Solel: The Same, but Different

by Roselyn Allen, September 30, 2021

In September, I drove my son to Ottawa, to university and Chris and I became ‘Empty Nesters’ as the last of our 3 birds fluttered off. I then flew off to Nova Scotia myself to be with my sister for Rosh Hashanah, for the first time since COVID and since my Dad’s been gone. And I thought, what a strange feeling – It’s the same holiday, and place, but so different.

After that, we flew to St. John’s, Newfoundland in my bid to visit every province and territory (Saskatchewan – I’ve got my eye on you next!) to see in my birthday with Hurricane Larry. There was a lot of wind and remarkable beauty as the ocean beat against the shores on our scenic drives through Canada’s oldest colonial history. And I thought, this is part of Canada – but different.

When I finally returned home, not having experienced my childless house for longer than a night or two yet, I was filled with this sense of excitement about how I can finally put my office together and make more of a guest room with both the boys and their clutter in new locales (my stepdaughter made her move before we came to this house). I plan on making this house different – but the same.

Since August, we have been back in our Solel building, if we wish to be, having Shabbat services, High Holiday Services, B’nai Mitzvot! Bet Sefer Solel has restarted in person classes. I personally feel one step closer to the same world we had made for ourselves two years ago, but renovations have been done, new procedures are in place to come to services in a public health conscious manner, many of us continue to watch from home (or as I did, from my sister’s living room in Cape Breton).

This inevitability of change has me reflecting on my life, and that of Solel. I was once a single gal in the Maritimes, no kids, free to travel the world. Solel was once a fledgling Jewish community, gathering in homes, then the Glen Erin Inn, until we had a building of our own. Most recently COVID-19 has changed how we do things, how we gather and pray, how we celebrate and commemorate. But in the last 48 years of Solel’s existence, many other things have changed us.

As our 50th anniversary approaches, the Solel@50 Committee hopes that you’ll share your reflections on Solel, on how it’s different – but the same. What has changed, what do we miss, who do we miss? What were we happy to let go? Certainly we’re glad to be getting a new Torah – what a wonderful change!

We have had the blessings of two inspiring spiritual leaders in our Rabbi Emeritus Larry Englander and Rabbi Audrey Pollack, but, of course they’re different, but the same in their strong support of our congregation. Bet Sefer Solel is currently undergoing change as we move back to the synagogue for learning. We’d love to hear your reflections on how Solel is the same…or different over the better part of 5 decades or 5 years. What events have shaped us on a personal level, a community level, nationally and internationally? What has sustained us during these changes, or were the changes sustaining themselves? We look forward to your photos, your anecdotes, your reflections on the community we’ve built and sustained since 1973.

Change is inevitable – how has it shaped us and what will it look like moving forward? Soon, we’ll have some focus groups discussing how we want to shape change in Solel. Please look for an invitation in your Shammas and email over the next weeks.

So this is the second in my Ch- blog trilogy. Last month was Choice. This month Change. Stay tuned for next month’s blog. I haven’t decided if it will be on:
Cholent-the Hidden Joy of Shabbos Lunch (For those more into Sephardic cuisine, I’m willing to taste test and review Burekas anywhere in the GTA)
Chutzpah- Love It or Hate It, You Gotta Admire It, or
Cheese – Lactose Intolerance and the Jewish People

Please feel free to drop me a line at to choose your favorite topic from these, or any other subject you’d like to see addressed in the President’s Perspective.

Filed under: President's Message

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