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11/03/2020 08:54:52 PM


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

Yom Kippur Message 5781

29/09/2020 07:29:34 PM



This past year I returned to an old hobby of mine, taking up various styles of needlework.

My cross-stitching projects have included small pieces, some no bigger than 4 inches around or 6 inches across. Often, they feature “bad words,” surrounded by the kind of genteel floral patterns one associates with antimacassars and porcelain tea cups. So the raging impulse behind pieces that read BAD...Read more...

To Breath Into the New Year

15/09/2020 07:37:19 AM


While it’s true that every year is a year like no other, and every new year brings uniquely new possibilities, this year I find myself reaching back to my Ashkenazi upbringing:

This is takkeh* a year like no other! Halevay** this new year brings uniquely new possibilities! OY!

For the past six months, much of the world has been reeling and adapting as we have altered our habits and rituals, alert to and monitoring our health...Read more...

Grounding Ourselves in Teshuvah

02/09/2020 07:33:59 AM


As I write this on the Friday that is the first day of Elul, the month before the new year begins, I am stepping into my annual process of teshuvah. At the same time, it feels like my spiritual heels are dragging along the ground, unsure of my steps in this unstable time.

For the many years that social media and digital communications have been a feature of our secular culture, it has also offered wonderful platform in the Jewish...Read more...

Concrete Ambiguity in Jewish Time

04/08/2020 03:59:56 PM


There’s a particular perspective that I have heard over the years from folks who are new to Judaism, or who have joined the Jewish people. It comes from their observations of, or experiences with, Jewish rituals around mourning and grief.

Universally, the perspective is one of appreciation – for the concrete rituals; for the communal as well as personal elements; for addressing specific time frames, such as those between the...Read more...

Between the Wilderness and the Land Beyond

22/07/2020 09:53:48 PM


This week in the yearly Torah cycle brings us to an extremely interesting junction in relation to this moment in our pandemic experience, and to this point in our rabbi-congregation partnership.

Where we are in the Torah is in the space between the last parshah of Bemidbar or the book of Numbers called Masei, literally the “settings-out,” or journeys, and the first parshah in the book of Deuteronomy or Devarim, which goes by the...Read more...

Cousins: A Family Legacy

10/06/2020 09:49:20 PM


Of all my mother’s many cousins, only Rose and Harry from Baltimore were called by their family “title.” They were closer in age to my mother’s European-born aunts and uncles, so it only seemed respectful that we addressed them as Cousin Rose and Cousin Harry.

We visited our Baltimore relatives a handful of times during my childhood, and during Expo ’67 many came to Montreal. Cousin Rose and Cousin Harry were at our house...Read more...

Different - and the Same

25/05/2020 08:09:07 PM


This coming Shabbat has at least two dates: May 30th on the Gregorian calendar, and the 7th of Sivan on the Hebrew calendar. What else comes in twos this last Shabbat in May, the first Shabbat following the Omer period? It also has two Torah portions.

This is a distinction that is different from the “double-parshah” scenario that applies to seven different pairs of Torah portions. A year has 52 weeks, the Torah has 54 portions....Read more...

Love Thy Leviticus

28/04/2020 07:50:39 PM


This week’s double-parshah, Acharey Mot-Kedoshim, can strike both love and loathing in the hearts of Torah students. Love, for the passage at the heart of Kedoshim: love your neighbour as yourself [Lev 19:18] along with many other uplifting verses. Loathing, for the oh so many strange, alien and even repellant passages, including the repeated injunctions to not lie with a male as one lies with a woman [Lev 18:22, 20:13].

The impulse...

Counting from the Heart

14/04/2020 10:45:13 AM


Today is April 14, 2020. It’s a Tuesday. It’s the last day of the “intermediate” days of Passover. It’s the first “weekday” after the Easter holiday weekend.  It’s spring, the time of the earliest flowering bloomers and budding trees.

Or, as one of the many internet posts offered on the theme of “when someone asks what day it is,” we get a clip of the dazzling Bernadette Peters singing : “Tuesday, Thursday,...Read more...

Passover 5780/2020 Essentials, COVID-19 Edition: Holy Newness

31/03/2020 10:51:50 PM


First of all, humour:
Passover for Social Distancers
(The author is the spouse of Reconstructionist Rabbi Rachel Gartner, Director for Jewish Life at Georgetown University. NB – heavy on the wine jokes.)
Next, music! Enjoy these contemporary and traditional songs for the seder (all found in the Reconstructionist Hagaddah A Night of Questions):
Shabbat Unplugged - "A Night of Questions" Haggadah...

Sat, 18 September 2021