Message from our Community President
Shalom my friends.
I hope that everyone is enjoying this wonderful summer weather. It is hard to believe that High Holy Days are just over a month away!
Despite the Synagogue being closed because of the pandemic, there is a lot of great work still happening behind the scenes, thanks to a number of individuals in our community. I wanted to provide a brief community update to ensure everyone is up to speed on our progress.
Dr. Leon Litvack will be leading our High Holy Day services for the 10th year in a row! We are indeed very blessed to have Leon as a Spiritual Leader for our community. Due to the pandemic Leon will lead services this year by Zoom and details will be found in this and subsequent newsletters. Of note there is much more preparation than normal as we want to make the services inspiring and meaningful. In this regard Sam and Dan Houpt are working with Leon on musical recordings to support Leon’s service. Meanwhile Ron Molnar is also spending many hours setting up the service so we can all follow easily on Zoom. Thanks to Sam, Dan, Ron, Leon and others who are all investing many hours of effort.
For now, the shul remains closed to all during the pandemic. While the Peterborough COVID numbers remain low, we continue to put the safety of our congregation first. We continue to hold almost weekly Kabbalat Shabbat services via Zoom and these are well attended. If you haven’t tried to participate in one, now is the time. Thanks to Sam, Dan, Ziysah, Miriam, and Leon for all of your contributions. In the meantime we will remain closed until after High Holy Days and evaluate the situation until we and our Unitarian partners believe that we can reopen safely.
We also want to acknowledge the efforts of Joe Teichman and to thank him for 10 years of outstanding service to our community. Joe retired at the end of July from his responsibilities as Building Manager of Beth Israel. He remains a valued member of our community. Joe also leads and organizes Enable Bagel a great and much appreciated program that serves a segment of the broader community with challenges, while also providing the rest of us with a source of delicious bagels. And of course, we recognize what an outstanding father Joe has been to son Cory. Thanks Joe for all of your valuable contributions. In the short term we have hired Ben Robbins who will fill in as required as we look to the future.
As everyone knows the issue of accessibility, especially to our community hall in the basement, has been a huge one for many years as the current lift to the basement has proved to be unreliable. This has meant that those who can not handle the stairs to the basement are excluded from coming to community events. It has also been a deterrent to outside groups who want to use the Synagogue for community building work. As previously announced the Unitarian Fellowship has agreed to split the costs of installing an elevator. However, the really exciting news is that we have hired a contractor and the work on the lift has already started! At the same time we have applied for a Federal Accessibility grant for an additional $93k in funding which would add a washroom to the basement and enhance the project with greater accessibility. Please stay tuned.
I also wanted to bring everyone up to speed with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which Beth Israel continues to develop with our friends in the Unitarian Fellowship. For the past two years Mark Siegel, Mike Fox and I have meet every single month with the Unitarian leaders to develop the MOU, while soliciting input from our Board. This MOU provides a framework to define how we will work in partnership with the Fellowship going forward, and we believe it is critical to the long term security of Beth Israel as the center of Jewish life in Peterborough. We are very excited that a draft has been prepared and is now with our lawyer to obtain his advice and input. More to come but stay tuned.
Our Annual General Meeting originally scheduled for June, was postponed to the pandemic. We are now looking at October, after the High Holy Days observances are over. One of the items on the agenda will be to elect a new Board for the upcoming year. If you are interested in serving, and we are always looking to freshen the board and broaden the base in our community, please do not hesitate to reach out to me so we can discuss this.
If anyone would like to discuss any community subject, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can reach me by email at email@example.com.
Be well and stay safe,
Beth Israel Synagogue in Peterborough Examiner: Black Lives Matter Event
Beth Israel Synagogue on Global News: COVID-19 and Faith Group Gatherings
Beth Israel Synagogue on the CBC’s Ontario Morning Show
N’Able Bagel in the news yet again.
Here is a YouTube post that highlights all the wonderful things that Joe Teichman and his N’Able Bagel crew accomplish at the JCC of Peterborough!
Dr. Dan on CHEX TV
Dr. Dan highlights the significance and traditions of Hanukkah to the Peterborough community on the Global News Morning Show (Peterborough CHEX TV) with Teresa Kaszuba. Here is the link to the interview.
Lirit Women’s Chamber Choir: Cogeco TV Broadcast
The fabulous Lirit concert at Beth Israel Synogogue this past Dec. 8th is will be aired on Cogeco TV Cable 10. The dates and times are:
- Dec 16 at 5pm
- Dec 17 at 11am, 1:30pm and 5pm
- Dec 18 at 11am and 5pm
- Dec 19 at 12pm, 5pm and 10pm
- Dec 20 at 11am, 4pm and 6pm
- Dec 22 at 7:30pm
- Dec 23 at 10am
- Dec 24 at 10am and 5pm and
- Dec 25 at 7am.
Dr. Dan’s song on Abraham Festival
Dr. Dan’s song entitled ‘Words’ is now on the Abraham Festival’s website. Written and performed by Dr. Dan Houpt. Vocals by Kate Suhr.
Ellin Bessner’s Many Insights about Canadian Jewish Soldiers in World War II
Author, historian, and journalist Ellin Bessner recently (2018) published a book called: ‘Double Threat: Canadian Jews, The Military and World War II’. As a part of a Remembrance Day event at Beth Israel Synagogue, Ellin Bessner recounted many examples of Canadian Jewish participation in World War II as a part of the Canadian military efforts. These include accounts of local individuals who enlisted to fight during the War. Yesterday Ellin was interviewed by CHEX TV on November 12th. Listen to some of these stories and statistics that Ellin has researched about Canadian Jewish soldiers and their families at this webpage. The Peterborough Examiner also wrote a story on Ellin and her book and can be found at this webpage.
May is National Jewish Heritage Month
View this webpage for events and details planned for the Jewish Heritage Month in May.
Max Eisen’s Book (By Chance Alone) wins CBC Canada Reads
A Need for an Autism Special Therapy Centre in Peterborough
Joe Teichman, the Beth Israel Synagogue GM, and his boy Corey were recently presented in a Peterborough Examiner news article. The article is at this link. The article provides insight into reasons for and ways of realizing an autism special therapy centre in Peterborough. Reflections are made to such a centre in B.C. that benefited Corey when he was younger.
Also, note that on May 26th there is a fundraiser for Autism Spectrum Disorder Research at Peterborough Showcase, entitled: Awesome and Then Some (Live Stage Show).
Did you miss Karen Fisher on Chex being interviewed about Chanukah? Never too late to check it. Click here.
Vigil for the Tragic Events at Tree Of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh to be held in Peterborough
Holocaust Survivor Max Eisen’s at Trent University’s Convocation
To see and listen to Max Eisen’s inspiring and moving presentation during the Trent University’s Convocation this past spring. Click here.
Thanks to Cantor Leon Litvack
Our community was once again blessed this year to have Cantor Leon Litvack join us to lead our services. We have all come to love and appreciate his inclusive and participatory services and we look forward to his visit next year, if not sooner. This year, Leon was able to spend a longer time in the Peterborough area and in that time, he was instrumental in making possible and leading observances for a number of Life Cycle events.
First there was a bar mitzvah in Cavan at which Leon officiated. Congratulations to the Bar Mitzvah and his family from the Beth Israel community.
Following the Bar Mitzvah, Leon was back to perform a ceremony in the form of a Jewish marriage to celebrate the mutual commitment of Jenn Reid and Larry Gillman. This was an event attended and enjoyed by many community members as well as many friends and family of Jenn and Larry.
A Tribute to Len Lifchus…Peterborough Pathway of Fame
Congratulations to our very own Len Lifchus on his induction into the Peterborough Pathway of Fame, at a ceremony at Showplace on September 8th. The mission statement of the Pathway of Fame is “to honour those persons living or deceased, who have made an exemplary contribution to the cultural and humanities of Peterborough and district”. Len was enshrined on the pathway at Del Crary Park, under the category of “Community Betterment”. One only needs to look at Len’s many community accomplishments as outlined in the Pathway of Fame 2018 brochure.
Peterborough Gay Pride Parade
On Saturday September 22nd a number of Beth Israelites marched in Peterborough’s Gay Pride parade, under our own Beth Israel banner. It was a sunny lovely day and the walk was full of fun and friendship as we marched down George Street. Directly behind us were our friends from the Unitarian Fellowship as shown in the picture. Marching directly in front of us were three live goats, which kept us on our toes and constantly watching our steps (seriously). Next year the suggestion is to have the Unitarians march in front of us, and the goats behind.
Gabriele Zeh-Abramsky is Appreciated for Welcoming New Canadians
Gabriele, a member of Beth Israel was acknowledged and appreciated recently for her efforts in welcoming new Canadians. She is the Board Director of the New Canadians Centre Peterborough. She is a champion of inclusivity and diversity in our community. Learn more about her efforts and the thanks give to her in this article. To learn more about the New Canadians Centre Peterborough click here.
Holocaust Survivor Max Eisen: Confronted with Anti-Semitism yet again
This past week Max Eisen needed to respond yet again to a heinous act of anti-semitism. His photo on a poster for Holocaust education awareness sponsored by the United Jewish Appeal was defaced with the word ‘Achtung’…a very painful reminder of Max’s Holocaust experiences. Read his response to this gesture of hate in a recent Toronto Star editorial: click here. From that article is a poignant and compelling quote we should emphatically heed:
“From this we should learn that anti-semitism and hate in all forms thrive when dangerous words are met with complacency and indifference. To think ourselves immune is to remove that which inoculates us: awareness, self-scrutiny, and vigilance.”
See below for an article about the recognition of Max Eisen’s work and commitment with the presentation of an honorary doctorate from Trent University.
Information – Beth Israel AGM:
Message from our President
The Annual General Meeting of the Beth Israel Community was held on June 13. A record number were in attendance, and it is heartening and very encouraging to see a sustained and even renewed level of interest in the community. We reviewed our 2018 finances and talked about the state of the Peterborough
Jewish Community. For a small congregation we are currently in a stable financial position and have a promising future in Peterborough.
One of the topics we talked to in depth was our relationship with the Unitarian Fellowship with whom we have shared space for the past 15 years (hard to believe, but yes, 15 years). It is a fact that if we did not have them as partners we would be running an annual budget deficit and would likely have to sell the Shul. Of note we talked about the importance of having them as partners in our future and the strength that would bring with it.
We also talked about a joint Beth Israel and Unitarian Fellowship workshop that took place in mid-May. More than 30 members of the UFP and Beth Israel communities gathered in curiosity, connection and play in response to this invitation:
“What if Peterborough’s Jewish and Unitarian congregations could grow in friendship … creating a shared sense of belonging and ownership?”
“What if, every time we entered the building we felt at home as one family: our space, together? What playful experiments could we try that might lead the way to future collaborative possibilities?”
Please see more information on the link below.
There will be more developments as we continue to meet with the Unitarians and discuss our mutual future. Please stay tuned and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
President Beth Israel Synagogue
Recognition – Holocaust Survivor Max Eisen
Many of you will recall attending the evening with holocaust survivor Max
Eisen at our synagogue last year. The shul was packed with people who wanted to
hear his story. And, this is what Max has been doing for many years now, telling his
story so that we don’t forget those horrible events and the lessons they teach us.
Trent University, thanks to the efforts of history professor Dr. Carolyn Kay
selected Max to receive an honorary doctorate. The award ceremony took place on June 12
during the Trent Durham campus convocation ceremony at the Ajax Convention
Centre. The ceremony was a beautiful combination of the official and the intimate with a moving introduction by Prof. Carolyn Kay and an inspiring response directed at the graduates by Max.
The Peterborough Jewish community is very happy to wholeheartedly endorse this
recognition of Max and his mission to educate young and old in the hope that the
events he lived through never happen again. It is well-deserved.
You can read the Peterborough Examiner’s article posted prior to the Dr. Max Eisen tribute at this link.
Passover at Beth Israel Synagogue in Peterborough
The Peterborough Jewish Community celebrated the second Seder of Passover at Beth Israel Synagogue this past Saturday, March 31. The Peterborough Examiner noted the event with an article in its April 2 edition. Read the article at this Press Reader link. As a correction though, note that it is Karen Fisher who is lighting the candles. The Synagogue wishes to thank all who volunteered to make this event a special occasion once again this year.
Peterborough Anti-Rally Against White ‘Nationalist’ Rally
On Wednesday Sept. 27th, the Peterborough Jewish community among other community groups and organizations gathered to express serious concern about a planned white ‘nationalist’ rally to take place in Peterborough this Saturday, on Yom Kippur. A weekend of anti-rally events are being planned. Cantor Leon Litvack spoke on behalf of the Peterborough Jewish community. The Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies has expressed adamant concerns that the rally on Saturday is being organized by neo-Nazis.
Details of these happenings and our concerns can be found in a Peterborough Examiner article published Wednesday. The article can be found at this link. A further update since the events on Wednesday can be found in this Peterborough Examiner article published today, Friday.
Learning Arabic at Beth Israel
Recently CHEX TV visited the Synagogue to find out about how the Peterborough Community can learn Arabic. One of the local Syrian newcomers is offering free classes! The CHEX TV report can be found at this link.
Peterborough Multi-Faith Community
in the News in Light of the
Québec City Masjid Tragedy
A recent Globe and Mail article revisits and talks about how the Peterborough Community has responded to acts of Islamophobia in Peterborough with much solidarity, friendship and acts of kindness. Here is the link to the article.
Beth Israel is hosting a fundraising event on February 8th, 7:30 p.m. See the Events page for more details.
Abraham Festival Sponsored Family
in the News
Have a look and read of the recent Peterborough Examiner’s article entitled: Peterborough refugees read Messages of Hope on the Wall of Hope at the New Canadians Centre.
A one year anniversary Celebration and Dance took place on December 17 at Beth Israel for Fadya and the Falah family. This event was sponsored by the Abraham Festival Group.
with Max Eisen
This past Thursday, Nov. 24, Max Eisen, a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp provided a poignant account of his horrific experiences to a standing room only audience in Beth Israel’s sanctuary. His recent book entitled “By Chance Alone” details further those experiences. The book has received critical acclaim. Max Eisen is a passionate and tireless speaker for the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies.
The Holocaust Remembrance Event at Beth Israel had Professor Carolyn Kay who teaches Holocaust studies at Trent University introduce Max Eisen. Joe Teichman, the General Manager of the JCC Peterborough recounted his family’s losses and journeys of survival. Dr . Dan Houpt provided musical reflections with his song entitled “Children on the Beach” and Leonard Cohen’s “Halelujah”. Larry Gillman, President of Beth Israel gave Max Eisen gifts of remembrance and thanks from Beth Israel for his stay in Peterborough. More can be learned about Max Eisen and his experiences, and the Beth Israel Holocaust Remembrance Event in these articles:
- Peterborough Examiner: Holocaust survivor Max Eisen delivers powerful message at Beth Israel Synagogue in Peterborough
- Toronto Sun: Last Nazi Trial: Survivor Max Eisen
- Journey Magazine Ptbo: “It starts with the Jews, but doesn’t end with the Jews.”
Thanks to Cantor Leon Litvack
It has been said a number of times in the last two weeks, but it bears repeating here that the community is gratefully indebted to Cantor Leon Litvack for the work he does as our spiritual leader, not only during the High Holy Days, but so effectively from across the seas as our go-to person, helping the community deal with difficult spiritual issues. His annual visits just go by so quickly. And, I am sure that many of you can share my memory of High Holy Day services in other congregations which just seemed to grind on forever and be quite detached from the congregation. Here in Peterborough, Leon has made the services pass easily, enjoyably and with meaning.
We wish him and his family a healthy, full and fulfilling coming year and look forward to his visit(s???) in 2017.
While Cantor Litvack was in Peterborough, he was interviewed by various media outlets. These interviews play a valuable role for our community in helping to demystify Judaism to the non-Jewish majority here in Peterborough by explaining what we are doing and why. You can listen to these broadcasts at the following links:
On October 5, Leon gave an interview to host Will of the Trent Radio program Shining Waters. You can hear their interesting discussion by connecting to this website:
He was also interviewed by CHEX TV on their afternoon show CHEX Daily on October 11 just before Yom Kippur. This was not Leon’s first appearance on Yom Kippur and as you can see, his ease with the medium and his connection with the hosts is obvious. You can watch the segment by playing the video at this website:
and the interview segment with Leon takes place starting at roughly 14 min 40, ending at 19 min.
News Flash: mykawartha.com Article.
There was a very nice article about the Peterborough Jewish community on the mykawartha.com news website written by their reporter, Lance Anderson that was published recently. If you missed it, here is a link to the article: MyKawartha Story on Peterborough Jewish Community.
News Flash: N’Able Bagel Back in the News.
News Flash: Reflections on Community Support since November 16, 2015.
A recent CBC Tapestry program reflects on the events and support offered the Peterborough Muslim Community following the burning of their mosque. Here is an article An attack backfires: how a mosque bombing brought Peterborough together. And here is the accompanying audio version with Host Mary Hynes.
News Flash: Canter Litvack’s Story in the CJN.
Have you ever wondered why Canter Litvack has made his way from Belfast, Northern Ireland across the big pond to Beth Israel in Peterborough each High Holy Days for the past 6 years? Have you ever wondered what the Charles Dickens Letter Project is or at least now wish to know more? Then read on: “Backstory: One Foot in Belfast, the Other in Peterborough” . The article is found in the Canadian Jewish News.
News Flash: Corey Teichman returns home from Israel.
Corey’s experience of a lifetime in Israel was pretty special !! Have a look at Birthright Israel: Canada Israel Experience – Friends With Special Needs.
News Flash: Beth Israel Synagogue President As Game Changer.
On April 27th, the Kawartha SPEAKS community health care fundraiser is happening. Larry Gillman, the President of Beth Israel is one of the “Game Changers” to speak at the fundraiser and offer insights about how positive change can occur. See article here.
News Flash: A Special Journey to Israel: Corey Teichman.
Corey is soon on his way for an experience of a life time: to visit Israel! Joe Teichman is Beth Israel’s General Manager as you probably already know. The Peterborough Weekend Examiner has published a wonderful article about Corey and his upcoming journey. See article here.
Muslim Services at Beth Israel
On Friday November 27, Beth Israel became a house of worship for the local Muslim community. This gesture of friendship by the Synagogue towards our Muslim neighbours has received much attention. Here are links with more details:
- Refugee work heralds new era of Shul-driven social action…CJN
- Shul Hosts Mulsim Prayers…from U.K.
- Podcast from CBC Ontario Morning Show.
- Podcast from CBC Metro Morning Show
- Cantor Litvack’s thought for the day from Northern Ireland.
- An article from France…
- Same article from France…in French
- In wake of fire, local Synagogue opens its doors to Muslim congregation
- Des juifs accueillent des musulmans dans leur synagogue après l’incendie de leur mosquée
- Peterborough synagogue opens its doors to Muslims
- Peterborough synagogue welcomes Muslims displaced by mosque arson
News Flash: Beth Israel expresses Community solidarity.
As you perhaps already know, the Peterborough Masjid Al-Salaam Mosque was deliberately set ablaze on November 14. In many ways the Peterborough community at large has stepped up to express concern and solidarity with the Moslim community. One way Beth Israel has responded is to open up the Jewish Community Centre to the Moslim community to conduct their religious services while restoration of the Mosque occurs. Also, Beth Israel as a part of the local Abraham Festival group has been involved with sponsoring a Syrian family. Here are some links to recent news articles from this past week that describe more Beth Israel’s efforts:
Thanks to all who have expressed these gestures of faith and solidarity!
News Flash: N’Able Bagel.
Peterborough is quickly becoming known as the bagel making capital west of Montreal thanks to efforts at the JCC Peterborough. Have a look and read of these items: