We just had the most wonderful communal seder, over 90 of us gathered last Saturday night. But Pesach is not just Seder, it continues as the festival that reminds, even insists on freedom as the gift that can permeate life. Sigmund Freud, avowedly secular yet speaks to Judaism often, wrote Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility. Many of us, if asked, might say we feel free.
Yet, we have just witnessed another attack in a place of worship, three churches and nearby hotels in Sri Lanka. Responsibility for the deaths claimed by an Islamicist group. Apparently in retaliation for the attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. I am not sure what we do with the reality of another sacred space, a church this time being the target of attacks. Places of worship have always been understood as sanctuaries. And now they are no longer safe sanctuaries; whether there is security at the gate or not. We are not immune to the fear or the outrage these attacks provoke. Our heart breaks for the 300 killed and the devastation wreaked on their families.
We are committed to integrating the world outside of our synagogue into our religious practice. And we know Freud was right. Judaism at its best wakes us and offers a filter to negotiate the world. To be involved and engaged in the world feels ever more critical and necessary when we learn of these brutalities. Our faith, our community may become ever more relevant at these times as we negotiate what being in our places of worship means.
This Wednesday (April 24), tonight, we feedback with other Barnet institutions on our listening campaign and the practical applications of the concerns that have emerged for life in London and our fellow Londoners. Join us if you can and are interested at Finchley Reform Synagogue 7.30pm. And then Thursday for the last night of Pesach’s service at 7pm before learning with Lionel Lassman on The Jews of Azerbaijan. Service and discussion Friday 11am.
Today is the 4th day of the OMER. As we mark these days of Omar and move to the end of Pesach lets do so together.