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This Shabbat will remind me of one of my favourite moments of Jewish gathering, around Chinese food and a movie.

Though many Jews don't celebrate Christmas - as an American Jew, these were the only two institutions open on Christmas, and so for many years there would be an almost unplanned reunion of friends at the local cinema after a meal of Chinese take-away.

It was almost like a 'pre-Limmud' celebration, seeing members of the Jewish community united by the Christmas break.

This isn’t the only way Jews have been united at this time of year. Many know about Nittel Nacht - an anti-holiday where toilet paper is torn and mundane humbug tasks like sewing take on a significance that is almost religious.

I am sure almost every family at SWESRS will be having a festive dinner on Christmas Eve - because it is erev Shabbat! And then I hope everyone will truly appreciate the day of rest on the 25th.  Unlike many Shabbatot when the office or business is open, I hope that this Shabbat will serve as a marker of what Shabbat could be year-round - a time with family unencumbered by thoughts of work and business.

According to our tradition, Shabbat is a fore-spice of an ideal world - a taste of how things could be, if only we could truly give up on the pressures of the world. I hope that these next two Shabbatot set a high bar for togetherness, relaxation and rest.  I am looking forward to seeing you at my first service in person, next week on 1 January.  A happy Shabbat to all, and to all a Shabbat of rest and holiness.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Jordan