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Yedid Nefesh

Last Friday, when Yoni messaged me on Facebook that he was in Victoria, it was pretty exciting. Yoni, a wonderful young man with great spirit, has been a good friend since our arrival in Victoria. He helped us build the first Sukkah mobile, he played in our first Chanukah event, and has been a close friend since. Now he is checking in again after over five years.  

We scheduled to meet Friday afternoon downtown and he joined me for the Friday afternoon rounds: getting food for the Kiddush, setting up the shul, preparing the chulent, and the rest. "This is a real, beautiful shul" he said when he walked in. Yoni was also happily surprised to hear that since the beginning of the year we had a minyan for every Shabbat and Yom Tov, and he was thrilled when I told him that the Shul is filled with life thanks to a great community that we are so greatful to be a part of.

"May I ask you for a favour?" Yoni asked while I was driving him back to his grandparents' home. "You know the soulful tune for ‘Yedid Nefesh’ you sang at home, years ago when I was with you for Shabbat? Since then I've been looking for the opportunity to hear it again and learn it. Can I record you now singing it?" he asked, holding his Iphone. I happily agreed.

"Yedid Nefesh" ("Beloved of the soul") is a beautiful poem that was written in the holy city of Tzfat in the 16th century by Rabbi Elazar Azkari. I learned this tune from my father, of Blessed Memory, in that same city; my father used to sing it every Friday evening at our Shabbat table. 

So while driving down Douglas St., through the busy Friday afternoon of downtown Victoria, we found ourselves singing with "Devekut," this song of yearning to the creator.

The satisfaction of Yoni when we finished was clear. I'm not sure if this was why Yoni came to Victoria for the weekend, but I'm certain that was the main reason he wanted to meet me last Friday afternoon...


An attack on our family

Dear friends,

Since my mother’s admission to the Tel Hashomer Hospital, one of my siblings has stayed with her every single day, to help her, accompany her, and support her through the long days of rehabilitation treatments.

My brother, Levi, who flew in from the US, is spending the next few days there. Last night, I called his cell, hoping to have him by my mother’s side so I could speak to her. To my surprise, he answered the phone still from my younger brother’s home in Ashdod, sounding alarmed.

“We just had a 'Tzeva Adom,'” he said, “and we had to run to the shelters." Minutes later I read on the news of the missile that fell in the city and injured ten people.

It is only when I speak to my sister in Ashkelon or to my brother in Ashdod, who are wakened in their homes in the middle of the night to a siren of a rocket that is about to hit their cities, that firing rockets turns from a “news item” to a reality in my family’s life.

The two couples that were driving to Eilat yesterday for vacation and were murdered on the way by terrorists just because they were Jews - are our brothers and sisters. We can’t just continue business as usual. We must constantly have the residents of the Holy Land in our thoughts and prayers, this is an attack on our family.

Ho Chi Minh to Victoria

Dear friends,

When I was asked this week by Tuvia to give him the contact information for the Chabad Rabbi in Istanbul - it was very special, and not only since the Rabbi there is my first cousin.

Six years ago I got an email from the new Chabad Rabbi in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, telling me about a fellow Victorian, who visited Chabad on Shabbat, "Perhaps you should contact him", Rabbi Hartman suggested.

When I called Tuvia he thanked me for my call and told me "that was good for Vietnam, in Victoria I'm fine, but if I'll be interested I'll get back to you"...

It was one evening in the winter, after a class, that one of the participants called me aside "you remember the exchange we had a few years ago? I think I'm now ready to get actively involved in Jewish life and learning here..."

Tuvia is a very bright and knowledgeable person and I very much enjoy our regular chavrutah (one-on-one learning) since.  When he asked me for the contact info for Chabad in Istanbul, I remembered how it all started in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam...

Gift of fish


Dear friends,

It was exactly six years ago when my neighbour knocked on our front door holding a few big beautiful pieces of salmon and asked me if I can make use of them. 

I stood there wondering why I was deserving of such a great gift. He saw my expression and explained. "Our freezer broke and we have all this defrosted fish, which we can’t eat on our own"... I thanked him kindly for the great surprise and brought the fish into the kitchen.

As some other summer evenings, we were expecting guests for dinner, Chani had already started preparing supper, and there was chicken defrosting in the sink.

At that moment it hit me. It was the first day of Av, and as you may know, during the first nine days of Av – Jewish law forbids eating any meat (aside for Shabbat). It was our neighbour (who never came to our door before or after that occasion...) who thankfully reminded us to observe this Jewish custom.

For supper that night we shared with our guest a great west coast meal of Pacific salmon, and yet another wonderful story of Divine Providence.

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