Pikuah Nefesh – “Safeguarding Life” is a bedrock principle of Jewish law, and supersedes most other obligations or mitzvot. It is what guided us all to be as conscientious and careful as possible these past 16 months.
As unlocking begins in earnest I am thinking deeply what PIKUACH NEFESH can mean.
We know it can mean literally, the saving a life from death. But it also means the quality of that life, the nuanced and complex way we feel alive.
The utopian day of 19 July will mean so much and so differently for each of us. I’m considering, as you might imagine, how that informs our synagogue life.
We will gather as community but with such different attitudes and experiences, some more fearful than others. As always, I hope kindness and consideration will inform how we are. Some of us are needing community and relationality above all things, simply as a life saving option. Some are afraid of loosening restrictions for our hard won health and safety.
The chances are our community is made of all those attitudes and probably many more. We will be considering carefully mask wearing and singing in our services by listening closely to PHE’s advice to faith institutions, and of course using our common sense.
Pikuach Nefesh will guide us as it always has in keeping each other safe and comfortable, but now in new extended ways.
We have been through a She’at Hadehak – “ an Extraordinary Moment” – how will we reflect communally on it and continue to be kind to each other even as our opinions and perspectives on this differ?
Jewish life has always made adjustments in times of emergency and crisis. We did, when we became more than a building. Opening up requires a similar sensitivity and thoughtfulness. I intend to offer as many opportunities to talk and navigate through these stages. I hope it will be guided, informed and inspired by Chesed “Profound Love and Kindness” so we act with tremendous love and understanding with each other.
We truly are, once again, a mixed multitude. A community full of folk whose own encounter and appreciation of what we have been through is diverse.
We will do this well.
Please continue to book in, and now you can even enjoy kiddush under your seats.
Shabbat shalom to all
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