30 March 2021
17 Nisan 5781
וכל המרבה לספר ביציאת מצרים הרי זה משובח
And the more one expounds on and interprets the story
of the Exodus from Mitzrayim, the more elevated it is.
Dear DJC Member,
You’re receiving this letter almost exactly a year since the first lockdown. You may agree, it’s been quite a rollercoaster, with many lows but, yes, a few highs.
Pesach is more than festive seders. It’s a time to renew our inspiration and commitment to work for liberation, to invest our freedom with resonant meaning, and to strengthen community.
Through all the challenges of this year, the DJC has continued to support our community, in new but essential form. True, the structure has been different, but hundreds of friends and family have arrived online to help lead, practice, and participate in the strength, resolve and beauty of prayer, Jewish learning, activism, and celebration at a distance.
Members like you have donated to the DJC because you are aware of the unequal and disproportionate strain on individuals and families in our very own community from this global pandemic. You stayed engaged and demonstrated last fall that you want DJC programs to stay vibrant, even as we keep safe physical distance.
Revenues are still down. Your donation today can make the difference for members who need all our diverse, innovative, and inclusive Jewish programs. Please donate today.
You may have participated in one or many of the Shabbat services led thoughtfully and soulfully by Rabbi Miriam, with songful prayer by Cantor Lisa, and stirring music by Danny Greenspoon. Coming together on these occasions is a powerful reminder that even when this world feels like it is standing still, we can still mark Jewish time as meaningful, sacred, and uplifting.
The DJC board, staff, and committees have continued with enthusiasm and expertise to make improvements that benefit our whole community including virtual social gatherings for children and adults such as the entertaining (and delicious!) Show us your latkes! DJC Chanukah Trivia Night, or the Winter’s Starry Night event where participants displayed their creativity.
You might have received care and comfort from the DJC at a virtual shiva as you grieved the death of a loved one, or support from Rabbi Miriam and the Chesed Caring Committee in times of struggle.
Perhaps you are building personal resilience by participating in Rabbi Miriam’s Filling the Well: Jewish Practice for Challenging Times program or Shabbat morning Jewish Meditation Circles.
In two separate, beautiful, online ceremonies the families and friends of 20 DJC B’nei Mitzvah students gathered from across the globe to celebrate these students, the first to complete this life cycle milestone online at DJC. We were moved and excited and nervous – but they did it, with so much joy and pride.
Because donors like you provided the little bit extra necessary to go on.
Isaac Shore McNab was scheduled to become Bar Mitzvah in the Spring, but his parents, Deborah Shore and Tim McNab, decided to postpone – primarily so that Deb’s parents could join in person. So he waited… until 28 November.
Sadly, Deb’s mom died unexpectedly in September.
It was very hard – and the importance of the DJC became even more clear to them all. Deb found needed support in the B’nei Mitzvah parent group. She shared how Rabbi Miriam and the team rallied around to help them, particularly Alysse, the DJC’s Director of Education, and Mira, his B’nei Mitzvah teacher, with things like helping Isaac with his D’var Teffilah, a teaching about a prayer.
And what a D’var Teffilah it was! Isaac drew on his Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) Project where he spent several months hanging out with Anas, a young Syrian refugee living with a disability.
Anas needed a friend, and their friendship grew through playing road hockey, soccer, and other games. Anas even came to one of Isaac’s weekend hockey practices to cheer him on.
Isaac learned so many things from his year-long Bar Mitzvah studies but because of his friend Anas, he realized, “You can make a connection with anyone and no one should ever feel unloved or left out.”
This learning was applied to his experience of his Bubbie’s death just before his Bar Mitzvah. She had supported him through his studies and so looked forward to this momentous occasion.
His Bubbie had a beautiful collection of scarves. Deborah made one of the most treasured, into a tallit for Isaac. His D’var Teffilah interwove his learnings from his friendship with Anas and his connection to his Bubbie into a teaching about the meaning of the blessing we say as we don the Tallit and he proudly displayed his tallis.
Although not physically or even virtually present, Bubbie was there with him.
In fact, Isaac told us, “I felt like I was wrapped in my Bubbie’s arms the entire time.”
“You don’t realize how important the community is until you really need it. Being a member of the DJC, paying our dues and making donations when we can to support the community even when we don’t need it, is vital – it’s what ensures that the community is there for you when you do.”Deborah Shore
Isaac’s story is just one of the many to be told about our experiences of the DJC over the past year and the support that has been provided to many of us.
The DJC is committed to being a strong community where we show up for one another and are here when needed.
But to continue offering the same level of support, programs, and services, members of the DJC like Isaac and Deb need your help.
The DJC is here working for all of us. We are asking you for your financial support today.
Please give. Give again if you have already. Even stretch a little. Can you give $18 or $36 a month? Maybe $180, $360 or even $1,800 today?
Your donations will be used wisely, and you will receive a charitable tax credit for the full amount – returning almost half of what you give at tax time.
Please donate now at https://djctoronto.com/yourgiftmatters
Your Rabbi, staff, teachers, and volunteers are drawing on their energy reserves to keep the DJC together while we must remain physically apart. Your generosity is needed to make the online space a holy and meaningful one.
As we prepare ourselves for another Pesach during COVID, we let the Jewish rituals we trust guide us as we adapt. We might even feel a new sense of belonging, holiness, safety, support, and even intimacy because of the dedication to make our online DJC community just as personal and just as connected as always.
May the telling and interpretations of our liberation from Mitzrayim this year be a source of resilience, justice, and joy as we move forward, supporting one another.
Be well, stay safe, and Pesach Sameach.
Sarah Neville, Kathy Glazier, Nicki Weiss
Co-chairs, Board of Directors, Danforth Jewish Circle
May your Pesach lift us out to new freedoms.
P.S. You, me, we have all been changed by the COVID pandemic. Even still, DJC is making sure our community is vibrant but safe. DJC is helping make decisions that no other Jewish families have had to consider before. You know online is working because twenty B’nei Mitzvah students matured in front of our eyes last year through the love, preparation, and planning that made these milestones still feel intimate and holy in the virtual space. Please donate now. You are supporting the creativity and flexibility of the DJC community in these uncertain times. Visit https://djctoronto.com/yourgiftmatters
It’s a mitzvah! Thank you.