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From the Senior Vice President

Max Freedman


Shabbat Shalom everyone,

Last week’s Shavuot programme was an outstanding success. On Thursday evening, the Chazzan and choir excelled, presenting a beautiful choral service to around 80 members followed by a delicious dinner and thought provoking shiur by Rabbi Elton. To cap off the festival, the children’s first fruits procession and their ice cream party on Shabbat was well attended and lots of fun for the kids. Our thanks for a wonderful Shavuot to Rabbi Elton, Chazzan Rabbi Feldman, Josh and his amazing choir, our dedicated office staff, Women’s Auxiliary and event organizer, Carla Green.

As a community we wish a hearty Mazal Tov to David Dunn and Tayler Matthews on their upcoming wedding this Sunday and we look forward to sharing many Smachot with them in the future as well.

2023 edition of The Great Vine
Work has begun on our annual publication. We'd love your contribution. Articles, Photos and Simcha acknowledgments can be made by emailing If you would like to submit a High Holiday Greeting you can do so here, or to advertise your business in the magazine, click here.

Women's Auxiliary AGM Morning Tea
The Women's Auxiliary is hosting their Annual General Meeting morning tea on June 14th. We invite all women to join us and be part of this dedicated group. If you haven't done so already, please fill out a membership form to become a member of the Women's Auxiliary and contribute to the impactful work they do within our synagogue.

Convict Shabbat
We’re looking forward to our communal lunch on 17th June. We extend a warm welcome to all Jewish descendants of convicts for Convict Shabbat. During the service, Rabbi Shua Solomon will share a special sermon, and following the service, we invite the congregation to join us for our monthly Communal Lunch, where we will have the honor of hosting Guest Speaker and Convict Historian, Beth Hise.

Live at Yours
We want to remind you that tickets for the upcoming Live at Yours event on 27 June are selling fast. Vivaldi vs. Piazzola Eight Seasons
Led by Violinist Powerhouse Kristian Winter These captivating evenings are always a sell-out, secure your spot now to avoid disappointment. Join us for an unforgettable night filled with enchanting performances.

"12 Over 12" Program
There is still time to sign up for our "12 Over 12" program, a remarkable program designed for women who have not celebrated their Bat Mitzvah. It offers a supportive learning environment over 6 weeks, culminating in a special celebration on August 6th. Reach out to Caroline Lewis and for more information click  here

To all those in our community who are suffering an illness, we wish you a Refu’ah Shleima – a complete and speedy recovery; and to all those commemorating a Yahrzeit, or who have recently suffered a loss, we wish you a long and good life, full of simchas.

Enjoy your Shabbat dinner with your family.


From The Rabbi

Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton



Naso 5783

I am delighted to report that Shavuot last week was a terrific success, with an outstanding choral service on the first night followed by eighty guests for dinner and learning in the Israel Green Auditorium. The kids basket making and ice cream party saw a wonderful parade of children and their parents onto the Bimah for a (slightly early) Adon Olam. Everyone enjoyed, and the visitors for the aufruf were impressed by the beauty and vibrancy of our Shule.

The next major Shabbat will be on 17 June, when we celebrate members of the community from convict stock, with a special sermon by Rabbi Shua Solomon and a complimentary lunch addressed by historian Beth Hise. If you would like to receive an honour during the service to mark your convict ancestry please make an offering on the website or contact the office.

Parashat Naso contains the priestly blessing and the command to the priests (Cohanim) to bless the people. This was done daily in the Temple, and is still done every morning in Israel, and on Festivals in the Diaspora. One aspect we non-priests learn early on is not to look at the Cohanim while they are blessing us, but why is this the case?

In the time of the Temple, when the Cohanim used the real name of God (which we never now pronounce), the Divine Presence rested on them. Just as Moses turned his face away from the Burning Bush because God’s Presence was there, so too the people did not look at the Cohanim as they uttered the blessing in the Temple.

But does that apply today? Some commentators, known as the Baalei Tosafot (France, thirteenth century) argue that since the real name of God is no longer used, the Divine Presence no longer rests on the Cohanim, and therefore we look away for a different reason, and that is because we should be concentrating on receiving the blessing and not be distracted by the activity of the Cohanim. For the Baalei Tosafot, then, it is important to distinguish between the contents and the vessel; the blessing should not be obscured by those delivering it.

However, Rashi, from the late eleventh century, thought that the Divine Presence did rest on the Cohanim, even though they no longer used God’s name. For sure, God’s Presence is not as powerful as it used to be, but it is still there. We shouldn’t think that just because the Temple is destroyed and we are in exile that God is no longer with us. We currently do not see all the miracles and wonders associated with the Temple, when God’s Presence was entirely obvious, but we know He is still with us and therefore we still look away from the Cohanim.

Either explanation still leads us to the universal practice not to look at the Cohanim while they bless, and even for the Cohanim not to look at their own hands, because that would either be a distraction for them, or would involve looking at the Divine Presence, and of course at much closer quarters than the rest of the congregation.

We will next hear the blessing from the Cohanim on Rosh Hashanah, when we can turn away, but be fully conscious of the religiously important event taking place, when God’s Presence itself comes down to bless us.


Sat, 3 June 2023 14 Sivan 5783