Holiday good wishes from Mancom chair Merle Williams

Mancom Talk – Holiday Wishes from Mancom

As 2015 steadily draws to a close, many members of our community will be participating in the exodus from Johannesburg for the summer holidays. The Mancom team would like to wish all these congregants a safe journey to the coast or mountains – or even overseas – and a refreshing break after a busy year. Those people who have chosen to remain in town will enjoy a transformed Johannesburg, a peaceful city of tree-lined streets, with easy access to shops and restaurants. We would like to thank you all for your involvement over the past year, as well as many acts of kindness and commitment that have enriched the life of our community.

Our operations manager Ilana is due to leave for a month’s holiday in Scotland. We wish her a well-earned rest after coordinating our increasingly demanding schedule of services, educational events and outreach projects. Christine, our accountant, will be minding the store in Ilana’s absence, so please feel welcome to contact her if you have any queries or concerns. She will be happy to assist you. Richard, our groundsman and longest-serving staff member, and Okie, our accomplished chef, have arranged to take some vacation leave too. We trust that they will enjoy their reunion with family and friends.

As Rabbi Sa’ar often comments, Beit Emanuel always stays open – and Ha’shem is always a guiding presence on our campus. Our weekly services will continue as usual throughout the summer, although we will move to the Slome Auditorium on Erev Shabbat once our numbers have dwindled to the familiar summer level. JTalk and the Talmud study sessions are set to conclude on the Shabbat of 12th December; the regular sequence of shiurim will resume round about mid-January. From next week onwards, the weekly bulletin will also appear in its abbreviated holiday format. Nonetheless, we still have Chanukah to celebrate, so please bring your chanukiot to the Erev Shabbat service on 11th December. We look forward to seeing a splendid display of lights on the bimah. The occasion will be marked by a special kiddush with the traditional latkes and sufganiot, supplemented by good company and games with the dreidel. We are proud to confirm that on 7th December Beit Emanuel will be sharing in a series of round-the-world Chanukah greetings on social media under the tag: #alittlemiracle. Do follow us on our website and facebook, as we link up throughout the day with Progressive communities in locations as varied as New York, Melbourne, Tel Aviv and Minsk.

2015 has been a challenging, exciting and fulfilling year for Beit Emanuel. Our powerful and spiritually moving High Holy Day services marked a fitting climax to our engagement with the liturgy and the experience of contemporary Judaism. The educational programmes have flourished; Professor Jonathan Jansen’s Auerbach Interfaith Memorial Lecture was probably the highlight. Members of the kehilah group who read to the junior classes at Holy Family College have received hand-made thank-you cards that reflect the children’s sense of delight at discovering the world of books and forming special bonds with their honorary parents and grandparents. Our own Religion School has begun to consolidate its new curriculum, while contemplating still more ambitious goals for the next academic phase. Beit Emanuel has achieved a growing sense of connection with the diverse interfaith community in Gauteng. And, because we never come to a standstill, Mancom and the Jewish Identity Committee are already quite far advanced in planning a full schedule of services, encounters and activities for 2016. That information will be published shortly.

Whether you are intending to travel or to remain quietly in Johannesburg, Beit Emanuel embraces you as your congregation. Come home to us, whenever you are ready, whenever you feel the need, or whenever you simply want to enjoy the warmth and friendship of this open community. (Professor) Merle Williams, Chair of Mancom

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