The Okanagan Jewish community celebrated the High Holidays with spiritual leaders Rabbi Larry Seidman and Rabbi Linda Seidman from California officiating at the services. The husband-wife team had prepared special pamphlets for everyone in the community to be able to participate.
There was an erev Rosh Hashanah service on Oct. 2, as well as morning services the next day, which were followed by a potluck luncheon. For Yom Kippur, there were also two services, with Kol Nidre on the erev and a day-full of services on Oct. 12, which included a discussion period, Yizkor and a break-fast potluck.
The services were all well-attended and Rabbis Larry and Linda were warmly welcomed to Kelowna and to the celebrations.
Rabbi Larry has a background in research and management, encompassing communications, satellites, aerospace, wind energy and telemedicine. He holds many degrees, as well as being skilled in engineering and management, and has been sought after for presentations. He has given talks around the world.
Throughout his career, he has been dedicated to Jewish practice and study, having served as a lay leader of minyans and Torah study groups, and has continued to pursue both formal and informal Jewish education. A few years ago, he retired from his position as a senior manager in Phantom Works, the research and development organization of the Boeing Company, which has allowed him to increase his engagement in Jewish activities.
He was ordained as a rabbi by the Academy for Jewish Religion, in California, and is a member of the Southern California Board of Rabbis. His practice is dedicated to being a rabbi who combines Jewish tradition with modern thought.
A 2010 ordinee, Rabbi Linda currently serves as a prison chaplain in Orange County, Calif. Donning her uniform and bullet-proof vest, Rabbi Linda, who is certified as a deputy chaplain, works with the county jails, offering counseling and other services to 80 or 90 people per month. “If anybody had told me 10 years ago, when I was an aerospace engineer, that I would be doing this, I would have said ‘in your dreams,’ but life takes funny turns,” she said.
Admitting that she failed at retirement, she said she became interested in the Academy for Jewish Religion, which is a non-denominational rabbinical school, when she heard that it offered a part-time program. She enrolled a year after her husband. Today, in addition to the jail chaplaincy, she serves as the chaplain at a hospice, performs an occasional funeral and leads services and Bible study at a senior living facility.
Rabbi Linda believes that there is “a tremendous amount of security in knowing what to do and when to do it,” and that traditional Judaism meets the needs of some people who are happy and comfortable with their roles. But, she feels that women bring another approach to Judaism. “We see things differently than men,” she said. In other areas, however, such as women’s health and children’s issues, “our concerns are rooted in same values, and there is plenty to unite us.”
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In other recent OJC news, one of the community’s newer members, Philippe Richer-Lafleche, became a bar mitzvah on Oct. 15. Not having had the opportunity to have a bar mitzvah when he was a boy, Richer-Lafleche had looked forward to the special day, which took place after many months of studying under the guidance of OJC’s religious chair, Evan Orloff. The services were followed by a potluck lunch, which included dishes provided by Richer-Lafleche.
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Finally, OJC celebrated Sukkot on Oct. 17 with a mixture of 60 adults and children in attendance. The rains dispersed and the ground dried so that everyone could enjoy the experience of building and decorating the sukkah.
A special thank you to Natasha for organizing crafts, and to the parents who helped construct the sukkah without the help of Google or Siri. The construction was followed by a potluck inclusive of pizza cooked by one of the OJC Golf Classic food sponsors, Mr. Mozzarella Pizza and Wings.
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The Okanagan Jewish Community Centre’s mission “is to work towards building a strong and unified Jewish community in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. The OJCC encourages an inclusive atmosphere of understanding and respect amongst Jews of different backgrounds, and maintains cooperative relationships with other regional and national Jewish community organizations. The OJCC also aims to promote a positive and active relationship with the Okanagan community at large.”