8/9 September 2023, 23 Elul 5783

And suddenly, or not so suddenly, it’s September and summer gives way to the New Year for us. Children return to school and work starts up against in earnest. Those fortunate to have had some time off, or those already retired, know the joy of the second cup of coffee over the novel you’re reading.

September means the beginning of our High Holidays. This Saturday night will be our Selichot service – a play on the word S’LICHAH, atonement, apology. It will remind us of the melodies and liturgies so particular to the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur prayers. As it is intended to be a candlelit service, we will begin at 9.30p.m. with tea and cake from 9 p.m.

You have already had charity pledge forms for our HHD appeals – all of them continuing from last year except Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa, a progressive school community that impacts Jewish, communal and inter faith life in the city. This is a charity close to Jane and Gordon Greenfield’s heart and proposed by them when we asked for suggestions from the congregation. Of course, as always, our FPS community is part of our appeal and you will have heard separately from us about the progress of our building plans and appeal.

This time of year is always important to a rabbi but this one even more so than usual.

As it’s our 70th year, I wanted our services to reflect this milestone. With the theme of 70 years, we have invited our President Paul Silver-Myer and member Richard Greene to speak, with me, on the significance of the past 70 years.

Richard, who is now Bureau Chief for CNN in Jerusalem, will speak of Israel these past seven decades on EREV ROSH HASHANAH. On ROSH HASHANAH MORNING, I will speak of Jewish life and meaning these past 70 years and then moving closer to home, Paul will speak of Finchley on YOM KIPPUR MORNING. I will speak on KOL NIDREI and again in the YIZCHOR service later in the afternoon on Yom Kippur. As we go inwards on the day, my themes will be compassion and accountability.

I am looking forward to leading the SHIUR on Yom Kippur afternoon. This will be on the F word project and the power of restorative justice in making amends. I look forward to sharing that with you. The exhibition will be up from Rosh Hashanah. Feel free to visit even if services are not your thing.

It is powerful and truly resonates on the themes of the season.

See you there and Shabbat Shalom,