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*Pesach offerings overview. Join us for:

ShabbaZoom: A Virtual Warm-up for Shabbat at Home, Friday, April 10, 7 pm

"Just Hallel" on Sunday, April 12, 10:30 am

Omer Counting and Meditation, April 13, 7:30 pm

Yizkor Service, Thursday, April 16, 10:30 am

(See announcements below.)


Shalom,

Here is our weekly "5-Point Parasha", a short list of what we are enjoying or pondering, as it relates to life and Torah.


Our collective prayers and thoughts are with those who are working on the front lines everywhere, as well as with those who are ill or suffering at this time. We wish them a refuah shleimah - a speedy and complete healing of body, heart, mind and spirit.


Rabbi Sherril shares this beautiful d'var Torah and song from Deborah Sacks Mintz:


The Sea and the Wilderness, the Narrow and the Expanse

I picture it vividly: B’nei Yisrael standing on the shore of the sea, readying themselves for this pivotal moment of transition. Overcome by a vision of an uncertain future—a wilderness of both fear and hope—they opened their mouths, and out came a song. Who is like you, oh G*D?  I imagine that as they sang these words of wonder and praise, embedded within that joy was every painful and traumatic memory of their years as slaves, magnified all the more by the vast sea of the expansive unknown that lay before them. Joy within sadness, brokenness within praise, B’nei Yisrael used song to express this core and complex facet of the human experience.

On Pesach, we sing Hallel—a profound liturgical expression of gratitude to the Divine - and yet baked into the very texts themselves is an opportunity to emulate our ancestors’ emotional use of song. 


Psalm 118:5 reads מִֽן־הַ֭מֵּצַ֥ר קָרָ֣אתִי יָּ֑הּ עָנָ֖נִי בַמֶּרְחָ֣ב יָֽהּ׃ 

From a narrow place I cried out to G*d; G*d answered me from the expanse. 


In reading this verse, I am reminded that the recognition of the narrow places we find ourselves - the constriction, the fear, the darkness - is a necessary first step in embarking on accessing the expansive light. We cannot simply burst forth into that spaciousness without first crying out from the meitzar, just as B’nai Yisrael could not access the redemption that awaited them without their journey through the wilderness - the fearful unknown.


In this unprecedented moment, we too find ourselves in a meitzar of unparalleled proportions; constricted not only spiritually, but physically as well—confined to our homes and isolated from our communities. The act of joyful prayer and song may feel even more difficult. How can we burst forth in song alone, without the power of collective voices around us? Can we even find within ourselves the capacity to declare that we will indeed receive an answer from the expanse?

Brachot 32b in the Gemara teaches that even when all other gates of prayer are closed, the gates of tears remain open and available to us. Perhaps this is the lesson we can learn from B’nai Yisrael and from the psalmist; that even when all else is uncertain and brokenness abounds, the act of crying out—and of singing out—is the first step in bursting from the meitzar to the merchav.


This Pesach, I offer an original melody for this psalm with the kavannah that we find hope and healing in the very process of crying out - and that in the moments of uncertainty that lie ahead, we embody our ancestors, and keep on singing. 


Listen here. 


Rabbi Sherril shares Rabbi Daniel Siegel's latest blogpost, just in time for Pesach!


Rabbi Schachar shares a link for the post-modern Pesach writings of Rav Shagar on Web Yeshiva.


Rabbi Schachar shares Rabbi Marc Angel's website, jewishideas.org, which presents insights on Pesach and Coronavirus.

Dr. Yakov Rabkin writes "A Dangerous Gospel" in response to the Covid-19 crisis.


Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --


* ShabbaZoom: A Virtual Warm-UP for Shabbat at home

Friday April 10, 6-7 pm

Join Montreal Open Shul to welcome in Shabbat online with a virtual pre-Shabbat gathering over Zoom.

Download the Zoom app in advance, and then https://zoom.us/j/8322418968 Please Note: Due to current health concerns, 3rd Friday Shabbat and New/Old-school service will be temporarily suspended until further notice.


* "Just Hallel" for Chol HaMoed Pesach

Sunday, April 12, 10:30 am - 11:30 am

Daven before, davven after, or just join for Hallel. Contact me by 9pm Saturday if you would like to lead a psalm. Musical instruments warmly welcomed.

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://zoom.us/meeting/register/u5QpceGgrzguK8_FFSCs4UZeaQYTgGxvjQ

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


* Passover Omer Counting and Guided Meditation

Monday, April 13, 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm

A simple gathering to share space, meditate and mark our passage from the Passover holiday towards Shavuot.

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://zoom.us/meeting/register/uJUvde2spjoido8UHxqwFnvmkR4hQyvqVA

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


* Yizkor as a Soul-Guiding Ritual

Join Rabbi Schachar and Rabbi Sherril, your guides for this ritual that we enact four times a year to honour and remember those who have passed on from this world. Yizkor reminds us to count and treasure each day, so that we may acquire a heart of wisdom. Join us next week on Thursday morning, April 16 at 10:30 am on Zoom for our Yizkor Memorial Service. 

Zoom room: https://zoom.us/j/8322418968


* Friday Night Service - Every Third Friday of the Month...stay tuned for new dates


* New/Old-school service every fourth Saturday of the month...stay tuned for new dates


* Ways to help others at this time via Federation.

Are you (or is someone you know) facing a food shortage at this time due to the pandemic? Montreal Open Shul participants may be able to receive help from MOS, thanks to support from the Jewish Community Foundation and FederationCJA. Please get in touch with us by email at montrealopenshul@gmail.com or contact Rabbi Sherril directly at rebsherril@outlook.com.

And, if you are in a position to help, we ask and encourage you to please support FederationCJA's Community Crisis Response effort by donating to the community CrowdFunding campaign. Visit https://fcja.crowdchange.ca/1002.

Finally, FederationCJA has established a "helpline" for anyone in the community to ask for help. Call 514-734-1411.


* Cantor Heather continues her Meditation & Middot class on Zoom this Tuesday at 7:30:

https://www.facebook.com/events/230396461436916/


* Let us know if you have something that you would like us to include in the 5-Point Parasha (by Wednesday of the week)


*Did you know that you can donate to MOS and receive a tax receipt from Aleph Canada? Go to the Aleph Canada page on Canada Helps and us the drop down menu under "APPLY YOUR DONATION TO A SPECIFIC FUND SET UP BY THIS CHARITY" to select Montreal Open Shul.


PLEASE DONATE TO SUSTAIN OUR COMMUNITY AND OUR OFFERINGS

Join us again for ShabbaZoom: A Virtual Warm-up for Shabbat at Home, Friday, April 3, 7 pm (see announcements below)


Shalom,

Here is our weekly "5-Point Parasha", a short list of what we are enjoying or pondering, as it relates to life and Torah.


Rabbi Sherril reflects on parashat Tzav:


I know that the rabbi is supposed to bring you words of inspiration and comfort on Shabbat. I know that we are supposed to provide a safe space for you, for at least one day a week, a sort of spiritual time out of time, where you can rest, reflect and regroup. I know all this and yet, …


…and yet we are living in challenging times right now. This has not exactly been an easy week, a week that inspires words of comfort. The toll that the Covid19 virus is taking on us is on the grandest scale most of us have ever seen. It has been challenging for me to find words of comfort to share at this time.


The parasha this week is called Tzav – Command. Most of this parasha is an instruction manual for the priests, directing them in how they should carry out their sacrificial duties. How wonderful it would be if we too had instruction manuals – manuals for how to live our lives, for how to get along, for how to cure the coronavirus. The problem is we don’t; that instruction manual has not been written.


And so, in times like these, when words fail me,

when I am unsure about how to express the thoughts of my heart, I often turn to my teachers, both living and those who have passed on. This morning I turned to my spiritual mentor, Abraham Joshua Heschel, the great theologian who believed it was important to pray with one’s feet, to do concrete actions with all one’s being in the name of social justice. It is from Heschel that I managed today to find some measure of comfort, at least temporarily.


Heschel wrote a "little" book called The Sabbath. In it he says that Shabbat can be a kind of 25-hour refuge in time for us – a time out of the day through which we fight, he writes, we look to the Sabbath as our homeland, as our source and our destination. It is a day in which we abandon our pleibian pursuits and reclaim our most authentic state. It is a day in which we may partake of a blessedness in which we are what we are, regardless of whether we are learned or not, of whether our career is a success or a failure; it is a day of independence of all social conditions. Shabbat as homeland, Shabbat as a place of refuge.


Shabbat is no time to remember sins, to confess, to repent or even to pray for relief or anything we might need.

Rather, it is a day for praise, not for petitions.


On the Sabbath it is given to us to share in the holiness that is in the heart of time. Even when the soul is seared, says Heschel, even when no prayer can come out of our tightened throats, it is the clean, silent rest of the Sabbath that leads us to the realm of the World to Come, or at least to the very beginning of an awareness of what eternity might mean.

There are few ideas in the world of thought which contain so much spiritual power as the idea of the Sabbath. Millenia from now, when only shreds will remain of many of our cherished customs, that cosmic tapestry called Shabbat will continue to shine.

May it be so, and may it continue to be a refuge for us for all time. May we all feel some measure of peace this Shabbat.


Rabbi Sherril shares "The Sabbath Day":

Music: Terry Ysrael Rielly; selected text from The Sabbath, A. J. Heschel

May our life be a pilgrimage

unto the seventh day.

As we approach this holy hour,

may our songs be with praise.

Accepting sacred moments when

our spirits are so raised,

with praises for the Blessed One,

Whose love lights up the way.

Our labour is a craft for us;

our rest it is an art.

May we become the hands of GD,

and so discern our part.

And may we hear GD’s call to us,

and listen with our hearts,

to craft our labour carefully;

make perfect rest our art.

May we mine the precious ore

within the mines of time,

to illuminate the seventh day,

GD’s palace within time.

May we prepare with awe and prayer

so we may sanctify

the seventh day, the Sabbath day,

GD’s gift to space of time.


Cantor Heather shares some reliable Covid 19 info:


There is so much information (and misinformation) regarding the Covid 19 virus, that is easy to feel overwhelmed and confused. You may want to pick a few reliable sources you can depend upon for information. Here are a few that are highly recommended:


WHO: 

https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1

CDC:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/index.html

Johns Hopkins:

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html


Cantor Heather shares a magnificent animated "Chad Gadya":


On the lighter side I hope you enjoy this lovely stop action animation version of Moishe Oysher’s Passover classic “Chad Gadya” as much as I do.


Rabbi Schachar shares a quote from Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center:


"The Plagues we suffer, like the Plagues of old, are not only dangers; they beckon us to transformation."


Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --


* ShabbaZoom: A Virtual Warm-UP for Shabbat at home


Friday April 3, 6-7 pm

Join Montreal Open Shul to welcome in Shabbat online with a virtual pre-Shabbat gathering over Zoom.

Download the Zoom app in advance, and then https://zoom.us/j/8322418968 Please Note: Due to current health concerns, 3rd Friday Shabbat and New/Old-school service will be temporarily suspended until further notice.


* Friday Night Service - Every Third Friday of the Month...stay tuned for new dates


* New/Old-school service every fourth Saturday of the month...stay tuned for new dates


* Ways to help others at this time via Federation.


* Cantor Heather continues her Meditation & Middot class on Zoom this Tuesday at 7:30:

https://www.facebook.com/events/230396461436916/


If you are interested in participating, please take a moment to fill this online survey, so that she can have your scheduling and interests in mind: https://s.surveyplanet.com/zef5y8gHF




* Let us know if you have something that you would like us to include in the 5-Point Parasha (by Wednesday of the week)


*Did you know that you can donate to MOS and receive a tax receipt from Aleph Canada? Go to the Aleph Canada page on Canada Helps and us the drop down menu under "APPLY YOUR DONATION TO A SPECIFIC FUND SET UP BY THIS CHARITY" to select Montreal Open Shul.


PLEASE DONATE TO SUSTAIN OUR COMMUNITY AND OUR OFFERINGS

Updated: Mar 27, 2020

Join us again for ShabbaZoom: A Virtual Warm-up for Shabbat at Home, Friday, March 27, 7 pm (see announcements below)


Shalom,

Here is our weekly "5-Point Parasha", a short list of what we are enjoying or pondering, as it relates to life and Torah.


Rabbi Sherril shares about Vayikra in a Time of Coronavirus:

March 26, 2020

In the Torah scroll, the first word in the book of Leviticus, vayikra, is written with the last letter, the aleph, appearing much smaller than the other letters. Torah commentators love to expound on the reasons for this. Many feel that this miniaturize letter was an allusion to the humility of Moses, who felt unworthy of direct contact with the divine.

Others see in this small aleph an allusion to the Kabbalistic notion of tzimtzum, GD’s contraction of the infinite into the finite in order to make the divine accessible to living beings. According to the Kabbalists, creation began with the formation of a primordial vacuum – a space within which the finite realm might come into being. When the will arose in GD to create the world, GD pulled back into GDself and withdrew in order to leave an unoccupied space within which the creative process could unfold.

Without this tzimtzum, this pulling back, there would have been no room for anything finite or separate to exist, because everything would have been obliterated by the immense light of the Infinite One. The withdrawal of this light was seen by the Kabbalists as an act of love, because it created the space for the world to come into existence.

Do you see the parallels with the times we are living in? Joanna Macy, the philosopher and deep ecologist, calls this time The Great Turning. She writes that a “revolution is occurring, bringing unparalleled changes in the way we see and think and relate. It is an epochal shift from a self-destructive industrial growth society to a life-sustaining society.”

We are now in a time where we are being called to do personal tzimtzum. This act of retreating and withdrawing for a period of time has introduced many of us to new ways to interacting and relating and connecting. With these new practices, we are discovering the courage, commitment and communities we need to change our lives and move into action for the healing of the world.

Already, in the short amount of time that we have been self-isolating, we see that lakes and rivers and streams are recovering, and air quality is improved due to reduced use of vehicles and less industrial air pollution. Already we see so many of our neighbours and friends going for daily walks in the fresh air, which has been facilitated by the fact that spring has arrived.

This same process holds true for all kinds of relationships. In a healthy relationship, we need to be ready to do tzimtzum from time to time, to pull back, and provide “space” for the other. This pulling back is an act of love for ourselves and the planet. It means that we are choosing life. It means that we are making the choice to ensure that our world is livable.

And Joanna Macy acknowledges that to choose life in this time is a mighty adventure. As people in all countries and walks of life are discovering, this adventure elicits more courage and enlivening solidarity than any military campaign.

We are being called to take extraordinary measures at this time, and to do things that are difficult. For example, Passover is approaching, and with it, the prospect of celebrating either alone or in our nuclear groupings. The right seder for you this year might involve matzah with cream cheese, a good book, and sleep. That might be all you’re up for, and that is totally okay.


Or there are options springing up for doing the seder online with a virtual community, such as via Skype or Zoom. Whatever form your Passover observance takes, know that this year the ideas of freedom from oppression and looking forward to leaving the narrow places takes on new meaning.


Dear friends, we are in a time of doing tzimtzum right now and this time is extraordinary. You need to believe that the choices you make right now, today, and tomorrow will have a deep and lasting impact on the world. Do the right thing. Take care of yourself, use this precious time well, let yourselves be sad if you need to, reach out to one another through all the marvelous media we have available to us, and please remember to be kind to all the essential services angels among us.


Rabbi Sherril shares a Prayer for Healing: May the One who blessed our ancestors Bless all those who put themselves at risk to care for the sick: Physicians and nurses and orderlies Patient transporters, hospital cleaning staff, and security guards, Technicians and home health aides, EMTs and pharmacists Who navigate the unfolding dangers of the world each day, To tend to those they have sworn to help.

[And bless especially  ________ who is in  need of healing.] Bless them in their coming home and bless them in their going out. Ease their fear. Sustain them. Source of all breath, healer of all beings, Protect them and restore their hope. Strengthen them, that they may bring strength; Keep them in health, that they may bring healing. Help them know again a time when they can breathe without fear. Bless the sacred work of their hands. May this plague pass from among us, speedily and in our days. --- Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen, March 2020


Cantor Heather shares a wonderful article about Dr. Ilana Sherer, an amateur Klezmer who works to support transgender kids:


https://www.jweekly.com/2020/03/23/qa-a-pediatrician-who-helps-trans-kids-and-moonlights-playing-klezmer/?fbclid=IwAR2bU-e50ASLoALLxxCDz6ZyU9wiIKsuz32xwzpDKcSejO26vW5_EVGW5Xk


Cantor Heather shares a very sweet musical clip that you might enjoy:

Rabbi Menachem Creditor and Neshama Carlebach singing Eshet Chayil together.

https://www.facebook.com/watchparty/2820877957994924/?entry_source=FEED

(Link only seems to work on laptops/desktops, not mobiles.)


Rabbi Sherril shares a a fantastic set of Passover resources:


For you whether you will be alone, on Zoom or with your immediate family

https://18doors.org/additional_passover_resources/?fbclid=IwAR11f2_5Wv6pVzgdi9zT2wK3tcRt6UyFm7Q1wjna1Dx2LsH-I6SEHCF5OIQ


Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --


* ShabbaZoom: A Virtual Warm-UP for Shabbat at home


Friday March 27, 6-7 pm

Join Montreal Open Shul to welcome in Shabbat online with a virtual pre-Shabbat gathering over Zoom.

Download the Zoom app in advance, and then https://zoom.us/j/8322418968 Please Note: Due to current health concerns, 3rd Friday Shabbat and New/Old-school service will be temporarily suspended until further notice.


* Friday Night Service - Every Third Friday of the Month...stay tuned for new dates


* New/Old-school service every fourth Saturday of the month...stay tuned for new dates


* Ways to help others at this time via Federation.


* Cantor Heather shares: For those who miss boogying down, Virtual Disco will be holding a digital disco this coming Saturday night 9pm-11pm. https://www.facebook.com/events/1785879484882472/


* Cantor Heather continues her Meditation & Middot class on Zoom this Tuesday at 7:30:

https://www.facebook.com/events/230396461436916/



* Let us know if you have something that you would like us to include in the 5-Point Parasha (by Wednesday of the week)


*Did you know that you can donate to MOS and receive a tax receipt from Aleph Canada? Go to the Aleph Canada page on Canada Helps and us the drop down menu under "APPLY YOUR DONATION TO A SPECIFIC FUND SET UP BY THIS CHARITY" to select Montreal Open Shul.


PLEASE DONATE TO SUSTAIN OUR COMMUNITY AND OUR OFFERINGS

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