Chief Rabbi's visit to Woodside Park US
Chief Rabbi Mirvis left Woodside Park Synagogue members captivated and enthralled when he delivered his debut “Torah-Dash” sermon on Joshua at a grand-siyum crammed with 150 members who had come together on a Shabbat afternoon to celebrate a year-long programme of Torah study.
Participants in the innovative Torah-Dash programme pioneered in Woodside Park pit their wits against a giant 3 minute egg-timer (sand-timer) as they each sought to explain one of the sedrot of the chumash in the time it takes to boil a soft-boiled egg.
The programme took place over 5 seudah shelishit (one for each book of the chumash) with more than 69 speakers taking part with ages ranging from 8 to 88 (see Torah Dash infographic attached).
Commenting on the success of the programme Rabbi Hackenbroch, Senior Rabbi of Woodside Park said, “At first glance I was rather apprehensive. The notion of dashing through a sedra seemed rather superficial and a dilution of its beauty. But over the last months I have been privileged to attend several of the Torah Dashes and have watched in amazement as members of the community, young and old, have participated in presenting the sedrot in a fun and enthusiastic fashion, lifting the concepts and ideas from the parchment of the Torah scroll and bringing them to life”.
Gary Simon, a warden at Woodside Park Synagogue adds, “The wardens wanted to re-energise our regular Shabbat afternoon sudahs but when we started we really didn’t know if our idea was going to work, but we needn’t have worried. The programme appears to have captivated the imagination of the community bringing out an eagerness to learn as well as undiscovered nuggets of creative talent from across the entire age range.”
The initial programme was so successful that Rabbi Hackenbroch suggested that the Woodside Park team ask Chief Rabbi Mirvis to help launch a new programme based on the prophets.
“I felt a degree of trepidation asking a Chief Rabbi if he wouldn’t mind talking about Joshua in the time it takes it boil a soft-boiled egg against a giant egg-timer! But Rabbi Mirvis jumped at the opportunity to take part and left the community spell bound with his dvar torah that was timed to perfection and without the aid of any notes,” says Simon.
At the end of the siyum all of the members that had participated during the year were presented with a commemorative book containing everyone’s drosha. Rabbi Mirvis delighted the community by staying for a photo call with everyone who had taken part.
Rabbi Mirvis summed up the day, “In a 100 years’ time everyone will remember that the Torah Dash started in Woodside Park. This community is known for its innovation and is well and truly on the map.”