The GTA Jewish community experienced an amazing city-wide Lag B’Omer Family Festival once again on May 19, after a two-year hiatus due to COVID. The free event was split into two locations – the traditional location at Earl Bales Park in central Toronto, and a northern location at Woodvalley Park in Vaughan. Organized by the JRCC in partnership with a dozen local Jewish organizations, the carnival-like Lag B’Omer event draws thousands of people from different communities throughout the GTA and beyond for an afternoon of fun and unity. This year’s event featured live music, a bird show, rides, and carnival games, along with a children’s rally and parade, a bonfire, and lots of awesome food. By far the greatest aspect of the event is the mere fact that some many Jewish people from different backgrounds celebrated together – a tremendous show of unity that is very much in the spirit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, for whom the day of Lag B’Omer is established. Thank you to all the participating organizations’ staff and volunteers from across the city who helped make this year’s event amazing.

The JRCC hosted two community farbrengen (Chassidic gatherings) last month. On May 3, which marked the birthday of the Rebbe Maharash, Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch, a special farbrengen was hosted by the JRCC Rockford. One of the Rebbe Maharash’s best known teachings is the approach of “L’chatchila ariber” – elevating oneself above life’s challenges without hesitation. On May 15, the JRCC South Thornhill hosted a farbrengen in its new location in honor of Pesach Sheini, the “second passover.” The festival was instituted for those who were unable to visit the Temple to perform the Passover rituals. The lesson is that no matter what area of life we think we might have missed opportunities, the truth is that when we live with the moment we’re in right now, it really is never too late to grow, to learn, to connect, to change, to try something new. Both of these lessons are cornerstones of what a farbrengen gathering is all about – listening and supporting one another trough the challenges we face in living meaningful, spiritual lives, so that we may transcend those challenges together as we learn and grow from them.

Throughout the year, the JRCC organizes various events and educational programs specifically for women. As the days get longer after the Passover holiday, it is customary to set aside some time on Shabbat afternoon for the study of Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of the Fathers. Every Shabbat afternoon from after Passover until Rosh Hashana, women will gather in homes at each JRCC branch neighborhood to network, connect, and glean wisdom from the Sages through study focused on one chapter of Pirkei Aviot. Visit for updates about times and locations. (The text of the Ethics of the Fathers can be found in the prayerbook following the Shabbat afternoon prayers. Several volumes of books with a variety of commentaries, both classical and contemporary are available through the JRCC Bookstore at, and material can also be read and printed before Shabbat from the JRCC website at