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Credit: Elaine Halpert

REFLECTIONS: Shaarey Zedek High Holy Day Perspective

By Rabbi Alan Green, Senior Rabbi, Sept 1, 2017

Jump to 50% Off Seat Promotion by clicking here.

It's now seventeen years since I led my first High Holy Day services at Congregation Shaarey Zedek. Seventeen years is long enough for an entire generation to have come of age. The B'nai Mitzvah of seventeen years ago are now thirty years old. Some of them are married with children. Others are finishing advanced degrees or beginning new careers.

Seventeen years is also long enough for an entire generation to have passed away. I'm thinking in particular of the truly great ones--amazing Jewish leaders and philanthropists who have gone the way of all the earth: people like Izzy Asper, Dave Kaufman, Harold Buchwald, Norm Vickar, and others too numerous to list here.

Thus seventeen years has been long enough for the whole community to have absorbed a vast amount of change. I would add: we're now experiencing a tense but exciting crisis point. As a community, it's time for us to make it or break it. We have to go big or go home.

Clearly, the old ways are rapidly disappearing. Today, there isn't a single Kosher butcher in all of Winnipeg. There are only two Kosher restaurants--neither of which serve meat. Synagogue membership and Gray Academy enrollment are both in decline. That's the bad news.

The good news is even as old ways are disappearing, new and viable shoots are starting to sprout. In recent years, the community has welcomed an influx of South American Jews who have assumed increasing importance in maintaining Jewish life in Winnipeg.

More recently, a large contingent of Hebrew-speaking Israeli immigrants have discovered a new life for themselves and their families in this city. It's clear that much of the immediate Jewish future of our community lies in the hands of these families.

But what will inspire these new Canadians to participate in the Jewish community? And, equally important--what will inspire the new generation of Jewish Winnipegger’s to become the next link in the unbroken chain of Jewish tradition?

There is no easy answer to these questions. Certainly, there must be many points of entry. New doors must be opened. New ways must be found to break down the economic, cultural, and linguistic barriers to enjoying Winnipeg's unique brand of Jewish communal life.

I'm proud to say Shaarey Zedek has done much in recent years to make Jewish life more accessible to those who desire it. Today, virtually any child who wishes to have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah at Shaarey Zedek is able to do so. Virtually any family who wishes to join Shaarey Zedek is able to do so. Interfaith couples who wish to be buried together now make use of our Shaarey Shamayim Cemetery, specifically dedicated to Interfaith burial.

But most exciting for me personally has been our success in lowering the barriers of entry to Jewish prayer. To modern secular Jews, God is problematic and prayer all the more so. There's an old joke: when you talk to God, it's called prayer. But when God talks to you, it's called schizophrenia. Nevertheless, even talking to God is considered highly unusual these days.

So what do we do Shabbat morning and High Holy Days at Shaarey Zedek? We have short, interactive, musically accompanied services, punctuated with incisive explanations of both the prayer service and the Torah reading of the week. People enjoy singing, celebrating, and eating together.

For two hours each week (slightly longer on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), free from their smart phones, free from texting, free from Facebook and Facetime--people enjoy genuine "face to face" time--with friends, family, and community. Is this not what Shabbat and High Holy Days are all about in this 21st century? I invite you and your family to come and join us for yom tov - have a look at our special promotion on this page for first time attendees and others who have not come to High Holy Day Services at Shaarey Zedek for 3 or more years, members and non-members alike.

The name, "Shaarey Zedek," means "gates of righteousness." These days, the gates of Shaarey Zedek are wide open--wide enough so that all who wish to enter may enter. As I begin my final year as senior rabbi of Shaarey Zedek, I'm happy to do so on this "Chai" note: a synagogue worthy of the name, Bet K'nesset--a "house of assembly" for all who wish to learn, to pray, and connect with the rich past, present, and future of Jewish life on the wind-swept plains of Manitoba.

Shanah Tovah!

Experience High Holy Days at Shaarey Zedek

Members and Non-Members
50% off Standard Seat Prices
If you haven’t attended in 3+ years or ever
Rosh Hashanah Days 1 & 2, Kol Nidre, and Yom Kippur

Shaarey Zedek has made significant changes over the last few years to enhance our High Holy Day services. We want as many people as possible in the community to experience Yom Tov with us and enjoy the shorter, more meaningful, inclusive and lively services to kick off the Jewish New Year.

Shaarey Zedek is offering an exclusive deal of 50% off ticket prices for Members and Non-Members who have not purchased or attended High Holy Day services with us for 3 or more years.

Check out the fine print below or contact our High Holy Day Seating Coordinator, Lara London, at 204-975-3481 or for more information or to book your seats.

The “Fine Print”

  • Members and Non-Members of Congregation Shaarey Zedek (CSZ) are welcome to take advantage of this offer.
  • In order to qualify for this offer, you must not have purchased HHD tickets or attended Shaarey Zedek HHD Services in the past 3+ years.
  • Shaarey Zedek Members will receive 50% off Member Priced ticket(s).
  • If you are a Member of another Synagogue and want to try our services this year you will receive 50% off Member Priced ticket(s).
  • Non-Synagogue Members will receive 50% off Non-Member Priced ticket(s).
  • All seats subject to availability

Hope to see you at Shaarey Zedek this Yom Tov!

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