Blogroll | Congregation Darchei Noam

Refugee Family Sponsorship in Lunenberg, NS

20/03/17 01:18:35 PM


By David Friendly

In late 2015, I was one of 50 residents of the Lunenburg, Nova Scotia area who met at the St. John’s Anglican Church to discuss whether we could collectively sponsor a Syrian family under the umbrella of the Anglican Diocese of Nova Scotia and PEI, one of the local Sponsorship Agreement Holders with the Canadian Government. At that meeting were people from 5 local churches, the Rotary...Read more...

Event Recap: Mysticism Then & Now, World Interfaith Harmony Week

07/03/17 02:51:59 PM


This year, World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) came along just when we all needed it. More typically, the timing of this celebration is not ideal – the first week of February, when twilight descends fast. Many of us would prefer to stay at home than attend a night-time event in mid-winter.

This year, however, was different. Given the U.S. immigration ban targeting seven Muslim majority countries, as well as the terrorist attack against a Quebec mosque, many of us felt a strong need to demonstrate our support of the Muslim community by embracing interfaith solidarity. Over 250 people from across Toronto came to Darchei Noam’s February 2nd WIHW celebration Mysticism Then and Now, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam in Word & Song. As noted by Rabbi Tina Grimberg at the opening of the event, “The knowledge we seek tonight, and the God we’re looking for, is reflected to us in the human face of the other... It is in the time of darkness that we seek light.”

The event, created by Darchei Noam’s Interfaith Committee in partnership with both the Intercultural Dialogue Institute and Vishnu Mandir, was a truly interfaith initiative. It began with greetings from John Voorpostel, Chair of the WIHW Toronto Steering Committee, who explained the history of World Interfaith Harmony Week (adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2010) and emphasized the essential role of interfaith initiatives as a counter measure to xenophobia. His committee generously sponsored the evening.

Next up was James Pasternak, Toronto City Councillor for York Centre, who spoke with feeling about City Council’s commitment to strengthening Toronto’s role as a safe haven for refugees. On behalf of City Hall, he condemned discrimination of all types.

Following Mr. Pasternak, the evening shifted from politics to mysticism (although subsequent speakers continued to comment on the political context, expressing compassion for the terrorist’s victims and the need for interfaith collaboration). Rabbi Grimberg explained about the mystical experience that, “It is popularly known as becoming one with God. It can also refer to an altered state of consciousness which is given a religious or spiritual meaning.”

We learned about Hindu mysticism from Dr. Budhendranauth Doobay, Chairman and Religious Advisor, Voice of the Vedas Cultural Centre (Vishnu Mandir). Dr. Doobay explained, among other things, that the popular impression of Hinduism as being polytheistic, with many gods, is wrong. There is one God in Hinduism – Brahman - and the other “gods” are actually symbolic representations of Brahman’s various aspects. He explained that Hinduism teaches about God that “All is One; All is He” in contrast to other traditions that more typically assert that “All is His”. “God lives in you”, he said. “When you find him, all the mysticism will come to you.” Following Dr. Doobay, the Vishnu Mandir Choir chanted an upbeat bhajan (devotional song) that raised our spirits and gave us a sense of Hindu religious music.

Next we learned about Sufism, the mystical tradition of Islam, from Azim Shamshiev, Former Vice-President of the Intercultural Dialogue Institute. Mr. Shamshiev described Sufism as the way in which Muslims seek truth, divine love and knowledge, explaining how it can help people from all faiths to find a more meaningful connection to God. He discussed its history, explaining, among other things, that women have played a significant role in Sufi practices going back hundreds of years, with some of the great medieval Sufi Masters having been female. The Band11, a group of three talented, traditional Sufi instrumentalists, then performed entrancing Sufi music, while Farzad Attarjafari, a classically trained Whirling Dervish, whirled before us into an altered state of consciousness. It was a remarkable sharing of meditation that we were able to experience up close – unforgettable.

Rabbi Grimberg then explained the link between Jewish mysticism and tikkun olam by recounting the Kabbalist creation myth. In the beginning, there was only God. In order to make space for creation, God contracted to become smaller. God then created 10 holy vessels filled with divine light. But the vessels were too fragile to hold the light and they broke, scattering light shards throughout creation. We need to release the sparks, through holiness, to restore the vessels and achieve tikkun olam – repair of the world. Jewish mysticism is, therefore, outward looking in its intention. Holiness might come from within, but the mystic’s goal is not simply to become one with God, but to repair the world for everyone.

Rabbi Grimberg was followed by Aviva Chernick, Toronto’s award winning, Juno nominated, singer, musician, and educator. Ms. Chernick led the audience in a profound exercise of voice, prayer and meditation, giving us a sense of contemporary Jewish mysticism. She brought us into her own embracing spirituality in a way that was inclusive, authentic and inspirational.

Despite the disturbing political backdrop, the evening was, overall, joyous and big-hearted, and those who attended came away feeling uplifted and inspired. In the words of Farzad Attarjafari, the Whirling Dervish, “I’m thankful Beloved brought us together. We are all ONE and turn to ONE. I felt at home; it’s so heart warming when I see us in Canada come together in solidarity & union.” These sentiments were echoed by all those who participated.

At the close of the evening, many people stayed behind to chat and nibble on Indian, Turkish and Jewish refreshments, and about 50 people took the tour of Darchei Noam’s sanctuary. All in all, it was a beautiful night.

Parashat Yitro D'var Torah by Rabbi Rena Arshinoff

22/02/17 12:57:12 PM


Darchei Noam Dvar Torah February 18, 2017

Rabbi Rena Arshinoff

Parashat Yitro

Last month, I observed yarhrzeit for my mother z”l who died 14 years ago. I found myself reflecting on her and our relationship. My mother was loving, but quite demanding of my attention and we sometimes struggled to...Read more...

Darchei Noam's Participation in the Circle of Unity with the Islamic Foundation, by Rabbi Grimberg

08/02/17 01:16:12 PM


In my hands, I’m holding more than 20 colourfully decorated cards. I love one in particular. It is bright pink with two smiling faces on the cover. One has dark and a beard and is wearing a white head covering. The other has lighter skin and wears a green yarmulke. Between them, a heart. When I open the card, it reads: Thank you for supporting us and standing by our side. Our differences should not separate us but they should bring us...Read more...

D'var Torah by Bernie Farber, Social Justice Scholar-in-Residence

23/01/17 01:54:07 PM


I was brought up in the shadow of the refugee experience. Both my parents left their ancestral homes not because they wanted to but as a result of persecution and antisemitism.

My late mother Gertrude was brought to Canada as a child prior to the Second World War. Driven from their village of Zaslav in the Ukraine by violent pogroms, Canada was a welcoming home at that time.

Arriving by Steamship to the Harbour in Halifax...

Diversity Committee's December Event: Remarks by Andria Spindel

09/01/17 01:27:37 PM

The Emerging Jews of Brazil and Elsewhere in Latin America


On December 4, 2016, 120 members and guests of Congregation Darchei Noam were presented with an historic and current verbal and pictorial overview of emerging Jewish communities in Brazil and other Latin...Read more...

Sukkot's Harvest Kiddush: Recipes

27/12/16 02:23:26 PM


The following dishes that were added to the Sukkot Kiddush by the Shomrei Adamah Committee were prepared by Joel Troster and Gloria Boxen with locally grown produce purchased at the Farmers Market held at Mel Lastman Square Thursday mornings in warmer months. These items are marked in the recipes with an “*”.

We once again enjoyed the seven species challah first introduced by Joel for the last Erev Shavuot kiddush. The recipe...Read more...

My Spiritual Journey: Remarks by Paula Blackstien Hirsch, Kallah Bereishit, 5777 / 2016

12/12/16 10:52:19 AM


Shabbat Shalom, and Chag Sameach

As the wheels of our plane touched down in Berlin 4 weeks ago, I turned on my phone – there was a voice mail from our President, Ryan Friedman, to call back as soon as I could. I assumed he was calling to ask me questions regarding a Special Meeting of the Congregation being held the following evening – one that I was sorry to be missing. I am likely one of few people in this congregation who would...Read more...

My Spiritual Journey: Remarks by Effi Gold, Chatan Torah, 5777 / 2016

30/11/16 02:52:56 PM


Shabbat Shalom,

This is exciting. I just can’t wait to hear what I have to say.

It would be a stretch to say my spiritual journey began at the Orthodox Shul in my home town of Bournemouth. I would walk 3 miles to Shul every Shabbos with my brothers, I attended children’s service religiously, and I went three times a week to Heder until the age of 16. But this mostly involved learning by rote. I didn’t find it...Read more...

Malchuyot & Zichronot: Rosh Hashanah reflections by Stephen Lurie & Ellen Bialystok

15/11/16 11:08:06 AM


Malchuyot, by Stephen Lurie

These days on the internet you can find an abundance of information - for example, controversy about where to place the Malchuyot blessing, its combination with Zichronot and whether it occurs on Rosh Hashana only or on Yom Kippur if it is a jubilee fast day.

I will leave this subject to Rabbi Tina and other scholars, but do want to thank her for asking Ellen and I to use Malchuyot and Zichronot to...Read more...

Holy Lies: Rabbi Grimberg's Kol Nidre Sermon, October 11, 2016

02/11/16 01:33:55 PM


Kol Nidre

5777 / 2016

Holy Lies


Part I

When the Holy One was about to create Adam, an argument broke out in heaven: “Is it a good idea to create a human being or rather four other entities:Righteousness,...Read more...

The Art of Listening: Rabbi Grimberg's Rosh Hashanah Sermon, October 3, 2016

19/10/16 05:41:05 PM


Rosh Hashanah 5777

Day I



The Art of Listening: The New Year’s Gift

It is this stirring, wild, ancient sound that makes us tremble. It is this sound that we come here to hear. It is this call that our children remember as their earliest memories. Sounded 100 times during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is a shofar call: chilling, challenging,...Read more...

Torah Stitch by Stitch: A D'var by Temma Gentles

28/09/16 03:36:21 PM


Shabbat Shalom. I am honoured to be here.

I’ve been invited to speak about the Torah Stitch by Stich (TSBS) program, in partnership with Congregation Darchei Noam, that officially launches today. This partnership has been in the works for several months and, thanks to the grace of the Board,...Read more...

Book Series: Jewish Identity in Literature

13/09/16 10:48:58 AM


This Fall, Darchei Noam’s Adult Education committee is pleased to sponsor a book club that will run for three sessions – all building on the theme of understanding and defining Jewish identity.  The three books were written by people with very different relationships to that identity.  Some of them will surprise you - all of them will provoke and move you.

There is an arc in this journey of Jewish identity that begins...Read more...

DN Shul Picnic at Earl Bales Park, Remarks by Ariel Zaltzman

31/08/16 02:29:41 PM


What a wonderful way to conclude summer and look forward to the coming new year.

Darchei Noam held a picnic at Earl Bales Park on Sunday, August 21. Members of all ages attended: adults, parents, grandparents, youth, children and tots. (Click headline to read...Read more...

DN: The Early Years - Reflections from Ron & Debbie Cowitz

09/08/16 11:29:58 AM


Memories of a Beginning

We remember one evening in the early ‘60s when Harvey Freeman called us and asked if we knew ‎anything about ‎Reconstructionism. Of course we answered in the negative He said that it was a fourth ‎movement in Judaism in America ‎and that a group of...Read more...

Rabbi Grimberg now a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Hartman Institute

26/07/16 01:15:32 PM


We are pleased to share that our Rabbi Tina Grimberg is one of 27 rabbis to have graduated from Shalom Hartman Institute's 3-year Rabbinic Leadership Initiative in Jerusalem last week. In addition to Rabbis from Australia, Israel and around North America, this year's class also included...Read more...

Introduction to our 2016-17 / 5777 SJAC Scholar-in-Residence

12/07/16 10:46:06 AM


The Social Justice Scholar-in-Residence for the coming year is Bernie M. Farber.

As a long-time CEO of the former Canadian Jewish Congress, Bernie Farber is a respected leader in the Canadian Jewish community. He brings...Read more...

New President's Address

29/06/16 10:10:30 AM


Good evening everyone,

I am standing here tonight because of my broken foot! When the search committee asked for a new president, everyone turned and ran …. and I, was the only one left standing!

So my advice to all of you is don’t play soccer with your grandchildren in running shoes, because you may then land up being the president of the shul!

I want to first thank all of you for giving of your time to be here...Read more...

Rikudei-Am: Connecting Darchei Noam's youth to Israeli Culture

01/06/16 04:57:43 PM


Rikudei-Am, Israeli Folk Dance, reflects the multi-cultural nature of Israeli society.  Like Canada, Israel was built by immigrants who brought their diverse styles, ethnic rhythms and dances from every corner of the globe.  Israeli culture reflects this mix of ethnic backgrounds and like Israeli society, Rikudei-Am is a mosaic of diverse traditions and styles.

Israeli folklore is unique in its readiness to explore the old...Read more...

A Canadian Interfaith Response to the Refugee Crisis

18/05/16 12:20:00 PM


Darchei Noam’s Interfaith Committee is still basking in the glow of the evening of February 9th when about 225 people came to our social hall to listen to a panel on the refugee crisis. The event, a result of the partnership between the...Read more...

Darchei Noam's B'nei Mitzvah Students Celebrate Shabbat together at Woodland Trails Scout Camp

04/05/16 04:22:54 PM


Hello, I’m Ben. I am having my Bar Mitzvah this year and I am a part of Darchei Noam’s 2015/2016 Bar/Bat Mitzvah group. As an opportunity to learn more about the Jewish culture, our class took a trip to the Woodland Trails Scout Camp. We spent a night in a...Read more...

Welcoming Darchei Noam's Sponsored Syrian Refugee Family

20/04/16 01:27:58 PM


On Sunday, April 10, Darchei Noam members hosted a special afternoon reception to warmly welcome the Khello/Mohamad family to Canada and the DN community. With music by David Lefkowich, a craft activity with Sharna Cohen, and desserts brought by our...Read more...

Meet Danny Richmond, Darchei Noam's 2015-16 / 5776 Social Justice Scholar-in-Residence

30/03/16 01:57:02 PM


Danny Richmond is this year’s Social Justice Scholar in Residence. The Scholar-in-Residence Program was set up to bring to Darchei Noam persons...Read more...

Darchei Noam's Hebrew School Visits Terrace Gardens

16/03/16 03:22:30 PM


Earlier this month, Darchei Noam's Grade 4 – 6 Hebrew School students had an opportunity to visit Terrace Gardens, a Toronto retirement home. 

The students sang Purim songs with the seniors, led by our dynamic music teacher Mike Bernsein. After, they participated in arts and crafts alongside the seniors, creating characters from the Megillah. 

Our students learned about the mitzvah of visiting...

Jews' Muse: Exploring the Music, Life and Times of Four Great Jewish Composers

02/03/16 03:05:54 PM


This spring is going to be filled with the sound of music at Darchei Noam, but it won’t be courtesy of the Von Trapps. In a series of four evenings, we will explore the life and times of four giants of classical music – all of whom were Jewish.  What impact and influence did their identity have on the masterpieces they created? How did these individuals respond to the politics and culture of their day? What is their lasting legacy?...Read more...


03/02/16 04:07:39 PM


A new art exhibit of beautiful textiles has been hung at Darchei Noam. With pieces adorning our foyers and Social Hall walls, this exhibit displays members of the Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Textiles of Toronto's works that share their celebrations...Read more...

Lenka Lichtenberg's "Aleinu", written for Darchei Noam, selected for the 2016 Shalshelet International Festival of New Jewish Liturgical Music

12/01/16 06:33:05 PM


Congregation Darchei Noam is thrilled to report that our member Lenka Lichtenberg's setting of the Aleinu prayer has been selected for the 2016 Shalshelet International Festival of New Jewish Music, to be held in Philadelphia in December, 2016. Lenka's piece was one of only 39 pieces by 33 artists chosen from over 250 entries to this international competition. 

Lenka wrote the piece for Congregation Darchei Noam at the urging of our Rosh Chazzanut, Phyllis Angel Greenberg. "A while back, I noticed that very often, most of Aleynu is recited rather than sung at the end of our Shabbat morning services. I asked Phyllis Greenberg about it and she said that the common melody for Aleynu sounds like 'Itzy Bitzy Spider' and so we don’t usually sing it as it just doesn’t hit the spot… and she said, why don’t YOU write a melody? So I did! And I am VERY happy to say that the setting has been well received by the congregation, and it is a very special, happy moment for me every time I get to chant it at Darchei Noam, especially when people join in," she shared. 

We are very excited that one of our unique prayer melodies will be featured at such a prestigious festival. Congratulations, Lenka! 

Darchei Noam Families Celebrate Hanukkah

16/12/15 02:57:04 PM


On Sunday, December 13, Darchei Noam families came together to celebrate the Festival of Lights. With Mad Science, Face Painting, cookie decorating, Lego build, a performance by our Hebrew School students and a learning session with Rabbi Tina, as well as latkes and sufganiyot and schmoozing, a fun day was had by all! 

Sufganiyot for...

DN: The Early Years - Reflections from Mitchell Rothman

11/11/15 04:30:26 PM


Photo of children from the early years of DNThe following is an excerpt from a history of Darchei Noam that I wrote for our Bar Mitzvah (13 years) ‎celebration.  It has three elements: a history that is as factual as I could make it, my take what I saw...Read more...

Thu, 30 March 2017 3 Nisan 5777