On Shabbat our rabbi gave a sermon on families. There is the biological family, the family of those with shared hobbies (he cited Manchester United, for instance) and the family linked by communal worship and religion. And then there is the special family of survivors, and more especially the group of 'Boys' who arrived in England from all over Europe after the Shoah, and who have kept in touch with each other ever since. What they have in common is their concentration camp experiences and the fact that they are Jewish:
The 45 Aid Society are now aging, and their children, the 'second generation' are taking over their role memory preservation:
After the service, the 45s hosted a kiddush in the shul hall.
Later that afternoon, in another shul, the rabbi gave a talk on
Multiple Interpretations and the Co-Existence of Contradictory Truths
What is Judaism? he asked. It is the attempt to bridge the gap between unknowable divinity and humankind. Divinity does not need our prayers, interpretations and imprecations, but we are given the task of becoming involved with Divinity in this way, in order to fulfil the mission of Judaism. Plus, he said, later interpretations are not necessarily inferior to earlier ones. An optimistic message there.
And finally, back in our own shul, an Israeli rabbi from the Tzohar Forum
talked to us about Israel at its 60th anniversary. Is it a state for the Jews, as Herzl envisaged, or a Jewish state? Mind you, Herzl did call his book Der Judenstaat, which translated means The Jewish State, so maybe he realised that a State of Jews would end up actually being a Jewish State:
The arguments were lively and forceful. Mention was made of the religious-secular divide in Israel and how this was being bridged. An example of one such bridge is the attempt by Tzohar rabbis to make Orthodox marriages more user-friendly, and dealing with questions of civil liberties head-on, by permitting the selling of hametz products in supermarkets during Pesach, as long as kosher-for-Pesach products are clearly marked as such..
The consensus was that if religion is not coercive, maybe people will be more inclined to follow it.
And this afternoon I'm taking part in the first ever walk comprising Muslim and Jewish women in north Manchester,.
The walk will take place in Heaton Park, and I hope to write something on it later.