Taking Root: Contemporary Jewish Community Farming

Risa Alyson CooperBrotherhood Breakfast
Sunday, January 10, 2016
Shacharit Services at 9:00 a.m.

Risa Alyson Cooper, Executive Director of Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs, will share Shoresh’s vision for developing Bela Farm, a rural centre for sustainable, land-based Judaism in Hillsburgh, Ontario.

She will outline the Jewish values that are guiding and grounding this 100 acre farm project and highlight the various educational programs, volunteer opportunities, and farm ventures that will animate the space.

Risa Alyson Cooper is the Executive Director of Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs. She completed her B.A. Honours at Queen’s University in Comparative Religious Studies and her M.A. at the Centre for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto, focusing on Contemporary Jewish Environmental Ethics. Upon graduating, Risa moved to rural Connecticut where she worked as a Jewish environmental educator at the Teva Learning Centre for three years. She then transitioned into small-scale organic farming as a member of the Adamah Jewish Farming Fellowship where she grew vegetables on a four-acre farm, worked in a raw goat-milk dairy, and dabbled in the art of fermentation. In 2008, Risa returned to her native Toronto to work as the Director of Shoresh and to establish the Kavanah Garden, bringing together her experience in Jewish outdoor education with her love for Canadian soil and the plants and people that it sustains. In 2010, Risa was profiled as a Woman to Watch by PresenTense Magazine and in 2012 she was honoured to be selected as a fellow in the prestigious Joshua Venture Group Dual Investment Fellowship. In 2013, shortly following the birth of her daughter Ayda, Risa was awarded the Covenant Foundation’s Pomegranate Prize for exceptionalism in Jewish Education. Risa believes that growing food sustainably is an expression of her deeply-rooted Jewish ethics. Her favourite vegetable is the beet.


Brotherhood Breakfast: You are what you eat!

Darlene LitmanSunday, November 15, 2015

Darlene Litman, president of Creative Ingredients, Inc.

Come and hear local Jewish poultry farmer Darlene Litman’s first hand experience with raising different chickens, and how we can raise the bar for Kosher chicken. There is a vast difference between the chicken you THINK you are eating as opposed to what industrial chicken farmers are actually growing, and the news is not good.

Before you buy your next Shabbat chicken, please listen to what Darlene has to say.


Brotherhood Breakfast

ShinshinimOur next Brotherhood Breakfast will be on October 18, 2015.

The speaker will be Bar or Noam, one of our two shinshinim, who will speak with us about the current pulse of Israel, what it means to live in Israel right now, Iran, the recent wave of terrorist incidents in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and other current events.

Please join us for what is sure to be a fascinating discussion and to welcome our two young HBT Israeli ambassadors.



The Holy Bs are in the middle of another exciting playoff run.

Holy Bs

The team recently defeated Pride of Israel in a quarter final series and move into the semi-final game against a to be determined opponent on Sunday, September 20th.

If they win that game (or if they already won as we go to press too late to know) then the final game is scheduled for Sunday, September 27th. David Rosenberg recently set a Holy Bs record when he went 8 for 8 at the plate in a very big win for us two weeks ago.

The team plays in the ISBL (Intersynagogue Baseball League) and has won the ISBL championship two of the last three years through a combination of veterans like Joe Cass, Jeff Levy, Allan Lyons, Richard Banks and John Phillips and young guns such as Matthew Dicker, Nate Charach, Josh Silver and Jordan Glicksman. The Holy B captains are Richie Borins and Randy Cass (veterans in their own right). Marc Levy also plays a key role on the team. These are just some of the members of our deep 21 player roster.


Brotherhood 2.0 

Brotherhood MIkeBy Mike Morgulis, Brotherhood President 

No doubt you’ve seen us at shul… maybe an older guy ushered you or led a Shiva service. Maybe you had a drink from the bar at Purim, had a HABSTY bagel box delivered to your home, ate a breakfast that had a lecturer on a Sunday morning, or perhaps one of your children received a Plaut Commentary in Grade 7. These are but a few examples of Brotherhood in action. While we are more officially known as the “Men’s Club of Holy Blossom” what we do reaches far beyond that. We are somewhat like the Levites of the original Temple, however the only sacrifice we make is of our own personal time to assist with education, governance, worship, social activities, and philanthropy.

A Brotherhood volunteer serves on the Adult Education Committee with Rabbi Splansky, Debbie Spiegel and Les Rothschild to help coordinate the courses and lectures which Brotherhood sponsors and hosts. This is an on-going process, and a constant effort is made by Brotherhood to recruit high level, poignant speakers who inform and inspire us to do more as people and as Jews on a monthly basis. We also promote our own; four presenters from last year were Daniel Roher, a film producer, and Mira Lyon, a committed youth developer. Both have grown up at Holy Blossom and continue to give back to our community while also helping the broader world. John Freund shared his first hand experiences as a Holocaust survivor and Michael Cole shared his travels in Australia and gave us insight to the Jewish world ‘down under’. We also sponsor an annual lecture series with Rabbi Michael Stroh, which is edge-of-the-seat and cerebral. It is literally studying Torah for Torah’s sake.

How Holy Blossom governs itself has been an issue of note over the past few years. The Brotherhood president has traditionally served on the Temple’s Board of Directors with a voting seat for decades. The pending modifications to the Temple’s by-laws will see this voting seat remain, but how the Brotherhood person arrives there will be the result of a congregational vote as opposed to the previous ladder-ascension structure; this is a good thing as it helps the congregation understand Brotherhood as part of the congregation rather than as an auxiliary or cloistered entity.

Brotherhood is called upon for a volunteer to serve on the Nominating Committee. This vital committee vets all nominees and volunteers who wish to serve on the Temple’s Board of Directors, and is becoming a year-round effort. Brotherhood, like Sisterhood, has a sizable membership of dues paying Temple members and each organization has its own Board of Directors. While there are many programs run by each organization, each serves the congregation and helps to grow the future leaders of the congregation through a myriad of activities, duties and responsibilities. Many of our members serve on other committees and involve themselves in other ventures after initially joining Brotherhood and Sisterhood.

Historically ushering and Shiva service leading were strictly a Brotherhood task, however separate committees have been formed to take these on over the years. Still, some Brotherhood members still serve as ushers, and others continue to lead Shiva services. Some serve as greeters in the Ava Road foyer on Shabbat, while others are called upon to read Torah or carry a Torah. A Brotherhood member also happens to serve on the Transition Committee to help the synagogue foresee issues during the various phases of construction.

Socially we host a board meeting once a month and tackle many of life’s issues before getting to our consent business agenda. We’ve also co-hosted 4 Havdallah events with Sisterhood in the last 2 years, each a fantastic success that combined the tranquility of the ending of Shabbat with a camp-like song session and great food. The last event saw a healthy presence from HABSTY, our energetic and committed youth senior youth group.

On the point of youth, Brotherhood has always been committed to developing the Jewish identity of our young adults. In Grade 7 we give each B’nei Mitzvah student a personalized Plaut Commentary to serve as the cornerstone of their Jewish library. Brotherhood also helps to send our youth to URJ Camp George through bursaries. We assisted a HABSTY representative this year so that they could attend the 2015 NFTY Convention in Atlanta. 3 of our HABSTY members are already at URJ Kutz Camp for leadership development, thanks to financial assistance from Brotherhood. Last year the staff and campers at URJ Camp George enjoyed post-sundown activities at the basketball and tennis courts thanks to a sizable Brotherhood contribution to install light posts complete with underground wiring and environment-friendly high output LED lights. We have also begun to contribute to the Study In Israel fund, which supports those youth who wish to pursue post-secondary education in Israel.

We have made other contributions as well; all of our breakfast lecturers has a donation made in their name to the charity of their choice. We are frequently called upon by our Rabbis to support ventures within the shul, like the Summer Gathering luncheon, and we sponsor the Holy B’s inter-synagogue baseball team. Some of the AV equipment used in the shul has been made possible through purchases from Brotherhood.  We’ve also lent physical and financial support to 2 concerts at Har Tikvah, the Refom congregation in Brampton.

Brotherhood’s demographic is changing. As our valiant older members reluctantly leave our ranks due to attrition, we have seen younger men step forward and take up the torch. Brotherhood is a great gateway opportunity to volunteer within the shul on an informal basis, to work with many committees, to assist the Temple’s leadership in a variety of tasks for which there are no other vehicles, and finally to socialize with some of the other men in the synagogue outside of the usual post-worship venues. Meeting and volunteering once per month are easy ways to fulfill the mitzvah of Tikkun Olam. We look forward to seeing you join us at our next meeting in September.


Sisterhood and Brotherhood invite everyone to Havdallah BBQ

Click image above for more details

Click image above for more details

Saturday, June 13, 2015
6:00 p.m.

Brotherhood and Sisterhood present another fabulous Havdallah and BBQ Night!  Bring your family and friends for song, fun and delicious food!

Reserve your tables NOW by calling Elana at 416-789-3291 ext. 0.

Adults $12 | Children 12 and under $8


“Michael Cole Down Under”

Brotherhood Breakfast with Michael Cole
Sunday, June 7, 2015
10:00 a.m.

Michael Cole, long-time Holy Blossom Member, engaged volunteer, and former Brotherhood president, escaped Toronto’s cold last winter by visiting Australia with his wife Josephine.

Michael will deliver an illustrated lecture of his trip to this distant country—from coral reef to rain forest to cosmopolitan cities. He will also bring us up to date on Jewish life Down Under.

Michael in front of the iconic Sydney Opera House

Michael in front of the iconic Sydney Opera House


Breakfast Sponsored by Brotherhood: “Above and Beyond” – a film by Nancy Spielberg

Click image above for more information

Click image above for more information

Sunday, May 3, 2015
9:30 a.m.

A repeat screening for those who missed our February showing of this film because of the inclement weather.

It was not their war, but they made it their fight! In 1948 Israel was under attack. They had some planes, but what Israel needed was pilots.

Jews and non-Jews from the Diaspora answered the call, all WW2 veterans who had survived aerial combat missions against the Axis.

These unsung heroes tell their story as they helped to create one of the strongest and most determined air forces on the planet.



‘Be the change’ with Mira Lyon

Breakfast Sponsored by Brotherhood.

Sunday, April 12, 2015
10:00 a.m.

On the Great Wall

On the Great Wall

By Mira Lyon.

‘Be the change’ is not just a good quote for a t-shirt or a student council speech; it’s truly a way of living. If we hope for or expect change, we need to embody it. I’m excited to be talking about how small, local actions connect intricately with large, global causes, and how my work in youth education and international development – and now with Me to We and Free the Children – aims to bring those together.

This generation of youth is not apathetic, they’re just treated like they are; I’ll address how my involvement in youth group and other programs brought me to where I am today (including dancing with the Kichwa in Ecuador, learning to shoot a bow and arrow with the Maasai in Kenya, and scaling the Great Wall of China last week) and how we can best work with today’s youth to ensure their voices are heard.


Brotherhood Havdallah/Film event

Above and Beyond

Brotherhood Havdallah/Film event

Saturday, February 7, 2015
7:00 p.m.

It was not their war, but they made it their fight!

In 1948 Israel was under attack. They had some planes, but what Israel needed was pilots. Jews and non-Jews from the Diaspora answered the call, all WW2 veterans who had survived aerial combat missions against the Axis.

These unsung heroes tell their story as they helped to create one of the strongest and most determined air forces on the planet.

Sponsored by Brotherhood