Thoughts for the week

Thursday, November 11

A delicate red flower has become a symbol to mark Remembrance Day (which is today).  It jogs our memory whenever we see it, in fields, or other representations.

Remembrance Sunday, which falls in three days’ time, is a national opportunity to remember all those who have served and died in defence of our country and freedoms, and protecting our way of life.

Remembrance of the past is an important concept in Judaism.  In his remarkable book about Jewish history and Jewish memory, Zakhor, the late Professor of Jewish History Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi writes, ‘only in Israel and nowhere else is the injunction to remember felt as a religious imperative to an entire people’.

The verb, zakhar – to remember – appears in its various forms some 169 times in the Bible.  We are enjoined to: remember Amalek; remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy; remember you were slaves in Egypt (many times); remember what God commanded; remember what God did; remember how you provoked God in the wilderness…

We are repeatedly reminded to remember our slavery in Egypt.  Remembering the pain and oppression suffered by our ancestors in the past – and by others in more recent memory, as Kristallnacht on Tuesday evening reminded us, and as Remembrance Sunday will remind us – is to honour those who suffered and died, and also to teach us kindness, support and empathy towards those in similar situations today, and to encourage us to fight against injustice and cruelty.  The Talmud tells us, ‘Remembrance brings action in its train’ (Menahot 13).

On Sunday, at 4:00pm, Beverly Peter will introduce a film of Peter Higginson, Art Historian and Great-nephew of William Heath Robinson, talking about the Robinson brothers.  (If you have not yet visited the Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner Memorial Park, you have a real treat in store.)

On Wednesday, Tea and Torah will give you the chance to study the weekly parashah with one of our Rabbis.

Also, just a reminder of Mitzvah Day on Sunday, November 21st.  We would like to get as many people as possible involved in that – it’s not just for the children!  Check out for the activities that will be taking place.  Please do come and join us in some positive action for really good causes.

Rabbi Rachel Benjamin


November 11, 2021