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|
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
Last week I was invited by Israel’s Foreign Ministry and Ambassador Ron Dermer to attend a four-day mission of North American Rabbis to explore and promote Israel-Diaspora relations. The invitation outlines the purpose of the mission. “We will hold frank, open and honest conversations with opinion makers and leaders to foster greater understanding on both sides of the Atlantic…. If we do nothing, the divide between these two great communities could deepen and become insurmountable. This mission is not for everyone – it is for rabbis who are motivated by the principles of Clal Yisrael [commitment to the totality of the Jewish People] and Ahavat Yisrael [love for the Jewish People and the Jewish State.] It will require open mindedness, which will transcend allegiance to any ideology, organization or movement.”
I hope to participate. The principles of Clal Yisrael and Ahavat Yisrael are indeed the first and the last motivators of my Zionism. I carry these driving principles with me wherever I go. They live in my bones. In between the first and the last, however, are many other, more nuanced principles, which are best expressed as the principles of Reform Zionism. Reform Zionism is driven by values, which are Jewish, religious, modern and democratic. Reform Zionism is passionate and principled, rooted in the land and rooted in the words of the biblical prophets who call for justice and righteousness. Reform Zionism is growing in importance and influence as The State of Israel seems to be losing its grip on how to remain both Jewish and democratic.
Last week Aviv Levi, an Israeli sergeant was killed at the Gaza fence where he volunteered to be stationed as Hamas violence was escalating. Alav HaShalom.
Last week the controversial Nation State Bill was passed late at night in the Kenesset (62 in favour, 55 against, 2 abstentions). While much of it reads like “motherhood and matzah ball soup,” with a little imagination, it’s easy to see how certain sections can be used in unseemly ways — against the growing non-Jewish minorities and against non-Haredi Jews. Read the FAQ prepared by The IMPJ (Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism).
Last week Israel rescued 800 “White Helmets” from Syria and brought them to Jordan. Eventually they and their families will be taken in as refugees by Canada, England, and Germany. Unlike most of Israel’s global humanitarian efforts, this one seems to be receiving good media attention.
Last week a Conservative Rabbi in Haifa was taken from his home at 5:30 in the morning and brought to police headquarters for questioning about the Jewish weddings he performs without the consent of the Chief Rabbinate. He wrote from the police station, “Iran is here,” meaning Israel is becoming an unrecognizable theocracy. Rabbi Haiyun’s lawyer is Director of Hiddush, Rabbi Uri Regev, who came to speak to us at Holy Blossom last spring. That same day Rabbi Haiyun went to Prime Minister Rivlin’s home for the annual pre-Tisha B’Av study with leaders and representatives from across the Jewish spectrum. Only in today’s Israel does a rabbi go from police investigation to the President’s home!
Last Sunday was Tisha B’Av, the darkest day on the Jewish calendar when we mourn the destruction of Jerusalem’s ancient Temple and the many calamities, which befell us throughout our history. On Tisha B’Av we ask: What did we do to allow for our enemies to overtake us? What weakness of faith or weakness of cohesion or weakness of will made us vulnerable to external threats? We hold up the mirror and we ask: How are we doing as a People? Some fast, some mourn, some pray, some study, and then some get to work.
Now it is a new week. Now we mend what has been torn; we repair what has been broken; we reinforce what has been weak. Here are a few ways you can help.
- Become a Reform Zionist. Each year you see in your Holy Blossom Temple membership package an invitation to join ARZA Canada. ARZA is the Association of Reform Zionists of America. By becoming a member of ARZA you will have a voice in the World Zionist Organization, you will be invited for unique local learning opportunities, and you will be informed of relevant news as it unfolds in Israel.
The President of ARZA, Rabbi Josh Weinberg, is coming to Holy Blossom. To learn more about our role in shaping the Jewish character of the Jewish State, come for Shabbat evening services on Friday, August 10th, 6 – 7 pm. Learn more about his visit here.
- Become a vocal Ohev Yisrael, Lover of Israel. A false assumption about Diaspora Jewry is that we care less and less about Israel and her development. Please consider writing to Prime Minister Netanyahu ([email protected]) or to our regional Consul General Galit Baram ([email protected]). Express both your commitments and your concerns, whatever they may be. Let our voices of attachment be strong enough to build up the bridge from here to there.
- Join our Holy Blossom team of Israel Engagement leadership. Pam Albert, Les Rothschild, and Rabbi Michael Satz welcome your ideas and your volunteerism to bring more Israel programming to Holy Blossom Temple. We offer a range of opportunities from learning from expert thought-leaders to exploring Israeli literature, film and food. Our sister congregation outside of Tel Aviv, Kehillat HaShachar, provides a great connection of friendship.
- Travel to Israel. There’s nothing like being there. Soon we’ll announce our next congregational trip to Israel. If you’d like to be matched with congregants who can tell you about family trips, high school programs, gap-year programs, Birthright and Honeymoon Israel, study and volunteer opportunities for retirees, or even aliyah, please contact us and we’ll put you in touch with a fellow-congregant who can share his or her experiences and provide you with helpful resources.
“For Zion’s sake I will not be silent.
For Jerusalem’s sake I will not be still.
Until her justice shines like the dawn,
Her deliverance like a blazing torch.” (Isaiah 62:1)
For the past 12 years, we have been extremely fortunate at HBT to welcome Shinshinim, Israeli emissaries, to our Holy Blossom/Leo Baeck community! The Shinshinim are sponsored by the UJA Federation, as well as the sponsoring synagogue and Day School.
We are so excited to welcome our new Shinshinim, Lia Suleimany and Ido Levy, to our Holy Blossom community in August 2018. These young Israelis always bring a new experience for the families that host them each year. Get to know them by watching their video above!
We have had great success in matching our HBT families and our Shinshinim, and once again we are looking for families who are interested in bringing a wonderful young Israeli to their home. This year, Federation has requested that we change the hosting schedule so that our Israelis are not on the move as much – we are only looking for 2 families for each Shinshin. That means each Shinshin will be a part of your home and family for about 6 months.
If you are interested in being a host family and truly having an amazing experience with a lovely 18 year old Israeli, please contact Debbie Spiegel, [email protected]
For the past few years, Gillian Helfield has been our lay leader for Shinshinim, and now Jeff Baker will take over the reins. If anyone has questions for either Gillian or Jeff, they will be happy to share their experiences as former host “Moms & Dads.” We will be happy to connect you with either of them.
Welcoming our new Shinshinim!
I am pleased to announce that we have new Shinshinim for the Levy, who will be joining us in August, 2018. They are wonderful, bright young Israelis who will be with us in our school, our worship services, and at many other programs throughout our program year.
Ido is from Moshav Gan Hadarom. He has been very involved in the Israeli Scouts youth movement and participated as a part of a delegation to a Jewish day camp in Washington, DC.
Lia is from Kibbutz Ein Hashofet, in the northern part of Israel. She has been a part of a very special group of teens – the project is called ‘mekubetzet.’ This two year program takes place at Kibbutz Nahal Oz. This kibbutz is located on Gaza’s border. She attends high school with the children from the area, and plans all kinds of programs for the kibbutz children.
If you are interested in sharing an evening, a meal or any activity with our current Shinshinim, Noa Gordon and Ido Mordechay, please contact Debbie Spiegel, [email protected].
Our Shinshinim have been an integral part of our community for the past 11 years. We have developed strong relationships with each one of them personally, and in turn, have created a strong bond with Israel because, and through, those relationships.
We are proud of these young people who each served a “year of service,” a “Sh’nat Sherut” to us and for their country.
Over the past 11 years, each one of these delightful young people have served their country in “tzahal,” the Israeli army and many are now engaged in their careers, following their passion.
Here is a quick taste of a few of our talented young Israeli friends:
Taly Epstein: Shinshinit in 2013-2014
Right now I’m a first year student for industrial engineering and management in Technion University in Haifa (yes, it’s right next to my house). Things are pretty busy as well, e
specially because I haven’t been in school for so long. For now I’m pretty happy with my choice, I love the idea that you learn science and business at the same time and the people in my class are very nice . It’s such a small world that today I found out that one girl from my class it Ziv Fox’ s sister that was also a Shinshinit in Toronto. What are the odds!
I miss Toronto very much, even though I got the chance to visit after my shinshin year, this place really affected me .Maybe when I will be more into my 3rd year I could do a semester abroad.. looking forward to it.
Gefen Chazen: Shinshinit 2012-2013
So after coming back from Washington DC I just started school. I finally got to move to the best city -Jerusalem. This university and city are amazing and I am loving it.
I am studying BA in international relations and Asian studies with focusing on china and learning Chinese which is the hardest thing i ever encountered but really interesting and relevant. I just applied for an internship program with Stan with Us! I am also a part of a program called Nefesh Yehudi where we learn about Judaism with Haredi teachers and advocacy of Israel and I learn so much!
Besides school my older brother is getting married in May and we are all super excited! I am also waiting for the Borins family to come in the summer for Isabelle’s Bat Mitzvah 🙂
For me it was a great opportunity to revisit Holy Blossom and Leo Baeck after a few years to really understand the impact and to feel at home! That was the year that shaped my life and gave me all the skills to achieve my goals in life!
Maya Zrachya: Shinshinit – 2010-2011
This past year has been really exciting for me, I graduated from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and started working for the JAFI Shinshinim team as an educational coordinator. Since I returned from my year as a Shinshinit at Holy Blossom, I was constantly drawn back to the world of Jewish Education and the connection between Jews around the world. Today I feel grateful for the opportunity I received at the age of 18, getting to know a new community, being a part of this big Jewish network, and discovering my own Jewish Identity. Most of all, I am thrilled to pass this experience on to new generations of Shinshinim going around the world, and opening a door to creating a stronger Jewish people – in Israel and everywhere else.
Lots of love from Jerusalem,
If any of you would like to host future Shinshinim, please contact Debbie Spiegel, [email protected].