2/3 February 2024, 24 Sh’vat 5784

This week is HIAS/JCORE’S Refugee Shabbat. It is an opportunity for us to share the work of our congregation, in alliance with Citizens UK and our local Barnet institutions, in offering support, guidance and friendship to those who have fled unsafe homes before arriving here. For us, the empathy at the heart of Jewish life comes from our early identity in Torah; take, for instance, the ten commandments;

And God spoke all these words: “I am the Eternal your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

We’ve been taught that the experience of being there in ‘Egypt,’ suffering as strangers, informs all Jewish identity henceforth. I think a great deal about what this means and the fact the fifth commandment states clearly that Shabbat must be observed by everyone in your household, from your child to the stranger that lives within the community.

“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Eternal your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.”

I welcome these foundational texts that speak to how we negotiate our place in the world. And that feels right for us at FPS. I hope you might come along this Shabbat, where we have invited friends to join us.

Talking of Shabbat rests, during the rest of February, I will be taking a mini sabbatical from allotted time, a moment to pause. Services and learning are covered and of course, if you need any pastoral time, please do reach out to Caroline or Beverley, who will direct you smoothly. I will be back at the start of March and look forward to seeing you then, if I don’t see you over this weekend.

Shabbat Shalom