24/25 July 2020, 3/4 Av 5780

Click on this image to see Elliott’s story


Communities are rightly proud of their children. Jewish tradition urges us to nurture the next generation, and indeed each generation. L’dor va’dor we sing each Shabbat morning, generation to generation. Teach this (whole thing of Judaism) to your children v’shinantam l’vanecha so says the Shema prayer. And Talmud Berachot when it insists children are like builders in what they create:

Rabbi Elazar said Rabbi Hanina said: Torah scholars increase peace in the world, as it is said: ‘And all your children [banayich] shall be taught of Adonai, and great shall be the peace of your children.’ (Isa. 54:13) Do not read your children [banayich], but your builders [bonayich].” -Talmud Brakhot 64a

So it’s pretty clear, generations matter. Not just families and ‘your’ children but the future of all communities. Elliott Karstadt, Dr Elliott Karstadt actually, is a child of this congregation. His parents Lyn and Philip Karstadt raised all three of their children Elliott, Lauren and Jonathan within our congregation (Lauren is my Rafael’s favourite teacher ever, ever.)  Elliott was taught in Ivriah, directed to Bar Mitzvah by the legendary Tzvi Rosenwasser. He continued and became a teacher for the next generation of children. He taught both at Ivriah and Jewish Studies GCSE here at FPS. He teaches adults and has been an integral part of the Delving into Judaism community. He was part of early Shabbat Resouled and has maintained that connection and commitment despite these past five years of learning and serving Reform and Liberal communities across the UK.

This Shabbat is a joy not just for his family but for us his synagogue. Elliott will become a rabbi next Wednesday. It should have been on July 5th with all the pomp and ceremony of all ordinations. Our Dean Staker was to present him and I was to ordain him.  But during these extraordinary times we will have a small, distanced private ceremony next week.

It is one of the greatest privileges I’ve known to be Elliott’s ordaining rabbi. Moses is told ; charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him…. I imagine these words addressed to me for Elliott. And I will do so with your love and pride also.

Shabbat Shalom and do join us for this service.

Rabbi Rebecca