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Rosh Hashanah 5779

Rosh Hashanah Shacharit. On the need to cultivate love right now, and continue to create a family of a community:

You should love your neighbour as yourself. You should love the stranger, caring for the most vulnerable. You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your might. You should repeat these words, speaking them to your children.

These three central commandments are at the heart of our Judaism. We cannot allow ourselves to be too English, or too scared, to embrace them, obfuscating with talks of picnics. How do we love, in act? Gary Chapman in the book the Five Languages of Love suggest ways to build love that we may want to return to: serve the other, find opportunities do things for them; give affirmation in words, pay a true compliment; find opportunities to give gifts and presents; use touch; and perhaps, for many of us, most importantly, spend time together. At least pick up the phone. Enjoy your relationships- ensure that you will not only appreciate them, when they’re lost. Apply these approaches to yourself too, because you are commanded to love your neighbour as yourself, and if you hold yourself in low esteem then you cannot carry out this commandment. Pay yourself compliments (only true ones and not too loudly!), treat yourself, spend time with yourself.

Please, do make this community a neighbourhood; make it your family. We need you, and you at times may need us. There are adults here who were shaped in this community as children, or even as adults, by an array of lay-teachers, leaders and mentors. Volunteer to help us build a loving community. After these festivals we will ramp up our efforts to ensure that the commandment of loving your neighbour is more greatly shared around this community. We have more than 700 members. Some of them are suffering falls, worry, stress. A number of people need phone-calls, or would love a visit from a member. Let us know if you would like to do this: so you can serve that person, bring a gift, affirm their dignity, and spend time together, fulfilling the commandment to bring more love to this world. I am always moved by the time spent with wise, kind members. I am especially pleased this year that some members have visited others for the first time. This we need to grow.

If we do not have time for others, or for ourselves, if we do not have time to appreciate and cultivate love, then what are we doing? Why are we living? This time of year, we need to appreciate love, because our sense of the very possibility of renewal can be hampered by anxiety or cynicism. With anxiety we find ourselves always anticipating the end, with worry, and failing to appreciate the present. With cynicism we assume that because things end they are worth little. Rather,  we should appreciate the present all the more, for knowing that there is an end.

Sun, 15 December 2019 17 Kislev 5780