Rabbi Ralph’s Regular Anti-Corona Vaccine

Words of Chizuk and Inspiration

There are surely few things as inspiring as affirming love in the face of fear, confirming commitment in the face of unpredictability, determining hope in the face of despair.

That’s what two couples in our community – and no doubt many others across our country –did yesterday in Caulfield. And what a privilege it was to be present as these two couples exchanged their words and gave rings to one another in the presence of their closest friends and family. There was a poignancy in the scattered distance between the few guests and the ubiquity of hand sanitiser. This wasn’t the chupah the couples had dreamt about, this wasn’t the wedding they had planned for…Yet in the spare, but elegant, ordinariness of the home settings there was something more powerful than the splendour of a magnificent wedding, the thrill and throng of a huge crowd ..

This was love reduced to its essential, faith distilled to its most elemental form, family and friendship in a slice of simplicity. William Blake’s immemorial words came to the fore

”To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour”

For a brief half hour or so we forgot about the latest report about the plague, the new restrictions on movement, the closing of shops and restaurants. Instead we focused on the power of love and human solidarity, we thought about the Mishkan, that holy structure that stood at the centre of the camp of Israel. Despite its centrality and the importance of its successor ,the Temple in Jerusalem, we learnt to cope and live without it ;we never forgot it longed for its restoration but realised we could and should continue to be Jews, to celebrate the gorgeous, fragile luminosity of life .That even when our shules are shut down we can continue …And that’s because the most enduring structure is not without but within .There’s a temple in our hearts, our deepest selves –

Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them can be read as … And they shall make me a sanctuary, and I will dwell in the midst of them, in their souls…(Exodus 25:8)

For a fleeting time we thought beyond the horror of our times to the hope that will follow, for healing will come, there will be life beyond Corona We will talk about BCV and ACV, before the wretched Corona Virus and After.

Bemheira beyameinu, soon may those after days come…

 Rabbi Ralph Genende, OAM

Caulfield Shule

About the Author
Rabbi Genende recently retired as the Senior Rabbi of Melbourne’s premier Caulfield Shule and took up the position of Senior Rabbi and Manager to Jewish Care Victoria, Melbourne’s largest Jewish organisation. He was a senior Reserve Chaplain in the South African Defence Force and is now Principal Rabbi to the Australian Defence Force, Member of the Religious Advisory Council to the Minister of Defence (RACS), board member of AIJAC (Australian Israel Jewish Affairs Council) and member of the Premier's Mulitifaith Advisory Group. He was President of JCMA (Jewish Christian Muslim Association) and a long time executive member of the Rabbinical Association of Victoria. He also oversees Yad BeYad a premarital relationship program, is a member of Swinburne University’s Research Ethics Committee and of the DHHS ,Department of Health Ethics Committee and sits on the Glen Eira City Council’s Committee responsible for its Reconciliation Action Plan for recognition and integration of our first peoples. Ralph has a passion for social justice and creating bridges between different cultures and faiths. For him the purpose of religion is to create a better society for all people and to engage with the critical issues facing Australian society. The role of the rabbi is, in his words, to challenge the comfortable and comfort the challenged. In 2018 Rabbi Genende was awarded an OAM for his services to multi-faith relations, and to the Jewish community of Victoria. Rabbi Genende is a trained counsellor with a Masters degree from Auckland University. He is married to Caron, a psychologist, and they have three children and two grandchildren.