So opens the promotional literature of the Bereaved Families Forum, who have just been awarded the Ghandi Peace Prize, and whose representatives will be speaking at New London this Shabbat.
They are a network of over 500 Israeli and Palestinian families united by having lost a loved one in decades of conflict. Their courage and their commitment to respond to acts of personal tragedy by reaching out in peace to ‘the other’ is an inspiration to me and, as many will know, our Director Ronnie Cohen is a long time supporter of the organisation’s UK fundraising arm.
It’s an appropriate weekend. We read Parashat Toledot, a story of a rift between Jacob and Esau who, as the Bible tells us, struggled even in their mother’s womb. The sons’ relationship, such as it ever was, completely disintegrates during the course of this week’s reading with a rare moment of rapprochement occurring only with the death of their father. It is as if death forms the opportunity for those who struggled to sit side-by-side in life, to finally do so in their shared mourning.
There will be no sermon. Our speakers will give an initial taste of their work and experiences at the end of the service and will speak more fully back in the Synagogue once Kiddush is underway. They will also be our guests at the communal lunch, but booking for the lunch are now closed.