Thoughts on the Week 7 July 2016

FIRSTS & OTHER PRECIOUS THINGS: A number of our children have either just returned or are away on Israel Tour this week in a programme jointly provided by UK Jewish schools and an organisation called A Taste of Israel. It’s a remarkably formative experience for children in Year 9 and can be highly recommended.

There are many life; our first experience flying on an airplane or visiting a country we’ve never been to before, our first breath-taking sunrise on a mountaintop after climbing all night to reach its peak. Such firsts can cause us to experience that sense of genuine awe that lifts us up and takes us out of our sometimes small-minded selves.

As we grow in life we have many first experiences; in Jewish schools there’s the first Siddur our children receive at the end of Year 1, a Humash in Year 3, or bar & bat mitzvah celebrations – a first that enables young adults to become active participants in the community.

There are firsts in getting our exam results and going off to university, meeting someone and persuading them to marry; having a first child. Professionally, there’s our first job offer, our first salary, our first career change (voluntary or otherwise), our first assignment abroad or our first attempt at retirement.

Some of us will venture farther and wider; first times to see a Cezanne or hear an orchestra play in a European city other than our birthplace, first times to taste strawberries and cream at Ascot or Wimbeldon, and inevitably our first time to say farewell to someone we love.

Sometimes we can prepare in advance but mostly what makes these firsts so precious is coming into them in the fullness of our innocence. It’s those experiences that become best memories, and in these troubled times remind us there’s much about life worth preserving.