17/18 May 2024, 10 Iyyar 5784

This week has been for me the blueprint of a rabbi’s life.

The portion that falls this Shabbat is Emor, which describes in detail the marking of Jewish time – the dates and times of the festival year and all important Shabbat. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel famously wrote all about the power of Jewish time in his book The Sabbath – A Palace of Time. “In a very deep sense Judaism is a religion of time and …[t]he higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments.”

He understood and I have seen it in action this week as a rabbi.

Festivals were critical in Torah but we also know the marking of personal milestones has become a deeply significant way of expressing our Judaism.

I can count key moments in my life – and some of yours too – by using Jewish blessing and tradition.  This week, I led the funeral and Shivah of our beloved member Hélène D’âne and saw the comfort that is created by this Jewish time. I saw the power of marking Yom Zikaron/HaAtzmaut with three other local synagogues, as we did on Monday evening – many of us counting Jewish time and coming together to do so.

That is what we do – and it’s been comforting this week to be reminded of that. I’m counting the 49 days of the Omer with greater intensity this year; watching, waiting and witnessing feels necessary and natural right now, with all that is going on.

The writer Etgar Keret wrote this poem about his rabbit. But actually it’s about waiting. Many of us know what waiting can feel like in the darker moments of life and the counting of days.


when I look at my rabbit
lounging on the living room rug,
he seems to be waiting for something.
It only looks like he’s waiting,
he’s living.
With me, by the way, it’s the opposite:
I’m always waiting for something,
it only looks like I’m alive.

Shabbat Shalom,