Or Shalom at 40 – A Four-Part Retrospective

In 2018, Or Shalom Spiritual Community turned 40 years young. It took many hands for us to arrive where we are now – over 200 members strong, each one a vital reason the Or Shalom flame has burned so brightly in the Vancouver and area Jewish community.

The decades have been filled with many proud and invigorating moments, sweet and bittersweet gatherings. We’re celebrating all of that and more with a four-part series as we look back at the people and the memories of this community. We’ll start with the origins of Vancouver’s Spiritual Playground, explore our connections to the greater community, have a look at some of the celebrations over the years, and of course, the ways in which Or Shalom expresses spirituality.

Be sure to look through the photos unearthed from the archives. Have memories or photos to share? Leave a comment or post on our Facebook page.

Part 1: Origins

When Rabbis Emeriti Daniel and Hanna Tiferet Siegel left the fledging Or Shalom to build community in New Hampshire, the chavura wove a spiritual umbilical cord to join us together across time and space. This multicolored cord still adorns our Aron Kodesh.

The first gatherings took place in their home on 22nd Street in Vancouver, but soon began to outgrow those walls. The chavura continued to grow and continued to hop from place to place. In 2000, long-time Or Shalom member Harley Rothstein wrote about the early years of Or Shalom, where he documented the many efforts and stories of that period.


Up next: Part 2 of our series – Community

Wear your pride with one of our 40th anniversary hats.

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Tisha B’Av 2018 – Longing & Lamentation

On the day of communal mourning, the ninth of Av, Or Shalom will commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem with a reading of Eicha and a teaching.

Our Rabbi Hannah Dresner and rabbis emeriti, Rabbi Laura Duhan-Kaplan and Rabbi Hillel Goelman and other Or Shalom members will each read a chapter from Eicha. Plus, Rabbi Benjamin Barer returns to Or Shalom on the heels of his ordination from Hebrew College Rabbinical School in Boston. He’ll grace us with a teaching.

Not a member? No problem. Or Shalom welcomes all who are interested in attending our services.

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Canada Day 2018 – Celebrating Our Syrian Families

Canada Day 2018 was a marked commemoration of the efforts of Or Shalomniks and community members to expand the tent. We sang Hinei Mah Tov and O Canada and we came together as members of the same global community to celebrate the anniversary of the first Canadian year of the four families who were privately sponsored to start their new lives in Canada.

We heard from members of the resettlement teams and members of the families as they expressed their mutual appreciation and memories from the last year.

The formal commitment Or Shalom Syrian Resettlement Initiative (OSSRI) has made to support the families has come to an end, but the informal support remains, as neighbours, and the friendships are sure to be long-lasting. As announced at the celebration, OSSRI intends to work toward sponsoring more refugees.

High resolution images available on our flickr page.

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