Home > From the Bimah > From the Bimah – September/October 2017

My attention was recently drawn to an article contained in The Times newspaper which featured the role model initiative by Maidenhead’s Reform Rabbi Jonathan Romain. It reads: “Jonathan Romain has bucked the trend and grown his flock by opening the doors to anyone with a bright idea. Romain is of the view that it is acceptable to be Jewish without necessarily being religious, adding, that whilst some Rabbis would be horrified to hear that some people may choose to live life in the absence of acknowledging a God, this is all fine, as God is big enough to cope without them”.

The Jewish High Holiday period is now almost upon us. The ten days that begin on Rosh Hashanah and cul-minate in Yom Kippur are the holy of holies of Jewish time. Isaiah the prophet said, “Seek God where He is to be found, call on Him when He is close” (Is. 55.6).  The Rabbis wrestled with this verse. What could it mean? God is the God of everywhere and all time. He is always to be found, and He is always close. The verse seemed to make no sense at all. This was their reply: These are the Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – meaning, God is always close to us, but we are not always close to Him.  He is always to be found, but we do not always seek Him out.

Whilst I admire the initiatives being taken by Synagogues to defeat the general decline in synagogue membership reported by Jewish Policy Research earlier in the year, I feel that Synagogue vitality, is best achieved when we are able to proportionately balance our religious needs along with our cultural needs, as opposed to substituting one over the other. The calling of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is not whether G-D is big enough to cope without us, but rather the other way round.  Are we able to cope without God.

Wishing all members and friends a Happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

Daniel Rosenthal