Shir Libeynu Logo
E-Update April 1, 2014
In This Edition 


1. Upcoming Shir Libeynu Services and Programs

a) This Saturday, April 5, 2014, 10:30 a.m.: Shabbat Morning Service at the MNJCC 

b) Jewish Learning Program - The Truth About Masada: Our Mythic Martyrs Saturday, April 5, 2014, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. at the MNJCC

*NEW* - Informal child care during learning program  

c) Saturday, May 3, 2014, 10:30 a.m.: Shabbat Morning Service at the MNJCC 

d) Contemplative Chanting Services

e) Shabbat Summer Service Schedule

f ) Food and drink in the Chapel

g) Where Sinai Meets Spadina: Downtown Tikkun Leil ShavuotTuesday,

    June 3rd to Wednesday, June 4th 


2. Help Wanted

       a) Kiddush/Kitchen help for our upcoming services


3. Shir Libeynu People and Community

a) Alex Cafarelli - Martial Arts Class

b) Room at the Seder Table


4. Other Items of Interest

a) Yom Hashoah V'Hagvurah Community Commemoration

b)  Passover Groove - Family Program 

c) Bake Your Own Matzah

d) Ontario Human Rights New Policy on Preventing Discrimination Because of Gender Identity and Gender Expression



Our Next Shabbat Morning Service  


April 5, 2014 / 5 Nissan @ 10:30 a.m.

Love Is in the Air
Join us at our April service, when we will kvell together with mothers
"Etty" Alami (Jennifer) and Marilyn Gwartzman (Abbey)
over the upcoming marriage of their children.
We will also celebrate the fifth wedding anniversary  of Chazzan Daniela Gesundheit and Dan Goldman, whose own aufruf we held in 2009. 
We thank Abbey Gwartzman for sponsoring
our April kiddush as a gift to his Shir Libeynu community,
in honour of his and Jennifer Alami's aufruf. 


 Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre

Michael Bernstein Memorial Chapel (3rd floor)

750 Spadina Avenue (@ Bloor)


Shabbat: The Junior Edition


The best part of the Passover Seder is looking for the afikomen. Make sure that special piece of matzah gets hidden in style -- learn about the holiday while making your own afikomen bag with Rebecca (she can answer way more than four questions about Pesach). Our chazzan, Daniela, might even come by to teach you a song.


  A light kiddush lunch will be served afterwards.





*THIS* Saturday, April 5th


The Truth about Masada: Our Mythic Martyrs*

led by Brian Smith


Why is Masada so important that it is the most visited site in Israel, after the Kotel (Western Wall)?

What really happened there and what is the meaning to us today?

What does it mean to be a zealot vs a patriot?


Brian Smith is a member of Shir Libeynu's Board of Directors. Brian's recent visits to Israel have included a tour with the New Israel Fund. This learning session promises to raise questions about a taken-for-granted part of Jewish history.



* Please note that this is a different topic than the one originally announced for April.

Our May topic has yet to be announced. The learning program will not run during this summer but will resume in September, with Finding Your Way Around the Machzor (High Holy Days Prayer Book), led by Aviva Goldberg.

These informal Jewish learning workshops take place after the kiddush, in the chapel, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. You do not need expertise in any of these topics in order to participate. If they are of interest to you, please join us whether or not you make it to the Shabbat service in the morning. 


Please note that absolutely NO food or drink (other than water) is allowed in the Michael Bernstein Memorial Chapel.
*NEW* This Month:
Informal Child Care Available
Have you wanted to take part in our post-kiddush Jewish learning program but been unable to because you have kids in tow?
Your wish has been granted!
This Saturday, Zohar Nameri will entertain children in the kiddush room during the Jewish learning session. An experienced supervisor of a Grade One classroom at school, Zohar will play games with the younger kids just down the hall from the learning session. We hope this informal arrangement will provide a fun time for our youngest congregants while their grown ups squeeze in a little learning and discussion.

Please note that although Zohar has experience looking after kids and has completed a babysitting course, she is 11 years old. Children remain the responsibility of their parents or guardians. 

Other Upcoming Services and Events


Shabbat Morning Service
Saturday, May 3rd @ 10:30 a.m.


Between Pesach and Shavuot, there is the counting of the Omer. Our May service will explore the themes and traditions of those forty days of semi-mourning. The service will include songs, stories and parshat Emor.

This service will be led by our chazzan, Daniela Gesundheit with the assistance of longtime member Eden Nameri.  


A free educational children's program will take place during the service.

A light kiddush lunch will be served immediately afterward.


Contemplative Chanting Services

Where Prayer, Silence and Melodious Soul-Jamming Meet
Saturday, April 19th
Saturday, June 7th
 10:30 a.m. 
(Please note the spring and summer contemplative services are in the morning).
Join us on a joyful journey to "an island in time," as Abraham Joshua Heschel has described Shabbat.  Through music and chanting, with some grounding in silence, we catch our breaths, we pray, and find innovative ways to navigate our way to the pleasures of connecting to the here and now, to Shabbat and to community.
These services are led by Lorne Blumer, with the assistance of fellow Shir Libeynu soul jammers Justine Apple, Helen Bauer, Lorne Gould, Harvey Weisfeld and Penny Winestock.
Light refreshments will be served after the service.
Child care will not be available.


 Shabbat Summer Service Schedule:


Contemplative Chanting Service - Saturday, June 7th, 2014 - 10:30 a.m.

Erev Shabbat Pride Service - Friday, June 20th, 2014 - Time TBA (evening)

Shabbat Morning Service - Saturday, July 5th, 2014 - 10:30 a.m.

Erev Shabbat Service - Friday, August 1st, 2014 - Time TBA (evening)


 Food and Drink in the Chapel

Please note that absolutely NO food or drink (other than water) is allowed in the Michael Bernstein Memorial Chapel, where our services are held. This rule applies not only during services, but also during discussion groups, or any other time the chapel is being used. Shir Libeynu's continued use of this beautiful space depends upon compliance with this rule. 

  All services take place at 

 Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre

Michael Bernstein Memorial Chapel (3rd floor)

750 Spadina Avenue (@ Bloor)




Where Sinai Meets Spadina: Downtown Tikkun Leil Shavuot
Tuesday, June 3rd @ 7:30 p.m. to Wednesday, June 4th @ 6:00 a.m.
Miles Nadal JCC

Congregation Shir Libeynu is proud to be a co-sponsor of this free all-night learning event. The many learning sessions will include presentations by members of the Shir Libeynu community. Whether you drop in for an hour or stay all night, there is plenty to do, see, hear and eat, including  programs for kids and teens. Keep checking here for more information.




Kiddush/Kitchen Helpers


 Saturday, April 5 and May 3

We need Kkddush helpers who can spend an hour before the service (9:30 to 10:30 a.m.) assisting with kiddush preparation and an hour after lunch  (1:00 to 2:00 p.m.) helping to clean up.
This Saturday, we also need some post-kiddush help (1:00 to 3:00 p.m.) getting the MNJCC kitchen ready for a pre-Pesach cleaning. Free fitness passes for those pitching in on this job.
Community service hours available for high school students for kiddush and/or kitchen pre-Pesach clean up.

Please email if you would like to volunteer for the April kiddush and/or clean up or the May kiddush.


Shir Libeynu People 


This section provides a chance for our congregants to get to know more about each other. If you are engaged in a project, have an interest, have experienced a life cycle event or know of a congregant who has, please let us know


We request that submissions be in before the THIRD MONDAY. of the month. Editorial considerations include -- but are not limited to -- length of items, scheduling of listed events, frequency of submissions, and generality of interest.


 Alex Cafarelli 


Alex Cafarelli is a genderqueer femme Jewish Witch from Minneapolis who moved to Toronto in 2011, not long after she married Sharman Potechin.

For the last three years, Alex has been teaching Body Mindfulness workshops on Yom Kippur as part of Shir Libeynu's afternoon activities between services. Alex is now teaching an ongoing weekly Bagua class, which is based on Body Mindfulness, at Eight Branches Healing Arts Centre in Toronto in the Annex. 

Alex has been training in martial arts since 1992. Since 2006, she has studied Gao style Bagua with Maija Soderholm. Previous to her Bagua studies, she trained in Wu Chien Pai, Tai Chi, Hsing Yi, Eskrima, and Vipassana meditation practice. In addition to martial arts and meditation, Alex is a writer, singer and performer. She works seasonally as a gardener, specializing in native plants, pollinators, and edible landscapes.


Ba Gua is a Chinese internal martial art with health, meditation and fighting applications. While Ba Gua builds strength, flexibility and self-defence skills, its emphasis on solo practice and mindfulness makes it a well-suited martial art for people with disabilities, chronic pain, injuries, and other health concerns. 


Eight Branches Healing Arts Centre
358 Dupont St. 
Mondays 6:30 p.m.
Drop-in: $15 per class
Monthly tuition: $45-60

Alex honours the lineage of Bagua practitioners who made it possible for her to study this martial art as a person who is not of Chinese descent. Her intent in teaching is to share the art responsibly, with conscious respect of its history. She welcomes conversation on privilege and accountability.


Room at the Seder Table


"Let all who are hungry come and eat."


There are people in the Shir Libeynu community who have nowhere to go for Pesach seder. If you have room at your table for an extra person or two on Monday, April 14th or Tuesday, April 15th, please let us know by Wednesday, April 9th how many people you can invite and for which date(s). 


If you are in need of a place to go for seder this year, please let us know by Wednesday, April 9th. Please note that although we will do our best to match you up with a host family, it will depend on availability.




 Other Items of Interest


Items listed in this section have been included at the request of Shir Libeynu participants and/or are considered to potentially be of interest to our congregation. Listed items are not necessarily endorsed by Congregation Shir Libeynu or its members. Listings appear at the discretion of the newsletter editor.)  

 Yom Hashoah V'Hagvurah

Community Commemoration 

Sunday, April 27th @ 11:00 a.m.

Joseph & Wolf Lebovic Jewish Community Campus

9600 Bathurst Street


Jews on the Edge - 1944: Between Annilhilation and Liberation

This year's program features an address by Holocaust survivor Leslie Meisels and a performance by violinist Uri Mayer. More information is available at the website of the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre. 


Passover Groove


Sunday April 6th
1:15 to 3:15 p.m.

Groove School of Dance

491 Eglinton Avenue West


Join PJ Library, the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School, and the ROM for an afternoon of Passover crafts, movement and discovery.


Babies, toddlers & kids of all ages welcome! 

Please RSVP at 416-928-3537 or


Bake Your Own Matzah!

 Dufferin Grove Park (875 Dufferin Street)

Enjoy homemade matzah baked in a wood-burning oven. The Dufferin Grove Park Matzah Bake will meet near the rink house at the north end of Dufferin Grove Park. Everyone is welcome and costs are covered by donation.


The Ontario Human Rights Commission

invites you to the launch of their new policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression 
Monday, April 14, 2014
10 a.m. to 12 noon

The 519 Church Street Community Centre, Ballroom
            519 Church Street, Toronto
People who are transgender, or who otherwise don't conform to gender stereotypes, come from all walks of life. Yet, trans people are one of the most disadvantaged groups in society. They routinely experience prejudice, discrimination, harassment, hatred and even violence
The OHRC's new policy promotes understanding and awareness about trans people and their rights.
Join them to learn about how to prevent and deal with discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.  
To attend or for more information, please email to or call Alicia Carr at 416-314-4526 by April 7, 2014.



Shir Libeynu Fund

Proceeds from the fund will go towards ensuring that Shir Libeynu continues to thrive while ensuring access to everyone, regardless of their financial situation.



Click here to donate to the Shir Libeynu Fund (please note that we do not have credit card capability - just PayPal). 


Alternatively, you can make out a cheque to Congregation Shir Libeynu (please write "Shir Libeynu Fund" in the "Memo" or "Re" section on the cheque) and mail it to


Shir Libeynu, 

P.O Box 73509

Toronto, Ontario

M6C 4A7


Please send an email message to
 stating the reason for your donation so we can acknowledge it in the Shabbat handout and on our website. Donations in any amount are welcome and income tax receipts will be issued.















The congregation holds Shabbat services one  Saturday morning of each month, in the Michael Bernstein Chapel, on the 3rd floor of the Miles Nadal JCC, followed by a light Kiddush. A free Shabbat program is offered for children during services. We also offer adult education workshops and programs, the possibility to participate in our choir and chanting events, as well as holiday celebrations and Oneg Shabbat dinners throughout the year.


Congregation Shir Libeynu is unaffiliated, liberal, inclusive and egalitarian. Our participatory services combine tradition and innovation. Shir Libeynu is Hebrew for "song of our hearts," and our services include prayers and music both ancient and modern. Our diverse community is a welcoming one. 









Join Shir Libeynu's 

New Facebook Group   





Join our Facebook group

Need more information? Please contact us at: or at (416) 465-5488.  


Congregation Shir Libeynu 

Our Mailing Address:

P.O Box 73509

Toronto, Ontario, M6C 4A7