In president, splansky

By Rabbi Yael Splansky and Dr. Harvey Schipper, President.

Dear Congregants,

We know you are watching the news from Israel very closely. As the rockets rain down and our troops are called up, please consider supporting the following campaigns:

Here are four organizations that provide direct support of IDF soldiers:

    • The Michael Levin Lone Soldier Center. This week, two American Lone Soldiers were killed in Gaza. There are more than 6,000 Lone Soldiers – defined as any soldier with no family in Israel – serving in the IDF.
    • Yashar Lachayal provides equipment and clothing to soldiers who need it.
    • Friends of the IDF gives soldiers educational and recreational support during and after their service.
    • Peace of Mind: A division of the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma, Peace of Mind treats PTSD in soldiers who’ve seen combat.
    • (*Please note that Holy Blossom Temple is not responsible for the tax receipt practices of the above organizations.  We suggest that you personally review organizational practices before making a contribution.)

And let us keep Israel close in our prayers.

Shalom al Yisrael

Rabbi Yael Splansky: Special Reflection, July 24, 2014

Dear Friends,

When we feel helpless and afraid, we turn to Jewish wisdom, ritual, and community for guidance and grounding.  With our eyes and our hearts locked on Israel, please consider the following.

  1. Pray.  If you are in town, please make every effort to come to Holy Blossom this Shabbat.  (Friday, 6 pm.  Saturday, 10:30 am.)  It will be good to raise up our voices together in prayer.  If you are out of town, find the local synagogue this Shabbat.  They will be strengthened by you, and you will be strengthened by them.
  2. Give.  There are real needs on the ground, which must be met with urgency.  Above are a number of worthy causes you might consider.
  3. Connect.  With the endless technologies at our disposal, we must overwhelm the loneliness, that Israelis are feeling right now, with contact. Many have family and dear ones in Israel.  Reach out to them regularly.  We may wish to write to our former Shinshinim, young Israeli emissaries, or to our sister Reform congregation, Even Yehuda.  Please click here to visit our website and add your voice to the many members of our community that have already started a campaign of comments online.  We have already seen responses to these online comments from people in Israel and know that our comments are reaching them.  Or, if you choose the non-digital route, you may choose to write a beautiful handwritten letter to an IDF soldier, to a North American teen or rabbinical student who is studying in Israel this summer.  Just drop your letter off at the Temple office, and we will make sure it reaches whomever you are addressing.  Please specify the recipient on the envelope.
  4. Gather in strength.  Our calendar is now turned to the three weeks of mourning for Jerusalem and the ancient Temple.  We read an excerpt from the biblical Book of Lamentations each day.  The themes of pain and anxiety, violence and isolation are on every page.  The author of Lamentations turned to God and asked “Aicha?!  How?!” without expecting an answer.  In the question, in the calling out, there was some measure of comfort.  So may it be for us when we gather with friends and loved ones now.  Let us ask our questions, even when there is no answer yet to be found.  Let us speak of Israel often, with compassion, and in ways, which unite and strengthen the Jewish People.

“May a new light shine upon Zion and may we all soon be deserving of its light.”
(from the morning prayer service)

Rabbi Yael Splansky

History Whispers; Young Voices Inspire

By Rabbi Yael Splansky.

Yesterday was the 17th of the Tammuz, when the walls of Jerusalem were breached by Rome two thousand years ago. According to the Mishnah (Taanit 4:6) this is also the day when Moses smashed the tablets of the law. It’s a day of things coming undone, leaving us exposed, vulnerable.

With the relentless rockets raining down on Israel we hear the echoes, feel the tremors of Jewish history. It seems the walls have been breached again, leadership is angry, and our people are afraid. History speaks to us. It constantly whispers in our ears and we must listen very carefully; yet we cannot let history haunt us. These days are not those days. Thank God, Israel is strong; the Iron Dome is strong. Diaspora Jewry must also be strong, too, and reinforce a protective wall around Israel in every way we know how.

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Inspiration from the Next Generation

Michael Diamond and ShinShinim Alumni

Michael Diamond and ShinShinim Alumni

I’ve known Daniel Roher since he was a precocious student in Holy Blossom’s Religious School. Now he is an artist and filmmaker. This short documentary, “Kids of the Rocket Sirens” premiered at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival this past May. It’s about life in Sederot. Students, teachers, principal and mayor are shown to be the frontline heroes who never give up on peace. In light of what Israel is facing today, Daniel has decided now is the time to release the film on-line. With his permission I share it with you to watch and share with those who wish to understand. Please click here to watch.

Holy Blossom is blessed with seven years of shinshinim, young Israeli emissaries, who came to live with us, teach us, and inspire us with a love of Israel. A number of our congregant-families have gone to visit our shinshinim in Israel and have maintained the ties through email and Facebook. Yaniv is a medic with the reserves now on the Gaza border. Mai is with the airforce. Alon is with the navy. They inspired us when they were with us at Holy Blossom and at Leo Baeck. Now it’s our turn to show support for them and their families. They’d love to hear from us and our kids.


Two new shinshinim are on their way to join us in August. Welcome Tal and Aviv!

A Concluding Prayer

Sometimes in Jewish life we get to choose the voices we wish to hear. We hear whispers from the recent or ancient past and we listen for the young voices, which point the way to our future. Today I hear the Psalmist saying: “Who is the one whose desire is for life? Who loves the days that he may see goodness therein? …Shun evil and do what is right; seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:13, 15)

From Sisterhood: Our Thoughts and Prayers... and a response from Israel

Hi Anna

As I sit here by my computer thinking of what words I can say I am humbled by the thought that while here as North American Jews we are safe from rocket fire our sisters and brothers in Israel are not.

Jill and I are sending you all our thoughts and prayers and hope that your are all safe and not in harms way. Life is precious and we will pray for peace in Israel. Like many of our reform congregations we are taking the charge to make sure that we let people know what is really happening in Israel.

The media here is skewed and does not always reflect the truth.

Our sisterhood will pray for a quick solution and hope that peace will be come quickly. We hope that all your families are safe and well. Please let us know if you need anything.

With love to all of you.

Corinne and Jill

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Dear Jill and Corinne, HBT Sisterhood Co-Presidents,

Thank you for your heart warming message.

We are all safe here.

When we hear the siren – we have 90 seconds (in the south of Israel its 15) to run to the shelters/safe rooms and wait until it is safe to come out and continue with our “routine”.

I had the pleasure of spending time in the shelter with different congregants in different parts of the country as I travel frequently to various congregations.

So far the siren in Even Yehudah was active twice so it is not as bad as in other parts of the country and we are praying it will stay that way.

However there are safety measures being taken and so unfortunately, the scouts sleep away camp that most of the Even Yehudah kids go to was cancelled as the kids were supposed to camp in the forest with no shelters.  At least I had the option of sending my daughter Mika to the Havaya Reform Movement Camp as they have a facility with shelters, safe rooms etc.

Our Rabbi, Gili, is also there right now as the Camp’s Rabbi.

Our local high school here is located in a boarding school facility so they are actually housing about a hundred kids from the south and many people from Even Yehuda opened their homes to families from places that are bombed constantly.

We have an IMPJ congregation near the Gaza Strip and many families left to other parts of the country but some stayed, including the Student Rabbi there – Yael Karrie who’s holding inspiring activities for the people there.

Last evening she held an activity for the 17th day of Tamuz for Jews from Sha’ar HaNegev and the Muslim Bedouin community near Be’er Sheva – they broke the fast of Ramadan and the fast of 17th of Tamuz together. This Friday she will hold Kabbalat Shabbat near the border with Gaza at Kibbutz Nahal Oz. And yet they all stay optimistic. They launched a beautiful Facebook Campaign called “Reclaiming Red” – the sound of siren in Israel is called “Color Red” so we’re trying to look at the Color Red in a positive manner – here is the link to the album and to her Facebook page

If you want to get a WRJ-Israel perspective – Janet Toar a member of the WRJ-Israel Committee shared her impressions on the WRJ Blog here:

Thank you SO MUCH for your short message and for thinking of us these days at HaShachar Congregation in Even Yehudah and of IMPJ.

(Happy to talk to you/any of the Holy Blossom groups on Skype again if you want).

Ann Kislanski

Sermon: July 19, 2014 – Rabbi Yael Splansky

Click image above to listen.

This week I met with a member of our congregation, a professional in business, and she confided that she has been recently troubled because she has found herself in business meetings where people don’t know that she is Jewish and the banter in the room turns anti-Israel. Rabbi Yael Splansky – Sermon: July 19, 2014.

Bruchim Habaim… Welcome the new Shinshinim!

In a short month, 22 new Shinshinim from Israel will join us in Toronto. We at Holy Blossom are fortunate to bring two Shinshinim – Tal (the girl) and Aviv (the boy).  Despite the difficulties in Israel at the moment, these 22 young, active, creative and artistic teens will join our Toronto community. Please watch the video and smile, as  we can see and hear their excitement.

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Showing 5 comments
  • Gail and Gary

    Gail & Gary

    Our thoughts and prayers are with Isreal.

  • Debbie Spiegel

    It was great to be at the rally last night. Good to see our community once again standing up for what is right.

  • Claudio Rudnicki

    We are all praying for peace.
    Thanks Rabbi Yael Splansky.

  • Lindi Rivers

    Thank you for posting this important piece. Also, I appreciate the contact information for these wonderful young people who came and touched our lives and our hearts.

  • Corinne Black

    Israel always in our prayers and in our hearts.

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