looking to the future
By Frank Flegel
REGINA — Like many
faith communities, Regina’s synagogue membership has declined
over the years.
80 families,” said director of synagogue services Jeremy Parnes,
“and they’re very generous and helpful to us, but it’s
The generous support of the
synagogue community is evident upon entering the Pearl and Max B. Herman
Centre that houses Beth Jacob Synagogue and when reading the community’s
newsletter, Shofar. Everything in the centre appears to have a sponsoring
name and most pages in the quarterly Shofar are sponsored.
With a declining population,
however, the community needed to seek a new vision. To that end, a weekend
renewal was held July 16 - 18 facilitated by both Parnes and Rabbi Shawn
Zevit, senior consultant and director of Outreach and External Affairs
for the Jewish Reconstruction Federation, with headquarters in Jenkintown,
Pa. Zevit is also a teacher, writer, composer and performer of traditional
The Regina Jewish community began life 110 years ago with 10 families.
“The Talmud instructs us to start a school where 10 families are
gathered,” saod Parnes, and that was the beginning of the Synagogue.
In the July Shofar, Parnes recognized what he called the circle of life:
“We grew from a few to many and we gradually became few again.
But the circle of life is just that, a circle. Even when it may feel
that we are dwindling, we need to recognize that our strength is not
simply in numbers but in our dedication to Jewish ideals and their impact
on the world, on our community and future generations.”
The weekend had a good turnout, with about 90 people responding to 160
invitations, said Parnes. The gathering looked to the future.
“Where are we going to be as a community in Regina?” Parnes
asked. “We looked at a broader brush stroke than just a synagogue.
It was all about renewal. We reviewed where we are and were we are going.”
Among the items discussed was how to recognize more appropriately the
contributions of non-Jews, particularly those who marry into the congregation.
The weekend went very well, said Parnes, and looked at a lot of issues.
“We put it out there to think about it.”
Parnes has initiated one change already: Saturday evening services,
Havdallah. “We use more English in the service and it’s
more for families who may feel a little uncomfortable with the Saturday
The board of directors was to meet over the summer to consider some
follow up action and Rabbi Zevit may be asked to return for another