Remembering Barry Silver z”l
Our Past President Barry Silver hoped to be called to the Torah one last time tomorrow. He planned to share the Aliyah with his son Josh. He planned to wear what he called “his Bar Mitzvah tallis,” because this Shabbat Chayei Sarah was his Bar Mitzvah portion so many years ago.
You see, Barry’s father died just before Barry’s Bar Mitzvah day. Instead of proudly taking his place on the bimah of the sanctuary he loved, instead of joyfully celebrating with congregation and family, young Barry sat shiva for his father. Months later Rabbi Plaut arranged for Barry to read Chayei Sarah even though the Torah cycle was by then set to another book altogether. And a generation later, Josh read from Chayei Sarah on his own Bar Mitzvah day to honour the grandfather he never knew. L’Dor vaDor.
When I spoke with Barry two days ago he told me how sorry he was that he wouldn’t be able to have that final Aliyah with Josh. I assured him that an even greater Aliyah, an even greater ascent was awaiting him. Barry died early this morning with his son Josh at his side.
Parashat Chayei Sarah begins with the death of Sarah and ends with the death of Abraham. But in between are the chapters which tell of the establishment of the next generation. This is why the name of the entire portion is “The Life of Sarah.” How Sarah lived and died gives way to the next generation.
Not long ago, Barry told me he hoped he’d get to be the President of Holy Blossom Temple in Heaven. He loved our congregation, as we loved him. Barry’s life and his death were so intertwined into the story of Holy Blossom. He took pride in seeing how a strong future was beginning to reveal itself.
Let’s honour our Past President Barry Silver, alav haShalom, as he brought honour to our congregation.
Interment at Holy Blossom Memorial Park: November 15, 2020, at 12:00 pm. While the number of participants at the cemetery is restricted, all may join for the funeral service via Zoom. Please follow this link to Benjamin’s website. may Barry’s memory be a blessing to Gail, Josh and Jordana, and a blessing to what Barry fondly called “his second home,” Holy Blossom.
Our outstanding teachers at HBT-ECC deserve to be recognized every day!
INTRODUCING MARLA AND STEPH– KITA BET
It has been a fantastic start to the new team teaching in Kita Bet. This is Marla’s third year teaching at the ECC and Steph’s first year. Marla and Steph have been good friends for years and bring so much positive energy and great ideas to the classroom.
Marla is married with 3 children, two of whom are away at the University of Western Ontario. She has one son living at home in grade 10. Steph is married with two girls one is 14 and one is 11.
Together, their many years of teaching and a love for children radiate onto your children. Even though these are very challenging and different times they will make sure your child has the best experience and has the opportunity to thrive and develop in our pre-nursery class.
“Holy Blossom Early Education Center is a warm and special place. Having sent my two older children through the program, I was excited to start with our third child but apprehensive about how covid-19 regulations would look in this setting. We have been very impressed with the school’s ability to prioritize hygiene and safety while still creating a fun and nurturing learning environment. The school has been using Seesaw to safely communicate and give families windows into the school day. The teachers have gone above and beyond to make nursery school a positive experience. Thank you!”
Holy Blossom Temple Early Childhood Centre Memories
Wonderful colleagues, friends, parents, amazingly bright children and warm smiles–this is what I will miss most. I have been at the Holy Blossom Temple Early Childhood Centre for 24 years. This school became my home away from home. It was my happy space, my safe place. MY PROFESSIONAL ULTIMATE GOALS WERE MANY: to instil in the children how to be mensches through maturity and blossoming with time; treating one another with respect and honour; to focus on “tikkun olam” becoming responsible human beings to help repair and improve the world; to follow the 10 Commandments in the Torah, one of which is giving Tzedakah (charity) which is an act of kindness; to implant in the children a love for learning with enthusiasm; to create and produce a happy, fun, safe classroom and playground environment with lots of laughter; to keep the children engaged so that they ‘want’ to learn and ask questions; to visit the gorgeous Sanctuary and discuss more ‘rules’ in the Torahs housed in the Aron Kodesh (Ark) dressed in their beautiful coats from which we taught Hebrew prayers for Shabbat and Havdallah and learned much Jewishness about each Jewish Holiday.
Lorraine Sandler was my first Principal at the HBECC. She was a very strong believer in “tikkun olam” and consistently ingrained this in her staff.
Next in line, Pam Hamovitch became the Director of the HBECC, who taught her staff to believe in themselves. She was very supportive, always having an open door policy.
Lastly, Wendy Himmel, who was my Director last school year was very flexible, helpful and friendly.
SOME OF MY FAVOURITE MEMORIES
One year, while the teacher’s professional staff photos were about to be taken, my colleagues realized I was not present and finally found me in my classroom still diligently setting up for the next day. They escorted me, arm in arm, to the photographer and we all had a good laugh; our visits to the Temple Succah, taking turns shaking the lulav and etrog, singing and snacking; marching in the Sanctuary with our classroom-made flags on Simchat Torah; Every Purim, for 24 years, I was given the honorary title and role of “the king’s fine pony”, wearing my special pony costume and wig during our carnival and galloping around the Palace, led by Haman, during our staff Shpiel; One Shabbat/Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israel’s Birthday) celebration which was a school-wide get together, we had all eaten blue/white cupcakes. I told a story along with my co-teacher to the children and staff. My colleagues began to roar with laughter. Why? I was talking with my lips and teeth stained with blue icing. It was all in fun; My staff bestowed upon me the nickname of “visual prop queen”, as my teaching circles were always very detailed with numerous props for my stories and songs; I quite liked this title; For my 70th Birthday, the staff made me a wonderful, memorable home dinner party. I was thrilled that my three amazing daughters were included; every one, in turn, roasted me; it was most entertaining and enjoyable. I have my keepsake “Memory Box” of poems and special messages. That school year was also my choice to retire, which involved another evening of celebration. (June 2017) However, it was short-lived, as Pam asked me to return to teach one year later, which placed me into semi-retirement. I happily spent an additional two years teaching in the HBECC.
My journey at Holy Blossom has really come to another end. They say when one door closes, another opens. I cannot wait to see what comes next year for me! I am not always one for tearful goodbyes, so I will just say: “See you later” (Lehitraot).
Barbara (Barbie) Cohen
Registered Early Childhood Educator
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
We will remember them.
(For the Fallen – Laurence Binyon)
Lest we forget, on this Remembrance Day, we give our heartfelt thanks to all the women and men who have served and continue to serve the Canadian Armed Forces. The freedom and security that we enjoy each day as citizens of this great nation are made possible by the sacrifices of our brave service people. As is true with almost every event since March, this year’s Remembrance Day ceremonies have looked and felt different due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we have not allowed our necessity to remain physically distant hinder our commitments to honouring our fallen heroes. One of the most powerful tributes I witnessed was a video published by The Royal Canadian Legion. I hope you will join me in watching this video and taking part in a moment of silence.
I would also like to share with you, the stirring words of Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik, who wrote this prayer for the members of the armed forces:
Our God and God of our ancestors, watch over those who defend our nation. Shield them from harm and guide them in all their pursuits. Grant their commanders’ wisdom and discernment in their time of preparation and on the battlefield. May the loss of life for any of Your creations be avoided. Grant healing to those who are wounded and safe redemption to those who fall into enemy hands. For those who have lost their lives, grant consolation and Your presence to those who were close to them. We also ask that You stand with our Prime Minister and all our military leaders. Guide them in their decision making so that Your will is implanted within their minds. May it be Your will that world hostilities come to a rapid end and that those in service are returned safely to their families. We pray that freedom will dawn for the oppressed and fervently we hope that the vision of Your prophet will come to be: “Let nation not lift up sword against nation nor learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4) May this vision come to pass speedily and in our day. Together we say: Amen.
Holy Blossom has within its fold many members, past and present, who served our country faithfully. Today we honour each of them and make a commitment to remembering their stories. This Remembrance Day, we call to mind the service of Rabbi Jacob Eisen (z”l), who before serving as an Associate Rabbi at Holy Blossom in 1954-1961, served as Senior Chaplin in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. We remember Rabbi Eisen with gratitude and admiration.
Et ta valeur, de foi trempée, protégera nos foyers et nos droits.
Your valour, steeped in faith, will protect our homes and our rights. . . .
God keep our land glorious and free!
 For Members of the Armed Forces, by Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik, adapted. rabbinicalassembly.org/story/prayer-americas-military-personnel. Used by permission.
The Minyan that Wasn’t
Our Torah portion is set to the tense moment when Abraham questions God’s judgement over the future of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Our Patriarch stands before God and demands: “Will You sweep away the innocent along with the guilty? What if there should be fifty innocent within the city; will You then wipe out the place and not forgive it for the sake of the innocent fifty who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty, so that innocent and guilty fare alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”
God agrees to the terms. “If I find within the city of Sodom fifty righteous ones, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.”
The negotiations continue. “What if the fifty righteous should lack five? Will You destroy the whole city for want of the five?”
God answers: “I will not destroy if I find forty-five righteous there.”
Abraham: “What if forty?”
What if thirty?
What if twenty?
Finally, Abraham asks: “Let not my Lord be angry if I speak but this last time: What if ten should be found there?”
And God answers, “I will not destroy, for the sake of the ten.”
And that is where the negotiations end. Both God and Abraham seem to agree that ten is the minimum number of good people who can hold a far fallen society together. Ten, a minyan, is the smallest unit of human goodness that makes a civilization salvageable. Ten is the remnant strong enough to hold a frayed people together as one fabric.
What are the attributes of that minyan that would have been enough? What are the qualities of righteousness? And how do we ensure that we can be counted among them?
As ballots are still being counted across the United States, our neighbours to the South are divided on much more than a political candidate; they are divided on the definition of “righteousness.” There are two different understandings of the reliable minyan; two different visions of who is good and who is trustworthy. The whole world is watching the debate, not between two men, not between two socio-economic classes, not between established citizen and newcomer, not between black and white, but between two different outlooks, two distinct understandings of who can be counted among the righteous.
In the end, there was no righteous minyan to be found in the city of Sodom. Our Sages teach that the omniscient God knew that all along, of course. So why engage in the negotiations with Abraham? Why indulge his passionate debate? Because God was training Abraham in the ways of justice. God was testing Abraham’s resolve, teaching him in how to be hopeful and how to never give up on humanity.
We are descendants of this Abraham.
Let us always be counted in among the minyan that sustains.
A Post-Election Prayer
By Rabbi Dr. Andrea L. Weiss
No matter what happens, this we know:
we must recalibrate our national compass
and reconfirm what matters most:
“one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
How do we get from here to there?
The Torah guides our way:
It is not enough to “love your neighbor as yourself”;
you must love the stranger as yourself. (Lev. 19:18, 34)
The prophets tell us what to do:
“Let justice roll like water
and righteousness like a mighty stream.” (Amos 5:24)
The Psalms remind us:
“The night may be dark,
but morning always comes.” (Ps 30:6)
May we each do our part
to bring about the dawning of a new day.
Our outstanding teachers at HBT-ECC deserve to be recognized every day!
This year, it is important to recognize not just the tremendous job our teachers do every day but to acknowledge the way they have taken their duties to a higher level through this COVID-19 pandemic. For the coming weeks, we will be featuring each classroom, highlighting the teachers and the program. The article and pictures will also be featured weekly on the Temple website www.holyblossom.org.
INTRODUCING SUSAN AND MONIQUE – KITA GIMEL
This is Susan’s third year and Monique’s first year teaching at Holy Blossom Temple ECC and from the very start, this is proving to be a strong team! Susan is the mother of two married daughters, has three grandchildren and another on the way, and Monique is Mom to three teenagers! Together they have over 25 years of experience in the field of early childhood education. “Teaching young children is our passion and although this school year is different in many ways, it is our intention to continue to provide a warm, welcoming and nurturing class environment, a home away from home where the children feel safe and happy. We both strongly believe in the power of play and that children learn so much when given the opportunity and time to play freely. Our mornings in Kita Gimel consist of a good balance of both structured and open-ended free play activities geared to enhance all developmental domains. We look forward to participating in your children’s growth and development as they explore, experience and learn new skills throughout the school year.”
Morah Susan and Monique are two wonderful women, who are so warm, caring and helpful with my 2 years old son that has helped him to make an easy transition from being a baby at home into a ‘school-boy’. Thank you for your never-ending hard work and devotion.