A new chapter

A new chapter

Signing my new contract with Wimbledon

With gratitude and happiness, I am excited to announce my appointment by The Wimbledon Shul, to become their new rabbi, moving to London, UK after the High Holy Days this year. I am feeling blessed beyond words for this incredible chance to open the next chapter in my rabbinic journey and Chayim’s and my life.

The Wimbledon Shul is the largest Reform Congregation in the South of London, reaching out to Jewish families in the South of England beyond the district borders. The congregation is proud of its cheder, its religious life and the adult learning opportunities and its open and welcoming community.I am looking forward to walking with the congregation on their path in making The Wimbledon Shul a Jewish home for everyone, providing space for families, singles, seniors and students, people who identify as LGBTIQ+ and Allies and those who feel comfortable in a traditional Jewish setting.

I am grateful to the wonderful team and leadership of The Wimbledon Shul for putting so much trust and hope into me, allowing me to take on this outstanding opportunity to lead the congregation into its future.

To my Bet David family: Six years ago, I arrived in Johannesburg to be your new Rabbi. In these past years, we learned and prayed, laughed and celebrated, sang and danced, marched and mourned together. I am the rabbi I am today because you let me into your lives. You opened up your hearts and taught me how to comfort. You opened up your minds and taught me the power of teaching Torah. You opened up your hands and showed me the value of helping those in need. You elevated your spirit and taught me what it means to live with spiritual intention. Your love for your family and friends helped me understand the power and importance of community.

The funny thing about rabbinic transition timelines is that it forces a slow goodbye, but that’s actually a good thing. I’ll be here until the end of the High Holy Days and want to take that time to personally tell each of you how much you have meant to me and how much I have learned from you.

And to my new Wimbledon family: I am looking forward to meeting all of you and to enter with you this new chapter. And to all of you: Stay tuned for blog posts and more as I prepare for and celebrate the big move! Can’t wait to share the journey with you all! Please feel free to reach out, by email (rabbi.schell@gmail.com) or via Facebook (facebook.com/RabbiAdrianSchell)

A glimpse of the messianic time

Dear Congregants and Friends,

      One of the most important teaching of the torah is v’ahavta l’reacha kamocha, love your neighbour as yourself.  There are no ifs, ands or buts.  We are commanded to love all members of the fabulous human family. In the creation account of the Book of Genesis, God creates us betzelem elohim, in God’s image.  That means that all of us, no matter our race, religion, gender, gender identity, nationality, economic status, disability, or sexual orientation are reflections of the Divine Being who created us all. Therefore, when we act with love and compassion towards one another, we become holy. However, holiness is not enough. Being holy means we become aware of our task, to fix this broken world. The biblical prophets urge us on with their words, “Justice, justice shall you pursue.”

    The past weeks have shown that we are far from reaching a just world and that each  and every one of us is asked to not remain silent when violence against women is crippling our country, when people are still being judged and treated differently just because of their skin colour, and when members of the LGBT* community are discriminated because of their sexual orientation and/or identity.

Our rabbis teach that we can see a glimpse of the messianic time, a world in balance, each Shabbat. Why? Perhaps, then is when we know that it is worth fighting for.

Let us do that

Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Adrian M Schell

Created in the image of God

Today, Friday (22 May/28 Iyyar) we celebrate Yom Yerushalayim, one of several Jewish holidays commemorating events of war in the modern State of Israel. This one recalls Israel’s regaining of the Old City of Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967. Despite these modern memorial days, it seems safe to say that we Jews generally don’t think of ourselves as military people. Yet the coming together with our annual reading of the opening portion of the Book of Numbers, beginning with a census of all Israelite men, might give us pause to question our assumption.

Our parasha begins with God’s instruction to Moses to count the people: 
s’u et-rosh kol-adat B’nai Yisrael,”-“take a census of the whole Israelite company”. The commentators notice the way God describes the head count: s’u et rosh, “lift the head.” Nachmanides (a rabbi from the thirteenth century) points out that the phrase can be positive or negative. Joseph uses the same phrase positively back in Genesis when interpreting the dream of the imprisoned cupbearer: “in three days’ time, Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your post.” But Joseph also uses the phrase negatively a few verses later while interpreting the baker’s dream: “in three days’ time, Pharaoh will lift your head from your body and hang you on a pole

Imagine the scene, though, Moses and Aaron lifting each young man’s head, gently touching the chin of each soldier-to-be, looking them in the eye, thus acknowledging the humanity of each one, and recognising the real “risks” of war. Will this young man’s head be lifted up to greatness or fall in battle?

S’u et-rosh, “Lift up the head” of each one, says God to Moses, as if to say, touch them, look them in the eyes, write down their family names, because even though you are counting them, these men are not just numbers.

A wise man once taught that if you look deeply into the eyes of another, you will find there the Presence of God. Would we really be able to send people into battle if we spent the moments before looking deep into the eyes of our soldiers?

As we shall see in the weeks to come, despite its stories of fighting, rebellion and violence, the Book of Numbers also delivers the message that God would rather encourage the people Israel toward a gentler way of being, and to realise that the price we have paid in any war was more than just a soldier. She or he was a human being, created in the image of God.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Adrian M Schell 

(Source: Rabbi Lisa Edwards)

Kfir Brigade Swearing-In Ceremony - (c) IDF 2015
Kfir Brigade Swearing-In Ceremony – (c) IDF 2015

Shavuot 2020 @ Bet David

Together with the learners of our Cheder, we will open the Shavuot Festival with a joyful Service Thursday evening at 18h30. Please join in and support our cheder learners.

Prof. Steven Friedman opens our night of learning with a Shiur about the intention of the Torah: “What the Torah Was Really Meant to Do”. The Shiur will follow the service at 19h30.

At 20h30 we will join the
national night of learning (Tikkun Leil Shavuot) of the SAUPJ (programme see below).

Please note that we use two Zoom sessions on Shavuot evening, the first is for the service and the shiur with Prof. Friedman (http://tiny.cc/BD-Shavuot-1) and the second for the SAUPJ learning night (http://tiny.cc/BD-Shavuot-3). We will also stream all sessions and the service on Facebook and YouTube.

Thursday  28 May
* Erev Shavuot Service (18h30)
and Shiur with Prof Friedman (19h30)

ZOOM http://tiny.cc/BD-Shavuot-1 (M 857 1878 1073 P 478751) 
to follow on Facebook here: http://tiny.cc/BD-Facebook

* SAUPJ Tikkun Leil Shavuot—proudly progressive (20h30)

When WhoWhat
20:40SAUPJ Young AdultsOpening Ma’amad
20:45Brett Kopin, Rabbinic student, Ziegler School, Los Angeles.“Tattooed Torah Movie”: the story of an Animated movie made recently, following a legendary book by Marvell Ginsburg, which is a powerful resource for Holocaust education for children.
21:30Panel:
Rabbi Emma Gottlieb, Temple Israel, CPT.Rabbi Julia Margolis, Beit Luria, JHB.Andrea Kuti, Rabbinic Student, Aleph.
“Kol BaTorah – Isha” – The feminist voice of Torah:Following the prominent Feminist Jewish thinker Judith Plaskow who defines the Feminist revolution in Judaism as Standing again at Sinai, we will hear from panelist their views, in this festival of receiving the Torah, how do they view its feminine aspects and how they bring it about in their professional life.  
22:30Panel: Rabbi Greg Alexander, Temple Israel, CPT.Rabbi Adrian M. Schell, Bet David, JHB, Sofia Zway, Rabbinic student H.U.C, Los Angeles.“Days are coming” – Gaze into the near future for Jewish communities. The panelist will reflect on the transformation we’ve been experiencing, trying to extract lessons we can apply and insights for our conduct. 
23:30 Sofia Zway, Rabbinic Student, H.U.C. Los Angeles.The Book of Ruth – How it is the simple acts of Human grace which make the most difference. Sofi Zwai is a South African, graduate of our movement, studying toward a Rabbinic ordination at the HUC.
23:50Rabbi Sa’ar Shaked, Beit Emanuel, JHB.Concluding Ma’amad

ZOOM http://tiny.cc/BD-Shavuot-3 
to follow on Facebook here: http://tiny.cc/BD-Facebook

Friday 29 May
* Shavuot Morning Service and Yizkor (09h30)

For YouTube click here: http://tiny.cc/BD-YouTube
and To follow on Facebook here: http://tiny.cc/BD-Facebook

For how to use Zoom and our Siddur online, please visit our website: www.betdavid.org.za/online