April 2017

Over 500 Attend Communal Passover Seders

The Passover Seder is a universal Jewish ritual observed almost identically by Jews around the world, regardless of their affiliation or level or observance. It is the quintessential reliving of the quintessential Jewish experience. Over 500 people attended Community Passover Seders organized by the Jewish Russian Community Centre in 10 locations on April 10 and 11. The Seders provided people with the opportunity to experience a traditional Seder in a warm and welcoming environment with family and friends. The insightful guidance and explanations of the presiding rabbis enriched the Seder with added meaning and depth, while the camaraderie and singing enhanced the jubilant holiday atmosphere. In addition, dozens more families were able to make traditional Seders at home - many for the first time - thanks to the assistance and classes delivered by JRCC rabbis.

Matzah in Your Mail

Thanks to JRCC staff and hundreds of volunteers, and in some cases the local mailman, 15,000 households in the GTA and beyond received a hand-baked Shmurah Matzah package from the JRCC, together with a copy of our newly published trilingual Passover Haggadah. The goal was that every individual in our community has the opportunity to experience this special mitzvah of matzah, and to access the beautiful traditions of the Seder using the magnificent and user-friendly Haggadah. Many thanks to all the staff, volunteers, community members and supporters who made this project a success.

11 Nissan Farbrengen

This past April 6-7 marked the 11th of Nissan, the birthday of the Rebbe, who was born in 1902 in the Ukrainian-Russian town of Nikolaev and went on to spark the greatest renaissance in Jewish history that inspired millions. The entire Chabad movement today, including the JRCC, as well as the personal Jewish connection of countless people, are thanks to the Rebbe’s vision and tireless efforts. To mark the occasion, the JRCC held a farbrengen (Chassidic gathering) at the JRCC Westh Thornhill, led by Rabbi Levi Blau, director of the JRCC South Thornhill. Participants enjoyed an evening of camaraderie, infused with inspiring words of wisdom and soulful song. Stay tuned for upcoming farbrengens and community gatherings.

JRCC Passover Haggadah a Huge Hit

To make the beauty and meaning of Passover accessible to all, last year the JRCC published a trilingual Haggadah to enhance the Pesach Seder experience. Each family member and guest can follow along and read in the language of their choice - Hebrew, Russian and English. The Haggadah includes the original Hebrew text of the Haggadah, along with translations in English and Russian. Last year, each family in the community received one complimentary Haggadah delivered to their home (either by Canada Post or volunteers). Many of those who enjoyed using the Haggadah last year purchased additional copies this year in order to maximize the Passover experience for all their family members and Seder guests.

Model Seder at JRCC Hebrew School

The JRCC Hebrew School prepared its students well for the Passover Seder by conducting an entire reenactment of the Seder. After learning about the significance of Passover and what the Seder is all about, each of the five Hebrew School branches held its own Model Seder, during which they went through the entire Seder experience. This enabled the students to feel more ready the Seder since they know what to do and what to expect, and in some cases the children took leadership roles in their family Seders. An added component this year, which was added in order to engage the students and add an element of fun, was the “Freedoman Game Show,” in which students competed for Passover trivia supremacy. Children also created Passover-themed craft projects to infuse a fun, hands-on component into their educational experience.

Beyond the Music: A Soulful, Interactive Musical Evening

Last month, the JRCC South Thornhill hosted a most unique interactive evening featuring the Maayan musical ensemble. It was a powerful evening, during which meaningful and powerful songs were interspersed with words of wisdom and inspiration. As one participant wrote about her experience: “You often come to a concert and are fascinated by the melody, the form of the music, the professional organization of the performance, the special effects, the talent of the musicians. But sometimes, on rare occasions, something deeper is revealed that leaves a more lasting imprint – an inexplicable excitement of the soul, sincerely and deeply responding to the kindness, the truth of what was sung by the musicians.” The open atmosphere, along with the wintry weather, encouraged participants to linger after the performance. Some of the discussions became quite heated, but the vibe remained friendly and unified. In fact, as the evening wound down and the venue was closing, the discussions continued and no one wanted to leave. All those who participated, including the members of Maayan, look forward to the next interactive community gather. You’ll definitely be seeing them around: Maayan was invited by UJA to perform at the annual Walk with Israel event on May 22, to interact with attendees at the upcoming Israel Day Festival on June 4.