Writings from the Rabbis

An Important Message from Rabbi Steven Wernick
By: Rabbi Steve Wernick
Mar 13th 2020
Dear Friends,These are indeed extraordinary times. We are witnessing a massive reorganization of our daily lives. All of us are impacted by COVID-19 and it seems that we'll continue to be impacted for some time to come. A new normal is emerging. As it does, we have some adjusting to do.One of the most important preventative measures is social distancing — avoiding large crowds and...
Dispatch from Jerusalem: Pilgrimage—People in Motion
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Mar 5th 2020
Although many people in Israel and the United States have been focused on political elections, I am still reflecting on the interfaith coalition that was forged during the ten day study mission to Israel and Palestine, Sharing Perspectives/ Path of Abraham, which I co-led for the fourth time. As an introduction to our program, Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton of Toronto, Imam Ibrahim Mogra of...
Benediction on International Holocaust Remembrance Day
By: Rabbi Steve Wernick
Jan 27th 2020
Rabbi Steve Wernick presented this benediction at a reception on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, hosted at Toronto City Hall.I would like to take a moment to begin by being mindful of Vera’s testimony. She was 19 when she was liberated and tonight we mark 75 years since. Vera, may you and the other survivors merit to live like Moses, our teacher, to 120. Or as Israelis say today,...
Dispatch from Jerusalem: From Casablanca to Jerusalem
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Nov 28th 2019
Heshvan 5780 ~ October-November 2019 Although the month of Heshvan—between the High Holy Days and Hanukkah—has no Jewish festivals, this past period has been full of activity. While I’ve been in Morocco and Jerusalem, Beth Tzedec began its usual busy calendar of programs, officially welcomed Rabbis Wernick and Fryer Bodzin and hosted a unit of Israeli combat veterans with Peace of...
Remarks from the Installation
By: Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin
Nov 13th 2019
When you live in a different city and country from your family of birth, if you are lucky, you find friends who become like family. Rabbi Manes Kogan, his wife Silvia, and their children Daniela, Ilan and Abby were those people. For ten years we shared Rosh Hashanah meals and Pesah seders, no reason Shabbat dinners, and long summer Shabbat afternoons.  The Kogans were there for us...
Dispatch from Jerusalem: Excitement and Activity in Israel
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 19th 2019
Elul 5779 The summer heat of Israel was matched by the political rhetoric of a down and dirty election campaign. The election this week will not turn on security (there is general agreement by the leading parties) or economics (very little attention has been paid to income inequality). It will be determined by personality (is Netanyahu still “in a league of his own”?), as well as...
Dispatch from Jerusalem: A Mournful Tishah B'Av in Israel
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Aug 15th 2019
Tishah B'Av in Israel is always memorable. History and contemporary life often collide. Years ago, after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, I was part of a group that read Eikhah, the scroll of Lamentations, at his grave. During the 2005 summer of withdrawal from Gaza, the sense of internal Jewish conflict, often a theme on 9 Av, was accentuated. A number of years ago, when the Masorti...
The Imahot (Matriarchs) in the Amidah
By: Rabbi Steve Wernick
Jun 17th 2019
Dear Friends, The Amidah (literally “The Standing”) is the central prayer of Jewish worship. It contains three main introductory sections. The first is known as Avot, or ancestors. It establishes our personal relationship with God in history, traditionally through the lineage of the patriarchs.  The second section is known as Gevurot, or might. It calls upon God as...
Yom Hazikaron 5779 ~ 08 May 2019
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
May 9th 2019
My words of welcome to begin the Yom Hazikaron ceremony of the Consulate of the State of Israel tonight at Beth Tzedec. יום הזכרון תשע״ט ~~ Yom Hazikaron 5779 On behalf of our President, Sheldon Rotman, our Board of Directors, our spiritual and educational team, all our staff and our members, welcome to Beth Tzedec. We are honoured to again host this Yom Hazikaron...
A Passover Message — 18 April 2019 ~ 13 Nisan 5779
By: Rabbi Steve Wernick
Apr 18th 2019
The central ritual of Passover is the Hagaddah, the telling of our Master Story; how slaves became free people and how a band of disparate tribes became a people. Myjewishlearning.com explains that there are three essential elements of the seder’s retelling of the Exodus: “the family, the individual, and the nation. As a home event involving the full family as well as guests, the seder...
Context, Conflict, Cooperation: Interfaith Relations—Past, Present and Future.
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Jul 9th 2018
Panel Presentation for Neighbourhood Interfaith Group9 May 2018 ~ 24 Iyar 5778 I am delighted to speak on this panel with Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton and Imam Yosef Badat, and thank the Neighbourhood Interfaith Group for organizing this important event this year, continuing a process initiated over third years ago. Ancient/Medieval Relations Each year on 9 Av, I fast and join other Jews at...
Remarks from the Memorial and Solidarity Vigil ~ 29 April 2018
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 30th 2018
#TorontoStrong Vigil at Mel Lastman Square The van was 20 feet in lengthand the violence extended 2.1 kilometres,with ten dead and sixteen wounded.And around these, in a larger circleof pain and time, multiple hospitals and many graveyards. But the oneburied in her home town,enlarges the circle,and those mourning her deathat the shores of a country far across the seaincludes the entire...
Memory and Blessing: Opening Remarks ~ Israel Memorial Day Program ~ 17 April 2018 / 3 Iyar 5778
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 19th 2018
On this evening of memory,  on behalf of the leadership of Beth Tzedec, we welcome bereaved families and the entire Toronto community with the hope that the memories of those who have fallen to secure and sustain the State of Israel will be recalled with dignity and honour, respect and love. Many members of our city have seen children and other family members serve in the Israel...
Update on the "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anti-Semitism" Panel
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Mar 9th 2018
This past week, I joined Rabbi Yael Splansky and Rabbi Chaim Strauchler at Shaarei Shomayim for a rabbinic conversation on the new anti-Semitism. This was the second in a series of public discussions (our first conversation was on Israel). CJN Editor Yoni Goldstein again did a great job moderating our discussion. There was  an excellent and diverse turnout.We shared classic rabbinic texts...
Committee on Jewish Law and Standards
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Nov 29th 2017
Rabbi Frydman-Kohl and Norman Kahn are members of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) of the Rabbinical Assembly. Norman Kahn, as a lay leader, is a non-voting member, contributing ideas and comments about the various teshuvot (responsa) presented. The CJLS met November 14 and 15 at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. During the meeting, the Committee approved three...