing to go down the “rabbit hole”. He suggested that folk religion may offer life affirming ideas when classical beliefs and practices fail to offer solace. He explained that there are settings in which it is preferable to sing a niggun rather than recite a prayer or to hold a special object (amulet) rather than a siddur.

Kristallnacht: Remembrance and Action

Kristallnacht 2018 NLThursday November 7, 2019 at 7 pm, Congregation Emanu-El Synagogue, 1461 Blanshard Street — The Victoria Shoah Project will commemorate Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), the beginning of the tragic history of attacks on European Jews, on Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 7:00 pm at Congregation Emanu-El synagogue, 1461 Blanshard St., Victoria.

In recent years we have seen the unfortunate growth of attacks on minority groups and those who are “the other”. This highlights the need for us to stand together to protect and safeguard all peoples, regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation or other factors, which may make them targets of a hateful few. This year’s program is titled “Remembrance and Action”. It is a respectful remembrance of those who suffered on Kristallnacht and in the Shoah (Holocaust) as well as a reminder of how and why we, as a collective society, commemorate such tragic events. Remembrance is essential; however we also must act in tangible ways to protect all peoples in our diverse community. We are inviting political and law enforcement leaders as well as representatives from the diverse faith communities to join together at the commemoration to lead us in reading a Pledge of Mutual Respect and Support.

Please join us to remember the past and commit to take action a better future where we will respect and protect our neighbours, not remain silent in the face of any injustice against any person or group and work towards building bridges leading to unity and shalom (peace) in our own community and beyond.