Mystic Mocha

Begins Friday, Sept. 16


explore the weekly Torah portion with Rabbi Harry. Together we will mine
classical Kabbalistic and Hassidic commentaries to find personal insights and
spiritual nourishment, as we search for deeper meaning and understanding. Grab
a nosh and join Rabbi Harry for this weekly learning.

Participation is by donation.

Animals in Medieval Jewish Manuscripts


Brian Pollick provided the audience
gathered at the synagogue last Tuesday with an interesting and informative
overview of the use of animals in Jewish medieval manuscripts. He led an entertaining
and insightful romp through medieval Jewish manuscripts and offered lots to
ponder about in Jewish art and culture.

There was a somewhat climactic moment
after Brian projected a manuscript illustrated with a leopard, an eagle, a deer
and a lion that was inspired by the words of Yehuda ben Tema, “Be bold as a
leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer and strong as a lion, to carry out
the will of your father in heaven”…— 

Immediately, Rabbi Harry drew the
audience’s attention to the curtain (parokhet) in front of the aron hakodesh
where, inscribed in Hebrew, was the same statement, accompanied by Vancouver
Island animals—two bald eagles, a cougar and a deer. (For more about the
design of Emanu-El’sparokhet see

For more photos of the event, click here

This was an engaging talk and a wonderful segue into The Revelation
event scheduled for Sunday, June 5, 2016.

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

Adult Education, February 2016

Note: all these courses require paid registration before the course starts.

BEGINNER HEBREW – 7 pm, Wednesdays from February 17th

Betsy Boeno, will
start a new beginner Hebrew class in February.
Although the main focus of the class will be conversation and giving you
the confidence to start speaking very quickly, Betsy will use the printed Hebrew alphabet.  You will find it useful
to take the Three Steps to Writing in Hebrew course in January as a precursor to this
beginner Hebrew class.

Betsy has
extensive experience teaching Hebrew, comments from some of her current
students, include: 

“Betsy makes learning Hebrew such fun and you learn so

“She is so enthusiastic.” 

“I go
into her class feeling tired and lethargic and I come out completely

  • Where: at the Synagogue, 1461 Blanshard – corner of
  • 10 classes of 2
    hours each. Cost: 

    $120 for members, $180 for non-members

Register online

INTERMEDIATE HEBREW – 7pm, Mondays in February from Feb. 1

This class is for anyone currently doing Betsy Boeno’s Wednesday Beginner Hebrew class or anyone who already has a basic level
of Hebrew.  If you are new to this class,
please contact Betsy beforehand.

  • Where at the Synagogue, 1461 Blanshard – corner
    of Pandora.
  • 10 classes of 2
    hours each. Cost: 

    $120 for members, $180 for non-members

Get ready for Betsy’s next Intermediate Hebrew class by signing up for Beginner Hebrew: as soon as there’s enough students enrolled, Betsy will start a new beginner course

Register online


Thursdays, 7:30pm from February 18th

This is a weekly, 13-session class
that gives participants a macro-view of Judaism—spanning issues from Jewish
law to holiday celebration, from learning the basics of keeping kosher and
Shabbat to Jewish history and theology. Includes a Shabbat dinner at the end of this course (date and price to be determined).    

  • Where: at the Synagogue, 1461 Blanshard – corner of
  • Cost$140
  • No class on March 24th

For more information about this course, please contact Chanah Caplan.

Register online


Wednesdays, 6:30 pm, from February 17th (see below)

Led by Alan Rutkowski, the Philosopher’s Café meets monthly to discuss Jewish philosophers based on readings from readily available books or from online resources. The first philosopher we are discussing is Yeshayahu Leibowitz. We will meet again on March 28 at 6:30pm at 2-1358 Gladstone Ave. Participants will be asked to make a $10 contribution at each meeting. Anyone who wants the material on Leibowitz for the next meeting should email Alan.

February 4, 2016 update:

“Our apologies, but owing to unforeseen circumstances the start of Philosophers Cafe has been further delayed by one week. The new (and definitive) start date will be Wed February 17th. All other details remain the same.”

Register online

Introduction to Torah, 2016

Learning to
Chant from our Holy Book

New course
starts January 11

Have you
ever thought of learning to chant from the Torah?  Perhaps you have a
family event, or the anniversary of your Bar/Bat Mitzvah approaching?  Or,
you know how to read from the siddur and follow the prayers on Shabbat, but
want to deepen your Jewish practice?    If so, this course may
be for you!

beginner course unlocks many of the mysteries surrounding chanting or “leyning
Torah.  It presents both the theoretical foundation plus practical
hands-on sessions designed to learn the musical notes (“trop”) essential
to singing from our holy book.  The course is designed for beginners – or
those who’d like a refresher – and who have a basic level of fluency in reading
Hebrew and musicality.

  • Date:  Mondays January
    11 – May 9, 2016
  • Time:  7:00 – 8:30 pm
  • Sessions:  15
  • Location:  Social Hall, Fisher
    Educational Centre, Congregation Emanu-El
  • Cost:  $118  synagogue
    members; $149   non-members
  • Prerequisite:   Hebrew
    Literacy l and ll
  • Resource (extra):  Chanting
    the Hebrew Bible (Student Edition)
     by Joshua R. Jacobson
  • Teacher:  Aaron Severs

questions or more information:  please email Aaron or
phone him at 250-475-0686

Adult Education Programme, 5776

  • Regular Classes—Returning:
    • Mystic Mocha: weekly from Friday, Oct 9
    • Lunch & Learn: weekly from Tuesday, Oct 27
    • Morashah: dates TBA
    • Calling All Artists: One evening per month, from Tuesday Oct 27
  • Regular Classes—New: 
    • Beginner Hebrew: 10 classes from Wed October 7, 7pm
    • Ḥug Ivrit (Hebrew Circle): Conversational Hebrew from Nov. 3
    • Baby Yoga: Every Monday in November, 10:45 – 11:45 am
    • Aleph Through the Looking Glass: Wednesdays, Jan 20–Feb 24
    • Philosopher’s Cafe with Alan Rutkowski (dates TBA). 
  • Special Events—Autumn 2015: 

For more details, read on…

Mystic Mocha, 5776

Fridays, 12:30–1:30pm, from Oct 9th, at the Solstice Café on Pandora St.

Come explore the weekly Torah portion with Rabbi Harry. Together we will mine classical Kabbalistic and Ḥassidic commentaries to find personal insights and spiritual nourishment, as we search for deeper meaning and understanding. Grab a nosh and join Rabbi Harry for this weekly learning.

Participation by donation


Thursdays, 7pm, at the synagogue

This class is intended for people who
have taken the Intro to Judaism class or any members who would like to deepen
their knowledge of what it means to live a Jewish life. Contact the office or
Rabbi Harry for more information. 

Lunch & Learn, 5776

Tuesdays, 12:30–1:30pm from Oct 13th, at the synagogue

Bring your dairy brown bag lunch and join Rabbi Harry for some spiritual nourishment at lunchtime. We take a particular text, then work our way through it over the weeks, through a progressive Torahitic lens. You will gain personal insight into and more profound meaning of, the weekly Torah portion. If you have a burning Jewish question we can address that too.  

Participation by donation

Calling All Artists

Tuesdays, October 27 onwards

Returns for a ninth season! Artists of all media—writers, graphic artists, visual artists, fabric artists, mixed media, musicians, dancers—are invited to study with Rabbi Harry on a particular theme, exploring biblical, rabbinical, and traditional commentaries. This year the theme will be the Revelation on Mt. Sinai, and the concept of revelation itself: what is revealed, what is hidden, what is known at a soul level, what cannot be known.

After 5 sessions of study, one evening per month, continuing until the end of February, artists will interpret the theme and present their work at a Gala Evening in June, around the time of Shavuot.

Art as Midrash—what could be more exciting?

Cost is $50 for members, $75 for non-members, with possible additional costs to create a chapbook of the artists’ work.  Watch this space for details of registration.

Beginner Hebrew

10 classes of 2 hours each, from Wed October 7, 7pm

Your Adult Ed team is delighted to welcome Betsy Boeno, who will teach our new beginner Hebrew class.  She will use the classic Hebrew alphabet, but the main focus of the course will be conversation and giving you the confidence to start speaking very quickly.

Betsy has extensive experience teaching Hebrew. She attended high school in Israel and helped new olim with their Hebrew.  For a number of years she was a tourist guide for visiting Israelis in Turkey, where she also taught Hebrew at a number of synagogues.  She taught a class here over the summer, and some of the comments from her students include:

“Betsy makes learning Hebrew such fun and you learn so much.”  

“She is so enthusiastic.”

“I go into her class feeling tired and lethargic and I come out completely re-energized.”

$100 for members, $140 for non-members.

Download the Registration Form

Ḥug Ivrit: Conversational Hebrew club

Tuesdays, November 3 onwards, 10:45–11:45 am

Conversational Hebrew with native speaker Dahlia Beck

Is your Hebrew well beyond the beginner level, but you know you require more practice speaking in order to improve your listening, comprehension and vocabulary skills? Our new Ḥug Ivrit may be just what you are looking for.  We’ll meet in informal settings, such as coffee shops and private homes, to immerse ourselves in Hebrew conversation and culture, under Dahlia’s careful guidance.

Just think, after only a few sessions you may find yourself discussing the news coming out of Israel, in HEBREW – how cool is that?  

Participation – by donation.

Details on places and times to be announced. How often Ḥug Ivrit meets will be decided at the first session.

Baby Yoga

Every Monday in November 10:45–11:45 am, at the synagogue.

Please come and join Yoga Therapist  Michelle Rubin & baby Hudson for this fun and therapeutic class. Michelle draws from 30 years of personal Yoga practice and has over a decade of local and international teaching experience.

Michelle & baby Hudson will lead you through simple but effective poses to help you reclaim your hips & shoulders while preparing your back for your ever growing bundle of joy.

  • Who is it for: Caregiver(s) & baby. Older siblings are welcome to join in and thankfully new resident bubbie (grandma) Barb Pelman will be on hand to help entertain them with storytelling and activities.
  • Cost: Donation to synagogue of $10 pre-register for all 5 classes OR $5 drop-in fee.  Please bring cash or cheque to first class.
  • What to bring : Yoga mat(s) & a comfy blanket or rug for baby.

For additional yoga information please email Michelle.

This is a great opportunity to meet and hang out with other parents of young children.

Forum on marijuana

Tuesday, November 24, 7pm at the Sanctuary

A very important forum on marijuana, led by experts in the field of medical research, the negative effects on society as a whole caused by the criminalization of its use, and how it can be safely decriminalized.  We will also hear from an experienced and respected grower of the plant.  Our own Rabbi Harry will moderate and discuss the halakhic implications of its use.

Watch for further details shortly.

Aleph Through the Looking Glass: The course

Wednesdays, Jan 20–Feb 24, 2016, at 7:00 pm, at the synagogue

After his acclaimed talks earlier this year, Jonathan Orr-Stav returns with a full five-lesson course to help you master Hebrew script quickly—ideal for any beginner to Hebrew.

This course is a revolutionary and highly effective way of learning the Hebrew aleph-bet. Basing it on his book of the same title, Orr-Stav shows how any literate English speaker can master the essentials of writing in Hebrew within five lessons, separately from the language itself, thanks to a historical kinship between the two alphabets, fundamental manual tendencies known as “chirodynamics”, and a little-known fact that most HFL (Hebrew as a Foreign Language) books would rather you didn’t know. The sessions are projected to be an hour each. Workbooks will be provided.

Cost: $50 to members, $70 to non-members. Orr-Stav’s book, Learn to Write the Hebrew Script: Aleph Through the Looking Glass will also be available at a discounted rate of $25 for anyone interested.  

Philosopher’s Café

Beginning in January and led by Alan Rutkowski.  We’ll meet informally in private homes to discuss Jewish philosophers based on readings, which Alan will provide prior to the meeting, so you’ll have a chance to consider them beforehand.

Possible philosophers will include Abraham Joshua Heschel, David Hartman, Joseph Soloveitchik, Martin Buber and Yeshayahu Leibowitz.  

Participation: by donation.  Watch this space for start dates and times

Adult Education Calendar: updates

“Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.”

Daniel J. Boorstin

Here are the latest updates for Adult Education. We have added another Folkshul event for December 10 and two exciting classes in modern Hebrew for Winter 2015!

Regular Classes

  • Mystic Mocha– Talk Talmud and Ḥassidic teachings with Rabbi Harry at the Solstice Café on Pandora St. – Fridays, 12:30–1:30 pm
  • Lunch & Learn – Learn about the week’s parashah and other Torah wisdom –  Tuesdays, 12:30–1:30pm, at the synagogue
  • Introduction to JudaismFor those interested in learning more about Judaism, whether they are already Jewish or considering choosing Judaism – Thursdays, 7:30 pm pm at the synagogue
  • MorashahFor people who have taken the Introduction to Judaism class, or any members who would like to deepen their knowledge of what is means to live a Jewish life – Thursdays, 7:00 pm, at the synagogue.

New Hebrew Classes: 

  • Aleph Through the Looking Glass: A five-session course (and book) showing how any literate English speaker can master the essentials of writing in Hebrew in three lessons, separately from the language itself, thanks to historical kinship between the two alphabets (see separate item for details)
  • Bet – You Can Read & Speak HebrewUsing a learner’s Hebrew newspaper and other materials, Dahlia Beck, a native Hebrew speaker with years of experience as an ESL teacher, will lead reading and conversation on a wide variety of topics as well as help you work on Hebrew grammar and vocabulary (see separate item for full details)

LimmudVan – February 9, 2014

A Festival of Jewish Learning & Culture


LimmudVan is the latest in a worldwide movement of non-denominational Jewish learning/culture events.  Originating over 30 years ago in London,  England, Limmud has spread to Paris, New York, Buenos Aires, Jerusalem, Boston, Winnipeg and over 50 other locations.  Each Limmud is independently organized and invites both outside speakers and local – sometimes unknown teachers and leaders from the host community.  Our motto is Every learner is a teacher; every teacher is a learner.

LimmudVan will take place on Sunday, February 9, 2014.  The Sunday of the BC Family Day long weekend – we hope to encourage out- of- towners to take the weekend and come to Vancouver and experience a Jewish learning experience unavailable to them in their home communities and we can arrange home hospitality if needed. The event will be held at King David High School in Vancouver.

The day consists of six blocks, each an hour long, plus an hour for lunch (a kosher lunch is included in the price of your registration).  Within each hour you have a choice of seven different sessions – typically covering Torah text or philosophy, Jewish history, social issues, Jewish identity or living, music or art, and a kids/family program.

That makes 42 different sessions to choose from over the course of the day.  View the full schedule,  where you can click on each colour-coded block and get a full description of the session and the bio of the presenter. If you are a teacher at your synagogue or after school or Sunday program, check out the sessions highlighted as being of special interest to educators.