Blue lec­ture draws crowds

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY NEWS - BY JC RE­PORTER

THE ARCH­BISHOP of York, Dr John Sen­tamu, dis­cussed so­cial me­dia, celebrity cul­ture, glob­al­i­sa­tion, na­tion­al­ism and ter­ror­ism dur­ing a wide-rang­ing in­au­gu­ral memorial lec­ture for Rabbi Lionel Blue, who died in De­cem­ber, aged 86.

Broad­caster Vanessa Feltz, se­nior Re­form and Lib­eral rab­bis and Bar­net Mayor Coun­cil­lor David Longstaff were among a ca­pac­ity au­di­ence of 230 at the North Western Re­form Syn­a­gogue, Gold­ers Green, for the talk. It was part of the 60th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions of Leo Baeck Col­lege, train­ing Pro­gres­sive rab­bis and ed­u­ca­tors, of which Rabbi Blue was the first alum­nus in 1958.

Dr Sen­tamu re­called him as “a man of warmth, hu­man­ity, faith and wis­dom. His won­der­ful abil­ity to share the truth and hu­mour of his ex­pe­ri­ence of life and God en­deared him to au­di­ences across the world.”

Draw­ing on Jewish and Chris­tian texts and tra­di­tions — and writ­ing on re­li­gion, phi­los­o­phy, art and pyscho­anal­y­sis — the lec­ture in­cluded ex­plo­ration of the word “sim­chah”, which ap­pears in Ec­cle­si­astes 17 times.

“It isn’t easy to give a pre­cise trans­la­tion of sim­chah. It doesn’t mean plea­sure, sat­is­fac­tion, grat­i­fi­ca­tion, amuse­ment, en­ter­tain­ment or even hap­pi­ness. It means ‘joy’, specif­i­cally the joy we share with oth­ers. “When the book of Deuteron­omy talks about fes­ti­vals as days of na­tional re­joic­ing, it uses the word ‘sim­chah’.

“When Jews to­day talk about a wed­ding or a bar­mitz­vah, they say, ‘we’re hav­ing a sim­chah’, mean­ing a joy we share with friends and the community. You can find hap­pi­ness in soli­tude but you can find joy only in the com­pany of oth­ers.

“In an age in which even phones are smart but all too few people are wise, there is an abid­ing wis­dom in Ec­cle­si­astes that speaks to us here and now.

“The pur­suit of self will not sat­isfy even the self. We need the Divine other to open our eyes and hearts to the hu­man other. And there we will dis­cover sim­chah, the joy that only ex­ists in the virtue of be­ing shared.”

Rabbi Dr Charles Mid­dle­burgh, dean of Leo Baeck, said af­ter­wards: “Rabbi Lionel Blue was a most loved rab­binic col­league and a friend through the ra­dio to hun­dreds of thou­sands of people through­out the UK.

“His in­ter­faith work was core to his be­ing so we were de­lighted that the Angli­can Church’s sec­ond most se­nior cleric gave such an in­sight­ful lec­ture in his name.”

Sim­chah is the joy that ex­ists in the virtue of be­ing shared’

Dr John Sen­tamu (op­po­site) and Vanessa Feltz with Leo Baeck’s Rabbi Dr Deb­o­rah Kahn-Har­ris

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.