8/9 November 2019, 10/11 Cheshvan 5780

This week at Delving into Judaism I had planned a session on Judaism and Social Justice, exploring the texts that inspire us – or command us – to make a just society, and a better world. Hillel said ‘do not separate yourself from the community’ (Pirkei Avot 2:4).

But our conversation turned instead to our beloved Hilda, whose funeral took place on Tuesday – and from that the session turned into a rich discussion on death and the customs around burial and cremation. We looked at how the burial (or cremation) itself are sewn into the fabric of the funeral service, and our reactions and experiences of these moments. We discussed Tahara, the traditional ritual washing of a body – now generally not practised in Liberal Judaism.

Throughout the conversation we returned to the thread that unites so many faith practices around death – respect for the person who has died, and their body. It made me think of our chosen Mitzvah Day project – cleaning and tidying at Highgate Cemetery. We uphold our Jewish values by offering respect to people we have never known by keeping their graves beautiful.

Mitzvah Day is an extraordinary custom in its own right. Created only 10 years ago it now is celebrated across the world, as Jews (and now friends of other faiths) come together to give our time, rather than our money, to make a difference.

For those who would rather make a difference in the warm, we are continuing our ‘Cleaner and Greener’ theme by making 3 eco-projects in Holly Lodge, the community centre right next to the cemetery:

– Ecobricks
– Toys for dogs in rescue centres
– Ecoplanting

For these we need plastic bottles and all your non-recyclable plastic (cleaned, please!), old T-shirts, old tennis balls and jam jars.

Whether you would like to be gardening, crafting, or a bit of both please do join us next Sunday, 17 November, at 11 am at Holly Lodge Community Centre, 30 Makepeace Avenue, Highgate, London N6 6HL. Bring cake, gardening gloves, warm clothes, craft resources and tea!

Shabbat shalom
Zoe Jacobs