I’m back at work. Paternity leave has been wonderful and I am grateful to all who sent warm messages of support to our newborn daughter. She is doing well, while the rest of us are still working out how our newly enlarged family fits together.
But on the subject of generations, let me share this observation.
The map of lay involvement at New London is changing. Last Shabbat we had seven different members leyn the different Aliyot. It wouldn’t have happened ten years ago and five years ago it would have been a huge challenge. This year we had a communal leyning twice in successive weeks, done well – and that is a huge achievement. Perhaps even more remarkable was the age range of the readers taking hold of Torah in this way. One was in his teens, another in his twenties, admittedly no-one in their forties, but two members in their fifties, one in their sixties and a sprightly septuagenarian.
That, to me, is what a Synagogue should be; a place for all generations. I’ve been to many ‘monochromatic’ Synagogues, where everyone fits into a single demographic tranche but I’ve never felt comfortable in them. I miss the spread of ages. I miss the chaos of a child’s invasion at Adon Olam or I miss the wisdom that only comes with age - Ziknut – the same Hebrew word means both wise and aged. Most particularly I miss the points of interaction between young and old, interactions I don’t see ‘out there’ where socialisation and profession compartmentalise us into packages; school kids, professionals, retirees and so on. Judaism should, and must, represent a rainbow’s spectrum of colours and I’m sure everyone in Shul last week would have been delighted to see such vibrancy. There is, of course, much more to do, but we are building commitment and involvement right across the age spectrum and that is terrific.
Another marker of involvement, of course, is our lay leadership. With the AGM just passed I want to salute and thank the outgoing members of Council and give a warm welcome to those who have stepped up to new positions this year. It’s also an important time to say thank you to those who continue to provide lay leadership in the Synagogue, particularly our executive and Julian.
It’s good to be back,