Farbrengens, or “informal gatherings,” are a regular and central part of community life, where friends and neighbors get together, usually to mark important collective and personal dates and milestones. Farbrengens generally feature one or more persons leading the gathering with stories and Torah thoughts, as participants share words of wisdom, encouragement and song, while enjoying l’chaims and refreshments. There were several farbrengens at the JRCC in the last few weeks to commemorate special days during the month of Kislev. On Shabbat, Dec 7, all the JRCC branches hosted a kiddish lunch farbrengen in honor of 9-10 Kislev, the birthday/yarhzeit and the festival of liberation of the Mitteler Rebbe. For the 14th of Kislev, the anniversary of the Rebbe’s wedding day, which carries special significance as the date that “connected” the Rebbe to his father-in-law, the previous Rebbe, and hence to the Chassidim, the JRCC South Thornhill hosted a special gathering at 770 Chabad Gate. A large farbrengen gathering was also held at the JRCC West Thornhill on December 16 in honor of the 19th Kislev, with special guest speaker Rabbi Zalman Wilshanski from Morristown, NJ. This day is celebrated by Jews around the world as the Festival of Liberation and the Rosh Hashana of Chassidus. It marks the day the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad, was freed from Czarist imprisonment, where he was interrogated and tortured after being falsely accused of treason. The day is considered a milestone for the Chassidic movement, one that contributed dramatically to the flourishing of its communities and teachings since. Learn more at


In our busy lives, it is often challenging to make time for community gatherings. Nevertheless, each month the JRCC offers a variety of happenings where inspiration and life wisdom are shared as meaningful connections are formed. This past moth, the JRCC S. Richmond Hill & Maple hosted an Essential Oils Workshop, an evening that explored the benefits of various essential oils, where each woman made her own therapeutic cream, and enjoyed a mouth-watering latke bar in honor of Chanukah. The JRCC East Thornhill organized an evening featuring noted psychotherapist and parenting blogger Victoria Prooday on the topic of “Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child.” Meanwhile, the JRCC West Thornhill and the JRCC East Thornhill each hosted the second installment of “Insight,” a seven-part course for women on the empowering perspective of the Rebbe on humanity.


The JRCC’s annual Public Menorah Lighting, one of over thirty JRCC Chanukah events, was held on the first night of Chanukah, Sunday, December 22 at Mel Lastman Square. The even attracted over 300 community members, local residents, as well as a number of passers by who were curious about the festive event, live music, refreshments and the 13-foot tall menorah in front of City Hall. Several dignitaries and public figures were in attendance, members of city council, as well as provincial and federal representatives, who honored the celebration and the community with their presence and their warm words.


The sixteenth annual JRCC Chanukah Wonderland Carnival brought an exciting day of activities to the Lebovic Campus in Maple to the delight of over 2,000 participants. As in past years, the event was held at the Schwartz/Reisman Centre. The event featured a series of entertaining performances by local clowns, magicians and jugglers, and a variety of animal shows. Parents and children enjoyed an afternoon full of different activities: A crafts area, menorah making and olive press workshops, rides, carnival game booths, and live music. Special thanks to the staff volunteers and partner organizations, including BBYO, JCC, JBCT and the Jewish Gorsky Community, who helped make this a successful, memorable event for the whole community.


All JRCC branch and program held their own unique Chanukah parties for their participants, complete with a menorah lighting and Chanukah refreshments like doughnuts and latkes. Several branches hosted evenings especially for adults, including: JRCC Steeles & Hilda (Chanukah Party); JRCC S Richmond Hill & Maple (Bistro Chanukah evening); JRCC South Thornhill (Chanukah Cafe evening); JRCC West Thornhill (Wine & Cheese evening); JRCC East Thornhill (Saturday night Chanukah Cafe evening); JRCC Concord (Chanukah Party) and JRCC @ Rockford (Saturday night Drinks & Dreidels evening). These festive evenings, billed as “An Adult’s Night Out,” giving parents in the community the opportunity to get together and meet new friends in a relaxed setting while enjoying refreshments and entertainment, lighting the Menorah together, and enjoying the festival atmosphere. In addition, for the first time, community events were organized by the JRCC for local residents at the North York, Etobicoke and Scarborough Civic Centres. For children, there were special Chanukah parties just for kids, featuring activities and crafts focused on “edu-tainment” to teach kids about Chanukah in a fun way, including the JRCC S. Richmond Hill & Maple’s Kiddie Holiday Chefs,; the JRCC West Thornhill’s Mother & Child Painting event and a separate Children’s Chanukah Party; the JRCC @ Rockford’s children’s Chanukah Party; and the JRCC East Thornhill’s Kids Donut Fry-Off.