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Kenya Day Three

By | 2017-05-01T09:17:50+00:00 March 1st, 2017|Categories: News|

Chickens. The Israeli embassy gave chickens to St. Mary's School for Girls in Nakuru, Kenya today. It's part of an approach called Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), which the school's top educator learned in Israel. The essence of ESD is for children to invest in school life in an empowered way, working to create a sustainable community. As part of this, they help produce the food which is used for school meals... hence the chickens! But even here in Kenya, challenging and inspiring, I am following the news from North America. I am heartsick at the news of the continued bomb threats against Jewish Community Centres, and now [...]

Kenya Day Two

By | 2017-05-01T09:17:57+00:00 February 28th, 2017|Categories: News|

What are we doing here? Members of our group plan to take turns blogging, so I won't be sharing every detail of our trip every day. That being said, each day is so full of experiences, questions, and reflections that I want to share with you. So today, let's explore how a nice Jewish girl finds herself in Kenya in the first place. When I was asked to be involved with this trip, I couldn't say no. Let me admit up front that I love to travel, and I have always wanted to go to Africa. But it's not just the location of this trip which drew me [...]

Kenya Day One

By | 2017-03-01T10:51:57+00:00 February 27th, 2017|Categories: News|

We landed in Nairobi last night after over a day of travel. Our delegation has twelve members, all young Montreal Jewish leaders, plus a diplomat from the Israeli foreign service. Including me, there are five Temple members on our trip. Today was a remarkable start. We began the morning at the Gatoto school (www.gatoto.org - check it out!). The school has 1082 kids between the ages of 4 and 13... and a staff of just 40, with fewer than 30 teachers. Class sizes range between 50 and 70 students. The school started out in a one-room church in the adjacent slum (which we drove through to reach the [...]

Message from Israel #3

By | 2017-01-03T15:20:41+00:00 July 16th, 2016|Categories: News|

Shavua tov, everyone. I've just returned to Jerusalem from an extraordinary Shabbat in Beer Sheva, in the south of Israel. I can't pretend that the warmth and beauty of this shabbat in any way balances the horror of the terrorist attack in Nice. My heart is heavy. But I do write to you with a deep sense of hopefulness, in a world where hope is not always obvious. The thread that ran through my experience this shabbat was hospitality - in Hebrew, the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim. I went to Beer Sheva first and foremost because I had been invited to a Bedouin wedding. The groom is the [...]

Thoughts from Jerusalem #2

By | 2017-01-03T15:20:53+00:00 July 9th, 2016|Categories: News|

What a week it has been. Here in Jerusalem, I've been taking part in study, often from 8:30 in the morning to 9:30 at night. We rabbis have been diligent, for the most part, at keeping away from our smartphones; part of being in Jerusalem means being too far away to be called back. It's good for our humility. The world goes on without us. But this week, many of us have been following news from the United States - especially those from communities like Minneapolis and Dallas, where some of the horrible violence occurred. Two more black men shot by police, recorded for the world to see; [...]

Shavua tov from Jerusalem

By | 2017-01-03T15:21:08+00:00 July 2nd, 2016|Categories: News|

Shavua tov - a good week! I'm writing from Jerusalem, where I will be spending the month as a fellow in the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative of the Hartman Institute. Together with other rabbis of all denominations from across North America, we will study Torah, alongside contemporary questions of Israel and Jewish identity. It's a privilege to be here. It is also a challenge. Between bringing my two children on a transatlantic flight and uprooting our lives for a month, this hasn't been a simple undertaking. So why have I done it? There are three reasons I want to share with you, at the beginning of this month, and [...]

Letters from Camp #2

By | 2017-01-03T15:22:22+00:00 July 17th, 2015|Categories: News|

  This picture shows me and two other Reform rabbis - Rabbi Erin Polansky and Rabbi Stephen Wise - going for a canoe this morning. Rabbi Polansky came up with the great idea of calling us a "boat din" - punning on "beit din," a three-person rabbinic court. I can't say we made any significant rulings, but it was a wonderful opportunity to explore a river and share ideas. In the spirit of sharing ideas, I want to use this blog to share the words of one of our campers, who also is a Temple member. Sophia Dolgin's family recently moved to Montreal and joined our community, and [...]

Letters from Camp #1

By | 2017-01-03T15:23:01+00:00 July 15th, 2015|Categories: News|

Good morning from Camp George, on Maple Lake in Parry Sound, Ontario. The Reform movement is famous for its summer camps, and Camp George is the only URJ (Union for Reform Judaism) camp in Canada - which makes it very special, not unlike our Temple, the only Canadian URJ congregation east of Ontario. The setting is spectacular - classic Canadian cottage country - and the ruach (spirit) is equally great. As soon as I returned to Canada, I knew I wanted to send my kids here and to come here as camp rabbi. Camp rabbis, cantors and educators rotate into camp for a week or more at a [...]

Day 7: Shabbat in the City

By | 2017-01-03T15:23:18+00:00 May 10th, 2015|Categories: News|

Rabbi Grushcow here, reporting on Day 7 of our trip. Appropriately enough, Day 7 was Shabbat. Jerusalem on Shabbat is like nowhere else in the world. The city, at least where we were, was quiet and calm. A small contingent got up for services, while others enjoyed Shaarei Sheina ("Gates of Sleep"). Services were at Shira Chadasha, a self-defined Orthodox Feminist congregation. There, men and women work together to create a community which is as egalitarian as possible within their understanding of Halacha (Jewish law). Women are called to, and chant from, the Torah, and lead parts of the service, and everything is lay led. I Left the [...]

Day 6

By | 2017-01-03T15:23:29+00:00 May 10th, 2015|Categories: News|

Hard to believe; it's already Day 6, and today it's Nancy Maklan who is sharing our doings. Today was a day of immense contrasts. We started out early for an all-morning visit to Yad Vashem, Israel's extraordinary Holocaust History Museum. Yad Vasem is not an easy experience, but it began with inspiration as we walked through the quite lovely Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations. In this outdoor space each of the many trees and each of the names engraved into a long wall represents one of the non-Jewish heroes who saved the life of at least one Jew during the Holocaust without receiving any recompense in return. This lead us to the principal museum building, designed by our own Moshe Safdie, who had carefully created a [...]

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