Shop at Simcha Gift Shop for Sukkot

P1050250The Simcha Gift Shop at Congregation Emanu-El has kippot, tallitot, mapot and many other Judaica items. The gift shop is located at Congregation Emanu-El at the southern end of the Social Hall.
You may shop during office hours: Tues-Thurs 9:30-2:30 or by appointment by email. We accept cash, cheques, and credit cards. Come check us out!

About the Lulav and Etrog

It is ordained in Leviticus 23:40: “On the first day (of Sukkot) you shall take the product of hadar (goodly) trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.”

These Arbah Minim (‘Four Species’) are 4 plant species which are used ritually as part of the observance of the festival of Sukkot. Three of the species (the palm, willow and myrtle) are placed in a special plaited holder and collectively are known as a lulav; the fourth of the species, the fruit of the citron tree which is known in Hebrew as an etrog, is held together with the lulav.

It is a mitzvah (commandment) to shake or wave the Four Species on each of the seven days of Sukkot, usually before or during the Morning Service. This shaking or waving of the Four Species is symbolic of the completion of the yearly cycle, of freedom, and of peace and harmony. We shake the lulav in every direction to indicate God’s presence throughout the world, while facing east towards Jerusalem.

Because an etrog can easily be damaged and because certain kinds of damage cause it to become unacceptable for use as part of the Four Species on Sukkot, it is typically wrapped in protective layers and placed inside a box (אתרוג תיבת).


Sukkot Open House at the Brechner’s

Rabbis Sukkah 1.0

Sunday, October 8, 1 – 3 pm — Once again RaeAnn and Rabbi Harry Brechner invite the congregation to a Sukkot Open House. Drop in on Sunday, October 8 from 1 – 3 pm and get a taste of Rabbi Harry’s awesome Kosher Cajun Gumbo! For the address, directions or to RSVP, contact RaeAnn at 250-885-7552 or by email.

Words about the Sukkot Retreat

byNomi Kaston

To arrive at Camp Miriam on Gabriola Island is to arrive at a lively, spirited serenity among trees and rocks, overlooking the sea. This was my first encounter with Camp Miriam, and although camp was over for the summer and we were there for a Sukkot Retreat of families, through Victoria’s Congregation Emanu-El, the voices of the summer camp’s children were there everywhere, echoing happy times and a celebration of Jewish identity.

First, we shared in the building of a sukkah, perched high over the sea. Then, as more families arrived, we gathered for a hike along the seaside, where seals bobbed in the waves. Back to camp for Shabbat candles, blessings, a hot meal in the sukkah, and a spirited Kabbalat Shabbat service filled with singing, dancing and the music of harp and guitar.
Off to sleep in cabins or tents, and to wake up to a shared breakfast and Shabbat services, featuring Rabbi Harry’s wondrous simultaneous Hebrew Torah reading and chanted explanation in English, a magnificent way for participants of all ages to encounter and relate to the Torah reading. Three tiny boys stood at the child-height table where the Torah was opened out, chins resting on little hands as they followed along, like little old men in the shtetl. With Rabbi Harry’s masterfully chanted storytelling, we could see the children of Israel despairing as Moses left them, gathering to build and to worship the Golden Calf. The cadence of the original Hebrew words and the clarity of the inter-lineal translation brought the narrative to life for all of us. The folly of this slip up in our people’s history came all the more clear with Rabbi Harry’s personal mantra, Ayn Od Milvado, “There is None Other Than God”.
  This, along with yogic breathing exercises and singing, fulfilled Rabbi’s Harry’s promise to stretch our comfort zones regarding ritual and prayer. There was just enough of the comforting, expected service, to bring continuity.  Congregation Emanu-El, with roots, and with wings.
    Uri Levi gave a fascinating lesson in Talmud, bringing to mind the morning’s blessings, which we had said in groups of two, one saying each blessing, and the other responding Amen.  My partner Beatrice and I were moved at the synergy between praising God who makes us free and praising God who guides us. The idea of being at the same time guided and free came clear when we saw, with Uri, that despite all the guidance that Torah gives, the Talmudists pondered and argued for years on each small detail of the interpretation of the law. Our people is guided by Torah, and at the same time laden with an enormous responsibility of freedom to interpret, re-understand, and adapt the Law from situation to situation, generation to generation.
   Aside from the organized events at this Sukkot Retreat, rich conversations sprung up around the dinner tables, and on the Shabbat walks along wooded roads to beautiful seaside beaches.
 Our Shabbat ended with a dreamy Havdalah around a crackling campfire, the fire’s song joining in with our singing. Leah Levi, a mother to all of us throughout the retreat, had us cross hands and sway in one circle, singing the Camp Miriam sleeptime song.
  For the little children who are not yet old enough for summer camp, and for the older folk who are decades past the camping years, this was a wondrous adventure in communal singing, learning, praying, and sharing together in the the joy of Sukkot. To all who orchestrated this year’s Sukkot Retreat, may you grow in strength and joy!!

Sukkot Retreat at Camp Miriam

Friday, October 2 to Sunday, October 4

You are invited to join us in celebrating Shabbat and Sukkot in a family friendly, community environment, complete with our own sukkah.  Rabbi Harry will lead us in a fun, thoughtful program meant for anyone who wants to come.  Below is information about registration, logistics, cost, and a basic explanation of how the retreat will work.

Camp Miriam is located on Gabriola Island, off Nanaimo.  The camp is across the road from a typical gorgeous Gulf Island beach and down the road from beautiful sandy beaches.

The program:

  • Friday, Oct 2
    • 3:45pm – ferry from Nanaimo to Gabriola Island
    • 5:00pm – official start with walk to the “Point”
    • 6:15pm – candle lighting and dinner back at camp;
    • then Kabbalat Shabbat  
  • Saturday, Oct 3
    • A mix of learning, singing, playing, and sharing during the day
    • Havdallah and a “sharing of talents”;
    • weather permitting: a campfire
  • Sunday, Oct 4
    • 11:00 am approximately – end of program
    • The art galleries on Gabriola are often open on Sundays – a wonderful outing after the retreat.

Costs for the weekend are as follows:

  • Adult: $ 75
  • Child (12 and under): $40 first child ($20 for each additional child)
  • $40 for Adults staying off-site.

The fee covers accommodation and food for Friday night dinner, breakfasts, hot drinks and snacks.  We will be depending on volunteer participants for food preparation and paid help with cleanup.

In addition, each family should bring:

  • Two vegetarian/dairy main course dishes.  One should be a hot dish (e.g. Casserole) and the other a cold dish (e.g. Bean salad, humus, dolmades).
  • One dessert which feeds 6 – 8 people each.
  • Please be sure to label your dishes with your name and all ingredients.
  • Accommodations: Camp Miriam has winterized cabins with bunk beds; families will be bunking together.  Bathrooms with flush toilets and showers are communal.
  • Alternative Accommodations:  Some of us are not up to the full-on camp experience and have already booked our alternatives, e.g. at the 3-star Surf Lodge, a three minute walk from the camp or B&Bs.  

What to bring:

  • sleeping bags, pillows, towels, warm clothing, rain gear
  • kippot, candle sticks, candles, talit
  • any personal medications
  • flashlights; baby monitors for young kids
  • songbooks/ideas for talent sharing/musical instruments
  • a piece of Judaica or heritage item which has meaning for your family

PLEASE Fill out this form and deliver to the office.
If you have any questions, please email, or call the office 250 382-0675

Magical elements ready for Sukkot?


Do you have your magical elements ready for

Yes, we are referring to the lulav and etrog.  The arba’at ha-minim—the four species of fruit
and plants that we wave around and parade with on the holiday of Sukkot.  The lulav and etrog are a way for us to use
theurgy (religious magic) to invoke God’s presence and ask for rain.  In waving the four species in the six
directions of space and returning to self—holding the lulav and etrog at our
heart—we are, in essence, invoking God’s presence in all space within time.  If you listen to the sound of the lulav, you
can hear the subtle sounds of a rain stick asking the Divine Source for the
blessings of rain.  We are also
connecting with our ancestors and our brothers and sisters all over the planet. 

To acquire your very own lulav and etrog you
don’t need to make your way to Diagon Alley, but simply click here to download the order form.   We order them through Rodals
Quality Judaica
in Montreal, so orders must be in by September 8.  The cost for a set is $65.00 for a regular
set, or $80.00 for a deluxe set.  

Lulav and Etrog 5775


As in previous years, we shall be obtaining lulavim and etrogim for those wishing to purchase these ritual items.  This year we are pleased to have Rodals Quality Judaica in Montreal as our supplier.  Prices are $60 for the regular set, and $70 for the deluxe lulav and etrog set. 

 To place an order, please  contact Zelda at the synagogue office by Sept. 22 at 250-382-0615 or by email.Let us know if you’d like a regular set or deluxe model (“mehudar”).  Prices are still to be determined.  For any questions, feel free to contact Aaron Severs at 250-475-0686 or by email