Zusia, Or Shalom’s new house of study, is your chance to deeply engage in Jewish history, text, and custom. Open to the community at large, Zusia is an invitation to profound learning in a liberal context – non-dogmatic, egalitarian, and inclusive.
Each course is taught by an instructor with specialized knowledge and a passion for expressive and deep thought. Courses range from four to 10 weeks in length. Most courses are perfect for the curious beginner as well as intermediate learners while others offer an opportunity for more advanced knowledge seekers to dig a little deeper.
Or Shalom has become known for its unique potluck kiddush lunches after every Saturday Shabbat service at which the congregation sits down for a cornucopia of vegetarian offerings; where there’s food there’s often joy.
Part 3: Celebrations
Every season brings a reason to celebrate and Or Shalomniks make a point of coming together as often as possible in intentional ways. For example, it has become a tradition to decorate the sukkah in our backyard with hand-crafted decorations made from recycled materials that all ages hang from the rafters. Members raise the sukkah earlier in the day and bring schach. The day ends with a communally-made stone soup.
In the last year, Or Shalom has had two wedding renewals; Bar, Bat, and Simchat Mitzvot; and a baby naming ceremony. In 2014, we celebrated 36 years at our Chai celebration and in 2017 we gathered at Van Dusen Gardens for a special evening in honour of Rabbi Hannah Dresner and Ross Andelman.
Do you have a favourite moment? Take a look at some of the photos from our celebrations and parties over the years and share yours.
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.