Superheroes: Shushan and Beyond

CEE Purim Poster 2020 letter FINAL 1000Monday, March 9, 2020: A Purim Celebration—Each of us knows someone who inspires us. This special individual may be a fictional superhero (think comic book) or a real-life person (say actor, activist, mentor, singer, etc.). Or, perhaps they are one of the protagonists in the beloved Book of Esther. Continue reading Superheroes: Shushan and Beyond

Ssh! Don’t tell the secret meaning of Purim!

Purim Secrets 2Sunday, March 1, 2020, 7-9 pm at Congregation Emanu-El—Why do we wear masks on Purim? Why do we party and drink alcohol? Why did the early rabbis say that Purim will be the only holiday that exists in the messianic era, when all other holidays are gone? And, most of all, why has all this juicy information been kept secret for so long? Join Rabbi Matt Ponak for a mystical look at the inner dimensions of this ancient holiday. This class is a spiritual preparation for Purim, a holiday that takes us beyond good and evil and into the unity of all existence.  This event is for teens and adults only.

‘Twas a “wonder”ful Purim…

I speak from my heart!On Wednesday March 20, Emanu-El celebrated Leil Purim in grand style. Participants young and old showed up fully attired. Our gathering included “women” with matching blue hair and dresses, some in imperial/palatial garb, tux and top hat, and even a sexy police officer.  And,  who can forget the appearance of Wonder Rabbi?  There was a make-up artist on hand, and a karaoke machine for the post-megillah festivities.
Our youth did us proud with their wonderful megillah reading and their costumes and make-up.  Many other people stepped up to read from the scroll of Esther with fun, flair and passion.
Finally, as with any Jewish event, we were treated to delicious foods: hamantaschen, salads and mini pizzas. Thanks to Penny Tennenhouse we have a wonderful pictorial record of the event.

Purim Carnival

PJ-Library-Purim-Carnival-March-10-Web2Sunday, March 10, 2019 10 am to 12 noon, Jewish Community Center, 3636 Shelbourne Street — The Jewish Federation of Victoria & Vancouver Island, PJ Library, PJ Our Way & Congregation Emanu-El invite everyone to a Purim Carnival on Sunday, March 10, 2019 from 10 am to 12 pm at the Jewish Community Center of Victoria, 3636 Shelbourne Street. This is a free Family Event featuring carnival games, magician, costume parade, hamantashen, snacks and drinks. Come in costume and win a prize! For more info or to volunteer, please email

Cookies for Purim

Cookies photoFebruary 28 — Bake or buy delicious cookies for distribution through Victoria Dandelion Society to people living on the street. Proper observance of Purim includes Matanot l’evyonim (gifts to the poor).

As this most joyous holiday approaches we are calling on bakers, buyers and cookie monsters to bring your treats to the synagogue on or before Wednesday, February 28, or in March to Penny Tennenhouse’s home.

Thank you and Hag Purim Sameaḥ from Avodah Social Action Committee.

Purim Pizzajama Party

It's a Purim-001Wednesday, February 28 starting 5:00 pm — As the month of Adar approaches, our joy increases in anticipation of the holiday of Purim. We invite the congregation to join us for a Purim Pizzajama Party at the synagogue on Wednesday, February 28 starting at 5:00 pm.

We encourage families to come in their pajamas for pizza that we will serve up with a dose of Purim shpiel from our Rabbi Harry.

A Megillah reading at 7 pm in the sanctuary will follow the pizza party. After our Megillah reading, the joy will continue with a welcoming and musical kumsitz, indoor campfire and sing-along. All voices and musical instruments welcome.

A second Megillah reading will take place the following morning during our Thursday Minyan service which starts at 7 am.

Ḥag Purim Sameaḥ from the Religious Services Committee!

Are you ready to “diss” Haman? Get your gragger at Simcha!

Groggers for PurimThe Simcha Gift Shop at Congregation Emanu-El has graggers along with many other Judaica items. The gift shop is located at Congregation Emanu-El at the southern end of the Social Hall.

Gragger, sometimes pronounced grogger, is a noise maker used on Purim when the usual decorum of the Synagogue is disrupted as adults join children to make noise whenever the name of the wicked Haman is mentioned during the reading of the megillah. We are taught that we use graggers during the megillah reading when we hear Haman‘s name, as a way of fullfilling the Biblical comandment to “blot out the remembrance of Amalek” (with the connection that Haman was a descendent of the Amalakites).

The word gragger comes from the Yiddish word for rattle or noise maker (which is thought to come from the Polish word grzégarz). Interestingly the modern English instrumental term for the graggers we commonly use today is “rachet” and the Hebrew term is “ra’ashan” (from the word ra’ash, which means noise).

But where did the tradition of using graggers (or noise makers) during Purim originate?

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia graggers originated in thirteenth century France and Germany, when the Rabbis interpreted the commandment about wiping out the memory of the Amalakites to mean, “even from wood and stones.” They therefore: introduced the custom of writing the name of Haman, the offspring of Amalek, on two smooth stones and of knocking or rubbing them constantly until the name was blotted out.

By repeatedly smashing the rocks together, children could solve two problems with two stones (so to speak): They could make a ruckus while fulfilling the Biblical injunction to “erase the memory of Amalek.”

Ultimately, however, the stones fell into disuse and the use of a “rattle” was appropriated from the Christian Burning of Judas ritual in which the children employed the crotalus (originally a Catholic liturgical noise making instrument).

To learn more…


Kids Purim Parade and Carnival


Cloudy but not raining allowed for a rollicking Purim
Parade on the morning of Sunday March 12. Many attended, some in costume.
In aristocratic attire Rabbi Harry and Rebbetzin RaeAnn presided over the

While the kids sat and stood in the carriage as it paraded from Pandora
Green to the synagogue to the accompaniment of the klezmer band headed by
Marian Segal, they were amazed by the adults and their antics. Inside the shul,
the kids joined in the retelling of the Esther story, various carnival
attractions and the eating of hamantaschen.

See photos by Frances Aknai and Penny Tennenhouse