Look, winter is over,
The rains are done, wildflowers spring up in the fields.
Now is the time of the nightingale.
In every meadow you hear the song of the turtledove.
The fig tree has sweetened its new green fruit
And the young budded vines smell spicy.
Hurry, my love, my friend
Shir HaShirim, Song of Songs
The signs of Spring are everywhere. Daffodils nod in the breeze, trees sparkle with brilliant green, taking an expectant breath before their buds unfurl. Last Shabbat we announced the new month of Nissan, and in just over a week we will be celebrating Pesach, our Festival of Freedom. In the words of Shir HaShirim, traditionally read on Chol HaMoed Pesach, ‘Look, winter is over… Hurry, my love, my friend, come away.’
What will freedom look like for each of us this year? It has been a long and bitter winter. As we look back on the past 12 months (yes, incredibly, this will be our second Pesach in lockdown – who could have imagined that a year ago?) now is a time to reflect on the impact of coronavirus on us, our families, our lives. What have been our losses? How has lockdown changed us, our priorities and what we count as important going forward? Have their also been upsides? This Pesach we can have real hope that things really are getting better, although moving from a state of pandemic to the reality of endemic (living with coronavirus and its variants for at least the coming 18 months) means the future remains filled with uncertainty. What does that hope look like for each of us, and for us as a community? What are the freedoms we are longing to embrace in the months ahead, as we embrace the warmth of the coming Spring sun?
I look forward to celebrating second night Seder with many of you on Sunday, 28th March; Student Rabbi Tali will be leading our Family Seder earlier the same evening; and to joining up with Sukkat Shalom for our first day Yom Tov service that morning. This year may our Festival of Freedom bring healing and renewal to us all.
Shabbat Shalom, and Chag Sameach!