I hope that you are having a wonderful week and looking forward to great Shabbat ahead. As you read this, I am on my way to the Holy Land, and I can’t wait to soak up the holiness. I will be spending this Shabbat in Shoham with Rabbi Stav, and although my time will be hectic between the Rabbinic Conference (Week One) and the Tanach Seminar (Week Two) I am hoping to also connect with many of my friends and our Morasha-niks who now live in Israel. Whenever I am questioned at security “Did you pack your bags yourself?” “Do you have any family in Israel?” I am tempted to answer that I do have family in Israel; but I have to remind myself that as much as I consider the entire Jewish people my family, and especially those who are part of our community – that isn’t what they mean when they ask at security!
Speaking of family and community, I am delighted to welcome a new couple to Cape Town – Martin and Tarryn Skudicky. Usually I would welcome them in person, but, you know, Israel. Martin is the new Head of Informal Jewish Education at Herzlia, and last year’s Bnei Akiva Rosh Machaneh. He and I go way back, and in fact when Aviva and I were madrichim at Bnei Akiva, his older sister was our channicha. Martin and Tarryn have just been married – two weeks ago! – and are starting their new life together in Cape Town in service of the community. We welcome you both, thank you for coming, and look forward to many good years ahead together. Martin will be davening Kabbalat Shabbat for us tomorrow night, so come and support him!
My 2 minute Parsha for Sidrat Pinchas is called “Forgiveness Through Learning” and you can find it here.
People have been asking me recently when we will cease to pray for rain. This week has been a watershed in the saga of the drought (forgive my little pun) as on Tuesday our dam levels rose above 50% for the first time. On the one hand, we are clearly no longer in crisis – even if no further rain would fall this winter, we have enough water until next winter. On the other hand, we are not out of the woods – especially if people cease making such an effort to conserve water (spoiler alert: they will) and demand for water continues to increase faster than supply (it might); so more rain is not simply a luxury, but a real need until we have all that we need. The Cape Town Rabbinate is of mixed feelings on this issue: some Shuls have already stopped saying, whilst others continue to say it. My view is that we should continue until Level 6B water restrictions are lifted (this will indicate that the government no longer views the situation as requiring austerity measures), but I will let you know if anything changes.
Our garden upgrade has begun! Over the next month or so you will see a wonderful transformation as our outside area becomes even more better than ever before. I remember a committee meeting in my early days as Rabbi here when someone commented that our greatest communal asset was our garden. I blithely replied that in my mind it was the Sifrei Torah, but I understood what they meant! It is a wonderful space to enjoy our community and to connect, and in August we will do so on an entirely new level (once again, my little joke). We are most grateful to the generous donors who are making this all possible.
There will, of course, be certain changes to the way we use our space over the next four weeks, and although we will still be using the hall this Shabbat for children’s service and the Kiddush bracha, we won’t be using either the garden or the side alley. What this means is that although we are often used to taking food at the brocha and going to eat somewhere else (such as the garden) we won’t be able to do so this week – as the only way in and out of the hall is through the Shul, and we can’t have people carrying plates of food and using the hall as a corridor, so please do ensure that you (and your children) eat only in the hall.
Aviva, Shalva, Tzuriya, Azriel and I wish you a Shabbat Shalom (and please take care of all of them for me in my absence)
Rabbi Sam Thurgood