EXTRACT FROM RABBI LEV’S FAREWELL SHABBAT SERMON
Shabbat shalom and a very warm welcome to you all!
I would like to thank you all for the wonderful turnout this Shabbat morning, my last Shabbat here before Carol and I return to our home in Israel.
After having served almost 40 years as minster/chazan to various communities, in Birmingham, Leeds and Bournemouth and, my last 5 years here in Sutton, we are now thank God, continuing with our life’s journey, ready to fulfil a dream of a life-time --to live a fulfilled life in our own land, Israel.
Jewish people living in Europe, in France or Denmark, should not have to flee terrorism and anti-Semitism to live in Israel but only go for the right reasons, because that’s where Jews feel most at home, and as the prophet Jeremiah predicted in the words of the song we just sang when I had my Aliya earlier on: ‘V’shavu banim ligvulam –and their descendants will return to their borders!’
I will always be grateful to this shul and to the honorary officers, because it was whilst here, that I was thank God able to study and gain my semicha, from Montefiore Collage just over year and a half ago. It was in this shul where I was able to realize my ambition in combining my love for singing with my love of learning Torah, to fully integrate the role of chazzan with the role of rabbi.
--It is a role I hope to continue, in a different capacity, over the festivals and in communities in Israel.
Carol and I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all shul members, to all the regulars and to all our friends, during our time here, who have made up and continue to make up our loyal steadfast congregation.
We would also like to take a moment to reflect and remember those who moved away and those very dear to us who’ve passed on in the last year or so, --Aubrey Shindler, David Pearl, Ian Harrison, Leslie Kalms and Hilda Goldstein, --whose contributions made meaningful and significant difference, on a personal level, as well as to the shul on a communal level. To everyone --thank you for your involvement and support, in making this Shul what it is. --Long may it so continue!
I’m pleased that the security is now being upgraded with CCTV (now that we’re leaving!), --and rally round your new Rabbi --who ever he may be. Above all –keep the flame of Judaism –that sanctuary –always burning within your heart.
We carry with us fond memories of our time here. There have been quite a number of occasions when our shul came together and our community was seen at its best.
The Yom tov services, the various Barmitvahs and batmitzvah, Simchat Torah, the yearly musical Chanukah events, Purim and the successful ‘Shabbat UK’ with ask the Rabbi --to name but a few.
It was during the 2nd ‘Ask the Rabbi’ we had, just a few weeks ago, that I was asked a particular question by Daniel Heller: ‘which sentence in the Bible has for me personally, a special meaning?’ the answer I gave was, that at this present moment in our lives, the song from Psalms sung by the exiles returning from Babylon to Israel has a special relevance and meaning’: ‘Shir Hama’alot l’David, Samachti b’omrim beit Hashen neilich --I rejoiced when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord. Our feet stood within your gates, Jerusalem.’