The 20th of Av (July 29, 2021) marked the yahrtzeit of the Rebbe’s father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson, a kabbalist and activist who devoted his life, and ultimately gave up his life, to preserving Judaism in the FSU. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was Chief Rabbi of Yekaterinoslav (currently Dnepropetrovsk), and was arrested and exiled to Kazakhstan by the Stalinist regime as a result of his work to preserve Jewish life int he Soviet Union. The day was celebrated with a farbrengen, a Chassidic gathering for a special occasion, at the JRCC East Thornhill.

The JRCC is here for every man, woman and child who lives in Ontario, including newcomers who have come to join our community. Every new immigrant arriving during the last year will receive a gift of a Welcome Package from our community. The package includes a custommade blessing for the home, a Shabbat/festival kiddush cup, candlesticks, a travel mug and other gifts and necessities for the home. The complimentary packages are available to people from the former Soviet and their descendants during their first year of arrival in Ontario. Anyone can request a package on for themselves or someone they know by contacting their JRCC branch rabbi or calling 416-222-7105, ext. 245

Chitas is a Hebrew acronym formed by the the initials of Chumash (the Five Books of Moses), Tehillim (the poetic/prophetic/prayerful book of Psalms written/compiled by King David), and Tanya, the “bible” of Chabad Chassidic thought authored by the first Rebbe of the Chabad movement, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi. (The Rebbe later added the study of Rambam/Maimonides to the daily study regimen). Chitas refers to the daily study cycle of these texts, in which the Chumash and Tanya are completed each year, and the Tehillim are completed each month. To help make Chitas more accessible to our community, the JRCC produces a weekly, pocket-sized Chitas booklet in Russian that enables people to take it with them on the go and study on the fly, any time. The weekly study booklet is available for a modest fee, and is delivered either to your local JRCC branch or to your home at the beginning of each month. To learn more or to subscribe, call 416.222.7105 or visit jrcc.org/chitas. Chitas is also available online in English and Hebrew at jrcc.org/dailystudy.

In the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to get caught up in minutiae and marvel at how time passes much too quickly. But one of the beautiful things of the month of Elul is to consciously use time for reflection, introspection and preparation in advance of the “Days of Awe” between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. One important action to take during Elul is to have mezuzahs and tefillin checked. There are a lot of things that can happen over time. Moisture, dryness, dust, sun, temperature changes or insects can cause damage that would cause the ink to fade, crack or become obscured. Sometimes the ink just fades over time. So the parchment needs to be unravelled and carefully checked for imperfections. The JRCC offers a convenient service where you can drop off your Mezuzahs and/or Tefillin at our office, and then pick them up or have them delivered and installed by one of our rabbis after they are checked by an expert sofer. There is a nominal fee for the inspection. To have your Tefillin or Mezuzahs checked, please contact our office, drop by during office hours, or speak to your local JRCC Branch rabbi.
(For those who don’t have Tefillin or Mezuzahs, the JRCC offers its Jewish Identity Grants for those who are part of the Jewish Russian community: A free pair of Tefillin for any man who commits to using them daily, and one free Mezuzah for those in need who have no Mezuzahs in their home. Visit jrcc.org/jig or contact the JRCC office for details.)