Friday, 13 December 2013

The Death of Jacob and the Future of the Masorti Movement

New London Synagogue was well represented at the Masorti Dinner, held last Sunday at New North London Synagogue. In total over 260 members of the movement – supporters of the movement – were part of the evening which was in part good fun and in part an opportunity to celebrate what we are becoming and what we might become.


We read, this Shabbat of the death of Jacob, Israel himself. His deathbed scene is one of passing on blessings, prophecies and charges to his children – and grandchildren. Jacob’s concerned for a future that will survive his own death. He understands that the things that matter to him – as the father of all Israel – need to be carried on beyond his own individual reach. It’s a lesson that should strike us, at New London, in two ways. We have struggled with the mortality of a single dominant, powerful leader and if the community is strong today – and I believe we are strong – it is because the leadership and vision of this community is owned and shared by many. It cannot live solely with a single person if the community is to be about more than a one person’s dream. Secondly we should understand that New London Synagogue, even as a busy and virbat community, is rendered all but meaningless if it is only about meeting our own private Jewish needs and desires. If we stand for a Judaism that is open-minded and committed to our tradition, that is something we have to make meaningful for others. We need a youth movement to inspire and engage our children, we need a Bet Din, to welcome in converts and ensure we don’t always need to run to the Reform or the Orthodox to provide for our religious needs.  We also need numbers. Of course Jews have never placed ultimate value in sheer numbers, but we are, as a movement, too small to engage publically and even within the Jewish community at a level that could transform Jewish life in this country.


So here is the advert.

On Sunday 9th February my colleagues, Cantor Green and I will be among the teachers at Yom Masorti. It’s a day of learning and sharing for members of Masorti synagogues across the movement, from Leeds to Bournemouth and from the founding community – that would be us – to the newest member of the team – Stoke Newington. It’s always an extraordinary gathering and the programme for the day will offer something for everyone.

There is more information at

And I will be taking opportunities both on Shabbat and in the early part of 2014 to encourage members of New London to attend.

It’s how we live on after our time has passed.


Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Jeremy


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