Solel’s Sister Congregation: Kehilat Darchei No’am

Solel Announcements

by Solel Announcements, October 20, 2014

Solel has a sister congregation in Israel: Kehilat Darchei No’am in Ramat HaSharon. This is the story of how our congregation came to be partners with this pioneering Reform synagogue in Israel.

A Brief History

Our relationship began in 1980 when Matt Lewis, Solel’s president, and his wife Renee (both of blessed memory) attended a World Union conference in Israel. There they met Brenda Alony, who was president of a Reform congregation in Ramat Hasharon, so new that they didn’t yet have a name! Solel was still a young community then, and the three of them agreed to start a “twinning” relationship between our two congregations. They weren’t quite sure what that would mean, but were confident that time would tell. When Matt and Renee returned to Mississauga, they informed Rabbi Englander who got in touch with Brenda. That call began a friendship that continues till this day.

The following year, Rabbi and Cheryl Englander visited the congregation and met their new rabbi, Yehoram Mazor. A couple of years after that, the Englanders led the first Solel tour to Israel. On Erev Shabbat the group attended services in Ramat HaSharon. By that time the congregation had taken the name Darchei No’am, which means “ways of pleasantness,” a verse from the Book of Proverbs which appeared on Solel letterhead. They were meeting in the auditorium of a middle school, so they had to set up chairs, tables and the Holy Ark each week. The Solel group was treated to very warm hospitality and a delicious pot luck Shabbat dinner. While we sang, dined and danced after the service, people exchanged addresses and promised to keep in touch – which several of them have done. Rabbi Mazor himself made two visits to Solel and spoke during services.

Over the years that followed, Solel made a total of seven trips to Israel, each time visiting Kehilat Darchei No’am. The congregation continued to grow until they were able to purchase land and erect a building. By happy coincidence, Rabbi and Cheryl Englander were in Israel at the time of the chanukat habayit (dedication ceremony) and were welcomed by Rabbi Stacey Blank and President Ilana Dothan. Part of the ceremony involved the planting of two lemon trees by the front entrance. Ilana announced that one tree was to wish Darchei No’am success, and the other was to thank Solel Congregation for its continued support. This refers to the fact that, on each Yom Kippur, Solel collected donations for our Israeli twin. Ilana mentioned that they could not have reached their present achievement without our help.

Our relationship involved much more than visits and financial support. Several of their members came to visit us and stayed at Solelniks’ homes. When our members travelled to Israel, they had a home away from home. A couple of young adults spent a few months in Israel and were “adopted” by Darchei No’am families. We regularly exchanged synagogue newsletters, enjoyed some joint teaching by the rabbis, and even had a brief “email pal” exchange among our students.

Rabbi Eli Levin is their present rabbi. In 2015, he led a service that included the dedication of a newly furnished reception hall. He and Ilana gave special thanks to Solel Congregation and, in particular, to Les and Bev Rothschild and to Rabbi and Cheryl Englander for their support over the years.

More recently, the Israel Movement for Progressive and Reform Judaism has set up a DOMIM-Alike programme that has twinned other North American congregations with Israeli Reform communities. We at Solel can be proud that we have been the pioneers of this programme!

To find out more about Kehilat Darchei No’am, visit their website at: www.d-noam.org/en

Filed under: Congregational News

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