Showing posts from December, 2013

Induction Address

Induction Sermon
Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz 

There’s Power in Numbers 

There’s power in numbers. Numbers determine our lot. They shape our perception of the world. They guide our thinking about important issues. Numbers range from the abstractions of philosophy to the gritty reality of lives lived in their myriad ways. 
There’s magic in numbers. Numbers are wrapped in symbol and metaphor, point to archetype and myth. Sometimes they occupy a space between the literal and figurative, between the creative and exact. Numbers cement our rationality or whip up our superstition. Numbers are the bearers of values and the makers of meaning. We Jews know that all too well. 

The first prime number is also our most cardinal one: One. One for the One God our religious civilization bequeathed to humanity. One for the fundamental moral recognition that, as in the words of the prophet Malachi , ‘halo Av echad lechulanu, halo El echad baranu’ - ‘Have we not one Father? Has not one God created us?’ S…

Circumcision of the Heart

Sinai Chronicle October 2013  Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz 
Circumcision of the Heart 
Coming out of the High Holy Day season and back into ‘normal life as we know it’ seems like a tall order for my young family. Within the space of four months, my husband and I have gone through the last stages of my pregnancy, an Ordination, a rabbinic appointment, childbirth, young parenthood and an international move from Holland to Leeds. Any of these individually already marks an existential and potentially transformative experience and we feel blessed to have gone through all of them (although the ‘international move’ is less memorable and enjoyable than the others!) 
Any of these experiences is worthy of its own commentary and reflection. Yet out of all these experiences, one of the most complex, challenging and beautiful things to reflect upon was our son’s Jonathan’s Brit Milah (circumcision). Few rituals in our tradition are as ancient, powerful and unsettling. Circumcision, as it were, cuts to…