Gratitude and Hesed: A Message from the Senior Rabbi
May 1st 2020

Dear Friends,

As always, we hope that you are healthy, safe and managing the multitude of emotions that crises such as these inevitably produce. We are here for each other and are continuing to reach out to our community to check in, connect and care. Please contact us if there is something we can do to make this moment a little bit easier for you.

BT All Access continues to be a powerful platform by which we create community, even while physically distant.

  • Our annual Kerzner Lecture with Professor Stephen Berk welcomed nearly 1000 participants from our five GTA synagogue partners and from around the world! If you missed the lecture live, you can still watch the recording here.
  • The Centre for Spiritual Well-Being Jewish Meditation with Rabbi Fryer Bodzin is engaging hundreds of participants twice a week - feel free to join her again this Sunday morning!
  • This past Monday, Beth Tzedec member and UJA President and CEO Adam Minsky joined us for Conversations over Coffee, along with 750 participants. We had an important discussion about how our community is assisting vulnerable people and preparing for a great shift in need and participation in Jewish Toronto. The recording is available now on YouTube.
  • Our congregational school has quickly and creatively reinvented itself online, which you can read about here.
  • Our Youth and Family team has transitioned some of our most popular programs online, such as our weekly Pre-Shabbat Music Class, while introducing new, engaging programs for kids of all ages, such as BTKef.
We know from mental health experts that expressions of gratitude are an important element of resiliency. That’s why we are so excited about Rabbi Fryer Bodzin's weekly Gratitude Circle, which gives us the opportunity to reconnect with feelings of appreciation, and Yacov Fruchter’s Omer Hesed Chart, which offers daily suggestions for acts of kindness.

That’s another important element of resiliency; acts of profound kindness. We see them everywhere — in our nearly 100 volunteers reaching out to members, in neighbours grocery shopping for one another and in gifts of tzedakah.

Just yesterday, we celebrated the Bat Mitzvah of Erica Mandell. It was lovely, but what made it especially so was the thoughtfulness with which her parents, Lawrence and Elana, created community. One of the hardest parts of this reality is our inability to share in a seudah, the celebratory meal, following a simhah. Well, the Mandells responded to this challenge by sending breakfast to each participant’s home! Following the ceremony we each sat down, in our homes, and shared a sacred meal. And as if that was not enough, Lawrence and Elana also made a gift to Mazon Canada to honour each person who joined their celebration.

Mazal tov Erica! And thank you Lawrence and Elana, for modeling for us gratitude, creative community and hesed. You're helping to create a culture of resiliency and shlaymoot, well-being, in our Beth Tzedec community.

Shabbat Shalom,

Reb Steve
Senior Rabbi