19/20 April 2024, 12 Nisan 5784

On Saturday night, we were having dinner with friends, talking as usual about Israel, the war in Gaza and our Jewishness, when we heard news of Iran’s impending attack. That there were no deaths was the result solidarity across the region, though one young Bedouin girl was seriously injured. So, the start of this week has been infused with concern following Iran’s assault on Israel and with fear of how things might escalate. All the while, our attention remains on the hostage families, becoming desperate for the lack of news or possibilities, as well, of course, on the dire suffering in Gaza. We here are trying to hold steady and continue our work as diaspora Jews, to resist division and to be open-hearted and sensible in our collaborative work with others. With such pernicious news, all we can do is double our efforts to negotiate our Judaism in a thoughtful, open way and to keep optimistic and hopeful.

Passover is here and the line from the Seder and Book of Exodus has rarely felt more poignant:

B’chol for va’dor hayav adam lirot et atzmo k’ilu hu yatzar m’mitzrayim.  In every generation each person is obliged to view themselves as if they personally left Egypt.

I want to remind us all of two events that capture us at work and see us doubling down on our Jewish values.

The first is our open doors this Shabbat morning*. We have advertised this and invited to join us folk who want to explore their Jewishness at the moment, as we thoughtfully and courageously arrive at Passover with its invitation to consider redemption, empathy and freedom. As I wrote in London Jewish News last month, Liberal Judaism has much to celebrate. You can carry your Jewishness from either parent, from choosing to convert, from the legacy of family who gave it to you to make something different from it.

This is the moment for Jewish conversations.





The second event is on Thursday, 25th April, in the midst of Passover, when I will co-chair the London Mayoral Assembly for London Citizens. We have worked with them for over ten years and have brought so much positive change to London as Jews – remember our success settling Syrian Refugees into Barnet? Jews and our communities need to be proud and involved in London and I feel privileged to lead this event with Mayor Sadiq Khan and mayoral candidate Susan Hall. There are only three places left – if you would like to join me, contact me direct.

* Service 9.45-10.45

Discussions and family activities from 11a.m.

This Shabbat we will be praying for:

Alon Ohel
Avinatan Or
Guy Illouz
Matan Angrest