This shabbat we will complete our reading of the book of Vayikra, Leviticus. My time serving the SWESRS community is also reaching its completion. But just as there are another two books of the Torah before we reach Moses’ final farewell to the People, so too we have my Farewell service on May 22 to look forward to, and you will still find me on the end of my shul mobile number until the end of May, when Student Rabbi Tali will be Rabbi- in- Charge until the end of June. Planning a smooth handover was an important item on the Almighty’s To Do list. Our Rabbinic Recruitment Group has been hard at work, and putting new rabbinic leadership in place for our community is already well underway, and in very safe hands. Council will keep you updated in due course both on the long-term, permanent plans as well as on the interim arrangements.
Tomorrow morning, as we read the final verses of the Book of Vayikra, we will proclaim, Chazak, Chazak ve’Nitchazek! Be Strong! Be Strong! And May We be Strengthened! (A minhag/tradition dating back at least 800 years.) An obvious textual source is the moment that Moses passes on the mantle of leadership to Joshua with the charge: ‘Chazak ve’Ematz, Be strong and courageous!’ God later tells Joshua three times in the Book of Joshua, ‘Chazak ve’Ematz!’ In Sephardi congregations, at every public Torah reading, the response to the ‘Amen’ following the Torah blessings is Chazak Baruch! Be strong and blessed!’
May our community be strengthened, strong and blessed as we prepare to begin a new chapter, and may we all be strengthened too!
Stay Safe and Be Well,