Or Shalom started as an intentional community of spiritual seekers and proudly remains that to this day. You can see the connections being made at the potluck kiddush lunch that happens after every Shabbat service in the social hall.
Part 2: Community
As a Jewish Renewal community, Or Shalom’s umbrella is large and welcomes and embraces people from various backgrounds. The Keren Or newsletter documents accounts from members over the years and their stories of how they came to Or Shalom – and what’s kept them here.
Generations have grown up in the community and are now raising their own children here. With an intergenerational spiritual intention, Rabbi Hannah Dresner and staff introduced a Shabbat morning program, Shabbat Sheli, in 2016. As part of the program, young children participate in the Torah procession for the whole community. Many adult members now say they make a point of attending service on Shabbat Sheli days to witness the children dancing with their individual plush Torah scrolls. The program has also helped introduce new families and members.
For more than 20 years, Or Shalom has been going to Camp Hope in Hope, B.C. for a weekend retreat that brings up special guests for learning enrichment and endless activities like making mezuzot and a community baseball game. Scholarships have been offered to families who would otherwise be unable to enjoy this fun getaway.
There is the internal community, but outreach to the greater community, Jewish and non-Jewish, has been equally important in the history of Or Shalom. From supporting and participating in Pride festivities, to joining with other synagogues to walk in the international Women’s March of 2017, Or Shalom members have embraced activism. In 2015, Or Shalom members began the process of sponsoring Syrian families to start new lives in Canada. The Or Shalom Syrian Refugee Initiative has supported four families, three from Syria and one from Iraq, who recently celebrated one year in their new home country.
Have a look at some of the memories from over the years and let us know some of your favourite times in the Or Shalom community.
Up next, Part 3: Celebrations