From the Rabbi Leah Jordan
Shana tova to NLJC and friends—
The High Holidays are always a season simultaneously both full of
the apple-honey sweetness of celebrating the New Year with
family and friends and of deep and solemn reflection leading up to
Yom Kippur and its demand upon us for tshuva and real change.
In that first vein of sweetness and simcha, we have many things to
celebrate in our community over this past year. In this last year’s
Jewish year, 5775, we marked a fabulous Community Open Day
with more people from the wider Norwich community in attendance
than NLJC members, a beautiful bar mitzvah, Kabbalat Torah for
three young people, a proselyte formally joining our community
after a long process of deep and committed learning, new
memberships each month, and an overflowing cheder.
We have new Council members, participants joining the Baalei
Tefilah course to lead in our community, several beautifully led lay
services and events, our annual Chanukah Fayre, the community
taking on two new social justice initiatives (one local and one in
Israel), NLJC members leading on community organising for
resettlement of Syrian refugees in Norfolk, and so much more I
haven’t even the space to mention here!
We have truly had a sweet past year, and we look forward to
bigger and better things in this new Jewish year to come. I’m sure
in our own individual lives we can also find sweet things to
But as I said, the High Holidays are also a time of serious
contemplation – on what went awry in this past year and what we
can do better in the next. To that end, I think many of our minds
are turned to what is likely the humanitarian crisis and test of our
time: the refugee and migrant emergency in Europe, Africa, and
the Middle East.
Raise your metaphorical hand if one of your parents,
grandparents, or great-grandparents was a refugee or economic
migrant to these shores?
As Jews, we have a special and urgent voice in this matter. History
will judge our morality based on our actions in response to the
ever-growing need for homes, safety, and resources for people
fleeing catastrophe and war in the world.
Based upon a teaching in our Torah in Numbers 35, Emmanuel
Levinas, the great post-Holocaust Jewish philosopher, himself a
refugee in Paris after the war, wrote that we are all, while innocent
perhaps of having directly caused the suffering of refugees, also
obligated, as members of free, relatively affluent, secure societies,
to confront and improve the dire need of other human beings.
It’s an obvious statement but one we should be especially aware of
and take action on as a Jewish community in this coming year.
Ketivah vaChatimah Tovah,
May we all be inscribed for a good new year,
From the Rabbi Leah Jordan