A VISION TO HELP US ON OUR WAY
Since the synagogue building closed for redevelopment after Yom Kippur, the congregation has been a hive of activity in every place: at Ralli Hall, where we celebrated Sukkot and Simchat Torah, and continue to meet for Shabbat morning services and the Beit Lameid (Religion School); in the homes of members hosting Erev Shabbat gatherings; at Lansdowne Place, our new venue for adult study classes and meetings, as well as the synagogue office. Meanwhile, in the past few weeks we have also celebrated a number of special birthdays and anniversaries together, and there have been so many additional hives of activity, focusing on the building, its re-design, fundraising…
Our special congregation has not only managed the move and the transition to our temporary abodes – with the help of so many wonderful volunteers – we are thriving. What is more, we have discovered benefits that we hadn’t anticipated: the warmth generated when people welcome Shabbat together in someone’s home; the way in which the bimah-less ‘Magrill Room’ at Ralli Hall – named after beloved former BHPS chairman, Stephen Magrill – makes the Torah and the Ark accessible to all.
BHPS is alive and well. And as we embark on the process of re-developing 6 Lansdowne Road, we are doing more than renewing the fabric of the building, we are also creating a context for the renewal of the life of our congregation: a multifunctional, accessible space that enables us ‘to meet, to study and to pray’ (Siddur Lev Chadash, p. 484), and which also makes it possible for to create links with the wider community. And so, in addition to being a venue for annual events, like the Sacred Music Festival and the Brighton Festival, we will also be able to host a variety of cultural, interfaith and educational programmes, and so transform BHPS into a dynamic hub in Brighton and Hove. An example, of what I’m talking about, is an interfaith event I have organised together with Sufi practitioner, Evlynn Sharp, which is taking place onDecember 10th at the Quaker Meeting House in central Brighton to celebrate Human Rights Day. We have called it ‘Creating the Tent’, and it will be an inclusive, spiritual gathering with contributions from Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Quaker perspectives, and include talks, chants, creative exercises, discussion and silence. Our refurbished building will be the perfect venue for similar ventures in the future.
The more down-to-earth among you may be thinking: it’s all very well talking about activities in our refurbished building, but first of all, we need to raise a good deal of money. I agree! Let us all do what we can to raise the funds we need – and let us also remember that as it was for our ancestors in the wilderness, it is the vision of what we are seeking that enables us to make the journey.
Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah