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From the President
DAVID P LEWIS

PRESIDENT
e: president@greatsynagogue.org.au

Dear Friends,

L’ SHANA TOVA U’M’TUKAH!

The High Holy days are a time of reflection as well as joy that we are blessed to enjoy another season. This year we have experienced such significant change and to such a degree none of us has ever seen before. I think we are all blessed to live in Sydney where the conditions have been so much easier for all. We have much to be thankful for.

Whilst things will be very different in Shul this Rosh Hashanah, we have the benefit of an exemption from the NSW Health Department and this means that we can accommodate everyone of our members who selected the services they wished to attend. It will therefore be fantastic to see so many more of you back in Shul.

We welcome our visiting Chazzan, Mordechai (Mordy) Levin, the former Chazzan at Elwood Synagogue in Melbourne who I am delighted to report is healthy and excited to be out of hotel quarantine. Please make sure you say hello and make him welcome at The Great. I am sure you will all enjoy his wonderful voice.

I would also like to acknowledge and thank our incredible administrative staff who have gone above and beyond to make our experience this year as normal as possible. Our GM Lynn together with her colleagues Ilana, Ezra, Justin and Judith have been truly amazing and they all deserve our sincere gratitude.

Rabbi Elton and Rabbi Phil have as usual worked tirelessly and will also shoulder a far greater workload over the next 10 days given the extra services that we have made available to members. I know you will join me in thanking them each time you are in Shul.

 
Entry and Exit

As we attend services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur it is very important that we observe social distancing as required under our special exemption. Entry will be somewhat easier as we will be divided into groups of no more than 20 prior to entry.

Exit will be just a little more complicated in that I will ask members to leave by individual blocks and we will use only the Elizabeth Street exit. Therefore, before you enter the Shul, please arrange to meet your family members either in Hyde Park during day services or elsewhere away from the Elizabeth Street gates.

CSG will of course be in attendance however they have a far more important role to play and will not act as Covid-Marshals. This role will be fulfilled by your Board and volunteers so please help us as much as you can.

 
Conclusion

If I have done anything to offend anyone during the course of the year, I sincerely apologise and I hope you can forgive me.

 

Shana Tova

Kindest Regards,

David Lewis
President

 

From the Rabbi
RABBI DR BENJAMIN ELTON

e: rabbielton@greatsynagogue.org.au

Rosh Hashanah 5781

Hinda, Lizzie and I wish everyone a shana tova umetuka, and a ketiva vechatima tova, a happy and sweet new year, when we will all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.

I want to pay tribute to the Executive and Board, the office staff, Rabbi Phil and Chazzan Mordechai Levin, who are working so hard to make these High Holidays a success for our Shule and community. I think we have been able to accommodate everyone’s requests, which is really remarkable. I am looking forward to davening with you over the coming days.

I make a special request to work with the guards, ushers and marshals so we all arrive and leave in good order, and that we all observe social distancing and mask wearing as the Government requires. If we do so, we will all stay safe and well, which is our highest priority.

The Torah calls Rosh Hashanah ‘Yom Teruah’. We know from the Tradition that this means the day on which the Shofar is sounded, but ‘teruah’ can have a variety of meanings, including simply to make a noise. Rosh Hashanah is a day when we should make a noise.

Why would God want us to be noisy? I know I am always happy when I hear a sleeping Lizzie making a little noise through the monitor. There is a moment of reassurance that all is well. We cannot talk of or think of God in such human terms, but I suggest there is an element of God wanting to know that we are still around and still with Him. The Rabbi’s audaciously say ‘ein Melech belo am’, there is no such thing as a king without a people, even the King of kings. On Rosh Hashanah we crown the King, we acknowledge God as the creator and ruler of the universe, and just as a great cheer goes up at a coronation, so too we make a loud noise on Rosh Hashanah.

There is another Rabbinic expression about a king: ‘berov am harach melech’, the glory of the king is in masses of people’. It is not just a matter of habit, but of deep religious instinct that Jews gather together in large numbers on the High Holidays. We acclaim the King in the largest numbers of the year. That will be less true this year. There will not be eight or nine hundred people at services but only up to two hundred and fifty. Our ability to congregate will be limited, and some of us will be at home, perhaps on our own, or with just our immediate family. But we can still make noise, we can still let God know that we are here, that we are part of His people and that we desire to return to Him, and restore our relationship as loyal subjects to our eternal Sovereign.

Between services in the Synagogue and our personal prayers at home, we will make a mighty noise, perhaps not as high in decibels as in past years, but just as intense, and penetrate all the way up to the highest Heavens!

Shabbat Shalom!

Sat, 19 September 2020 1 Tishrei 5781