Happy Pesach – Other Stuff
Aside from the dominant tropes of Pesach observance – going Chametz free and the Seder – are some important, less celebrated opportunities to connect to the heart of this season.
I want, this eve of the Shabbat before Pesach, to wave a flag for four special opportunities of this time of year.
Monday morning 14th April, 7:15am, we convene a special Shacharit to commemorate the destruction visited on the Egyptian firstborn. It’s, officially, a fast day. Traditionally there is a Siyum – a presentation based on completing the study of a tractate of Talmud – which occasions a celebratory meal that overrides the obligation to fast. But this is an extraordinary moment designed to test our empathy, our ability to connect to the suffering of others as we exalt in our own freedom. All welcome, breakfast will be served.
Tuesday night around the Seder table and for the following forty nine evenings, we count the Omer. It’s a journey from Pesach to Shavuot, from Spring to Summer gently testing our ability to find ten seconds daily to acknowledge the passing of time. The Kabbalists created a highly psychologically attuned pathway correlating each day of the Omer to a different aspect of our selves. For more click here [http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/276672/jewish/Spiritual-Guide.htm]. One of my favourite Jewish organistations, Hazon, instituted an Omer challenge to provoke us into a healthier and more sustainable existence. For more click here [http://jtec.macam.ac.il/portal/ArticlePage.aspx?id=1578]
B’Rov Hadrat Melech, the book of Proverbs notes – The King is glorified in the presence of many. The Rabbis understand this verse as a command to come to Shul. Big, bustling prayer services filled with song and vibrancy fire up the soul and allow our private celebrations of Seder part of something broader, something about the strength of our community and our people. These are weekday Yomim Tovim, but the seventh day of Pesach falls on a Bank Holiday. Come, help our communal celebrations truly reflect the breadth diversity and quality of our community.
Yom HaShoah was instituted by David Ben-Gurion in 1952 on the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Actually that’s not quite right, the uprising began on the eve of Passover so it was decided to postpone the commemoration to the week after Passover. The Holocaust haunts the Seder, most especially as we read ‘in each and every generation someone has risen against us, to destroy us.’ We have two very special opportunities to connect to this most dark moment of our history and I commend both to all the community even in the midst of our more joyous celebrations. On Sunday 20th April, 4:30pm, we will be honoured by a talk from Peter Lantos, who survived Bergen Belsen – author of the extraordinary Parallel Lives. For more information about Peter click here [http://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/jan/28/historybooks.features], no need to book, just come.
And on Yom HaShoah itself I will be leading a trip from New London Synagogue and two other local Shuls to the Holocaust Memorial Centre, Beth Shalom. For more information click here [http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1115427034820-19/Yom+Hashoah+trip+flyer.pdf] booking for this special trip closes shortly.
It’s a busy time.
There is much to celebrate and we should celebrate well,