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  1. New D.A.N.I CHALLAH POP UP at the Schwartz/Reisman Centre

    Challah bun

    D.A.N.I Students

    New D.A.N.I CHALLAH POP UP at the Schwartz/Reisman Centre

    When young adults with disabilities finish high school at the age of 21, they have few options. D.A.N.I helps them transition to adulthood in a warm, safe and stimulating environment. We practice skills that have been learned while teaching new practical ones for daily life and emphasize vocational skills for employment opportunities.

    Our adults want the same lives as their peers or siblings. However, the route may be modified or different. D.A.N.I assists the adults in creating their own goals and vision of their lives while becoming self-advocates.

    D.A.N.I relies upon fees for service and other fundraisers and an annual gala. Two years ago, D.A.N.I started a pop-up café selling various foods to local offices and public spaces. This way, these adults can practice their kitchen, organizational, social and financial skills while creating community connections.

    Starting on Friday, September 15th, D.A.N.I CHALLAH POP UP will be at the Atrium at the Schwartz Reisman Centre. The pop up will sell delicious ( in taste and meaning!) home made, parev, COR challah buns.

    Please come and meet the participants on Friday, September 15th. Take home some delicious buns as well as the knowledge that your actions made a difference.

    Challah Bun: $0.50 each
    Large Challah: $3.50

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  2. Blessing for a Solar Eclipse

    Solar Eclipse

    Blessing for a Solar Eclipse
    By the Mandel Centre for Jewish Education

    If you’ve been following any news source (right, left,” fake,” or otherwise) you surely know there is a total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21, 2017. An appropriate Jewish question to ask is which bracha, or blessing should one recite? (There is an entire set of brachot, or blessings for witnessing a natural phenomenon (e.g., thunder, lightning, a beautiful tree, a rainbow, an ocean, etc.). It turns out it’s not that simple.

    According to the Babylonian Talmud, a solar eclipse is a bad omen for the world and a lunar eclipse is a bad omen for the Jewish people (Sukkot 29a).   

    "Our Rabbis taught, When the sun is in eclipse, it is a bad omen for the whole world… when the moon is in eclipse, it is a bad omen for Israel, since Israel reckons by the moon and idolaters by the sun."

    Mostly, this would seem to be based on a variety of verses from the Tanach, or Jewish Bible, describing the darkening of the sun as part of God’s punishment. For example:

    Isaiah 13:10
    "The stars and constellations of heaven/Shall not give off their light/The sun shall be dark when it rises/And the moon shall diffuse its glow."

    Ezekiel  32:7
    "When you are snuffed out/I will cover the sky/And darken its stars/I will cover the sun with clouds/And the moon shall not give its light. " 

    Joel  2:10
    "Before them the earth trembles/Heaven shakes/Sun and moon are darkened/And stars withdraw their brightness." 

    Later, the same Talmud passage interprets a solar eclipse as a warning; depending on the eclipse’s features, it warns of different things.

    "If it is in eclipse in the east, it is a bad omen for those ho dwell in the east; if in the west, it is a bad omen for those who dwell in the west; if in the midst of heaven it is bad omen for the whole world. If its face is red as blood, [it is a sign that] the sword is coming to the world; if it is like sack‐cloth, the arrows of famine are coming to the world; if it resembles both, the sword and the arrows of famine are coming to the world. If the eclipse is at sunset calamity will tarry in its coming; if at dawn, it hastens on its way: but some say the order is to be reversed."

    This is why Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the last Lubavitcher Rebbe (1902-1994) explained the eclipse as warning offers, “…Opportunities for increasing prayer and introspection – as opposed to prompting joyous blessings, [and so] we do not recite a blessing when witnessing one.”

    Still, this seems to run counter to the general approach of the Jewish system of bracha, which is designed to alert people to attend to the world with gratitude, even when we witness something sad (e.g., Baruch Dayan Emet, Blessed is the True Judge, recited upon hearing of a death or passing a destroyed synagogue). It’s hard to argue why a comet gets a bracha and an eclipse doesn’t; they are both natural wonders and part of God’s creation. This attitude also contradicts Jewish thought’s mandate to recite brachot as often as possible (a target of 100 brachot daily is given) during our waking hours  (Babylonian Talmud Menachot 43b).

    If you consider yourself bound by halacha, or Jewish law, it’s a bit of a sticky issue, for reciting an “unauthorized” bracha is considered a waste and is to be avoided. If you are not bound by halacha, though, this is an opportunity for liturgical creativity.  Since there is no “official” bracha for witnessing an eclipse, you have some options:

    1.Apply an existing bracha which seem appropriate to you (each bracha begins with the same formula):
    Apply an existing bracha which seem appropriate to you

    2. Create a new bracha. Again, you have some options:
    a. Use the historical formula (see above) and simply create a new ending.  It’s OK if the “stem” is in Hebrew and the “tagline” is in English; whomever you want to hear this bracha will
    b. Use your own words to create your own “stem.”  Historically, the blessing formula requires words that do four things:

    1. Name God (Adonai, Elohim, Source of Strength, Rock of Israel,  Compassionate One, OMG!…there are lots of options!) 
    2. Reference the concept of blessing (baruch, blessed, the gift, the benefit of, etc.) 
    3. God’s Sovereignty (ruler, creator, maker, etc.) 
    4. Time (forever, till the end of time, eternal, unending, etc.) understand it.

    (Note: this is how Jews have created blessings through history.  If you do not believe in God, figure out what an appropriate substitute would be. Just because it doesn’t fit the historical/Jewish legal bracha formula doesn’t mean it’s not a bracha! With brachot, intention matters.)

    Beyond brachot, it is also appropriate to recite verses from Psalms, such as:

    Beyond brachot, it is also appropriate to recite verses from Psalms, such as:

    Finally, remember the eclipse, like most phenomena (natural or otherwise), has a beginning, middle, and end. Each presents differently (dimming light, darkenss, growing light). It is appropriate to recognize each aspect of the eclipse separately, even as we reflect on the gestalt of the experience.

    Mandel Center for Jewish Education logo

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  3. We are excited to release the online version of our Fall/Winter Program Schedule!

    Happiness Happens here

    We are excited to release the online version of our Fall/Winter Program Schedule!

    Click Here to view Fall/Winter Program Schedule.

    Please download the guide and browse through it to find all of the new and exciting programs being offered this Spring and Summer.

    Have you created your new website account yet? Get setup today. It's quick and easy!
    In order to take advantage of member value pricing, you will need to create an account on our new website and connect your membership information. We've made it easy to do and you can watch this video walk-through to see the exact process. (Once you've created your account, you never need to do it again and program registration will be a breeze!).

    Click Here to view a helpful video on creating an account and linking your membership.

    How can I register for programs online?
    Registering for new programs is better, faster and easier than ever before! You can register from your desktop computer, tablet or phone with just a few clicks.

    Click Here to view a helpful video on registering for programs.

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  4. #MyJCCStory North Bay girl using The Maccabi Games to connect with Jewish identity


    North Bay girl using The Maccabi Games to connect with Jewish identity

    Mia Playing soccerWhen most girls look back on their bat mitzvah celebrations they will remember their party with friends or a portion of learning they nailed in a speech or in front of the Torah.

    For Mia Cochran from North Bay, however, deciding what to do to mark her Bat Mitzvah wasn’t as easy. Her two older brothers had bar mitzvahs – one in Israel and one in the local North Bay synagogue. But, Mia wasn’t sure either of those options was right for her.

    While her brothers played football in high school, she is considered the jock of the family. So, when the opportunity came along to participate in the JCC Maccabi Games, she knew this was it – THIS was going to be the way she marked her Bat Mitzvah and formal connection to the Jewish community. At 15 years old, Mia will be going to the JCC Maccabi Games in Florida as part of the girls soccer team Toronto delegation. She will be traveling with a new network of Jewish teammates and staying with a local Jewish family in Florida. Her parents, Irit and Rob, will be flying down to cheer her on.

    Mia’s ambitions including playing soccer in university and is hoping her talents will be noticed by members of the sporting community at the Games. 

    What they will surely see is a midfield and defense player that is a fast runner, patient, driven and skilled at reading the game. They will also notice her light-heartedness and joy of playing, often with a huge smile across her face.

    Mia has been playing soccer for as long as her father can remember. Currently, she is playing with the North Bay Rep team and she is part of the Northern Soccer Academy (Centre of Excellence). This year, she took the ref course and currently is a referee for North Bay Women’s Soccer and Youth Soccer leagues.

    There is no doubt she is exceptional and will be noticed for her sports prowess and, no less, for her unique way of building her Jewish identity.

    Mazal tov Mia Cochran on this amazing milestone! May you continue to go from strength to strength.

    Learn more about JCC Maccabi Games

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