Sign In Forgot Password

 

From the President


DAVID P LEWIS

PRESIDENT
e: president@greatsynagogue.org.au

Dear Friends,

Shabbat Shalom & Yom Kippur Miracle

In the last few hours before Yom Kippur the Sydney Jewish community were granted an exemption that permitted us to hold mini services outdoors. This resulted in many moving and meaningful gatherings across Sydney and Newcastle. The rain mostly held off and this allowed these wonderful initiatives to proceed.

Our Synagogue performed this mitzvah in Rushcutters Bay Park and once again we had a large crowd in attendance to enjoy Rabbi Elton’s service. There were conditions in that only the fully vaccinated were permitted to attend and that sadly meant that Rabbi Phil was unable to join us as he is due for his second ‘jab’ in a couple of weeks.

I thoroughly enjoyed both our TGS service after which I attended the Neila Mizrachi service in North Bondi.

There are several members of our community who must be thanked for their tireless efforts at the very last minute that secured this exemption from the Health Minister and allowed us to commemorate Yom Kippur. The Jewish Board of Deputies through Lesli Berger and CEO Darren Bark together with our immediate past President, Justice Stephen Rothman AM, led the negotiations with Brad Hazzard, the NSW Minister for Health and the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian. My sincere thanks to all of you for finding a way to allow us even just that small part of Yom Kippur!

Thank you as well to all our members and indeed all who attended services in the parks. The community maintained perfect adherence to the regulations and we were highly commended by the police who kindly attended a number of our services.

Sukkot & Beyond

Given the above success, we have a strong case to put to the Minister for a repeat for Sukkot. Once we have news on that front we will bring that to you.

Off to London

Caroline and I have received a permit to travel to London both to spend time with her mother Alice and for me to work. As Alice is now approaching 97, albeit in rude health, it is almost two years since we saw her and, as you will all understand, the need is great. Unfortunately we have to stay three months and this means that we will not return until early January. I will continue with my TGS duties remotely although Max, Lauren and Eli will of course be here to assist.

I wish all of you continued good health and Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach.

Birthdays

Mazal Tov to Kenneth Bloom, Rosalind Fisher, Robbie Geyer PSM, David Lesnie, Lloyd Millett, and Vanda Phillips

Bar & Bat Mitzvah Anniversaries

Mazal Tov to Clive Kessler, Denise Sher and Gary Inberg

Please do not hesitate to EMAIL ME if there is anything you would like to discuss.

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.

Kindest regards,

David Lewis
President
 
 

From the Rabbi


RABBI DR BENJAMIN ELTON
e: rabbielton@greatsynagogue.org.au

Shabbat Shuva & Yom Kippur 5782

I hope everyone had a meaningful and uplifting Yom Kippur. Succot is now just around the corner, but before then we have the last Shabbat with its own parasha from the annual cycle: Haazinu.

Haazinu is a very unusual parasha for several reasons. First, it is very short, containing only fifty two verses. It is also largely a song, and we know it is intended to be understood that way because it is set out in the Torah in two columns. There are several such songs in the Bible, including the Song at the Sea in Exodus and the Song of Deborah in Judges. In those two cases, the song is a jubilant celebration of a victory or a salvation. But that is not the situation facing Moses at this point in the Torah. He is about to die. He is disappointed, even heartbroken, that he cannot lead the Jewish People into the Land of Israel. If he sings at all, it should be an elegy, bewailing his fate, but that is not what Moses sings at all. He says:

I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are justice; a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

At the time of his deepest sadness, Moses returns to praising God. It is very appropriate that some of these words are taken as part of the ‘Tziduk haDin’, the words read at a funeral, through which the mourners accept the decision of God to take their loved one away. Those words are now provided for the bereaved in the prayer book. They are designated to be read, and so they are, whether or not they truly reflect the inner state of the mourner. But Moses was not given this text; he created it. It is the spontaneous outpouring of his soul.

The ability to sing, to praise God, even when things are not going our way is the highest religious expression. This was done in tragic circumstances over the centuries when martyrs would say the Shema immediately before they gave up their lives. They faced the greatest tragedy with an affirmation of their belief in God. That is why such deaths are ‘al kiddush Hashem’; they sanctify the Name of God, because they demonstrate the power of faith, that it survives, or even grows stronger.

I hope we never have to face the disappointments of Moses or the tragedies of the Jewish martyrs, but we all suffer setbacks and frustrations. Developing the ability to thank God, and praise God, even in those moments is a sign of a deeper and more authentic religious and spiritual connection. Over the next year maybe we can try to nurture it more consciously, and on bad days even more than on good days thank God for what we have, and even thank God for what we don’t have. That doesn’t mean pretending everything is perfect, or will turn out for the best in the way we hoped, but it does mean that we have faith that God is looking after us, and we must always turn to Him.

Sun, 19 September 2021 13 Tishrei 5782