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From The President

David P Lewis

e: president@greatsynagogue.org.au


Dear Friends,

 

Pesach 2024!
As we all prepare for our collective favourite festival (Yes all online polling indicates that Passover is a clear No 1!) our office staff too have been busy preparing as much as they can. This year the days on which the Seders fall means that next week the office can only be open half days on Monday and Friday. Tuesday and Wednesday are obvious closures whilst Thursday is ANZAC Day.

Therefore, please ensure you have communicated everything you need to the office no later than the morning of Friday 19 April otherwise Lynn and the team may not have enough time to attend to you.

First Night Seder with the Rabbis – Monday 22 April
Rabbi Elton & Hinda already have a full table so they are booked out for Monday night.  

Rabbi Feldman & Mushki only have a few places available so please email admin@greatsynagogue.org.au TODAY to request your place at their Seder table. Once again, I want to recognise and particularly thank Hinda and Mushki for opening your homes to the community. You are both so very much appreciated.

Second Night Seder at The Great – Tuesday 23 April
There are a final few places available at The Great communal Seder on Tuesday night 23 April. Once again, please book your place here or contact the office.

In addition, we also invite members to sponsor the Seder, both in general as well by providing tickets for members of the community who otherwise may not be able to enjoy the mitzvah of the Seder. Once again, this Tzedaka may be offered here.

Schedule of Services for Pesach 2024
Next week is very busy with many wonderful services. Please make sure that you check the website HERE for all service times.

ANZAC Day Shabbat 27 April
I have previously noted that members of the congregation who wish to make offerings and lay a rose at our ANZAC Day service should have already made their offerings. Due to Pesach and office working days, we requested that all offerings for ANZAC Day were to be made by Friday 12 April.

I wish you all a wonderful Passover and a memorable set of Seders with your families.

I look forward to seeing many of you in Shule over the Chaggim  

Shabbat Shalom & Chag Sameach

 

From The Rabbi

Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton

e: admin@greatsynagogue.org.au

 

Devar Torah: Shabbat Hagadol and first days of Pesach 5784

As we head into Pesach I wish everyone a Chag Kasher Vesameach, a happy and kosher Passover with meaningful and joyous Sedarim, lots of family time and a physical and spiritual recharging.

The final Shabbat before Pesach is called Shabbat Hagadol on which the Rabbi traditionally gives a discourse on one of the laws of Pesach. This year I will be exploring the question as to why we do not recite a bracha before we perform the mitzvah of telling the story of the Exodus on Seder night. This is an old question, but I hope I have been able to develop a new answer..

I want to draw attention to the sermon I intend to give on the first morning of Pesach. I have been thinking about how Jews can and should engage the world in the light of the events of October 7 and since, and in my sermon I will be proposing an answer, which comes from my gut but which I hope stands to reason and will resonate.

After Shule on the first morning of Pesach we are holding a Kiddush to celebrate the birth of Rosie Feldman and wish Mazal Tov to Mushki & Rabbi Feldman, Leah, Ari and the whole family.

The Seder opens with the declaration ‘Ha lachma anya’, and reads:

This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. All those who are hungry, let them enter and eat. All who are in need, let them come celebrate Pesach. Now we are here. Next year in the land of Israel. This year we are slaves. Next year we will be free.

Because it is written in Aramaic which was the commonly spoken Jewish language at the time the Hagadah was written, as opposed to the liturgical language which was Hebrew, it has become a tradition in some communities to recite it in their vernacular. For example, in some Sephardi communities it was read in Ladino, which Hinda still does at our Seder, just as her ancestors used to do in Turkey.

In whatever language, it is a text that cries out for interpretation. If we are inviting guests, why are we doing so inside the house and not at the door? If we want them to join us for the Seder with all its rituals, then why did we wait until after Kiddush? If we are still slaves, why are we celebrating Pesach?

It has been suggested that we are not speaking for the benefit of those outside, but of those already around the table. Do they feel awkward because they didn’t have somewhere else to go for Seder? Are they uncomfortable because they are not familiar with the ritual and are worried they might get lost. In Ha lachma anya we are allaying these fears. We are making it clear we want as many guests as possible. We are showing that we recognise there is a need not just for physical sustenance but for religious meaning and we want to help meet it. We are telling everyone with us that we are all in the same situation. We are all slaves, and we are all in exile, but we are all in it together and we will make our way to freedom and to the Promised Land together.

Above all this text is a reminder that we always have to be thinking sensitively about other people, and even in an evening as rich in text and ritual as the Seder, what matters most is the people present and their religious and emotional experience. If we can make that as positive as possible, we will surely have fulfilled all the mitzvot of the Seder to the highest degree.

 

 

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Fri, 19 April 2024 11 Nisan 5784