Our Past Rabbi
Rabbi Lisa Barrett
Brought up in Manchester’s Reform community, Rabbi Lisa Barrett made aliyah to Israel in 1995, where she taught English to Jewish, Muslim and Christian students at the Tabeetha School in Jaffa for five years. On her return to England, a qualification as a complementary therapist specialising in cranio sacral therapy, reflexology and aromatherapy enabled her to work with cancer patients and bereaved carers at St.Anne’s Hospice, where her interest in pastoral care developed.
Rabbi Lisa studied for three years at Boston’s Hebrew College, followed by two years at Leo Baeck College and after ordination in 2011 she taught Jewish studies at JCoSS, was part-time Rabbi at Middlesex New Synagogue (now Mosaic Reform), Glasgow Reform and Stevenage Liberal, plus two years as Assistant Rabbi at Hendon Reform.
וַיִּישֶׂם בָּֽאָרוֹן בְּמִצְרָֽיִם
Va’yisem ba’aron bemitzraim
And they put Joseph in a coffin in Egypt.
Bereishit, the Book of Genesis, reaches its conclusion. The book’s final words, describing the death of Joseph, are a doom-laden prophecy for what lies ahead for his family. Egypt, a life-saving haven for Joseph’s starving family stricken by famine in Canaan, will become ... Read more
Many a strange thing happened this year. Proper trousers became memorabilia, we learned to identify, like judges in Project Runway, people who are able to, smile with their eyes, we’ve invented a new Yiddish word, when we complained that we were all geZoomed, so perhaps it is not so strange for a rabbinical student to ... Read more
JWA Shabbat 5781
To raise awareness of domestic abuse in our community on this JWA Shabbat, I want to share my own story with you.
My father was a loving father. He loved his family, his wife and three daughters, dearly. Yet my earliest childhood memory is sitting at the top of ... Read more
‘I Just Want the Future to be Good’
Today we celebrate the birthday of the world, and the creation of humankind. Adam and Eve are made from the mud of the earth, the first Earthlings, formed from the same substance as the seas and the skies, the flowers, the forests and the spectacular biodiversity ... Read more
Election Special: The Religious Duty to Vote
Two or three times a year the Reform and Liberal Rabbis get together, for learning and discussion on a pressing issue of the day. In the summer, we held a special debate on our role as Rabbis in any upcoming election. One of our colleagues informed us ... Read more
YK Day It’s All About Relationship!
It’s YK morning. The good news – You’ve survived Rosh HaShanah! The not so good news – there are still 234 pages of the Machzor and more than 7 hours of praying left before that cup of tea and another piece of honey cake at the end of ... Read more
Rabbi, Do I Need to Believe in God?
People often confess private and intimate things to their Rabbi. Rabbi Jonathan Romain, of broadcasting and media fame, has even written a book, ‘Confessions of a Rabbi,’ which is a recommended light-hearted, entertaining, and sometimes heart-breaking read. But more times than I can tell you, the ... Read more
Climate Emergency: Stepping up as Trustees of God’s Creation
Today we celebrate the creation of the earth – God’s creation of the seas and the skies, the trees and the flowers, all of earth’s creatures, from the tiniest insect to the mightiest ocean whale; to ourselves, human beings formed, according to our tradition, at ... Read more
Facing the Amalek Within
We are living through unprecedented times.
At home, the UK faces the most serious political and constitutional crisis since the Second World War. Division sears through our political parties, through Parliament, through regions of our country, through communities and families.
In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of the democratic State of ... Read more
Last Shabbat I stood at this very pulpit, and remembered the assassination of Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin 23 years ago this week, by a fellow-Jew determined to put an end to Rabin’s Oslo Peace accords. That murder took place in an atmosphere of fevered nationalist rhetoric. Last Shabbat, after 13 pipe ... Read more
Where Words of Violence Lead
It was Sunday, November 4th, 1995. I had just got back to my flat in Jerusalem after a wonderful weekend festival in the Jerusalem forest. It was time to chill-out and get ready for work the next day.
I had made Aliyah three months earlier. What an amazing time it ... Read more
The Book of Death
I’d like to tell you about one of my closest friends, Sara. We met in shul in 1995, just a few months before I made Aliyah. Sara contracted a rare cancer before she was born, when she was still in her mother’s womb. As a young child she received treatment ... Read more
Below you can read Rabbi Lisa’s sermon for Rosh Hashanah 5779. You can also click on the play bar below to listen to it.
SWESRS Rosh HaShanah 5779
Writing SWESRS into the Book of Life
In a hospital near Kings Cross there’s a long-term patient with a severe form of amnesia. Every day, he feels that ... Read more
I am currently in the process of buying a flat. Finding myself in the unusual position of being,
in my mid-fifties, a first-time home buyer, this is proving quite an experience.
First, I had to find the perfect property… within my price-range, close to shul, with a
reasonable amount of space. Signed up with a ... Read more
Hygge: The Stories We Tell about Who We Are
This July I spent a wonderful day and half in Copenhagen with my mum and eldest niece at
the close of a summer holiday spent visiting family in Sweden. It absolutely poured with rain
most of the time. Damp but undeterred, we still managed to have an ... Read more
We have just witnessed the most divisive presidential election race in history. A race in which the now president-elect of the most powerful nation on the planet preached a campaign of racism and misogyny, fear and hate. Let’s pray to God that he fails to act on the bigoted and inflammatory words he spewed ... Read more
On Rosh HaShanah we celebrate the creation of the world, and the birthday of humanity. On Yom Kippur we fast, we pray, we atone for our sins, and, wearing the white kittel we will be buried in, we face our mortality. And now, on Sukkot, we leave our sturdy houses to dwell in a fragile ... Read more
Remembering We are the Children of the King
Last Saturday night I got a phone-call. It was the son of one of our members, to let me know that his father had passed away in the early hours of Shabbat morning. The call was not unexpected: the son had let us know earlier in the week ... Read more
Sacrifice & Protest: Meanings of the Akedah
In the name of God a father comes a blade’s breadth away from sacrificing his own son in the name of God. And not any father, but Abraham, the Father of the Jewish People. Tomorrow we will read The Akedah – the binding of Isaac – which the rabbis ... Read more
The evenings are drawing in. Yet even as the dreaded dark nights of winter approach, and the dry leaves rustle underfoot, autumn unfurls her burnished banners of red and crimson and gold and we relish the lingering warmth of summer’s last glow. This is also harvest time; our Holy Day season will come to fruition ... Read more
The Great Revolt and a Prayer for Fruitful Flowering
Leadership challenges – egos, rivalries and jealousies – breath-taking drama – unexpected twists – bitter recriminations – expectations disappointed – a nation divided – widespread upheaval – chaos let loose…
No – I’m not making a statement about the tumultuous past 10 days in UK politics! Infact, this ... Read more
In 1963, at a Civil Rights march on Washington, Rabbi Joachim Prinz stood up to address the huge crowd in the slot ahead of his clergy colleague, The Reverend Martin Luther King Junior. Rabbi Prinz had been forced to leave his native Berlin in 1937, for persistently urging the Jewish community of the dangers ... Read more
My first month at SWESRS has been a whirlwind introduction to the community, kicking off with a 13 hour first day of meetings topped off with my first Council meeting, followed by a bar mitzvah, a Communal Seder, lots of Pesach, crossing the Red Sea, 2 funerals and a choir rehearsal – not necessarily in ... Read more
Hope, Action and Rebirth
Here we stand – all of us, Bnei Yisrael, at the edge of Yam Suf – the Reed Sea. In In your mind’s eye, picture the scene….
Behind us lies terror – Pharaoh’s massed armies hurtling closer and closer. We hear the screeching wheels of their chariots even as we speak. Before us ... Read more