November 2012

 

JRCC Women’s Events

As almost every month, women’s Rosh Chodesh gatherings were held at JRCC Branches in honor of the new month of Kislev - a luminous month containing several historic festive occasions, culminating in Chanukah toward the end of the month. The JRCC East Thornhill, for example, celebrated with a Chanukah-themed evening focusing on the significance of oil, one of the main focuses of the festival of Chanukah. Participants created their own blends of herbal oil, and bottle it to take home and sampled the traditional Chanukah oil infused delicacies of donuts and latkes, while enjoying a meaningful discussion on the spiritual and metaphoric significance of oil. At the JRCC S Richmond Hill and Maple, participants enjoyed a wine and cheese evening, and spoke about the story of Judith, once of the heroes of the Chanukah story. 

 

Tasting the Tree of Life

The Torah is called the Tree of Life, since it is the blueprint for life, providing instruction, insight and inspiration to live a meaningful life. The mission of the JRCC’s Institute of Jewish Studies is to produce engaging courses, lectures and ongoing classes that are relevant to people in our community and contribute to their sense of purpose and fulfillment in life. The IJS launched its fall-winter semester to much acclaim. Several new courses at the JRCC delighted and inspired participants of all backgrounds. Rabbi Levi Jacobson lead a series titled “Kabbalah: Mystical School of Thought” at the JRCC West Thornhill, which explored the fundamental concepts of Jewish mysticism. The JRCC @ Rockford continued with its monthly Saturday night Triva Night series, where participoants learn and test their knowledge in the interactive format of a friendly competition. A weekly course called “Torah Studies” that tackles contemporary issues based on thoughts from the weekly Torah portion was launched at two JRCC branches in West Thornhill and East Thornhill. All of this is in addition to the dozens of ongoing weekly and daily classes offered by the JRCC. For up-to-date information, visit www.jrcc.org/ijs. 

 

Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

The JRCC coordinated a small but much appreciated contribution to the disaster relief efforts of two Chabad centers that were hit hard by the superstorm. Donations were collected through the JRCC and the funds were send to Chabad of the Beaches in Long Island, and Chabad of Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. The two communities extend their thanks to the Jewish Russian community in Ontario for taking the initiative, and expressed their appreciation for both the financial assistance and the moral support. The funds have been used for food and other basic necessities for those who are still homeless or without power due to the storm. So far, over $1,800 has been raised, and contributions can still be made through the JRCC office.


Chabad Convention in New York

Over 3,000 emissaries of the Rebbe, from Alaska to Uzbekistan, gathered for the Kinus Hashluchim, the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch emisaries from around the world. Of course, the JRCC was well represented at the annual gathering, with several JRCC rabbis making the trip to participate in professional development workshops, fraternize and compare notes with colleagues and friends, and bask in the radiance of a Shabbos with so many fellow Chabad rabbis in the Rebbe’s shul. 

 

West Thonrhill Community Shabbat Dinner

The ever-growing JRCC West Thornhill community hosted an impressive 100 guests for a community Shabbat dinner on November 2nd. “The idea behind these Friday night dinners,” explains Nechama Dina Jacobson, “is to give people in the community an opportunity to gather together in a casual, social atmosphere, and celebrate Shabbat together as one big family. It is a great way to spend time together, and to welcome newcomers to the community.” It was a true celebration of community that was enhanced by an additional simcha: Rabbi Levi and Nechama Dine Jacobson, the directors of the centre, welcomed a new baby boy into their family that week, and help the traditional Friday night celebration known as Shalom Zachar at the community dinner.

 

Art & Soul Exhibit and Benefit Evening

The JRCC West Thornhill hosted its third annual Art & Soul event on November 25, a social fundraiser with a Jewish art exhibit and sale, with fine wine being served. This year’s event featured selected original works and high quality prints by local artists, including Israel Broytman and Leon Zernitsky. Proceeds from the sale of artwork benefited the JRCC West Thornhill and its many programs. 

 

Spread the Light! Public Menorah Lightings

For all Jewish holidays there is a mandate to celebrate the miracle. Enters Chanukah and an additional mandate is added: Publicize the miracle. Out of all the holidays why was Chanukah selected for "Publicizing the Miracle"?
The cause for other holidays is that we were threatened, in danger, or in need. A miracle happened and we were helped. As a result of the miracle we continue to exist. Since the miracle happened to save us, it is we who celebrate.
The Chanukah miracle was slightly different. The Greeks didn’t threaten us per se; they threatened the idea of a miracle. They didn’t mind if Jews lived or observed Jewish practices as long as it was seen as another culture, and not a Divine mandate. They didn’t believe in holiness, G‑d, or miracles. So a miracle happened to save the miracle. Therefore, it is the miracle that must celebrate. And its celebration is having people know it exists.
So when the Sages first instituted the holiday of Chanukah, they
instituted it with this injunction: In addition to the menorahs placed in the doorways and windows of Jewish homes, the sages instituted the practice of lighting the menorah in synagogues in order to further publicize the Chanukah miracle. Ever since, Chanukah has become synonymous with public display. Although the mitzvah is to light the Menorah at home with your family, traditionally it is placed in a doorway or window, to publicize the miracle of Chanukah to the largest possible audience – because publicity is an essential part of the this holiday.
In times past, the synagogue was the most public Jewish venue.
Today, however, the reality is such that many Jews do not visit the synagogue on a daily basis. The Rebbe therefore encouraged the erection of menorahs in public areas to maximize the reach of the radiance of the Chanukah lights and to publicly proclaim the timeless message of the Chanukah victory of light over darkness. The Rebbe initiated a campaign to further publicize this miracle. In this day and age when people spend increasingly more time outside of the home, the Rebbe encouraged Jews to bring the light, warmth, and miraculous message of Chanukah right into the public thoroughfares, in public spaces, city halls, malls, arenas and other popular public
places. (An interesting piece of trivia: One might think that bigger is better when it comes to the public menorahs. While this is true to a certain extent, the the maximum height for a menorah is approximately 37 feet. People don't normally look up higher than that height, and a menorah taller than that wouldn't serve the intended purpose.)
In addition, having a Public Menorah Lighting is a good excuse to party and say l’chaim together, especially needed to overcome the cold winter blues.
Join us on Motzei Shabbat 7:00 pm at the Mel Lastman Square - 5911 Yonge St. There will be music, traditional sufganiyot (doughnuts).