30 April/1 May 2021, 18/19 Iyar 5781

Paul Silver-Myer writes:

Emor means ‘to speak’ and this week’s parashah continues the Levitical description of purity rules for the Kohanim (priests) and tells the story of a man who spoke in a blasphemous way and the punishment that followed.

It is fascinating to think that when we start to speak a sentence, we don’t know exactly what we will say. Understanding our thoughts and the courage to try and express them is part of ‘self-actualization’ or achieving one’s fullest potential.

Maslow placed self-actualization at the peak of his hierarchy of needs ‘pyramid’, though the Siksika teachings – Blackfeet Nation, Reservation of Montana from whom Maslow developed his own theory without crediting them – place self-actualisation at the bottom of their ‘tipi.’ They view self-actualisation as the basis for development into community actualisation.

Whether the individual or the community is more important came to mind as the synagogue celebrated its 2021 Adult B’nei Mitzvah service last Shabbat. It was an uplifting heart-warming occasion that brought together ‘a wonderful diversity of voices’ and ‘much of what FPS can be proud about’.

One comment in the Zoom chat suggested it was ‘the epitome of the power and potential of community’. Each of the eleven B’nei Mitzvah had followed their own journeys to be able to speak, with courage, about how Leviticus 18 + 19 had challenged them to confront what is abominable and what is holy.

With over 100 in attendance on Zoom, and further viewers via other platforms the ruach (spirit) created a Shabbat synergy demonstrating that when a group of individuals come together, two plus two can make five.

Sadly, Rabbi Rebecca could not lead the service for the group that she had nurtured over the past eight months, whilst she convalesced at home. We wish her a refuah shleimah (a quick recovery) and to her and everyone else involved, grateful thanks are due.

Further words will be spoken this weekend courtesy of the Liberal Judaism community at their / our Biennial.

The theme is Breaking Down Walls and there are over 60 speakers and 30 sessions, including Stephen Bush in conversation with Tamara Joseph on ‘Race, Inclusion and the Jewish Community’, and a session with Rabbi Margaret Jacobi on ‘A time to break down and a time to build’. Please do add your voice to the weekend.

Please note you can click here to sign up for Biennial so that you get the links for this weekend’s Kabbalat Shabbat & Shabbat Morning services by email from them. You can view the full Biennial schedule here.

Shabbat shalom
Paul Silver-Myer, FPS President