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Purim 2024 / Adar 5784

 From our Executive Director

Rabbi Sean Gorman

We continue to watch the unfolding of the war in Israel in bewilderment and horror.  This cannot end soon enough.  War on its own is a nightmarish business.  Compounding the war with the kidnapping, sexual abuse, and murder of Israelis, and then compounding it further with the nefarious behaviour of too many players turns this nightmare into a wound that will not heal.

Throughout history, Jews have reacted liturgically to these events.  Poetry has been written.  New meanings have found a place in extant liturgy and ritual.

We have thus seen the 10th of Tevet, a traditional fast day connected to the Babylonian invasion of the ancient Land of Israel, gain new meaning connected to the Shoah that ravaged so much of European Jewry less than a century ago.  We have also seen the Fast of Esther with its connection to Purim and to Queen Esther herself become the day on which we note the ongoing problems with agunot (women who cannot remarry due to the refusal of their spouses to give them a get).

I have generally not assumed the stringencies of the minor fast days.  I will do so this year.  It is for two reasons.

I have been studying to become a misadeir gittin.  Upon certification, I will be able to write divorces for the community.  The Masorti movement presently does not have someone qualified in Canada.  Get refusal is a form of spousal abuse.  In gaining this qualification, it feels incumbent to take a public stance against get refusal.

As well, I am now adding my own meaning to this fast.  Every time I think about the hostages in Gaza, I get a knot in my stomach.  This knot only tightens when I think about the 19 women still held hostage.  14 are still alive.  I cannot imagine their ordeal.  Are they being left alone?  Are they suffering the indignities so often visited on women historically, and emphatically visited on Israeli women on October 7?

On Ta’anit Esther, I fast for these women. I fast for the women whose spouses will not give them a get. I fast for the Jewish women of Gaza. May the slavery all of these women are suffering today, now, as we speak, cease forthwith.

Rav Sean

 From our President

In late February, MERCAZ-Canada's President Stan Greenspan and Vice President Nola Lazar, were invited to the World Zionist Organization's "The Jewish People Challenges: post-Oct 7th global leadership meeting" on February 27th – 28th" in Jerusalem. This conference was held in conjunction with the yearly meeting of the WZO’s Executive meetings and featured a number of speakers, including the President of Israel, Mr. Isaac Herzog.

There were a variety of topics discussed, but the one that had the most impact was by Dr Micah Goodman, “the Opportunity to Re-Establish Israel.” Dr Goodman’s talk centred around the need to re-imagine what the State means, looking at events of 2023 creating a similar opportunity that the new state had in 1948.

Israel’s Declaration of Independence, the Megilat Ha’atzmaut, continues to be the “constitution” of Israel, promising equality of race, sex and religion, a landmark document, that superseded Canada’s Bill of Rights (1960) and the US Civil Rights Act (1964).

However, since 1948, many of the clauses have been “modified” and the spirit of the law has not always been followed.

“ . . .will be based on the precepts of liberty, justice and peace taught by the Hebrew Prophets; will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex; will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; will safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places of all religions; and will dedicate itself to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

We have spoken about the inequalities of the current Jewish “state religion” where only those of the “orthodox” stream are recognized and support. Because of out of proportion influence of the religious parties in the Knesset, our rabbis and kehilot do not receive either recognition or support from the state, support that is given whole heartedly to the orthodox institutions. Agreements that have been made to allow equal and egalitarian services have been ignored, and much of the population is ignored when it comes to Jewish culture and religion.

Dr Goodman’s point was that with the changes coming in the next year or two, when the current government will have to answer for the events of October 2023, there is a near certainty of a change in government. The opportunity to make changes to the basic social fabric, from equality of religious practices to universal service in the IDF and beyond. The original agreement made by Prime Minister Ben Gurion in 1948 was to allow 600 Haredi scholars to be exempt from IDF service and receive government support for their studies. Recent news of 66,000 Haredi men on the IDF exemption list has led to demonstrations in Jerusalem, including the closure of the light rail system at evening rush hour. The numbers of exemptions have grown by 110 times, not only because of the greater numbers of Haredi citizens, but also as political gifts when the government required Haredi support.

You may have seen photos I have posted when I fly on EL AL from the cockpit. As a pilot, I am able to visit the “front office” (I have a friend who’s one of the chief pilots and makes the arrangements.)

I always ask “secular” Israelis the same four questions;

  1. Do you have a Shabbat dinner? (yes, of course!)
  2. Do you visit a Sukkah? (yes, it’s a great time of the year and there are Sukkahs everywhere)
  3. Do you go to shul on Rosh Hashannah & Yom Kippur? (yes, but it’s sometimes hard to find one that is welcoming)
  4. Do you go to shul on Shabbat? (sometimes, but again, there are few that are welcoming)

If you look at the answers, most secular Israelis have similar religious practices to our Masorti communities. But there is absolutely NO support from the government despite many promises and agreements.

Can the state be re-imagined? Absolutely!

Can we do anything to help? Yes. your membership and participation in our organizations and communities, especially moving towards the next World Zionist Congress are essential.

Visit our website, follow our FaceBook and other social media to see what’s happening today.

We need you to be part of us.

Stan Greenspan

Stan pilot

 From our Rabbis

From Rabbi Cutler

Some thoughts on the situation in Israel, from Rabbi Culter at Adath Israel, Toronto.

Canada and the War with Hamas - by Rabbi Adam Cutler (

 In Our Homes

Purim Around the World 

Purim is coming up all too quickly. This holiday celebrates the ingenuity and bravery of a young Jewish girl and her uncle in overcoming a plot to destroy her people in ancient Persia. Because Queen Esther concealed her identity while in the king’s harem, many foods traditional to Purim incorporate some element of concealment, like the tasty filling in fruity hamantashen, tucked away inside a triangular cookie, or Sephardi folares, where hard-boiled eggs are tucked inside pastry dough, which is formed into fancy shapes.

There are other foods associated with Purim as well, ones which bring to mind other aspects of the story. Orecchi di Aman (Haman’s ears) are an Italian traditional treat that evokes Haman’s supposedly twisted ears, as are the French palmiers. And poppy seeds are a frequent addition to Purim goodies. The Yiddish, mohn, sounds similar to the name of Haman. The tiny blue-black seeds also look like tiny little insects and are colloquially known in some parts as Hamans’ fleas (as in the picturesque curse “May you be infested with the fleas of a thousand camels”).

Now, everyone who knows me knows that I love exploring different cuisines and foods from around the world. So when I began thinking about what to bake and write about for Purim, naturally I reached outside of my own cultural sphere. I will certainly make hamantashen, the Ashkenazi treat I enjoyed growing up, but why stop so close to home? And where better to look than in Persia, the very place where the Purim story happened all those many centuries ago.

I have a recipe to share today that is both hidden and poppy-laden. It is not hidden in a literal sense, but it is relatively unknown in many Jewish communities, and that should be remedied. Nanbrangi, or Naan Berenji, are light and flaky Persian cookies that are topped with poppy seeds. They are are both gluten-free and dairy-free, making them a wonderful addition to the culinary repertoire for folks with these dietary concerns. As well as being a Persian Purim recipe, they are also traditional for the Norouz, the Persian new year. Flavoured with rose water, they are a delicious way to recall the floral-scented air of the palace of Ahashverosh in Shushan, and as we crush the poppy seeds between our teeth, so may the name of Haman be destroyed!

These are also a wonderful treat at Pesach, for those of us who are comfortable eating kitniyot.


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 TBSP rosewater
  • 2 ½ cups rice flour (approx.)
  • Poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cookie sheets with parchment  paper. Yes, you want to do this, because the cookies are very tender.

With an electric mixer (or whisk, if you’re feeling strong), beat the eggs until they are light and slightly frothy, then add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is pale yellow. Mix in the oil, then the rosewater, until well blended. Add the rice flour until you get a soft dough, adding a bit more if needed to make it easier to handle. Refrigerate the mixture for at least half an hour, longer (overnight, even) if you have the time. This lets the dough firm up a bit, so the cookies will hold together better. It also gives the rice flour a bit of time to soften.

Shape the dough into small balls, no more than an inch in diameter. The cookies are flaky, so anything too big will crumble. Make holes or designs on the top of each, depressing slightly, and sprinkle on poppy seeds (or add jam, for a more Western thumbprint-type cookie).

Bake for 15 minutes, until just starting to brown. Let cool completely before transferring to wire racks. Do two trays at a time if you can. Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies.


While we are enjoying Purim traditions from around the world, why not listen to some music as well. Here's a delightful Ladino folk song sung by Flory Jagoda on her collection, 'Memories of Sarajevo.'

Ladino (From the Flory Jagoda Songbook)

Mordecai manda i dize,
Aloz djidyos ke se avize:
En Adar katordze i kinze
Ke es diya de Purim

Biva yo, biva el Re,
Bivan todos Israel.
Biva la Rena Ester,
Ke mos dyo tanto plazer.

Il Aman mamzer segundo
Asitenga negro mundo;
Kijo echar djidyos al fundo,
En los diyas de Purim.

Yama todos los chikitikos
Bolsas yenas de bombonikos
Ke si merkan los djugetikos
Kon los denaros de Purim

Kon la asukri i la farina
Ya moz viene la madrina
Para fazer la halva fina
Para l’diya de Purim


Mordecai proclaims,
“All Jews take heed:
The 14th and 15th of Adar
Are the days of Purim.”

Long life to me, long live the King.
Long life to all of Israel.
Long live Queen Esther,
Who gave us so much pleasure.

Haman was a wicked devil,
May he be cursed!
He wanted to destroy the Jews
In the days of Purim.

Call all the little ones;
The bags are full of candy;
They should buy little toys
With their Purim money.

With sugar and flour
Godmother is coming
To make fine halvah
For the days of Purim.


~ Beverlee


Get Involved

You can read more of what MERCAZ and Masorti are doing at our website:

You can contribute to our efforts by joining MERCAZ-Canada and by donating to the Canadian Foundation for Masorti Judaism.

Membership is only $18 a year for adults, $9 for youth up to age 25. at the bottom of the page

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