Dániel Péter Biró: Mediterranean Voices project, 2013–14

Sunday, April 2, 2017 at 2 pm


Join us on Sunday, April 2nd at 2 pm at the Congregation
Emanu-El synagogue, for the fourth talk in our series Sketches of Israel and the Middle East when Dr. Dániel
Péter Biró
will describe his work in the Mediterranean Voices project
in 2013-2014. 

This project, funded by the German Federal Culture Foundation and
done in coordination with filmmaker Daniel Kötter and the vocal group the Neue
Vocalsolisten, brought him to Tunisia in a turbulent period just after the
political revolution there. Dániel will
discuss his trip to the island Djerba off the coast of Tunisia, home for over
2500 years to the oldest Jewish diaspora community, and his research into
Jewish and Islamic chant traditions. Finally, he will consider how these chant
and other traditions played a role in the composition Al Ken Kara (That Is
Why It Was Called)
for seven voices, performed by the Neue Vocalsolisten.
This piece, based on the text of the Tower of Babel, exists as a musical
analogy to the original Torah text and as research into a historicized
compositional methodology.

Péter Biró is Associate Professor of Composition and Music Theory at the
University of Victoria, BC, Canada. After studying in Hungary, Germany and
Austria, he completed his PhD in composition at Princeton University in 2004.
He has been commissioned by major festivals and venues and won international
composition prizes. He was Visiting Professor, Utrecht University in 2011 and
Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University in
2014-2015. His compositions have been performed around the world. In 2015 he was elected to the College of New
Scholars, Scientists and Artists of the Royal Society of Canada. In 2016-2017
he was Artist-in-Residence at the University of Victoria Centre for Studies in
Religion and Society. His compositions are published by Edition Gravis. Website: www.danielpeterbiro.ca 

Sponsored by the
Emanu-El Adult Education Team, this series aims at increasing our members’
knowledge of Israel and the Middle East. Contact Heshi at heshi@me.com if you have any questions.

Entry is by donation: light
refreshments will be served.

Remember! Sunday, April 2 is
the last day of the Pesach market, so arrive early and pick up those last
minutes goodies before you come to the talk at 2 pm.

History of Jewish Scholarship on Islam: The Story of a Fascination

Thursday, March 23 at 4:30 pm
University of Victoria, David Strong Building C118

As a leading scholar of Judaism, and religion and culture in European history, Dr. Heschel will present the history of Jewish scholarship on Islam in the modern world. 

In the nineteenth century, Jewish scholars in Europe began to demonstrate the parallels between Judaism and Islam. Theirs was a distinct Orientalism that focused on Islam’s rationalism, monotheism, and religious law. Dr. Heschel will reflect on the role of Jewish scholarship within the larger context of the nineteenth century’s approach to “religion,” European imperialism, and its adoption and transformation of insights drawn from New Testament scholarship.  This is a free event; the general public is invited.

Talk: “Are colonial borders to blame for the violence in the Middle East?”

On Wednesday,
January 18, 2017 at 7 pm, at the Emanu-El synagogue, UVic history professor, Dr.
Martin Bunton
, will launch our series of talks on Israel and the Middle
East with the following subject, “Are colonial borders to blame for the
violence in the Middle East?”

In the face of such volatility in the
Middle East today, there has been increasing debate about redrawing the map of
the Middle East and erasing the century-old borders drawn by the infamous
European diplomats, Sir Marks Sykes and George Picot. Indeed, when ISIS spread
from Syria to Iraq in 2014, it proclaimed the “End of Sykes-Picot”. Yet, where
exactly do the profound challenges to the status quo lie? In the interwar
delineation of colonial borders or in how Arab leaders since WW2 have coped
with those separations? This talk will argue that the most significant
challenge today is to build inclusive societies within those borders and in
meeting the socioeconomic aspirations of the populations growing rapidly within

This promises to be an informative evening so mark your calendars now!

Email Heshi
at if you have any questions.

Entry is by donation: light refreshments will be

Victoria MultiFaith Society offers “Lunch & Learn” series in October


On September 29, 2016, Dr. Michael Hadley, a multidisciplinary scholar and Associate Fellow with the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at UVic, launched the new Victoria Multifaith Society Lunch & Learn series of talks about Islam, the Unitarian Church, Christianity, and the Bahá’i faith, respectively, to be held every Thursday at noon throughout October, in the Chapter Room at Christ Church Cathedral, 930 Burdett Avenue

These will be followed by a second series of faiths, planned to begin in February 2017. In all, the faith ​traditions that we anticipate being represented include Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Bahá’í, Unitarian, First Nations, Buddhist and Sikh​. 

The purpose of this series is to present introductory information about faith communities that exist in the Victoria region and to present this in an abbreviated way to people who may live or work in the downtown area, both to those of faith or of no faith

  • All are welcome! Please pass along this message; poster attached.
  • Bring a bagged lunch; coffee and tea to be provided.
  • Parking is available – ​The Chapter Room of Christ Church Cathedral is easily accessed from the car park on Burdett Ave. (map link below).


  • Oct. 6: Islam:  Imam Ismail Mohamed Nur    
  • Oct. 20: Unitarian:  Rev. Shana Lynngood
  • Oct. 13: Christian:  Rev. Ansley Tucker
  • Oct. 27: Bahá’í:  Garry Antinuk          

​Each week a speaker representing a faith community will present pertinent aspects of his or her religion for up to 25 minutes and will consider questions or comments from the floor for a further 5 or 10 minutes: 

  • 12:00 Arrive
  • 12:10 Introduction of the Speaker 
  • 12:15 – 12:40: Speaker presentation
  • 12:40 – 12:50: Questions / comments 
  • 1:00 pm: Session close

Each talk will be structured as follows:

  • The essence of my faith
  • A VERY BRIEF history
  • Core beliefs / key concepts
  • Principal practices / customs
  • Holy books / texts
  • Recommended reading​

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 http://jewishmuseum.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/TheScribe2012.pdf

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

Race, Place, and the Politics of Memory in Contemporary Budapest

Free public event, Thursday, March 26, 2015
Legacy Art Gallery & Cafe, 630 Yates Street
Doors Open at 7:00pm
Lecture Begins at 7:30pm


Part of The City Talks Spring 2015 series on Racism, Memory, and Politics in the European City, sponsored by the UVic Committee for Urban Studies and the European Union Centre of Excellence

Ken Foote, Professor and Department Head, Department of Geography, University of Connecticut

The focus of my presentation is the way sites of the Holocaust, racial oppression, and political violence have been memorialized in Budapest’s cityscape. 

Some sites have developed into major memorials, while others remain almost invisible. My interest is exploring the public, often highly political debates surrounding these sites and why they have been treated so differently. In part the debates revolve around race, violence and political repression, but they also raise even larger issues about how many events of the twentieth century are remembered and commemorated, from the First World War through the fall of communism in 1989 and beyond. The complexities of memory and meaning are particularly acute in nations like Hungary with complex political histories that spill across national borders.

Run by the Committee for Urban Studies at the University of Victoria, The City Talks is a free public lecture series featuring distinguished scholars drawn from the University of Victoria, across Canada, and beyond. Co-sponsored by the European Union Centre of Excellence, the theme for the Spring 2015 series is Racism, Memory, and Politics in the European City.

The lectures last an hour and a half, including a question and answer session with the author.

For more information, please visit www.TheCityTalks.ca