On the 3rd we will be doing something new. There will be an egalitarian full service in the Synagogue and a non-egalitarian full service in the Kiddush Hall as we celebrate a Bar Mitzvah. It’s something we are doing, as many members will know, as a result of extensive discussions and an EGM. More information is on the website at www.newlondon.org.uk/egm
I’ve been watching a video report of the mass demonstrations for ‘Tzedek Chavrati’ – social justice, in the streets of Tel Aviv. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis from right across every religious and political spectrum have been protesting against the difficulties they face in owning property or earning anything more than a minimum wage. The piece of the video that really caught my attention came when a group of settlers joined the protest. They were heckled by a presumably anti-settlement protestor. An argument broke out, between Jews, each calling the other, variously, Nazis, Antisemites and Fascists. It gets ugly, but in the next piece of the video another protester explains that while she is opposed to the settlers, she’s happy to see them joining in the protest, so the whole people can come together.
The point is this. Agreement is not a necessary part of being involved in any Jewish society, be it Israel or New London. The necessary part of being involved in Jewish society is knowing that it is more important to stand together than to allow strong held opposing views to weaken the whole. There is a word used in Arabic – umma – to refer to the totality of Muslim people. It shares, of course, an etymological root with the Hebrew term – ‘am – and a grammatical peculiarity shared by English term – people – they are all in the singular. A successful community finds ways to disagree and nonetheless stand together.