MOS 5-Point Parasha - Vayishlach 5780

Don't forget:

Human Rights Shabbat (Dec 20)

Hanu-Cocoa (Dec 22)

See below for more info. Much more coming in January!


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’s Report on Kenissa: Communities of Meaning Network National Cross-Training Event

This week I had the honour and privilege of attending, on behalf of Montreal Open Shul, the Kenissa: Communities of Meaning Network’s National Cross-Training event in Maryland. The Kenissa Network, spearheaded by Rabbi Sid Schwartz, connects individuals who are leading contemporary efforts to re-define Jewish life and community so that we can learn from each other and be supported in our efforts to create communities of meaning. Kenissa helps organizations build capacity and supports a network to help these emerging communities of meaning thrive.

About 50 participants came from all over North America, representing traditional synagogues; havurot; entrepreneurial Jewish start-ups; Jewish music, arts and culture organizations; and so much more. Four core tracks were offered during the event: New Spiritual Communities (which I attended), Boomer Engagement, Jewish Learning and Spiritual Practice, and Jewish Arts and Culture. Much of the time during the gathering was spent in our individual core tracks, but there were plentiful opportunities to connect with others in “cross-pollination” sessions, at meals and during breaks.

Goals of the Cross-Training Retreat were for participants to support peer-to-peer learning and open doors to professional collaborations with others; to gain skills and tools to support our leadership and the sustainability of our organizations; and to gain inspiration, ideas and energy for our work.

In my group, New Spiritual Communities, about twelve of us, including Rabbi Sid who was in our group, worked hard to share, support, learn with and from, and identify key challenges to bring back to our home communities. I still need to process my deeper learnings, since I just returned on Tuesday, but for now, here are the key takeaways (mostly questions) that I want to share with you:

* When evaluating, how can we make depth as important an element to be evaluated as quantity? When is depth a better measure of success than numbers?

* How well do we do hospitality (radical hospitality = hachnasat orchim) in our community?

At our events? Rabbi Sid referred us to the Reform movement’s new initiative, Audacious Hospitality and related resources available here:

* What are our expectations of our participants? Is “showing up” enough?

* Fundraising: are we raising for the future or just raising enough for today?How much of ourselves are we just giving away? In which ways are we teaching people to give (or not to give) to our community?

* Sometimes it’s better to focus on doing a couple of things excellently rather than doing a wide range of things in a mediocre way. Being crystal clear about our gifts means we can say NO when we need to.

The Cross-Training Event is now over, but a new season is dawning for Montreal Open Shul. We have been privileged to received a substantial NOVA grant from the Jewish Community Foundation which will enable us to move forward with a strategic planning process over the next six months at least. We are in the process of engaging a consultant who will work with us on this initiative. Many of you who have participated in a MOS event will be invited to be part of the consultation over the next few months – so watch for your invitation. Our goal is to become sustainable - to grow into an organization that is responsive to the growing spiritual and creative needs of our Montreal Jewish community. Stay tuned – great things keep on happening at MOS!

* “Kenissa” is the Hebrew word for “portal” or “entranceway”

* Find out more about Kenissa here:

* Read more about Rabbi Sid Schwartz here:

Cantor Heather shares some giving season tips:

For many folks this is a season of gift giving [see also this week's parasha where Yaakov sends gifts to Esav], so here's a tip: Some of the most appreciated and environmentally friendly gifts are experiences. Consider giving tickets to a show, a gift certificate for lessons, or contributing tzedakah in a recipient's honor. Maybe even a donation to MOS?;) Which reminds me -- as we round out the fiscal year, keep in mind that charitable contributions to MOS can be made through Aleph Canada and a tax receipt will be issued. Isn't that cool? Click on the link below and use the drop-down menu on the form to indicate that your donation is going to Montreal Open Shul.

Cantor Heather shares some klez:

Klez-lovers who think the genre deserves more glory should check out this click of KlezKanada's own Michael Winograd kicking off Vulfpeck's megaconcert at Madison Square Garden:

Our friend, Steven Winkleman (Cantor Heather's husband) made it to the front page of the Montreal Gazette for some important environmental research on driving and Montreal's urban sprawl:

For his blog post:

For the new article:

Yiyasher kochacha / Kudos to Steve!

Rabbi Schachar shares a disturbing quote from area residents of Jersey City, New Jersey, in the aftermath of the tragic shooting there this week:

“We never had a shooting like this until they came [ie: the Jews].”

Unfortunately some of the residents blamed the victims. On behalf of MOS, we express our condolences to and solidarity with the Jewish community in Jersey City.

Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --

Returning in January 2020 @ the Sylvan Adams YM-YWHA 5400 Westbury Avenue

Bonus - Cantor Heather shares:

Looking for ways to amp up your Jewish spirituality in the new year? In addition to great classes from our MOS clergy coming your way check out some of these great online and retreat learning opportunities:

Hadar’s Rising Song Intensive, Dec. 22-25:

Awakening the Divine: A Pardes and Or HaLev Jewish Spirituality Retreat Dec. 31, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020: