Every Two Weeks
In this Newsletter:

 . Farewell to Natalie
.Shabbat Service & Special Meditation Offering January 2
. Tax Receipts & Donations
. Make a Difference & Have Fun: Volunteer with Shir Libeynu
. Daniela Gesudheit’s Alphabet of Wrongdoing
. Allan Shiff: Doing Something About Climate Change

Dear Members:
Wow, so much to talk (and brag) about! On December 20, we held our 14th Annual General Meeting (AGM) via Zoom. Ironically, it drew the largest attendance of any AGM in our history. Perhaps it was the stunning performance by Daniela that drew the crowds. Thanks to everyone who joined us and to those who couldn’t attend but sent lovely messages. We are grateful for all of your support and attention. We are proud of our work this past year. We welcome Ellie Goldenberg and Rebecca Sugarman onto the Board and are confident that with their contributions we will go from strength to strength.

This past month, our congregation held a moving and meaningful memorial service for long-time member, Annette Salem. Annette’s friends gathered virtually to share stories and songs about Annette and how important she was in each of their lives. Shir Libeynu is grateful for the time Annette was with us. May her memory be a blessing.

Our Chanukah celebration also happened this month. Led by Rabbi Dara Lithwick, we sang traditional and new Chanukah songs, lit candles and enjoyed a wonderful story by Eden Nameri.

Many people contributed to ensuring that both of those events were successful and meaningful. Grateful thanks to Rabbi Lithwick, Paula Wolfson, Jamie Flagal, Matt Rideout, Vered Philip, Ruth Dworin, Miriam Zachariah and all others who gave time and thought to these events.

We recently celebrated Chanukah, and, just this past week, the winter solstice. In deepest winter we anticipate with light and joy the return of the sun, the lengthening of the days, the promise of spring.

At the end of this year we might want to take a deep breath, breathe out the things that have made this year difficult and breathe in hope for 2021.

Let’s meet again for our Shabbat service on January 2. Until then, stay safe and healthy, and please reach out to us if we can be of assistance: slboard@shirlibeynu.ca.

Board of Directors
As many of you know, Natalie Wallach, our steadfast administrator for 12 years, is stepping down at the end of December to pursue new opportunities. To say that we, the Board and congregation, will miss her is an understatement. Natalie will always be a friend of Shir Libeynu’s. If “Administrator Emerita” were a thing, Natalie would be ours.

Below, Eden Nameri speaks for many of us in describing Natalie’s enormous contribution to our shul and community:

Why doesn’t the congregation have a building?

During my many years on the Shir Libeynu Board of Directors, I was often asked “Why doesn’t the congregation have a building?” My answer was always “Natalie is our building!” From the beginning of her time with us, Natalie has provided structure and support. Natalie has adapted to each iteration of the Board by anticipating what was needed with prescience, precision and a lot of patience. Her perspective on new ideas and ongoing problems has been key to implementation and solutions. Natalie doesn’t just fill in the gaps; she constructs passages and pathways. 
Shir Libeynu has been strengthened and enriched by Natalie’s deep institutional knowledge and true understanding of the families and individuals that make up our community. Natalie has kept our house in order, but even more, she has been our home base.

Although Natalie’s Jewish circle is very different from Shir Libeynu’s, our values and priorities were in alignment. This has informed everything Natalie has done for us, and Natalie has done A LOT. It can never be measured.
Connection and compassion are fundamental to Shir Libeynu. Natalie has fostered and facilitated both and I hope that all of us, as a community, will continue to operate under those core values.
As a recovering Board member, a parental graduate of the bnei mitzvah program and as a long-time member, I will miss Natalie very much. 

Eden Nameri

We will start off 2021 together with a Shabbat service on Saturday, January 2 at 10:30 am. The service will be led by Rabbi Dara Lithwick and our Shabbat Chazzan, Paula Wolfson. Eden will be doing Torah storytelling for the parsha. The service booklet will be available closer to the date. Email shirlibeynuzoom@gmail.com to register.
If anyone would like to participate musically in our services, please get in touch with Paula.
Catch Your Breath Before the Service
Before the service on January 2, from 9:30 to 10:15 am, we will be offering a special session, “Meditation on Shabbat,” by Lorne Blumer. You need to register for this session separately.

Abraham Joshua Heschel once described Shabbat as a “sanctuary in time.”  Let’s see if we can cultivate a sense of exactly that as we near Shabbat services, catching our breath, finding some stillness, and working with meditation (guided and silent), shaped by the mood of the moment and ancient Jewish texts. 

Lorne Blumer is a graduate of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s program in Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training, who's often led meditation for the Shir Libeynu community.

To participate in virtual offerings, you need to have a Zoom account and register.
All 2020 tax receipts were sent out on Sunday, December 13 by email from receipt@shirlibeynu.ca. Please download the PDF file. If you need your receipt sent again, please email us as soon as possible: admin@shirlibeynu.ca
Please consider making a donation to Congregation Shir Libeynu. You may wish to donate in memory of a loved one, or in honour of a mitzvah or milestone. If you wish to receive a tax receipt for 2020, you need to donate by December 31st. Thank you to everyone who has made a donation this year. 
There are so many ways to make a difference, have fun and get to know other Shir Libeynu members. Get in touch with us to discuss these great volunteer opportunities: slboard@shirlibeynu.ca.

Join the Board of Directors. We are eight now (hurray!) but still have room for one more director!

Write/edit this biweekly newsletter. This is a wonderful, creative opportunity for someone who has great writing skills and would enjoy working with the board, members and our administrator to keep our congregation informed and connected.

Join the Social Action Committee and contribute to Shir Libeynu’s anti-racism and other social justice initiatives.
Participate musically in our services. If you are interested, please get in touch with Paula Wolfson, our Shabbat Chazzan.
Thank you so much, Daniela, for your concert following our AGM. Your voice transported us from all business, everyday worries and especially difficult days during the pandemic.  
Here is the link to Daniela’s video and interview in Protocols: https://prtcls.com/video/all-our-departed-el-male-rachamim/
You can find out more and purchase the digital album through the websites below.
Alphabet of Wrongdoing website:
Purchase the digital album and libretto:
Doing Something About Climate Change

Shir Libeynu member, Allan Shiff, and his late wife, Helaine, decided to do something to engage people in climate change. It’s an issue that can overwhelm us and leave us feeling powerless. Through their partnership with the ROM, the Shiffs are helping to bring us information, insights and motivation to take action.
In Allan’s own words:

I have had a strong interest in the issue of global warming since I noticed an article on the Stern Review in 2006. Commissioned by the British Government, the Stern Review, headed by Sir Nicholas Stern, formerly with the World Bank, came to the conclusion that in order to avoid a climate crisis we must spend a little in order to gain a lot. Unfortunately, we failed to do so. Since that time, I have attended the United Nations conference on climate change in Copenhagen and have been connected to NGO’s and many individuals on the topic.

Towards the end of 2018, I asked my dear late wife Helaine what she thought about approaching the ROM with an idea for a climate change project. She thought it was a wonderful concept. So, in early 2019, we met with senior representatives at the ROM during Helaine’s short period of remission. The response was very positive; it was almost as if they said, ‘we’ve been waiting for you!’

We began to develop what will be known as the ROM Climate Project. The prime purpose of this project is to inform and provide an opportunity for all in our community to become engaged with this issue in a meaningful and productive way.

A major donation was made to the ROM by my family which was, in turn, matched by a special ROM fund. This will secure the position of The Allan and Helaine Shiff Climate Change Curator who will be the driving force in this project.

Watch this powerful video to learn more:

Congregation Shir Libeynu