CELEBRATING HOLIDAYS - THE SECULAR WAY
The Winchevsky Centre provides a communal setting for all major Jewish holiday celebrations with a secular humanist twist. Our community-led celebrations offer a non-theistic, yet meaningful alternative to religious services. We provide the opportunity to reflect upon our cultural and historic heritage and to relate their significance to contemporary issues.
Our community welcomes inter-cultural and alternative families. In an effort to keep our celebrations open and accessible to all, our ceremonies include passages and songs in English, Yiddish and Hebrew, and include words and lyrics that are pluralistic.
Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur... these moving ceremonies include meaningful readings, texts and poetry, with music led by prominent Toronto musicians such as Dave Wall and Marilyn Lerner.
Sukkes... this interactive celebration of the harvest includes making and hanging decorations on our outdoor sukkah, learning about the holiday through its symbols, stories and songs, and sharing a barbeque lunch.
Chanukah... our annual intergenerational celebration offers fun holiday activities, games and storytelling for children, with a parallel-learning cultural program for adults. Singing, latkes and sufganiot are enjoyed by all. Join us a week before our Chanukah celebration for our community latke making activity. Read about "Tzindt on di Lichtlach".
Tu B'Shvat... In keeping with our humanistic secular values, our annual Tu B'Shvat celebration marking the Birthday of the Trees in Israel, focuses on the importance of respecting and protecting the environment. Various activities over the years have included workshops led by environmental specialists, environmental quiz contests and making flower pots using recycled containers.
Our Tu B'Shvat Seyder includes a participatory reading, along with a sampling of traditional holiday treats!
Purim... a festive atmosphere complete with a costume parade, theatrical entertainment, door prizes, craft activities, a raffle and of course, homentashn. And a week before our Purim party our community homentash bake.
Peysach... A highlight of our calendar year our annual community 'Third Seyder'. Our secular celebration of Passover acknowledges its roots as a Spring festival and honours the powerful tradition of 'Exodus' a symbol of freedom. The event includes the reading of our own secular Haggodeh, with relevant contemporary passages addressing such issues as our hope for peace in the Middle East, Jewish resistance and heroism in the Uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto, or the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The music is led by prominent Toronto musicians. A traditional Passover meal follows the ceremony.
Our Peysach event was hailed as one of the best!
"Peysach Event Hailed as One of the Best!"
Written by Lisa Rothman
On Sunday April 11, over 180 members of the Winchevsky Centre community gathered in the east end of the city at Ellas Banquet Hall to celebrate Peysach and the theme of this year's Third Seyder: "In every generation new Pharaohs. In every generation new Freedoms".
Our progressive Haggodeh was passionately read by Sam Blatt, Lev Jaeger, Ronnee Jaeger and Shlomit Segal, along with members of the 2004 MWS Grade 6 class. Many times during the reading, passages about the importance of peace, social justice, equality, and accessible public education and health care were met with choruses of emphatic cheers from the celebrants.
We were also treated to the beautiful music of Dave Wall and Marilyn Lerner. From Marilyn's funked up version of Let My People Go, to Dave's haunting rendition of "Makh Tsu di Eygelekh", the room was filled with voices singing out in solidarity.
And of course, no good Jewish event would be complete without the food, and what a feast we had with juicy chicken breasts, sweet tzimmes, traditional farfel and potato kugels, salads, cakes, macaroons, fresh fruit and more! Everyone agreed that the chefs and wait staff at Ellas had outdone themselves.
Thank you to Barb Linds, who did a great job as our emcee for the evening, as well as to Julia Barnett and Agi Lukacs for their insightful and inspiring contributions to this year's Haggodeh. We also wish to thank everyone who supported this event with greetings in the Haggodeh and with contributions to the "Let All Who Are Hungry Come and Eat" campaign. A very special thank you to the Shek Family Living Legacy Fund and the Lee and Hy Schechter Education Fund for their very generous financial support of this event. It is greatly appreciated. This year's Third Seyder was a very rewarding event to produce, and we can't wait to see you all at next year's Seyder!
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"Tzindt on di Lichtlach!"
Written by Lisa Rothman
The Winchevsky Centre was a flurry of activity on Sunday December 21st, packed with some 80 smiling faces, all joined in celebrating the Festival of Lights.
The morning began with a round-robin of holiday activities led by the Shule teachers. The children were kept busy making pop-up Chanukah cards, edible dreidels (made out of marshmallows and Hershey kisses) and delicious chocolate sufganiot. They then went on an all-building scavenger hunt.
Meanwhile, up in the Hall, the adults bid on items at a silent auction, and were entertained by David Abramowitz's lively holiday program entitled Chanukah 'Chai'-jinks. David, as always, is a treasure-trove of information, and I know that we all learned something new about the holiday.
Young and old alike then gathered together in the Hall to hear a Chanukah and to enjoy creative holiday presentations by each of the MWS classes. A very special moment included student Aaron Hale dedicating a Chanukah candle to the memory of Henry Gord as part of the menorah-lighting ceremony prepared by his class.
We then had a rousing sing-a-long led by Shule parent Lois Fine. Accompanied by Lois on guitar, we all sang such holiday favourites as 'Chanukah, oy Chanukah', 'I Have a Little Draydel', 'Mi Y'Malel' and 'Sevivon'. Thanks to Lois Fine for doing such a great job with the music.
And of course, no Jewish party would be complete without...food! The hundreds of latkes that were made a week earlier by our team of volunteers were devoured in no time, as were the Sufganiot.
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