We belong to something much bigger than our differences.
Nisa-Nashim is an Interfaith organisation that brings Jewish and Muslim women together. We were fortunate to welcome some members of the South-West London group to our service on Shabbat morning.
They talked about their work – this group started in 2015 – and how coming together has expanded their understanding of another faith group. That led to an interesting conversation about the relevance of gender separated groups. Is it really necessary? As one of our members pointed out, the conversation is different in a women-only group, and in some more traditional circles, women can express themselves only when there is separation. It made me realise how lucky we are at KLS. But, as in all matters, we cannot be dogmatic. Every initiative that works is worthy and relevant, and people are free to find a meaningful way to give a sense to their lives. But we should never forget that we belong to something much bigger than our differences.
Queen Vashti and Queen Esther are two strong characters of the Book of Esther. They both made their way in a male dominated world, and it is thanks to Esther that the Jewish People, according to the story, was saved from its enemy. On Sunday afternoon, we booed the wicked Haman, we made a lot of noise to express our joy, and we ate delicious Hamentaschen. The Twickenham-Richmond kids group made mishloach manot, gifts they then offered to the other children who came. A lot of young energy indeed!
This too shall pass…..
The COVID-19 outbreak has caused worries among our members. Let us not forget that in 2020, we are much more prepared to face an epidemic than in the past. The government has issued guidelines to avoid contact with the virus, such as washing our hands and avoiding kisses and hugs for the time being. However, we should take it seriously and monitor the situation carefully. A medieval prayer reads, ‘O God, protect us from war, famine, and plague’. These are our deepest fears, events that not only disrupt the lives of the individual, but also of societies. Some of us may decide to go into self-isolation as a precaution, and it is understandable. As a community, we need to be more alert than ever. If you know of someone who has made this decision, please make sure to call them from time to time to ensure that everything is fine, and that they have everything they need. Let me know if you hear of anyone who is isolated. The risk in a time like this is even more isolation, and we want to make sure that all our members are cared for. Please, deploy your antennas, and let us know, but let us not panic. This too shall pass.