Our Thoughts

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BITESIZE TORAH – RABBI DANIEL EPSTEIN 

 

Dear Friend,

This week has been difficult and sad in many ways.

On Sunday, we marched for AJEX and a respectable group represented our community with dignity at the Cenotaph, led by Rebbetzen Ilana as I recovered from the flu.

Earlier that day, we heard the devastating news of a terrorist attack in Jerusalem, resulting in the murder of Eliyahu Kay hy”d, an “Oleh Chadash” from South Africa who was the grandson of Rabbi Shlomo and Rebbetzen Lynndy Levin of South Hampstead Synagogue. A young man who was working at the Western Wall as a tour guide and was on his way home from Shacharit when he was attacked.

Thousands of people attended his funeral and sang haunting melodies of hope and faith while accompanying him to his final resting place on Har HaMenuchot in Jerusalem.

And then we heard of the terrible loss of life at sea of 27 migrants – men, women and children – who lost their lives at sea between Calais and the English coastline while trying to search for a better life.

Each of these tragedies alone is enough to stop us in our tracks. Some people our community know. Some people we personally know. And some people are anonymous to us and do not even have names to be called.

This Sunday evening, we begin the festival of Chanukah. An extraordinary moment of triumph by the 5 sons of Matityahu – The Maccabees – over the Seleucid king Antiochus and his banning of Jewish worship, Mitzvah observance and Torah study.

We light candles in increasing quantities and not in decreasing ones. We believe that, despite the tragedies, the future will get brighter not dimmer; that we will find more solutions, not more problems. That we will be, in Rabbi Sacks’ inimitable words, “the voice of hope in the conversation of humankind.”

And that with the precious gift of life that we have been bequeathed, we must cry out to God for the tragedies and the losses. We must comfort the bereaved and be there for their families, and – with the same energy – light the candles of hope and rededication (Chanukah means “dedication”) and pray that our actions in this world will bring the light of hope and Mashiach, speedily in our days, and an end to all of our suffering.

Shabbat Shalom and Chanukah Sameach,

 

 

 

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