3/4 November 2023, 20 Cheshvan 5784

This morning I visited my friend Marika, a Holocaust survivor, who as a child, was hidden in Hungary. Her book, ‘Hidden Child,’ and film of that name has gained much support. As a survivor and a still-practising Jungian analyst in her eighties, she is interested in holding complex thoughts; pain and empathy. But right now, she is afraid.

I was able to see her because I was invited to a ‘cosy’ conversation with the Second Gentleman of the U.S., Doug Emhoff, and Matthew A. Palmer, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of the United States, also an American Jew. I was representing CoLRaC and Liberal Judaism.

Tension is high across our communities and this conversation was intended to share and connect. I appreciated Mr. Emhoff’s commitment to finding joy in his Judaism, whatever fear grows, but he also memorably said that he is excited by the tzedek, the justice within Judaism.

How we see things at the moment is such a challenge and our legacy is to wrestle daily with how we negotiate sadness, and even fear for what comes next; trying to grapple with the ways things are seen and the disseminating of information, both true and false. At this time, discerning and watching is what we are all required to do – but how we do so is up to each one of us.

It’s interesting that this week’s portion is Vayera, meaning appeared; God appeared to Abraham and then the same word of seeing is repeated; Vayar Avraham, Abraham saw the three visitors who come. Maybe he saw straight away that they are angels; maybe not. Of course, this is the portion that contains the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael and the binding of Isaac. It is intense stuff and we are invited to engage robustly with the stories. But this year, this month, at this time, I am drawn to the meaning of the words Vayera in its different conjugations of Abraham seeing what was happening around him. It connects through the generations; and the capacity to observe and notice and we need that now.

I feel keenly us as a congregation being here and watching out for each other.

I’m sharing the document and statement of values which Progressive Judaism produced today; and invite you to sign if you would like. And of course, I look forward to seeing you over Shabbat and, for those who are joining us, at our anniversary dinner when we can proudly see our history.


Shabbat Shalom