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08/29/2017 09:55:20 PM


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

Tisha B’Av: Mourning, Memory and Meaning

08/06/2019 06:25:56 PM


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


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


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


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...

Purim to Passover: The Pantry Project

03/26/2019 09:55:12 PM


Scarcity and abundance. Need vs. desire. These aren’t the themes we readily associated with Passover, never mind with Purim. Liberation! Triumph over our (Eternal) Enemies! Freedom from Slavery!

And of course: Food! Passover represents the apex of the Jewish calendar’s – and the Jewish people’s – focus on the food-festival connection. Fundamentally, the holiday is as much about Let My People Eat as it is about Let My People...Read more...

Limmud, Federation, and a New Kind of Herem

02/26/2019 09:59:28 PM


“Judaism has little interest in using thought control. Prior to the emancipation of the Jews, bans were sometimes used when the coherence of a Jewish community, living in gentile and often hostile surroundings, was at stake. Yielding to unity then was crucial to the survival of the Jewish people. The rabbis, however, were very reluctant to impose bans, knowing how harmful they would be for the so-called renegades and even for their...Read more...

Found A System …

02/05/2019 03:44:59 PM


(Sung to the tune of “Found a Peanut”)

Tishrey, Heshvan, Found a peanut Kislev, Tevet, found a peanut Shvat, Adar, found a pea- Nisan, Iyar, nut la-ast night Sivan, Tamuz, l a-ast night I Av, Elul, found a pea-nut our calendar is sung*. found a peanut la-ast night     *Or nuts! (or...Read more...

Fall 2013-Winter 2019

01/15/2019 11:29:54 PM


“Dear Members of Or Haneshamah,
As many of you are aware, there was a massive accident yesterday morning in Ottawa involving an OC Transpo bus and a Via Rail train.” 
That was the opening of my very first message to you as a community, early in September 2013.
What a shattering afternoon it was this past Friday for our city. Again, eerily, an OC Transpo bus was involved in a tragic...Read more...

Considering Israel

01/09/2019 08:44:56 PM


“Israel” has long been regarded as the third-rail of Jewish communal discourse. The quotation marks here signify the fluid, elusive nature of that word. It signals questions: what exactly are we referencing when we say “Israel?” Is it the current country? How we define its boundaries? The idea of a Jewish nation? A Jewish nation-state? Historical Zionism? The actions of the current Israeli government?
In prayer books,...

Setting The Calendar For Human Rights

12/11/2018 08:42:12 AM


It’s not the darkest time. Not yet.

This year the lights of Hanukkah wane, along with the dimming sunlight, as we approach the winter solstice. Often the secular and religious calendars provide an overlap between the Jewish and Christian holidays that fall on the 25th - of Kislev and December respectively. These two festivals, just happen to involve the lighting of candles. It’s hard not to notice the confluence of dates, and...Read more...

Wed, August 21 2019 20 Av 5779