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03/11/2020 08:54:52 PM


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

A Light New Change

09/24/2019 07:55:11 PM


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


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


[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...

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...
Wed, April 1 2020 7 Nisan 5780