What does it mean to experience Israel with Holy Blossom
By: Pam Albert
I want to share my perspective on what it means to tour and experience Israel at this point in time with our Holy Blossom community. Be it via our zoom interactive webinars or on the ground in Israel this coming fall.
When we thought of what that could look like, we thought of connecting with the land and the people. We thought of walking away with new, unique and creative ways of being in Israel. If it is through joining us for our Virtual Israel Tour, we wanted you to feel like you were there, following our guide Ishai from Fig Trips as he takes us to off the beaten track places so you can actually imagine what life was like through different generations, with people from different countries and different walks of life who brought alive, our Israel. We wanted you to feel like you could taste and smell the flavours and scenes as if you were walking with Ishai as our explorations of Israel became alive. The feedback from the 60 participants who attended our last Virtual Israel tour was just that. In addition, after attending our Virtual Israel Tour past President Judy Winberg shared the following,
I love to travel and I love Israel. And while the Corona virus imposed restrictions I was able to pursue both of these interests as a participant on a virtual visit for five days in 2020. Ishai, our tour guide, live in realtime on ZOOM and pre-recorded video in Israel led our group of …?… through a week of thoughtful, stimulating and unique tours. Like so many of the professional tour guides in Israel Ishai was knowledgeable, engaging and day by day we came to know and appreciate his love for the country.
There are many in the congregation who’ve told me that they’d love to travel to Israel but have never been able to make the trip. This is the perfect first trip to Israel! No packing, no flights, no hotels, no special clothing, no tour buses and your family won’t even notice you’re gone other than for two hours a day for a week. What could be better?
And since you asked for more, we are creating new journeys that walk beside Ishai in Israel. Our next experience, accompanied with wine and treats from Israel begins Monday, February 8th. To register by our extended cut-off date click this link.
And if this has enticed you to join us on the ground in Israel, we are optimistic that we can meet in Jaffa on Sunday, October 24. After reading the book, “City of Oranges” by Adam Lebor, I had numerous questions about the roots of and the routes to the land of Israel, where for centuries travellers passed through Jaffa, or arrived in the port in Jaffa and settled. This book sparked my curiosity and I wanted to learn more. We will explore Israel together through the lens of Jaffa. I was curious about different immigrant populations and religious groups. Where they settled and where their routes led them after Jaffa. I was curious about how they interacted and lived together. About how their lives were intertwined and how that affected their co-existence, their friendships, their beliefs and even what they ate each day. Imagine for example the spice store that only sold spices local to the area, that kept adding spices for groups of new immigrants that settled in Jaffa from Morocco and Lybia and Ethiopia and other Arab countries and Russia and Germany. All of a sudden this small spice store evolved into an experience where flavours and people emerged from all walks of life. We will explore Israel through the lenses of Jaffa, including socio-economically, culturally, co-existence, poverty, religion, culinary, the start-up scene in Jaffa, and much more. Would you like to join us? Stay tuned for more information once we feel really optimistic about the possibility of travel in October.
Please feel free to share your thoughts around what exploring Israel would look like to you, be it via our virtual engagements or on the ground. Contact [email protected]
Hartman [email protected] 2020
Over four weeks between June 29 to July 23, 2020, in an unprecedented, free, month-long celebration of Jewish ideas, over 60 of our scholars from Israel and North America will address questions about citizenship, moral responsibilities and spiritual sustenance in a time of darkness and loss. Through lectures, discussions and seminars, we will consider the meanings of home and the transformations that we can shape out of this crisis.
Jewish learning is guided by questions
Here are some that are driving this year’s summer learning:
- What are our moral priorities and responsibilities in a time of crisis?
- Where can we find spiritual sustenance in this time of loss?
- How is the meaning of ‘home’ changing?
- How does transformation emerge in a time of pandemic, disruption, and catastrophe?
Join All Together Now as we throw open the doors of our Beit Midrash so that the Jewish people can engage with these challenges together through lectures, webinars, classes, and study groups.
NOTE: Registrants will receive email notification when sessions are available for sign up.
The Jewish people are facing important questions about citizenship, nationalism, democracy, and the societies in which we live. COVID-19 has already reshaped our attitudes about collective community and is also raising issues of theology, spirituality and social responsibility. Come, join us as we face those questions.
As you may be aware, Canada voted for a resolution at the United Nations last week that has been a major topic of conversation in the Jewish community. After a long-standing tradition of standing with Israel at the UN, Canada voted in favour of an anti-Israel resolution. This action was a surprise as it was the first time in over 10 years that Canada has voted this way. We understand there are many varied opinions surrounding this issue and we encourage you to use your voice to express them. The Israel Engagement Committee of Holy Blossom would like to bring to your attention a CIJA (Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs) campaign, which we support. Please take a few minutes and follow this link (https://cija.ca/UN-vote/) to learn more and share your voice. This CIJA initiative allows you to express your view to the government by choosing from a number of variations and tailor your letter to match your own voice of concern.
Ultimately, these resolutions do not aim to solve the conflict. They only serve to isolate Israel on the international political arena. I am reminded just how important it is to show our support for the State of Israel. Not only by voicing your opinion in opposition to the UN vote, but all the more so, by engaging with Israel’s issues on the ground.
As a Reform Jew, I am particularly interested in taking action and influencing positive change in Israel. Just as it is crucially important for you to share your voice with the Canadian government in regards to the UN vote, likewise, it is incumbent upon all of us to be the agent of change we’d like to see in the world. I’d like to bring to your attention two initiatives that are working towards strengthening Israeli society.
The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC)
The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) is the public and legal advocacy wing of the Israeli Reform Movement (Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism – IMPJ). Under Executive Director Anat Hoffman, the “IRAC’s core activities are focused on the following objectives:
- Fighting religious extremism and gender segregation in the public domain.
- Fighting racism and advancing a shared society between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
- Advancing religious freedom and dismantling the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate’s monopoly.
- Securing equal status for all streams of Judaism in Israel.”
To learn more about how you can get involved with the important work of the IRAC, check out their website at https://www.irac.org/about-irac.
Hiddush Vision Statement:
As Reform Jews, the fight for religious pluralism in Israel is crucially important. I invite you to read and sign the following Vision Statement put forward by Hiddush; a non-partisan research organization, led by Uri Regev, who is an Israeli lawyer, Reform Rabbi and the founding director of IRAC. Hiddush “believes that fully realizing the promise of religious freedom will strengthen Israel both as a democracy and as a Jewish state, and will bolster Jewish peoplehood and Israel/Diaspora relationships.” Since I arrived in Toronto, I have met with the Hiddush committee on several occasions and hope you will join me in signing this vision statement.
In the last few weeks, we have seen a violent anti-Israel protest at York University, a demonizing and isolating vote at the UN, and rockets fired into the land of Israel. We have the ability and the obligation to stand up for our homeland. I hope you will join me in supporting Israel by taking action now.
Dear Holy Blossom Members,
The Israel Engagement Committee of Holy Blossom Temple would like to bring to your attention a CIJA (Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs) campaign which we support.
As you may be aware, Canada voted for a resolution at the UN this week that isolated Israel. This action was a surprise as it was the first time in over 10 years that Canada has voted this way.
Shabbat shalom, The Israel Engagement Committee,
Rabbi Zachary Goodman
Statement from CIJA:
The Government of Canada’s decision yesterday to vote in favour of an anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. was received within the Jewish and pro-Israel community with great dismay.
For many of us, the reversal of fifteen years of Canadian opposition to the annual U.N. ritual of Israel-bashing represented far more than a let-down.
It contradicted explicit commitments made to maintain the principled opposition to the twenty annual resolutions whose sole purpose is to isolate and delegitimize Israel.
This about-face felt more like a betrayal.
That failure to honour those commitments was compounded by the violation of the principle on which they were made.
As prime minister, Paul Martin initiated the systemic changes to Canada’s votes. That process was solidified by Prime Minister Harper’s government and confirmed during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first term.
The policy was based on a recognition that the UN had been hijacked to advance an anti-Israel agenda and that regardless of the substance of any particular resolution, Canada had to signal its unwillingness to add credibility to that charade.
It was a principled position that the Trudeau government pledged to uphold…and it did, until yesterday.
With one vote, the Government of Canada has undermined both an important commitment and an important principle. And as a result, the faith of many in our community has been shaken. It will take significant effort on the part of Prime Minister Trudeau to rebuild the pro-Israel community’s trust and confidence.
CIJA will be requesting a meeting with the Prime Minister, during which we will ask for clarity and certainty regarding the intentions of the Government on the central issues on our agenda.
That meeting will, hopefully, begin the process of repair and healing.
In the meantime, we urge everyone to convey their own concerns and reactions directly to Prime Minister Trudeau.
Tomorrow, you will receive an Action Alert from CIJA.
It is important for the Prime Minister to understand that the views expressed by CIJA reflect broad support within our constituency.
If we want our voices to count, we must speak up.
|Joel Reitman||Jeffrey Rosenthal|
|Co-Chair, CIJA Board||Co-Chair, CIJA Board|
NFTY NEL’s Winter Kallah
Join together for an amazing Winter Kallah in Toronto, ON. Celebrate Shabbat with the community and experience fun teen-led programming, an exciting Saturday afternoon offsite and an energetic Spike concert Saturday night!
Contact Lisa for more information: [email protected]
October at the ECC!
We have enjoyed the joys and traditions associated with the fall Jewish holidays; Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah. We have experienced the holidays through all of our senses: the sweetness of the honey, the sounds of the shofar, the waving of the lulav and the smell of the Etrog, the beauty of the Torah, the Aron HaKodesh and the Ner Tamid. We love when Rabbi Jordan and Rabbi Zachary visit our program and engage with the children in meaningful ways. Just as we begin reading the Torah from the beginning once again, Holy Blossom ECC is the beginning of Jewish learning for our students. We hope it marks the beginning of life-long learning and love of Torah and Jewish values.
We welcome our ShinShiniyot – Maayan Gean and Lior Cohen – two lovely women will join us for the 2019-2020 school year. We are honoured to host them.
We are very excited to announce that CA Italy 2020 registration is live and has launched to the public! Join us next summer for an unforgettable Jewish Musical Journey through Rome, Florence and Venice from June 22 – July 2, 2020.
For those of you who have joined us on previous missions to Israel, Poland, Germany and Spain we need to say very little about how amazing these trips have been. For those thinking to join us for the first time let us just say that the Cantors Assembly Missions are filled with song, joy, emotion, learning from renowned scholars, camaraderie and fun. Each journey is an experience that participants, laity and clergy, Jews and travelers of other faiths, hail as a once in a lifetime trip. Let us help you if you have questions or details that need to be worked out. We expect to be filled very quickly to capacity so register early through the link below or print out the registration attached below. You will find the flyer, registration form and itinerary as of today below. You can also click on this link: https://secure.ayelet.com/CA2020Italy.aspx
Please do not hesitate to contact either of us with any questions or concerns.
Beny and I look forward to hearing from you.
Hope and Beny
The tour includes:
- 9 nights in Delux Plus accommodations
- Jewish music with an operatic Italian flare, featuring the soaring voices of the Cantors Assembly
- Exploring Italian history through a Jewish prism, with scholarly presentations throughout by Stephen Berk
- A gondola ride through Venice, visiting Rome’s old Jewish Ghetto in the Trastevere area, meeting the director of the new Jewish Museum in Ferrara and touring the gorgeous Duomo of Florence
- Group flights coming in August 2019