Religious Holidays

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah (literally “head of the year”), the Jewish New Year, is the beginning of the High Holy Days, the ten-day period of penitence and introspection. Services offer participants the opportunity to reflect on the past year and look forward to the year ahead. As in Israel, we observe two days of Rosh Hashanah.

For the first day, we have an Erev Rosh Hashanah service the night before. Then on the first day, we have a morning Rosh Hashanah service followed by a community potluck (luncheon). Later that same day, we have a Tashlich service at Lafarge Lake. On the second day, we have a morning service only.

Our mahzor, the special prayer book used for the High Holiday services, is both English and Hebrew.

Burquest's High Holiday services are open to all wishing to share the holiday with us, members and non-mebers alike. 

Our 2019/5780, services will be led by Rabbi Louis Sutker. 


See News Items on our Home Page, check Facebook 'Burquest Jewish Community',  or email for details.  



Rabbi Louis W. Sutker

Rabbi Sutker has a diverse history of service to the Jewish Community of British Columbia.Towards the end of an over 30 year career as a psychologist, in 2005 he studied for and received his rabbinic certification from the Aleph Alliance for Jewish Renewal.Raised in the southern US, he has a warm quiet manner one might expect from a therapist.He has lead services for reform, renewal, and conservative congregations in BC and elsewhere, including year or longer appointments at Emanu-El(Conservative) and Kolot Mayim (Reform) in Victoria, and Or Shalom (Renewal) and Har-El (Conservative) in Vancouver.He served as the Jewish chaplain for the University of Victora.Rabbi Sutker lead High Holiday services for Sha’arai Mizrah/Burquest in 2006–2008, as long-time members will remember.He has more recently served in this capacity in California, Victoria, and South Carolina.

Rabbi Sutker is a certified Mashgiach and a member of the Chevra Kadisha in Victoria.He has served in administrative roles for Ohalah, a central body of the Jewish Renewal movement, and chairs an ethics committee for the organization.He has officiated at weddings, britot and other Jewish celebrations, and teaches classes in Talmud, Kabbalah, Jewish Meditation, and Introduction to Judaism in a variety of settings.He is a capable amateur guitarist, mandolin and harmonica player.We look forward to hosting and learning with him during his stay this autumn.

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is considered the most sacred day of the year, ending the ten days of penitence (and our High Holiday services). Our services include Kol Nidre (the evening before), morning services, an afternoon break, Yizkor (remembrance service), and the N’eilah (concluding service), followed by a community potluck to break the fast.


Sukkot, a week-long holiday that occurs 5 days after Yom Kippur, is the last of the three pilgrimage festivals. This joyous festival commemorates the 40 years of Jewish wandering in the desert.

For this holiday, we erect a small sukkah outside our building. Our community celebration occurs during Hebrew School (Sunday afternoon). Come learn about the meaning of the sukkah and participate in the ritual waving of the lulav and etrog.

Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah

Shemini Atzeret is an independent holiday that directly follows Sukkot, and Simchat Torah is a joyous celebration of the conclusion and restart of the annual cycle of Torah readings.

As in Israel, we combine these two holidays into one day (although we do not always celebrate it on the actual day of the holiday). During our evening service, we dance and carry our two Torahs around inside our sanctuary seven times. We have food, more dancing, food, music, and a fun time. Come help us reroll one of our Torahs back to the beginning.


Hanukkah, the festival of lights, celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the successful Maccabean revolt by lighting candles each night.

For this holiday, we have a community celebration during Hebrew School (Sunday morning) with a musical production by the Hebrew School students, carnival games, and community candle lighting, followed by a potluck luncheon and lots of homemade latkes.


Purim celebrates the saving of the Jewish people from extermination, as described in the book of Esther.

For this holiday, we have a community celebration during Hebrew School (Sunday morning), followed by a potluck luncheon. See the musical production by the Hebrew School students, listen to the reading of the Megillah, play carnival games, and participate in the hamantaschen fundraising sale.


Pesach, also known as Passover, is a week-long holiday that celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. It is the first of the three pilgrimage festivals. There are several mitzvoth (commandments) unique to this holiday: matzah (the eating of unleavened bread); maror (the eating of bitter herbs) chametz (abstention from eating leaven) b’iur chametz (removal of leaven from the home); and haggadah (participation in the seder meal and telling the story).

For this holiday, we clean our kitchen the weekend before, removing all chametz. (We do seal items we wish to keep in a separate cabinet which is not opened for the duration of Pesach.)

In addition, we host a community seder, led by Cantor Steve Levin. The dinner is a meat meal (no dairy) – the food is kosher, catered, and marvelous. Tickets are required to attend. Members can get an early bird discount. The seder is announced well in advance.


Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai and is the second of the three pilgrimage festivals.

Other Special Days

Tu B’Shevat, Tisha B’Av, Yom Ha’atzmaut, Yom Hashoah are also marked by celebrations or services.