By Rabbi Sam Thurgood
In December 2018, our beautiful Shul burned down, placing us as a community – and me as a Rabbi and part of the community – in a situation we could never have imagined.
The Shul, which had served as a spiritual sanctuary, a place of peace, connection, inspiration and comfort, was suddenly no more. The next 16 months were inspiring (to see the community come together, and the wonderful friends we have), overwhelming (each time the scope of the project of both keeping us together, and restoring what we had, became clear), sad (when we thought of what we lost) and joyous (as we began to build together). And then in March we all received the ‘corona-curveball’.
Suddenly, building work had to stop in lockdown, building details were re-evaluated, and even our temporary venues for services closed as we – together with most of the world – moved our weekday (and Erev Shabbat) services online.
It has been a dark time for many, and as a Rabbi much of my time and focus has been spent on helping members of my community however I can – calling to check in on people, facilitating practical help and financial assistance, creating social portals and working to allay anxiety. But our building work resumed! And a light shone again in those dark days.
Each time I saw photos of the rebuilding, saw the plans and drawing from the architectural team, walked past the construction itself, I was inspired and uplifted anew. At the time in which so much in the world seemed to be failing, here something was rising. At a time in which so much news was doom and gloom, here was hope and a bright future. I am so looking forward to the rebuild, to having my spiritual home back, to being together again with and for one another in mutual support, in sharing and in growth.
Rabbi Sam Thurgood is a husband to Aviva, father to four beautiful children, and Rabbi of Beit Midrash Morasha at Arthur’s Road.
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