Happy New Year!
I’m sure we have all wished this to others many times today and in the past few days, and had many others wish this for us. It is lovely that people express this hope for each other, and so we should.
Deep inside, you might be feeling confident that 2021 will be a happy or happier year. Or you might be entering 2021 feeling despondent at the latest twists and turns of Covid-19, Brexit, and other factors. I’m pretty sure you, like me, have had feelings all along this spectrum from low to high mood at times during 2020. So, our role as a community and my role as your rabbi is not to tell you how you ought to feel at any time – it would be arrogant and wrong so to do.
However, whatever our mood, we can behave in ways that will support those feeling confident to sustain their positivity and that will help those feeling miserable, depressed or despondent to feel gradually more upbeat and hopeful. We can do, not just be, kind!
If you set only one new year’s resolution, I encourage you to make one additional phone call each day to someone that tells them, just by you making it, that you care about them.
Hillel, in the first century, encouraged his disciples “Do not separate yourself from the community … do not judge others until you have stood in their place.” As we begin 2021, and the new subscription year begins, please take his injunction to heart. One commentary on Hillel’s teaching says, “especially when the community is in distress, each should play their part in seeing the community towards safer times.” If you need support, ELELS – your community – seeks to be there for you; if you can provide support, ELELS will give you opportunities for do mitzvot (good deeds).
Finally, speaking of happier times, may I invite you all to join me in wishing mazal tov to Merle and Robin Muswell who have become first time grandparents this week. Leo Raphael Alexander was born to Yasmin (former Cheder teacher) and Andy on Tuesday.
Our aim is to emerge from this crisis together, so that we can celebrate happier times together and, when the times allow, share hugs and greetings together. In the meantime, join us in prayer, learning or social activities to strengthen each other. Be patient, be kind, be careful out there, and we’ll meet again some sunny day!
Rabbi Richard Jacobi
1st January 2021