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08/29/2017 09:55:20 PM

Aug29

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Words of the Spirit, by Rabbi Liz Bolton, Or Haneshamah's rabbi and spiritual leader

Filling in the Missing Pieces of Sarah's Life

11/26/2019 11:44:51 PM

Nov26

Should we be surprised that a parasha entitled Hayey Sarah, “the life of Sarah”, in fact opens with the death of Sarah, and encompasses nothing of her life story?

Torah is full of round-about tales and messages. Here is one that is perhaps more significant for being less straightforward. It is about Sarah, and yet not about one person, for it clearly connects to the origins of a people.

To find the beginning of this tale...Read more...

Happy Living in "Two Civilizations"

10/29/2019 08:14:22 PM

Oct29

And now, for something completely … regular.
 
We say farewell to Tishrey 5780 the same week that we welcome (regard with annoyance? celebrate? ignore?) Halloween. Because nothing says the Jewish fall festivals are over more clearly than the proliferation of skeletons, ghosts, and the creepy spray stuff that covers doorways and shrubs.
 
My view of Halloween? Two thumbs up, because it doubles the number of times...Read more...

Shelter for All

10/15/2019 09:12:23 PM

Oct15

As a young Jewish Canadian kid, Thanksgiving was, well, nonexistent. I vaguely knew that it was a Big Thing in the United States, mainly because we had relatives there. And because it often overlapped with Sukkot, which I only celebrated at school or shul, the fall harvest festival season didn’t really have an impact in our home.
 
Particularly after living in the US for 23 years, I learned that Jews there take Thanksgiving...Read more...

A Light New Change

09/24/2019 07:55:11 PM

Sep24

For some of us, this time of year evokes memories of new school items, perhaps a lunch box, sharp pencils with erasers that work, snazzy fresh outfits. For others, it’s the weather and its changes, from the hot-cool-warm-hot-cold pendulum swings to the changing colours.

Early in the week before Rosh Hashanah 2019/5779-5780 the fall equinox arrives, the date when the length of the day is perfectly balanced between light and dark. I...Read more...

Renew our Prayers, Renew our Days

09/03/2019 08:20:12 PM

Sep3

Right in the middle of Labour Day weekend 2019, Rosh Hodesh Elul - the first day of the month of preparation for the Jewish New Year - fell on September 1st. For one month, the Jewish calendar numbers will completely align with the Gregorian dates.

The High Holy Days, paradoxically, line up pretty well with the rest of year. There is a lot more alignment than there is difference between what we do on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur than...Read more...

Marching From Margin to Center

08/22/2019 08:47:10 PM

Aug22

[To mark the opening of Capital Pride Week we are reprinting a Words of the Spirit column from August 9, 2016]
 
In the early 1980s, when the AIDS crisis had already begun to cut its wide swath of devastation in the United States, the epidemic was just emerging in Canada. After my dearest high school friend died with AIDS in 1983, I vowed to do something to honour his memory.
 
A few years later, while living in...Read more...

Tisha B’Av: Mourning, Memory and Meaning

08/06/2019 06:25:56 PM

Aug6

This mid-summer holiday-that-is-not-a-holy-day, mourning a historical event to which we have difficulty relating, is among the least-observed date on the calendar in liberal Jewish communities. Perhaps the early rabbis felt its difficulties as well, and so added to this fast day commemorating the destruction of the First (586 BCE) and Second Temples (70 CE) in Jerusalem a cumulative list of disasters that have befallen the Jewish people,...Read more...

Tzarot and Smachot/Sorrows and Celebrations: Our Rabbis

07/25/2019 07:37:25 PM

Jul25

Our community doesn’t necessarily think of itself as having had multiple rabbis, as in the plural. In fact, ORH has played host to a deep roster of graduates of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, mostly during their student years.

Founded as a havurah, or friendship circle, ORH in its early years welcomed ritual leadership support from members of an established Reconstructionist congregation in Montreal, Dorshei Emet. Like...Read more...

Engaging in the Life of a Synagogue Community

05/28/2019 11:47:21 PM

May28

The following remarks were delivered at the Annual General Meeting on May 26, 2019.
 
Engaging in the life of a synagogue community is a radical act, and a spiritual act. It represents the essence of defining spirituality, and of challenging the predictable social order.
 
How is offering of yourself a spiritual act? Simple. It is, at its core, contributing to and being part of something larger than...Read more...

Comfort, o comfort my people. (Isaiah 40:1)

04/30/2019 04:44:36 PM

Apr30

Dear Or Haneshamah community,
 
It was a day that was already laden, soggy even, with unease.
 
Many of us have been observing the flood conditions in the Ottawa-Gatineau region that had risen to threatening levels during the Passover week. Some of turned our attention to our basements, or to our neighbours and our neighbourhoods; some to the systemic cascade of factors that have contributed to this increasing impact...Read more...

Tue, December 10 2019 12 Kislev 5780