HJC newsletter October/November 2017

Editorial

This newsletter falls into two parts. In the first it is a carry over from the last edition which began stories relating to Yiddish and Hebrew. These stories are continued in this edition with reports of a Yiddish Summer school, a piece about how Yiddish language is in use today in Britain and America, and the Hebrew journey of our Community Chair, as well as report on Jewish-Christian Bible week.

Secondly, as this newsletter goes to press it is in the middle of the High Holyday season once again. This is a season of change, change in seasons from late summer to autumn, change in our thinking from summer breaks, to focussing on new tasks ahead, and as our resident squirrel does, preparing for the winter ahead. The Book Review gives a flavour of how this time might be spent in reflecting on our priorities.

It is also the time of our annual High Holyday Charity Appeal, for which we have already had a good start, and donation forms are attached to this newsletter. We have two very worthwhile causes, so we hope we can exceed our target once again.

Julian Brown

In this edition: Chair Chat, Summer Reports: Bible Week; Ot Azoy, Yiddish language; Yiddish crossing the Atlantic; My Jewish Journey; Book Review; Visiting Other Communities.

CHAIR CHAT SEPTMEBER 2017

HANNA WINE

 We were very sorry to hear of Hanna’s death in August.   We knew that she had been seriously ill for some time but the news still came as a devastating shock.   Hanna was a very active member of our group for the short time that she was with us and was very keen to get involved in all that we did.   Her sister told me how much she appreciated being welcomed into our group while also continuing her membership of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London.   She was buried at Willesden cemetery on August 27 and we will certainly remember her in our prayers over the High Holydays.

 EREV ROSH HASHANAH

 We had a wonderful Erev Rosh Hashanah evening hosted by Eva Mendelsson at her home in Ross on Wye. This was attended both by members of Eva’s family and friends, and also by some members of HJC, with a wide variety of ages present. HJC provided the Service and Shofar blowing, and Eva and her family provided a beautiful venue and a great selection of delicious food, which I think everyone enjoyed. We are very grateful for Eva for inviting us all to this evening, and for generously donating all the money collected for the evening from our members to the High Holyday appeal.

The gathering included Zvi, a friend of Eva’s who is also a Holocaust survivor , who now lives in New York, who told us how his experiences during the Holocaust, when he was still quite young, had led him to becoming an adult very early on, as sadly, he no longer had parents or family to support him.

SIMCHAT TORAH SERVICE.

 We hope as many as possible will be able to come to the Simchat Torah service at the Bridges Centre in Monmouth on Saturday October 14 at 11 a.m.    This is always a very enjoyable service with plenty of singing and dancing!

PORTION CONTROL
There’s a famous Jewish joke:  “Waiter, this food is terrible,” says one Jewish diner.  “Yes, and such small portions,” says the other. (Courtesy of “The Times”)

 

Report from Bible Week 2017 on Mishlei (Book of Proverbs)

HJCBiblewk

Bible Week, as ever, is for me a high point of the year – a stimulating and sometimes almost overwhelming experience, as 120 Jews and Christians from Germany, UK, Holland and Israel (and a few other places) gather at Haus Ohrbeck near Osnabruck for a week of instruction and lively discussion. We were people of all ages & stages of life, from toddlers upwards, young children, parents, teenagers, students, professors, rabbis, pastors, elders – and this year even a dying man in a wheelchair who didn’t feel that his advanced cancer was a reason to miss his regular attendance at Bible Week! Some have been coming on and off from its early days in Bendorf (next year will be its jubilee as it started in 1968) and others were there for the first time. The Hebrew text chosen as the subject for this year’s study was the Book of Proverbs, part of the Wisdom literature of the bible. This time we had as much fruitful fun with the text as we usually do!

The first lecture was given by Lindsay Taylor-Gutharz , who teaches at Oxford, and was titled, ‘Weaving the Web of Wisdom’. She ended by suggesting that the text of Mishlei is a bit like a cloth woven from different yarns, and structured through warp and weft into into a rich text/textile with diverse and fascinating patterns.(The tutor in my Hebrew group picked up this metaphor, saying how aptly it describes the character of Hebrew poetry). Lindsay, and her husband Norm who came with her, are an Orthodox couple (most Jews in Bible Week are Reform or Liberal) and in the question time, someone asked her if they were in the habit of chanting the text of the eshet chayil (the ‘Woman of Valour’ Proverbs 31:10-31) at their family shabbat celebration. She said yes they did – together with hand gestures to help engage the kids! It seems that they are Orthodox couple with a difference, because although (I suspect) she is the main breadwinner as in many Orthodox families, she is also the main scholar. But as she told us, Norm, though he’s worked as a teacher and a journalist, does more than his fair share of the housework and childcare. To general amusement, she recounted an anecdote in which, on returning from her Orthodox women’s feminist group one day, she was holding forth in the kitchen on the injustices endured by women in patriarchal society, while Norm was quietly mopping the floor around her feet! By the end of Bible Week, Norm had acquired a reputation as a new model ish chayil (man of valour)!

One of the other keynote speeches was given by Sr. Nazak Matty, a young Dominican sister from Iraq. She was introduced by liberal Rabbi James Baaden, one of the Bible Week team, who had been responsible for inviting her to speak to us and arranging it despite difficulties. The two of them had met a few years ago in a student residence in North Oxford when both were there doing an MA, and seemed to be good friends!. I spoke to her at breakfast and discovered that she had done most of her research in Blackfriars library, and knew several of the Dominicans whom I also remember. After completing her course, she opted to go back to her congregation which is located in Nineveh near Mosul. Here in 2014, they were bombed, driven into exile and the convent razed to the ground by ISIS. Though Mosul has since been recaptured, the sisters remain in exile in Kurdistan, and her lecture, entitled ‘For the Lord will be Your confidence’ (Prov. 3.26) gave a poignant account of how the sisters are struggling to find a language to express their sense of loss, betrayal and radical disorientation resulting from their catastrophe as, on a greater scale, Jews had to do 70 years before.

The morning study groups explore the text togther as usual and ours worked very well, with excellent resource persons and facilitator – no big clashes or over-zealous talkers. With a good translation (like the Jewish Study Bible) some parts of Proverbs have quite a modern feel to them – like the warning to young men about joining violent gangs, or against ‘scoffers’ which could be the ancient equivalent of the male ‘banter’ culture that has recently become popular in some quarters. But we also enjoyed the vision of Wisdom playing before God at the beginning of creation: and the scenario of Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly setting out their rival stalls. Their wares at times seemed to be a trifle similar… One could not help but wonder if Wisdom could really offer riches, honour, success and long life, why would anyone choose Folly? If as she claims, ‘Through me Kings reign and rulers decree just laws’ (Prov. 8.15) was she perhaps over-egging the pudding? How come then that world rulers, like Trump have fallen into the arms of Dame Folly? And as several of our European colleagues commiserated with the UK party over Brexit, I wondered how she had managed to lure so many its architects into her camp.

And yet, after this week of joyful immersion in Hebrew scripture, I come away with the feeling that, if somehow we can continue to cultivate wisely its resources in the Bible Week manner, it may even be possible to re-grow a European culture that is capable of avoiding the calamity of the old.

Angela West

Ot Azoy Yiddish and Golden Peacock Song School – JMI August 2017

Cherry and I attended the Jewish Music Institute (JMI) one week Summer School in August.

As the title may tell, this was quite a full week, combining an intensive 6 day Yiddish language course held in the mornings, with an intensive song school and choir in the afternoons – although for this, I took more of a back seat, as I am far from being a performer/singer in the way that Cherry is. However , both groups were fascinating to be part of, and I certainly learned a good deal in the language classes, and learned some beautiful melodies in the Song sessions. If that wasn’t enough there were also lectures and films in the evenings, but being off campus, we were only able to attend one of these (on the Yiddish poet/writer Avrom Sutzgever (who is well worth looking up if you are interested in Jewish/Yiddish history. He was one of the very few Yiddish writers to have been published in Yiddish in Israel) plus an East End walk on the final evening.

The theme of the Song school was positivism in the face of adversity, in other words how to be positive in the fact of difficulties in the world we live in. This was clearly mirrored by songs which dealt with difficult struggles in the past, recorded in Yiddish – for example, songs of workers’ struggles, as well as songs of loss and yearning. The repertoire also included a Yiddish protest song written in New York in 2010 in relation to the recent Occupy movement about the over-weaning power of Wall street and the super rich. Whatever your ideas, there is a far wider variety of Yiddish songs than you can possibly imagine, as well as translations into Yiddish from other popular songs.

This was the first year that the Jewish Music Institute (JMI) had run all four of its courses simultaneously under one roof (SOAS main building near Russel Square, London). This was a mammoth undertaking and was not without some hiccups. However, it did allow for a lot of overlaps and combinations between the different groups, culminating in a Thursday evening performance in which each of the four schools (language/song/klezmer music and dance) contributed items they had worked on over the week.

Yiddish language

I was in the beginners group (Cherry was in Level 2). As you may see from the article on Yiddish in the last newsletter, Yiddish has strong links with German (about 70% of vocabulary and much of the grammar), as well as Hebrew /Aramaic (about 20%) and a smaller percentage of Slavic language influence, plus a little of the Romance languages. Yiddish is written in the Hebrew alphabet, but has several phonetic differences, so while it helps to have a knowledge of Hebrew alphabet, you still need to learn the rules of Yiddish. Similarly, for those who know German, it is dangerous to think you can follow Yiddish as there are some key differences, especially over grammar as well as vocabulary. The Hebrew language element is largely for those items relating to an aspect of Jewish culture or practice, often relating to Torah, but also includes some everyday words (such as direh for flat) and also linking words such as efsher (possibly).

Teaching is excellent, with one teacher being an absolute stickler for attention. On the last day we played a game to test our knowledge of Yiddish numbers (where you have to say Buzz for numbers containing 3’s and 7’s , or multiples of). If you made a mistake you were mercilessly taken out of the game, but it was great fun. We had previously done some Yiddish arithmetic which was in itself challenging, as you had say the numbers and four rules signs in Yiddish, as well as finding the correct answer. Our other teacher, Lily prattled on at us in Yiddish at the start of each lesson, and you had to pick up as best you could, but there was lots of repetition and practice. We had a good group of about 20 students, but there was one particularly annoying character, (who I often seemed to end up in conversation with) who insisted on using his Hebrew and smattering of German, in conversations, even though we had been expressly forbidden to use any other languages, and was continually going off topic. Well it wouldn’t be a Yiddish class if there wasn’t something to kvetch about.

Yiddish Song

As for the song element, apart from the choir and whole group music sessions, one of the fascinating elements of the course was the master classes held each afternoon. This gave an opportunity for budding singers and also experienced performers to try out their songs in front of an audience, and get feedback from the Song school tutors – rather like the feedback dancers get in ‘Strictly…’ – for those who indulge in that programme. This was informative not only to the performers themselves, but also to onlookers like myself, who could then get a sense of what makes a good performance. The truth of this is that is very individual according to the singer and their choice of song, but one common rule of thumb is to under-perform rather than over-perform – that is, to get to the heart of the song, and feel it for yourself, rather than being focussed all the time on the audience.

HJCsongschool

Polina Shepherd and Song School

The week is certainly intensive, but at the same time extremely supportive, and you do not need to have any experience of Yiddish, or necessarily of song, to be able to take part. The challenge as with any course is to how to follow it up, when you live in a small community with few fluent Yiddish speakers (I am making an assumption here). There are online materials and we have a couple of good books from the course, and we hope to have occasional meetings with a relatively local Yiddish speaker.

Julian Brown

What a shemozzle! The strange story of Yiddish in Britain – by Matthew Engel

This article first appeared in the Jewish Chronicle’s Rosh Hashanah magazine. Matthew Engel is a member of HJC and lives with his family in the Golden Valley.

In 1988 The Guardian newspaper, my then employers, decided to have a redesign and a relaunch, as newspapers do when they are going through a sticky patch.

It was accompanied by a poster campaign which used a series of phrases that were supposed to convey the paper’s distinctive virtues. One of these was irreverence: we were cheekier and less stuffy than our rivals at the posh end of the market. So one of these posters said simply: “The chutzpah“.

The ad agency may have been a bit too clever for its clients’ good. In Northampton – where I grew up – a baffled Guardian-reading friend said to me “What’s a chutzpah?”, pronouncing the ch- as in church. This question is famously difficult to answer without resorting to the old gag about the boy who murders his parents and cries for mercy because he’s an orphan.

Anyway, not much Yiddish was being spoken in Northampton by the late 1980s, as the generation who might have hakked the odd chainik in shul on Yom Kippur began to die off. And the Yiddish words that slipped easily into American English in Victorian times have struggled to make it to this side of the Atlantic.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately while researching my latest book*, which is a history of the way American vocabulary has travelled to Britain – and a cry for help about what was once an gentle incoming tide and has now turned into a tsunami.

In the early 19th century the British began using American words because they were often apt and snappy, and this did a great deal to enliven a language which was becoming as tight-laced as the society itself. Come the 21st century, with Hollywood, TV and the internet constantly sending the American language across the globe, this is no longer an import-export business but a rampaging takeover.

Yiddishisms — and Jewishisms, which are not quite the same thing — have played a significant role in the development of the American language. But they have been only minor components of the export trade. Yiddish in Britain, according to Leonard Prager, is not measurable but detectable “like a trace element”.

He wrote in his 1990 book Yiddish Culture in Britain: “It may assert itself as a cadence of speech of a taxi-driver, a hand gesture in the conversation of a diamond merchant, a metaphor in the verbal repertoire of a publicist… barely perceptible except when it comes from a newly-imported word from America.” And when the words do pass into British English, they tend to come in because they are already American, not directly from Jewish usage.

Why? Well, Anglo-Jewry has always been more heads-down than its US counterpart; the Jewish component of London never matched New York’s; and Jewish cuisine and humour never had the same impact here as there. The linguistic scholar Sol Steinmetz said the only Yiddish word to become embedded in British English was nosh – and even then it subtly changed its meaning in Britain, conveying a meal rather than a snack (though part of the British Americanisation process is eating more snacks than meals).

And sometimes even when we think we’re using Yiddishisms, we’re not. At Carmel College, my Jewish boarding school in the 1960s, cod-Yiddish played a major part in our slanguage, and the most common phrase (anatomical insults excepted) was probably in shtook = trouble. We pronounced it, as we thought correctly, as shtooch – as in chutzpah.

It seems we were wrong, along with many other people; even the Oxford English Dictionary shrugs its shoulders as to the word’s origin, except to say it isn’t Yiddish. It may be that it isn’t even American and could be a rare example of Jewish Cockney. So might shemozzle, which Leo Rosten attributed to British bookmakers.

On the other hand, shtook‘s sound-alike, shtik, as a stage routine, does seem to be Yiddish and is now used in the UK, at least in theatrical circles. And bagels are now eaten across Britain, though outside London they are usually mass-produced in a factory in Yorkshire and heaven only knows where you can find fresh cream cheese.

There are more examples of Jewishisms, which may or may not have their origins in Yiddish expressions but which certainly fit with the speech patterns of Yiddish-speakers who learned English as a second language. Big deal! as an all-purpose expression of contempt may have been popularised by Jack Benny’s wartime radio show.

Eat your heart out!, Enjoy!, (I need that like a) hole in the head and Tell me about it! may all come into the same category – along with for free, one of the phrases that get right up the noses of all right-thinking Britons over 50, though maybe not if their first language is Yiddish. Listen, as a way of enforcing attention at the start of a sentence, is another candidate. And OK by me.

Directly from Yiddish, glitch has now more it into Britain’s vocabulary. And on the edges lurk the Yiddish K-twins, klutz and kibbitz along with shlep, spiel and shtum. And nebbish.

These are comparatively thin pickings when set against the mass takeover of the world’s vocabulary by American usages. The selective use of foreign words is a sign of a healthy language. But to me this total reversal of Babel is a long-term catastrophe, a cultural variant of climate change, destroying the delicate balance of the planet’s intellectual resources.

For this is far from being just a British problem; it affects countries with their own languages (poor old France, oy-yoy-yoy) even more acutely. However, I suspect the epicentre of this disaster might be found in the cafes frequented by teenage girls in North-West London. “Hey guys!” “I was like, yeah!” “OMG!” “Don’t even go there!””Whatever!”

Please help me do something about this. Then maybe I can use one of the few Hebrew words that has passed into English, lately given fresh life by the Buddhist-Jewish genius Leonard Cohen. Hallelujah!

Matthew Engel

*That’s the Way It Crumbles: The American Conquest of English by Matthew Engel (Profile Books)

MY JEWISH JOURNEY – Mark Walton

My grandparents all emanated from the Pale of Settlement in Russian occupied Poland, escaping from the pogroms and forced conscription into the Russian army at the turn of the century. They settled, as with previous and succeeding waves of immigrants, in London’s East End: one grandfather was a tailor, helping to make uniforms for the British army, the other ran an “open all hours” sweet shop and tobacconist. Neither family were particularly observant although my paternal grandmother originated from a rabbinic family. My mother suffered T.B. as a child and was sent to Margate where she spent seven years in an isolation hospital* and my father worked in the “shmutter” (aka drapery) business, aspiring eventually to open his own shop while also working the markets twice a week. It was a hard life and one I was determined not to follow. The family moved away from the East End along the Northern line to Highgate, where a new Jewish colony was established with related families buying houses in the same street. As a matter of course my parents were members of the local shul but, as they both worked for six days a week, my father was a three days a year attender and my mother only appeared on social occasions.

My own Jewish journey began in the gloomy underground depths of the Highgate District Synagogue** in Archway Road, North London, where Mr and Mrs Looms (equally gloomy), the resident caretakers, would provide the children with jam sandwiches and tea before starting cheder lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays straight after school. This was supplemented by a Sunday morning session and attendance at the children’s service on Saturday mornings. We actually had four classes at cheder, ending up in the top class with the late lamented Rabbi Emil Nemeth aka ‘Nobs’. Our main activity in this class was to goad the poor man into a state of hysterical anger by such pranks as hiding in the toilets, the cupboards or any other suitable orifice. Our anthem was “Ma’otzur ye shoo otsee, the cat’s in the cupboard and ‘Nobs’ can’t see” which, for some reason, we all thought was hilarious and now, of course, I feel terribly guilty about for all the harassing of this eminently gentle, kind and learned man. As a by product of all this, yes, I did learn to be able to read Hebrew (without being able to speak it), recite common prayers (without understanding what they meant) and prepare for my barmitzvah. Rabbi Nemeth kindly recorded my “muftir and haftarah” on a tape recorder (which I somehow managed to erase) and prepared me for my barmitzvah test at Woburn House (do people still have to go through this ordeal?). My barmitzvah passed by in a whirl (I can’t even remember what portion I read) and then ….. nothing. No post barmitzvah classes, no regular shul attendance, apart from the High Holydays when my peer group would spend the minimum amount of time in the service and the maximum amount of time downstairs in the hall or performing the annual Yom Kippur circular pilgrimage between Highgate, Muswell Hill, Norrice Lea and, yea, even unto Kinloss Gardens shuls.

At the time, I never questioned the why and wherefores of this and am actually grateful that it gave me a reasonably thorough grounding in my religion, even if I was to reject it for a long period in my life. I attended a Church of England primary school where there were very few Jewish children and then progressed to William Ellis School in North London, where we made up approximately 25% of the school population and had three Jewish assemblies a day. I still clearly identified with this group and most of my close friends were Jewish, reinforced by attendance at the Highgate and Muswell Hill, Woodside Park, and Finchley Jewish youth clubs as well as various Habonim groups.

My big move away from this environment came on leaving school when I did a year’s VSO in the (then) British Solomon Islands before going to York University. A small group of my ex school friends (all mostly coincidentally Jewish) joined me at York but I never even considered joining the Jewish society or taking part in any form of organised religion. After university and marrying Mary, we spent two years teaching in Sierra Leone before finally settling down and raising a family in the Forest of Dean. I am just beginning to understand how supporting her in bringing up our children in a religious faith has helped keep alive aspects of my own early grounding. Mary, whose Catholicism is rooted in the Hebrew scriptures, was always very keen for me to pass on my Jewish heritage to them but I was reluctant to do this in view of my own lack of commitment. So what precipitated the change? Primarily, visits to Prague and Krakow where I found still active Jewish communities despite everything that those people had gone through. The fact that there was this element of continuity made me feel my heritage was important and that I should no longer reject it, even if I did not necessarily believe in God (or G-d, as I was taught to write it to the mystification of my primary school teachers). Secondly, the discovery of Liberal Judaism. This was an unknown (and would undoubtedly have been considered to be an alien) concept when I was growing up. You were either “United Synagogue” (ie.mainstream orthodox, however unobservant one might actually be) or “froomies” (whom we would now call “charedi” or ultra-orthodox). No other alternatives presented themselves. So it was a revelation to me when I attended a service in Hereford led by Rabbi Aaron Goldstein which was relatively short, accompanied by the guitar, was conducted as much in English as in Hebrew, which people listened to and took part, and was actually enjoyable and made sense. That’s how I ended up here, much to the amazement of my dear late mother who warned me, “Never join a synagogue, they will only want your money”. So thank you Aaron, Anna and all the other liberal rabbis who have helped me back into my religion. And thank you HJC (and particularly Josephine, Andrea, Julian and Cherry) for providing a base for my further understanding and development of Judaism. I just wish I could now put things right with Rabbi Nemeth.

*Read Linda Grant’s “The Dark Circle” for a graphic account of the treatment methods used in these sanatoria, before the availability of streptomycin.

**This building is now a Hindu temple as many of the Jewish families have moved further along the Northern line to Hendon, Golders Green and Edgware or leapfrogged these altogether to the newer pastures of Bushey, Borehamwood, Radlett and Elstree. My own family only eventually made it as far as the less affluent Mill Hill East. There is now a smaller synagogue in Highgate, serving mainly the young professionals who have moved into the area.

Mark Walton September 2017.

 

Are you visiting other Communities?

As members of Herefordshire Jewish Community, any of us would be welcomed by any other congregation within Liberal Judaism. There is a simple searchable map on the website of Liberal Judaism, at http://www.liberaljudaism.org/where-we-are/communities/ This has contact details for each community, so you can get in touch. Many of them like notice of any visitors for security reasons, so please do contact them in advance of your visit if at all possible and/or take ID with you.  

Liberal Judaism has 40 communities, and three additional developing/affiliated congregations, covering all parts of England, as well as in Scotland, the Republic of Ireland, Holland and Denmark.  Click here for a list. Liberal Judaism’s communities are vibrant, diverse and democratic, offering a meaningful and spiritual Jewish experience in the 21st Century. Above all else, they are welcoming and inclusive. 

Details about visiting for High Holydays were sent out in a previous email.

Alison Turner

Book review by Alison Turner

God’s to-do list : 103 ways to be an angel and do God’s work on earth by Dr. Ron Wolfson, Jewish Lights Publishing, 2007.

HJCangelbk

I have been very fond of Jewish Lights publishing for many years and I have been called an angel a couple of times in my life, so I was attracted to this book by the title and I was not disappointed. We are asked to consider if God was writing a to-do list for each of us, bearing in mind our own unique skills, life experiences and talents that can be used to make a difference in the world, what would be on it? This is based on the Biblical teaching that we are all made in the image of God and have a spark of divinity within us. We are here for a purpose, which is to do God’s work, the tasks God has for us, as God’s partners on earth. Before you protest that such things may be beyond your abilities and powers, consider that there are many small things that make the world a better place, like volunteering our time, reading to a child, visiting sick people, or blessing our food, which we can do. Many of us probably do quite a few of these things already.

Dr Wolfson takes 10 ways in which God has acted in relationship to human beings, and suggests we too can act like God does, in order to play our part in repairing the world. The actions are to create, bless, rest, call, comfort, care, repair, wrestle, give and forgive. These are all acts within our everyday lives, and each chapter has 10 suggestions for ways in which we can do these things, plus a bonus 3 at the end. This is a workbook to be done, not just another book to read. You will be guided to create your very own to-do list after reading the book and to carry it out. I thought I am far too busy a person for this, and put it aside for a long time, but once I picked it up I found it very accessible, friendly and above all a practical guidebook to how I can help God and everyone else repair the world. As we take part in the High Holy Days, this is an excellent book to read.

High Holydays Appeal

Details of our High Holyday Appeal, and Donation forms are attached to this newsletter. We already have a wonderful start of almost £100 raised through our Rosh Hashanah Service and meal. Our charities this year are the Hereford Hospital Special Care Baby Unit and The Sir Charles Clore Community Centre, Acco, Israel, both very worthwhile causes.

Forthcoming Events

HJCKlez

London Klezmer Quartet Concert, Savoy Theatre, Monmouth Friday 13th October 7.30 p.m. (tickets £15 from Savoy Theatre Monmouth, http://www.monmouth-savoy.co.uk/theatre/)

Next HJC meeting: Simchat Torah Service at Bridges Centre, Saturday 14th October 2017 11a.m. led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard.

Please see diary below for more HJC events.

Limmud Conference / Festival 24 – 28 December 2017 Pendigo Lake, Birmingham.

Limmud Conference is now renamed Limmud Festival and is the biggest celebration of Jewish learning and culture in the UK Jewish calendar, bringing in Jews, and some non-Jews, from a wide variety of backgrounds. Details from: https://limmud.org/festival/

Deadline for next newsletter will be 22nd November 2017. If you miss this date, I cannot guarantee your contribution will be included.

Please send in contributions in WORD or pdf format if possible, but articles sent in by post are also welcome. In general, contributions should be no longer than 500 – 750 words, but longer contributions may be included, if appropriate. Pictures also welcome, but please try to keep image sizes small and below 250 KB for newsletter inclusion. All contributions are welcome but depending on format and content, the editor reserves the right to edit or hold over to a future edition if needed.

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

Membership and Welfare Chair
Cherry Wolfe

 

 

Mark Walton

Tel: 01594 530721 (after 6pm or at weekends)

Treasurer Newsletter Editor /Membership
Alison Turner

 

Julian Brown

hjc@liberaljudaism.org

Learning Circle Coordinator / Web Manager and Archivist Cultural Coordinator
Alison Turner  Ann Levy

 

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

HJC services and other Events

Friday 13th October London Klezmer Quartet Concert

7.30 p.m.

Savoy Theatre, Church Street
Monmouth, Gwent
NP25 3BU

Saturday 14th October Simchat Torah Service

11 a.m.

Bridges Centre, Monmouth NP25 5AS

Saturday 4th November Shabbat Service led by Cherry & Julian

11 a.m.

Colwall Ale House, Mill Lane, Colwall, WR13 6HJ

Saturday 16th December Chanukah Party with Rabbi Anna Gerrard

3 p.m. t.b.c.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford HR2 6HE

Advance Notice

Saturday 27th January 2018 HJC Holocaust Memorial Day service with Rabbi Danny Rich

Hereford t.b.c

Sunday 28th January Ushperin’ Hair cutting ceremony for Isaac Turner with Rabbi Danny Rich

Hereford t.b.c.

 

HJC Charity High Holyday Appeal 2017/5778

Our two charities for this year are:

Wye Valley NHS Special Care Baby unit, based in Hereford Hospital which looks after pre-term and newborn infants who are sick. https://www.wyevalley.nhs.uk/visitors-and-patients/county-hospital-(acute)/a-z-of-wards/scbu-(special-care-baby-unit).aspx

and Sir Charles Clore Jewish Arab Community Centre, Acco which runs a range of activities from ballet, to sport, music and summer camps for children in this Jewish/Arab area of Israel.

Our target this year is £300, split equally between our two charities. Last year we raised a record £400 for our two charities, so if we can beat that this year, that would be wonderful.

If you wish to donate, please email hjc@liberaljudiasm.org  or ring Mark Walton on 01594 530721 (after 6pm or weekends only) for a donation form.

HJC Newsletter Shavuoth – June/July 2017

Editorial

This edition seems quite a full one. Having had our Community AGM where we had some discussion on ways our community might go in the future, we now seem to be in a time of plenty of activity. The Festival of Shavuoth, which is both a Spring Harvest festival and also a commemoration of the Giving of the Ten Commandments is one we don’t always mark so much. However, this year we have had a joint Shavuoth Service with GLJC, which turned out to be a successful collaboration between the two communities, and this newsletter includes an article by Rabbi Anna Gerrard on Counting of the Omer, as well as there being an interesting discussion on the Book of Ruth by Angela West. Mark Walton also made some insightful remarks on Ruth in his short ‘drasha’/discussion at this service which brought up how the outsider in our communities may well turn out to be a significant player in our history. So there is a lot we can learn from this story and this time of year. We also look forward to our annual Interfaith Anne Frank service at Saxon Hall, which will be attended by representatives from Hereford City and the Cathedral, and we hope also members of other faiths. JB

In this edition: HJC Chat, Counting the Omer, Notes on The Book of Ruth, Story of Anne Frank, Eva Schloss talk, Book Reviews, Film Review.

HJC Chat

Pesach Seder

RosalieEvaHJC

We had another successful HJC Seder at Saxon Hall, this year led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard. This gave us an opportunity to use the new LJ Hagaddoth which had a mixed reception. Anna chose to include a number of alternative readings, such as one for Miriam’s cup (as well as cup of Elijah) which made for interesting discussion, but it was sometimes confusing keeping up with which page of the Hagaddah we were on. One idea is to alternate our Seders with one year using the ‘Old’ version and one year using the new one. In her usual style, Anna also surprised us with her creative version of the song Ehad Mi Yodeah/Who knows one? For this, she distributed picture cards (see photo) , each of which had to be raised up at the appropriate moment when that number was called in the song – so rather like a Pesach Bingo. This led to much amusement, as well as much more communal singing than we often have. This was also the second year we had food provided by Cherry Wolfe, which was much appreciated, and we also had some excellent helpers from Saxon Hall who helped all the practical arrangements run smoothly. I would also like to thank all HJC Council and other members who were so efficient in getting the room set up and looking fit for purpose for our Seder.

Counting the Omer

There is a special period of time between Pesach and Shavuot – the period of the Omer.  The Counting of the Omer is a 49 day process that takes us from the springtime potential of Pesach to the summertime fulfilment of Shavuot.  Having told the story of the Exodus as is we ourselves came out of Egyptian oppression, we find ourselves wandering for 49 days before we finally receive the Torah on Mount Sinai.  The journey is one of confusion.  After the initial elation of the Red Sea crossing, the Israelites are lost and directionless, unsure whether freedom is better than slavery after all.  It is a period of transition and a test of patience.

Agriculturally, this is also time of potential, risk and uncertainty.  Seeds have been sown and the precise combination of warmth, moisture, light, protection and nutrition is now critical to their well-being and the crop that will appear in the coming months.  Too much water or too little light, too much heat or too little nitrogen… and the eventual crop could be

adversely affected.  One night without protection from slugs and the crop could disappear completely!  It is a risk we are willing to take and the rewards are great – but the process is nerve-wracking and lengthy.

That is the essence of the Counting of the Omer – nerve-wracking and length.  We are supposed to feel like we are in limbo and we are supposed to long for the end point – the festival of Shavuot.  Soon we will arrive at Sinai and our annual Shavuot service, this year a joint event with Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community.  It is a time to celebrate, receive and be joyous.  It is a time to put flowers in our hair and embrace summer and all its abundance.  We will read the ten commandments, learn about the book of Ruth and hold a cheesecake competition – a true sign that summer is here and the earth has provided.

Rabbi Anna Gerrard

Shavuoth Service with GLJC

We have just had our joint Shavuoth service with Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community, the first time we have had a formal joint activity for several years.

Seven members of HJC came along to the service in Up Hatherley, in a delightful small Village Hall which seems very suited to purpose. Shavuoth, as Rabbi Anna Gerard explained, is both a Spring harvest festival, and a day to mark the commemoration of the giving of the 10 Commandments, which were read out in the Torah piece. Following the Torah reading, members of HJC read sections of the book of Ruth in both Hebrew and English, followed by some interesting comment and discussion led by Mark Walton. Apart from the service, the highlight of the morning, of course, was the cheesecake competition, for which you had to taste all three cakes on offer in order to be able to vote for the winner. There are plans afoot for next year to have a GLJC Bake off competition, so are there any takers in HJC who feel up to the challenge? JB

Ruth’s Story – Comments by Angela West

HJCSHavuot

The Book of Ruth is not only about Ruth but also about Naomi – about the struggle for survival of these two women against hunger, loss and social isolation. Interpreters have in the past seen it as a lovely little story, a charming mini-novel. But isn’t this to trivialize it somewhat? More recently, some scholars have shown that it is not just narrative entertainment, but it has some theological axes to grind. In fact, it is part of a legal argument within the bible, with Ruth and Naomi having star parts in this drama.

When Naomi and her husband leave Bethlehem (which means the House of Bread) they have no bread – they are in the midst of a famine. In Moab, they are well received and their sons marry Moabite women. Then tragedy strikes Naomi. First her husband dies then both her sons. She’s utterly bereft and like Job she complains bitterly to God, but unlike Job, she doesn’t just complain or try to ‘sue God’.

But Naomi is not just an embittered old woman. She is resourceful and she and her loyal daughter-in-law come up with a cunning plan for survival which involves making use of two legal institutions current in Israelite society. One is levirate marriage: the obligation for a man to marry his brother’s wife, so as to provide for her and produce children that can preserve the family’s inheritance. The second is the custom of redemption, whereby when a particular family hits hard times and is threatened with destitution, a near relative has the moral obligation to buy up their land so that the family don’t lose it completely and become debt slaves.

So when Naomi identifies Boaz as ‘one of our redeeming kinsmen’ this is what she’s thinking of. And when Ruth, who goes even further than Naomi’s instructions and effectively proposes marriage to Boaz on the threshing floor, she’s linking these two legal institutions in a novel way. Boaz wasn’t actually her dead husband’s brother, but he was close enough to become a redeemer for her and Naomi. So in a sense, she is adapting these laws and bringing them up to date for her situation. And Boaz accepts her interpretation.

Of course, the scheme devised by Naomi and Ruth is actually a very daring one. If Boaz hadn’t been the decent sort of fellow that he clearly was, concerned to do right by the two widows, the older and the younger, it could all have backfired horribly for them.

And there is of course another very important strand in the story. Ruth is a foreigner: and in Deuteronomy 23 there is a verse which prohibits the acceptance of Moabites into the Israelite community. No welfare or benefits were to be extended to them! This is because according to that text, they had refused to show any hospitality to the Israelites on their journey from Egypt. Also in the Book of Nehemiah, when the Israelites had returned to Jerusalem after the exile, this condemnation is strongly reiterated by Ezra. He declares that there are to be no more mixed marriages.

So how then did Ruth and Boaz and Naomi get away with what they were doing, since it seems to be forbidden in Torah? One scholar has shown that the narrative of the Book of Ruth in effect counteracts the argument that the Moabites should be excluded because they were inhospitable to Israel. It does this by showing that Naomi and her hungry family were well treated when they emigrated to Moab. So now Boaz takes the lead in getting the community to accept this foreign born woman, who has shown such loyalty to her Judean mother-in-law and respect for the customs and laws of her people.

The elders and the people compare her to the matriarchs Rachel and Leah who ‘built up the House of Israel’: and indeed, according to the genealogy, Obed the son of Ruth and Boaz becomes the grandfather of King David. In the scriptures, the political history of Israel is told through family stories like this one.

And as Naomi holds her grandson in her arms, the women around her acknowledge that all her wretchedness and loss have at last been turned into blessing through the devotion of her daughter-in-law who, as they say ‘is better to you than seven sons’. All three of the main characters in this story show hesed in their actions, and thus demonstrate the loving-kindness of the God of Israel, who protects the rights of the disadvantaged, especially the widows and foreigners like Naomi and Ruth.

Anne Frank

AnneFrank

From the Jewish Women’s Archive:

On July 15, 1944, three weeks before the hiding place where she lived with her family and several others was discovered, Anne Frank wrote in her diary: “It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.” Anne Frank’s diary, particularly these sentences, became one of the central symbols of the Holocaust and of humanity faced with suffering: the strength of spirit that led a young girl to write such words after two years of imprisonment hidden in a small, crowded attic, decreed on her by senseless evil; and the opening which her words offer for a new era of hope and reconciliation after a world war that claimed tens of millions of victims. These words aroused great admiration for her diary and for the girl herself. Translated into more than fifty languages, the diary sold more than thirty million copies all over the world. Streets and squares, coins and stamps bear Anne’s name, along with prizes, conventions, exhibits, memorials, schools and youth institutions, to say nothing of films and plays that bring her diary to life, and thorough research of various kinds into her character and her diary, its translations and the different uses that have been made and still are being made of it.

Dinah Porat, Jewish Women’s Archive

Eva Schloss

EvaSchloss

On 3rd April, Cherry and I went to a talk entitled After Auschwitz: How can we bring more peace into the world today? given by Eva Schloss (nee Geringer), a Holocaust survivor, who was also hidden in Amsterdam for 2 years, before being discovered by the Gestapo. Eva spoke very powerfully and clearly about her experiences of living in Amsterdam and her subsequent arrest and experience in the camps.

Eva is the half sister of Anne Frank. They were born only a month apart, lived next door to one another in Amsterdam, and played together. They both fled the Nazis in their home countries (Anne Frank from

Frankfurt in Germany, and Eva from Vienna, Austria). Eva says
“We were not best friends but we were playmates, I was sporty, while Anne was interested in books and movies and stories which I sometimes listened to.”

After the war, the link between the two families became stronger when in 1953, Eva’s mother married Otto Frank, Anne’s father, thereby making them (posthumous) stepsisters.

The War years:

Eva was arrested in May 11th 1944 on the morning of her 15th birthday. She was taken to Westerbork transit camp and then days later, together with her family put on a train to Auschwitz. There, as reported

when they arrived, males and females were separated and Eva never saw her brother again. Eva’s mother ,Fritzi had the foresight to make Eva wear a long coat which made her look older than her 15 years, thus saving her from being directed straight to the gas chamber by the infamous Dr Josef Mengele who stood at the top of a ramp sizing up all the new arrivals’.

Eva survived 9 months in Auschwitz-Birkenau. After the war, Eva did not speak of her experiences, as like many Holocaust survivors she found this too traumatic, and also said that people did not want to hear those stories in the years after the war. In 1986 she was asked to say a few words about her past, at the opening of an Anne Frank exhibition in London, and the words began to pour out of her. Since then she has given talks constantly and feels better for having shared her story with so many people.

Having said that, her story was not easy to hear. The depths of the Polish winter, the stories of camp residents on work duty going out into the snow without shoes because they had been lost, or of the pitiful thin gruel that was called an evening meal that was all they were given to eat day after day – just simple facts of daily life in Auschwitz make your blood freeze.

After the War life for Eva was not easy, but Otto Frank was instrumental in helping her start a new life in London as a photographer, and gave her the Leica camera with which he had taken the iconic shots of Anne, which are now familiar the world over.

In 1999 Eva Schloss joined United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan signing the Anne Frank Peace Declaration, along with a niece of Raul Wallenberg, a man who also rescued thousands of Jews in Budapest.  Eva joins many courageous individuals who work tirelessly to end the violence and bigotry that continue to plague our world. 

Sources: http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/389709/Eva-Schloss-Anne-Frank-was-my-good-friend

https://www.alternatives.org.uk/event/after-auschwitz-how-can-we-bring-more-peace-world-today

Book reviews

HJCPsalms

For thou art with me: the healing power of Psalms by Rabbi Samuel Chiel and Henry Dreher, Rodale Books, 2000. The Psalms are a traditional Jewish source for times of hardship, this is a selection of 15 psalms excerpted to include verses that relate to healing, recovery and faith in God in the midst of crisis. I write this on the day we took part in a minute’s silence for those obliterated in Manchester and our flag flies at half mast. This book has prayers for healing, spiritual coping, acceptance and recovery. Many of us who have been bereaved have learnt the 5 stages of mourning, we hope to come eventually to acceptance. There was once a book produced by Lily Montagu and Rudi Brasch called A little book of comfort: for Jewish people in time of sorrow, published in 1948 and I think this book of Psalms is part of that tradition of readings and spiritual passages. Sources and examples are widespread, Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Heschel for example. It is more about illness than sudden catastrophe but the reminder to treasure each day and to share our burdens with the Eternal One are always worthwhile. I recommend this book to anyone who is in need of healing, and to anyone who wonders where God is in all of the bad things that happen in the world. The chapters are short and meaningful, the prayers can stay with us always.

Blue Horizons, Blue Heaven, Bolts from the Blue by Rabbi Lionel Blue, Coronet Books, 1987, 1988, 1990.

HJCBlue

These are just 3 of my books by the esteemed Reform Rabbi Lionel Blue z’l and they consist of short pieces on many everyday subjects, getting up in the morning, food, travel, religious holidays, politicians as well as faith, often found in unexpected places. For a good number of years Rabbi Blue had the God slot on radio 4’s Thought for the Day and tried to cheer people up and give us the strength to face the day. Families are frequent concerns, jokes and recipes abound in his work. These are pieces on finding and recognising true religion in ordinary life, true goodness and a hearty dose of common sense. In one way they are an easy read, in another they have profound messages, so they are easy and worthwhile to dip into and to seek out.

All available from usual online sources.

You will not have my hate by Antoine Leiris, Harvill Secker, 2016  

This is about the Bataclan attacks, from the point of view of one of those waiting for a loved one to come home, and then finding she will never come home.  It is very clear about how hard it is to go on, even to tell his infant son, and how the community rallied round, though not always in the most helpful ways. He refuses to live a life of hatred and remorse or allow his son to grow up in such an atmosphere. Deeply moving, very direct and personal, ultimately hopeful. This is one of those stories of what goes on when the cameras have moved away, that is well worth while reading, though not an easy read emotionally. 

(Available from Herefordshire Libraries)

Alison Turner

Film Review

Ida

HJCIda

This a sometimes bleak, but never the less intriguing tale of Ida, a young Polish novitiate, about to take her Vows to become a Nun, who suddenly finds out she is Jewish and that her parents were murdered during the Second World War. Set in 1962 in a grey Communist Poland, and shot in black and white, it is a both an insight into the Poland which many of our ancestors may have come from, and also contains stories of Poland’s more recent history.

For me the strength of the film comes from the relationship between Ida and her Aunt Wanda, who could not be more different in character, but who together set out on a journey, both geographical and emotional, to find out the truth about Ida’s parents’ murders. Wanda is a chain smoking, hard drinking lover of all the indulgences that life has to offer, but who, at the same time, has had a high profile career as a State prosecutor on early post war Poland. It is an almost surreal journey, but reality is always stranger than fiction, and it feels there is both truth and story mixed together in this film.

Detailed review can be found here: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/02/movies/ida-about-an-excavation-of-truth-in-postwar-poland.html?_r=0

Julian Brown

Forthcoming Events

Anne Frank Interfaith Service – Saturday 10th June 2017, Saxon Hall Hereford. We are hoping to have representatives of other faiths present at this service which will be led this year by Rabbi Anna Gerrard.  The Mayor of Hereford has accepted an invitation to attend, along with the canon of Hereford Cathedral. Please come along to support this special event in our calendar.

Shabbat Service with Rabbi Margaret Jacobi, Saturday 22nd July, Colwall Village Hall.

Deadline for next newsletter will be 22nd July 2017

Note that I have changed the deadline for the next edition to fit with when contributions usually arrive, but note this is a Deadline, and if you miss this date, I cannot guarantee your contribution will be included.

Please send in contributions in WORD or pdf format if possible, but articles sent in by post are also welcome. In general, contributions should be no longer than 500 – 750 words, but longer contributions may be included if appropriate. Pictures also welcome, but please try to keep image sizes small and below 500KB for newsletter inclusion. All contributions are welcome but depending on format and content, the editor reserves the right to edit or hold over to a future edition if needed.

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Saturday 10th June Ann Frank service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard – open to other faiths 11 a.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE
Sunday 18th June Film Session – Ushpezin, and Tea 4 p.m. Belmont Community Centre, Eastholme Avenue, Hereford HR2 7UQ
Saturday 22nd July Shabbat Service led by Rabbi Margaret Jacobi 11 a.m. Ale House, Mill Lane, Colwall,

Herefordshire WR13 6HE

High Holyday Dates

Wednesday 20th September Erev Rosh Hashanah Service and Gathering t.b.c. Home of Eva Mendelsson. Details in next newsletter.
Thursday 21st Sept Rosh Hashanah Morning service – GLJC t.b.c. t.b.c.
Friday 29th Sept Kol Nidre

Sat 30th Sept Yom Kippur

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

Email Chair
hjc@liberaljudaism.org Mark Walton

mark.walton@bridgescentre.org.uk

Tel: 01594 530721 (after 6pm or weekends)

Liberal Judaism Liberal Judaism Resource Bank
Our parent body

Home

 

resources for all http://ljresourcebank.org/
   
   

Newsletter December 2016/January 2017

Editorial

We are at a quieter time in the Jewish calendar, following all the intensity and excitement of the High Holydays, and in the month leading up to Chanukah, which after all is a minor festival in the Jewish calendar, though in practice it may be one of the most widely celebrated, due to possibly to its proximity to Christmas, but also the delight of the Chanukah candles and the enticement of latkes and anything fried and sweet. As we have discussed many times before, the origins of Chanukah, both military and religious may have been distorted over time, but as with so many Jewish Festivals, it is the message that is contained in our practice and tradition, as well as our current interpretation that makes it have meaning for us – the spirit of courage and defiance embodied by the Maccabees, may remind us that, despite the odds, it is always worth fighting for what we believe in, and the traditional story of the Chanukah lights, the Rabbis tell us, reminds us to have faith, and realise that spiritual help can be at hand. We need to remember in our current times, that both these elements may be a necessary part of our lives.

In this edition:

Chair Chat Hebrew Groups Opinion

Visit to Jewish Museum Leo Baeck College 60th anniversary

Book Review Amos Oz – Judas

CHAIR CHAT

Simchat Torah at Bridges

It was a particular pleasure to welcome back Rabbi Anna after her adoption leave and it was great that she brought her son, Joshua, to join the service with us.  Many thanks to Joe and Mary Walton for the klezmer music which got everyone dancing in traditional fashion.

Lech Lecha at Colwall

This is the Shabbat when Leo Baeck College send their rabbinic students out to far flung congregations.   We were delighted that student Rabbi Igor Zinkov was again asked to lead the lead the service for us.   His beautiful voice enriched the service and he gave a very thoughtful sermon.  It was a particularly cold day and unfortunately not a great turn out but Igor said he would be happy to visit us again.

Eva Mendelsohn

We are very pleased to welcome Eva as a member of our community.   Eva has recently moved from North London to Ross and from one of the biggest Jewish communities in the country (Alyth Gardens Shul with over 3,000 members) to one of the smallest.   She has already entered enthusiastically into our activities.

Chanukah Party

We look forward to welcoming everyone to our Chanukah party on Thursday December 29 at Saxon Hall, Hereford at 4 p.m.   I am sure Rabbi Anna will come up with interesting and innovative activities to keep us entertained.  Last year it was Chanukiah making, this year ….?

Opinion – Editor

As a council, HJC have worked hard this year to be creative and imaginative with our services and events. We have had a successful Friday evening Chavurah meal, an enjoyable and stimulating Rosh Hashanah gathering, and as always, an interesting and musical Simchat Torah service. We also recently had a Shabbat service, beautifully led by student Rabbi Igor Zinkov, so clearly we are doing something right.

However, I’m also aware that our Shabbat services, perhaps just by chance, are less frequent right now: we had one in September, one in November, and our next one is planned for late January. It may simply be a feeling of tradition, but my sense is that for a small community like ours, Shabbat services need to be held once a month if we are to keep together our continuity as a community and also keep us connected with our Jewish spiritual roots. We recognise that being a far-flung liberal community, not every member is able to, or wants to attend a Shabbat service and we need to be sure we also include Friday evening events in our calendar for those who are committed on Saturday mornings. However, this is something for us to think about, and I would be interested to hear others’ views on this. Perhaps it’s time for us to have a community survey to gather together ideas on what we really do want as a community.

However, we do have our regular Hebrew groups and there are always other activities HJC members are involved in such as educational and interfaith work, as well as attendance at services and meetings other than our own. This can also include in these days, participating by live streaming of Shabbat services on a computer, or of course reading talks and comments by other Rabbis on the web, so we are not as isolated as we may think.

In Britain, it’s easy to take for granted our choice in being part of Liberal Judaism. This is not such an easy choice in Israel, where recently a reform Synagogue was graffiti attacked by right-wing Jewish religious extremists, who resist any moves towards more equal and egalitarian services. Perhaps we at least owe ourselves in our community the chance to celebrate and honour our responsibilities, as far as we are able to.

JB

Report on the Service of Celebration

for the 60th Anniversary of Leo Baeck College

6th November 2016 at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St. John’s Wood.

I received an invitation to this event (probably because I am on their weekly D’var Torah mailing list) and as I happened to be in London that weekend, I decided to attend. LBC was founded by Werner van der Zyl, z”l and named for his distinguished teacher Rabbi Dr. Leo Baeck, z”l (who survived internment in Theresienstadt during the Shoah). It played a significant role in the revival of Judaism and Jewish communities in continental Europe after the devastation of the Second World War. In these sixty years, LBC has ordained over 180 rabbis and 90 educators, who have gone on to serve not only in UK but in Progressive communities worldwide, including Europe, the former Soviet Union, the US, Australia, South Africa, Israel and beyond.

The service was conducted by Rabbi Dr. Charles Middleburgh, the address given by the current principal, Rabbi Dr. Deborah Kahn-Harris. I noticed several faces that I knew from Bible Week – and also noted that one of the three people doing the music for the occasion was student rabbi Igor Zinkov who, as I happened to know, had been leading the service for HJC the day before! HJC was also represented by Alison Turner who was there too.

The Closing Blessing was delivered by Rabbi Professor Jonathan Magonet, a former principal of the college, and someone else I know from Bible Week as he is the leading light of that event. He took the opportunity of dedicating the honour of the blessing to Rabbi Lionel Blue, his friend, colleague and collaborator of many years, who had been one of the first two graduates of LBC in 1958. R. Lionel was actually present at the service, in his wheelchair with his carer, but no doubt too frail to speak up on this occasion in his unique and famously witty way.

I was accompanied to the service by my husband Roger, and as the Roll of Honour was being read out (which mentioned all the names of the deceased friends and patrons of the college and its work) we were startled to hear the name of Gordian Marshall included in this list. Fr. Gordian had been a friend and confrere of Roger in the Dominican Order to which both had belonged, and he had contributed on several occasions to the work of the Peace Preaching course which we were running at the time. He was one of only very few Catholics at that time who took seriously the new approach to Jewish Christian relations which the Church had called for in the Vatican document Nostra Aetate issued in 1964. He was deeply committed to interfaith dialogue, and had been a well-respected participant at some of the early sessions of Bible Week at Bendorf. We were very moved to hear him honoured in this way.

Angela West

Visit to Jewish Museum, Camden Town

Cherry and I decided to visit the Jewish Museum in order to see the photographic exhibition on Scottish Jewry, as Cherry is of Scottish Jewish ancestry. While we did not see any of Cherry’s relatives, we did see some Scottish Jews in unusual settings – working at a whisky distillery, herding sheep in the Highlands, and baking Challah on Yell in Shetland, as well of course, as seeing the inevitable Glasgow delicatessen.

Testing the Whisky

The exhibition was slightly frustrating as the photos were on a time limited electronic display, with no captions, so by the time you’d look up the details of the photo in the Exhibition Guide, the photo had disappeared! Not very well thought through.

Much better though, was the ceramic exhibition which was also much larger, and showing the work of a variety of Jewish potters who had each had interesting journeys, geographical, spiritual and emotional. The most moving and also beautiful piece was a re-casting of a small selection of some of the shoes you may often have seen in Holocaust exhibitions. These had been made with such care and with magical colour glazes, that it brought out the positive, in something which is so often seen as a dark reminder of our past.

Mitzvah Day, North London

Cherry happened to be in Golders Green on Mitzvah day, where it seemed Supermarkets were having a special place for donations of food to Foodbanks for Mitzvah day. A worthwhile action, but as Cherry comments, something they need to do each day or week, and not just once in a while.

Hebrew Groups

Hebrew groups have been meeting monthly in both Malvern and Monmouth. As well as doing some of the basics and encouraging beginning Hebrew readers to build their confidence, we have also been studying Torah text, which has been a cooperative effort between all those involved, both teachers and students. It is exciting to realise that to some degree, we are able to translate and make sense of Torah text and this leads us into some interesting debate. On the last occasion, we studied the story of the tower of Babel, which seems very appropriate for those of us struggling to communicate in an unfamiliar language.

On the downside, we have not always had attendance by all group members, and this leads us to the question of whether Hebrew groups are sustainable if we really want to make progress. Once a month is a minimum for maintaining some progress. Now is also an opportunity for members of the community who would like to join one of these groups to let us know, as we need to make the most of the sessions we do have.

JB

Members Welfare

Judith Labelter: Judith is still in hospital in Worcester and we wish her a good recovery. David Labelter has been making daily visits to see her, as well as looking after himself and their dog, so we also wish him support over this time. No visitors, but if anyone would like to send Judith a card, please send to her home address, available from Mark on 01594 530721 after 6pm or by email from hjc@liberaljudaism.org 

Book review – Amos Oz – Judas

I have not yet finished reading this book, but can tell you that it is both absorbing and interesting. Judas has recently been published in the UK, and Amos Oz is a renowned Israeli author who has written an inspiring and perhaps controversial book which explores Judaism’s relationship with Christianity, as well as dipping into many of the themes relating to the founding of the State of Israel. The book is also a novel about a young man called Shmuel Ash, set in Jerusalem in the winter of 1959 to 1960. Ash, a young man unsure of his purpose, finds himself invited to stay in an isolated house on the edge of the city, in order to keep entertained an old man who has much to say on many diverse topics. There is also a mysterious woman in the house, who we learn is the daughter in law of the old man, to add to the mix of unusual characters. However, the most important element of Oz’s writing is the infinite detail in which he describes characters and places which immediately takes you right to the heart of his subject. You cannot but help feeling you are there in the chilly room that Shmuel Ash inhabits, or the wild and wet streets of old Jerusalem. Amos Oz is not always easy reading but there is much in this book both to make you think, and also for pure enjoyment in his writing and storytelling.

Forthcoming Events

HJC Services

Our next service/event will be the Chanukah party on Thursday 29th of December at Saxon Hall which Rabbi Anna Gerrard will be leading. Please bring contributions of food for tea. Anything fried such as Chanukah donuts or latkes especially welcome – and remember to bring your own Chanukias so we can all light candles together.

Hebrew groups

Monmouth – Tuesday 13th December 4 p.m. Bridges Centre.

Malvern – t.b.c.

Shabbat service Saturday 21st January, Jean Simon Room, Colwall Village Hall, led by Julian & Cherry. Location details in events calendar. Weekly Parasha – Shemot/Exodus – the story of the Jews in Egypt. This will also give us plenty to focus on for our next Hebrew groups.

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 January 2017

Please send in contributions in WORD or pdf format if possible, but articles sent in by post are also welcome. In general contributions should be no longer than 500 – 750 wds, but longer contributions may be included if appropriate. Pictures also welcome, but please try to keep image sizes small and below 1 Mb. All contributions are welcome but depending on format, the editor reserves the right to edit or hold over to a future edition if needed.

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Thursday 29th December Chanukah Party led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard 4.00 p.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE
Saturday 21st January 2017 Shabbat service led by Julian & Cherry 11.00 a.m. Meeting Room, Colwall Village Hall, Mill Lane, Colwall, WR13 6EQ (note this is not Colwall Ale House)
Saturday 11th February Tu B’Shvat Seder Tea – led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard 4 p.m. Burgage Hall, Church Lane, Ledbury HR8 1DW
Saturday 11th March Purim Shabbat service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard 11.00 a.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford HR2 6HE
Wed 12th April Passover Seder meal 6.30 p.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

 

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

To contact us please email hjc@liberaljudaism.org or phone Mark Walton on 01594 530721 after 6pm. 

 

Playing the ghost of Maimonides in Ledbury along with Job the Musical.

There will be an event on Sunday 3 July as part of Ledbury Poetry Festival in which John Agard will be reading from his newly published collection Playing the Ghost of Maimonides in which a medieval Rabbi and Jester cast their eye on the contemporary world. Grace Nicholls will also read from her soon to be published collection The insomnia poems a multi-layered journey into the realms of sleep and no-sleep.

This is at Burgage Hall, Sunday 3 July 12.45pm-1.45pm. £9, to book call the box office on 01531 636232

Further information poetry-festival.co.uk

Rock’n’Roll! Death! Theology! In the tradition of musicals based on Biblical characters beginning with the letter J, Ledbury Poetry Festival also presents The Book of Job the Musical on Saturday 9 July, 5.30pm-7.30pm with an interval, at the Market Theatre. £9, to book call the box office on 01531 636232

This is Simon Indelicate’s threadbare epic about a nasty rash of many colours. Will Job, perfect man of the east, curse God to his face? Will Satan, dashing angel with a dark side, win his bet? Does God really, as Karl Jung states “not care a button for any moral opinion nor recognise any form of ethics as binding”? Find out here!

Further information poetry-festival.co.uk

 

Interfaith event Leominster

Herefordshire Interfaith Forum is having a Face to Faith event on Tue 5 July 7-9pm at Leominster Methodist Church, Green Lane, Leominister HR6 8QJ

You are warmly invited to an informal evening to celebrate the different faith communities in Herefordshire. Learn about our different faiths through friendship, conversation, readings and music. Light refreshments.

For further details contact Frances Biseker 01568 612406

HJC should have a table with artefacts and prayer shawls to show people what sorts of things we do. Yes, we have been invited to bring fruit or vegetarian finger food to share and of course we will, eating together is an important part of what HJC does.

Herefordshire Jewish Community Newsletter June/July 2016

Editorial

Despite times when we may feel unsure where our community is going, it also feels as if we there are many positive currents which help keep our community alive and well. You can read in Chair Chat about successful events during the past year, and with new members on our Council, we look forward to planning an exciting programme for the coming year. In this edition you can read about the new Hebrew groups we have started, and also about events beyond Herefordshire. July will see the first West Midlands Limmud gathering in Birmingham, and if you have not attended one of these events before, it is a worthwhile venture.

Note that HJC subscriptions are now due, and forms are in the next post on this site. We still believe we offer excellent value for money, so please get your subscriptions in on time.

Julian Brown

In this edition:

Chair Chat Charities Mystery Photo Hebrew groups El Al flight story Subscriptions Form Chavurah Supper

CHAIR CHAT April 2016

AGM

The Trumpet Inn again proved to be an excellent location for our AGM.    Sunday lunch is obviously the answer to getting people to come!   We didn’t have quite as many people as came last year but we still had a good “minyan”.    I mentioned in my report what was probably the highlight of the year, the Ann Frank service at Saxon Hall in June 2015 which proved to be a very inspiring occasion, wonderfully stage managed by Rabbis Anna and Danny Rich.  We hope this year’s service (see below) will be equally special.   I also mentioned the moving rededication service of our headstones at Hereford cemetery led by Julian which was a fitting reminder of former members and friends.    I am very pleased that we used some of our funds to enable the tombstones to be repaired.   Our financial position and membership remains fairly stable and I am very grateful to Alison for taking over the reins as Treasurer at very short notice.  We chose two charities for our High Holyday collections this year.   Combat Stress is a mental welfare society in the UK that helps ex-service personnel suffering from psychological injuries and mental health problems. They have a presence in Hereford.   And our old friends, the Charles Clore Centre in  Acre which does such valuable inter-communal work (see article below).   I hope you will all give generously to two such worthy charities.    Finally, I am delighted that Helen Dubovie has agreed to join us on the Council and, subsequently, our new member from Hereford, Ann Levy, will also join us.  

SEDER

We held our first Seder at the Saxon Hall this year and found it a much more amenable setting than the church hall in Belmont.    Cherry bravely took on the catering, ably assisted by Helen Dubovie and two very helpful ladies from Saxon Hall who helped to serve.    I think the readings had an added resonance this year with the wave of migration to Europe very much mirroring the way many of us arrived in this country and our past history.    We had an excellent meal with benching done in traditional style by  Jonathan and a good sing song at the end.    What could be better?   An excellent Seder all round.

 

HEBREW LESSONS ARE GOOD FOR THE BRAIN – OFFICIAL

I’m really pleased that these have got off the ground this year with great credit to Julian and Cherry for their hard work and flexibility.   Learning (or improving your skills at) a new language helps to stave off Alzheimer’s – Angela Rippon said so in a recent BBC documentary, so it must be true.  I’m hoping so, anyway.

ANNE FRANK SERVICE, SATURDAY JUNE 11.

Please make every effort to attend this one.   Rabbi Andrew Goldstein, President of Liberal Judaism (and father of our good friend, Rabbi Aaron Goldstein), is coming from London especially for this service to which we have also invited other faith and civic leaders – so we need a good showing from our side!     Andrew is going to lead a study session on the inspiring story of Ruth at 10 a.m. as an added extra, and he is going to preach on “Two sad but inspiring trees,”  the Anne Frank tree that had to be cut down and its daughters….and a tree in Terezin that had the same fate…..symbols of renewal after destruction.

This should be a very special and interesting service.

Mark Walton

 

Charities

As mentioned in Chair Chat, our two charities for this year are: Combat Stress and the Charles Clore community Centre in Akko.

Combat Stress is the UK’s leading Veterans’ mental health charity. Mental ill-health affects ex-Service men and women of all ages. Right now, we’re supporting over 5,900 Veterans aged from 19 to 97. We’re a vital lifeline for these men and women, and their families. Our treatment and support services are always free of charge, and are proven to work.’

For more info, see: https://www.combatstress.org.uk/

Sir Charles Clore Jewish Arab Community centre, Akko. Latest letter from them below. Note we will be making a community donation to them in due course, but if anyone would like to make an individual donation in the meantime, you can see what it will be used for.

My Dear Friends,

Some of you know of Larine and Leah-Sara, two little girls who became friends through the ballet class they attend together at The Sir Charles Clore Jewish-Arab Community Centre in Akko.   It’s the most natural thing in the world for Larine and Leah-Sara to be counting the days till the start of their first ever Summer Camp in July – to spend 15 full days playing, swimming, making music and art and even going on outings together.  What they don’t realise is how unusual their experience is in this part of the world – a Muslim Arab and an observant Jew at the same summer camp.   

I’d like to offer you the opportunity to sponsor one or more children to attend the Centre’s Arab-Jewish Summer Camp this July.  Your generosity will enable us to include up to 200 children (most are low-income).  Each place costs the Centre around £100 ($150).  The camp provides activities for Arab and Jewish children most of whom, without this chance, will not leave the sweltering streets of Akko the entire summer.  For these three weeks at least, let them be safe, be happy and be together.

We wish to thank your ongoing support for our Centre, be it by one-off or monthly gifts. I hope you will wish to make even more of a difference through your sponsorship.

 To sponsor, please visit our website donation page http://ajcenter.org.il/donate/ where you can make your gift online or through our conduits in the UK (FPJ).We would be grateful if you would let us know about your sponsorship so that we are aware of the number of children that we can accommodate.

 Many thanks in anticipation for your continued support

 Mohammad Fahili – Director 

Sir Charles Clore Jewish-Arab Community Center www.ajcenter.org.il

Hebrew Groups

We now have two Hebrew groups up and running, one in Malvern and one in Monmouth, and we may yet a get a third group going in Hereford, but that would need a different teacher, or simply be a peer led group supporting work learners do in the other two groups. We were up to maximum capacity in Cherry & Julian’s house on 24th May with five learners and two teachers. The Monmouth group had four learners, two working on prayer book Hebrew, one working on beginning reading, and one on Torah Hebrew, but all areas interlink. There is also an interest in some Modern Hebrew, so it’s a journey of exploration. Both groups have worked consistently on getting to grips with the Hebrew alphabet, which is not simply learning 22 letters, but learning about final letters, letters with and without dots, letters that look similar but have different sounds, and letters that have the same sound but look different. All that before you even begin to work with vowels. However, several of our beginner learners are already reading simple words or made up words, so we are making progress, and having fun at the same time.

We have agreed a small charge for each group to cover expenses, but these still need to be reviewed, as these may be different between the Malvern and Monmouth groups. Some learners have already bought their own books, and we have some books on order for the group. The most popular seems to be Alef Bet for Adults, by Paul Yedwab and Howard Bogot. Books can be bought from Janet Elf at the Jewish Book service, or also via the web.

Julian Brown

Herefordshire Interfaith Activities

We agreed at the AGM that we would like to do more interfaith work in the coming year, especially in the context of current reports in the media about anti-Semitism, but this is often difficult to organise for our small community. Cherry Wolfe will be running a session for special needs pupils at a school in Hereford in June, and we also have our Anne Frank service to follow, to which other faith representatives are being invited, so we will see what else we can plan over the coming year.

Community News

We now have two new members on Council, Helen Dubovie, and Anne Levy. We very much look forward to working with them, and planning an exciting programme of events for next year.

Chavurah Supper

We are planning hold our first Chavurah supper on Friday evening 8 July in Malvern. This will be a chance to share a meal with members of the community together with Friday evening music and readings to mark the start of Shabbat. If you would like to come along, please contact Cherry Wolfe, so we can know likely numbers, and plan food.

Gender Discrimination on El Al Flight?

Renee Rabinowitz, an 81 year old retired lawyer and holocaust survivor was recently interviewed by Eddie Mair on Radio 4’s PM programme. Cherry Wolfe heard the broadcast, and this was her response:

What made you listen to this story? I’d read about it in the newspaper, and as a regular visitor to Israel on many El Al flights, I was curious about what happened.

I’m told that the woman in question was asked to change her seat. Why was this? She initially thought she was being offered an upgrade, and then realised that was not the case. She’d been asked because the orthodox man next to her had asked not to sit next to a woman. Being observant herself, she had a conversation with him in which he agreed there was nothing in the Torah that forbids men to sit next to women. BUT, he also said ‘there are verses in the Torah which have been interpreted to show that men should not socialise with women.

What happened in the end? After returning home, Renee went to a talk by Anat Hoffman of the Israel religious Action Centre (IRAC) and decided she could take out a lawsuit against El Al in order to illustrate what she felt was unlawful discrimination.

You can hear her story in the BBC podcast at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03v1tty

 

Forthcoming Events

Limmud Birmingham WM 2016 – Sunday 10th July 2016!

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham B15 2TH

Where else can you learn…

  • about the work of Janusz Korczak?

  • study Megillat Esther as a literary text.

  • hear a first-hand description of the situation in Europe’s refugee camps.

  • watch a film about Ethiopian Jewry.

  • discuss the future of our community.

    gain insights into the current situation in the Middle East

    and meet people from the West Midlands and beyond you never knew shared your interests.

  • What can I expect on the day?

    • Registration is at 9.00am, first session starting at 10:00am and finishing around 5:00pm.

    • Choice of 5 or 6 sessions in each slot – no need to book the session, just choose and show up.

    • Kosher lunch, suitable for vegetarians, and all day refreshments

    • A chance to find out more the delights of Birmingham and the Jewish communities in the West Midlands

    Early bird offer of £35 per person, ends on Thursday 9th June.

    Tickets increase to £40 per person from Friday 10th June.

    For further information or any queries please email our team atbirminghamwm@limmud.org. Or, call the Limmud office on 020 3115 1620.

     

    If you are interested in going and need a lift, please contact Mark Walton

    LJ Biennial – 7 p.m. Friday 1st July – 4 p.m. Sunday 3rd July, St John’s Hotel, Solihull

    It’s still not too late to apply for the LJ Biennial, Liberal Judaism’s biggest event. It would be good if any other HJC member wanted to attend.

    Book now online, in order to secure your place, by following the link http://tinyurl.com/bien2016 or for more information call Aaron at the Montagu Centre on 020 7631 9830

    The rate is per person and includes accommodation, all meals and materials. All delegates will receive complimentary access to the hotel’s health club, swimming pool and spa. Day attendance bookings are also available.

    LJ Biennial Community Task.

    We have been asked as a Community to create a Tallith based around the Hashkivenu Prayer:

    We have asked Rosalie Tobe if she is prepared to work on this on our behalf, and the Tallith can then be sent to LJ in time for the Biennial. However we all feel that this is a ‘big ask’ before the Biennial, and it may have to be a task for the forthcoming year!

     

    Subscriptions

    Membership subscriptions are now due for the next financial year. Rates are unchanged from last year, at £55 per adult individual – still we think the lowest for any LJ community in the country. Please complete membership form attached and send to Alison Turner no later than 30 June 2016.

    Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 July 2016

    Please send in contributions in WORD or pdf format if possible, but articles sent in by post are also welcome. In general contributions should be no longer than 500 – 750 words, but longer contributions may be included if appropriate. Pictures also welcome, but please try to keep image sizes small and below 1 Mb. All contributions are welcome but depending on format, the editor reserves the right to edit or hold over to a future edition if needed.

    Calendar of  HJC events

  • Saturday 11 June Study Session on Book of Ruth – led by Rabbi Andrew Goldstein 10 a.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE
  • Saturday 11 June Anne Frank Day Service led by Rabbi Andrew Goldstein 11 a.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE
  • Friday 15th July Friday Evening Chavurah Supper at Cherry & Julian’s house, Malvern – Bring & share meal. Contact Cherry for details. 7 p.m
  • .
  • Saturday 3rd/10th September Shabbat Service date and place t.b.c.
  •  

    Sunday 2nd October Erev Rosh Hashanah Celebration meal and Readings 6.30 p.m. Burgage Hall. Ledbury

    Other events of interest

  • July 1st – 3rd Liberal Judaism Biennial Conference 4 p.m. start St John’s Hotel, Solihull
  • July 10th Birmingham West Midlands Day Limmud 10.00 a.m. – 6 p.m. Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham
  •  Oct 3rd Rosh Hashanah Service – GLJC t.b.c.  details in next newsletter.
  •  October 11th/12th Yom Kippur – no HJC Services. Members welcome to attend GLJC Services :
  • Kol Nidre Oct 11th
  • Day services Oct 12th date and place t.b.c. GLJC _ details in next newsletter.

Purim Concert in Birmingham, 22 March

Birmingham Progressive Synagogue and West Midlands Friends of Israel

Come and join us for a fun and festive evening featuring the

Leo Baeck “Big Band” Youth Orchestra in Concert

with musicians and vocalists from the

Leo Baeck Education Centre, Haifa, Israel

performing a Purim medley, jazz, classical, and popular selections

Tuesday, 22nd March 2016

7:00 p.m. at

Birmingham Progressive Synagogue

1 Roseland Way

Birmingham, B15 1HD West Midlands

Tickets £10 adults, £5 under-18s

available in advance from Birmingham Progressive Synagogue, office@bpsjudaism.com

0121 634 3888

HJC Newsletter February/March 2016 – Purim Edition

Editorial

Firstly, apologies for the lateness of this newsletter. Cherry and I both returned from a visit to Israel in January with a ‘flu bug which has taken us some time to recover from. The weather in Israel at this time of the year is not altogether Mediterranean! We include some comments on our trip in this newsletter, and it sounds as if we missed an interesting Shabbat service while we were away.

This edition contains a combination of more local news but also some from France and Israel. In Israel, while there are always negative actions by the Government, this past week sees the decision to create an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall, which is a brave move by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and must be applauded. While this may not directly affect many of us here, it is a significant step forward in inclusiveness, which has not been without its strong critics within the Israeli Government. As Liberal Jews we need to support any moves to more openness and acceptance of different perspectives, both religious and cultural, in the Middle East and also here in Herefordshire with our interfaith work – See details of events in calendar.

Julian Brown

In this edition: Chair Chat        Jerusalem Round up          Burns night in Jerusalem

                         Interfaith story          Community Matters                 Hebrew Learning

CHAIR CHAT JANUARY 2016

1. RABBI ANNA

As usual, Anna came up with something different and entertaining for our Chanukah party. This time it was a competition to construct a menorah from the materials provided. Quite a challenge for the butter fingered but great fun. 

Our last service with Anna before she begins her adoption leave was on January 23 at Colwall. We had a good attendance on a cold day and an interesting discussion on the nature of prayer, particularly in the light of the proposed new LJ prayer book. Anna told us that she is shortly to adopt Josh (5 years old) and we look forward to welcoming him to our services in the future. We wish her all the best of luck with this exciting challenge and look forward to welcoming her back in September.

2. FUTURE SERVICES

While Anna is on leave, we have arranged for some visiting Rabbis to take our services. On Saturday February 27, our old friend, Rabbi Margaret Jacobi from Birmingham, will be leading the service at Colwall. On Friday March 11, Rabbi Alexandra Wright, the senior Rabbi at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London, will take our Friday night service at Saxon Hall in Hereford. Many thanks to Gloucestershire Jewish Community and the LJS for facilitating this. Apparently, Alexandra is going to cycle between Hereford and Gloucester to take the Saturday morning service there – we shall see! Finally, we are honoured that the President of Liberal Judaism, Rabbi Andrew Goldstein, will take our service at Saxon Hall on Saturday June 11, to mark Anne Frank Day and a year since we planted the tree in front of the centre. It will also be erev Shavuot and Andrew has offered an additional study session.

3. SHUL CRAWL – YORK

I have a strong affinity with York, having spent over 6 years as a student there where I met Mary and got married, and my mother in law and brother in law have now settled there. I noted the recent growth of a new liberal Jewish group there with interest and on my last visit to the city managed to attend a service. They meet in the Friends Meeting House in the shadow of Cliffords Tower, notorious for the massacre of Jews in 1190. I was immediately struck by the vitality and inclusivity of the community. There were over 30 people at the service but I was told there are normally more than 50. The service was led by a very lively and charismatic student Rabbi, Daniel Lichman, who obviously had a great rapport with the community. With many children in the community, they are able to run a cheder and also have regular Hebrew lessons before the service (a model for us?). It was a great pleasure for me to meet there Josephine Woolfson, one of our founder members, who frequently comes over from Leeds to support her York based daughter. I can’t comment on the quality of the kiddush or the chavurah lunch they were having after the service as I had no time to stay but it looked and smelt good! I will certainly go again next time I am in York.

4. TEA ROTA

As our Council is now severely depleted, offers to make (and wash up) tea and coffee at services would be gratefully received. This would include bringing fresh milk to the service. Please let Julian, Cherry, Alison or myself know if you are willing to help on a rota basis. It will be one less thing we have to worry about!

5. IS SANTA JEWISH?

Totally unseasonal, I know, but glancing through December copies of the JC (courtesy of David L.). I chanced on the following.
Given the JC’s penchant for trying to establish Jewish lineage for celebrities such as Kate Middleton, David Beckham, Ben Cohen (rugby player) or George Cohen (footballer),  a letter offered 10 reasons why Santa is really Jewish.
“He wears a funny beard and hat.  Is always overdressed. Like traditions.  Is the centre of attention.  Loves kids.  Is his own boss – and has a lot of personnel.
Has a great sense of humour.  Is a regular at Brent Cross.  A self made career.  Always prefers reindeers over a car on Shabbat.  Obviously this can only mean one thing …Le’chaim Santa.”

Mark Walton

Jerusalem Round up

Whenever I return from a visit to Jerusalem, I feel that the sheer variety of backgrounds – cultural, architectural, social and religious, is probably unique in such a small city. In how many cities can you go from a narrow streeted world of Charedi Jews living in such a cloistered environment, where even normal Western dress feels very out of place, and then within no more than 10 minutes’ walk in another direction, you find yourself almost in another country, where women are dressed in black from head to toe, yet go about their business perfectly normally, where Palestinian men drink Turkish coffee, and Arabic instead of Yiddish is the norm? Here, over what was once the Green line between East and West Jerusalem, there is an educational bookshop crammed full of scholarly works, all exploring the Israeli-Palestinian situation, from the Palestinian side. Back in the Bokharan quarter (one of many ultra-religious areas of the city) even any references to modern day society or culture feels out of place, as everything turns around religious law, ritual and custom.

On a fairly sunny morning on our first day in Jerusalem, we sat in a café in the main Machaneh Yehudah market (shuk) talking to a young man in his mid thirties. He had grown up in the Charedi community in B’nei Barak, but from his mid-teens somehow felt this was not right for him, and eventually he left the community, which is no small step to take if you are Charedi.. Amazingly, he is still on good terms with his parents, telling us they are more open and tolerant than many Charedi. While he is still religious, his wife, who also grew up Charedi, has given up all her religious beliefs, and is now a campaigning photographer and film maker, and has made a powerful film called the Black Bus about the religious segregation in Jerusalem, for which you can see trailer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeIcuOuxQoI

Machaneh Yehudah is always an amazingly positive experience, with its myriad smells, colours, and stalls piled high with every fruit and, vegetable, cheeses and olives, fish, meat and breads of every shape and size. Only here can you meet a man who runs a small stall selling Etrog juice which he claims is the health drink par excellence.

A Jerusalem Burns night

Being only Yorkshire born, although having lived two years in Scotland, and been married for twenty-five years to a Glasgow born Scot, I felt privileged to be invited to participate in a Jerusalem Burns night, organised by Cherry’s brother. For anyone who does not know, Burns night is an annual occasion to celebrate the life and poetry of Rabbie Burns who wrote much of his verse in Lallans (lowland Scots). Being in Jerusalem, this Burns night had to cater for a range of ethnic backgrounds (although with a strong Scottish bias), and also included a multitude of languages. Lallans was translated into both Hebrew and Arabic. Auld Lang Syne was translated into Yiddish, and also bagpipes were very professionally played by an Israeli born member of the Embassy staff.

Cherry’s father was a Burns lover and to that end, her brother Lenny began hosting Burns’ nights, which he has now done for about 15 years, continuing the tradition after her father died in 2006. This Burns night was a great opportunity, although also slightly nerve wracking, for both Cherry and I to perform in front of 60 people. Cherry sang ‘Ye Banks and Braes, and I told a traditional Scottish story, with both being very well received. The evening also included Ode to a Haggis (vegetarian, of course), Glasgow street songs, and an address to the Lassies and the Laddies.

Living in Jerusalem, the atmosphere can be quite tough, especially as now, when there is an intifada in place, so a Burns night is an opportunity to drink deeply of the spirit of Rabbie Burns and also of the liquid spirits which hail from the peaty Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

Hebrew Survey

We have had a fair amount of interest in learning Hebrew within the community (though we would be grateful if any more members wish to return their surveys). It looks as if we may need to set up small groups in both Monmouth and Malvern areas, but as always it is the geographical logistics which is going to be the determining factor to making this all happen. We have a range of possible resources, and the next step is to set up initial meetings, where we can gauge more accurately the level of Hebrew knowledge of those members interested, and explore next steps for learning.

Community Matters – Farewell to Andrea

Andrea Berry-Ottaway, who has been such a constant member, and for many years the mainstay of our community, is finally leaving Herefordshire for Banbury on 7 March to be closer to her family. So our last chance to see her before her move will be at our next service on 27 February. I am sure we all wish her the best of health and many happy years to come in her new home.

 

Interfaith News – Rabbi meets Rapper

A story in the I newspaper on Saturday reported on the unusual pairing of a Rabbi and a black Muslim rapper teaming up to create a youTube music video against anti-semitism. Rabbi Michel Serfaty, from the southern suburbs of Paris, a founder of the Muslim –Jewish friendship association, visited the rapper, Coco Tkt, (pronounced t’inquiete) in prison, where he was serving a sentence for armed robbery. Whilst in prison, Coco Tkt had had a change of heart from his previous links with the anti-Semitic comedian, Dieudonne, and decided he wished to do something to try to combat anti semitic sentiment in Paris.

 

Book Review – Hebrew Talk

Whilst at the South West Regional Shabbaton in November, we bought a book on behalf of HJC, which hopefully can be loaned out to those members most interested.

This is a very accessible, fascinating and readable book, subtitled 101 Hebrew Roots and the Stories they tell, written by Joseph Lowin. Each short chapter gives a lightning tour of words and meanings, associated with the simple three letter root, not only in Hebrew, but with occasional shifts into other cultures and languages. The root (gimmel, daled, lamed) for example (Gadol) has a whole range of meanings associated with being big, great, strong and the stories told link with Biblical sources, Jewish history and modern Israeli society. Reading this book is a relatively painless way of absorbing the finer detail of Hebrew etymology, and gaining a basic knowledge of many of the key roots and words in the Hebrew language.

 

Hereford & Malvern Foodbanks

Please bring your donations to the next HJC Service. For details see below.

Malvern Foodbank provide emergency food for local people in crisis.

They are collecting donations of the following to help local people in crisis. If you can help, one or more items from the list will make a real difference.

They particularly need:

Coffee, tinned fish, tinned fruit, instant mash potato, jam, marmalade, tinned meat, UHT milk, pasta sauces, tinned sponge puddings, 500g bags of sugar, tinned tomatoes, treats, tinned vegetables.

Please note they cannot accept frozen, chilled or perishable items.

They also need the following non-food items:

Bleach, cleaning cloths, deodorant, shower gel, toilet rolls, washing powder.

Thank you for any help you can give the foodbank.

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 March 2016

Please send in contributions in WORD or pdf format if possible, but articles sent in by post are also welcome. In general contributions should be no longer than 500 – 750 words, but longer contributions may be included if appropriate. Pictures also welcome, but please try to keep image sizes small and below 1 Mb. All contributions are welcome but depending on format, the editor reserves the right to edit or hold over to a future edition if needed.

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Saturday 27th February

Shabbat service led by Rabbi Margaret Jacobi

11.a.m.

Ale House Colwall

Friday 11th March

Friday Evening Service led by Rabbi Alexandra Wright

7 p.m. 

Burgage Hall, Ledbury

Sunday 24 April

HJC Communal Seder

6.30 p.m.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Saturday 11th June

Anne Frank Day Service led by Rabbi Andrew Goldstein

t.b.c.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Other Events of Interest

Saturday 5th March

Herefordshire Interfaith Women’s Day

9.30 – 4.00

Kindle Centre Belmont Road, Hereford HR2 7JE

Thursday 10th March

Herefordshire Interfaith Group AGM

7p.m. –

9 p.m.

Kindle Centre Belmont Road, Hereford HR2 7JE

 

Other Events of Interest
Yachad and New Israel Fund UK are hosting a
Security Conference next month to look at the current position n Israel..
Security might be the most used term in Israeli political life – and in our conversations about Israel in the community. As two organisations committed to building a safe and secure Israel, we have invited an outstanding team of experts to help us unpack what security really means today.
We will be tackling the burning questions of how to approach Israel’s security in 2016, including: What are the greatest strategic threats currently facing the State of Israel? Is there a dichotomy between peace and security? Who are the potential Palestinian partners for peace?
When: Sunday 6th March, 09:15-16:45
Where: Cavendish Conference Rooms, 22 Duchess Mews, London W1G 9DT
Tickets: £20 adults/£10 students

Herefordshire Interfaith Group

are launching a Faith to Faith Women to Women’s project.

To be held on March 5th, celebrating International Women’s Day.

You are invited to an informal relaxed day, sharing food and interests, through the medium of Art, Craft, Music and Dance. Individual cards and gifts will be made to send to ‘friends and loved ones’ to maintain and create bonds among women of Faith including those who live their lives in friendship and openness. (Crafting packets provided)

The Group wish to reach out to women of Faith and Spirituality from around the World who have made their homes in Herefordshire and surrounding Borders. The intention is to provide a platform for a better understanding of different cultures in order to enable women of diverse Faiths to help, support, guide and encourage other women, leading to friendships and minimising the feelings of isolation that may be felt when settling into a New Country.

Through these links we plan to make contact with their relatives and friends left behind in their home countries, in order that we may start to understand their cultures and what forms the basis of their understanding of faith, spirituality and friendships.

It is envisaged that in this way a web will spread out to many cultures throughout the world where we, in the main have little understanding, such as Afghanistan and Syria regarding Islam and Baha’i faiths, across Eastern Europe and into Bulgaria, regarding forms of Islam and Catholicism and pockets across the Himalayas and into Myanmar regarding different forms of Buddhism.

The Idea was born from the passion of the Chairman, The Venerable Tenzin Choesang a Buddhist Nun. Venerable’s vast experience of travel, as a Business Woman and Nun have taken her to many places. She believes that friendships and understanding can be created using the Universal language of Art, Craft, Dance and Music thus crossing all barriers. Along her journey, she has made many friends and treasures gifts given to her that now adorn her Meditation Room.

Smiles, actions, kind words and good deeds

STRANGERS ARE FRIENDS THAT WE HAVE YET TO MEET

Come and MAKE IT HAPPEN

Programme for South West Regional Shabbaton announced

The Regional Shabbaton  will be in Swindon on Saturday 28 November, 10am-6pm.  It will be at Jury’s Inn, Swindon, Fleming Way SN1 2NG

This is a joint venture brought to you by Liberal Judaism’s communities in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Oxford, Reading, Wessex, and Bristol & West. It is a Liberal Judaism event, kindly sponsored by the NLPS Trust.

A relaxing day of Jewish learning, services and community.

Book online at www.tinyurl.com/southwestshabbaton or call Aaron Abraham at Liberal Judaism on 0207 631 9830

Cost is £20 for adults, £5 for children (includes lunch and refreshments)

10:00 – 10:20
Registration in Foyer

10:20 – 11:20
Morning Session 1: Beit Midrash: Identity
Guided chevrutah text study on the week’s themed reading.
Rabbi Sandra Kviat
Room 4

Morning Session 2: Prayer Before Prayer
Preparation for prayer through music and meditation.
Alexander Massey
Room 5

Youth Session: Who are we? (ages 5-9)
Games and activities to explore what makes us who we are.
LJY-Netzer
Room 6

Youth Session: What makes us Jewish? (ages 10-15)
Games and a chance to consider what makes a Jew.
LJY-Netzer
Room 7

11:30 – 13:00
Shabbat Service
Musical service, with sermon from Rabbi Danny Rich.
Rabbi Monique Meyer
Room 4

Youth Shabbat Service
Creative service for 5-15 year-olds – LJY Netzer Style!
Rabbi Sandra Kviat
Room 6

13:00 – 14:30
Kiddush & Lunch in Foyer & Restaurant

14:30 – 15:45
Early Afternoon Session 1: Why are we Liberal?
In Conversation: Do we still need Jewish denominations?
Rabbi Danny Rich & Gary Webber
Room 4

Early Afternoon Session 2: From Chelm to Chasid
Enjoy and learn how to use storytelling in your community.
Julian Brown
Room 5

Early Afternoon Session 3: Sustaining Community
Practical workshop and sharing about outreach and continuity.
Rabbi Anna Gerrard
Room 6

Youth Session 1: Leaving Home (ages 5-9)
Creative activities and learning about refugees.
LJY-Netzer
Room 7

Youth Session 2: In a Strange Land (ages 10-15)
A session about Judaism, the refugee crisis and peer leadership.
LJY-Netzer
Room 8

15:45 – 16:15
Afternoon Tea in Foyer

16:15 – 17:30
Late Afternoon Session 1: Refugee Matters
Panel Discussion: Experiences of working with refugee communities – chaired by Rabbi Danny Rich.
Tony Samuel, Rita Adler & Rabbi Lea Muehlstein
Room 4

Late Afternoon Session 2: Tomorrow’s Siddur
Share your views about the possibility of a new Liberal siddur.
Nicky Spencer-Hutchings
Room 5

Late Afternoon Session 3: Chanukah Crafts (ages 0-99)
Have fun making Chanukah decorations for your home.
Sue Naydorf
Rooms 6 & 7

17:30-18:00
Havdallah in Foyer

Herefordshire Jewish Community Newsletter October/November 2015

Editorial

Now we have passed the end of the High Holydays, we embark on a new phase in the year. We have been reviewing and re-focussing ourselves, especially our inner selves as we have been through the intense period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and the ‘Day of Atonement’ itself. We start the New Year with new clarity and new intentions. Now we come to Succoth, where one of our tasks is to sit in a Succah, or temporary dwelling, to remind ourselves how we were once tent dwellers and wanderers. In present times, we cannot but also think of the many refugees who have no option but to live in tents, and so our lives turn to social action and our contributions to the communities in which we live.

One of the messages from Yom Kippur this year has been that we have to live both these parts of our lives to the best of our ability: reflecting on our actions as individuals, but also taking action out in the world to do what we can to create the world in which we want to live, both for ourselves and others.

Julian Brown

In this edition:

Bible week Limmud in the Woods

Community events: Rededication ceremony High Holyday services

Peace Day Event London Klezmer Quartet visit

CHAIR CHAT

CEMETERY REDEDICATION, SUNDAY SPTEMBER

It was good to see all the stones back in their rightful position and it was wonderful to have Susan Moore (formerly Kirkhope, one of the founder members of HJC) who could tell us more about the people who were buried there. We were surprised to find one unmarked grave there and we have already made enquiries to the cemetery authorities to see what we can do to rectify this. Julian led prayers for us at the cemetery before we all went back to Saxon Hall for a cup of tea before our Erev Rosh Hashanah service.

HIGH HOLYDAY SERVICES.

We held both of these this year at Saxon Hall in Hereford, which will probably now become our new base in Hereford, as it has excellent facilities. We can also keep an eye on how the “Anne Frank” tree is doing. Many thanks to Julian for leading the Kol Nidrei service and for some effective shofar blowing.

SIMCHAT TORAH SERVICE.

My favourite of the year and a welcome return to Rabbi Anna. We had a great service last year and I’m sure this year will be no different. Please make every effort to come along to the Bridges Centre in Monmouth at 7 p.m. (Post code of Bridges for those who haven’t been there before is NP25 5AS).

HJC COUNCIL

I have to say that it has been a bit of a struggle to keep going! We are all very much missing Andrea who knew where everything was and was very much the lynchpin of the community. We’re delighted to hear that her health has improved and look forward to welcoming her back to our services shortly. Meanwhile, we are soon going to have to say good bye to Steve Lavender who is moving to Cardiff and would like to thank him for all the help he has given us. We wish a speedy recovery to Hanna Wine who is convalescing in London. Alison Turner has kindly agreed to take on the role of interim treasurer. So our Council is now very thin on the ground. If anyone would like to join us, please let me know!

Mark Walton

Peace Day Service Sunday 20th September 2015, Hereford Cathedral

On Sunday 20th September, as an observance of The international Day of Peace (on Monday 21st September), the Herefordshire interfaith Group held a Peace service at Hereford Cathedral. The service started with candle lighting by representatives of the different faith groups gathered. The service included music and readings from 8 faiths or more, also including a Jewish contribution (reading on Peace from Rabbi John Rayner, and singing of Lo Yisa Goy – Nation shall not lift up sword against nation) led by Julian and myself. In all, this was a lovely event, which felt open and inclusive, and the Interfaith group are hoping to hold more events over the coming year.

Cherry Wolfe

Summer Events

A Report on Jewish Christian Bible Week 2015

In August this year, I attended the 47th International Jewish Christian Bible Week at Haus Ohrbeck near Osnabrueck in Germany. My first experience of this rather unique gathering was in 2006 – and since then I have returned to it six times. Bible Week is the sort of thing that people go back to – sometimes year after year. What is so special about it?

It was founded in 1968 by Rabbi Jonathan Magonet, then a young rabbinic student, together with some older Catholic sisters. They were no doubt inspired by that huge shift in the Church’s attitude to Jews, marked by the publication of Vatican encyclical Nostra Aestate. From then onwards, for more than 40 years, Jews and Christians from Germany, England, the Netherlands, Israel, the USA and other countries have been coming together each summer to study biblical texts against the background of the two traditions. Rabbi Magonet later became the Principal of Leo Baeck College, and among those who come from UK, there is always a contingent who have connections of one sort or other with Leo Baeck. Rabbi Jonathan, now retired and a grandfather, continues to play a key role in Bible Week. From the playful exercise on the first evening to accustom us to the theme (and each other), through his sermon at the Sabbath liturgy, to the singing on the last night of three special songs fiercely prescribed by custom, his is a presiding presence.

However, the day to day running and leadership of the event is managed by a highly competent team which is also representative of the diverse participants. Each year, one particular book from the Hebrew scriptures is taken as the subject of study in the groups that take place every morning for five days. This year there were 11 of such groups, and each participant is attached to one of them. The tasks of the groups range from ‘Intensive study of the Hebrew Text’, through to a ‘Creative response to the text through Visual (or other) arts’. And then there’s also the Children’s group.

A Children’s group? Why on earth would there be one of those in a gathering apparently devoted to such studious pursuits? The fact is that Bible Week is not quite what it seems from the label. In many ways, it’s more like a huge house party where you meet up each year with friends – people active in their professions and communities, older people including some of the very old, younger ones including young families (and even some teenagers) to discuss, argue, play and celebrate together in a well established way – also remembering those who have passed on, and welcoming those who have joined us for the first time. In fact, there are always newcomers. This year more people applied than ever before. 136 people attended, with ages ranging from 4 months to 80 years, but still there was a waiting list, and someone who had to drop out at the last minute could straight away be replaced.

But what of the text? This year our text was Qohelet (Ecclesiastes), one of the five Megillot and a book which in many ways sits oddly in the Hebrew canon. Its writer seems not at all to engage with the God of Abraham and Isaac, who delivered Israel from Egypt, and is zealous for the keeping of his covenant. Was Qohelet then a world-weary sage for whom ‘everything is vanity/futility’ and ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ ? For whom God is a distant and passive ‘elohim’ unconcerned with any human affairs? Or is he someone who is subtly mocking the worldly wisdom and popular philosophy of the early Hellenistic age, and at last affirms that, although God’s purpose for us is ultimately unknowable, ‘the sum of the matter, when all is said and done, is to revere God and keep his commandments’?

These were the kind of questions that we discussed in our groups, and they were also addressed in the three main lectures, one by a Jewish scholar, one by a Christian scholar, and one who is chosen only in relation to their special expertise in the text of this year. The opinions of the scholars at these three lectures are always respectfully listened to, but it is by no means only they who have a chance to speak. Most afternoons and some evenings, anyone is free to offer a ‘Speaker’s Corner’ topic or some ‘Fringe’ entertainment, and many do so. Nor is it only those with intellectual or scholarly contributions who get a chance to shine. Musical, artistic or comic talents are much in demand – specially at the Apodosis (concluding concert & talent show) on the last night.

This aim of making everyone feel included seems to be the hallmark of Bible Week, whether it’s keeping a balance between Jewish or Christian, German or English speaking, women and men, Catholic and Protestant, young and old. With all these to include, the weekends are liturgically rich, and sometimes a trifle overwhelming! But there is also a beauty about the harmonious interfaith cooperation and mutual respect, which I have rarely seen elsewhere. The majority of Jews present are from the progressive wings of Judaism, but those with a more Orthodox orientation are also catered for. All food for the week is vegetarian, but at least one family has stricter requirements in respect of food – and the kitchen is well able to cope with special diets, whether kosher or lactose free!

There is no doubt that Bible Week has been in some sense constructed around Rabbi Jonathan, his unique vision and teaching capacity. Yet, in one of the songs he composed – and is never allowed not to sing every year at the Apodosis – he affectionately honours the memory of those Catholic sisters who were his fellow founders. ‘Who is bound and who is free?’ goes its poignant refrain, gently suggesting that those who chose to live a ‘restricted’ life of religious commitment, may have something important to teach about the nature of real freedom.

But when all is said and done (to borrow a phrase from Qohelet) it is somehow, by an unspoken consensus, the Jews who are the hosts at this unique event, even in (perhaps specially in) its distinctive inclusivity. Here on German soil, where Jews were brutally driven out to their deaths more than 50 years ago, descendants of the survivors now offer a very particular kind of hospitality to those who come in order to learn, to understand the lessons of that history, and to share with each other the search for wisdom in our traditions.

Angela West

Limmud in the Woods

Over August Bank holiday weekend, myself, my wife Cherry, and our daughter Maya attended Limmud in the Woods, which is the only event of the many organised by the Limmud Jewish Education movement, which is held under canvas, and for that reason also creates a stronger community of it’ s members, than perhaps other larger Limmud events. For four days we camped in a lovely setting – a large open space, which indeed was surrounded by woods, which also played a part in some of the events that took place over the period. Each member of the impromptu Limmud community was also asked to contribute 4 hours of their time over the 4 days towards maintaining the camp and doing necessary chores from putting up fences, or setting up floodlights in the woods, to chopping spring onions for salad for 120 people.

The programme is as varied as you could imagine, from sessions on the environment, Jewish meditation, and T’ai Chi, to study of biblical Text, kashrut, wild and edible plants, and of course debate on the Middle East and Israel. So there is always something to suit all tastes and levels of Jewish interest and orthodoxy. This is one of the wonderful things about Limmud in that it can hold within its format a wide range of Jewish practice, as well as cater for all ages and backgrounds.

Workshops run all day from early morning running or yoga sessions at 8 a.m., through to 6 p.m. when there is dinner, and, although it is tempting to go for a walk in the woods, or just spend time reading by your tent, I found that most days I was keen to attend my full complement of sessions. As usual, the only difficulty with Limmud is being sure you’ve made the right choice of session when each one has something of particular interest. Do I go to a workshop on a novel Israeli approach to developing communication in communities , or a session on Literature and poetry? Feeling what is right for you at any moment of the day is an important task.

One of the most inspiring workshops, for all of us in my family was one which ran over two sessions given by a young woman, Sara Moon, who had cycled from the UK (Sheffield) to the West Bank (admittedly, taking boats for two parts of the journey), which was a particular mission of hers, socially , environmentally and politically. It was clear from her talk that she was very keen to develop her knowledge, experience and engagement both with the Palestinians who lived on the West Bank, and with whom she picked olives, and with the Israelis, where she wanted to find out more about her Jewish roots and history. The cycle journey, from which she showed us some wonderful photos, was very much a journey of discovery for her, and one in which she received such kindness and support from people along the way, that it was also a story of humanity.

To return to the picture of Limmud, two further elements need to be mentioned. The evening entertainment was also a novel experience in many ways. From bonfires, to a Ceilidh, to an impromptu discussion café, and a late night ’silent disco’ as well as further talks and films, there was always a choice. One of the least expected and yet most enjoyable for me was the silent disco, DJ’d by the ‘Rebbetsen’ , where you listened to music through a set of headphones, and could dance to the music if you wished, but if you took the headphones off there was blissful silence, and you could sip a drink from the bar either in musical or quiet mood.

Finally, no report of Limmud event such as this would be complete without reference to the unique Shabbat experience. From the alternative musical progressive evening service held in a stepped mini amphitheatre in the woods, to the first ever Limmud attempt to combine liberal/reform and orthodox services into one, for the Shabbat morning service, this was definitely something different. Before Havdalah many of sat out under the darkening skies singing niggunim (wordless melodies) until it was time for the ceremony. Shabbat gave you a chance to socialise more with others, when the pace of the day was less, but only slightly less frantic than other days in the camp.

If you can cope with the camping, and would like a Limmud where the numbers are much smaller than Limmud conference or even one day events, I would recommend this as a true learning experience, after which you may never quite see the associations of being Jewish in the same way as before.

Julian Brown

Hereford Cemetery Stones

Following our rededication of gravestones at Hereford Cemetery pre-Rosh Hashanah, Susan Moore has kindly sent in information she gave us during the ceremony re past members of the community. Perhaps we can build on this to create a community history archive. There will be more on this in the next edition of HJC newsletter.

:

1 HJC members at rededication ceremony

Markers and gravestones in Jewish section, Hereford Cemetery

Rabbi Bernard Hooker

When we started The Herefordshire Jewish Community, Rabbi Hooker and his wife Eileen had retired to Ledbury. He was born in London in 1922 and trained at Jews’ college. He was the youngest Chaplain to be appointed to the Armed Forces serving on the Rhine and in the Middle East. He later served as Minister to the Birmingham Progressive Synagogue and the Wembley Liberal Synagogue until in 1965 he was invited to become the Spiritual Leader of the Jewish Community in Jamaica. Whilst there, he wrote many books, serving the community for 10 years.

On his return to London he became Minister of the North London Progressive Synagogue and was a Vice President of the ULPS for many years.

He was a marvellous support for us giving much advice on starting and running the group and leading services ourselves. He conducted many of our High Holy Day, and Seder Services.

Marion and Gerald Weisbloom

Marion and Gerald lived in Malvern and joined the group shortly after it started. They were friendly and enthusiastic members, working on the Committee and often offering the use of their home for meetings and services. They both had a love of music and also for walking. A small group of us had many an enjoyable “Sunday Ramble” usually ending at a Public House for lunch! After Marion’s death Gerry served as Chairman of the Community.

Max and Ilsa Conu

Max and Ilsa joined the Group from the first meeting. They were both older members and retired – I believe Max had had and Engineering Business in Hereford. Ilsa came to many of the services and they were both particularly pleased and enthusiastic for the provision of the Cemetery area!

Ilsa enjoyed playing Bridge and had been a member of the Bowls Club. She also enjoyed Horse Racing and indeed her “wake” was held at the Racecourse.

Joseph Collard

I know little about him, as his wife Miriam was the member of the Community and would come with their daughter Yudit. Miriam once appeared on Mastermind! The funeral service was conducted by (then Student Rabbi) Janet Burden who many of us knew, with the ashes later interred at Hereford.

Josephine and George Waldren

Again they were very early members and supporters of the Community, but already well on in years by the time it started. I don’t think they had any children.

Irvine Rose

Irvine Rose had lived for many years in Hereford and although retired when I met him, he had had a hairdressing salon in the city. He did remember a much earlier Orthodox Jewish group in Hereford which died out because of lack of members. He helped us a lot with the Hebrew prayers, and he was survived by his son (Michael I think).

David Springer

Many of you will remember David who served as our Chairman for many years from the beginning of the Community. He was a wonderful and friendly person with a huge enthusiasm for the Group. He had lived in Hereford since 1969 and was one of the first people to respond to Josephine’s advertisement in 1991, coming with his cousin to the first meeting in December. David used his particular strengths to work for the Community, not least being in obtaining all the items needing for our Passover celebrations, travelling to London and Birmingham as necessary. His wife Mary did and still does all the cooking for these wonderful evenings. David had a Music Shop in Hereford and used his considerable keyboard skills in making cassettes of the traditional Jewish melodies so that we could learn them and sing them in our services. He also took upon himself the compiling and reading out of the names of loved ones in the memorial service on Kol Nidre. Committee meetings with David were great fun with lots of jokes. He came to rest in the Jewish Cemetery far too early.

Marcelle Greenbaum

We were contacted by Social Services when Marcelle was placed in a small self managed group home near Malvern. She was Jewish by birth but following a road accident in London had suffered a brain injury and had been placed by her family in a Mental Institution, which was then closed. She loved coming to our meetings, especially ones held in our homes, and hearing songs remembered from her youth. She was a sweet person but we never met any of her family. It is a shame that her grave is not marked in any way, and perhaps a small subscription could be raised by the Community to pay for a simple marker.

Contributed by Susan Moore (formerly Kirkhope)

Hereford Food Bank

We are still collecting for Hereford and Malvern Food Banks at all services.

Please buy just one extra item from this list and leave it at our collection point.

Items requested by Hereford Food Bank are:

  • Tins: Meat – hot or cold; vegetables; fruit; rice pudding.
  • Dry goods: Smash potato; rice; powdered custard; dried milk; instant coffee; sugar.
  • General: UHT milk; pasta sauce; jam; marmalade; instant/microwave meals.
  • Hygiene: Shampoo; toothpaste; soap; household cleaners e.g. washing up liquid, detergent.

Thank you. Any queries please contact them on 01432 353347

 

Welfare

We wish Alan Toffel a good recovery. Alan came to our Rosh Hashanah service, and has been staying in Hereford since then, through a period of illness.

There’s still chance to donate to our

HJC Charity High Holyday Appeal

Our two charities for this year are:

St Michael’s Hospice, Hereford (http://www.st-michaels-hospice.org.uk/)

and Children of Peace (charity for Israel & Middle East https://www.childrenofpeace.org.uk/)

We are also making additional donations this year in aid of refugees to Medecins sans Frontieres.

Please send your donations for this to our interim Treasurer – Alison Turner

Forthcoming Events

Limmud Conference – Birmingham, 27 – 31 December 2015

When? Limmud Conference will be taking place from Sunday 27 to Thursday 31 December 2015. It will be preceded by Limmud Shabbat from Friday 25 to Saturday 26 December. We look forward to you joining us there!

Where? The hotels surrounding Pendigo Lake, just outside Birmingham, UK. More detailed information on our exciting new site can be found by visiting the frequently asked questions page. See: http://limmud.org/conference/

South West Regional Shabbaton Communities involved will include Bristol, Gloucestershire, Oxford, Reading, Wessex and Herefordshire.

LIBERAL JUDAISM SOUTH WEST REGIONAL SHABBATON A relaxing day of Jewish learning, services and community Saturday 28th November 2015, 10am to 6pm Jury’s Inn, Swindon, Fleming Way, SN1 2NG. For full details see poster attached to your email. Early booking if possible and no later than 20 November, please. We will try to coordinate travel for HJC members wishing to attend.

HJC are actively participating in planning of this event, so we hope that as many members as possible will be able to attend the day. Previous Shabbatons have been thoroughly enjoyed by all who have attended.

Book online: www.tunyurl.com/southwestshabbaton

Or call Aaron Abraham at Liberal Judaism on 0207 631 9830

London Klezmer Quartet –Bridges Centre, Monmouth, Saturday 5th December@7.30 p.m. This is one of the premier Klezmer groups in the country, and we are lucky that they will be playing relatively locally. This should be a wonderful evening, so do save the date.

Tickets (£15) from Mark Walton or available online (see below):

 http://www.wyevalleymusic.org.uk/tckts_online.html

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 November

Please send in contributions in WORD or pdf format if possible, but articles sent in by post are also welcome. In general contributions should be no longer than 500 – 750 wds, but longer contributions may be included if appropriate. Pictures also welcome, but please try to keep image sizes small and below 1 Mb. All contributions are welcome but depending on format, the editor reserves the right to edit or hold over to a future edition if needed.

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Friday 2nd October

Simchat Torah Service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

7 p.m.

Bridges Centre, Monmouth NP25 5AS

Saturday 24th October

Shabbat Service, Lech Lecha, led by Student Rabbi Igor Zinkov

11 a.m.

Ale House, Colwall WR13 6HJ

Sat 21st November

Shabbat Service, led by Julian Brown. This will be a service focussing on Hebrew and learning.

11 a.m.

Ale House, Colwall

WR13 6HJ

Saturday 12th December

Chanukah service and party, led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

3 p.m.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford HR2 6HE

Other Events of Interest

Saturday 28 November

South West Regional Shabbaton

www.tunyurl.com/southwestshabbaton

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Jury’s Inn, Swindon

SN1 2NG

Saturday 5 December

London Klezmer Quarter performance,

7.30 p.m.

Bridges Centre, Monmouth. NP25 5AS