By Andres Mosquera
On August 19, I had the honor and pleasure of officiating Kabalat Shabbat services at the Progressive Jewish Community of Bangkok (TPJC). The community is currently led by Alec Harold Goldman, an IT entrepreneur, who has lived in Bangkok for more than fifteen years.
The community is an eclectic group of people from all over the world, including Thailand, who have come together to create progressive and inclusive religious services, educational activities and social events. Rabbis from around the world occasionally visit to lead services, and at other times a member of the community leads services. Our beloved Rabbi Nathan Alfred officiated at services when he was in the Singapore community.
I was in Bangkok for work and contacted Alec to offer my services as Rabbinical student for the 19 August Kabbalat Shabbat. I met a diverse group of Jews and non-Jews of all ages who share a passion for spending time together around Judaism in all its manifestations, religious and secular.
The Parashat Behalotcha was assigned for that Shabbat and we covered topics relating to Moses’ leadership, the prophet of the prophets, but leadership based on empowerment. Moses’ concept of empowerment can be seen in Hillel of Babylon in the Gemara (Pesahchim 66a) where he says if we Jews are not prophets, we are children of prophets. And with this we demonstrate that we are all part of the destiny of our people and the relevance of our traditions that inspire our halachah and not the other way around. We decide while dialoguing with our traditions.
It was a very pleasant evening, with a Thai-western potluck, where, I assure you, there was no lack of fresh chalah and hummus!
It was a pleasure to be able to share all that I learned at IJC and the Rabbinical Institute with our Jewish and non-Jewish brothers and sisters in a progressive community on another continent.