Rabbi Yael Splansky

Rabbi Yael Splansky

Rabbi Yael Splansky

Rabbi Yael Splansky is the 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.

Contact Rabbi Splansky



The Rabbi Splansky Blog Archive

On Being Certain


By Rabbi Yael Splansky. Everyone likes to be right.  Nobody likes to be wrong.  But some people, some of the time are truly open-minded enough, open-hearted enough to reconsider what they thought to be true. During these forty days from Ellul through Yom Kippur, we are charged to reconsider, reflect, return to harder truths.  Now is when we say:  More than I want to be right, I want to be good.  More than I want to be in control, I want to Read more »



By Rabbi Yael Splansky. I’ve heard of a statistic.  I don’t know if it’s true.  It goes like this: If you are a North American Jew who would like to live in the same city as your grandchildren, Toronto is your best bet. Many people lament that this isn’t as true today as it once was, but one of the things I still admire about the Toronto Jewish community, one of the things that makes Jewish life flourish here is that many people tend Read more »

Join Leading Rabbi In Israel

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By Rabbi Yael Splansky. Join me for a jam-packed, tough-stuff tour of what divides and what unites Israeli Jewry.  We call this a “Machloket Mission.”  A debate that is “for the sake of Heaven.”  Join the conversation, ask thoughtful questions, and really listen to the honest answers that emerge.  The Jewish future depends on it. Jewish Unity is an essential mission of our time and Reform Jews have an important role to play in the conversation/debate.  Read more »

Building a Bridge of Free Will and Good Will


By Rabbi Yael Splansky. The word is out.  By now you know all about our new Terumah membership model for young families at Holy Blossom Temple.  (If you don’t, please click here.)  It’s based on mutual trust between the generations.  It isn’t a freebee or a gimmick.  It isn’t a seasonal sale.  We believe congregational life is valuable and to be treasured, so we have carefully designed a model that celebrates what Holy Blossom can Read more »

Sermon: June 12, 2016 - Rabbi Yael Splansky

Rabbi Yael Splansky

Click image above to listen. God's broken Heart. - Rabbi Yael Splansky - June 12, 2016. Read more »

Sermon: June 11, 2016 - Rabbi Yael Splansky

Rabbi Yael Splansky

Click image above to listen. From Continuity to Engagement. How the Next Generation Signs onto the Covenant. - Rabbi Yael Splansky - June 11, 2016. Read more »

Lock Down at Mount Sinai

Rabbi Yael Splansky

By Rabbi Yael Splansky. I was on my way to Hart House.  Being rerouted around University Avenue wasn’t unusual; it was Graduation Day after all.  I found my parking spot and continued on foot.  Maybe it was my years living in Israel, maybe it was the news from Orlando, but I noticed a look on the face of a security guard by Robarts Library.  “What’s going on?”  “Well, we’re not really sure.  There’s been a report of a masked Read more »

Sermon: June 4, 2016 - Rabbi Yael Splansky


Click image above to listen. IM (if) Rabbi Yael Splansky - June 4, 2016. Read more »

“God in the Laboratory”


click image above to play By Rabbi Yael Splansky. Delivered May 3, 2016 upon receiving The Israel Cancer Research Fund’s Women of Action Award When Norman Shiner called with this very special invitation, I was, of course, very honoured, but truth be told, it wasn’t an easy “Yes.”  ICRF is a remarkable organization, led by remarkable people, so why did Norman’s call catch me off-guard?  Because my ‘cancer story,’ Thank God, Read more »

Yizkor Sermon: April 29, 2016 - Rabbi Yael Splansky


Click image above to listen. It is never just one thing... We are a complicated people. Rabbi Yael Splansky - April 29, 2016. Read more »

Who’s Coming to Seder?


(an excerpt from the sermon given on Shabbat HaGadol, 5776) By Rabbi Yael Splansky. The seder is for many a wonderful time of family reunion.  And for many it is a time of anxiety, when the complexities of family dynamics come to the surface again.  Seating arrangements may be strategically assigned, so that this one and that one are at opposite ends of the table.  It may be something that happened long ago, something someone said or did – Read more »

It surprises me that it still is not yet widely known that the rabbis of Holy Blossom Temple officiate at same-sex Jewish marriages. 


By Rabbi Yael Splansky. Many remember the groundbreaking work of The AIDS Committee in the 1980’s and 90’s, when Holy Blossom rabbis, lay leaders, and countless volunteers offered a range of supports for people living with and dying from AIDS.  Their partners and extended families were welcomed with dignity and care at a time when most of the Jewish community was silent. The rabbinic question of marriage officiation, however, was not a Read more »

Stump Speech


By Rabbi Yael Splansky. Synagogues do not choose political parties nor back candidates.  Statements made by the Reform, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, and Conservative Movements, however, point to a growing consensus among American Jewry that a “neutral business as usual” approach can no longer hold where Donald Trump is concerned. When AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) announced that Trump would be given a platform at Read more »

Putting God Second: How to Save Religion From Itself


I'm reading Rabbi Donniel Hartman's latest call for moral courage: Putting God Second. Please join us at the exquisite Aga Khan Museum. All are welcome. - Rabbi Yael Splansky Join us for an evening of conversation with Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman and Rabbi Yael Splansky on: Putting God Second: How to Save Religion From Itself Wednesday, March 16, 2016 7:00 p.m. Free Registration Aga Kahn Museum 77 Wynford Drive, Toronto In his latest book, Read more »

A Cup, A Gavel, A Mural, An Invitation


By Rabbi Yael Splansky Symbols matter. Words have power. A Jew sanctifies Shabbat by raising up a cup of wine and reciting words which praise God’s creation and recall the exodus from Egypt.  The fruit of the vine and a melody are enough to enter into sacred time and transform a table into an altar. At Holy Blossom when we raise a cup of wine we also express our devotion to Israel.  How so?  When the BDS movement was first catching fire in Toronto, Read more »

Something New: Monthly Shabbat Afternoon/Twilight Services and Celebration...


...throughout the Fall and Winter Seasons By Rabbi Yael Splansky. On behalf of our Rabbis and Cantors, on behalf of Jeff Denaburg, the Chair of our Worship Department and Eric Klein, the Chair of our Bar/Bat Mitzvah Committee, I’m pleased to share the news of how we intend to expand our congregational prayers.  Once a month, during the five dark months of the year, we will hold Shabbat afternoon/evening services.  We’ll begin with Mincha Read more »

Prayer and Other Matters of the Spirit


With Rabbi Yael Splansky Wednesday evenings February 17 – June 22, 2016 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. CANCELLED: March 16 & 23, 2015 Does the prayerbook look like a jumble of words?  Do you want to uncover the drama of our liturgy-narrative?  Does your doubt get in the way of personal prayer?  Are there poetic phrases that challenge or conflict with your personal theology?  Are you looking for critical and/or inspirational Jewish voices from across Read more »

“Folk With and Without Faith”


By Rabbi Yael Splansky. When one joins our congregation, when one becomes a member of Holy Blossom Temple, the form calls for name and address, how many children, Hebrew names, etc.  But nowhere is there a request for a statement of faith, not even a check box.  Belief in God is not a requirement to be an upstanding member of our community.  If we asked the question, I’m sure we’d see a range of responses.  The box most likely to be checked Read more »

Sermon: January 16, 2016 - Rabbi Yael Splansky


Click image above to listen. Over the High Holy Days, I spoke about Religiosity in a few different ways. And I asked what people mean when they say something like "I'm not religious, but I am spiritual". Rabbi Yael Splansky - January 16, 2016. Read more »

I Almost Forgot to be Furious


By Rabbi Yael Splansky. Adam and I have our twentieth anniversary coming up.  To celebrate we treated one another to a week in Barcelona.  We walked the charming alleyways.  We took in the art and architecture.  We drank Cava and strong coffee.  We enjoyed performances of traditional guitar and Flamenco dancers.  I almost forgot to be furious.  Centuries of one of the great Jewish civilizations of all time have been erased from the map.  Read more »

A wonderful celebration of generosity of spirit


By Rabbi Yael Splansky. Two communities came together in reunion to share stories of survival and sponsorship. Our congregant, Professor Howard Adelman was honoured for his scholarship and activism, devoted to making Canada more hospitable to refugees. Former Minister of Immigration Ron Atkey and Senator Ngo Thanh Hai were among the dignitaries present. The evening culminated with both communities pledging to do their part in responding to today’s Read more »

Sermon: November 14, 2015 - Rabbi Yael Splansky


Click image above to listen. A bridge figure or a weak link? We know his father Abraham was a giant. And we know his son Jacob was the father of the twelve tribes. Rabbi Yael Splansky - November 14, 2015 Read more »

Watch it again! Friday Evening Shabbat Services with Rabbi Splansky - #URJBiennial 2015

Shabbat Service

Friday, November 8, 2015.  Marriott World Center | Orlando, FL. Shabbat Shalom with 5,000 at ‪#‎URJBiennial‬. See you in Boston, December 6-10, 2017! For more on the 2015 Biennial, go to http://urj.org/biennial. Some of the Holy Blossom delegation, (numbering about 25),waiting for the arrival of U.S. Vice President, Joe Biden, at the #URJBiennial in Orlando. Kabbalat Shabbat Services We will culminate our week of study Read more »

Courageous Leadership: Remembering Rabin


By Rabbi Yael Splansky. Today marks twenty years since the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin.  Do you remember where you were when you heard the news?  I was a rabbinical student, leading a youth group retreat.  Explaining the inexplicable to one hundred teenagers, I struggled to reassure them that Israel was safe and strong and that the Jewish People were Am Echad, one people.  I struggled to reassure myself of these things, which Rabin personified.  Read more »

Feeling the Pull Back to Israel


By Rabbi Yael Splansky. Israel is calling.  Let’s go!  We’ll enjoy this unique itinerary and connect with the land and people of Israel during this season of meaningful commemoration and joyful celebration. When times are good in Israel, we celebrate with her.  When times are hard in Israel, we worry with her.  An invisible gravitational pull from here to there. Among our congregation are many great Zionists.  Our people create Read more »