We’ve reached that point finally- the end of the high holy day season! Yet, in typically Jewish fashion, that ending only means more beginnings. Beginning with “In the Beginning…” this Shabbat with Parashat Bereshit, we start the Torah anew once again. In addition, there’s some beginnings kicking off throughout our community as well: this Shabbat is the first of our ‘family first’ Shabbatot, this Sunday is the first day of a new year of Cheder, and this Friday and Sunday are start of a new year of Jewish learning at SAMS.
Our ‘family first’ Shabbat is an effort to make sure that we can provide fun, good-quality religious services geared at children and teens once a month. Typically, this will be the first Shabbat of every month (with a few exceptions) and there will be activities running for four age groups: 1) Tots (Pre-School), 2) Ketanim (Reception-Y2), 3) Young Noam (Y3-Y6) and Noam (Secondary). There’s something for everyone! Being able to offer these services for young people is really important to me, and really important to our community. Please do join us if your family falls into any of the above category for our first, ‘family first’ Shabbat.
Another new beginning is Cheder, which I’m happy to have had a role in redeveloping for this upcoming year. We have a lovely group of young people who will be coming together to learn and play and to connect with Jewish life. We’ve worked to upgrade the curriculum and re-organise the morning, and I hope that the result is an even better and more educationally-rich Cheder. If you’ve considered attending in the past but never have, feel free to get in touch with me to arrange a time to check out Cheder and see if it’s right for you. Cheder is for any child between Year 1 and Year 6.
Lastly, I’m really glad to be starting off a whole new year of adult education at SAMS, which we’re calling Life Long Learning. There’s so much going on, but in particular this weekend features the start of our monthly Torah study group and the start of our adult Hebrew class. If you’re interested in joining me for any of these programmes throughout the year, please don’t hesitate to come or to ask more. All of them are free and open to anyone, and there’s never any prerequisites– just come as you are, and with an open mind.
I’m confident, looking at Parashat Bereshit and the beginning before us as well as the whole year to come, that 5779 is going to be a year of learning and growing at SAMS. The last thing I’ll plug as we make resolutions and dedicate ourselves to a new year ahead, is that Limmud is a really amazing opportunity to take one’s Jewish learning to the next level. For those who don’t know, Limmud is a festival of Jewish learning, food, and culture- taking place this year at the Birmingham NEC over the Christmas Break.
It is a unique and phenomenally fun chance to spend a few days with several thousand other British Jews studying and sharing and building connections. I really cannot recommend it enough. Mikayla and Azi and I will be there, and I know that several of you will be as well. If you’ve thought about it in the past, or have never heard about it before- take a look and see if you’re up to join us in Birmingham for Limmud this year. The early-bird deadline to register is this Sunday, 7 October, and if you have any questions, please let me know.
Whether in Birmingham this Christmas, in shul this Shabbat, or in one of the many exciting child, family, and adult learning programmes on at SAMS throughout the year- I’m very much looking forward to another year of learning with all of you. Here’s to new beginnings!