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10 years of Kehillat Nashira with Sheara Abrahams

I remember the very first Shabbat morning service at Nashira so, so clearly. The weeks leading up to it had been fairly intense and terrifying as I had been meeting regularly with some incredible women from the community to learn to lein and I had put a lot of pressure on myself to get it right. In fact, not just right – it had to be totally perfect. The reason for this was because I felt the need to prove that I deserved to be standing up there reading from the Torah and did not want to let anyone down. This was a BIG deal. For me personally but also a huge step for Nashira and Borehamwood in the larger sense.

The service itself was truly special – beautiful ruach (as ever), encouraging faces all round, and so much emotion. The moment when I finally had to succumb to wiping away a few small tears was when a couple of ladies began reciting mourner’s kaddish in full voice with the whole room listening and replying to their every word and the fact that this was unusual really hit me hard.

It is particularly appropriate that the kehilla is called Nashira because I think the powerful impact that singing can have on prayer is very evident at the minyan and I often get lost in the moment listening to the stunning voices joining together from both sides of the mechitzah. Everyone has a place and no one is

afraid to be heard.

When I was heavily pregnant (a week overdue) with my son, I remember being asked if I would like to do pesicha at one point during the Shavuot service and this was surprisingly overwhelming for something to which a lot of men probably

don’t give much thought. The honour of being called up to uncover the Torah in the hope of a safe childbirth with the whole community wishing you well and keeping you in their thoughts was a lot for a very hormonal, expectant mother to take in and, equally as important, to be able to do it myself and not watch Joe stand there on my behalf, well, it felt like the way it should always be.

In ten years, Nashira has gone from strength to strength, and I think it is particularly important for the community to be marking this occasion and to be celebrating what we have all achieved together. I feel privileged to have been a small part of its history and am in awe of the incredible people who have contributed in so many ways to make it what it is today, not just the time and effort to keep the services and events running but also the inspiring words shared by so many bright minds and the continued support available for every individual’s needs, not to mention the bravery and drive required in the first place to take a small but vital seed and allow it to flourish into what it is today. Knowing that my daughter and son have grown up with Nashira as a constant and that they just take its existence for granted is something that many of us probably thought we would never be able to say.

Kol Hakavod to all.


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