25 (170420) – The Megillat Hashoah (Holocaust Scroll) tells the story of the Shoah in a series of brief but powerful passages. Our hand scribed scroll, one of only a handful in the world, was presented as a gift to Temple Israel by congregants David and Rose Shentow and family on April 29, 2010 to mark David’s 85th birthday. It was donated to honour parents Moishe and Rifka Krzetowski and sisters Esther and Paula and to commemorate David’s liberation from Dachau on April 29, 1945. Temple also has a set of books containing the complete Hebrew and English text, as well as explanatory notes and liturgy, which were donated by Hillel and Julie Taub on April 23, 2006, in memory of mother and grandmother Gitta Taub (Tova bat Shmuel u’Malka).Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorates the lives and heroism of Jewish people who died in the Holocaust. The day was established by Israel in 1953. On the eve of Yom HaShoah in Israel, there is a state ceremony at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Authority. At 10 am on Yom HaShoah, throughout Israel, air-raid sirens are sounded for two minutes. Public transport (including virtually all highway vehicles) comes to a standstill for this period, and people stop and stand silent.The Megillat Hashoah was published by the Conservative movement’s rabbinical seminary in Israel, the Schechter Institute, in 2003. It was written in Hebrew by Avigdor Shinan, a professor of Hebrew literature at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, with the help of an academic committee. The English translation is by Rabbi Jules Harlow and the cantilalation (chanting notation) was provided by Ms. Tova Strauss. The Megillat was recited publicly for the first time in North America on April 29, 2003, during a Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) ceremony at Beth David B’nai Israel Beth Am Synagogue in Toronto.
The six-chapter Megillat is built largely around first-person testimonies. After an opening chapter that gives a searing overview of the victims’ suffering, it offers composite sketches of a Christian journalist observing life in the Warsaw Ghetto, a Jewish woman in a work camp and a Jewish youth who was forced to pull out the teeth from his brother’s corpse and shove other dead bodies into ovens. A fifth chapter consists of a eulogy for those who died in the Holocaust; the final chapter recounts the efforts to rebuild Jewish life after the war ended. The full text of the scroll, in English and Hebrew, can be downloaded from the Schechter Institutes website here: http://www.schechter.ac.il/schechter/Megilat_hashoa_files/shoae2016.pdf
24 (170330) – Temple Israel still hosts the longest continually held community Passover Seder in Ottawa. The first Temple Seder was held in 1967. About 60 people attended on the second night of Passover at the Beacon Arms Hotel. For the next couple of years, the Seder was held at the El Mirador Hotel.
Once Temple had its own building on Prince of Wales the Seder was held there. For a few years, congregants helped with the cooking. In a 2006 article in the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, Irv Singer recalled that “Ernie Potechin made chickens and Connie Reisman made matzah balls and soup for some 100 plus people”.
This year’s fully catered Seder will be held on April 11 at Temple.
23 (170323) – On March 22, 1995, FROSTY hosted 150 NFTY-NEL members from Ontario, upstate NY, Cleveland, OH and Erie, PA for a weekend of debates, worship and social activities. Temple youth hosted the first conclavette in September 1972 welcoming 45 NFTY participants from Montreal and Burlington, Vermont.Establishing a TYG (Temple Youth Group) for high school youth was an important early priority to connect our youth to NFTY, the North American Reform Youth movement. Bernie and Joyce Pagurek were the first advisors, supported by Rabbi Gerber. The name FROSTY (Federation of Reform Ottawa Senior Temple Youth) was created in 1977 by advisor Gary Viner.FROSTY members come together at many times during the year for learning, fun, worship, community service, and fellowship to help young Jewish adults throughout the region build and strengthen lifetime ties with each other and Reform Judaism. FROSTY is a component of NFTY’s Northeast Lakes (NEL) Region serving Jewish Teens in Ontario (Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto, Thornhill, Barrie, Mississauga, Hamilton, Waterloo, London) and northern New York state, Cleveland, OH, and its suburbs, and Erie, PA. Originally Temple Israel’s youth group was part of a NFTY region that included Montreal, and Burlington, Vermont and periodically attended events in Boston and surrounding communities.Advisors over the years have been Bernie and Joyce Pagurek, Phyllis and Marvin Silverman, Debra and Gary Viner, Tina Beranbaum and Mitch Shack, Ann and Mark Dover, Diane and Michael Parkin, Sue Potechin, Howard and Julia Herzog, Jeremy Silburt, Hana Shusterman, Margot Viner, Jasmine Albagli, Jenny Tarof and Angus Smith. The advisors have been supported by members of the Youth Committee.
A Junior Youth Group (JYG) was started for Grade 8s in 1992 and now includes grades 6-8. It was designed and implemented to complement the senior youth group FROSTY. The programming within JYG is comprised of social, religious and educational activities with the goal of developing relationships between peers, as well as within the community. The JYG advisor is Lisa Rossman.
22 (170316) – On March 12, 1967, David Alexandor was elected as the first president of Temple Israel, Ottawa’s first (and still only) Jewish Reform Congregation. William (Bill) Danson had been serving as president pro-tem since the congregation was founded the previous fall. The other members of the first executive were: Joseph Ginsberg, 1st vice-president, Ernie Potechin, 2nd vice-president; David Ritt, secretary; and Bill Danson, treasurer. Directors were Arthur Benjamin, Sam Bond, Roy Horovitch, Joyce Loeb, Harold Pearlman, Eva Ritt and Irving Singer.The installation of the board took place on April 7 following Friday night services at the Histadrut Centre on Laurier Avenue. Lawrence Marks, president of the Canadian Council of Reform Congregations, presided and spoke on “The Centrality of the Synagogue.”
Six months later, President Alexandor wrote to the members noting the growth of the congregation to over fifty families and acknowledging the support of other Canadian reform congregations. With rabbis from neighbouring communities, Temple Israel had held bi-weekly Shabbat services (on Friday nights) as well as a variety of other worship and study activities. Plans included having a fulltime rabbi and a building to house the congregation. Of immediate concern was the need to begin weekly Shabbat services, start a school to educate the children and engage a part-time or student rabbi.
To fund this plan, the board proposed continuing the membership dues process of self-assessment, recognizing “that each member is sufficiently dedicated to Temple Israel and its future to be relied upon to contribute as much as they can.” Enclosed with the letter was a schedule of recommended contributions as a guideline to assist members in determining their amount. The board recognized that “some may not be able to meet the minimums shown; on the other hand, we fully expect those who can contribute beyond the amounts indicated will do so.” This contribution philosophy continues to this day.
21 (170309) – For over fifteen years, Stuart and Lillian Lazear have been decorating the sanctuary and social hall for Purim and Chanukah. What started as a simple gift to Temple has turned into a semi-annual tradition which delights and surprises. Over the years, Stuart and Lillian have purchased, created and collected a wide variety of decorative material. Almost by magic, the space is transformed to host our community celebrations. Stuart and Lillian spend hours preparing, arranging, taping and hanging the many individual pieces. Using their creativity and imaginations, they have crafted spectacular masks and giant hamantaschen for Purim and created a giant chanukiah from our stained-glass windows for Chanukah.
When asked for a special memory, Stuart recalled that first Chanukah when the inflated dreidels were hung on the ceiling fan blades, only to come flying off during the celebration when the fans were switched on. Another favourite is the giant hamantaschen, complete with realistic prune filling that looks good enough to eat. Lillian remembered decorating the venue fo the 40th Anniversary Gala Dinner.
20 (170302) – Every Rabbi, and many congregants and children, love dressing up for Purim. In 1968, Rabbi Powell led Temple’s first celebration of Purim including a costume parade with our religious school students. Every year, we retell the Purim story in a funny musical shpiel (play) with many different themes. Each Rabbi brought their own personality to their costume and role. For many years, Hillel Taub’s “Start/Stop” sign led the graggers and booing whenever Haman’s name was mentioned. Over the years, our celebrations have included other activities such as a festive family meal, triangular hamentaschen pastries, children’s entertainers and adult activities such as a dinner/dance or wine/beer/scotch tastings.
19 (170223) – Temple Israel Religious School (TIRS) is a beneficiary of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa (JFO) and an active participant in their programs and fundraising activities. TIRS students, teachers and Rabbi Morais were part of the recent JFO Mitzvah Day. TIRS has been part of the community fundraising Walkathon since its inception. As well, Temple has supported many other community programs over the years.
18 (170216) – This week’s Torah portion continues the story of the Israelites journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. As refugees, they fled a bad situation in search of a new life in a new land. Temple has a long history of supporting refugee families from many different countries, including Russia, Vietnam, Bosnia, Syria and elsewhere, helping them to obtain freedom and settle in Ottawa.
In August, 1982, Temple “adopted” a Russian refusenik family. Dr. Mark Reitman, his wife Tamara and their two children Maria (19) and Leonid (12) had been refused permission to leave Russia four times. The only reason given was their “lack of blood relationship abroad”. Since applying to leave, Dr. Reitman lost his university teaching position, although Tamara was still able to work as a patent officer.
They had become quite despondent and were happy to learn that Temple families were supporting their request by writing letters to them, to Soviet officials in Canada and Russia, and to Canadian politicians and immigration officials. Letters sent back by the Reitmans had to be forwarded by others, since their communication was restricted. Dr. Reitman was part of a group of fifteen Jewish scientists who are all refuseniks seeking to emigrate. He described the anti-Jewish graffiti appearing in buildings in their neighbourhood.
Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Temple participated in rallies in front of the Russian embassy in Ottawa. For example, in February 1980, Temple’s Rabbi Don Gerber, coordinator of the Committee for Soviet Jewry in Ottawa, along with Ottawa Nobel Laureate Dr. Gerard Hertzberg, led a rally in support of refusenik Andrei Sakharov.
In March 1987, following the release of some refuseniks, Temple member Dr. Walter Hendelman, co-chair of the Ottawa Soviet Jewry Committee, said that “We believe that it is because of the constant pressure and efforts on behalf of Russian Jews that the Soviets have responded in the way they have.”
17 (170209) – This week we observe Tu BiSh’vat, the “New Year of the Trees” on the full moon of the 15th (tu) of the month of Shevat. It was originally an agricultural festival marking the emergence of spring because, while still cold and snowy here, the almonds trees and wild flowers are in bloom in Israel. Although not mentioned in the Torah, it is related to the practice of donating “tithing” a portion of the harvest to the Temple. Today, the celebration of Tu BiSh’vat can include eating a variety of nuts and fruits found in the Bible, participating in a ritual Sedar meal, planting trees in Israel and connecting to other environmental actions such as “Earth Day”, recycling and conservation.Some environmentally positive building renovations and practices at Temple include:
• Retrofitting energy efficient light fixtures and bulbs and water conserving toilets;
• Replacing the old rooftop heating and air conditioning units with much more energy efficient models;
• Introducing paper and plastics recycling bins; and
• Shabbat and dinner food service with re-usable glassware, dishes and cutlery.Some Temple programs and activities with an environmental focus have included:
• A “Tree of Life” float, created with natural and bio-degradable products, in the 1990 City of Ottawa Environment/Earth Day parade;
• TIRS Tu BiSh’vat sedars;
• Pre High Holy Day cleanup at Hogs Back Falls (our Tashlich site);
• Springtime garlic planting at Silver Spring Farm;
• 50th Anniversary Climate Change Impacts panel discussion; and
• Sukkot vegetable collection for Shepherds of Good Hope soup kitchen
16 (170202) – The furnishings on the bimah (platform) at Temple were designed and donated by congregants in memory of special friends. The Aron Hakodesh was already described in Fun Fact #8. This week, we look at the Ner Tamid (eternal light) and the two sanctuary tables – Shulchan L’Kriah (reader’s table) and Shulchan L’Klalim (multifunctional table).
The Ner Tamid (Eternal Light) that hangs above the Ark was donated in 1979 by Dr. And Mrs. Stanley Winthrop in memory of Dr. Roy Horovitch. It was designed and fabricated by Temple member and artisan Michael Parkin. In a Temple Bulletin article, Michael described the design: “Traditionally, the ner tamid has been symbolic of the light that Israel shows to all the peoples of the world. In addition, the Eternal Light is a reminder to ourselves of the light which the Torah brings into our lives.” Michael worked with Rabbi Gerber on an appropriate Hebrew inscription for the lamp. The translation is “The righteous person is born for Him”. The Hebrew letters form an acronym for a sentence from Psalm 119, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
On February 15, 2002, a group of friends donated the Shulchan L’Kriah (Reader’s Table) to honour the life of Arnie Fradkin, a prominent community member, lawyer, father and husband. Debbie Farrow, architect and congregant, designed the table to provide a surface large enough to open the Torah scroll, have six individuals stand comfortably around its perimeter, fit in context on the raised sanctuary platform and have a strong aesthetic statement. Banded with solid cherry, the sloping tabletop covers an area approximately 4’-0” x 5’-6” with a contrasting oak inlay separating the wood surface from a functional marmoleum inset. Two curved solid cherry supports expose an artist panel to the congregation’s view with the supports designed to connote embracing arms holding the Torah manuscript. Each component of the table is separated by brushed stainless steel tubes leaving each function to stand solidly yet remain connected to one another. The art panel, provided by the congregation, was designed and fabricated by Michael Parkin. It employs a colorful film mounted on glass and includes the phrase, “let justice well up as waters, righteousness as a mighty stream”.
In the fall of 2003, another group donated a complimentary, smaller Shulchan L’Klalim (multifunctional table) approximately two foot by two foot, with cherry millwork, it holds lit candles comfortably through a prayer service with the lower table top and inner shelves providing space to accommodate ritual ornaments and additional books.
The finials evolved from knobs at the upper end of the ezei hayyim (wooden staves) on which the Torah scroll is wound. By the 12th century finials were being made of silver and had bells. Since the shape of the spherical finial recalled that of a fruit, it was called a tappu’aḥ (apple) among the Jews of Spain and in the Sephardi Diaspora, and a rimmon (pomegranate) in all other communities.
An ornamental shield called a tas or khosen (breastplate) hangd by a chain in front of the Torah scroll. In most cases the breastplate is made of silver or silver-plated metal. In Western, Central, and Eastern Europe the breastplate is not merely ornamental but designates which Torah scroll is to be used for the Torah reading on any particular occasion, with interchangeable plaques. Breastplates from 17th-century Germany and Holland, were either square or rectangular, and the design was influenced by that of the Aron Hakodesh (Ark) and parochet (curtain) concealing it, featuring various architectural motifs, the menorah (seven-branched candelabrum), Moses and Aaron, lions, or Torah crowns.
13 (170112) – Quilting at Temple Israel does more than just create beautiful, functional blankets. These projects bring the congregation together for fellowship and tikkun olam (healing the world). Two examples are the large 40th Anniversary Quilt that hangs on the wall of the sanctuary and the 1000 baby quilts that have been made and delivered to families in Israel. You can be part of this longstanding effort at workshops being held this month.
The Temple Israel commemorative quilt was made by many hands, including all of the children in the Religious School, during 2006-2007. You can see the Temple Israel logo in cross stitch, the Ner Tamid, a quilted replica of a stained glass Mogen David that stands in a window reflecting light from the outdoors, and three dimensional Torahs. Amongst these representations are also the four festivals: Pesach; Simchat Torah; Shabbat; and Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The Hebrew words say Mi’dor L’dor (From Generation to Generation).
The squares serve as a beautiful frame and border around the entire work, which measures 5 1/2 feet across by 4 feet tall. Each individual square was designed and created by children in TIRS. Then, the entire piece was hand quilted. The sewing and quilting volunteers included Anne Alper, Claire Cohen, Deborah Cosman, Amy Delacretaz, Sue Gold, Hannah Halpern, Merle Haltrecht-Matte, Laya Jacobsen, Patsy Royer, Sylvia Royer, Bryan Rumstein, Carol Ruttle-Abbey, Fanny Schneiderman, Nathan Schneiderman, Verna Schwartz, Lydia Sourani, Liliane Mayer, Debra Viner and the students and teachers of Temple Israel Religious School. The handmade rod was fashioned by congregant Russell Phillips.
The baby quilt project started after the large quilt hanging was done and dedicated a year to the day after the 40th anniversary. After working for a year coordinating all the busy hands and getting it up, Merle Haltrecht-Matte came up with the idea of making quilts for babies and sending them to Israel. This was at the time when the communities of Ashdod, Sderot and Ashkelon were being hit by scud missiles.
Since 2008, over 1100 quilts have been delivered to nurseries, daycare centres, agencies, hospital wards, families, including OneFamilyFund. Many people have taken a few quilts in their luggage when travelling to Israel, notably Jane and Martin Gordon, as well as Annette Paquin, Paul Lyons, Michael Walsh, Jackie Holzman, TIRS kids on Israel trips; non-Temple Israel members; and many others. Fabricland has donated bolts of batting four times. Many volunteers donate their time, expertise and fabrics to make this an on-going endeavour.
The goal for Temple’s 50th anniversary is to make 50 quilts. Each will be labelled with the 50th anniversary logo. They will be displayed at High Holy Days 2017 and then delivered to Israel. To make 50 quilts, 1000 small squares are needed. Two “quilting bees” are scheduled on Sunday January 15 and 29 from 10am to 2pm in The Bayit (the little house beside Temple).
Anyone can get involved by bringing a loonie and designing a square. No quilting experience is needed. Please be in touch with email@example.com to book your time to come and help. It’s fun and easy and you don’t need to know anything about sewing. This will be an ongoing project through the 50th year so please get in touch if you’d like to help anytime.
12 (170105) – Our Torah scrolls are clothed in beautiful mantles and adorned with silver ornaments that have been created or donated by congregants. This week we look at the Shabbat mantles and in future weeks the High Holy Day mantles, crowns and breastplates. Apologies in advance for any names that are incorrect or left out. Please let me know and I will update the information.
The current Shabbat mantles were created when the sanctuary was redecorated in 2002. Fabric in five colours representing the seasons (green, red, blue, purple, gold) was chosen to complement the new colour scheme. The mantles were fabricated by Elite Draperies using commercial stitching and bindery and embellished with fabric art by Margo Rosen, Elaine Singer and Debra Viner. Binders, which tie the scrolls under the mantles, were hand embroidered by Patsy Royer, Lori Shusterman, Diane Parkin and Lori Loeb. The mantles were dedicated at Simchat Torah.
The previous three mantles were created and dedicated in 1984. Each unique mantle was designed and hand needlepointed: blue ten commandments by Margo Rosen, red/blue Jerusalem skyline by Elaine Singer and blue/red/orange zigzag stitch by Debra Viner.
The mantle and ornaments from Temple’s first Torah in 1967 were destroyed in the fire at James St. in 1972. The mantle on one of the replacement scrolls was a gold embroidered Mogen David on blue velvet. The other scroll had a white High Holy Day mantle. Please let me know if you have photographs of these from before the fire that can be added to the collection.
11 (161215) – Chanukah has always been a big celebration at Temple with school assemblies, dinner dances, freedom lectures, songs, candles and latkes. In 1984, Michael Walsh and Lisa Rosenkrantz donated the large Chanukiah (menorah) we use today.
Temple held the First Chanukah Dinner Dance in December 15, 1974. Without a building of our own, that first year’s event was held at the “Bayshore Country Club” (party room) on Woodridge Crescent. As advertised in the Temple December Bulletin, this would be a Temple members’ only event offering FOOD! FUN! FRIENDS! for just $3.50 per person. On December 16, 1976, 100 guests attended the Third Annual Chanukah Dance and Buffet Supper, for the first time held in Temple’s new building.
7 (161117) – This week is the 50th Annual General Meeting of the Jewish Reform Congregation of Ottawa – Temple Israel.
• When Temple was founded in December 1966, Bill Danson served as President of the pro-tem executive. At a general meeting on March 12, 1967, David Alexandor was elected the first President, the constitution was ratified and the name “Temple Israel” was chosen. Membership consisted of 48 families (84 adults and 80 children) and revenue was $1,100 from dues plus $25 in donations. The budget for 1967-68 was projected to be around $12,000.
• By the 1970 AGM, the Temple budget was approaching $30,000. President Max Sternthal announced that Temple Israel Religious School would be a beneficiary of funds from the UJA campaign of the Ottawa Vaad Ha’ir (now Jewish Federation of Ottawa) and urged all members to contribute to the annual appeal.
• At the AGM in April, 1974, led by President Irv Singer, there were 80 members in attendance. In the previous year: Temple membership had increased by another 10%; Temple Sisterhood expanded its activities; Temple Brotherhood was established; Temple Youth Group was vibrant and enthusiastic; Temple Ritual Committee introduced Saturday morning services; and Temple Choir participated regularly in services.
• Today, Temple has over 300 family membership units and a budget, including TIRS, of over $800,000.
6 (161110) – Ten years ago, on this weekend, Temple Israel launched our 40th anniversary year with a Shabbat full of activities. Merle Haltrecht-Matte, Temple member and 40th Anniversary co-ordinator said “There will be many anniversary-themed activities throughout the year. Each committee at Temple is expected to carry out at least one activity connected to the anniversary. The celebration will include as many people as possible.” The weekend’s events included: an Erev Shabbat service honouring past presidents (with prayers and melodies from the Hebrew Union Prayerbook); a Shabbat morning service honouring member veterans with guest Rabbi Dan Danson who grew up at Temple; a gala dinner/dance with entertainment and the premiere showing of Temple’s DVD about the first 40 years; and a Sunday morning program for current and past FROSTY members. The photos show the 18 Presidents who participated, some of the commemorative items and Ottawa Jewish Bulletin articles.
4 (271016) – On October 28, 1967, Rabbi David Powell officiated at Temple’s first Consecration ceremony welcoming students to the new Temple Israel Religious School (TIRS). Last Sunday evening during Simchat Torah celebrations, Rabbi Morais and Principal Sue Potechin welcomed this year’s new students. The education of a Jewish child is a joint venture, shared by both family and the Jewish community. Consecration marks the beginning of formal Jewish study at kindergarten, or whenever a child begins his or her Jewish education. The children are blessed by the clergy and often given a certificate and miniature Torah.
3 (201016) – For fifty years we have celebrated Simchat Torah by dancing with our Torahs. Temple Israel has three Torah scrolls used for worship and a fourth scroll that was damaged in the James St fire and is only used for educational purposes. Our first Torah was donated by Temple Emanu-El in Montreal. According to then President David Alexandor, a dozen members were present at the ceremony in Montreal in April of 1967. Following the 1972 fire, a replacement Torah was immediately obtained from Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. Another Torah was donated anonymously during a Shabbat service taking place at the JCC on Chapel St. According to then President Irv Singer, later information revealed that Laz Loeb had taken his own plane and flown Rabbi Gerber to New York to choose the new Torah. Another of our Torahs has a direct link to modern Jewish history having come from a synagogue in a Czech village that had been destroyed during the Holocaust. The Nazis had confiscated, collected and catalogued Jewish religious items. After the War, the collection was curated by the Westminster Synagogue in London and individual scrolls were lent to congregations around the world, including Temple. In future Fun Facts we will talk about the beautiful mantles and ornaments that adorn our Torahs and the Aron Hakodesh/Ark in which they reside.
2 (161013) – On October 12, 1972, the James Street synagogue was destroyed by fire. Temple Israel had purchased the building the previous year from the Orthodox B’nai Jacob Congregation when it amalgamated into Congregation Beth Shalom. The Ontario Fire Marshal concluded that the fire started by natural causes in the Aron Kodesh. One Torah scroll that was saved was too damaged to be used for worship. It remains in the current Ark and is unrolled each year at Simchat Torah as a teaching tool. The clock with Hebrew numbering was rescued from James Street and continues to be used in the Religious School downstairs on Prince of Wales. Two candelabra were salvaged from the fire and were stored by George Fine for many years. As noted on their dedication plaques, the candelabra had been donated to B’nai Jacob by their members. In 1994, they were passed on to David Delicate who restored them and installed them in the Prince of Wales sanctuary in honour of his daughter Jordana’s Bat Mitzvah.
Throughout this 50th anniversary year, we will be sharing fun facts from Temple Israel’s history. If you would like to contribute an idea, memory or image, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.