Calgary’s HOJMI ushers in the New Year with spiritual fervour and optimism

By Gary Wolf

(AJNews) – The year 2020 has been an historic year.  As the world looks to turn a new chapter on a challenging few months, a new Jewish year, 5781, was rung in with much spiritual fervour at Calgary’s own House of Jacob Mikveh Israel (HOJMI).  The 110 year old congregation, whose original congregants faced challenges of wars and pandemics, was a fitting place to unite in prayer for a brighter tomorrow.

Hosting High Holiday services at HOJMI was not without challenges.  The first challenge was determining who would lead services. For the past 10 years Rabbi Dorfman from New York had travelled from New York to lead 200 plus congregants in prayer.  Border closures held back this treasured Cantor from performing for this new year.  The stellar voice and wonderful melodies of Rabbi Dorfman was not to be for the seventy HOJMI members who attended services.  The famous saying, “Man plans and G-d laughs” was playing itself out.

Fortunately for the community, there was a wealth of talent to tap into.  Calgary Kollel’s Rabbi Safren was tapped to lead large sections of the Rosh Hashonah and Yomi Kippur services.  Rabbi Safren treated the Shul to a stirring rendition of traditional and Carlebach melodies. Rabbi Goldenberg, from Halpern Akiva Academy, in his peaceful, gentle and devotional style made up part of the cantorial team as well. Those in attendance praised the dynamic cantorial duo for delivering a meaningful service to everyone.

“HOJMI did a great job treating its members to a wonderful service.  To have been able to open our doors for services, and do so in a safe way, is a testament to the strength of this community,” said HOJMI co-president David Silver.  “The stage has been set for a good year ahead of us.”

Many people came together to make the services run smoothly.  HOJMI salutes long time service coordinator, Dr.  Eliezer Segal, for his continued display of professionalism.  Vice President Michael Berlin led a team of ushers that welcomed all congregants to the building in his pleasant and sweet way.  Continued praise was expressed for HOJMI’s newly installed Rabbi, Binyomin Halpern, for being a guiding light to many.  Rabbi Halpern’s messages of hope and inspiration were received well by those in the sanctuary, and those who met up with him after services.

“Personally, I find it very rewarding to be able to showcase the local talent that we are privileged to have access to every day of the year not just three days a year,” said a long time HOJMI congregant.

The cooperation of the congregants in terms of physical distance, face covering and hand cleaning made it very easy to navigate the pews of the sanctuary.  The hope for HOJMI, and for all synagogues, is that current day public health restrictions will soon no longer be required.  Nevertheless; HOJMI has shown itself able to meet the needs of Calgary’s Jewish community should today’s situation continue, G-d forbid, for an extended period of time.


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