We are, as a family, celebrating my father’s 80th birthday this coming weekend. I have been prepared for this moment by watching so many of your rites of passage and moments of joy throughout lives. As we have been exercised in planning our gathering, I have been struck by what it is we want to celebrate and make his legacy to us all: stories he wrote for us as children and the sensibility of literature and football, often at the same time.
Obviously I am thinking about our legacy as a congregation as we mark our 70th. What are we capturing that is important for the next 25 years and beyond? One thing that’s clear is that our building is tired and needs repair and renewal. Our spirit is strong but the ‘body’ that houses it is tired and whilst we ‘the family’ love it, we want newcomers and prospective members to be attracted to our home as well. At our AGM on 4th July, we will be able to share the plans we are now working towards. I wanted to remind you that whilst we have not come out and asked you all yet, we have already received extraordinary gifts and pledges and I wanted to get the rest of us thinking.
We knew we needed a few large, meaningful gifts and we have now received one for £50,000 and a pledge for the same. We have successfully been awarded a grant for £78,000 from Barnet Council. We have received several gifts of £5,000 and a couple of £10,000 donations. One courageous member has pledged £4,000 for every one of the next five years and some have given £100, £200, £500. All has been hugely appreciated. We are applying for many, many grants. We have now reached £488,000 but we need much more to be in the position to replace our roof, uplift our synagogue sanctuary, improve our welcoming spaces and upgrade us to an environmentally sustainable building.
I wanted to give you an update because this matters. We want to ensure the future and longevity of the joy we have in our synagogue and all it means for us – and that is what birthday celebrations are: identifying what we love best and ensuring we look after it.
In this week’s portion the Israelites are without water after Miriam’s death:
There was no water …[Numbers 20:2]
They are desperate and Moses must access some for the people. I take this as a challenge. We will and should access what we need.
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