Today I experienced the morning megillah reading in my rabbi's home at the civilized time of 9.30 am. It was cosy and friendly. That same rabbi had left a gift of goodies outside my porch at some much earlier time in the morning. I found it outside the porch when I opened up at around 8.00 am. Much of the night had been punctuated with song, car hooting and other manifestations of joy.
Talking about rabbis, we are now lucky enough to have three of them in our shul, and as this is the day for jokes and irreverence, I hope they won't mind if I refer to them as the Holy Trinity.
We have the Father, who's been a shul rabbi probably longer than any rav in the whole country. We have the Son, at whose home we heard the megillah. And we have a new rav, originally from Scotland, for whom the term 'Holy Spirit' is definitely apt, for he certainly makes his presence felt in every aspect of shul life.
I was reminded of how hard rabbis work when starting a book by the Bishop of Durham, entitled Justification.
In it he refers to Paul's contretemps with 'the Pharisees'. Nuff said. Does he not know that 'the Pharisees' are the forerunners of all rabbis, of whatever colour or denomination.
No dialogue between Christians and Jews can really take place without this recognition. An article in last Friday's Church Times posits the problem quite clearly:
Unlike many religions which prefer 'spiritual leaders' to teachers, Judaism expects their leaders to lead by example; to understand what the mass of their congregations are going through; and to suffer and rejoice with them. The rabbi is the epitome of what is best in the world, however difficult it might be for Popes, Bishops and other guru figures to understand this.
We have heard a great deal of negativity about the education system of late, with dumbing down, political correctness and the like.
Therefore, it's heartening to know that one C of E school in Bolton has allowed a pupil exemption from classes today, in order to accompany her parents to my home in order to find out more about Purim in Broughton Park. As long as she reports back to the class on her findings, that is!
75% of the pupils at this school are Muslims, so kol ha-kavod to them for making this quite courageous decision in the current climate. Luckily, my neighbours' children have dressed up as Batman and Alice in Wonderland respectively, and there are a number of guards from Buckingham Palace dotted around the streets, as well as Queen Esthers, tigers, demons and the like.
The weather has become gloriously sunny and a walk around the neighbourhood is all that is needed to imbibe the sights and sounds of Purim in Jewish Manchester. Certainly worth a break or two from school for one lucky child and her siblings.