Thursday, 26 October 2017

Shabbat UK

The Chief Executive of Next, Simon, Baron, Wolfson, was one of the panellists on last week’s Any Questions. After the usual tour of topics of the day, came a question about a school who have issued alarm clocks to their students so they don’t have to keep their mobile phones in their bedrooms. We are all, it seems, too in thrall to our phones.

“Funnily enough,” the boss of one of Britain’s most significant clothing companies shared, “for religious reasons I turn my phone off for from Friday night sundown and I keep it off until Saturday nightfall. And I have to say it’s an incredibly liberating thing to do. What you realise is that it’s not a life support machine. And you can live for 24 hours without your phone. I would recommend trying it. You will have a much nicer weekend.” Silence swept the studio as the idea sunk in, then applause.

MP, Lisa Nandy, went next. She suggested that if only MPs could be persuaded to turn off their phones for a day they could actually get together and solve the problems of Brexit. She was only half-joking.

Does that help? I figure I am, at this point, not really trusted on this - pasul b’eydut in the Talmudic idiom - banned from serving as an objective witness as to the beauty and power of a Shabbat honoured without mobile phones, computers, email and the rest of it. But here you have a FTSE 100 CEO and an MP. And there is more. Getting the phone turned off is more than a way of making your weekend ‘nicer.’ It’s about connecting with life as it right before you - not being whisked away from the here and now by the siren calls of telephony, push e-mail and streamed distraction. It’s about learning to take pleasure in what you have already, letting go of the chase for the new and probably not that important. It’s about finding a space in which to be grateful for the gift of life, and Jewish life at that.

It’s Shabbat UK - it’s a pleasure to share congratulations with the Orthodox Chief Rabbi for his leadership in drawing the focus of all Britain’s Jews towards the greatest gift we possess, as Jews - the Shabbat. There are Challah bakes and calls to light candles and all of that is important. But if you want to experience Shabbat as what the Rabbis meant when they called her a little piece of paradise on earth, please do join me in turning off that phone. Let me know how you do.

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Jeremy

P.S. If interested, The Question Time clip is on-line [here -] at 54:30.

November at New London

Next month we are launching the Chai Mitzvah Initiative, and hosting a flagship educational evening; Balfour & Beyond. Members are warmly encouraged to take advantage of these two terrific programmes.

Flagship Evening on the Centenary of the Balfour Declaration; Balfour & Beyond
We are delighted to welcome Professor Yaacov Yagdar, newly appointed Professor of Israel Studies at the University of Oxford, to reflect on one of the most significant moments in the journey towards the creation of the modern State of Israel. It will be an exceptional evening and I am honoured that Prof Yagdar will be joining us as we host members from several local Synagogues.
7:30pm 2nd November at New London Synagogue
Open to all.
More info here

Over Yom Kippur I spoke about a new initiative at New London - Chai Mitzvah.
It’s a programme designed to support people looking for something extra Jewishly, but wary or just too busy to make more than one evening a month.
The deal is this; come to nine monthly classes and commit to one new act of Jewish ritual engagement (of your choice) and a project of bettering something - an act of Tikkun Olam. You will deepen your understanding of Judaism, feel more engaged in the community and have fun.

The materials are terrific (more info here).
The people who have already indicated their interest are terrific.
And I am able to confirm the dates for the year. See [below - can you link down the document to the dates].

I have had so many conversations with so many members articulating a desire to find something that hits that ‘sweet spot’ allowing a comfortable, intelligent, well-supported way of feeling more at home in their Judaism. This is the best opportunity I have found. I commend it to all. If you have any questions, or if you are interested in joining us, please let me know

These are programmes absolutely central to my sense of what we, as a community, should be offering. I hope they will have your support.

Rabbi Jeremy


Dates for the Chai Mitzvah Initiative

Thursdays at 8-9:30pm at the Synagogue on
November 16th
December 7th
January 4th 2019
February 1st
March 8th
April 12th
May 3rd
June 7th
And Shabbat after services, at my home, on
June 30th

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