The JRCC@Rockford hosted a special farbrengen (gathering) in honor of the 62nd birthday of Rabbi Yoseph Y. Zaltzman, JRCC founder and senior rabbi. In addition to the words of inspiration, song, refreshments and l’chaims, participants were also requested to dedicate a special gift: A positive resolution connected to Jewish life. Dozens of people obliged the rabbi by committing themselves to various acts of goodness, including to light Shabbat candles, done tefillin, observe Shabbat, and speaking more thoughtfully. “It’s not just about my birthday,” explains Rabbi Zaltzman. “The main thing is to use the occasion as a motivation for personal growth, for myself, my family, my friends and anyone who feels they want to enhance their mitzvah observance and spiritual practice.


On February fifth, the JRCC West Thornhill hosted a Kosher Culinary Experience evening, featuring a live cooking demo by Chef Degandarias and Chef Martin. Participants learned how to cook some delicious kosher food, sampled a variety of carefully crafted dishes, and took home recipes to replicate and share. “It was an evening that centered around food, which everyone loves,” explains Nechama Dina Jacobson, co-director of JRCC West Thornhill, who organized the event. “But the evening was about so much more than food. It was an opportunity to learn about Jewish cuisine, about the traditions of keeping kosher, and, most importantly, a fun way to get together and have a positive experience as a community.”



As this issue of Exodus goes to print, Purim is just around the corner. So we can’t report on the many programs being planned by the JRCC and its branches, including the annual Grand Purim Banquet on March 1, or share photos of the events. But we can tell you that Purim is going to be amazing. Dozens of staff and volunteers have been hard at work planning the events, and distributing thousands of Mishloach Manot gift packages to bring the joy of the holiday to people’s homes. See next month’s issue of Exodus for a full detailed report and a special photo collage of Purim events.


Passover is just around the corner and preparations have hit fill steam. Passover Seders are being planned at nine different locations throughout the GTA. Rabbis are preparing the words of wisdom and inspiration they will share at the Seders and throughout the holidays. Matzahs are being delivered by volunteers and Canada Post to thousands of homes throughout the community. Several pre-Passover workshops are being conducted to help those who are planning their own Seders. The JRCC office and website are facilitating the sale of Chometz and the purchase of matzahs - make sure to get yours early. Freedom is just around the corner.


Shabbat is a wonderful and uplifting experience. But many people feel a spiritual void in the transition to weekday life. In response to this sentiment, JRCC South Thornhill launched a weekly Sunday morning prayer and learning session called “Power the Week” every Sunday morning. Services begin at 9am, and at 10am there is a discussion on the Torah portion for the upcoming week, analyzing its story and message from various perspectives. The discussion is often accompanied by a beautiful breakfast spread. “Power the Week is taking on a life of its own,” says Rabbi Levi Blau, director of JRCC South Thornhill, “It is a wonderful way to use the power of Torah learning to ensure that the positive energy of Shabbat stays with us throughout the week.”