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Yossi BenarrochBy MYRON LOVE The Adas Yeshurun Herzlia synagogue on Brock and Fleet in the South End is referred to by many of its members as “the little synagogue that could”.

Today, thanks to the strong support of its membership, the congregation is thriving - with a new look and a brighter future.
Rabbi Yossi Benarroch, the congregation’s spiritual leader, in an interview with the JP&N, noted that there are activities ongoing at the modern Orthodox shul virtually every day.
Although the membership stands at only about 100 families (including a couple of families recently arrived from Brazil and Argentina), Benarroch points out the synagogue is very active. Shabbat attendance averages about 75-80 –with as many as 110 congregants in the spring and summer months. The Shabbat service is uplifting and traditional with lots of singing and participation and a delicious kiddush always to follow.
“We try to encourage congregational participation,” the rabbi says. “We have ten different Torah readers available at any given time. We have many congregants, including a number of teens, who lead mussaf services. We are trying to get more young people involved.”
In addition to regular Shabbat services, he adds, there is a children’s program on Shabbat morning led by Aviva Taback where children learn about the weekly Torah portion, Jewish holidays and rituals, sing songs, and feast on treats. There is also a Shabbat afternoon study group led by the rabbi in his home which is currently focusing on the philosophy and writings of Rabbi Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel and the father of modern-day religious Zionism.
There are also twice-daily minyans and different study opportunities during the week. Sunday morning, there is breakfast and study of Maimonides, followed by a class in basic Judaism. Monday mornings, Rabbi Benarroch teaches Pirkei Avot at the Rady Centre and, in the evenings, teaches Talmud. He also teaches Talmud on Wednesdays and, on Thursday evenings, he is leading a study of Rabbi Chaim Luzzato’s Derech Hashem. Best of al,l the Rabbi is always available for one-on-one learning.
On many Friday evenings there is an open house “Tish” at his home for teenagers and young adults. Rabbi Benarroch is also happy to report that the synagogue last year revived its NCSY (National Council of Synagogue Youth), which had been inactive for the past few years. “We (NCSY) have a core group of 15 teens now,” he reports. “We get together Tuesday evenings for pizza and learning. We do our best to send as many kids as we can on various out-of-town NCSY Shabbatons and conventions.”
The rabbi says that he is looking for a part-time leader for the NCSY group to help get it to the next level. “We think NCSY has a lot of potential in our community,” he says.
The rabbi also notes that the congregation hosts many social programs throughout the year. In early January, he reports, the congregation hosted a “melaveh malka” (meal held after Shabbat) that was well attended. And last week, the shul held its annual Tu B’Shevat seder.
Rabbi Benarroch notes that the congregation is the only shul in Winnipeg that is “Modern Orthodox”. Modern Orthodox congregations, he explains, believe in strict adherence to Halachah (Jewish Law), but also believe in encouraging a secular education as a positive expression of one’s Judaism. “We also firmly believe that the State of Israel plays a central role in modern Judaism,” he says.
Within the larger Jewish community, the Adas Yeshurun Herzlia and its rabbis have long played a central role in the community – often belying the relatively modest size of the synagogue’s membership. In terms of kashrut, it is Rabbi Benarroch who oversees the supervision of our community’s most important kosher food providers, such as Gunn’s Bakery, Desserts Plus, the Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre (which prepares kosher Meals on Wheels), the Simkin Centre, and Shmoozer’s at the Campus.
Rabbi Benarroch also oversees the eruv in the North and South Ends, having recently toured them with Michael Eskin, who regularly inspects the South End Eruv. In addition, the rabbi also oversees the mikvah at the Rady JCC, insuring its maintenance of Orthodox standards.
Rabbi Benarroch promises readers who may want to give the Adas Yeshurun Herzlia a try that they will find a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
“We have become a haimishe little synagogue,” he says. “We are comfortable with that. Adas Yeshurun is a place where people can explore meaningful Judaism, bask in tradition, and become part of a vibrant and welcoming community.”