Tikkun Leil Shavuot @ Miles Nadal JCC: A memorable evening to awaken the mind, body and soul.


Liz Pearl @ PK Press

Tikkun Leil Shavuot @ Miles Nadal JCC is an incredible collaborative evening of learning, schmoozing and noshing. The spring Festival is a celebration of Torah and eating sweet dairy treats! A memorable evening to awaken the mind, body and soul.

Shavuot is a holiday with historical, religious and agricultural significance there is something for everyone.

CHAG SAMEACH! Welcome to the tenth annual Downtown Tikkun Leil Shavuot: All-Night Jewish Learning Festival! The springtime holiday of Shavuot commemorates the moment that the ancient Israelites received the Torah at Mount Sinai. In anticipation of the revelation, we stay up all night studying, singing, snacking, and mingling – but with a modern twist!” ‒ http://www.mnjcc.org

This annual event definitely gets bigger and better every year and is an amazing reflection of the growing diversity of the downtown Toronto Jewish community.  So many sessions to choose from; I love experiential learning and am grateful to have this meaningful opportunity to celebrate the holiday. The venue is accessible and the vibe is inviting. The building is buzzing with excitement. It’s so much fun to catch-up with former teachers, friends, colleagues and clients at this one-of-a-kind festivity.  Plus cheesecake.

It’s no secret I am impartial to music.  So, as I browsed the jam-packed program schedule for the evening – including many fascinating programs and dynamic facilitators, I landed upon two musical sessions presented by vibrant women I am fortunate to have crossed paths with many times.

Session 1:

Who is Afraid of Talmud? With Rabbi Yossi Sapirman “Are you? Many people are, it’s a mishmash of languages, ideas and seemingly tangential and non-sequential concepts. I am not afraid; in fact the white space between the letters will be familiar to a modern audience. A rare opportunity to explore this hugely significant foundational text.”

Rabbi Yossi Sapirman has been the Senior Rabbi of Beth Torah Congregation in Toronto for more than 18 years. http://www.bethtorah.ca – (reprinted from the program)

Many of us left Talmud and Rabbinics way back in Hebrew day school many many moons ago (HHS Snowdon 1981). We are back and we are trying to make some sense of it all.  We are here, we know that somehow this too is part of our story.

Mishnah. Gemara. Halacha. Haggadah. Midrash.

Thanks, Rabbi Yossi, for sparking-up our rusty Talmud lexicon and getting my mind in gear for the holiday.

Session 2:

Instant Choir with Harriet Wichin is an annual crowd-pleaser. The eager ensemble includes experienced and novice choir singers as well as a few singers-wannabe (that’s me). This year Harriett selected some of my all-time favourite sing-along Jewish tunes including: “Kol Haolam Kulo” (Lyrics by Rabbi Chaim Nachman of Bratslav), “Esa Einai” (Text: Psalm 121:1-2, music by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach) and “Turn, Turn, Turn” by Pete Seeger To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven…”  (Lyrics based on Book of Ecclesiasticus). Wow, we sound like rock stars!

Melody. Harmony. Lyrics. Unison. Chorus.

Thanks Harriet, for some soulful singing! Joyful music always fills my heart. And the songs of sorrow pull at our heart strings.  See you next year – or at Limmud.

Harriet Wichin is the Executive Director of the MNjcc. She has led choirs and ensembles for more than 25 years, including the MNjcc Community Choir and Women’s Chorus. She is thrilled to return to Tikkun Leil Shavuot. – (reprinted from the program)

Session 3:
At the Mountain – Song and Silence with Aviva Chenick.

“There are many teachings about what transpired when the people received Torah. Maybe they stood close together, a community full with song. Maybe they felt alone in the group, receiving individual revelation in stunning silence. Come sing out, and sit in the reverberating silence. No previous singing or meditation experience required. Aviva Chernick is a Ba’alat Neginah, award-winning musician, and mindfulness educator based in Toronto. For the past twelve years, alongside an active performing and touring career, she has served in and around Toronto and as a guest in communities across North America leading and teaching about the voice in prayer.”  – (reprinted from the program)

“In seeking wisdon, the first step is silence”.  – Solomon Ibn Gabriol

Silence.  Posture.  Breath.  Sigh. Words. Chant. Song.

Thanks Aviva, for some late evening Jewish mindfulness, guided breathing and vocals. We can all benefit from slowing down and exploring that quiet space in our minds and softening our hearts and then joining together as an inclusive and engaged community. We stand together and our collective voice is powerful.

My spiritual battery is recharged. I am relaxed and revitalized, but it’s also past my bedtime, and it’s time to go home. Maybe next year I will stay past midnight. Anyone who is still awake at dusk is invited to the sunrise rooftop closing ceremony – definitely targeted to the Millennials.

Tikkun Leil Shavuot @ Miles Nadal JCC a collaborative event made possible with the dedication of many staff and volunteers and is generously suupported by the Kolel Legacy Fund.

This awesome event is sponsored by many agencies including the MNjcc and the DJCC.

“The Downtown Jewish Community Council (DJCC) is here to support your Jewish life downtown. The DJCC invigorates our community by promoting cooperation, resource-sharing, partnerships and collective action between its member organizations.”  ‒ http://www.mnjcc.org

I am looking forward to celebrating this holiday again next year and I’m hoping cheese blintzes are added to the midnight menu.


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