Friday, 6 February 2009

Bad Weather Closing In and It's Nothing To Do With The Snow



Two members of the community have lost their jobs this week – and that’s only the members I know about. In a week when so much attention has been paid to the weather forecasts, it does feel as if we are standing on an exposed plain watching stormy clouds rolling in.


Care of those facing economic difficult, temporarily or otherwise, has always been a central part of Jewish community and commitment. At a time where so many are in fear I offer the following three pieces of Rabbinic advice.


Do let us know in the Synagogue. We would want to be able to help on a personal basis and besides there may be opportunities we are aware of that could assist you professionally. We also have a fund for those who are facing financial need, if you are interested in applying to that fund, please contact by e-mail. Of course there is no question of withholding any ability to engage with any part of Synagogue communal life from those facing financial need, we just need to know.

In fact you should tell everyone. Loss of employment in this current climate is no cause for embarrassment or denial, Rather, at least for your Jewish friends, letting us know that you face financial difficulties gives us opportunities to perform a mitzvah – an obligation to recognise our mutual responsibilities. Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Lazeh teaches the Talmud. The phrase is usually translated as ‘All Israel are responsible for one another,’ but the exact means is that there is an insistence that we accept a need to act as financial guarantors for one another. Our oft-spoken communal responsibilities are firstly financial.


Secondly do approach the Employment Resource Centre - - The ERC offers advice and guidance on developing a CV, training in interview preparation techniques, advice concerning job search strategy, career guidance and networking as well as additional specific training seminars. It is a service provided free to the entire Jewish community and several members of my previous community have found their support invaluable.


Thirdly – don’t stop. We live in a society that encourages (and almost demands) we place our professional responsibilities at the centre of our identities – ‘How do you do, I am a banker, an accountant, a ….’ When we lose our job we lose not only the income (and that is grave enough), we also are threatened with a loss of identity. Don’t stop. ‘Even the poor person who is sustained by charitable handouts must give charity,’ teaches the Talmud, that is a demand designed not to increase charitable contributions, but instead to increase the sense of dignity in the giver. If you can’t make the financial contribution you would wish, make contributions in other ways. Just don’t let the loss of employment strip you of your ability and willingness to be a force for good in the world. Judaism refuses to consider human beings = their employment. We are, more importantly, the sum of our relationships with our fellow human beings and the Divine – the cosmos in which we all find ourselves. Loss of employment cannot be allowed to get in the way of those relationships. Indeed, with a little more time, take advantage of the opportunity to nourish those relationships.


Tell us, contact the ERC, don’t stop.

And pray.


Harachaman hu yifarnasenu b’cavod – May the Merciful one bring us an honourable livelihood.


May it come to us all,

Shabbat shalom.

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