New Year, New things
Firsts over the chagim
As Autumn starts to firmly settle in and we say goodbye to Summer, it feels like a time to look back over the Chagim and the experience we had this year as we work out how to re-welcome members back once again. This year, we have experienced a few firsts. On Succot, I was delighted when Rabbi David invited the women to join the procession around the Bimah (the hakkafot) with the Lulav and Etrog. Over the years, I have seen progression in how women have been involved at Succot and Simchat Torah. I remember clearly as a new member around 20 years ago, the women dancing upstairs in the room behind the ladies gallery and the Torah being brought up to us. It was hard not to feel like the servants in the attic having a celebration while the “Upper classes’ danced downstairs in the shul. Our Rabbi has worked hard to involve women in whatever way he can within the boundaries of Halacha. To all march around together with the Lulav on Succot felt like a huge step forward (even if the event itself can feel a little odd, with all that Lulav waving!) . It was his comment that really stuck with me though as he explained to me why he had invited the women to take part, “I imagined how it must feel to just be a spectator and not invited to be part of it” This meant so much to me – for an Orthodox Rabbi to put himself into my place as a woman. To walk in my shoes, meant a lot to me. I know not all women feel comfortable being involved, but it is nice for those who wish to, to have the choice. There was also a lovely decision by the Wardens and Rabbi on Simchat Torah to include women readers for the first time in the traditional reading of verses before the Hakafot circuits, again, a little creative thinking meant a new way for women to participate was developed. Small steps… but that is how every journey starts.
Mazletov to our Chatan Bereishit and Torah
It was also lovely to have our first in person meal together on Simchat Torah. 70 or so members were there to congratulate Sam Clarke and David Cowen on the honour of being Chatan Bereishit and Chatan Torah this year. We are finding our way through life with Covid now, and how we can manage events safely and comfortably for everyone. We will continue to review our practises, We now feel that based on the fact that there is plenty of space in Synagogue allowing members to sit well spread out, we gently suggest that people wear masks, leaving it up to each individual to decide what they want to do and how they feel comfortable.
. We will be calling all of the boys up and the girls will be speaking to us in Synagogue. Do come along to celebrate this great occasion. It will be followed by a hot Kiddush too!
Whatever we do, keeping you all informed and in the loop is always a priority for me.
New events in our new building
We are also looking forward to some firsts as we move into next year. When the new Beit Hamidrash is finished we will be able to have fully hybrid events with our new video/audio system that will allow those at home to see the event/service or talk streamed whilst those in the room enjoy it live. We will also be able to enjoy film shows or any other use of the screens and speakers. Plans are being developed now for events to celebrate and enjoy our new spaces in the new year. We are looking forward to launching a new family Shabbat Service in the beautiful new Beit Hamidrash led by Rabbi David. This will be a lovely way for the whole family to enjoy Shabbat mornings together in a way that is fun for the children and the adults. I’m sure there are loads of other events we could have in the new Beit and new hall- I’d love to get as many people from the community involved in this as possible, helping our Community Events Director Beth, with ideas for events to showcase the spaces. – Please get in touch if you’d like to be part of a steering group for these launch events. – I’m particularly interested in hearing from new people- it’s a great way to get involved in the community, bring your ideas to the table and to meet other people.
Finally thank you to all who worked so hard to make sure the services could happen over the Chagim, the security volunteers, the children service leaders, the leyners, those who led services, the Succah hosts.. to all of you a massive thank you.