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Or Haneshamah - Ottawa's Reconstructionist Community

Celebrate the Arrival of Our New Sefer Torah!

Rabbi Elizabeth Bolton and Cantor Daniel Benlolo of Congregation Kehillat Beth Israel with the Sefer Torah that KBI has generously donated to Or Haneshamah. Photo by Jamie Worling.


On Sunday, October 23, 2016 Or Haneshamah marks a very special Simchat Torah: the congregation will celebrate the arrival of a new Sefer Torah – a remarkable and generous gift from Congregation Kehillat Beth Israel. A Hachnasat Sefer Torah dedication ceremony takes place on October 23rd, beginning at KBI, where the Torah will be presented, followed by a parade to its new home at OrH.

The current OrH Sefer Torah, which is nearly 100 years old, was personally acquired in 1995 by OrH (then the Ottawa Reconstructionist Havurah) founders Walter and Teena Hendelman. We are extremely honoured that the Hendelmans will be participating in the Hachnasat Sefer Torah ceremony, bringing out our current Torah to "greet" the new one upon arrival.

For all the details on the Hachnasat Sefer Torah events,
visit the events calendar page

Read more about this remarkable gift here

From the Rabbi - Words of the Spirit

From the Rabbi’s Message on Erev Rosh Hashanah

19/10/16 08:33:41 PM

What do you get for a world that has everything? In truth, we don’t trumpet the age of the world; we celebrate its newness, actually, its renewal, this and each Jewish new year.

We celebrate our joy over the newborn year, not its news.

We celebrate the politics of meaning, not the meanness of politics.

We celebrate hope over despair, of moving through teshuvah towards wholeness.

We celebrate the year’s promise, what is yet to be and has thus never yet been – the ages we will turn this year; the new lives we will welcome into our families and our community.

We are all like parents tonight, no matter our age or actual parenting status, staring in awe into the clean, clear face of this newborn year, wondering not so much how it will change, for we know it will grow and develop, but how much we will change.

For change is always a part of the message of the new year, the shana tova – which can also be read: have a good change.

Even the years’ numbers provide us with the opportunity to gain some insight into what the year might offer. This year, there is a powerful message in Torah that adds up to 777, the same numerical value of these letters of the opening five words of Psalm 24. Ledavid mizmor –  ladonay haaretz umelo’oh –  Of David a psalm: The world belongs to God in all its fullness.

In this country, and in most corners of the globe, we act as if the world belongs to us. Even if we feel alienated from those who act to despoil the earth and all its fullness - from destruction of rain forests, the ozone layer and the other systems contributing the warming of the planet, to relentless extraction of finite natural resources - we all appear to be ignoring the Psalm’s clear message: this planet is not ours to burn up.

The story of the birthday of the world is told in Genesis (which we read anew this coming Sunday on Simchat Torah). After all the elements of life on earth have been put in place, we are told that humans are to be fruitful, be numerous, and be stewards. Of the whole. Not just our corner of the garden.

The Talmud tells the story of a farmer who was clearing stones from his field and throwing them onto a public thoroughfare. A hasid (pious man) rebuked him, saying, "Worthless one! Why are you clearing stones from land which is not yours -and depositing them on property which is yours?" The farmer scoffed at him for this strange reversal of the facts. In the course of time the farmer had to sell his field, and as he was walking on the public road, he fell on those same stones he had thoughtlessly deposited there. He then understood the truth of the hasid's words: the damage he had wrought in the public domain was ultimately damage to his own property and well-being.

May every wish for a good and sweet new year bring us closer to manifesting the truth embedded in this year’s verse – that in dwelling on this earth, we are only tenants of this magnificent global creation. May we walk gently yet boldly to preserve the glorious garden, and be joyous in celebration each day of life.

-Rabbi Liz

Wed, 26 October 2016 24 Tishrei 5777