MAZEL TOV! B’nei Mitzvah Exhibit

Congregation member Dena Gelfand curated this exhibit with submissions from current or former members on the B’nei Mitzvah theme. She and her volunteers filled the case with colourful and joyful memories of this rite of passage. Here are a few more photos from the display because we know it is still not time to gather together for freilich events. There is room on the outside side wall of the case for more photos, contact Dena through the Office if you want to put up something from a past B’nei Mitzvah celebration.

Signs and Symbols: Calling All Artists Returns!

Beginning January 20, 2022: Calling All Artists is a project inviting artists of many kinds—visual, textile, multi-media, music, poetry—to study a biblical or rabbinical text with Rabbi Harry, and to interpret this learning through their art. “The class is a kind of midrash (interpretation of Torah)”, Rabbi Harry explains. This year, we will study Jewish symbolism, and the significance of using symbols. 

We will meet once a month for learning sessions with the Rabbi, beginning January 20, 2022, and continuing on February 24, March 24, April 7, and May 12, 2022. Meetings will be a hybrid of in-person and Zoom sessions, beginning on Zoom until the news improves.

In the fall, the artists, if it is possible to meet again, will celebrate their work with a delicious and gorgeous Gala in the Social Hall. If not, the Gala will still happen, but zooming.

For more information and to register, contact Barbara Pelman.

Fees are $70.00 for non-members, $50.00 for members.

Once you are registered, you can pay through the Synagogue Office, and a Zoom link and any update information will be sent to you. 

Summary of event details

  • Dates: January 20, 2022 – May 12, 2022
  • Where: Hybrid of in-person and Zoom sessions, beginning on Zoom
  • Cost: $70.00 for non-members, $50.00 for members
  • Registration and Information: Contact Barbara Pelman

Updated – Shabbat Shirah Commemoration: A Reprise

January 15, 2022, on Zoom only: For the past two years Congregation Emanu-El held a special service on Shabbat Shirah commemorating the adoption of egalitarian services and remembering our beloved Laurel Nahshon z”l, who was accustomed to celebrating each year “Women on our Bimah” by chanting the Beshalaḥ haftarah. Last year owing to the pandemic, we held an abbreviated service on Zoom that did not include Torah readings. This year we plan to have an in-person/Zoom Shabbat Shirah service on Saturday, January 15, 2022—as the pandemic evolves has evolved, we may have to revert to Zoom only. Mark the date and plan to join us. 

See Siddur Lev Shalem

Summary of event details

Join us for A Light in Dark Times

Tuesday, August 24, 2021, at 6 pm“What happens when Midrash is not generated by the sages of the distant past but rather contemporary artists?” This question, posed by Rabbi Harry, is the basis for the project, Calling All Artists (CAA), which has been held every year since 2005. This year, in the middle of a pandemic, the project was even more meaningful, though its format more unusual. Eighteen artists of different media gathered on Zoom to explore Torah that relates to Hope, Faith and Prayer. For the artists, it was a way to work with Rabbi Harry on braiding a spiritual lifeline during a time of isolation and fear. Please join us on Tuesday, August 24, 2021, on Zoom to celebrate the insights and interpretations of the year’s learning, titled A Light in Dark Times.

Each artist will show their work and explain the process that birthed it. Sculpture, paintings, handmade books, prayer flags, dance, poetry bowls—a treasure of wisdom and creativity. As Rabbi Harry says in his introduction to the project’s chapbook, “In many ways the sages of now are artists; open, courageous, creative seekers of truth and beauty, and conduits to understanding universal essence.”

The show will be hung in the Social Hall from August 20, 2021, to the end of November 2021. The chapbook A Light in Dark Times, which includes the artwork and artists’ statements, will be available through the Gift Shop and the individual artists.

Though not the most intimate of venues, our little Zoom frames are nevertheless wide-spread and accommodating. We would love to celebrate our work with all of you on Zoom, and by invitation only, with a small audience in the synagogue.

Mænni Ruben’s Theresienstadt 1945 Autograph Book

If you have not yet seen the Theresienstadt Autograph Book Exhibit about Mænni Ruben’s story and connection to congregation member Susi Deston (z”l) in the Social Hall, there is still time, as it doesn’t close until August 12, 2021.
The research, exhibit and booklet reflect international participation and last August a newly created project website was launched along with a program sponsored by the Victoria Shoah Project. The original Autograph Book has been donated to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. For viewing before August 12, please contact Congregation Emanu-El office at (250) 382-0615 or for open hours.

Return to In-Person Worship Services

Drawing of Congregation Emanu-El

Saturdays at 10 amRSVP by Friday, 3:30 pm—Throughout the summer, we will hold Shabbat services in the sanctuary, and broadcast the service on Zoom. For now, we are allowing a maximum of 50 people to attend in person. Preregistration along with adherence to all health and safety protocols is required.

If you would like to attend, please register by emailing the synagogue office at before 3:30 pm on the preceding Friday. We look forward to seeing you then!

Rabbi Harry and Aaron Severs

Incident at our synagogue

Dear Haverim (Friends)

We have had an incident at the synagogue that required police intervention. You may have read something regarding this incident through the news or social media.

A mentally ill person brushed past a Gan Shalom (daycare) parent and managed to enter the building not due to any fault of the daycare parent. Another daycare parent quickly called emergency 911 and the police were dispatched. The police were remarkably responsive, communicative and efficient. Our day care children were never in a dangerous situation and for most of the incident they were not aware that anything unusual was happening.

This mentally ill man held himself up in the balcony of the sanctuary; we were not successful at talking him down and out of the building. The police provided a transit bus for the daycare to transport the children to the other Gan Shalom daycare and the children felt like they were going on a field trip. It took the police a bit of force to subdue and retain the intruder and we are left with some broken windows and a mess to clean up. I am super thankful to Victoria’s finest for their professionalism in containing this situation and ensuring that everyone was safe.

This incident had nothing to do with antisemitism and could have occurred in any downtown building. The incident is a difficult and powerful reminder of the intensity and difficulties associated with our current mental health crisis.

I want to also state that the Gan Shalom staff and Gan Shalom parents who stayed by to ensure that the children were safe were remarkable and very calm. We are very safe, our protocols were tested and proved efficient.

B’virkat Shalom
With blessings of peace and wholeness
Rabbi Harry

Drama meets history: a $60,000 offer for the shul

Deed Cast and Crew
Cast and crew of The Original Deed (Photo: Penny Tennenhouse)

“I am two of your characters.” An animated Ben Levinson approached me after the final performance of The Original Deed last Sunday. “I was the one who crawled up into the attic and I was one of those who searched for land for a new shul.” Continue reading Drama meets history: a $60,000 offer for the shul