Desmond Sweke’s Farewell Address and Presentation to Rabbi and Ruth Avidan

Shabbat Vayechi  11 January 2020

On this very special occasion, it is a great honour to share the bimah with Rabbi Hillel Avidan and Ruth.

Ashley and I have been members of Bet David for 33 years. For most of that time, Hillel was either the Rabbi or Rabbi Emeritus of Bet David and, for all that time, they have been our close friends. Rabbi Avidan prepared our sons for, and officiated at, their B’nei Mitzvah, while Ruth was the force behind the Religion School, also working tirelessly with the Sisterhood. We share with our congregation, fond memories and a deep appreciation for all that you both have done for us. All those years ago, when Hillel left Bet David, he said that he was retiring. I did not believe it then and I don’t believe it now! Rabbi Avidan had already retired when I became chairman and the task of finding a new Rabbi was made very difficult for those involved, as we needed to find a Rabbi to fill Hillel’s shoes.

As an aside, it seems appropriate that we are now standing above The Middleton, as the development of the original hall was largely Hillel’s “baby”! Furthermore, in his sermon today, Rabbi Avidan spoke of Avraham and Sara. I would like to point out that the roof of this synagogue was designed to resemble the tent of Avraham and Sara and, just as their tent was open on all four sides to welcome travellers approaching from all directions,  our synagogue  has also been designed to open on all sides to be welcoming to everyone.

Today is a special moment in time which we wish to mark by presenting Hillel and Ruth with certificates and a special challah cover embroidered with the Bet David logo, today’s date and a note of appreciation.

On behalf of Rabbi Schell, the Management Committee, our congregation and all gathered here, we wish Rabbi Avidan and Ruth much joy in the new chapter of their lives, as we say thank you and Lehitra’ot.