17/18 December 2021, 13/14 Tevet 5782

Shabbat Shalom all.

It’s strange to be in a similar although not identical place this December as we were last year. We are newly concerned and vigilant and most us want to be as responsible as considerate as we can be. It’s hard to avoid what’s happening around us, although be reassured FPS is doing all it can to make gathering with each other as safe as possible. As rabbis we keep asking, can we reflect on all this yet? But ‘this’ continues.

On Monday, Rabbi Charley Baginsky and I were invited to tea with chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and his chief of staff Ari Jesner. It was just the four of us and we were discussing what we, the Jewish community, have been through and what we have learned. They were interested to hear what’s been happening in our communities, as we were in theirs. It was an astonishingly respectful tea party in his library.

I was so pleased that FPS member, Paul Richman wrote this reflection as a doctor, after the excellent Cafe Ivriah last Sunday on the Purpose of Life. It helps us make sense and anticipate what is next, and I wanted to share it with you.


A Reflection

Alpha, Gamma, Delta, Omicron.  Familiar household names now….they sound (to me) a bit like stars.

“Jupiter and Saturn, Oberon, Miranda and Titania.
Neptune, Titan, Stars can
frighten  wrote Syd Barrett.

And so with our newest Covid 19 variant of concern.

We felt we’d almost won. We were sensing a kind of normality. Back in the synagogue.  Planning a holiday.  A dinner party.   A meet-up with friends.

But we’d forgotten: viruses mutate.  All the time. They don’t have much else to do. Their purpose is to proliferate.

Worry.  Depression.  A sense of panic; these stars definitely frighten.

Last week, Anne and Adrian led us in discussion to consider our own purpose in life. What are we here for? There were many views and opinions.  We discovered lots of angles and ways of looking at it. But, when the going gets tough, underpinning all, there is a sense that we are here to look after each other and that if we can strive for that, we can achieve our goals, we can find contentment, we can prevail over adversity.

And so, together, we shall prevail over Covid in all its many forms. The vaccines are helping. More and better ones are in the pipeline. There are also treatments which can help. We do understand better how it spreads and behaves and how it causes such serious disease. We’ve conquered viruses before and we shall do so again. We can recover our composure, retain our faith, and go forward together. Perhaps to reach the stars.

Paul Richman, December 2021