Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Congregation Emanu-El: Making Us Proud for 150 Years.

A small tribute to my Hebrew homies in today's National Post.
. . . Back in 1863, heralding the start of construction on the Emanu-El synagogue, the Victoria Colonist reported: “The Israelites in Victoria are a large and highly respectable body. Many of them have resided in the city from the date of its earliest existence, and their conduct and bearing has invariably been such as to earn for them the good wishes and esteem of their fellow citizens of other persuasions.”
And so it was that on June 2, 1863, the grand parade to the corner of Blanshard and Pandora brought out the St. Andrew’s Society, the Germania Sing Verein choir, the French Benevolent Society and other such “ethnic” constituencies. The highlight of the day was the cornerstone-laying ritual performed by Victoria’s Freemasons, many of whom were themselves Jews.
Designed by the premier architects John Wright and George Sanders, the brick-and-stone synagogue was far and away more imposing and grand than any of the city’s several churches, almost all of which were built of fir and cedar. As soon as the temple was consecrated, the “firsts” would start their parade through the congregation’s story. . .
Out of the oldest synagogue in Canada, the oldest continuously occupied house of worship on North America's west coast: First Jewish Member of Parliament in Canada, first Jewish mayor in North America, first Jewish judge in Canada, and going back to 1895, maybe the first time a woman officiated from the pulpit of a synagogue during the High Holy Days. . .
Happy birthday, Congregation Emanu-El. Here's to another 150 years.


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