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Tu Bishvat - Open Your Eyes

02/07/2020 12:35:25 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


This Monday we celebrate the special Holiday of Tu Bishvat.  Many of our Holidays require a lot of preparation to make happen.   With Tu Bishvat, it’s possible to hold a “Kabbalistic Seder” which has a Pesach feel to it, and it’s also possible to run all around Toronto in search of the most exotic fruit possible; nevertheless, the main part of Tu Bishvat requires one simple activity that we do 28,800...Read more...

Lessons from The Moon

02/01/2020 11:52:22 AM


Rabbi Mordechai Bookbinder


I grew up in a small town, essentially at the base of a ski hill. I can remember spending many Sundays bundling up to go skiing. For the first while, I spent more time getting up off the ground (having fallen down) then actually standing on my skis. It was only through perseverance (and being made fun of by an older sibling) that I was actually able to learn how. 

There’s a famous quote from Mishlei (Proverbs)...

The Secret Sauce in the Marriage

01/27/2020 10:31:51 AM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


One of the many beautiful aspects of my job is that I get to learn with grooms before they get married. The challenge is that most of them don’t appreciate what I have to say because they think the honeymoon phase of their marriage will last forever. The truth is, that with hard work, you can get permanent bliss, but only after years of work. The honeymoon phase is a gift from Hashem to let us know what we can achieve if we...Read more...

Houston, We Have A Problem

01/17/2020 01:25:40 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


This past week it was revealed that the 2017 World Series winning Houston Astros had cheated during their playing season!!  All the runner-up teams, the excitement of their fans, all the financial benefits, and the future careers of the players were kyboshed because the Astros, who had been a great team without cheating, decided to employ deceptive techniques and rig the playing field to gain additional advantages. How...Read more...

Rupert The Dog

01/10/2020 01:29:26 PM


Eitan and Rebecca Markus

If you've been at FHJC in the past year and a half, you might have noticed an unusual, furry, four-legged congregant sitting in the men's section or hanging out at kiddush - his name is Rupert and he's a guide dog in training. What that means is that Rupert was sent to live with us for 12-18 months...Read more...

The Siyum Hashas

01/04/2020 01:25:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


This last Sunday over 90,000 people came together at MetLife stadium in New Jersey to celebrate the completion of the entire Talmud in recognition of those that are part of the Daf Yomi Program (a-page-a-day). This Sunday a similar, but smaller, celebration will be taking place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building. Although I was in Toronto for this mega-celebration, I was well-represented by my father,...Read more...

A Memorable Weekend

01/02/2020 04:12:28 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


Last week was the best "Candlestick Return Ceremony" I have ever been to!

Outside of the obvious awesome food that we had, it also contained a few important surprises that I'd like to share with you. For me, there were 3 special features. Firstly, I really did not initially have a full appreciation for the level of care that the Erbe's took in holding onto to these candlesticks. They would have been fully justified in...Read more...


01/02/2020 04:11:31 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


Our Rabbis tell us that when Yaakov saw his father-in-law, Lavan's negative body language, he knew his days were numbered. Shortly thereafter he fled for his life together with his family.

Our Sages see within this simple verse a very important lesson: to keep one's face lit-up with a smile. We know that when we see someone with a cheery disposition, it makes us feel good about ourselves. Conversely, when you see...Read more...

Black Friday

01/02/2020 04:10:32 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


Although I will continue my long standing tradition of purchasing nothing on black Friday, I will make a minor exception this year and purchase kokosh from Hermes .

To me, Thanksgiving and Black Friday are polar opposites. On the first day you focus on appreciating what you have, and then the next day we behave like we aren't really happy and we need (as George Carlin used to say) "stuff".

So, I would just like...

Reflections From The Poland Trip

01/02/2020 04:10:27 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


Last week in Poland was exhausting but invigorating. Our trip took us to many places where our Nation has suffered the worst of brutalities. For many, a trip like this is folly: "Why go to a coun- try with so much blood on their hands? Why support the local economy with your trip?"

The answer is quite simple, the positives on the trip outweighed the negatives 100:1. We heard many stories about faith and op- timism...Read more...

Shabbos in Vegas and A Mazel Tov

01/02/2020 04:09:29 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


Rifky and I were nervous about going to Vegas let alone for Shabbos.

...O.K., truth be told, only one of us were nervous. I guess I'm just too much of a traditionalist!

Shabbos in Vegas with Chai Lifeline was amazing!! To share a Shabbos with other runners, with the amazing Chai Lifeline staff, and with the families that have been touched by the magical work of Chai Lifeline was truly a spiritual...Read more...

The Choice Is Yours

01/02/2020 04:07:08 PM


Rabbi Mordechai Bookbinder


At the beginning of his journeys, Moshe is referred to as an Ish Mitzri – an Egyptian Man. At the end, after he passes away, he is referred to as an Ish HaElohim – A Man of G-D. Moshe raises him- self up from a lowly state to an exalted one.

In contrast to this, Noah, in this week’s parsha, is first referred to as an Ish, Tzaddik, Tammim – a Righteous, Perfect Man, while after the flood, he is called an Ish...Read more...

Eye Of The Tiger

01/02/2020 03:51:36 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova, Wow!

What an incredible journey this last month has been. I call it a journey because we hope that not only did we "go through the Holidays", but really the goal is for the Holidays to go through us!

What a blessing we had in Vered's youth programing, Zvi's beautiful davening and ruach, especially on Simchas Torah. The staff here has been amazing with most of them being here under...Read more...

The Song Of Our Soul

01/02/2020 03:48:35 PM


Rabbi Mordechai Bookbinder


There is a Chassidic concept for this time of year, that starting in the Hebrew month of Ellul (one month before Rosh Hashannah), “the King is in the Field”.

This phrase beautifully and vividly captures the essence of the high holiday season – namely that the King (Hashem), leaves His palace and comes down into the field (the world) where all the villagers (the Jewish People) live, making His presence that much...Read more...

Highlighting the Bad to Emphasize the Good!

01/02/2020 03:47:56 PM


Rabbi Mordechai Bookbinder


This week’s Torah portion, Ki Savo, is referred to as “the k’lalahs” – the curses! The prophecies mentioned are uniquely foreboding in their nature for those who take the time to read through the parsha.

Interesting traditions have sprung up given the gloominess of the reading. Many people avoid receiving aliyahs, as they don’t want to be “cursed”. Typically, no one is actively called up for...Read more...

We Are Almost There...

01/02/2020 03:47:06 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


We are almost there .... My friends we are 2 weeks away from Rosh Hashana, and there are a few things that are on my mind:

We are importing a new dynamic youth leader for the High Holidays: Vered Benchetrit. Her greatest joy is seeing each child shine in their own way! Vered is the Co-Founder of JCreative Group Inc. and is well known as DJ VB Rose, one of the only female DJ's in the Jewish com- munity.

We have 2...

A Lesson From A Jewish War

01/02/2020 03:46:12 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


Jewish Law demands that when you are out to battle, and overtures of peace have not been accepted, you still have some mandated re- strictions. One of these laws is the inability to attack from all 4 sides - i.e. to box them in. One of the reasons given for this is that if you leave an escape route people don't fight as hard. When there is no going back you fight till the end, but somehow, if you know you can run away you don't...Read more...

Thank You Olami!

01/02/2020 03:45:31 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


I am very excited to announce that this Sunday, Rabbi Shlomo and Yehudis Katz will be moving into our neighbourhood to work with young professionals and collegiates. This opportunity exists because of a special organization called Olami.  

Olami is a global community of 320 organizations from 28 countries around the world committed to inspiring young adults / professionals to achieve their Jewish greatness....Read more...

Shabbos Nachamu

01/02/2020 03:44:50 PM


Rabbi Mordechai Bookbinder


This Shabbos is very special for many reasons:

1. It is called Shabbos Nachamu – the Shabbos of Consolation which is the Shabbos immediately following Tisha B’Av.  It is considered a very happy time as we focus forward on good things to come

2. Our very own Rabbi & Rebbetzin have become grandparents!   Mimi, their daughter, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl this past Wednesday.  The...Read more...

Tisha B'av

01/02/2020 03:44:08 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


My friends, Tisha B’Av is the saddest day for the Jewish Nation. There are 5 main things we are restricted from doing just like on Yom Kippur (No eating, washing, anointing, relations and leather shoes). HOWEVER, another not so famous restriction is that one is not allowed to greet a fellow, that means no saying: "Good Morning how yah doin’?"

Imagine a whole day and you can't express a simple greeting to another. To...Read more...

Moshe's Loss Is Our Gain

01/02/2020 03:43:33 PM


Rabbi Mordechai Bookbinder


What a contrast in this week’s parsha!

At the beginning of it, we are how Moshe’s brother, Aaron, was to merit having his grandson, Pinchas, succeed him in the role as Cohen Gadol (High Priest). Every parent instinctively understands that there is a certain simcha in being able to see their child or grandchild follow in their footsteps.

Toward the end of the parsha, knowing that he has been forbidden from...Read more...

Tzeitzchem L’Shalom

01/02/2020 03:42:44 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


Twelve years ago we had a tryout for the Director of Education at the Centre. At that time, we were blessed to have been given a nice donation from Warren and Tali Newfield. (As an aside, Warren used to be Alan Friedman’s boss, and Rifky and I met Alan and Michelle at their Sheva Bracha that Warren and Tali hosted). We interviewed three worthy candidates and chose Rabbi Appelrouth. Over the last 12 years, The Applerouths have...Read more...

The Homecoming

01/02/2020 03:41:59 PM


Rabbi Elie and Mordechai


Every now and then, we see such an explicit sign of HaShem's Hand, that it's hard to deny. Two weeks ago, Rabbi Elie received a phone call from someone in Vancouver who said that they had something that they felt should rightfully belongs to us. Being that it was just before our Golf Tournament and Shavuos, we couldn't pay too much attention and the matter was quickly put out of our minds. Sidebar: For those who don't know, The...Read more...

Climbing Your Way To The Top

01/02/2020 03:41:13 PM


Rabbi Mordechai Bookbinder


The joke goes that the reason the Jews spent 40 years in the desert was because Moshe, being a man, refused to stop and ask for directions. (insert laugh-track here – Ed.) We actually just passed an important mile-stone in our journey from Pesach to Shavuos earlier this week – Lag B’Omer which is the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer. This day marks the yahrzeit of one of the great rabbis of the Talmud, Rabbi Shimon...Read more...

"What About The Mechitza?

01/02/2020 03:40:11 PM


Rabbi Mordechai Bookbinder


With a provocative title like that, it’s no surprise that 50 + women showed up for our first in a three-part Jewish Women’s Learning Series! Focused on issues that address Jewish Women in Modernity (Navigating Modern Times – see banner below…), Rebbetzin Rifky Karfunkel addressed the sold out crowd with energy and enthusiasm. Shimona Petroff, head of our Women’s Learning Committee and event coordinator, commented that...Read more...

What Would You Do?

01/02/2020 03:39:00 PM


Rabbi Mordechai Bookbinder


How many times have you heard it said “There just aren’t enough hours in the day!”? What would you do if you had an extra hour? What if we gave you an extra day in the week? Can you imagine all the extra things you could finally get to? All those projects and chores that have been sitting around waiting for you to “finally have time to get around to them”… The Jewish calendar is based on the moon, not the sun. As...Read more...

Closing Purim Thoughts

01/02/2020 03:38:20 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


I feel like singing the song Dayenu. The theme of Pesach is appreciation, and Dayenu is at the forefront of this idea. Every step along the way of our salvation would have been enough because each event demonstrated Hashem’s kindness to us. The staff here has been so overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of our community, that we feel we are in a state of Dayenu. After over 300 people showed up for our Purim Carnival, we figured that...Read more...

Don't Forget to Forget

01/02/2020 03:37:37 PM


Rabbi Mordechai Bookbinder


I always remember what I forgot to pick up at the grocery store just as I am pulling into the driveway, coming back from my trip to the store. What a pain! Usually we are told “Don’t Forget to….” This week there is a very special Torah reading about how the Jewish People were attacked by the nation of Amalek, our eternal arch-enemies, just as they were leaving Egypt and on their way to Mount Sinai. Because of the...Read more...


01/02/2020 03:35:24 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


Nachas “Nachas” is word that is very hard to define. In some respects, it means the pride that you get from the accomplishments of others. When most people refer to nachas they refer to a “parents’” nachas over their kids. A son or a daughter becoming a Doctor or Lawyer will likely fill the parents with nachas. However, I think we can all agree that the best nachas is when one sees their children embracing the right...Read more...

Our Shivah House Torah

01/02/2020 03:34:26 PM



We are so proud to undertake a special initiative at the Centre to purchase a Torah designed for the purpose of being transported to and from Shiva Houses. In Ethics of our Fathers, it states " The world stands on 3 things: On Torah, on Avodah (Prayer) and on Kindness.” With this Torah being used at a Shiva Service we will be bringing all 3 components together. Please check out the flyers (available on all floors) to learn...Read more...

Tue, June 18 2024 12 Sivan 5784