Writings from the Rabbis

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...
Teshuvah: Women as Shelihot Tzibbur
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Nov 23rd 2017
Question Is it permissible for Jewish women who have reached the age of mitzvot to serve as prayer leaders for Shaẖarit, Minhah, Ma’ariv, Musaf and Neilah at Beth Tzedec Congregation? Background During my tenure as Senior Rabbi, I have permitted and encouraged women to participate in many public ritual activities,  performative mitzvot that were previously limited...
After the Hurricane ~ Today's Prayer at Beth Tzedec
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 3rd 2017
After the Hurricane"El Elohey Ha'ruhot ~ God of wind and spirit" (Numbers 16) ~ we turn to you at this time of devastation.We think of words recited during the Days of Awe, "Who shall live and who shall die, Who at the measure of days and who before. Who by fire and who by water.""The floods have been raised up, the floods have raised their voice, the floods have raised the pounding waves."...
Words & Deeds (MacLean's August 18/17)
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Aug 18th 2017
Words and deeds: A rabbi watches the events in Charlottesville Opinion: Baruch Frydman-Kohl on being shaken by modern antisemitism and hatred—and how to stand up to it August 18, 2017 Baruch Frydman-Kohl is Anne and Max Tanenbaum Senior Rabbi of Beth Tzedec Congregation in Toronto and the vice-chair of the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus. He holds American and Canadian...
Notes for Tishah B'Av
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Jul 27th 2017
On this solemn and yet ultimately hopeful occasion—Monday night, July 31—we gather under dim lighting and low seating like mourners. Ma’ariv and the chanting of Eikhah, the Book of Lamentations, create a mood of reflection and sadness. During morning services on Tuesday, August 1, the Torah and Haftarah readings as well as kinot (poems emphasizing the destruction of the...
Rabbi2Rabbi: an email dialogue between Rabbi Adam Cutler and Rabbi Adam Scheier (March 2017)
By: Rabbi Adam Cutler
May 25th 2017
Rabbi2RabbiEpisode 30 - March 2017 Dear Rav Adam, An Anglican priest was recently complaining to me that while his older parishioners can be counted on for regular donations to the church's general fund, younger Christians are more attracted to occasional targeted projects. Anecdotally, I told him, we see the same in the Jewish community. Research indicates that Millennials, while...