My new chapter: Reform Judaism in Atlantic Canada

Many of you may know that I recently relocated to Nova Scotia, Canada, where I have the opportunity to support amazing social workers from across the province, overseeing their professional development, standards and advocacy, as well as beginning my own private counseling practice. I love what I am doing, and I love this beautiful province I now get to call home. As the Hebrew Passover phrase goes: “Dayenu” =this would be “enough for me” to feel profoundly grateful and blessed).

However, as is often the case, G!d seems to have additional plans for me, and numerous circumstances have recently convinced me to agree to create a Reform Jewish Community located in Atlantic Canada. While Reform Judaism is the largest, and some would suggest oldest Jewish denomination in North America (historians love to debate, but indisputably, its seminary, my alma mater, is the oldest Jewish institution of higher learning in the Western World)- nevertheless, there is no Reform Jewish community east of Montreal (a variety of sociological reasons worthy of another post). Meanwhile, more and more people are moving to the four eastern provinces of Canada that make up “the Maritimes”, and as a result, the need for a progressive religious alternative has grown significantly. If you are interested in following our progress, check us out on Facebook!

It is very exciting to create a community which will follow values and guidelines that align with my own, rather than too often serving an organization where I did not always agree with the policies under which I was hired to operate. This community, rooted in Reform Jewish principles, will be defined by its unconditional welcome of all who wish to join, and because its “home base” spans four provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador) most of its activities will be virtual. Furthermore, there will be no traditional membership policies or high holy day tickets or other practices that have become common in most North American synagogues, but that I believe create unnecessary barriers to those who wish to belong.

The Hebrew bible traditionally defines Passover as the start of the new year. In fact, there are multiple new years according to Jewish tradition, reminding us of the deeper spiritual principle that one can begin anew whenever one wishes. Since Passover begins at springtime, the planet reminds us of the power of renewal which is deeply implanted within us all. Therefore, it is exciting to begin our community’s very first event with a Passover seder (register for it here!). We will also hold monthly virtual Shabbat services, very similar in style to those that I have posted on this website. Since everything will be held on Zoom, if there are others who wish to join, from elsewhere, you are certainly welcome to do so!

I am excited about this new chapter, which is historic in many ways, as a new Reform Jewish community is formed, with a commitment to exploring alternative understandings of what it means to be an inclusive community dedicated to living out Reform Jewish values in a changing world. I (and we) warmly welcome anyone who wishes to join!