It was one of Rabbi Louis Jacobs' favourite aphorisms, and he certainly knew what he was talking about; 'The good thing about being in hot water is that it keeps you clean.'
I'm back from Sabbatical and warmly looking forward to Shabbat services.
It's an interesting week. In line with recent decisions of the community it's a fully egalitarian service. There will be male only and women only seating downstairs under the gallery (as is regularly the case). There will also be a mixed seating section in the centre of the Synagogue. To mark the occasion we have invited Chazan Jackie Chernett to join Cantor Jason in the leading of services. Those who have had Jackie lead in the Minyan Chadash or teach will know we are in for a musical treat. I'm delighted to share that Chazan Stephen Cotsen is also taking the opportunity to join us for an important day in the journey of this special community. Anyone who has been waiting and urging for the community to provide these new pathways to prayer is particularly welcomed to join us this Shabbat. Anyone who is curious, even to the point of having misgivings, as to what a more egalitarian New London will feel like is equally warmly welcomed. I would be most interested to hear the reflections of members on this service. You can always reach me by e-mail.
And there will be Cholent.
In addition, while I was away, Council invited me to share some teachings with the community of the whole question of same-sex attraction within Judaism, in part responding to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act of 2013. Over the three Wednesdays 24th February, 2nd & 9th of March I will be hosting two learning sessions and an Open House where members will have opportunities to learn, question and share their thoughts on this issue. To be clear these sessions are designed to increase the community's understanding of these issues and are not formally part of a decision making process. More information to follow, this serves as a hold-the-date notice.
And finally, some simpler hot water. I'm very excited to share the line up for the Winter 2016 Quest event at New London, a panel on the origins of life with two extraordinary quests - and myself. Baroness Deech is a former head of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, Prof Buzz Baum is a leading expert on cell development and foundation - and I'm the Rabbi. We will be debating the place of religion and Judaism when it comes to some of the hottest questions in medical ethics. More information [here - http://www.newlondon.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=437:quest-lecture-in-the-beginning-judaism-science-and-the-origins-of-life-sunday-6-march-7-30pm&catid=71&Itemid=1191]
Plenty of hot water, hot enough to warm even the coldest of Februarys.