Faith Focus: Thirty is the age of strength

Rabbi Adam Zagoria-Moffet.

Rabbi Adam Zagoria-Moffet. - Credit: Archant

Our community, St Albans Masorti Synagogue, is 30 years old – celebrating our anniversary during the holiday of Succot, the Feast of Tabernacles, this year.

Originally, we had a great spectacle planned: a gala dinner, a variety of activities and fundraisers, speeches and parties and moments of reflection and appreciation. With the changes engendered by Covid, we’ve had to cancel all of that.

In Jewish teaching, Rabbi Yehudah ben Téma contends that 30 is the age of strength. The Hebrew word behind that is not strength in the physical sense, but potency, potential.

Reflecting on 30 years of our community is strange. In the life-cycle of a synagogue, 30 is not very old. Really we’re like a teenager, still growing and finding ourselves, not new but not established, and with some of the growing pains that accompany such a transition. But the notion that ‘30 is the age of strength’ has stuck with me.

While I am understandably sad that we can’t celebrate as we planned, I’m heartened by considering what it means to see an anniversary not just as having completed some unit of time – 30 years of existence – but also as projecting forward a certain tone.

For us, 30 is indeed about potential. This unusual moment has made me appreciate how much strength we do have– how valiantly people have come together during this crisis and come to each other’s aid, how much potency is locked up in three decades of building a sacred community together.

Like most religious communities, I don’t know that we feel very strong right now. However, I have no doubt of the potential which remains to be developed and expanded in the future. So, although we cannot celebrate the past as we would like, I think there is much to celebrate in looking towards the future.

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For us, and for many – individuals and communities alike – this time has shown how much we can do, even under restrictions and limitations. Here’s to another 30 years – at least – for our synagogue and here’s to the resilience and perseverance which allows us all to find the potent strength which lies in potential.

Adam Zagoria-Moffet is the rabbi of St Albans Masorti Synagogue, a Jewish community serving Hertfordshire and surrounding areas.