The New Fangled and the Familiar

by Joel Brown, February 28, 2016

One of the hallmarks of Reform Judaism is that we value and honour our traditions, while at the same time continuing to adapt them to our ever-changing modern lives. This has always been our way at Solel. I’d like to point out some things coming up soon which reflect this blending of familiar and new.

The Shammas

Our monthly newsletter, the Shammas, is a perfect case in point. For some time now, the Shammas has been published in pamphlet form. Most people have been getting this electronically for several years, but some still prefer to get it on paper.

A few years ago, we decided that we needed to start looking for ways to modernize the way we communicate with each other and with the world outside of Solel. We formed an Editorial Committee and we started talking about how to make sure we can maintain and improve our communications. The first big project for the Editorial Committee was revamping the Solel website. Other projects we’ve been working on include improving our social media presence and making sure our weekly email news: the Solel Weekly is full of great information and is laid out in a way which makes it easy to read, whether you’re reading it on a computer, a tablet or even a smart phone.

Several months ago, we also started working on our next big project, modernizing the monthly Shammas. A lot of people probably don’t realize how much time and effort goes into producing and publishing all of the communications that Solel sends to you, our members. One of the issues we’ve been addressing since forming the Editorial Committee is working out how to get all of this good work done without reinventing too many wheels and duplicating too much effort. The result of our reimagining the monthly Shammas is something which is at once both new-fangled and familiar.

What’s the same? All of the information you’ve come to expect in the Shammas is still here. We’ve got news, opinion pieces from the Rabbi, our Educator and our president. We’ve got important announcements from outside of Solel which are likely to be of interest to Solelniks, we’ve got a calendar of upcoming services and events, and all of the other things you’re used to seeing. The Shammas will still come out at the beginning of each month. If you have been receiving it electronically, then you will continue to do so. If you’ve been receiving it on paper, then that will continue too.

What’s different? Well for starters, the format has changed. The Shammas and the Solel Weekly now look a lot more alike. Also, some of the content that was contained in the printed version of the Shammas, but which is repeated on the website is now consolidated at In particular, you’ll find the electronic Shammas links to the articles from the Rabbi, the Educator and the president. Also, our website now has a new calendar page ( which is also linked from the electronic Shammas. If you get the Shammas on paper, then this information is all printed and included with your newsletter.

Something else that’s changed is who is editing the Shammas. The Shammas is now edited by our Solel Weekly editor. That means that in weeks when the Shammas comes out, there will be no Solel Weekly. It also means that a lot of duplication of effort has now been eliminated.

One other thing that’s important to note: Shammas and Solel Weekly subscriptions are separate from each other. We’ve found some people like one but not the other, and some people like both. You can manage your subscription preferences individually whenever you like.

We hope you like the new format of the Shammas. We’re interested in your feedback. Let us know how we’re doing and we’ll continue to improve for the future.

Our Staff

Most of you will have heard by now that we are having a change in the office staff. Peggy Hayter will be leaving us after many, many years of loyal service. To be sure, this will mean some changes in how things get done around Solel.

I am much happier to announce that Solel has recently renewed our contract with our Director of Education, Arliene Botnick, for a further two years.

Coming Together as a Community

Another example of how Solel blends the new-fangled and the familiar is how we come together as a community to share a meal and special experiences. You should be marking your calendars for two very special opportunities to share with your fellow Solelniks as well as your extended family, friends and neighbours.

On Saturday, April 9, 2016 we will have a great time with our first ever Asian-themed dinner party fundraiser Wok This Way. Come and have a wonderful evening out while supporting Solel. Please be sure to buy your tickets by March 19.

On Saturday, April 23, 2016 we will have our annual Community Second Seder. As always, this is a great opportunity for the whole family to get together and celebrate Passover with your friends at Solel. Keep an eye out for more details which will be coming soon.

Filed under: President's Message

« Read more articles