By Rabbi Yael Splansky. We are a congregation of learners. I so admire how our congregants run from campus to synagogue to seminar room seeking out expert teachers on every topic. Join me for a new learning initiative: “Jewish University for a Day.” Choose from a range of topics and local experts to help you prepare for Pesach. If you are looking for something new to share at your seder table, this is it! Read more »
Rabbi Yael Splansky
Rabbi Yael Splansky is the Acting Senior Rabbi of Holy Blossom Temple. She came to Toronto in 1998 after ordination from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio. She served first as Assistant Rabbi, concentrating on youth and young families from 1998-2000, then as Associate Rabbi from 2000-2013.
From the Boston area, Rabbi Splansky completed her undergraduate studies in Anthropology and Jewish Studies at Indiana University in Bloomington and at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her rabbinical thesis is entitled, “All is Forseen and Freewill is Given: A Debate in Rabbinic Literature.”
She is the immediate past chair of the Reform Rabbis of Greater Toronto. She is the editor of the new prayerbook, Siddur Pirchei Kodesh, author of the Union for Reform Judaism’s “Reform Voices of Torah: 2012 Commentary on Deuteronomy,” and monthly contributor to The Canadian Jewish News.
Her husband, Professor Adam Sol, is an award-winning poet and together they raise their three sons.
Rabbi Splansky has the unique privilege of being a fourth-generation Reform Rabbi.
The Rabbi Splansky Blog Archive
Rabbi Yael Splansky. Shabbat Terumah, 5774. Rosh Chodesh Adar Aleph. “The House We Build Together”. It’s not so much WHAT we build, but HOW we build which tells of our character. “V’asu Li mikdash v’shachanti b’tocham.” “Make for me a sanctuary,” God says, “so that I may dwell among them.” How do we build? I. A true story. In 1968 a young American faced a personal crisis. Raised by working-poor parents Read more »
Click image above to listen. I'll begin with two coulourful Yiddish expressions. The first is a comment on human nature – it goes like this: “A person is less upset by his own poverty than by someone else’s wealth.” I am sure it sounds even better in Yiddish. What does it mean? I think it means that we can cope pretty well, even when we have very little, but we do not cope very well when we see what other folks have to enjoy... Rabbi Read more »
On Tu BiShvat we have to wonder By Rabbi Yael Splansky. It is taught that the Schools of Hillel and Shammai were locked in a fierce debate, which raged on for two and a half years. The School of Shammai asserted that it would have been better for the world if humanity had never been created. God should have stopped with the animals. The School of Hillel took the opposite view that it is better that humanity was created. In the end, they Read more »
A Special Invitation The entire congregation is welcome to the joyful service and festive Kiddush-lunch, but no gifts, please. Comments welcome below. The Torah and Haftarah readings for this special Shabbat are about building and maintaining sacred spaces. In that spirit and in honour of our shared simcha, you may consider a modest contribution to our congregation's Renewal Project Fund by clicking here. Read more »
By Rabbi Yael Splansky. I have come to admire the Diamond-Schmitt Architects for the time they invest in listening. I have no doubt that the spaces we come to in our renewed building will meet the physical needs of our congregation because we are asking all the right questions and congregants have been very forthcoming with the answers. The next layer in our planning – as we move from schematic to detailed design – is how to make it “uniquely Read more »
Click image above to listen. At this time of year most polite exchanges revolve around upcoming travel plans. More than once this week congregants making small talk would innocently ask me: “Rabbi, what are your plans for Christmas?” And I would smile, and I would watch a wave of shock come over their faces once they realize what they had said. The truth is I love Christmas. It is a beautiful quiet time of year when the Rabbi has no preparations Read more »
Click image above to listen. There are two categories of creation miracles – there is yesh meayin, that is creation ex nihilo, creation of something from nothing, and then there is yesh meyesh, creating something from something that already exists. God performs both kinds of creation, yesh meayin and yesh meyesh. God created the world out of nothing. And then God also carries out the work of creation continually day by day by day. There Read more »
By Rabbi Yael Splansky. Our sister congregation, Solel, is hosting a powerhouse line-up of musical talent this Saturday evening. For information, please click here. Tickets available on-line and at the door. Read more »
“What do you seek?” AGM, 5774/2013. Rabbi Yael Splansky. It has been quite a year. There have many moments of pride along the way, many accomplishments from last November to today. Rather than list them, rather than speak in the past tense, today I’d like to speak about the future. And because I am a rabbi, I will root my words in Torah. Parashat VaYeshev Father Jacob sends young Joseph to find his brothers, who are out with Read more »
Click image above to listen. It’s been quite a week for the city of Toronto. And emotions are running high. Some feel sorry for the mayor. Watching him unravel right before our eyes. He seems a victim of his addictions. We see that he is a man at risk and we simply want him to get the help that he needs. Watching some of those videos we can feel only pity for him... Rabbi Yael Splansky - Sermon: November 9, 2013. Note of clarification: Read more »
Click image above for more details. By Rabbi Yael Splansky. Holy Blossom Temple has a proud history of aid and leadership for immigrants and refugees. In recent memory, we raised our voices for Soviet Jewry and provided support for Jewish immigrants from Serbia and Argentina. We reached out in friendship to refugees from Vietnam and Sudan. Is now the time to turn toward the peoples who have lived on this land for centuries, if not millenia, Read more »
By Rabbi Yael Splansky. Congregants send me links to articles and videos of outrageous Bar/Bat Mitzvah parties. You’ve seen them. The glitter and glam, the celebrity bands, the curvy professional dancers, the Bar Mitzvah boy jumping out of a cake. Usually when people send me this stuff they include a note like: “Can you believe this?!” or “What’s become of us?!” And yet we can’t take our eyes off it. Like a car accident, Read more »
Click image above to listen. It's been a few weeks now that we are flooded with commentary, and commentary on the commentary, analysis on the analysis, of the Pew Report. There are many important, new insights into what makes American Jewry tick. American Jews are diverse and increasingly diverse in their practice and their beliefs and their ways of attachment. (click image above to listen to full sermon) Rabbi Yael Splansky: October 19, 2013 Read more »
By Rabbi Yael Splansky. If you or a loved one would like a Jewish conversation about coming out, our Rabbis are here for you. And Holy Blossom's doors are open wide to welcome you. Shabbat Shalom. Be Who You Are. National Coming Out Day / 10.11 / www.keshetonline.org/happynationalcomingoutday Click to enlarge Read more »
Rabbi Yael Splansky By Rabbi Yael Splansky. The Pew Study has hit and everyone’s reeling. What does it mean? Who’s to blame? And what’s next? Canadian Jewish leaders ask: How are we the same? How are we different from our American brothers and sisters? And the commonly asked question here: Is it only a matter of time before the trends cross the border? It does not surprise me that for Jewish Americans, both multicultural comfort and Read more »
By Rabbi Yael Splansky. For more than 50 years The Canadian Jewish News has been an important forum for exchanging ideas and sharing the stories of Canadian Jewry. To continue the conversation and to hear new voices, consider sending a gift subscription. Click here for more information. Read more »
Click image above to listen. And now here you are Gilad. A miracle in our own time. I invite you now to come, with your friend, Josh Cooper, our congregant, who is also the Executive Director of JNF Canada, come and please lead this congregation in the prayer for the State of Israel. (click image above to listen to the full audio) Rabbi Yael Splansky: Kol Nidre - September 13, 2013 Read more »
Click image above to listen. A recent loss to our congregation came a few weeks ago when Marilyn Farber died at a ripe age. She lived long enough to see her beloved Holy Blossom Temple move from Bond Street to Bathurst Street. She served as Sisterhood President. Eventually she became the first woman to serve on Holy Blossom Temple's Board. Later in life, she was given the honourary title of Warden. (click image above to listen to full sermon) Read more »
Click image above to listen. For some Yom Kippur is a day of quiet contemplation and calm reflection. For some Yom Kippur is a day of battle, a day long wrestling match within. For some there is careful planning - how might I change, how might I recalibrate slightly for the year ahead. And for some there is urgency about this day - I must change, I must turn my life around. I would like to share with you two examples of the latter... (click Read more »
Click image above to listen. Avinu malkeinu of course is one of the essential prayers of our High Holy Day liturgy. The origin of this prayer can be traced to the great Rabbi Akiva, who lived during the second half of the first century and the first have of the second century, he is a larger than life figure, the focal point of both history and legend... (click image above to listen to full sermon) Rabbi Yael Splansky: Second Day Rosh Hashanah Read more »
Click image above to listen. Our world is old. The sound of the shofar is such an old, primal sound, it brings us back to the very beginning. Three times the shofar is blown and three times it is written in our machzor - "Hayom Harat Olam" - "Today is the birthday of the world. Today the world is born..." (click image above to listen to full sermon) Rabbi Yael Splansky: First Day Rosh Hashanah - September 5, 2013 Read more »
Click image above to listen. I wish you could see what I see in the life of our Congregation. I wish I could hear what you hear about the life of our Congregation. It has been a trying time for Holy Blossom Temple - change is hard, transition is hard - and yet at the same time the very real needs of our congregants are exactly the same today as they have always been. Our deeply human needs for belonging and purpose, for meaning and insight, Read more »
Rabbi Yael Splansky As the High Holidays approach, the pace at Temple becomes almost feverish. There are services to plan, and all manner of logistic and administrative details that must be managed so that we, as congregants, will be able to share the spiritual fellowship of these Days with comfort, sanctity and ruach. It requires the extraordinary effort and dedication of our professional staff to make this happen. I have come to know them, and Read more »
Click to enlarge By Rabbi Yael Splansky. With peace talks underway and the future of Jerusalem on the table, speculations bounce from Jerusalem to Ramallah to Washington. Member of Knesset, Ofer Shelah, said last week, “I don’t see a possible peace agreement in which the Palestinians cannot call East Jerusalem the capital of the Palestinian state…. The solution in Jerusalem will be very complex. It will be a solution of words as Read more »