March 4, 2022
Returning Again: Family Service Resumes At Holy Blossom!
Following months of absence imposed by the COVID pandemic, Holy Blossom Temple’s beloved Shabbat Morning Family Service resumes on Saturday, March 26 at 10:30 am. Once again, in the warm environs of our Youth Chapel, we will delight in the music and song of David Gershon, the beauty of our Shabbat blessings and prayers, the remarkably enduring lessons of Torah and the joyous celebration of our Temple community among our young…and younger!
Below are words of our members that attest to Family Service meaning and value:
The family service is such a special place. We started attending when our kids were just babies and my daughter just became a Bat Mitzvah last year. Each Rabbi has brought her/his own special something to each service and of course, it wouldn’t be a family service without David Gershon to lead us in beautiful song. The warm and welcoming feeling is always there. “Growing up” with this group has been so wonderful for our family.
Our family has regularly attended the family services for many years from when both children were one week old. Holy Blossom has supported us through many life events – wedding, shiva, baby naming, Brit Milah, confirmation, summer camp, and becoming a Bat/Bar Mitzvah. The family service patrons have become our extended family through many of these milestones. We are grateful for the lasting friendships and watching our children grow up and share their values with the community.
Please note that all those eligible to be vaccinated are required to be fully vaccinated to attend Family Services. Full vaccination means two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine plus at least two weeks from your second vaccine. Children under 5 years old who are ineligible to be vaccinated at this time are welcome to attend. All participants two years old and up are required to wear a mask.
Family Service celebrants can also look forward to an enjoyable nosh following worship, held in an adjacent room for those who wish.
Family Service will be held, with some exceptions, every two weeks. It will alternate with Friday evening’s Tot Shabbat Service.
These dates are:
- March 26
- April 9
- April 23
- May 7
- May 28 [Combined with a Bat Mitzvah]
- June 4
- June 18
All of us at Holy Blossom look forward to welcoming everyone back to Family Service!
Learning and Growing: The Confirmation Experience at Holy Blossom Temple
Among the most gratifying of my family’s moments was when our son Max was Confirmed at Rockdale Temple in Cincinnati. In his class portrait, Max and his classmates proudly hold wheat sheaves, symbolic of the Shavuot Festival that – with its celebration of receiving the Torah – is associated with the Confirmation experience.
In many Jewish houses of worship, Confirmation Class portraits adorn the walls. Rows of adolescents attired in ceremonial robes, surrounding the rabbis and teachers who guided them towards Jewish adulthood.
Confirmation is about:
Continuity: Jewish continuity, and one’s learning.
Identity: cultivating a compassionate and inclusive view of the world.
Socialization: nurturing and establishing life-long relationships.
Leadership: developing the future leaders of our Jewish and larger communities.
Being a role model for others, both young and younger.
Achieving another valued milestone in our Jewish journey of life.
Pride: in one’s Judaism, communities, and oneself.
Here is what Holy Blossom’s 2021 Confirmands have to say:
I found Confirmation different than what I expected. Personally, Confirmation was about going more in-depth into Judaism and getting more one-on-one time with the rabbis. My favourite experience was when we asked the rabbi questions. I asked about how the afterlife was perceived in Judaism because I had never really heard it discussed before. I learned new perspectives I had never thought about.
Last year I took part in the Confirmation program at Holy Blossom. Becoming a Confirmand meant reaffirming my commitment to Judaism and reflecting on my previous Jewish education and how I want Judaism to play a part in my personal identity. Throughout the program, we reflected on what being Jewish means to us individually, and as a collective. My biggest takeaway was the importance of tzedakah and how I want to actively implement it into my life. Holy Blossom was able to host an online Confirmation service towards which each student was able to contribute. I am grateful that I was able to be Confirmed and highly recommend it, as it reconnected me to my Jewish identity and allowed me to create stronger bonds with my Jewish community.
Last year I had the pleasure of being Confirmed with my friends at Holy Blossom. While the experience was online, it was nonetheless enjoyable and rewarding. Confirmation allowed me to deepen my perception of my Jewish identity. I was able to learn from various staff, including Elana Lidsky, Cantor Rosen and Lisa Isen Baumal, Rabbi Helfman and Sophie Rivers. Confirmation also allowed me to form new friendships, and deepen those that I had known since Hebrew school. I am extremely grateful…
– Shoshana Iny
Though classes have begun, we welcome additional students to join this remarkable program in learning, growing, and socializing. Education Director Lisa Isen Baumal, Lead Teacher Elana Paice Lidsky, Cantor David Rosen and myself are assembling an engaging and dynamic series of learning experiences that will culminate in a joyous Confirmation Class ceremony at Holy Blossom on Shavuot.
Please reach out to us and discover more about Confirmation at Holy Blossom Temple.
Adult Education Department Update
by Sharoni Sibony
As we begin to emerge from our protective Covid caves, I’ve been thinking a lot about Purim. Two years ago, my shul’s Megillah reading was the last communal event that I attended, when people were already kind of eyeing each other nervously and wondering if we should actually have been gathered together. We’ve spent the past two years masking ourselves to protect each other, our eyes still darting about for the soulful connections we need with friends and strangers on the street. And now we have the opportunity to be together again for Purim in person at Temple.
We often use the occasion of Purim to play dress-up and to share facets of our identity or imagination that aren’t often on display for public view. Masks, costumes, and intoxication can reveal as much as we imagine that they hide, bringing some aspect of the self to the fore.
The Purim story turns on Esther, whose name is rooted in the Hebrew word “hester” or “hidden,” a figure whose donning and undonning of royal garments give her a chance to mask her identity (and likely her anxiety), and to play the political part of the representative of the Jews of Persia even before she herself feels comfortable in that role.
But it’s actually another moment in the Torah that I want to think about right now, as we approach Purim together. The Torah tells us that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai bearing the Torah tablets, the skin of his face was radiant, so much so that the Israelites shrank from coming near him. When he finishes relaying the Torah laws to them, he veils his face. And then the Torah tells us: “Whenever Moses went in before God to converse, he would leave the veil off until he came out; and when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, the Israelites would see how radiant the skin of Moses’ face was. Moses would then put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with God” (Exodus 35: 34-35).
When does Moses wear this veil? It’s in the in-between moments, when he’s not directly interfacing with God or the Israelites, that he masks himself. For Moses, perhaps the veil offers the privacy he needs to relax into himself, out of his public prophetic role.
Perhaps you’ve become very comfortable at home over the past two years. Perhaps your front door acts like your own privacy veil, protecting you from the world and letting you relax (into daywear pyjamas?) in a way that you can’t always achieve in public.
But we’re here to welcome you back into being together. Because, as the great poet Rumi wrote:
Tear off the mask
Your face is
For additional resources to deepen your Purim experience, I highly recommend checking out the videos at the Megillah Project. I particularly love Alicia Jo Rabins’ song for Vashti, and Aaron Koller’s intellectually creative and compelling case for a novel eastern Diasporic identity in the Megillah. Also, check out the materials on Sefaria, which could be adapted to your family celebrations if you want to blend some text study with mask-making or other activities for kids. And finally, Reform Judaism has thought-provoking explanations of customs and celebrations that will help you contextualize why you do what you do.
I’d love to hear from you about your favourite Jewish enrichment resources – websites, organizations, and more that you love to consult for insights and ideas.
Purim at the ECC
There are so many opportunities to foster a sense of Jewish identity throughout the year. We are experiencing that with the holiday of Purim. Purim is a holiday marked by joyous activities. The children are experiencing this holiday in a wide variety of activities; dressing up, holiday crafts, giving food to those in need, hearing the Purim story, and many more classroom experiences.
Through these fun-filled activities, we fulfill the four Mitzvot of Purim.
|Mitzvot||How we fulfill the Mitzvot at the ECC|
|1. Sending gifts to friends and family (Mishloach Manot)||Preparing Mishloach Manot|
|2. Listening to the Megillah||Telling the story|
|3. Participating in the Purim feast||Eating hamentashen|
|4. Sending gifts to the poor.||Donating our Wacky Mac graggers to the Food Bank|
Dear Community, I hope you all had a great week.
We were all saddened to hear about the incidents in Ukraine in the last few days, and no words could describe how sad it is to see pictures of people running away from their homes and lives to escape to other countries.
It’s extremely sad to know that even in 2022, we get to witness such incidents and hate.
I spent the last week with my host family at Tremblant, and while sitting there and reading those articles and news, I suddenly got a text from Noa, our komunah’s mentor, who guides us throughout our gap year in Toronto.
The text was saying that a group of young Jewish Ukrainians, got stuck in Israel due to the closing of the airports in Ukraine, that group is a “Taglit” group, which you all probably know as “Birthright.”
The text was also saying that they are looking for host families for those young adults until they will be able to come back to their homeland. Since we, the shinshinim, are all here and left our rooms empty, back in Israel, it is a great opportunity to ask our families if they can maybe open their door and their hearts to them.
Immediately I sent that text to my mom, who replied with a: yes, of course!
My heart was filled with joy because I knew that not only I managed to help miles away, but also my empty and dark room back in Israel is finally going to light up again, and also because it’s been so long since my parents have been cleaning after a teenager so I figured they would be happy to do that 😉
I’m always amazed by how jews are always willing to help each other, not only at regular times but also and more, in times of crisis.
Whether it’s hosting a shinshin in order to engage your community with Israel, or hosting a young Jewish adult who needs a home right now, but more than that needs support and love, to get through this awful and hard experience.
I sincerely hope that we will no longer be reading those articles in the news and that the Taglit group and all the other Ukrainians will be back in their homes very soon.
Thank you for listening, Aviv