Once again, I find myself far from home as I start to write this column. Distance gives a certain perspective and another year having passed adds to that. I also have the opportunity to reflect on a Presidency almost over. In just four months, another member of our kahilla kedosha - our holy congregation - will have the responsibility of leading us forward and I know that whoever will be taking on this responsibility will do a wonderful job because we have so many talented members in our midst. As we enter our 30th year as the Reform synagogue in London, Ontario, we can be proud of where we have been. We have provided Jewish Londoners with a liberal interpretation and practice of Judaism and a place where people can pray together, celebrate holidays and holy days together, and share sorrows and joys together. It is a place where we have provided a Jewish education for our children - and for ourselves if we take advantage of the opportunities provided. We have also grown by approximately thirty memberships/families in the past few years. I take no credit for this but we must be doing something right!
Temple Israel also brings us together to perform acts of gimilut hasadim - loving kindness - whether that be in the form of visiting the sick, making hearty soup for victims of family violence, knitting soft, warm hats for preemies and making fuzzy blankets for kids at Merrymount, providing a minyan for a shivah service, or any number of other things. Since I made my plea last year for a new chair of Social Action, not one but two committed young women have come forward and are making a big difference. Please contact Nancy Davis and/or Lisa Faden and let them know that you, too, want to become involved and make a difference.
Speaking of making a difference, the results of our Chicken Soup Cook-Off are in and I am pleased to report that in addition to having some fun, we raised money for several charities - Merrymount, Y.O.U. (Youth Opportunities Unlimited,) and our own Continuing Education Programme - and over 60 litres of delicious soup were made for the Men's Mission and Rotholme. Kudos to Len Silverstein and his committee for a brilliant execution of a great idea. The feedback from those attending the event was uniformly positive. I hope you enjoyed the event and please watch for the second annual Chicken Soup Cook-Off next winter. Congratulations to Tom Casler and Davida Sobel for creating the best chicken soup in the amateur division and to Bertoldi's and Willie's Café for winning the restaurant division. Thanks also to Rabbi Dressler's daughter, Casey Wright, and to Linda Zimmerman for work on the logo and signage, to Jacob Megdell for filling in at the last minute for David Cribbs (who needed some therapeutic chicken soup himself) as our chicken mascot, and to Steve Garrison and Andrew Lawton for being our celebrity judges. Rael Wienburg video recorded and edited a video of the Chicken Soup Cook-Off which can be found in a link on the front page of the Temple web site. Lots of other people put in so many hours and I apologize for not mentioning everybody by name but know that your work was and is appreciated.
Speaking of thanks, please see page 28 for the text of a letter I recently sent to Les Kochav that I want to share with the entire congregation.
Three more things:
• You have my fervent wishes for an early spring.
• I hope to see you all at our Purim service, followed by London's own Great Latke-Hamantashen Debate. Please see page 3 and watch the weekly e-mail updates for more information. It should be the most fun you will ever have at Temple Israel.
• If you plan to attend our congregational second seder, don't wait too long to RSVP. We reached capacity last year and can't push out our walls to make more space!