3/4 April 2020, 9/10 Nisan 5780

Message from Rabbi Rebecca

I am loving what everyone is sharing online and in their Postcode Groups at the moment. As well as shopping, these uplifting snippets of books and stories nourish us in these times.

Member Marilyn Branston shared this from Leo Rosten’s book “Captain Newman, M.D”. She writes [it’s a ] really wonderful novel about a psychiatrist treating soldiers returned from combat in WW2. I believe a film was made of this novel many years ago, and if ever you wanted to obtain a copy (used, probably) you’d be well rewarded”.

At the very end of the novel, Captain Newman and a couple of his friends are taking a well-earned rest on a sandy beach, and musing about the tragedy of the war and the human cost of it all.
Newman tells the following story:

“My father once told me a story I always think of when the going gets rough…It’s about Destiny. Destiny came down to an island, centuries ago, and summoned three of the inhabitants before him. ‘What would you do,’ asked Destiny, ‘if I told you that tomorrow this island will be completely inundated by an immense tidal wave?’ The first man, who was a cynic, said, ‘Why, I would eat, drink, carouse and make love all night long!’ The second man, who was a mystic, said, ‘I would go to the sacred grove with my loved ones and make sacrifices to the gods and pray without ceasing.’ And the third man, who loved reason, thought for awhile, confused and troubled, and said, .Why, I would assemble our wisest men, and begin at once to study how to live under water.’”

Adapting seems to be critical at the moment. Managing these new conditions with ease and even flexibility. I think many are sacrificing so much – our children and young people are giving up long held hopes and promises. UJIA has officially cancelled Israel Tour this year, I know it feels small fry for some of us but many of our 16-year-olds raised through their youth movements know that their rite of passage visiting Israel after GCSEs was as certain as the exams themselves.

It is no small thing to lose all of that and to do so graciously and without hysteria or even self pity. Not one to feel the plight of our advantaged young people, I do so here for this. I commend our Youth movement LJY-Netzer and its members for managing the disappointment so well. It bodes well for their future.

We have focused on the Serenity Prayer in this week’s Morning Meditation; the ability accept what you can’t change, the courage to change what you can and the wisdom to know the difference.

I’m telling the young people I speak to and see ‘Gam Zeh Y’avor’ this too will pass and good will be ahead.

Shabbat Shalom