Thursday, 30 August 2012

Looks Like the Full Moon

It’s not, quite yet, but soon the moon will be waning and we are building up to Rosh Hashanah. A little over two weeks and we will be there.


If you love these services, enjoy them well.

If they feel long, challenging or dull here are three quick tips.


Beat the Rush

Part of the problem, for people less attuned to the huge service which is Rosh Hashanah, is that it can appear a little out-of-the-blue. If it’s been 50 odd weeks since you were last in shul ease yourself in gently. It’s an analogy I like enormously. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the Ring Cycle of the liturgy. Come for a Shabbat morning or a Friday evening – a bit of Gilbert and Sullivan or Mozart. It will help. In this Olympian year the importance of some good limbering up stretches before the big event seem particularly vital.


Give Yourself Space

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the whole apparatus of Teshuvah need space to work their magic. Pick up a book about these special days, try a web-site ( ) or  come to one of the educational sessions I’m teaching this Shabbat or on Monday (with Stephen).


Bring What You Need to Shul

For some a Machzor will be enough. Or bring a book, Alan Lew’s This is For Real is a good suggestion, or go to one of the Jewish Booksellers, start a diary with scribbled thoughts from these days of preparation and take that. It’s not a day to follow, slavishly, every word of little-understood Hebrew. Allow your attention to be drawn to a line, a verse, an image and hold that thought.


I hope this helps, and I hope these days herald a sweet and healthy year for us all.


Shabbat Shalom


Rabbi Jeremy


P.S. In honour of the Paralympic Games I will be speaking this Shabbat morning on Ability and Disability in Jewish Thought.


Friday, 3 August 2012

On the Olympics and Love

It’s Olympics time I’ll admit to a fondness for cycling. Actually I claim an interest in cycling that pre-dates the recent gold/yellow jersey rush but these last weeks have been astounding for a peddler like me.


And this Thursday I was filmed for a Channel 4 programme on Jewish views of marriage. After the Three Weeks – a marriage free zone in Jewish law – we are now entering busy season. As a community we are due to celebrate ten marriages between now and the end of October. I’ve been thinking about love and cycling.


These two worlds are connected, in my mind, by one of Rebbi Nachman’s greatest aphorisms - the whole world is a very narrow bridge and the most important thing is never to be afraid. On a bike, riding along on the narrowest of supports, the most important thing is to keep on pedalling. In marriage, in a world where the statistics on divorce and adultery make such depressing reading, the most important thing has to be to keep on working on the relationship. Letting the fear of falling off stop us will guarantee our stumble. Driving forward is, perhaps counter-intuitively, a source of stability. Maybe it’s good advice for every part of our community. It can feel fragile, our kind of Judaism, but if we keep on driving (or peddling!) forward we will do fine.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Jeremy

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