I am profoundly grateful and humbled by the tremendous support and reaction I have received as I have started this slowly growing Reform Jewish Community serving Atlantic Canada, which has also seen a number of my followers from outside Canada joining us for services. It is so exciting to know that this new approach to Jewish community is gaining traction- one where all people are welcome. Our mostly virtual community is dedicated to serving those who are unaffiliated or otherwise disconnected from the existing Jewish community options in Atlantic Canada, with a specific focus on being “barrier-free” and serving interfaith families, 2SLGBTQIA+ Jews and others who are seeking a progressive Jewish community.
Stay tuned for our high holy day schedule that will soon be posted!
I am excited to be invited to offer the guest sermon tomorrow night at Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom, my home congregation from Montreal. Shabbat services will begin at 7:45 PM Eastern (8:45 PM Atlantic and 9:15 PM NFLD). To learn more here is a link and to join here is a link. I will be reflecting on the Torah portion of the week (Re’eh) and how it has influenced my rabbinate and the development of this community. I am grateful for this opportunity, not only because it was my first congregation, where I led services in the religious school for many years, and then later as a student rabbi, and then as a rabbi, coming back for high holy days… but also because for way too long, it has served as the ONLY Reform Jewish community east of Ontario.
There are many reasons why Reform Judaism has not developed in Canada the way it did in the United States, but these reasons reflect a reality that is no longer true. Increasingly, people are seeking the kind of barrier-free, accessible and inclusive Jewish communities that are characteristic of Classical Reform Judaism- the kind that unconditionally welcomes everyone and that offers worship services primarily in English, so that people can understand what they are praying.
I believe that prayer is intended to inspire action, and to help us remain faithful to the Call of the Spirit. As such, my rabbinate has always advocated for an expression of Judaism that is unwavering in its commitment to Jewish ethics and values, and a worship style that emphasizes understanding the words we are saying, and being willing to change them to reflect the spirit of the tradition, while honoring the need to continue to evolve with the times.
The world is in a time of great transition. We can be fearful or we can embrace this new chapter with faith and recognize it as an opportunity. As we prepare for the new Jewish Year, I pray that we face our fears with faith and a resolve to do what we can to transform our prayers into reality. Tomorrow night, in my sermon, I will be sharing my reflections on how to do this, and what the Torah has to teach us about transforming challenges into opportunities.