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    The holy community – K’doshim

    Synagogues often have names which tell you where the synagogue is located. Perhaps illogically, the original name is sometimes maintained even when the synagogue has moved somewhere else.

    Other synagogue names tell you the ideals which motivated the founders. Examples are “Holy Congregation of Ohavei Shalom (Lovers of Peace)”, “Holy Congregation of Emet V’Emunah (Truth and Faith)”.

    Note the opening phrase – K’hillah K’doshah, “Holy Congregation”. Every synagogue incorporates these words in its name. It is not the synagogue building that is regarded as holy, but the congregation.

    What makes a congregation holy? Its shared ethos, its values, its commitments, its hopes… above all, its unity.

    When the Torah reading for this week says, V’ahavta l’re’acha kamocha, “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Lev. 19:18), it doesn’t just have in mind the person who lives next to you, but your family and friends and certainly the members of your shule. The moment that dissension breaks out in the congregation it can hardly be a holy congregation any more.

    The guardian of the congregational holiness is the rabbi, and his constant concern must be the harmony of the human beings that make up his congregation.

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