Rod Kersh
Person-centred physician

A week of extremes, toing, froing & Glaswegian kneidels

From the 1983 Hagaddah. Photo by Rod Kersh 2024
Ezekiel from the 1983 Glasgow Habonim Dror Hagaddah. Photo by Rod Kersh 2024.


Hard to know where to begin.

This has been a busy week.

I guess,

If you were generous,

You would say rich with experience.

Alternatively, you might sit somewhere, quiet, and overwhelmed.

Monday was the first night of Passover.

I have discussed this in a recent blog.

The retelling of the story of the escape from Egypt, the Matzah, ten plagues and empathising with the fate of those who would do us in.

It’s all in there. (The Haggadah).

Philosophy, speculation, drama, highs, lows, and communal songs.

On Monday I ran, for the first time in my life, our own home seder.

First Seder. Photo by Rod Kersh 2024

My son joined-in by WhatsApp, we used a copy of the Secular Seder (sans the almighty) shared by my brother in Israel.

It led us through the ceremony including a significant emphasis as I have already mentioned on the plight of others, of those less fortunate, the hostages and the Palestinians, the soldiers and the murdered.

In ordering my wording, I think, hostages or Palestinians first? What will readers expect? The tragedy of the numbers (Palestinians) or the tragedy of the living hell?

As an aside, at work, there has been a reorganisation, departments and teams have been moved around and, with this review, a decision was made to rename us; those working with me became group 4, the others are 1,2 and 3.

For some this number allocation was critical – I can’t be 3, we should be 2 because we are better than 1… that kind of thing.

Me, I’ve never really cared about nomenclature.

Although, yes, naming is important – anyone with a child will recall the days spent reading baby name books, consulting Google, family oracles and so on.

What’s in a name?

This condenses to words and their value.

I guess, with the writing of this blog, words should matter, they should carry importance – their shape, form, and structure lead to understanding; remember Heathcote Williams?

Our first, secular Seder went well.

We opened the door for Elijah, I produced although forgot to hide the Afikomen (Alfie Coleman, remember Nigel?), I even sang, in my cracked bass, Ma Nishtana followed by Dayenu.

On Tuesday night, we, that is my daughter and I headed to Sheffield for the communal Reform Second Seder.

This was the second Second Seder in my life; I will share some photos from the first, in 1983 in Glasgow.

Habonim Dror Second Seder Photo by Rod Kersh from the original 2024

Here (2024, Sheffield), a gathering of 40 or so local Jews of mixed background and heritage sang and recited the British Reform Seder, led by the melodious Sarah.

Sheila’ Kersh’s seder 1983. Photo by Rod Kersh 2024

I supplied 40-odd peeled, hardboiled eggs and Kit made coconut pyramids.

Kit’s coconut pyramids. Photo by Rod Kersh 2024.

I have to say, I don’t enjoy religious ceremony.

I bristle when God’s name and (his) gender are mentioned or any reference to worship – it is just not who I am; nevertheless, in tune with last week’s blog, doing what the rabbi does rather than what they say, I sang and recited.

At work were the usual ups and downs, challenges relating to colleagues and patients, inter-organisational relationships – everything that makes-up life.

At one point, I had the following conversation:

Patient – The consultant told us the biopsy was negative. No cancer.

Me – I didn’t realise there had been a biopsy…. Yes, here, (looking in the notes) it says, no cancer.

20 minutes later, thanks to a supportive colleague, I read the updated CT report.

Me – There is no doubt, it is cancer. It has spread.

Patient – Tears, shock. Realisation.

I don’t often break the news of new cancer diagnoses directly to patients – in our world of pathways and multidisciplinary teams, this is generally conducted in the sterility of a hospital clinic, not a living room with wood fire blazing.

The rocking chair where I sat to share the information, was decorated with cushions made from the shirts of the patient’s relatives who had died. An after death, memorial, akin to the sock wearing that some people prefer.

It was surreal and painful.

Yesterday I met a friendly rescue-Akita in an uncarpeted living room followed by a bounding Golden Labrador pup.

This week we saw the first sign of life of Hirsh Goldberg-Polin, the American Israeli hostage, now held in Gaza for over 200 days. His left arm missing following his attempt to save the lives of others by throwing a grenade back at Hamas. Have you seen the video of the bomb shelter or heard the testimony?

Hirsh, hair clipped and prison pallor, I had expected him to speak in American English, instead his captors enforced Hebrew and dictated his narrative.

For months, I had anticipated he was dead, now this.

Safe in Heaven Dead, said Kerouac.

On Tuesday I ran 10k, on Friday the temperature was one degree. This morning, I plan to swim in the lake. The rain has come and left and returned. Dubai has flooded. Rich people fight over the value of their stock, and I dream of crushed cars.

Tuesday, the first day of Passover was also my daughter’s almost Judenrein school culture day, the place of defaced Israeli flag and triggering moments.

I am listening to the story of Byron on The Rest is History and thinking about reading Don Juan.

These are chaotic times. Times of life you would call them.

Dayenu 1983 Habonim Dror Glasgow. Photo by Rod Kersh 2024
About the Author
Dr Rod Kersh is a Consultant Physician working in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. He blogs at
Related Topics
Related Posts