I had, today, possibly the most extraordinary double meetings of my Rabbinic career. It’s emboldened me to discuss the sort of issue that I rarely have the courage to broach.
I met, this morning with a couple, longstanding members of the Synagogue of a certain age, who arranged to meet so I can get to know them better, ‘We aren’t getting any younger,’ they said. They mentioned they had been married 59 years.
‘Goodness,’ said I, ‘when did you get married?’
‘3rd July 1955,’ they respond.
I ask if they might be interested in celebrating a 60th Anniversary at New London. ‘What a lovely idea, I’m sure we would.’
My next meeting arrives. I’ve been scheduled, back to back, with another couple, longstanding members of the Synagogue of a certain age who have stopped by for much the same reason, ‘I’m not getting any younger,’ admits the husband, the wife professes to be in excellent health, ‘but you can always go under a bus.’ And they also mention they have been married 59 years.
‘Goodness,’ says I, ‘when did you get married?’
‘I think it was the 2nd July 1955,’ they respond.
‘Oh,’ says I, ‘I think, in 1955 the 2nd was a Saturday, you might mean the 3rd.’ ‘Of course, the third, quite right.’
There are three morals, perhaps, we can draw.
One is that the secret of a long happy marriage is being a member, of long standing, of New London Synagogue.
The second is that in early July next year, please God, we should make a particular effort to come to Shul for a very special celebration.
The third is has something to do with Jewish Legacy Shabbat. Jewish Legacy is a collaboration of 46 different Jewish charities drawn from across the spectrum, all of whom are committed to raising awareness of the need for charitable legacies. ‘While the Jewish community is known for its generosity,’ the website notes, ‘only one in four members of the Jewish community leaves a charitable Legacy, compared to 80% who give during their lifetime. Jewish Legacy believes they can help members of the community to understand the importance of leaving a Legacy to a charity of their choice in their Will.’
The tag line of this tremendous cross-communal endeavour is ‘if there is a space in your heart for a Jewish cause ... make a little room in your will too.’
Information on legal technicalities, tax benefits and more can be found at http://www.jewishlegacy.org.uk/
For many, this Rabbi included, raising the spectre of inevitable mortality isn’t easy. I’m not sure there is ever a ‘good time.’ But New London Synagogue, like so many important Jewish organisations in this country and abroad, are dependent on charitable donations given both during life and beyond. A triumphant life is a wonderful thing, a long happy marriage is a glorious achievement, but the ability to give a legacy – and a legacy of any size is valued and cherished – is an opportunity given to all of us to leave a commitment to do good that will outlast us.