by Martin Bankey
(EJNews) – As Chanukah approached this year, we moved into holiday mode at Edmonton’s Beth Tzedek. Being a smaller congregation, we are able to host many of our social events at members’ homes. This year it was Cheryl & Wayne Shur’s turn; so the Shur residence became “chag” central for Beth Tzedek’s celebration of Chanukah. The women usually plan out the evening, and the guys have learned to stay out of their way. These events typically take on a “pot-luck” theme wherein each member brings a different dish. They touch base with a designated coordinator so that we don’t end up with eight platters of “sufganiot” (not that I would complain).
Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, is always a joyous Jewish holiday that commemorates the celebration of the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. It also commemorates the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days in the temple.
Our members gathered together on Saturday night, December 12th, which was the seventh night of Chanukah. We started with a Havdallah service followed by the lighting of the Chanukiah candles, followed by the singing of several songs including “Maoz Tzur”, and finally followed by the food (my favourite part of the evening).
A tradition that we at Beth Tzedek have incorporated into Chanukah festivities over the past many years is the auctioning of gifts. Every member brings a merrily wrapped parcel which with the help of our resident auctioneer (this year it was Wayne Shur) is bid upon by the other members. We raise a fair amount of “Chanukah gelt” that in turn was targeted to a worthy cause. This year it went to Magen David Adom. The evening flew by, and before long expressions of “chag sameach” were combined with “Did you see where I left my coat?” Handshakes and hugs are exchanged, somebody will forget to take home a dish or platter that they brought and our congregation will have, once again, enjoyed coming together for another Jewish holiday and celebration.
The Beth Tzedek Congregation, one of Edmonton’s smaller shuls, seeks to encourage participation and create a sense of belonging for its Jewish membership. The congregation is committed to meeting the religious needs of its members within the framework of an egalitarian, Conservative liturgy. It endeavors to create an atmosphere that encourages both male and female congregants, whether new or longstanding, to participate in all facets of the service. In keeping with the spirit and teachings of Judaism, Beth Tzedek recognizes its responsibility to the greater Jewish community and is committed to holding meaningful educational events as well as cooperating with the wider population in any activity that contributes to “Tikkun Olam”.
We hold Shabbat Services every Saturday morning, beginning around 10 am and ending shortly after noon in the chapel room of Talmud Torah. We do not have a rabbi but we do have our cantor Jack Goldberg who not only leads our services on the High Holidays but also regularly attends on Shabbat. Consequently, we are a fully participatory congregation. Our members lead all facets of the Shabbat service. Services are typically followed by a delicious kiddush, also provided by members of the congregation in rotation.
The Beth Tzedek Congregation has always opened its doors to all members of the Edmonton Jewish community as well as the greater regional area. We encourage interested visitors to attend our Shabbat services as well as our holiday-related functions and educational events. Since we employ no full-time professional staff, our membership fees/annual dues are very modest. Students studying away from home are most welcome to attend. More information about Beth Tzedek can be obtained by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (780) 486-0172.
Thoroughly egalitarian, using familiar liturgies, we invite you and your family to join us for Shabbat and other major festival services. Chant your Bar or Bat Mitzvah Haftarah again, listen to a dvar Torah, observe a Yortzheit, or just simply observe. Join us for a “kiddush and kibbutz” following the service. Services are held in the Chapel Room at Talmud Torah, 6320 –172 Street.
On behalf of all of us at the Beth Tzedek Congregation we hope the entire Jewish community enjoyed a happy and healthy Chanukah. Wishing you a belated “Chag Sameach”!