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”A Twentieth-Century Passion"

A 90 year old man falls down a flight of stairs in his house, strikes his head forcefully in a wall corner, rushes to the hospital with his head open and gets 22 stiches. Shortly after you go to visit him. How would you expect to find him? 

My expectations probably weren't very different than yours. When I went to the home of our congregant Dr. Peter Gary this week, after his bad fall. Here is what I found: Peter as sharp as ever, as charming as usual and as eloquent as he has always been. If not for the black and blue mark around his eyes and the big bandage on the crown of his head - I wouldn't have been able to tell any difference. We got into a deep and fascinating discussion about Jewish faith and I enjoyed every moment of the lively conversation. Believe it or not, I didn’t hear a word of kvetching, complaining or grumpiness.

Driving back home I realized that I really had no reason to wonder. Peter, who  the Nazis killed his mother in front of his eyes, who spent four years of his life in death camps, who was liberated at the age of 21 weighing 35 KG with no family or any soul to care for him, created with his own hands an extremely honorable carrier of conductor, composer, professor and physician. Is it a surprise that this personality would get over the 22 stiches on his head?!

In Peter's living room, on the coffee table there was a heavy book of manuscripts - the handwritten notes of a world premiere of Dr. Gary’s oratorio, "A Twentieth-Century Passion" that he wrote in memory of the six Million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis. This master piece of original music will be played for the first time in a world class concert with full orchestra and two choirs on April 2, 2014 at the Farquhar Auditorium by the University of Victoria.

Through the music of ”A Twentieth-Century Passion" Dr. Peter Gary will express with great emotions the suffering of the Jewish people through the century, but also the rise of our nation from the ashes and our victory against evil. Aside for being the passion of the 19th century, it tells the story of the composer - our beloved Dr. Peter Gary, may he continue to be well and be a source of inspiration to us all, for many years to come.

Jewish life on the Island is exciting again!

Dear friends,

Yesterday, a group of about 50 Jewish seniors from the mainland came for a visit to Victoria and joined us for lunch. When entering the Jewish Education Centre, one lady was looking very closely at the preschool in the other room, with great interest.

After Lunch I got into a conversation with her. "I was raised in Victoria" she said, "Our home was 4 houses down the road on Quadra. We were 10 Jewish children at the time. we used to get together on some Shabbats for Services and sometimes on Sundays for Hebrew learning too... The experience was somewhat gloomy and dark, and I don't have very exciting memories from it… When I was watching the Preschool - I saw the bright space and the great happiness of the children - It filled my heart with joy, I'm sure this will have such a positive effect on these children. Jewish life on the Island is exciting again!"

While it is always encouraging to know that we make a difference, hearing it from a Jewish lady who grew up in Victoria in the 40s was very heartwarming.

10 years before we knew....

This Shabbat Chani and I will celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary. In addition we will mark four years since we had discovered a connection we didn't know we had...

It was in June of 2009, Shabbat before I went to New York to mark the Yahrtzeit of our Rebbe, of righteous memory, I was sitting with my children trying to describe to them my extraordinary meetings with the Rebbe as a child, and what an impact it had on my life.

I went to my album to take the one and only picture I have from these meetings and then I decided to bring Chani's only picture as well.

My children were curious to know the date of the meetings. I turned the pictures over and "21 of Shevat 5752" (January 27, 1992) was the date on both of them. 10 years before we met each other for the first time, we went to ask for the Rebbe's blessing and that's the only picture we both have with a great Jewish leader of our time.

Tomorrow Chani and I will be thanking G-d for the blessings He showered upon us since our marriage 11 years ago, but we will be well aware that our destiny was tied together long before we knew it...

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