Tag Archives: Judaism

Got Shabbat?

“Daddy, are we at the Shabbat house?”
“Yes, buddy…Oh man, he’s been talking about coming back all week long, and no it’s not just a Shabbat Party, to him it’s a home.”

Every Friday morning children between the ages of 0 to 4 come together with their caregivers or family members to celebrate Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest. They are taught the differences between the rest of the week- the hustle the bustle- and this special day. On Shabbat we wear our nicest clothes, we prepare and eat the best foods (like delicious challah that we pretend to bake in class) and sing songs that exemplify our unity as we sing and play instruments loudly together. The class begins with preparing the children for Shabbat with the song, ‘I’ve got a Shabbat Feeling’, where one verse will tell the children to feel Shabbat in their bellies for all the delicious food they will eat, feel Shabbat in their heads for all the nice thoughts we think, and in our fingers and toes because we’re thankful for our day of rest. Everyone gets really excited to dance and sing to this revamped version of ‘head and shoulders; knees and toes’.

The class usually ends with a peaceful song such as ‘heenay ma tov’ or ‘mah yafeh hayom’, where loved ones cuddle together and sway to this peaceful tune. They are also asked to think of joyful events that occurred throughout week to be reminded of the greatness in life. Shabbat is time for relaxing, rejoicing and recounting and that’s exactly the type of experience you’ll get at the MNjcc Shabbat Party!

Parent comment: I attended the Got Shabbat? program with my infant son and I was blown away by the energy of the instructors. Every child and parent was engaged by the interactive programming and energetic singing. The songs and activities were perfect! I can’t say enough about this program’s warmth, vibrancy, and the engagement of the children as well as the adults.
Kol hakavod – Good Work!


Concluding Shabbat Party Song:

Heebay ma tov uma nayim, shevat achim gam yacha x2
Heenay ma tov shevet achim gam yahad x2

Happy are we to be friends when we live in peace together x2
Let’s all live in peace and learn to be friends together x2


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Social Media and Judaism

For those of you not officially cyber-introduced to me yet, my name is Maytal Kowalski, and I frequently Tweet/update Facebook for the MNjcc (but more about me in the bio below!)

When I initially started “moonlighting” in the art of social media, it was mainly because I wanted an excuse to hang out on Facebook and Twitter at work (you can follow our Twitter stream here, and my personal Tweets here). From the MNjcc Twitter account, I began to follow a variety of Jewish organizations, publications, notable figures and news sources. I realized that, although I am Jewish and very connected to my religion, customs and traditions, my day-to-day involvement in the community was lacking. As an Israeli and Canadian citizen, I couldn’t believe how much I didn’t know about current events in both countries and how they related to me.

One of my first tweets was while I was watching an episode of Glee in which Artie, the most talented kid at McKinley High on no legs, gets what can only be described as robot legs to help him walk. He proudly mentions that they were invented by “some Israeli guy.” For real?! I couldn’t believe it. The system is called the ReWalk and you can read about it here. I always knew Israel was incredibly technologically advanced, but advanced enough to get a mention on Glee? I was so proud, I was kvelling! (Oh hey, want to know what that, and other popular Yiddish terms mean? Follow this guy here).

In a world where Israel is always in the spotlight, most often in a controversial way; where it’s hard to stay connected to your Jewish roots in the Diaspora, where the majority of your friends’ knowledge of Judaism comes from Curb your Enthusiasm or Woody Allen movies (fun fact – I can’t watch Woody Allen movies because he reminds me too much of a particularly neurotic ex-boyfriend), I found myself re-connecting to my roots in the most surprising way – through social media.

There are simply so many great organizations, with so much fantastic information, that want to share it with you- and all in 140 characters or less! Today Jewish Tweets posted “Action: It’s Still Mimouna! Invite friends over this evening to celebrate Mimouna!” Huh? What’s Mimouna? It turns out it’s this. As it is primarily celebrated by the Mizrahi Jews it was not something that had ever entered my life. Oh and also because I eat bread during Passover so the end of Passover doesn’t really mean much to me.  🙂

And there’s another good point – I struggle with my Judaism sometimes, as I’m sure most people struggle with their faith – whether it’s Judaism, or another religion in which they were brought up. I also struggle with my love of Israel. No, wait. I don’t struggle to love it. I simply LOVE it. The most devastating day for me was when you no longer had to step outside off the plane in order to get to the terminal. Those days looked like this. There is absolutely nothing like getting off a 10-hour flight to the warm Israeli air and that smell that is just… indescribable. But I digress…

I don’t agree with every decision the Israeli government makes, just like I don’t agree with every decision the Canadian government makes. When you live in Israel, you can criticize your government. It’s a more sensitive topic in the Diaspora. Think of it like this – if you complain about your brother to your friend, you’re just venting, letting off steam. If your friend complains to you about your brother, you jump to defend him, right? So where does that leave me? If I criticize, am I a bad Jew, a bad Israeli? And if I post a fantastic story about Israel, do I risk criticism and backlash? With social media, I can ask those questions, and I can read articles, and I can comment on them, and read others’ comments and thoughts. I can find out that other people struggle just as I do, and that helps me struggle a bit less.

Sometimes I tell people I work in social media. They scoff. That’s not a job. That’s a person going on Twitter and Facebook! Like it or not, social media IS changing the way we live. The revolution in Egypt? Check out this book. Want some more examples? How about these tweets that shook the world in 2010? Information is getting out into the world in higher quantities than we’ve ever seen, faster than we’ve ever seen, more widely spread than we’ve ever seen. What would’ve happened if twitter had existed during World War II? Or the founding of the state of Israel? The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. or JFK?

Our world is changing, and we can reject it or embrace it. If you struggle with your own identity, whatever that identity is, or if you don’t and love reading about your culture, religion, tradition and homeland, try getting involved in social media. And if you have any questions, there’s a comments section just below this post waiting to hear from you!

Maytal Kowalski is the Administration and Production Coordinator for the Al Green Theatre in the MNjcc. In her spare time (because she has oh-so much of it!) she Tweets and FBs for your reading pleasure. Maytal graduated with a BFA (Hons) from York University’s dance program and has lived in Israel off and on since the age of 11.


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Hello world!

We are the Miles Nadal JCC.

Each person that enters our doors at 750 Spadina Ave, each person that works here; at the information desk, in the fitness centre, at the Al Green Theatre, as a programmer, has a voice.  And the Miles Nadal JCC blog is where these voices come together so that you can hear the thoughts and musings that lie within each of us.

We hope that you’ll stop by often, contribute your voice, and help us enhance and expand upon the blogging experience.

Have something you want to say?  Want to write a blog post?  We invite you to share!  You can send posts to socialize@mnjcc.org.  Be sure to include a short bio and headshot! (Bio should be around 130 words.)  All posts are subjected to review and editing by the social media team.  Any changes made to your post will be sent to you for review prior to posting.  We cannot guarantee when the article will be posted, but if there is a specific time at which you would like the article to appear (for example- an article about Rosh Hashana should be posted at that time!) please let us know, and we will make every effort to publish it at that time.

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