What Does “Archisynagogos” Mean? Originally Published August 23-24, 2019.

Some readers might have caught this word back on February 1, 2019, when it appeared in this column in its Latin form.  Back in the day, the far-back day in the first century of the Common Era, the person in charge of the synagogue, known in Hebrew as the rosh hakeneset – ראש הכנסת, was Read More…

What Is the Night of the Murdered Soviet Jewish Poets? Originally Published August 16-17, 2019.

Last Monday, August 12th, was the anniversary of the murder in 1952 of imprisoned Jewish poets.  They had been kept for two months for regular beatings and an intensive trial in the Lubyanka Prison in Moscow.  It was only during the Save Soviet Jewry movement that information began to appear.  The New York Times in Read More…

What Is Shabbat Hazon? Originally Published August 9-10, 2019.

You will hear the word “hazon” at the very beginning of this Shabbat’s haftarah.  Sometimes referred to as the Sabbath of Vision, the word “hazon” means “the prophesying,” referring to the foretellings of Isaiah son of Amoz, and it follows the line of the haftarot for these weeks – the people have not paid attention, Read More…

Who Was Raoul Wallenberg? Originally Published August 2-3, 2019.

Sunday, August 4th, is Raoul Wallenberg Day.  Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg was a Swedish architect, businessman, and diplomat.  Born on August 4, 1912, in Lidingö, Sweden, we remember and honor him for saving tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary toward the end of World War II. Raoul Wallenberg was the grandson of Gustav Wallenberg Read More…

Who Makes the Hebrew Calendar, Then? Originally Published July 26-27, 2019.

Last week we talked a bit about the rules that govern the creation of the Hebrew calendar, and someone asked who makes the calendar.  The answer is “We do!” As we mentioned, there are rules that were already being followed and were codified in the sixteenth century in the Shulhan Arukh (Orakh Ḥayyim 428), including Read More…

Why Are The Israelis Reading a Different Parashah This Week? Originally Published July 19-20, 2019.

This week we are reading Parashat Balak, but our friends and relatives in Israel are reading Pineḥas.  What gives? Well!  It was very sharp of you to catch that difference!  It has to do with the celebrations of the various festivals.  When a festival falls on Shabbat, we read the Torah portion associated with that Read More…

Who Is Rob Menes? And Why Are We Saying Goodbye? Originally Published July 12-13, 2019.

Rob Menes, a man of many titles, began as the Executive Director of Congregation Beth Shalom on the same day Rabbi Seth Adelson began here.  Both are also hazzanim (they knew each other in cantorial school), both are also engineers, and both graduated from Cornell.  As Rob heads back to Vancouver after four years at Beth Shalom, Read More…

Who/What Is a Sheliah Tzibbur? Originally Published July 3, 2019.

Deriving from the word for “sending” or “messenger,” and the word for “community,” the sheliah tzibbur is the person who leads the congregation (the tzibbur) in prayers.  Sometimes the sheliah tzibbur is considered to be fulfilling obligations on behalf of the congregation. The Shulhan Arukh states that the person must be “appropriate,” which has been Read More…

Who Is Mimi Maizlech, and What Does She Say as We Bid Farewell? Originally Published June 28-29, 2019.

Mimi Maizlech has been gracing our reception desk for the past year, piloting at the helm of our ship on the hill, floating through the sea of newcomers in to the building, tactfully tacking against those who were reluctant to be screened on entering, and firmly steering us into the future of warm welcome and Read More…

Who Was Billy Wilder? Originally Published June 21-22, 2019.

Born Samuel Wilder on June 22, 1906, in Sucha, Galicia, Austria-Hungary, which is now Sucha Beskidzka, Malopolskie, Poland, Billy Wilder would go on to become a world-renowned filmmaker, director, screenwriter, producer, artist, and journalist.  His parents ran a cafe in Sucha’s train station.  His mother, grandmother, and stepfather would die in the Holocaust.  His brother Read More…