Showing posts from May, 2012

Covenant, Community, Caring

Shavuot Sermon Sinai Synagogue 
Covenant, Community and Caring 
Communities are interesting places. Communities can be nurturing or toxic, they can include and exclude, uplift and break down. In this sense, communities are just the sum of the parts of humanity that cement them together. Of course as a community, we hope and want to see the very best of ourselves. Yet there is a darker side to community as well. Who is in and who is out? Who participates and who is jettisoned? Who leads and who follows? This is part of the central question of what kind of a community we want to be. 
Shavuot, like any good Jewish holiday, is about many things. (We never make things simple in Judaism!) There is an agricultural component as we celebrate the harvest and offering of the firstlings. It is also, of course, about Revelation at Sinai and the giving of the Torah. Shavuot is a spiritual wedding, if you will, where Israel as the Bride enters into a sanctified and loving state with God as the groom…

Stairway to Heaven

This article has been published in the Sinai Chronicle, Sinai Reform Synagogue, Leeds
Stairway to Heaven
Are you ready to count your way to personal transformation?
The Omer Counting can be seen as the world’s oldest ’12 Step Program’, an antique method of self-improvement. According to the Chassidic tradition this is certainly the case where each ‘sefirah’ (‘counting’) is aligned with a Kabbalistic description of the Divine, like ‘Gevurah’ (power) or ‘Chesed’ (loving-kindness) for us to emulate. Be what may, the message is clear – the Omer is not only a Biblical commandment (Lev. 23:15) in which we count our way from freedom (Pesach) to Revelation (Shavuot) – but also a stairway to Heaven into our deepest personal experiences.
A lot happens en route. From the first counting (on the 15th of Nisan, second Seider night, for those who celebrate) to the 50th on erev Shavuot itself (6thof Sivan), the tragedies and joys of the Jewish people pass us by. On our relentless march to receive Torah i…