Pre-election nightmares…and convictions

‘Because we belong to one race, the human race,’ said Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger at our synagogue last night in a powerful rebuttal of religious, political and racial Antisemitism. Her words, spoken with that deep conviction modulated by kindness which characterises her, are a fitting prelude to Human Rights Shabbat.

I’ve woken twice this week with nightmares prompted by the forthcoming election. That’s how at 3.00am this morning I found myself thinking of the words with which Jacob awakes from his dream, that wonderful vision of a ladder placed towards the earth and ascending up to heaven: ‘There is God in this place, and I didn’t realise’.

But, unlike in Jacob’s experience, the world doesn’t seem like the gateway to heaven right now. I feel surrounded less by angels than by terrors. I’m not sure I should name them, but these are some of the demons haunting me in the night: The attack by cults of myths and lies on integrity and truth; the world-wide failure so far to act quickly and radically enough to protect our beautiful planet; what unbridled consumption does to the poor and to nature; vast, unjustifiable, unconscionable injustice; the whole unfinished Brexit saga; the language of abuse, particularly on social media, especially towards women; rising populism and racism against refugees, Muslims, Jews; Jew-hate rooted in the Hydra-like Protocols of the Elders of Zion; homelessness, the loss for so many of hearth, hope and everything.

It took me a long time to get back to sleep.

So where is God in this place?

When a bereaved father whose son was murdered by a terrorist says he won’t have the death used to increase hatred in the world – God is in that place, in his heart.

When courageous women (and men) stand for election (in different political parties) because they believe in justice and goodness, despite innumerable threats on social media, including to their very lives – God is in that place.

When a child calls on my mobile and says in an urgent voice, “How do I save the life of this injured bird I just found?” – God is in the hands with which she lifts it gently into a box.

When a woman says on the radio that she’s stopped buying fast fashion and goes to clothes-swaps because her teenage daughter has made her rethink – I believe God is in that place.

When, as happened in the last ten days, I share a platform with an Imam, and again with a leading Christian minister, and we say “We stand together” – then we are warranted in the hope that God will guide us.

When a young person stands up and tells his or her community, ‘This is the charity I’ve run for’, or walked for, or worked for – God is in their commitment.

God is in our hearts, addressing every one of us in the voices of a thousand lives: family, friends, strangers, refugees, homeless people, even the birds and the trees. Nothing, no living thing whatsoever, doesn’t matter. The sacred spirit of life cries out to us from everywhere; it calls from inside our own consciousness. The challenge is to hear it, not just to wake and say ‘God is in this place, and I didn’t realise’, but to stay awake, remain aware and act accordingly.

For there are allies everywhere, in everyone who cherishes life, puts respect before prejudice, generosity before contempt, concern for others before convenience to self.

God is in this place, if we have the conscience, courage and compassion to make it so. Nothing can take that away.

 

Choose Love – and the real choices at election time

I visited the Choose Love pop-up store yesterday evening, ahead of its official opening today. I bought five winter coats for children. But all I took away were postcards with the greeting ‘Love Has No Borders’.

It’s not the usual kind of shop. You buy for refugees. Help Refugees, whose planning, effort, teamwork and inspiration Choose Love is, send the products straight from local suppliers near the camps, to the refugees who desperately need them. You can choose from socks, blankets, towels, hot food, winter boots. Or you can simply buy the whole shop – people do – and gift one item of everything it contains.

Around the walls you don’t see adverts, but pictures like the view of the sea with the words of Warsan Shire: ‘No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land’, or the photo of a young girl writing in a notebook with the lines by Arundathi Roy:

Another world is not only possible, but she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

It wasn’t quiet in the shop. It was packed with people talking, buying, hugging friends; there was loud music.

But in my head and heart it was quiet, for once.

More and more this year, especially these last weeks, I feel as if I’m stuck on a ship from which it is impossible to disembark as it drifts, half piloted, half hapless, on a sea of madness towards a land of little hope. I love that land, which I watch drifting by. I weep for it and wonder how to get back there.

I have Black Friday all down my inbox. I don’t want to be cajoled into consuming as much as I can for as little as I can give. No doubt that’s because I already have far more than I need. No doubt the day brings good to some. But it’s symptomatic of a culture which eats the world and throws the packaging into the sea. It makes me afraid.

Outside the Choose Love store was a homeless man. I put a coin in his paper cup. ‘You’re the first he said,’ gesturing at all the people passing. Ninety-something per cent of the time, I’m also one of those who walk by. ‘Notice me’, the man was saying. ‘Notice’, says the Choose Love shop: notice what really matters.

Choose is a timely word. Beyond the forthcoming selection on the ballot paper is a deeper choice which no one can take away. No outcome can prevent it: we can choose to see, hear, care, reach out a hand, build, plant, tend; we can choose to live sustained and inspired by the vision of a kinder, less unjust and cruel world, a world sustained by integrity, humility, service and love. No incoming government can take that choice away.

In these difficult days, we must help each other make, and stick with, that choice. My favourite interpretation of God’s declaration ‘Let us make man in our image’ belongs to Rebbe Avraham Mordechai of Ger:

God says to each and every person:

“Let’s make of you a true human being, you and I together.”

God has many partners who help make us; who help us find our true humanity.

Thank you to them all.

 

Language of Contempt?

I’m often anxious after giving a sermon. What troubles me is: Have I said things which hurt others? This is not because I’m worried people may disagree with what I’ve said. It’s on account of a deeper issue: Have I spoken anything which directly or implicitly degrades other people because of who they are: white, or black, or male, or female, or not-Jewish, or indeed Jewish, or gay, or of other faith, or of none, or single, or married, or bereaved? Have I degraded the universal divine image which resides in every human being?

Because that’s a wrong; and from hustings, pulpit, parliament or temple, from any place of power, it’s an influential form of wrongdoing.

Since childhood, I’ve been struck by the prayer asking God to protect us ‘from the evil hours which distract the world’. What are those ‘hours’? Hours, I fear, in which racism, bigotry and hatred fill public discourse, inciting, and forming the prelude to, violence.

This week I signed a draft statement by the RA (The Rabbinical Assembly, to which most Masorti rabbis belong) condemning Stephen Miller, senior advisor to President Trump, for promoting white supremacist ideology and race hate. Based on documents released by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Hatewatch (what a term!) wrote that it could find no examples of Miller writing ‘sympathetically or even in neutral tones about any person who is nonwhite or foreign-born.’ The RA statement says that:

Both history and contemporary experience make us (as Jews) especially sensitive to any efforts that classify fellow human beings as “other.” We are all made in the image of God and worthy of dignity and respect.

These words should be taken to heart, including by leaders in Israel who make comments understood as provoking fear and hatred against Israel’s Arab citizens in sharp contradiction to the ideals set out in Israel’s wise and profoundly Jewish Declaration of Independence:

[The State of Israel] will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture…

Closer to home, I’ve listened to more than one parliamentary candidate, from more than one party, telling me with personal pain about the race-based bigotry and hate-filled comments they both witness and receive as they campaign. This is wrong.

The US, the UK and Israel: these are three countries I admire and care about. There’s much I could say about places further from my heart…

We must not let the language of contempt go unchallenged. Disagreement, argument, impassioned debate, – yes. But bullying, bigotry and hatred, – no. They do not belong in genuine discourse; in the end they crush it. Those who suffer most are minorities, the ‘othered’, often women, writers, anyone too inconvenient in pursuit of truth, and, in the end, the whole of society.

That is why I welcome the Church of England’s report God’s Unfailing Word, which sharply challenges Christian teachings which have over centuries provided ‘a fertile seed-bed for murderous anti-Semitism’. The Archbishop of Canterbury, whom I’ve personally heard speak in the strongest terms against anti-Semitism wherever it is found in British life, acknowledged that

it is a shameful truth that, through its theological teachings, the church, which should have offered an antidote, compounded the spread of this virus.

The report may not be perfect, but it is highly significant and timely. It is a courageous example of how we must all examine our conscience and our language: Are my words cruel? Do they damage the dignity of being human?

We need to ask that question not just from the viewpoint of those who are ‘like us’, but precisely from the perspective of those cast as ‘other’.

However strong our beliefs, may our words offer healing not hate.

 

We must not be disempowered by a culture of bullying

Professor Colin Schindler, a scholar of outstanding integrity whom we are privileged to have in our community, gave a lecture in Pittsburgh last week to commemorate Kristallnacht and honour those murdered in the Tree of Life Synagogue just a year ago.

He quoted Hannah Arendt’s observation that authoritarianism flourishes when there is an alliance between the elite and the mob. Those who stand in its path become targets of retribution.

Her words are astutely relevant with the rise of populist political cultures, not confined to one country or party, in which powerful leaders claim to speak better for the people than the established bodies of democracy, parliament, judiciary, a free press and a pluralist culture of honest debate. Caught in this unsubtle and bullying jingoism, those in the middle and in minorities often feel helpless and afraid.

Absorbed in these reflections, I asked a particularly engaged class of twelve-year-olds whether they thought Judaism was an ‘I can do’ or an ‘I can’t do’ religion. ‘I can do’, they all said, producing a rush of examples starting with Abraham.

Abraham is not fault-free, especially in how he treats his family. But, as we read in the Torah tomorrow, he does stand up for his values. I care about him because he pursues justice, God declares.

Just four verses later that very God is the object of Abraham’s pursuit: ‘How can you destroy the righteous alongside the wicked?’ Abraham challenges: If there are fifty, forty, even a mere ten honest people engaged in the affairs of the city then you, God, must spare the entire constituency of Sodom for their sake!

My attention is captured by the phrase ‘engaged in the affairs of the city’. It’s easy to feel there’s little we can do. But we all have a sphere of influence: our family, friends, neighbourhood, workplace, community, town. The Talmud asserts that those who have the power to exert such influence, whether over a circle as seemingly small as their own self or as wide as the entire world, but fail to do so, are held accountable for what happens within its compass.

There is little as empowering as deeply rooted values, especially if we have the solidarity of others who share them. One of my heroes, who spoke with profound conviction out of his personal experience of persecution, was Rabbi Hugo Gryn. I miss his voice, his gentle, compelling inspiration. ‘I spend much of my time fighting racism as hard as I can,’ he wrote, because ‘I know that you can only be safe in a society that practises tolerance, cherishes harmony and can celebrate difference.’

You can be a builder or a destroyer of bridges, he once told me: ‘There is a choice. Life is holy. All life, Mine and yours.’ (Chasing Shadows)

This is Interfaith Week. We can make connections with our own and other communities. We can stand together for social justice, compassion and equality, and against racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and bullying. We can create bonds with those other communities of life which we so often ignore but on which we depend for our very existence: fields, meadows, forests, insects, birds.

We can, and we must. We are not at liberty to allow ourselves to be disempowered. Limited as our influence is, we still have significant capacity to co-create the societies and the world in which we want ourselves and our children to live.

 

81 years since Kristallnacht; 30 years since the Berlin Wall

Tomorrow evening brings the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht.

Those who bear the searing memories of Nazi terror, imprisonment and murder in Germany and Austria are now in their eighties or nineties. We wish them every strength.

For them, the date of November 9th will never mean anything other than the Night of Broken Glass. Listening to their testimony at yesterday’s service held by the Association of Jewish Refugees, seeing them stop, weep, and then continue to speak from the soul, was humbling and moving.

Yet time and history impose fresh events on familiar dates. A baby is born on the Jahrzeit of a parent, carrying into new life the name of a grandparent she never knew. A family wedding is planned for a day previously remembered as the birthday of a much-missed relative.

That has been the case with the 9th of November. This year, everyone is talking about thirty years since the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. Many of us recall the hope and fervour which that iconic break-through brought. More than any other specific event, it epitomised the end of the Cold War. East and West could hammer away stones, sing and encounter each other in freedom.

I’ve puzzled over the meaning of the juxtaposition of these two almost opposite events, seemingly brought together by mere coincidence of the calendar.

Many who lived through the rise of Nazism and the horror of Kristallnacht testified to how the absence of physical barriers added to their bewilderment:

The boys next door who used to play with me wouldn’t talk to me anymore.

‘Friends’ with whom we’d been on civil terms walked past us in the street.

I saw the man who was once my friend in Nazi uniform.

Our neighbour gave us away.

Walls are not necessarily made of stone. They can be built from the bricks of bigotry and hate and bound with the mortar of suspicion and fear. They are easily constructed; tyrants, racists, populists and liars readily find co-workers.

When ordinary people who know and like their neighbours, when courageous public figures counter prejudice and take those walls down, shadows often rebuild them in the night. Though more easily passed through than structures with watchtowers and barbed wire, the very intangibility of the barriers of prejudice and contempt make them more elusive to absolute, irrevocable deconstruction.

That is why the task of undoing bigotry remains constant and essential. We are all both empowered and required to engage in it.

It’s as easy as friendship, as simple as caring about people because we are all people. We want our children to be safe in the street, encouraged at school and have opportunities in the workplace. We want to live in a society which is cooperative, diverse, inclusive and creative. We want to care about and for each other.

But it’s also as hard as resisting the temptation in our own minds, often unscrupulously fanned from podiums, pulpits and the press, to blame, fear, label and ‘other’.

In these times of choice and uncertainty, we are all responsible for taking down the barriers of prejudice and hate.

 

Prayer that ‘lets the light into your soul’

I went outside this morning to begin my prayers among the trees. The beech has turned yellow-brown; the ash still holds its colour. The rain falls mildly, melody from thousands of leaves.

The Hasidim had a genius for creative misreading whenever they sensed an opportunity to reveal a hidden depth in Scripture. ‘Make a window in the ark,’ God tells Noah. But the Hasidic masters didn’t take the verse that way. The term for ark, tevah, can also mean ‘word’. ‘Make a window in your words,’ they therefore taught: ‘Pray in such a way that it lets the light into your soul’.

I’ve been asked to pray for many outcomes, for people in many and varied situations. I shouldn’t really say ‘people’, since last week I was asked to include a healing prayer for a cat with a broken leg. I did. It was simpler than the request which came through the synagogue office many years ago to perform an exorcism on a cat possessed by evil spirits. I didn’t. I had no idea how.

Of course, I pray for outcomes. Who wouldn’t, when someone we love is ill or in great pain, when we hear accounts of hungry children, when war threatens?

I pray now, as electioneering commences, that whatever government comes into office will be led with integrity, rule without bigotry, focus on the issues which truly matter to humanity and life, and be guided by the values of justice and compassion.

But, I believe, the essence of prayers is not asking. Rather, it is listening. I often think in terms of ‘praying with’, rather than ‘praying for’. I recall bedsides by which I’ve sat in so many of London’s hospitals, The Royal Free, Barnet General, UCH, the North London Hospice. By ‘praying with’ I don’t chiefly mean saying the words or singing a melody together. The ‘with’ is not chiefly about sharing the page in the prayer book or being in the same physical place, but rather about being together in the heart’s space. Prayer, the rabbis taught, is avodah shebalev, heart’s work. It brings our consciousness together with life; it paces it at life’s service.

That, too, is why I often prefer to pray outdoors. The birds, the leaves, the dog watching and waiting, are simplifications. ‘Echad’, they say; ‘Be at one with the oneness of God’. Except that they don’t say. There are no words; rather they, we, participate together in the quiet of the spirit which transverses all things. ‘Prayer is the life of all the worlds,’ wrote the first Chief Rabbi of what was then Mandate Palestine, Abraham Isaac haCohen Kook. I wonder if this is what he meant.

Even in a space with five hundred people one senses when such togetherness, such energy is present, in the shared melodies, in the awareness which no one articulates but everyone senses that something which transcends us fills our hearts, dispelling the petulant distractions of our busy, fussing minds.

None of this, however, is an excuse for avoiding action, a contemplative alternative to commitment on the level of doing and striving.

On the contrary, prayer leads to action. If we listen to life, hold life’s cry as well as life’s stillness in our consciousness, how can we not devote ourselves to caring and to healing?

 

The Torah begins with wonder

The Torah, like a child, begins its explorations with wonder.

I think the magic of that first light of the first ever day has never entirely dimmed in our souls. ‘Look’, says Nicky, ‘Come out in the garden’. The sun has sunk and clouds of red and orange illumine the pear trees from behind and even the high roads to the west are touched by transient, lucent beauty.

Day two is land and water. Every adult becomes part child again at the sea’s edge. Shells, stones smoothed by a thousand years of tides, rock pools like mini oceans with their strange anemones, tiny replicas of Shelley’s sea-blooms and oozy woods ‘which wear the sapless foliage of the ocean’, the mesmerising rhythm of falling waves which were before and shall be after: these mysteries beguile our complications, untwist our thoughts into the simplicities of wonder and of joy.

Day three is the creation of the grass and trees, meadowlands and forest. Late January is the time to walk in the early light among the oaks and beeches, to see the glory of their branch-work unveiled by the long-fallen leaves. April is the month to capture the day, when the grey twigs of the oak, as many as a quarter of a million on an ancient tree, reveal the tiny leaves, or when the sticky dark brown chestnut buds unfold their curious fingers to feel the new spring air. Give me a night walk through the forest when the deer race across the twilight path and the last birds chant their ragas to the night and I’ll be there.

The Torah is concerned with many matters: right and wrong, good and evil, family feuds, tyranny, injustice, bullying, peer pressure, and how to remain just and kind nonetheless. There’s nothing with which our lives are intertwined, our thoughts burdened, or our hearts weighed down about which the Torah and its commentators have nothing to say.

But the Torah begins with wonder; wonder comes first, and wonder is something we all need.

Day four is the moon and stars; day five are the fishes and the birds, the loud-mouthed wren, the nuthatch which feeds upside down; the morning of the sixth day brings the horses, foxes, hedgehogs, beavers, badgers, wolves.

Finally, we humans enter creation, in the image of God, capable of creating or destroying, of wonder or contempt. I didn’t ask for an easy life, Abraham Joshua Heschel once said, ‘I asked for wonder, and God gave it to me’. I believe the capacity for wonder exists in every child and in the child within every adult and remains with us lifelong as the secret wisdom of growing older without becoming old.

The philosophers and mystics debate which of the commandments comes first: to know God, love God or be filled with the awe of God. I don’t think the order matters very much. Rather, take them all together, apply them not to what we cannot know but to what lies before our eyes, that autumn chrysanthemum, that blackbird, that cloud which can’t quite catch up with the moon, – and they add up to a wonder, a reverence, a sheer, overwhelming joy which sometimes overtakes us with such power that we stop still, our thoughts still, our soul still, traversed by the mystery of endless life which has bestowed on us, briefly, temporarily, this unfathomable consciousness.

We need wonder. Where there is wonder, there is reverence and respect. How then can we ever seek to hurt or to destroy?

 

Walking the Moonlit Walk

There is a custom among mystics to observe one’s moon-shade on the night of Hoshana Rabba (the Great Hoshana). You have to find a field or forest far from light-pollution and walk with the moon behind you, observing how it casts your shadow at your feet.

The date is significant because Hoshana Rabba is regarded as the day when the books of destiny are finally sealed. One wears white; the liturgy is an after-echo of the melodies of the Days of Awe; the greeting is Gmar Tov, ‘a good conclusion: May you be included in the book of a good life and good deeds’. The service ends with seven circuits of the synagogue chanting our hopes for humanity, nature, the very earth itself and the ultimate Jerusalem when peace will settle over the face of the globe. The chorus is always Hoshana, ‘Save!’ Hence the name Hoshana Rabba.

Hoshana Rabba begins this Saturday night and the weather forecast for London is mediocre, in case anyone does fancy that midnight moonlit adventure. The more compete your shadow, the fuller your year will be.

The fact that I don’t believe in such superstitious myths, and even regard them as spiritually dangerous, has proved insufficient to prevent me from sometimes following the dark night path. (Maybe I should regard this as a mere by-product of walking the dog. And what can be bad about a night-walk among the moon-shadows of the trees with a dog for company?)

For, though I deplore the custom if taken literally, as a metaphor I find it deeply significant.

The danger with literalism is that it presupposes a God who lengthens or shortens our days according to some inscrutable criterion of divine justice. Life contains too much patent unfairness for it to be possible, to me at least, to believe in such a deity. Nor do I want anyone to feel that the losses, sorrows and fears which life invariably entails, though distributed in unequal measure, are necessarily our just deserts. Life is often cruel.

But as a metaphor the night-lit wander on Hoshana Rabba shines into my conscience. The High Holydays are behind us now. What light do they cast on the path before me in the year ahead? What kind of me do they project into the footsteps of the future?

I have listened to much beauty: music and words two thousand years-old which directed my ancestors’ lives: ‘Open your heart’, ‘Remember; be aware!’ ‘Write for life with the God of life’.

I have heard much wisdom from many people: we’ve debated the nature of truth and the moral centrality of integrity and accountability; we’ve spoken about love of the world and our urgent responsibility towards nature, trees, even bees; we’ve discussed the plight of refugees, families fleeing persecution, women trying to escape societies which fail to protect them from abuse.

These responsibilities and truths now shine on my path ahead, outlining in shadow form who I might be, what I could, should, might do with this precious next year of life: Will I care enough? Will I be kind? Will be a planter or uprooter? Will I have the integrity to follow the example of other people’s light, or the courage to step forward where the path is yet unlit?

The God I believe in speaks to the heart, breathing into it wonder, love, honesty and courage. Will we listen in the year ahead? Will we walk the walk?

 

Attack on the Synagogue and Jewish Community of Halle

We are shocked and dismayed to learn of the despicable attack on the synagogue in Halle while the community were at prayer on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.

We admire the courage and swift reactions of the synagogue security in barricading the door. We stand together with the Jewish community of Germany in these days of anguish. We have written to the head of the community of Halle, Max Privorotzki, to express our solidarity.

Our hearts go out in sorrow to the families of those killed by the gunman in the streets outside the synagogue, on whom he vented his rage. May God be with you in your grief and bring you strength and comfort. We wish speedy healing to all those injured.

We appreciate Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immediate expression of solidarity.

We deplore all forms of racist violence and stand together with all Jews, Christians, Muslims and people of all faiths and beliefs who have been the victims of such murderous aggression in the past years.

As Imam Monawar Hussein of the Oxford Foundation writes:

We must all work to unite against those advocating violence, hatred and division. We must watch out for the vulnerable in our society, reach out to each other and strengthen the bonds of friendship

Why Succot may be even more important today than Yom Kippur

Succot is a first Jewish memory; my father was a wonderful Succah maker. My family have inherited his booth-building passion.

If Yom Kippur takes us up to heaven, Succot brings us down to earth. If Yom Kippur leads us to the Holy of Holies of the spirit, Succot reconnects us with the soil.

Long before the building of huts with sheaves and leaves and branches became associated with our ancestors’ forty years of wandering in the wilderness, Succot was an ancient harvest festival.

‘Festival’ may not be the right word; succot, booths or shelters, were a farming necessity in lands where the sun beat relentlessly onto the fields. Thus, the first mention of a succah in the Bible has nothing to do with what we now call Tabernacles; it refers to the shelters Jacob built to allow his cattle to rest in the shade.

It is just this earthiness which makes me love and respect the festival.

Succot is a celebration of our bond with the earth, a festival of gratitude. To ensure we experience it personally, Nicky and I have long chosen seeds, tended the young plants, watched them grow and, if they thrived, ensured we left the last pickings of beans and courgettes, kohlrabi and pumpkins, for the Succah. Last year we even had just one home-grown watermelon (the magic size of a tennis ball) to share among our 27 guests in miniature slices.

We were only following ancient custom: the Talmud refers to hanging sheaves of corn, flasks of wine and plums (or their equivalent) in the festival booth. These basic foodstuffs were eloquent with a directness our supermarket generation has half-forgotten: ‘Thank you for the gifts of the soil. Without the rain, the insects, and the right weather we could not live’.

For, as the festival prayers make clear, we are utterly dependent. The two-thousand-year-old chants were not written in remote academies. They were composed by farmer-poets who knew the land, understood in the stomach the meaning of flood and drought: ‘Save man and beast, restore the soil, protect the trees which shelter us from desolation, O God who holds the world suspended over the void’. (I shared this text at the Succah in Trafalgar Square last night.)

This awareness of dependence underlines the bond not just between humans and nature, but also between ourselves, as families, communities and faiths.

‘Hide me in your Succah during evil days’, goes the Psalm. It sounds like a bad prayer. What could be a worse place to hide than a hut of sticks and branches? But that’s the point. True safety in any society is not when we need bunkers, but when we can dwell together, outside, protected only by the thin walls of makeshift celebratory huts because we understand that we will all only survive if we recognise together the shared gifts of this earth.

That is precisely what isn’t happening today, when only the strong doors of the synagogue in Halle kept the attacker out, and when he vented his rage on unprotected passers-by.

If I had to choose, I might say that our world needs the teachings of Succot even more urgently than those of Yom Kippur.

 

Get in touch...