A Feature Article on our May Adult-Education Session and Shabbat Service

The word "Israel" means to wrestle, noted Rabbi Aviva Goldberg, as she wrapped up an adult education session she conducted on Saturday, May 7, 2016.  We were a small but enthusiastic group that attended and contributed to the discussion, which attempted to get to the heart of what makes our congregation different than others in Toronto and beyond, even so-called progressive and unaffiliated ones, such as ours. Rabbi Goldberg's presentation included historical context and theological perspectives. We all agreed that her closing remarks about wrestling with, or continuing to seek answers to, questions of worship, liturgy, ritual and theology are germane to what makes us distinct and unique.
The participants rose to the occasion with their contributions to the discussion. Like many members, Jamie Flagal appreciates the spontaneity and participation that occur during the rituals on our bimah at our services. Yet, he adds, "we sing prayers that allow us to enter any shul and immediately feel a sense of belonging even if that shul is in a far away land." Jonathan Silin discussed the "envelope of Judaism, something created and defined," and he pondered, "what is (specifically) Jewish about how we should be in the world?"  Barbara Center remarked on the "framework, foundation and feeling" of our community.  And, as Rabbi Goldberg noted further, "ritual marks the sanctity of a moment, and fuses with theology," a theology that is not fixed at our shul, despite our constant intention to recognize and affirm the many paths our tradition offers.

This workshop proved rich and inspiring, and its content a fitting corollary to the Shabbat service that followed, when we memorialized the loved ones of members, including the family of that day's Torah reader, Harvey Worth.  We also celebrated various milestones: Those included honours for a couple about to be married, Ed Weiss and Mollie Roskies, and another for the birthday of one of our longest-time members, Gary Klein. (Full disclosure: Gary is this reporter's husband). His long-held atheism does not prevent him from being a good Jew, said Rabbi Goldberg, citing that week's Torah portion, which discusses the concept of kadosh, being holy, with the highest form of it being the way we treat others. Our community recognizes that the practice of kind deeds and helpful action, exemplified by members such as Gary, makes a difference. Hillel conveyed "that this is the whole of Torah, the rest is commentary," said Rabbi Goldberg.  
Thank you to Jonathan Silin, our education director, for inspiring the topic of this workshop, one that is "just a beginning," he has assured us.  And thank you to Rabbi Goldberg for leading us through it, and for her thought-provoking essay on the matter. (It will remain on our website as well.) Let us know if you would like to continue the conversation at an upcoming workshop.
                                                                                                                -Harriet Eisenkraft

Upcoming Services at the  MNJCC, third floor

Shavuot Contemplative Chanting Service:  Sunday, June 12, 2-3:30 p.m.

An experiential, meditative, musical and joyful service relating to Shavuot, and led by long-time member Lorne Blumer.

Pride Havdallah Service and Reception:  Saturday, June 18, evening 

Led by Rabbi Goldberg and Chazzan Daniela Gesundheit at our annual tribute to Pride.  

Still Time to Register for Our 2016/2017 B'nei Mitzvah Program

Shir Libeynu is now accepting registrations for our Bnei Mitzvah Program.   
Our learning enrichment sessions will include a series of workshops and sessions with the children, as well as their families; social opportunities for families at oneg Shabbat and beyond; tours of Jewish Toronto and other events; a social-action/tikkun olam project, and more. 

Many of the children who participate in our learning enrichment sessions have an individual bar or bat mitzvah ceremony with Shir Libeynu.  

For information on our learning enrichment sessions and our bar/bat mitzvah program, please email our administrator or call 416-465-5488.

Strategy 2021:  Overview for the Congregation - May, 2016

From a discussion of our legacy and philosophy at the adult education session, to a service celebrating many current lifecycle events of our members, to a presentation about our future, the morning's events of May 7 had it all. Read what our hard-working team has come up with to turn the dialogue -- which took place over many months between our members -- into action as we  go forward.


Saturday, June 11, 2016, at the MNJCC

Shir Libeynu is once again a proud co-sponsor of this event.  Rabbi Goldberg and Eden Nameri will be presenting at the festival.

A full night of community, study, singing, snacking and more! Over 50 sessions reinterpret and reimagine traditional Jewish texts and open up new community conversations. Special programs for kids and teens. All are welcome!  Advance registration recommended. 

Heart to Heart: 2016

Heart to Heart is looking for some new hosts when the group of young people, Arab and Jewish Israelis, will be in Toronto at the end of their summer program in rural Ontario.
From July 25-29, they will have full days of programming, so hosting mainly consists of providing them with meals, a comfortable place to sleep and planning activities during one or two free nights. Heart to Heart has received positive feedback from hosts in previous years. Several Shir Libeynu members have volunteered their homes in the past; read one of their perspectives on the experience here

( Items listed in this section have been included at the request of Shir Libeynu participants and/or are considered to potentially be of interest to our congregation. Listed items are not  necessarily endorsed by Congregation Shir Libeynu or its  members. Listings appear at the discretion of the newsletter editor.)

Jewish-Indigenous Solidarity and the River Run, 2016

Sunday, May 29th, 2-3:30p.m.
First Narayever Congregation
187 Brunswick Ave, Toronto

This workshop aims to raise awareness about indigenous struggles, foster grassroots support for Grassy Narrows First Nations and encourage workshop participants to support the River Run initiative in 2016 and beyond. Workshop leaders will introduce Grassy Narrows as an inspiring example of a community resisting injustices and contextualize their struggle within historical and global issues.

In specifically outreaching to the Jewish community, this workshop will seek to address some of the wider questions of Jewish social justice and tikkun olam, healing the world.

ALL ARE WELCOME! You don't have to be a Narayever member to attend. This is a free workshop. Donations for the River Run are welcome.

Newsletter Editor:  Harriet Eisenkraft
Congregation Shir Libeynu
416-465-5488 | shirlibeynu@yahoo.ca | http://www.shirlibeynu.ca
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Congregation Shir Libeynu
P.O. Box 73509
Toronto, Ontario, M6C 4A7
(416) 465-5488