JUBILEE AND COMMUNITY
This weekend is all about numbers!
Of course, the number 70 is on everyone’s mind as we celebrate Her Majesty’s magnificent milestone.
But this Shabbat we begin to read the Book of Numbers, which opens with the numbering of the Jewish people in the desert.
This will not be the first time when we acknowledge a royal Jubilee in the synagogue.
I recall the occasion when we held a special service at St John’s Wood Synagogue to mark the Queen’s golden Jubilee. That event was graced by the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
On the occasion of the diamond Jubilee, our then Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, zichrono livracha, issued a special prayer which was read in shuls across the United Synagogue. And, for this Jubilee weekend, Chief Rabbi Mirvis has similarly composed a special prayer. (We have produced a booklet, in honour of the Jubilee, containing this and the other prayers for the Queen during the course of her reign.)
Is there is more than a coincidence of two occasions of marking a number?
In connection with our parasha, Ramban explains that the Israelites were counted for two reason: first, that there should there be a tally on the total population, but second, in the process of numbering, there would be an engagement on the part of the leaders, Moses and Aaron, with all sectors of the people. The role of a leader is not to be an anonymous figurehead but to have a relationship with all levels of the community. That role model encourages harmonious relationships across the community
Throughout her reign, Her Majesty has taken every opportunity to engage with ordinary people in this country, at every level. To give a personal example, when she and Prince Philip celebrated their golden wedding, they held a garden party at Buckingham Palace for couples in the country who were also celebrating fifty years of marriage. My parents, Harry and Laurie Binstock, aleihem hashalom, were so honoured to attend and be introduced to the royal couple. My father was the only person there wearing a capel and Prince Philip made a point of speaking to him and asking him about his life.
The platinum Jubilee has inspired many people to come together who might not otherwise have done so. Neighbours are getting to know each other through street parties and other events that are taking place. A sense of goodwill and pride in our Queen and country is being fostered up and down the land.
May we build on this community spirit and may G-d bless the Queen and her subjects in health and happiness. Amen