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Festivals

Sukkot


 
On the first night of Sukkot, a dinner is held in the Congregation’s large sukkah, constructed within the Deitcher Courtyard and decorated by the children of the Congregation. Throughout the week of the holiday, the sukkah is the site of numerous events including Sisterhood luncheon and the Bar Mitzvah Sukkot dinner. Services on the first two days of the holiday include the Hoshanot processions around the Sanctuary with more than 80 participants, each holding their own Lulav and Etrog – even more impressive because of the sheer size of the Sanctuary, as the line of worshippers extends around the entire perimeter.
 

Simchat Torah



On the afternoon preceding Simchat Torah, there is a special children’s Simchat Torah celebration, with an emphasis on every child feeling connected to the Torah. In this spirit a Torah scroll is completely unrolled for children to get a close look, and find letters and words that they recognize. There is food, dancing and games. This program leads directly into the evening hakafot in the sanctuary, where all are invited to dance and celebrate with the Torah scrolls. On Simchat Torah morning, there are multiple Torah reading stations to allow the maximum number of people to receive aliyot. There is a separate women’s Torah reading in the Chapel. Children receive a group aliya, which is accompanied by the singing of a special children’s song (Hamal’ach Hago’el). The Congregational honourees (Chatan Torah, Chatan B’reishit, Eishet Chayil) are elaborately feted by Cantor and Choir, with fanfares and processional music. There is a festive dinner and a celebratory lunch in tribute to the honourees.
 

Chanukah


Chanukah is a joyous time at the Shaar and around the Westmount community. Celebrations include a community-wide lighting of the Chanukah candles at Westmount City Hall, an exciting Chanukah party that attracts hundreds of children and their parents, and various service opportunities, including a visit by Shaar teens to a local seniors’ residence.
Join Rabbi Adam Scheier out and about in his “neighbourhood” wishing people a Happy Chanukah!
 
 

Shabbat Shirah

Shabbat Shirah, the Sabbath of Song on which we read Moses’ Song at the Red Sea, is a highlight of the synagogue’s musical calendar. Since the 1950’s, this Shabbat Service has showcased the Cantor and Synagogue choir in an especially elaborate service, often premiering new additions to the liturgical repertoire. The kiddush following services is traditionally the time when the choir is formally honoured for their musical contribution to the Congregation.
 

Tu Bishvat

 
Tu BiShevat is the 15th of Shevat on the Jewish calendar. This is the day that marks the “birthday” for trees and the season in which the earliest-blooming trees of Israel begin a new fruit-bearing cycle. We acknowledge this festival by eating these fruit: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.
 

Purim


Purim is a time for the Shaar to let its hair down. It is a day of high energy, costumes, food, and fun for all. The reading of the Megillah features sound effects and musical moments. Families with young children look forward to the Shaar’s blockbuster Purim party every year, in which hundreds of kids play party games, win prizes, and show off their costumes.
 

Passover


The Shaar is there to help congregants prepare for the holiday by facilitating the SALE OF CHAMETZ, and by offering special gifts and wines in the gift shop. The Congregation hosts two seders and also offers rooms for private rental.
On the seventh night of Passover, a recent tradition is a performance of Samuel Alman’s elaborate setting of the Counting of the Omer Service.
The Yizkor (Memorial) Service (also recited on Shavuot, Yom Kippur and Sukkot) features responsive readings and prayers for individual and communal loss, with unique musical settings. Instead of individual names being read, the names of all members who have passed away are inscribed in a special memorial book.
 

Shavuot


The theme of Shavuot Torah Study. The first night of Shavuot involves a festive congregational dinner with a panel discussion, which is followed by an all-night learning session that is taught by Shaar members and clergy. In addition to the adult study sessions, Shaar teens come together for all-night discussions, classes, and ice-cream treats! On the afternoon of the first day of Shavuot, our pre-Bar and Bat Mitzvah Shaar Youth enjoy their own parent-child study program. There is something for everyone on Shavuot at the Shaar!
Fri, November 24 2017 6 Kislev 5778