Rabbinic Reflection: Rabbi Yael Splansky
Congregational Values Inside and Out!
I took a stroll around our grounds this morning, delighting in all the ways we walk the talk of Jewish values.
Thanks to Arieh Waldman’s woodworking skills, we now have two food pantries standing at the corner of Bathurst Street and Dewbourne. It’s close to the sidewalk and the bus stop for passersby to see. We have ordered the accompanying signs, which will read: “Dear Neighbours, Take what you need. Give what you can.” and ”Love your neighbour as yourself. (Leviticus 19)” In our immediate neighbourhood there are a number of low-income housing units. Some of our hard-working neighbours will benefit from these simple food pantries. You are welcome to drop off non-perishable food items at any time. As you can see I made the first installment today.
We are looking for two or three more volunteers to be the curators of the pantries throughout the summer. Please drop Rabbi Kaye a line ([email protected]) if you are able to stop by once a week to make sure they are well stocked.
Honouring our Past
This plaque celebrates Holy Blossom Temple as the first synagogue of Toronto. Our Statement of Identity says this to describe where we come from and how we continue to reform. “Founded in 1856 as an Orthodox congregation in downtown Toronto, Holy Blossom Temple joined the Reform movement in the 1920s and soon became known the world over as a flagship congregation of Reform Judaism. In the 1970’s we began to embrace more traditional practices and today our prayer language and ritual draw from the best of the Reform tradition as well as from Klal Yisrael (the totality of the Jewish People). Within our congregation, there is a respectful range of Jewish observance and beliefs. Our commitment is to create a Jewish life, which is meaningful and challenging, authentic and joyful, responsible and relevant.”
Accessibility, Security, and Good Health
Our new entrance includes the words we use to serenade the angels each Shabbat: “Shalom Aleichem. Peace be upon you. Come in peace. Bless us with peace. Go in peace.” To the right of the doors, you see an accessibility button to open the doors automatically and the intercom to speak with our security staff. Once inside, we have the health station for a COVID-safe environment. While pre-registration is no longer required, we are still committed to creating a healthy setting for all.
Throughout the month of June, the pride flag stands right next to our mezuzah at the main entrance, welcoming our LGBTQ+ congregants and guests. The flag and the mezuzah are both symbols of identity and protection. Happy pride month!
When you’ve traveled the world and visited far-off synagogues, you may have noticed the custom to place a tzedakah box at the entrance to the synagogue. This one-of-a-kind piece of furniture, built to resemble the architecture of the Temple itself, is our Tzedakah Centre. Thanks to the generosity of Janis Rotman and the leadership of our incoming Associate Rabbi, Samuel Kaye, each compartment of the Tzedakah Centre will be curated by a congregant or circle of congregants for one mitzvah project or another. Beginning this fall, keep an eye out for collection updates in regular editions [email protected] If you’d like to curate a bin for a worthy cause, drop Rabbi Kaye a line at [email protected].
Holy Grounds Café
Open for three more Sundays from 9:30-12:30, stop by for a delicious cup of coffee and the most delightful service. Thanks to the generosity of Judy and Harley Mintz, thanks to the leadership of Rafiken Social Enterprises, and the talents of our neuro-diverse baristas and bakers, Holy Grounds Café has been successfully launched. We look forward to its expanded return in the fall. Please note: Freshly baked bread is a new addition this Sunday. And Sunday, June 26th is designated as a special opportunity to meet and greet our new rabbis over a cup of joe.
A Covenant of Belonging
This weekend I will officiate at three ufrufs and three weddings! When meeting with couples, I help them prepare for a beautiful and memorable wedding ceremony, and also to prepare for a marriage that reflects their values. When they take their places under the chuppah, they strike a covenant between them and commit to building a life of shared purpose.
We do the same here every day at Holy Blossom Temple. We call it a Covenant of Belonging. We make a commitment to one another and to our common causes. This was evident throughout my morning stroll around the grounds. Wherever my eyes landed, there was another example of our congregational values in motion. Come see for yourself!
It’s Membership Season. This week our Administrative Team prepared your Membership Packages in record time, and they could be arriving at your doorstep soon. Please invite a friend or relative to join you at Holy Blossom for what promises to be a meaningful year of reclaiming the power of being in community.
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