Dvar Torah: Welcoming our new Team

Written by Rabbi Josh Levy — 2 March 2014

Why is this a good Shabbat on which to celebrate our new team?
Why today?  Why on Shabbat Pekudei, Shabbat Shekalim, on Shabbat ‘Jerome Karet’ when we celebrate Jerome’s birthday?

Each of the aspects of this Shabbat tells us something about what we are doing, later on today, when we will come together for lunch with Cindy Summer, our new Kindergraten Head, with Cantor Cheryl Wunch, with Sam Brunner our new Youth Worker, with Adam and Lynette in their new roles…

In the Parashat HaShavua, P’kudei, we come to the end of the building of the Mishkan –va’ychal moshe et ha’m’lachah, Nicola will read for us, “Moses finished the work”.
Of course, only one piece of the work is done.  The work of building the mishkan may be finished in our portion, but then, immediately, it starts its business.  It becomes the centre of religious life for the community of Israel – moving them and moving with them, a place of meeting, with each other and with God.

The same is true for us.
We are not at the end of our building – nor will we ever be
Unlike Moses, we still have building building to do, our physical space still to enhance over time.
And we also have a job of ongoing work, constant building and rebuilding to do… the continued development and creation of community. It is not a job that can ever stop.  The minute we cease to try, we cease to aspire, we cease to be a community.
On this Shabbat we recognise that we do so with new partners.  We welcome new professionals into our team to work alongside us, to join the very special partnership of lay and professional that defines our work.  We do so with a shared ethos, a common goal and set of values.

We do so also with the support of a whole community.  And that is another reason that this Shabbat is the right Shabbat.  It is Shabbat Shekalim, which recognises the contribution of everyone to the work of the Mishkan.  And not merely the contribution but the obligation of all – that each one of us as a member of community has an obligation to give in the appropriate way of themselves – in time, in support – both emotional and, as in Shekalim, financial.
It is why this week was chosen for the Jewish legacy campaign, in which congregants are asked to support their communities in their wills – a request I also reiterate today – it is why today is a good day for us to reaffirm commitment to the work of our Shul, and to ask you to continue to support us in the way you can.

And why is it such a great thing to celebrate this alongside Jerome’s 80th?  Community is not built by one generation.  We stand on the shoulders of giants – of g’dolim who through their efforts built that which we now build on.  Jerome is a giant on whose shoulders we stand.  As we turn to the future we are grateful to him and to all like him – those who are still here, in this room, and those who are no longer with us.

The celebration of today is about welcoming new colleagues, but it is not really about us.  It is about Alyth – our synagogue – what the rabbis of the Talmud called the little mishkan.
Mark and I, and now Cheryl and Maurice with us, are deeply proud to be part of a community that is wonderful – and recognised by others as such – a Beacon of excellencenoch – and deservedly so.
We are proud to be part of a community driven by values: genuine equality, responsiveness to the need of the individual, real partnership between lay and professional
To be in a big shul that really cares – that seeks to ensure that everyone we meet has a Jewish journey that inspires, that enriches their life.

The building of the Mishkan ends: Kavod Adonai Maleh et HaMishkan – “The glory, the weight of God fills the tabernacle”.

May we continue to make space for it, to welcome it.  Together in this place, too, may God’s presence fill our lives.