I hope that you are having a great week and looking forward to a marvellous Shabbat ahead.
Next week is the Shabbat Project, and we are planning an exciting late-afternoon community learning programme, leading into Seudah Shlishit and Musical Havdalah. I’ll send out exact details soon, but in the meantime to let you know that there will be Pecha Kucha talks from members of our community (and if you would like to give one, please consider this an official invitation), a session on learning how leining and trop works (open to men and women), a chance to learn Shabbat table songs – and more! It will be a beautiful way to share Shabbat, and I also encourage you to keep that Shabbat. If I can help with that in any way, please let me know.
I have resumed my 2 minute Parsha videos, and this year will be sharing insights from Rabbi Yehuda Leib Altar, author of Sfat Emet. He was the Gerrer Rebbe and one of the most important foundational Chassidic thinkers. My topic for this week is “Why Doesn’t Avraham Have an Origin Story?” and you can find it here.
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the annual CSO appreciation dinner. I am always glad to be able to show appreciation to this wonderful organisation and the volunteers who devote so many hours and who put themselves in the front line to ensure that we are able to live as Jews. The UOS and the RAWC (Rabbinical Association of the Western Cape) approached CSO a few years ago with the proposal to give a “Shma Yisrael” award to a protector who exemplifies personal commitment to the Jewish Way of Life as well as to protecting Jewish Life. In presenting the award, I noted that Hashem’s greatest blessing to us is peace, in the words of our Sages it is “the container that holds all of the blessing”and that is why we conclude every prayer with a request for peace, whether it’s Kaddish (Oseh Shalom), the Amida (Sim Shalom), or Birkat Kohanim (Vayasem Lecha Shalom). CSO are the channel through which Hashem blesses us with Peace, and it is our responsibility to appreciate that, as well as to fill that container with holiness. On a personal and communal note, I was delighted to see that the Director’s Award, an award given in recognition of a protector who embodies all that CSO stands for, was presented to… Rebbetzin Aviva Thurgood! One of the senior members of the organisation approached me with excited congratulations, and noted that this is the first time that any Rebbetzin in South Africa has been recognised for a CSO contribution. Kol HaKavod!
With all of our responsibility to do what we can to protect ourselves and one another, we know that ultimately all is in Hashem’s hands, and we received a sad reminder of that this week with the tragic passing of Gavin Peters. He was a wonderful man and I, together, with so many others, will miss him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.
Aviva, Shalva, Tzuriya, Azriel and I wish you a Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Sam Thurgood