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Shaarey Zedek virtual community seder attracts close to 1,000 viewers

Screenshot of First Shaarey Zedek
seder, held March 27
(l-r): Dr. Ashira Meyers Mass, Ronen Mass
Rabbi Anibal Mass, Tzivie Meyers

By MYRON LOVE The Shaarey Zedek congregation’s second annual Covid-necessitated virtual community Pesach seder on Sunday, March, 27th, has attracted nearly 1,000 viewers thus far – counting those who signed on in real time and those who watched later.
“Our numbers are well up from last year,” reports Rabbi Anibal Mass, who hosted the seder. “So far, we have had 631 views on Youtube and another 300 on Facebook.”

He adds that there were viewers from across Canada and even some in the United States.
Last year, because of the first Covid-inspired lockdown, Mass held the seder out of his own home. This year, he, his wife, Ashira, son, Ronen, and mother-in-law, Tzivie Meyers, repaired to the synagogue to have the seder.
“We had three cameras which I was controlling along with the audio and computer equipment,” Mass notes. “Ours was an interactive seder that allowed viewers to contact us with questions.”
The Mass family seder was composed of the traditional three parts with the cameras rolling for the first and third segments. While the family ate the seder meal, the cameras stayed focused on the Oren Kadish.
Mass points out that the Shaarey Zedek was well prepared for the Covid lockdowns in that the congregation had been livestreaming its services for a number of years already. That includes Bnai Mitzvot and Shabbat and daily services.
“We have 30 to 40 congregation members participating online for our daily services, an equal number taking part in our Torah study classes (which Mass leads on Thursdays at noon and his co-rabbi, Matthew Leibl, leads on Tuesdays at noon), and an average 130 with us online for Shabbat services,” he reports.
That number (for Shabbat) increases for Bnai Mitzvot, he adds. The congregation has resumed Bnai Mitzvot in person since the restrictions were loosened in February. The number of people allowed to attend Bnai Mitzvot in person currently is 45 – with others able to follow online.
He notes that one bar mitzvah was held on Shabbat Hagadol – the Shabbat before Pesach and a second on Rosh Chodesh Nisan and several more have been scheduled for the coming weeks.
Interested readers can follow Rabbi Mass on:
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Shaarey Zedek renovation update

Shaarey Zedek renovations are now well underway. Here’s a video posted by Shaarey Zedek about the renovations:

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Winnipeg Council of Rabbis criticizes suggestion that Simkin Centre ought to offer non-kosher meals – as well as kosher meals

Rabbi Yosef Benarroch

We received the following letter from the Winnipeg Council of Rabbis in response to the suggestion that the Simkin Centre ought to offer non-kosher meals (Read story at🙂

Dear Bernie
We read your opinion piece on kashrut at the Simkin Centre with a certain amount of shock, as you advocated that the Simkin Centre not be a kosher facility. After a long discussion we had with food services at Simkin, it is clear that your statements about the quality of food are simply wrong. Residents at Simkin receive meals that are on par with all other similar facilities in Manitoba. The menu includes chicken both dark and white, meats including roast beef, ground meat, and much more. The only item not offered at Simkin that is offered at other similar homes is pork, which we hope you are not advocating for. 

In addition, every major Jewish organization in Winnipeg has a Kashrut policy in place. The reason for this is simple. Kashrut is a Jewish value — and for many, a core Jewish value —  and it is the responsibility of Jewish organizations to uphold Jewish values. How odd is it that Winnipeg’s “Jewish” newspaper would be advocating for treif food, and in your words  will “never give up the fight” to make sure it happens. A Jewish newspaper should be advocating for Jewish values, period. 

Finally, Kashrut allows the Simkin Centre to be an inclusive Jewish institution that accommodates the needs of the entire Jewish community. There are many residents and families that consider kashrut as an integral element in how they express their Judaism. They would have no other place to send their loved ones if the Simkin Centre was not Kosher.

The vast majority of Jews in Winnipeg want to see the Simkin Centre continue to be Kosher, and we hope you will either reconsider your position or not press a minority position onto the majority. We, as the rabbis of the Winnipeg Council of Rabbis, all endorse and fully support this position.

Winnipeg Council of Rabbis

  • Rabbi Yosef Benarroch, Adas Yeshurun Herzlia
  • Rabbi Allan Finkel, Temple Shalom
  • Rabbi Matthew Leibl, Simkin Center
  • Rabbi Anibal Mass, Shaarey Tzedek
  • Rabbi Kliel Rose, Eitz Chayim

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Bernie Bellan asks: If kashrut is so intrinsic to Jewish organizations in Winnipeg, why was the Rady JCC allowed to make its annual sports dinner non-kosher?

Bernie Bellan

Here’s a question for the Council of Rabbis – whose letter tearing a strip off me for daring to question the necessity of serving fully kosher meals to every resident of the Simkin Centre appears on this website: Have you ever considered the total hypocrisy inherent in your insisting that kashrut is vital to the Simkin Centre, while the Rady JCC some years ago abandoned the requisite that its annual sports dinner be kosher?
The sports dinner asks anyone attending whether they’d like a kosher meal (which is what I suggested the Simkin Centre could also do) and, from what I’ve been told, the number of individuals who respond in the affirmative can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
I don’t recall the council of rabbis kicking up a huge fuss over that change. But, to be consistent guys, (and by the way, only one of the five rabbis on that council is actually a subscriber to The Jewish Post, butI’m glad you’re all such vociferous readers), I expect you to demand that the Rady JCC sports dinner revert to being fully kosher.
After all, as Rabbi Benarroch so succinctly puts it in his letter: “Kashrut is a Jewish value — and for many, a core Jewish value —  and it is the responsibility of Jewish organizations to uphold Jewish values.”
I won’t hold my breath waiting for you to publicly demand that the sports dinner revert to being fully kosher. As I recall, the reason that kashrut was abandoned as a prerequisite for the dinner was because of the cost. So, when Simkin Centre CEO Laurie Cerqueti wrote me in an email,  “I know for this year as of the end of October we are over budget on food by $150,000. We must continue to fund any costs on food from our existing annual budget or through fundraised dollars,” I fully expect the council of rabbis – and anyone else who is adamant that the Simkin Centre remain absolutely kosher to join in a campaign to raise that $150,000 so that Simkin can remain kosher without cutting into other areas of operation. How about it, guys?
My point in advocating for Simkin to modify its kashrut policy was to be as realistic as the people behind the sports dinner were in recognizing that the cost of a full adherence to kashrut can be prohibitively expensive. But, the sports dinner still allows anyone who wants a kosher meal to have one. That’s all that I was advocating for the Simkin Centre. So, tell me rabbis: Where do you draw the line from one Jewish institution to another? Or, does the slippery slope that you’re on also have an off ramp that allows you to abandon principles when it’s expedient to do so?

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