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Malchuyot: A Drash for Rosh Hashanah By Evan Prosserman, September 11, 2018

17/09/18 02:55:30 PM


One of the three major themes of Rosh Hashanah is Malchuyot. It proclaims God as sovereign over the world. He is the creator with absolute power and a source of everything. During the service we reaffirm this belief.


The words on Malchuyot from our Mahzor may roll off your tongue easily. To someone like me, who is...Read more...

10 Questions to Ask Before You Join Our Book Club, from the Adult Education Committee

28/08/18 02:24:05 PM



Do you have to see the American 2018 Book Club film as a pre-requisite to joining the DN Book Club?


Will there be enough time to obtain and read the fall selections?  Check out the dates! The books are available in various formats from the Toronto Public Library for optimum exposure to selections...Read more...

A Mishpocha Picnic, by Richard Osolen

07/08/18 12:55:19 PM


On Sunday, July 8, the Downtown Mishpocha group, with the participation of the East Mishpocha group, held our annual picnic in High Park. Already in the unrolling of the days, the impact is fading but the fact remains strong: of the several annual picnics we’ve had this one stands out as extraordinary.

Alan Meisner booked a lovely location. Just far enough from the main road to be comfortable and close enough to be convenient. It...Read more...

Darchei Noam Goes to a Wedding! By Rabbi Richard Hirsh

25/07/18 01:13:20 PM


In the musical “Rent,” we are reminded: “Let's celebrate! Remember a year in the life of friends.” On May 27, under a glorious 6:00 PM sun on Peugeot Sound in Seattle, we were privileged to celebrate not just one year, but thirty-seven years of connections.  Several of...Read more...

The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same, by David Friendly

09/07/18 04:18:30 PM


In less than 4 years we will celebrate our 50th anniversary and we hope we will will also celebrate retiring our mortgage. We have indeed come a long way, but we have never strayed too far from our roots as a struggling, but intimate, and relevant chavurah. I wrote the following more than 10 years ago:


Although I live in Calgary and get to Darchei Noam only a few times a year, especially on the High Holy Days, my...Read more...

Event Recap: Aaron Lightstone, Neurologic Music Therapist

19/06/18 03:17:30 PM


By Myra Schiff


You may know Aaron Lightstone as the musician who has led us in song on Shabbat mornings. Or you may know him from Rabbi Tina’s program on aging. On May 31, we got to know him through his program about his work as a music therapist. 

During the program, Health and Rehabilitation Benefits of Music and Music Therapy in Older Adults, Aaron talked about various aspects of music therapy, illustrating many of them...Read more...

DN: The Early Years - Reflections from Fredelle and Harold Brief

29/05/18 02:41:19 PM


My early memories of Darchei Noam are bound with the sense of intimacy within the new congregation. Most of the ‎members had young children, and a majority of those had their roots in other communities in Canada and the United ‎States. In Canada, Winnipeg, Montreal, and the east coast come to mind, and we were also blessed with members from ‎the USA. People formed social friendships that were more like the relationships within extended...Read more...

My Time with our Shinshinit Batel Mamo, by Marcy Tepner

08/05/18 10:21:14 AM


I have always wanted a daughter, but, after 32 years, raising three boys to adulthood, I'd come to terms with my lot. A daughter was not in the cards - until this past Fall. When I heard that Darchei Noam's Shinshinit, Batel was still in need of a third host family, I jumped at the opportunity to offer her a place in our home. Having hosted Shinshinim in the past, I knew how rewarding an experience it could be.

"Shinshin" is an...

Parshat Shemini: The Sin of Loving Too Much, D'var Torah by Jack Muskat, April 7, 2018

18/04/18 12:00:52 PM


“It was in those dogs to care too much and try too hard—

-from Alistair MacLeod’s novel, No Great Mischief

Today’s Parsha has an interesting focus. It begins with the sacrifices offered on the eighth day of the inauguration of the Mishkan:

“Speak to B’nai Yisrael and tell them to take unblemished animals: a goat for a sin offering, and a yearling calf and a lamb for a burnt offering, and a bull and a ram...Read more...

DN: The Early Years - Reflections from Danny Schild

03/04/18 01:02:44 PM


My interest in Reconstructionism began in the 1960’s when I was a university student and I subscribed ‎to the Reconstructionist magazine which, believe it or not, was published in print form and mailed ‎twice a month. As a result of my subscription I received a letter from Rabbi Lavy Becker of the ‎Reconstructionist synagogue in Montreal late in 1971...Read more...

Event Recap - Our Home, Our Stories: Indigenous, Muslim and Jewish Communities in Dialogue

19/03/18 01:18:50 PM


An uplifting and heartwarming experiential program filled with stories, music, dance, special foods and wisdom took place at Darchei Noam on February 7, 2018.


For the 3rd year in a row the Interfaith Committee of Darchei Noam and the Intercultural Dialogue Institute worked together to produce an outstanding program as part of World...Read more...

Parshat Terumah: Finding a Place for G-d to Live among Us, D'var Torah by Jack Muskat, February 17, 2018

06/03/18 04:39:29 PM


“And let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them” (25:8)

Today’s Parsha begins the narrative of the building of the sanctuary and the construction of its utensils. The entire focus of the Torah from this point on, through the end of the Book of Shemot (Exodus), The Book of Vayikra (Leviticus), and half of the book of Bamidbar (Numbers) is on the Mishkan, (Sanctuary). In total, 354 verses are devoted to the building...Read more...

Shema Israel/Shemot Israel: Hear O Israel/Hero Israel - D'var Torah by Jeff Pekar, January 6, 2018

13/02/18 11:30:10 AM


Good shabbes!

Today we open the second Book of Moses and read Parasha Shemot – the story of a baby boy whose parents, fearing his certain death, launched him in a tiny vessel to a far-off land in the hope of safety and survival. This boy, a stranger in a strange land, living a dual identity, would grow to be one of the most powerful people on Earth, fighting for truth and...Read more...

World Interfaith Harmony Week and the Fight Against Terrorism

31/01/18 10:00:42 AM


For the past few years, Darchei Noam has presented an event as part of World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW), which occurs annually from February 1 to 7. This year is no exception: on February 7 we’ll be hosting “Our Home, Our Stories: Indigenous, Muslim and Jewish Communities in Dialogue”, developed in partnership with the Intercultural Dialogue Institute (IDI) and the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto...Read more...

The Gift of Time - Sermon by Rabbi Tina Grimberg, September 21, 2017

24/01/18 01:08:07 PM


What makes somebody an extraordinary friend? Most will probably respond by saying that a wonderful friend is someone who understands you – somebody you can trust and, above all, somebody who is willing to make time for you. There is no extraordinary friendship without the gift of time. That is one of the messages of Genesis. Our beloved narrative of Avraham standing up for injustice leaves us in awe of his courage and boldness. But what...Read more...

Learning About Teshuvah From Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

08/01/18 12:34:39 PM


By Rabbi Richard Hirsh

It was the summer of 1967. Wear some flowers in your hair. Free music in the park. Acid Trips. Haight-Ashbury. The Monterey Pop Festival. “Turn on, tune in, drop out.”

And it was also fifty years ago today, Sgt Pepper taught the band to play.” A half-century ago, the Beatles released the soundtrack to the summer of 1967. Endless essays and analyses have assessed the importance and the impact of...Read more...

My Spiritual Journey: Remarks by Pamela Chapman, Kallat B'reishit, 5778 / 2017

18/12/17 12:18:19 PM


Any talk about my Jewish journey begins with one simple – but somehow very complex – statement: I am a Jew by choice. 

The usual response to that statement – among Jews and non-Jews – is “why did you become a Jew?”.  Or sometimes “why WOULD you become a Jew?” which I take as a slightly different question.  So – when I was invited to talk about my “Jewish journey” I knew I would have to reframe...Read more...

My Spiritual Journey: Remarks by Steve Wolfe, Chatan Torah, 5778 / 2017

01/12/17 10:28:31 AM


I stand here today, before my synagogue community, still in awe and feeling incredibly humbled at the honour that you have bestowed on me.   I have to admit I have sat where you are now while others from our community shared their personal journeys with us and wondered “What would I say if that were me up there”.  But still, my first thought when Ryan called me was “is he sure he meant to call...Read more...

D'var Torah by Jenny Isaacs, Social Justice Scholar-in-Residence - October 14, 2017

21/11/17 01:06:40 PM


Good morning. Shabbat Shalom. I am honoured to have been chosen to be the Social Justice Scholar-in-Residence for this new year, 5778. Over the past many years, I’ve had multiple opportunities to connect with the Darchei Noam community. Each time has been positive and enriching and I look forward to the year ahead of connecting in this new way.

My first time at Darchei Noam was as the Assistant Coordinator of the Shinshinim Program...Read more...

Self-Forgiveness - Kol Nidre Sermon by Rabbi Tina Grimberg, September 29, 2017

07/11/17 10:14:52 AM


A white note in a shape of a dove flew past me as a late autumn wind carried it in to the sky. Shivering daveners at the Wall hurried home as the Jerusalem evening descended. The note was taken by the wind from the crevices of  Western Wall and carried in to a shivering air. What happens to these notes I asked myself, never wondering before. Since I learned that one million prayer notes are placed in the crevices of the Western Wall...Read more...

Many Messiahs - Rosh Hashanah Sermon by Rabbi Richard Hirsh, September 21, 2017

24/10/17 01:49:36 PM



A year ago on Rosh Hashana, I offered a sermon based on three Jewish teachings about Satan. In Jewish tradition, Satan is the persecuting prosecutor. He is the one who places the record of our accumulated transgressions before God on these days of reckoning.

In the interests of equal time, this year I want to share three Jewish teachings about the Messiah, the mythical character who...Read more...

The Gantze Megillah: About the Five Megillot

10/10/17 11:48:53 AM


By Sydney Nestel on behalf of the Adult Education Committee

Almost everyone has heard of Megillat Esther (the Scroll of Esther), but not everyone knows that there are five “megillot” (scrolls) in the Tanach (the Hebrew Bible).

And those who know even a bissel Yiddish ( a little Yiddish) know that the phrase “the gantze megillah” means, literally “the whole scroll”, but figuratively-  “the whole story”: (an allusion, perhaps, to having to sit through a complete and overly...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah D'var Torah by Marcy Tepner & Rona Kosansky, September 21, 2017

02/10/17 10:44:19 AM


We are about to participate in a mitzvah – the sounding of the shofar. But, before we do, I would like to talk about the last of the 613 mitzvot, the obligation for every Jew to write a Torah scroll, and about the concept of “Hiddur Mitzvah”, the “beautification of a mitzvah”. 

Take a moment to look at the magnificent panels of Torah that surround us. This is Hiddur mitzvah....Read more...

My Summer at Darchei Noam, by Katarina Kusic

18/09/17 01:05:34 PM


This summer I had the pleasure of working at Darchei Noam as the summer student administrative assistant. Through this position I learned valuable professional skills, worked with an amazing group of people, and was warmly welcomed into a kind and compassionate community.

My primary role as the administrative assistant was to assist with the membership renewal process and High Holy Days ticket mailing. This included the mailing of...Read more...

Experiencing the DN Downtown Pop Up School, by Jessica Greenberg

05/09/17 03:06:10 PM


I grew up at Darchei Noam. I attended Shabbat services, Hebrew School (the very first classes of which were held in my family's basement!) and had my Bat Mitzvah and later my aufruf at Darchei Noam. Now I have my own family and I've migrated downtown. We are an interfaith family committed to the values of inclusion, social justice and creativity, and while Darchei Noam will always feel like a kind of home to me, I've been craving a Jewish...Read more...

Parshat Ekev D'var Torah by Judy Katz Howard

14/08/17 11:56:57 AM


“ And if you do hear these rules and keep them and perform them, God will maintain for you the covenant and the love  that He swore to your fathers.  He will  love you and bless you and multiply you.  He will bless the fruit of  your belly and the fruit of your soil, your new grain and new wine and oil, the calving of your herd, and the lambing of your flock in the land that He swore to your fathers to give to you....Read more...

From the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College: Let's Journey Together

11/07/17 02:26:45 PM


In the words of Rabbi Deborah Waxman, the president of RRC/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities:

This beautiful collection of words reflects so well on participants in the Reconstructionist movement. It is a mirror of who we are – a community of thoughtful, engaged people on the frontier of new ideas who welcome all people to join with us in ways they find comfortable and meaningful.

"These are the times that try men’s souls.” While Thomas Paine’s famous first sentence of his Common Sense pamphlets supporting the American Revolution could use some serious updating in terms of gender inclusivity, his sentiment, unfortunately, feels quite contemporary.

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College recently held its graduation ceremony for the class of 5777, celebrating a dynamic, talented and passionate group of new rabbis. I reflected to the hundreds of people who gathered that, even as we celebrated, we were also coming to terms with the conclusion of a most challenging academic year. The RRC community and most people associated with the Reconstructionist movement began the year believing that America and the Western world were traveling on a trajectory that was bending toward justice. These beliefs — and we ourselves — have been destabilized.

Political developments, the rise in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, the closing of...doors to refugees and the attempts to roll back the monumental gains made by the LGTBQ community all demonstrate that this trajectory has been rudely interrupted....It feels to me that we are in the midst of a significant rewriting of the history of the post-World War II era.

We are still working out how to discern, how to react and, most importantly, how to act.

Several things are clear to me. Never has there been a greater need for progressive moral leadership and for communities that are at once intentional and welcoming. To face these times, Jews and the people who make their lives with us can draw on and must advance powerful, bedrock Jewish values: tzelem Elohim (we are all created in God’s image), ki gerim hayitem (remember that you were strangers), ahavah rabbah (there exists an expansive universal love we can draw upon), and tikkun olam (the world is broken and it is our task to repair it).

Across North America, people of faith have responded to the challenge of history by working to make the world — and their local communities — a better place. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and people of no faith stood alongside Jews in the wake of cemetery desecrations. So many of our progressive coreligionists have taken to the streets and airports in defense of refugees. At the local, state and national levels, progressive Jewish voices have responded to the challenge of our time with a clarifying vigor.

Recently, Rabbi David Wolpe, an articulate thinker about matters of faith and public life, published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal that argued that rabbis should keep politics off the bimah. “All we hear all day long is politics,” he wrote. “Can we not come to shul for something different, something deeper? I want to know what my rabbi thinks of Jacob and Rachel, not of Pence and Pelosi.”

I agree with Rabbi Wolpe’s premise that rabbis are trained to be experts in Jewish texts and traditions, not in political science. Yet I also believe the synagogue — bet knesset, or “house of gathering” in Hebrew — must not only be a house of worship and study but also must be an engine of justice and compassion.

Rabbis and religious leaders can and must talk about contemporary social and political issues in ways that speak out of and back to Jewish values.

We are often called the people of the book, but lately, our movement has embraced video as a means to encapsulate our message, to tell our story in a contemporary idiom. In our third annual video report, called “Let’s Journey Together,” we name, confront and illustrate the darkness of our age. In it, compassion, meaning, community and adaptation prevail. We surely don’t have as much control over the course of history as we do over a video script. Yet, by framing and articulating a way forward, we offer a vision for how to navigate the spiritual challenges of our times.

I invite you to journey with us through these challenging times and into the future.

Our congregations offer meaning, connection, conversation and, when needed, healing and support.

This past year reminds us all how much our voices matter, how much Reconstructionist Judaism and progressive religion more generally act for the good. We may never get to a point in history where our souls won’t be tried. Yet together, we can work to tilt the moral arc of the universe toward justice.

Parashat Korach D'var Torah by Avi Magidsohn

27/06/17 10:43:07 AM


D’Var Torah

Parashat Korach

June 24, 2017


Shabbat Shalom.  And Happy Pride! 

Today’s reading is Parashat Korach - a difficult one to link to Pride Day, what with the earth opening up...Read more...

Event Recap - Israel at Risk: Preserving the Two-State Option

12/06/17 02:26:05 PM


“Israel at Risk: Preserving the Two-State Option” was the title; “Security First” was one of the underlying themes. A secure, Jewish, democratic state is the goal. Unilaterally completing the security barrier, ending the demolishon of the homes of Palestinians, and taking other immediate steps to bolster its security while at the same time improving the lives of Palestinians and empowering more moderate Palestinian leaders: These...Read more...

Ten Things We Can Learn from Leviticus: D'var Torah by Rabbi Richard Hirsh

29/05/17 12:24:28 PM


We are nearing the end of the annual reading of the Sefer VaYikra, the Book of Leviticus. Of the five books of the Torah, the one that most often agitates, aggravates or annoys liberal Jews is Leviticus. The archaic content, the priestly perspectives, the elaborate attention to the ancient system of sacrifices, and the regulations about ritual purity and impurity makes Leviticus a considerable challenge for teachers, preachers, and b’nei...Read more...

Wed, 19 September 2018 10 Tishrei 5779