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

Esther Bowie launch a success!

Purim 2017


More than 60 people of all ages, children, adults and
seniors, gathered in the sanctuary with groggers in hand on Leil Purim
(Saturday March 11 evening) to celebrate the Festival of Lots by listening to
the re-telling of the Book of Esther, and to blotting out the name of the evil

Costumes of all manner abounded kindling a festive atmosphere. Snacks of
potato chips, soft drinks, and alcohol helped to get attendees in the mood to
party. The megillah (scroll) was read in an animated fashion by a line-up of
children and adults, and we re-lived the victory of Esther and Mordechai over
Haman in ancient Persia. Purim is a time of paradox, when what we see is not
necessarily what is, and a topsy-turvy experience (including masquerade and
self-mockery). After the megillah reading, all present were treated to platters
of fresh vegetables, fruits, cookies – and of course – hamantaschen!

Later on, we kicked up our heels as the sanctuary was
transformed into a dance hall. Lasers lit up the domed roof and music permeated
the hall. DJ Mack from HiWay Productions spun many favourites from the 60’s and
70’s, including lots of David Bowie classics, other songs from Prince, the
Beatles, Saturday Night Fever and assorted requested numbers. A small but
spirited group of revelers, kept things going on the dance floor until

See photos online

Purim—the inspiring story of a woman’s courage in the face of hatred


The Jewish holiday of Purim is quickly approaching. It begins on the evening of March 11 and continues through the next day, Sunday the 12th.

The holiday of Purim has its roots in the Biblical Book of Esther. The story is a fairytale full of palace intrigue, romance, greed, lust for power, and outrageous fate. The story of Purim makes no mention of Divine Source. In fact the name of the super courageous heroine, Esther, holds the meaning of “hidden.” Purim is celebrated as Jewish Carnival; it ushers in the end of winter when life is hidden, and it reminds us through outrageous twists of fate that life holds much more than the what we can see. Purim reminds us to be open to wonder and that wonder is connected to hope. Purim’s biggest lesson is that through hope people can effect real good in our world.

Read More…

From Rabbi Harry’s piece in the Times Colonist this week.

Costume up for the Purim Parade

Sunday, March 12, 2017 10:30 am
Green, corner of Cook & Pandora


Purim, Congregation Emanu-El celebrates children. Join us for an amazing Purim
experience on March 12 at 10:30 am on Pandora Green, at the corner of Cook and
Pandora Streets. 

There will be a Purim Costume Parade complete with a horse
drawn carriage and klezmer band, a comedic and educational puppet show,
and an old fashioned carnival. Did we mention hamantaschen?