"Thank you Ed Balls, thank you Richard Greene and thank you my brilliant friend Erica Wax who persuaded her brother-in-law to come out to Finchley and speak to us.
You might expect me to talk about the roof, which does needs replacing; and the fact we run out of space every Shabbat morning; and the fact our windows are tired and the red carpet needs refreshing. All of this is true.
Our building is our temple and it requires our love.
But it is the relationships that make this community and that is why we must secure the future and health of this congregation.
I look around this room and over the eight and a half years I have been with you, I have learned so much about so many of your lives. Your illnesses and losses, some of them devastating and some easier to bear. The births of your children and the marking of their childhoods. I know who bounded up the steps of this Bimah and who needed more cajoling. I know who amongst you have wept here in this synagogue building and which of you have shared joy.
That is what I celebrate tonight - that this is a community of deep connections. You have found your way here brought by parents or of your own volition. Motivated by loneliness, disappointment from other parts of the Jewish world or just where we are. The path of your life brought you to this threshold and as the conservative siddur describes 'it has been kind to straying feet’.
Our liberal synagogue has been a home and a haven for many of you, who needed to find such a welcoming and tolerant place and some who fell in love with the congregation as they arrived. Perhaps greeted by one of the four rabbis over its past sixty six years. We are a unique community 'our messy shul with a soul' and the only Liberal Judaism synagogue from St John’s Wood to Southgate.
It is our stories that necessitate the synagogue raising funds to move forward purposely and generously. To teach children well, to train and develop our young people. To offer learning and intellectual debate for all of us, bring music to uplift the soul, reach out to you in times of sadness, accompany you through all your milestones. And of course act together for a just society.
A community gives a sense of belonging, structure and connection. We might argue that we have never needed that as much as now.
The poet Raymund Carver wrote in his poem Fragments
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth..
Finchley Progressive Synagogue tries hard to do that."
Shabbat Shalom to all