About Purim

Purim in 2023 starts on Monday, March 6th, and ends on the evening of Tuesday, March 7th. As you probably know, this is not a public holiday but a Jewish holiday that commemorates the delivery of the Jewish people from oppression and tyranny in the Persian Empire, which then spread over “127 lands” and is recounted in the Book of Esther (4thcentury BCE).

Esther rose to be Queen of Persia but failed to disclose to the King that she was Jewish. Her mentor was Mordecai, leader of the Jews and Esther’s cousin. Haman, the King’s Prime Minister, is determined to destroy the Jewish community in Persia because Mordecai refuses to bow down to him. He picks a date by lottery. However, his plans are foiled by Esther. With Mordecai’s counsel, she reveals to the King that she’s Jewish and exposes and denounces Haman’s intent. This turns the tables on the oppressor, and instead of being the focus of Haman’s decree, the Jews are able to “destroy their enemies by royal proclamation.” Mordecai is appointed Prime Minister.

Go to our YouTube channel–the Rabbi David Gellman Show–for a reading of the Book of Esther and an explanation of the holiday.

Celebrating Purim

The day before Purim is often a day of fasting, but Purim is considered a joyous community celebration and is usually marked by reading from the book of Esther in the evening and the following morning.  It is also celebrated by giving mutual gifts of food and drink to friends (two gifts are the tradition), plus two gifts of food, money, or clothing to the poor. It’s also traditional to enjoy a festive, joyous meal with family and friends of meat and wine (and other intoxicating beverages!)— and children and adults often dress up in masks and costumes—usually from the Purim story.

This year for the first time we’re celebrating online—and I hope you’ll come in costume.


If you’re in the GTA and need masks or something for parties—(weddings as well—especially if you’re a fan of vintage!). Reflections (Vintage) have some amazing masks.

You can check out their wares online (thanks to Dominique and Karen, proprietors for the mask photos) or in person at the store—here’s the link:  to view vintage and new theatrical costumes, clothing, and accessories.

Online Interfaith Sabbath Services

Remote interfaith sabbath services are held online on Fridays  (from 6:30 to 7:00 p.m.). These are ‘mini’ services—designed to be 30 minutes or so.
We will start with three blessings of the three things that provide life—
• For lighting the Sabbath candles
• Blessing of the wine
• Blessing of the bread/challah
• Prayers in English, Hebrew, or the language of your choice
Prayers for the sick (people or your pets) will be included.
The congregation is invited to participate. We will conclude the service with an interfaith prayer.

If you’d like to attend, please connect, and we’ll send you the link.


We’ll also be holding Spiritual Discovery workshops regularly. Our presentations and services explore the common underlying themes, central in so many of the world’s spiritual systems. As a manifestation of our belief in world religions, you will know that we celebrate and honor all Feast Days and Festivals as exemplifications of Celebrations of Freedom.


  • Stay-tuned for more events

Click to check other events on the schedule.

The monthly Spiritual Discovery Workshop will usually be on the third Wednesday of the month—some are presented in two sessions continuing on the following Wednesday,  6:30 to 8:30 p.m. each night. (There will be a fee payable for this series to cover costs.)

Spiritual Discovery Workshops come with a small fee to cover costs, etc. For more details on the schedule, please see the website or email for a copy of the calendar.
wedding planning-GTA videos

Your Wedding Video—Wedding Planning 101


Even with some gathering limits relaxing soon (we hope!), couples may still need to rely on Zoom, YouTube, or live streaming to bring friends and loved ones together for your wedding ceremony for some time to come. Restrictions are variable in different areas/parts of the world, and ensuring everyone  you would like to invite can show up on a specific date and time may be tricky for a while.

With a little planning of technical details, the video of your wedding—whether it’s live or recorded for everyone to watch later, will benefit from arranging the details early and leaving nothing to chance (or the last minute!).

With date and venue changes, travel quarantines, gathering restrictions, vaccinations, variants, and flight holdups, couples are holding smaller, more intimate ceremonies, live streaming the wedding, or sharing it as soon as they can.

Mark of Kismet Creative, who produces wonderful wedding videos, says, “We see weddings on Instagram, more use of streaming services, or really short turn-around to share if attendance has to be limited by circumstance.”

“We already do same day edits for couples who want to view or share their day on the actual day—so this can be handled easily.”

Check with your videographer to make sure they can meet your timeline and share your ceremony as and when you want it.

General tips to consider to make sure your wedding video is the ultimate include:


  1. Be fully informed—discuss your plans and iron out the budget.
  2. Make sure that the videographer/s know the where, and when, and how of what you want the video to be.
  3. Decide whether you prefer an intimate “sharing” story or a bells-and-whistles grand production, or somewhere in-between and iron out the details in advance.
  4. Book your ceremony arrangements early—so that you have best choice and can schedule the venue, your Rabbi/officiant and the video shoot/s and all other factors to meet your ideal calendar.
  5. Do you want the video to be live streamed or to be edited on the day and made available immediately on You Tube or another site?
  6. Make sure the company you hired can meet your requirements/check references.
  7. Some couples like to show everything—the hair-stylists at work, the gowns and suits poised ready to put on, the guests and parents, family members—or as many as can be there during these odd times—plus every second of the ceremony, celebrations, and departure. You’ll be asked to decide this in advance as it affects staffing/cost.
  8. Be specific with your “script” and make sure you and your videographers are on the same page, time line, and budget.
  9. Keep in mind that the venue or location, especially if outside, may necessitate more videographers or different equipment.
  10. Go through and agree every detail beforehand to be sure there are no surprises on the day.
  11. Confirm all the key steps and moments that you want to see covered and included; identify/provide a list of any special family members/ participants you would like to see featured .
  12. Be sure to have someone point out who’s who—the parents, grandparents, close friends, and relatives you’d like to see in your video.
  13. Also confirm all the details of your videographer’s schedule on the day. Are there are other ceremonies or events on that might affect how they work and what they can do plus access and timing issues—will everyone arrive at the same time?
  14. Do you want everyone to remain almost unaware of the videographer/s? Make sure you advise—if they are professionals, most of these details will be covered as part of the contractual process.
  15. Finally, consider when you need to obtain agreement/discuss timing and any necessary permissions from others who might be photographed in the video to make sure everyone in the wedding party is okay with your plans. If the video will be posted publicly, some people might have concerns.
  16. Confirm with the owners/venue that it’s acceptable to shoot in the location that you’ve chosen.
  17. Confirm the review and approval process—some companies allow a single review and will make edits to meet your needs; others may be more or less flexible—and this may also affect the timing.
  18. Get it in writing—make sure the details, schedule, budget, and delivery date/options are all agreed.

Then relax and dream about your wonderful wedding. If you’ve done some due diligence and checked your video suppliers references and history, and agreed on all the details, you’ll be able to look forward to a wedding video that captures and showcases your treasured memories forever.

More on wedding videography.

Jewish Interfaith Weddings-Beyond the Numbers

A recent article in The Jerusalem Post reports that the Jewish population in America is actually increasing and a big contributor is interfaith Jewish marriages.

This may seem, at first glance, surprising. But in a period of five years, the US population of Jewish adults and children rose from 7 to 7.5 million—this is from 2013 to 2018—and reports are that rates of participation in Jewish life remain remarkably stable.

According to The Jerusalem Post, the latest research stats of 1200 non-orthodox couples, admittedly a smallish sample, shows that interfaith couples feel welcome by both sides of their families.

What the figures do show is that these couples are active in Jewish life and traditions, but may not be quite as involved as when both partners are Jewish.  Another surprise—research finds, overwhelmingly, that the non-Jewish partner does not typically practice another religion actively.

This may be something to discuss among interfaith couples where parents and other relatives—among your extended Jewish families– may not be entirely on board with your plans for an interfaith marriage before your wedding—that research shows high participation and involvement rates in Jewish life after the wedding!

Note from the Rabbi:
What is it like in your interfaith family? I’d welcome feedback and I (and Alex!) are always happy to help guide and discuss.

More–read the article at The Jerusalem Post.


Jay and Leah with Rabbi David Gellman

Our Interfaith Jewish Wedding with Horses, a Dog, and a Strong Hint of Winter!

From the moment we met with Rabbi David, we knew we had found the one to lead our Interfaith ceremony. He made us feel comfortable and any worry we had about the ceremony was put aside when he walked us through the process with confidence and experience. 

“Rabbi David went above and beyond to make our wedding ceremony absolutely perfect. He made the ceremony truly unique to reflect our needs by listening to our story and weaving it into the words he so beautifully wrote.  He also incorporated both English and Hebrew and explained the meaning behind everything he did. Our family and friends can’t say enough about how beautiful, in-depth, and meaningful the ceremony was and how it was a true reflection of us both.

“We feel very fortunate to have found Rabbi David! It was truly an honor.” Leah and Jay.


How to start planning an interfaith wedding—

Leah and Jay decided on an interfaith wedding but didn’t quite know what to do next. So Leah says she did what most of us resort to these days when stumped—she googled interfaith weddings in Toronto—and was lucky enough, she says, to find Rabbi David Gellman.

“And we were very very happy that we did,” says Leah, who works for an advertising agency in Toronto, and wanted everything not only to be just right on her dream wedding day —but to represent them both in exactly the way they see themselves.

“Jay works in film as a production designer, and I’m in advertising—we wanted everything to feel real and just right, and it did.

“My family—my mother and grandparents—were rooting for a Jewish wedding. Jay isn’t Jewish. We talked about it with Rabbi David, and he was able to incorporate the Jewish elements we requested. I didn’t want to include the seven circles, for example—and we had a wonderful wedding that pleased us both very much as well as all the family. The ceremony was emotional and moving and a perfect mix of Jay and me. Everyone was touched by the ceremony and that it stayed true to who we are.”

Jay and Leah have been married just a few months now, and life is wonderful. They had been together about three years before tying the knot, and Leah said they love to do typical everyday things. Having a local outdoor wedding on an amazing farm suited their lifestyle and hopes for a memorable wedding day. “We love simple things—walking the dog (Jack!), hosting dinner parties for friends, going to movies—all the everyday stuff, and we didn’t want a big event-type wedding or one that was too-tailored. We wanted our day to be moving and true to who we are and enjoyable for everyone.” With Rabbi David Gellman, Leah says, this was achieved and more.

The video of the wedding shows the emotion and warmth of the day—even though it was chilly out in the fields. “We told everyone to dress warm, and they did.” This included the bride who donned a jacket over her beautiful lacy wedding dress later to warm up.

Because the wedding was outdoors, they were also able to involve another important member of the family in the festivities—Jay and Leah’s lovely dog Jack seemed to enjoy the entire ceremony, as well, especially the visits with the horses. The hosts added another unique element to the mix when they made a very generous gesture and introduced their horses to everyone for a great photo opportunity.

The reception took place in a tent set up for the day on the grounds of the lovely farm near Milton, which is where the ceremony itself took place.

Leah says that the day was such a nice coming together of family. Everybody was happy. “It was intimate, with not too many people. This made it more special to us because everyone was able to gather around and just enjoy our wonderful wedding.”

“You were a huge part of our day and we will remember you and your wife’s involvement forever. Jay and I are so thankful to have found you! You made our day!!!! Thank you again and again!”  All our love, Leah and Jay