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A TRIBUTE TO RABBI ZIONCE


The rabbi, better known as Chezi to many, started with us six years ago when we were struggling with a declining membership of 180 families. Rabbi Zionce was a game changer for Beit Rayim. Within two to three years he more than doubled our membership and quadrupled our synagogue attendance. He achieved this by infusing energy, humour and fun into shul services. His passion for Torah, Israel and Judaism in general was infectious. Rabbi Zionce had a unique style with the ability of bridging traditions of generations gone-by with the modern-day world of Judaism. 

To read more, click here

 

For six years, the Beit Rayim community was privileged to have been led by the charismatic and dynamic Rabbi Chezi Zionce z"l. Sadly, Rabbi Zionce passed away in June 2018. The Beit Rayim community mourns his loss, and we look back at some of his famous Shabbat messages ...

 

 

 


 

March 17, 2018

This Shabbat morning we begin the third book of the Torah.  Leviticus , or Vayikra begins with the word vayikra, which translates as "and He called".  
This Shabbat will also mark the fifth year that we will be hosting a delegation from Wordswap.  Under the auspices of StandWithUs Canada, eight young Israelis of diverse cultures and ethnicities have now arrived and  are touring  in Canada for two weeks. Druze, Bedouin, and Jewish citizens of Israel, with backgrounds that include Indian, Moroccan, Panamanian, represent the beautiful complexity and diversity of Israel. The delegation will tour university campuses, high schools, and speak to community members in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, London, Kingston, and Winnipeg. They will share their unique stories, as they offer coffee and conversation – in Arabic, English, Hebrew. 
I encourage you to make every effort to attend services this Shabbat morning and extend a warm  welcome to Gilad, Tslil, Tom, Lihi, Inbar, and Eyal.
 


 

March 10, 2018

This Shabbat we read from two Torah scrolls. The first follows our weekly reading when we finish the book of Exodus with Vaykhel/Pekudei.
Our second Torah is read to commemorate the special designation of this Shabbat as Shabbat Parah, the Sabbath of the Cow on which we read the biblical commandment regarding the Red Heifer. The mitzvah of the Red Heifer is one that defies understanding. A Red Heifer is slaughtered, some of its blood is sprinkled toward the Tabernacle, the cow is burned and its ashes used for purification. Not King Solomon and not Rabbi Google were able to rationally understand this law.
There is so much we don’t know. As Isaac Bashevis Singer, the Yiddish Nobel writer, once pointed out, “With all our knowledge we still don’t know why a magnet doesn’t work on cottage cheese.” We don’t know that, and so much more. Only G-d knows ... and we must put our faith in G-d, keeping in mind the Biblical words: “Ha-nistaros l’Hashem Elokeinu – that which is hidden is for G-d, but that which is revealed is for us and our children forever and ever.” 



March 3, 2018

This week's Torah portion of Ki Tissa begins with a census of our ancient Israelite ancestors. When instructing Moses to administer the census G-d uses the following words:
"when you lift up the heads of the children of Israel".
The rabbis deduce that G-d is teaching us that when a person is counted - when a person is noticed - it lifts up their spirits.

If you think about it, we too have our spirits lifted when someone recognizes us, when they know our name. As a rabbi, I experience this again and again when I approach someone in shul that I don't recognize and greet them warmly.
I urge you to try it the next time you are in shul. Go up to someone you don't know and say Shabbat Shalom.

You will be lifting their spirits and doing G-d's work.



February 24th, 2018

This Shabbat we add a second Torah reading to ourportion of Tetzaveh. The week beforeis noted as Shabbat Zachor – the Shabbos on which we are commanded toZachor- remember -what our archenemy Amalek did to us.important is this that the same paragraph that starts with thecommandment for us to “zachor - remember” concludes with the words, “lo tishkach– don’t forget.”

Zachor … we have to remember the past.that is not enough.are also told: “Lotishkach– don’t foget.”

What is the difference?

Rabbi Israel Lau, former Chief Rabbi of Israel and the youngest survivor of Buchenwald concentration camp, points out that “not to forget” refers to what takes place in one’s heart, while zachor – “remember” – refers to

actions that serve to remind people.Rabbi Lau, “The actions that I took to fulfill the zachor – remembering – was to tell the story.”

My friends, it appears that the current Polish government doesn’t want to tell the story and remember … but we must!It’s not enough to simply feel it in our hearts.

Let us take this lesson to heart, and then witness the fulfillment of the words of the Psalmist: “Yitamu chataimmin ha-aretz u’rishaiim od einem– when sinners will be obliterated from the world and the wicked shall be no more.”



February 16, 2018

This week's Torah portion describes the building of the Tabernacle – the forerunner of the Temple in Jerusalem. G-d tells the Jewish people: “V’asu li mikdash v’shochanti b’tochem – And you shall make for me a sanctuary and I will dwell amongst you.” 
The first article made for the sanctuary is that of the Holy Ark, which was to house the tablets containing the Ten  Commandments. The Torah describes in minute detail how the Ark was to be built. In the Bible we are told that the Ark that was made for the Tabernacle had to be covered with gold inside and out. 
The rabbis in the Talmud asked: "we can understand why there had to be gold on the outside of the ark; that’s where everyone would see it and be impressed by its grandeur. But why the need for gold on the inside where it would remain unseen?"
And the rabbis respond that from this we learn that the ideal for a person is to be tocho k’baro – inwardly what they appear to be outwardly. 
The lesson is clear: every time we come to shul and we direct our prayers toward the Ark, the Ark is there to remind us that coming to shul and praying to G-d is not enough if it is not matched by what
is going on inside of YOU! 
Let us take this lesson to heart and do our utmost to be the best we can be.



February 10, 2018

This week's Torah portion of Mishpatim, begins with the 
Hebrew letter "vav" which is translated as "and". This "and" connects last week's sedra with this week's sedra. Parshat Yitro and Parshat Mishpatim are the very core of the Torah. Last week we read about the revelation at Mount Sinai and the giving of the Ten Commandments. In ten simple and eloquent         statements we find the essence of our way of life: belief in G-d, eschewing idolatry, using our words with integrity, observing the Sabbath, honouring our parents, and living an ethical life with respect for all of G-d's creatures. What could be more beautiful or simple than this? Who doesn't believe in the Ten Commandments?

In the Ten Commandments we have a vision of what the world could be, and what it should be.

Parshat Mishpatim is more complicated. This parshah is referred to as Sefer Ha'brit, the Book of the Covenant. It presents us with a collection of laws touching on every aspect of life. This is one stop shopping for the minutiae of daily life. Unlike Parshat Yitro these laws are casuistic; that is, they are not presented unequivocally but in the form of case studies. "If such and such takes place then you shall do the following..."  Unlike the Ten Commandments, which are presented quite directly, "Thou shall," and "Thou shall not," these laws are messy. They acknowledge the complexities of life.
 
It is interesting to note that most of the countries in the Western world borrow many of their civil and criminal laws from Parshat Mishpatim. May we continue to be a light unto the nations. 



February 3, 2018

This week's Torah portion of Yitro, named after the father in law of Moses,  contains the Ten Commandments.  When the Children of Israel camped at Mount Sinai ( the mountain and not the hospital!) the Torah text contains a strange grammatical error .  The word for camped is in the singular when it should have been in the plural.  Previous verses in the same chapter of the Torah uses the word for camped in the plural.   

While it appears that a mistake is made in the text ,  Rashi , the foremost biblical scholar says that this is done deliberately.  Rashi states that when Bnai Yisrael, the Children of Israel, were ready to receive the Torah they were "like one person with one heart" .  Prior to this moment the Israelites were a disgruntled multitude of people.  Now , Rashi states, they were unified like one.

It is my hope and prayer that we at Beit Rayim can emulate the ancient Israelites and be unified as one.  While criticism and different opinions are always welcome at our shul, it is important to realize that we are all unified as one in our mission.  That mission is to continue to foster a Conservative Egalitarian presence in our growing community.

May we be unified in our goal.
 



January 27, 2018

 We all know that it has taken thousands of years for women to find equality with men in serving in a leadership role in our prayer services . I applaud the women of our shul, who in less than a decade as leaders of our Shabbat Shira service, have now invited men to participate as well!

 This special Sabbath is called Shabbat Shira because  in this week's portion of Beshalach, Miriam the Prophetess, leads the women in song and prayer:

"Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her in dance with timbrels. And Miriam chanted for them: Sing to G-d....."(Exodus 15:20-21)

This Shabbat we honour the women of Beit Rayim who will follow biblical Miriam's example and lead us all in song and prayer. Let our children, the daughters and sons of Beit Rayim establish lasting memories of not only men, but also an....... Eema on the Bima!



January 20, 2018

It is most appropriate and poignant that next week on Shabbat Shira we will have our annual service completely 

facilitated and lead by volunteers. I like to think that if Moshe/Moses was alive today he would choose to daven with us at 
Beit Rayim, for in this week's Torah sedra of Bo, we find an interesting incident 
involving women and prayer. 

Our parasha  begins with Moshe in a heated negotiation with Pharoh. The latter has agreed with Moshe's demand to allow the Israelites to pray in the desert. Pharoh asks: "who will be going?" and Moshe responds "our young and our old , our sons and our daughters."  Moshe seems to be implying that the women, too, needed to come and daven with the men. Pharoh, concerned with Moshe's real intentions, decrees that only the males will be given permission to depart and pray to G-d. Moshe insists on the females being included and the negotiations break down.
From this passage one may deduce that Moses was the first egalitarian Jew.  
Perhaps he would have been comfortable praying with us at Beit Rayim!

May all of our sons and daughters grow up with the ability and the desire to know how to pray as a Jew! 



January 13, 2018

The Torah portion this week is Va’era. “Va’era” means “I appeared”, referring to G-d’s appearances to Moshe encouraging him to go down to Egypt to redeem the enslaved Hebrew nation.

Many events transpire in this week’s sedra including the first 7 of the 10 makkot, or plagues that beset Egypt.

The rabbis: why were the 10 plagues broken up into 2 groups and not all listed within one parsha, like the 10 commandments were in the Torah? Biblical scholar Jonathan Grossman

argues that they fall into 2 separate groups - while the first 7 were designed to admonish the Egyptians and enlighten them as to G-d’s existence, might and will, the last 3 were also

designed to enlighten Israel as to the same. As the plagues intensify, the goal is to get the

Israelites involved in the salvific act and not expect G-d to complete all the work of redemption by G-dself.with the culminating plague of makkat bechorot, the slaying of the Egyptian first-born, Israel still is not redeemed until she participates in her own liberation by offering the paschal lamb, preparing in haste to exit Egypt. From this we learn the wisdom of the adage,

“G-d helps those that help themselves!”

My friends, we learn that what allowed our ancient Israelite ancestorsfinally leave Egypt was their ability to contribute to their own destiny. This week the Torah reminds us that while help can emanate from many sources, the best way to accomplish anything is to realize what we can do for ourselves!



January 6, 2018

This week we begin the second book in the Torah, the Book of Sh’mot or Exodus.
This is also the first Shabbat in the new year of 2018.
May our new secular new year be a year in which we will fulfill the words we proclaim at the end of last Shabbat’s Torah reading: “Chazak chazak chazak v’nitchazek – we will be strong, we will be strong and we will strengthen one another.”
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Solar New Year.

Sat, April 20 2019 15 Nisan 5779