7/8 June 2024, 2 Shivan 5784

Count all the congregation of the children of Israel, by families following their parents’ houses; a head count of every adult (of army age) so everyone is counted according to the names of their family.

As we begin the book of Numbers this week, we are reminded to count and be aware of everyone who is in the community – and it couldn’t be more appropriate for our congregation. We also begin this week with newly-received planning permission for our modest, but essential, renovations. This is momentous for us and confirms that we are truly in business. We have a final chunk to raise and will be doing so in earnest with a new Just Giving page and renewed energy for this Fundraising campaign.

We have raised £1.5 million. We need at least another £400,000.00 to ensure the building project can happen fully and include the repairs that we have recently discovered we must carry out to ensure the safety of our building. I am confident, as are the team working on this.

Our architects have gone out to tender; builders have been visiting and continue to do; we are planning when and how we will move out. There is much to arrange but it is exciting and every step confirms our belief in and love for FPS: looking after our Sifrei Torah; setting up Ivriah in our new Shabbat venue; organising where we will be for High Holy Days.

We think we will have all this information for you by next week.

There will be a new fundraising page so that we can share with family and friends and add our sponsored events. We will, we hope, have clear decisions as to when we are moving out and a detailed plan of where we will be for festivals, Shabbatot and all between.

In this week’s portion, as well as the counting and creating of this portable community, is the reference to packing up the Mishkan – Tabernacle – and travelling with it. That will be us in the Autumn and although daunting, it will be exciting too.

When the Tabernacle is set to travel, the Levites shall dismantle it; and when the Tabernacle camps, the Levites shall erect it.

Although our own James Levy, who is leading the Building Campaign, and many of our numbers may inherit the Levite clan and name, we know that for us Liberal Jews all are responsible for the synagogue, all that is in it, all that it offers and most of all, right now, all that it needs.

We definitely have holy work to do and I am looking forward to it.

Shabbat Shalom,