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Dear Congregants and Friends,

The hatred which led to the attack on Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Or L’Simcha Congregation last Shabbat morning has been drowned out by an outpouring of unity, strength, and compassion. We have received messages of condolence and commitment from government officials, from faith leaders, from ordinary citizens across the city and across the country.

The Jewish Community has launched the #ShowUpForShabbat campaign, calling on both Jews and non-Jews to fill synagogues throughout North America this coming Shabbat. To stand up and be counted, to show your solidarity with the Jewish People in our hour of pain, please participate in our Kabbalat Shabbat evening service on Friday at 6 pm or in one of our Shabbat Morning services on Saturday at 10:30 am. On Saturday there will be one service held in our Main Sanctuary and another our Youth Chapel designed especially for families with children of all ages. 

This is the best response to last Shabbat’s horror. Let’s pack our sanctuaries and show that the Jewish People will not cower, that Jewish life will always endure, and hatred will never win out over love. We will say Kaddish for the eleven victims and we will uniquely mourn for Joyce Fienberg z”l, who was raised, educated, and married here at Holy Blossom Temple. Joyce leaves many friends and relatives heartbroken at Holy Blossom, including our own Temple President Judy Winberg. May we lighten their grief as we gather around them. May we also find our way back to the joy of Shabbat, the joy of Torah, the joy of being together in community. People of other faiths, people of no faith, and fellow Jews who don’t yet have a synagogue to call their own are most welcome to join us as we stand shoulder to shoulder and raise our voices in song and prayer.

There will be three kinds of security. There is the physical security provided by police and trained guards. There is spiritual security, which we will find into our sanctuaries when we tap into our faith, our history, our tradition. And there is emotional security, which will be provided by fellow Canadians who come to create a Ring of Peace around the perimeter of Holy Blossom Temple.

By Sunday afternoon I received a call from the Imdadul Islamic Centre, the mosque we embraced in a “Ring of Peace” after the Quebec City shooting in February of 2017. They never forgot our expression of care. When they felt most vulnerable we created a symbolic circle of security and showed them that hate has no home in Canada. Now they wish to reciprocate. On Shabbat Morning the perimeter of Holy Blossom Temple will be encircled by a Ring of Peace. When you arrive you will take heart in this historic expression of care and concern. When you enter our sanctuaries you will feel your fears diminished, your grief tempered, and your hope in humanity returning.

Call to Action.

  1. #ShowUpForShabbat. It’s just that simple.
  2. Help out as an usher or greeter. Please let Judy Amsterdam ([email protected] or 416-789-3291 ext. 233) know if you can welcome our congregants and guests either Friday or Saturday or both, so she can send you clear instruction about where, what, and when.
  3. Please help spread the word. Please join the hundreds who have already pledged to #ShowUpForShabbat. Share the message with your friends, family, neighbours, and colleagues. If you are able to attend services, please tweet and post on Facebook about your Shabbat plans using the hashtag #ShowUpForShabbat. You can share our posts directly from our  Facebook and Twitter.

To read my words from Monday night’s vigil, click here. For a video recording, including Judy Winberg’s prayer for peace, click here.

Am Yisrael Chai!

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Showing 5 comments
  • Michael Greenstein

    It was an emotional and meaningful Shabbat, filled with sorrow, solace, and strength. The next day I visited a classroom where students and teachers were happily engaged in a Hebrew lesson. There was much hope in that Hebrew ring of learning.

  • Annalee Schnurr

    It is Shabbat morning in South Africa and we are thinking of our HBT community, as well as the entire Jewish community. We wish that we could physically be with you, but we are with you in spirit.
    Brian & Annalee Schnurr

  • Anne LeSarge

    Thinking of you all at this very difficult time and hoping that this will bring everyone closer together. You are in my prayers.

  • Denise Gordon

    My family and I are travelling to Pennsylvania to attend a weekend wedding. Although we will not be with our Holy Blossom congregation this Shabbat, we are nevertheless in solidarity with our Jewish community near and far.
    Am Israel chai!

  • Brenda Saunders

    We wish we could be with our HBT congregation at this time and especially this coming Shabbat. Please know that we are with you in spirit.
    Brenda and Fred Saunders

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