Update: Friday, February 13, 2015
Yael and I would like to thank everyone for all your good wishes and prayers. Her surgery went very well, and she is now at home, resting comfortably.
By Rabbi Yael Splansky
January 28, 2015
Resilience is a distinct kind of strength. It has something to do with the ability to cope when hardship comes along, as it inevitably does. For example, we want to raise our children to be resilient, to develop coping mechanisms to confront the challenges of life as they grow.
Jewish resilience is a distinct kind of resilience. It has to do with time. When the Jewish People is faced with adversity, our greatest evidence that we can endure it is the past and our greatest motivator to endure it is the future. We can carry on because generations before us have proven that we can; we must carry on because future generations depend on it. This is a kind of faith that even the most unattached Jew carries with him wherever he goes. It’s a faith that resides, not in the neshama (the soul), but in the kishkes (the gut).
Born in 1856, Holy Blossom Temple has proven to be a resilient congregation. Through waves of Jewish immigration, two world wars and economic depression; through shifts in identity — from Orthodox to Reform; and shifts in geography — four sites and multiple constructions projects; through all this, Toronto’s first synagogue has not only adapted and endured, but flourished and played a leading role in our city and beyond. Such resilience is thanks to strong leadership, loyalty, faith, a little mazel, too.
And now we have arrived! Today we are writing our next chapter in the book of Holy Blossom Temple. It is both good and great; another testimony to our resilience. Let’s celebrate this moment together. Add your handprint to the community mural, which will become the decorative fence around our construction project. Let Torontonians drive by and see that every one of us is extending a hand to prepare Holy Blossom Temple for the future.
What is true for the Jewish People is often true for the individual Jew. When one of us is confronted by challenge, we also tap into the stores of strength from the past; we also are motivated by the future yet to be enjoyed. This has always been true for me and especially now.
I am sorry to share with you that I have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. I will be having surgery on Thursday, February 5th. I am confident that I am in very good hands and that all will go well for me. I will, however, need to take a few weeks away from my work.
Throughout my rabbinate I have taken inspiration from many dear congregants who have gone from sickness to health with courage, grace, and faith. In the spirit of openness and with trust in our remarkable synagogue community, I share this news with you now. Knowing that my family and I have the strength of the congregation behind us makes all the difference.
I appreciate your prayers and good wishes. Forgive me if I am not able to return your thoughtful messages of support, but know that they are received with sincere gratitude.
I ask that you please make an extra effort to support my colleagues and our lay leadership at this time. As you know, they are tremendously devoted to the congregation; they will certainly rise to the occasion to make sure all goes smoothly in my absence. Your encouragement and regular presence on Shabbat and at upcoming programs, including our much-anticipated “All Congregation Renewal Celebration” will be very important. This is such an exciting time in the life of Holy Blossom Temple. The good momentum and the good will we have cultivated point the way to a very bright future.
May God grant us our innermost hearts’ desires, and bring to fulfillment our worthy commitments. Then we will rejoice in Your deliverance and raise our banners high in the name of the Eternal God. (Psalm 20: 5-6)
Rabbi Yael Splansky
re·sil·ience noun \ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s\
: the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
: the ability of something to maintain its functionality after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.
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A message from the Board, clergy, and staff
We know we speak for the entire Congregation in wishing Rabbi Splansky and her family a refuah shlemah and the strength to meet the challenges of this difficult period. All of us will be present to ensure the sacred work of our Congregation continues smoothly. We all rely on the support our community provides one another.
The love and support of this kehillah kedosha are of inestimable value to Rabbi Splansky.
Joan Garson, President
Russ Joseph, Executive Director
Cantor Beny Maissner
Cantorial Soloist Lindi Rivers
Rabbi Michael Satz
Rabbi Jordan Helfman