Reflections from Rabbi René – We are Stronger Together

Thoughts as we approach Purim 2021

There is something utterly comforting in the endless cycle of Shabbats and festivals. There is not much certainty in our lives, but the succession of days and nights, weeks and months, Shabbats and festivals, anchors us in life and time. We change, but their fundamental meaning doesn’t. That is beautifully captured by the she’echeyanu: Blessed are You, Eternal our God. You have granted us life, sustained us, and empowered us to reach this moment.

Last year Purim celebration was the last people could gather in their communities. Some said that it was because of this festival that the level of infection in the Jewish community was particularly high in 2020. If you remember, we had the first hints that something big was going to happen to us, but we didn’t know yet the magnitude of the pandemic.

A year later, with the knowledge we have now, how will this Purim be different?

There will be joy

There won’t be any gathering, no costume parties, no Hamentaschen contest. But there will be joy: the joy of being part of a community that is very much alive, that has shown strength to face adversity. The message of Purim is simple: we are stronger together. We are much more than the sum of the parts, and nothing can stop us when we put all our energies together to achieve something for the common good.

This year, you are invited to three events to mark Purim:

  • On Thursday evening, which is the night of Purim, I will lead a study session about the strong women – Vashti and Esther – who are the real heroes of the story.
  • On Friday evening, our Music director Rebekka Wedell will lead a Purim themed Erev Shabbat service.
  • And on Shabbat morning, we will listen to a rhyme version of the Megillah, we will meet Vashti interviewed by Sandra Webber during one her very successful Purim Island Discs, and some of our students will be Rabbis for rabbinic court and decide if the wicked Haman deserves to have Hamentaschen or not.

This will be fun!

Strong women…..

Speaking of strong women, our own Andree Frieze represented KLS on an event for South of the River Jewish communities Question Time. She was the only woman of the panel, and she was just amazing: passionate, articulate and very convincing. Well done Andree!

We have reasons to be hopeful

We have just learned how the next months will look. If everything goes by the plan, and we know they don’t always do, we should be in a very different place this summer. Of course, there are still risks. It is certainly not the end of the tunnel, but with spring coming up soon, a vaccine rollout that is a real success, and a careful easing of the lockdown, we may have reasons to be hopeful. But we must not be complacent. Fighting a pandemic is a bit like a marathon: victory is in the long run.

I wish you all a great week ahead, with more light and smoother temperatures.