Joy and sadness are twinned and often felt around the new year

Masorti Judaism reflects on a difficult year for Israel and the Jewish diaspora


Chief Executive Rachel Sklan, together with Rabbi Joel Levy (Kol Nefesh Masorti Synagogue) at a seminar for Masorti Judaism's future religious leadership at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, March 2023 (Credit: Masorti)

January 04, 2024 16:08

As 2023 comes to a close, all of us at Masorti Judaism find ourselves reflecting on an exceptional year – exceptional, in many ways. Exceptional in how the Jewish community has come together in response to 7 October, exceptional for our growing and diverse communities in how they’ve developed, and exceptional in the incredible talent of new rabbis, chazzanim, lay leaders, and staff that have joined our wonderful team.

In a 1959 piece about Rosh haShanah for the JC, our founder, Rabbi Louis Jacobs wrote that, “Joy and sadness are twins and the closeness of their relationship is never seen more clearly than at the new year.” That is certainly true as we look towards 2024. Our sadness over the dangerous rise of antisemitism in Britain, the uncertainty about the future of Gaza and the outcome of the war underway there, and the thoughts of those whom we have lost this year – all threaten to overwhelm us. Yet, the twin of that sadness is joy – and at the moment, it is closer than ever.

For Masorti Judaism, we have had so much joy to celebrate. Our Masorti communities, numbering more than a dozen around the country, are helping to share a vibrant, traditional and open-minded Jewish life with Britons nationwide. Our cherished youth movement, Noam, has faced an unprecedented challenge of caring for students and young people struggling during this difficult time. By offering support and space to process questions of identity we are prioritising the future of Masorti Judaism and indeed, of British Jewry in years to come. We’ve had the pleasure of adding two new full-time rabbis to our rabbinic team which, led by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, has continued to promote Jewish values and Jewish ideals both within and without the Jewish community.

On balance, there is much joy to celebrate as we conclude the year, even as it is tempered by the unease and uncertainty of the last few months. May 2024 bring more joy than sadness to our British Jewish community, and a new year of health and happiness for all.

Adam Zagoria-Moffet is Rabbi of St. Albans Masorti Synagogue

January 04, 2024 16:08

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