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/
   
   

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.

June/July 2015 – Shavuot Edition Newsletter HJC

Editorial

The theme of Liberal Judaism’s Day of Celebration on 7 June this year is Liberal Judaism’s ‘contemplation and celebration’ of its relationship with Israel. There is a fascinating programme, so I’m glad that Alison and Marc will be representing HJC there. The theme of our forthcoming interfaith event to mark Anne Frank day is ‘courage’ as embodied by Anne Frank as a young person, but is also to recognise those who have fought to defend human rights in recent times with the dedication of a Remembrance garden.

The themes of youth and relationships with Israel are also coincidentally covered in this issue with two separate but in many ways similar initiatives in Israel linking Israeli young people, both Arab and Jewish, one in Acco and one in Jaffa. While there are many difficult issues about how we see Israel and how Israel is seen in the diaspora, these initiatives show what can be done to sow the seeds of friendship for future generations, and we encourage HJC members to support an initiative one of these projects run by the Charles Clore Centre, who we have supported in the past.

Julian Brown

CHAIR CHAT

AGM

Many thanks to all who came to the AGM. We had a fantastic turnout (22 out of 28 members!) which was unprecedented for one of our AGMs. We were able to make some important changes to our constitution: regularising the status of non Jewish members and enabling non Jewish partners to be buried in the Jewish section of the Hereford cemetery. We were delighted that Hannah Wine agreed to join the Council. The AGM was followed by an excellent and very convivial Sunday lunch. We have decided that the Trumpet Inn is the epicentre of our community!

ANDREA BERRY-OTTAWAY

The AGM also marked the resignation of Andrea as Treasurer. As I said in my Chair’s Report, “Unfortunately, Andrea has decided to resign from the Council after 20 selfless years of service due to ill health. Andrea has been the beating heart of the community, the fount of all knowledge, the chief organiser of events and the person who has kept in touch with all our members. We will miss her tremendously and would like to thank her for the great contribution she has made to the continuity of HJC and obviously wish her a speedy return to full health.”

SHUL CRAWL

To continue my irregular series. I visited Bristol Progressive on April 11. I always feel very welcome here. It is a cosmopolitan and erudite community, probably as a result of the university presence. Rabbi Monique Mayer is obviously very popular and has an excellent rapport with congregation.

There were about 30 people at the service which contained a lot more singing than we are used to. It included a very Interesting text study on parashat “shemeini” – with the two sons of Aaron consumed by fire (or “getting zapped”, to use Monique’s term) for not doing the temple sacrifices correctly.

The shul is currently being refurbished and was thus somewhat bare although it is usually very comfortable. It is not in the most salubrious area of Bristol and difficult to find if you don’t know where you’re going.

It has a very strong cheder, apparently attracting families from as far away as Cardiff, and an excellent monthly magazine, “Alonim”.

Last, but by no means least, they normally have a good kiddush but it was much reduced when I went because of the refurbishment

EVA KOR

I was very moved by the testimony of Eva Kor who gave evidence at the recent trial of Oskar Groning, who was known as the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz”. She embraced and forgave him – an act that she was heavily criticised for by other survivors. Her parents, two older sisters and many other relatives were murdered in Auschwitz. Eva and her twin sister, Miriam, suffered terribly at the hands of the infamous Dr Josef Mengele – her sister subsequently dying, almost certainly as a result of the poisons that had been injected into her, while Eva miraculously survived. She wrote in an article in “The Times”:

“Forgiveness is different from reconciliation. Forgiveness is an act of self healing, self liberation and self empowerment. I do not need anybody’s approval or acceptance. Reconciliation takes two people, this is why it is so difficult.

I also call forgiveness the best revenge against the perpetrator. And everyone can afford it. It is free. If you do not like it, you can take back your pain. No one will stop you.

Some Holocaust survivors do not like this and some call me a traitor. I have been told that in Jewish tradition, the perpetrator must repent and ask forgiveness. Do you think that Hitler, Himmler and Mengele would have repented and asked for forgiveness? What would that do for my freedom? Should I remain a victim for the rest of my life? ………..

It is not only Jews who tend to nurture victimhood. It is an international problem. The world is filled with victims because nobody is making the right effort to help people heal.

That is why I am so passionate about forgiveness. I realised that Hitler was an angry man who considered himself a victim. Anger is a seed for war. Forgiveness is a seed for peace. I forgave the Nazis, not because they deserve it but because I deserve it.”

RABBI ANNA

We were very sorry to hear about her recent illness and wish her a speedy recovery back to full health. We were very grateful to Julian and Cherry for stepping in at short notice to lead the service on May 16.

Mark Walton

Seder 2015

Though not as large as previous years, we had an enjoyable Pesach Seder at Belmont Parish Hall this year. 

Continuing our series of interviews with community members –

Meet Your Community – Alison Turner

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in North-West London on the outskirts near Pinner, going to secondary school in Harrow, grammar, not the public school!

Was there a Jewish community there?

There was a Jewish community in Pinner, but it was much smaller than it is now.

Was your family observant/kasher etc.?

My mother and father were observant and kept a kosher home, they were members of Harrow United Synagogue I think, which has since closed. Sadly my mother died when I was only 2 years old. Then I was looked after by my father’s mother, who was from Latvia and had come from there to Belgium with her family, then gone back to Russia, escaped  after the Russian Revolution to Antwerp, married and settled in Paris, then escaped from there during the Second World War and settled in London. She thought it would be safer for me not to be Jewish, so she didn’t keep kosher or observe Judaism at all. Then my father remarried and suddenly my sister and I were in a kosher observant home, where we were members of Pinner United Synagogue. I discovered Progressive Judaism later on my own.

Have you visited Israel?

Yes I have been 4 times, first with my boyfriend for a month, then with 2 Liberal Jewish tours, then on my honeymoon.

Do you have any knowledge of Hebrew?

Not much, some prayerbook Hebrew but very little modern Hebrew.

What is your favourite Jewish food?

Smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels.

What do you value most about your Jewish connection?

Being rooted in Jewish history, family, language, food, approach to the Divine.

How has being a member of HJC influenced your Jewish identity/connection?

It has kept me part of the Liberal Jewish community even though I am now far from London and mainstream Jewish life. I think there were more Jewish people in our street when we last lived in London, then in the whole county we now live in. HJC is my lifeline to Judaism in Herefordshire.

What do you value in particular about Liberal Judaism?

Women Rabbis and the ability to question and to relate religion to 21st century modernity. I felt excluded from United Synagogue services, like an outsider watching the men pray. In Liberal services I feel included, I know my contribution counts as part of the community and women can take any role they like, whether housewife or Rabbi.

What would you say is the Jewish highlight of your life? 

My wedding to Marc at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue, conducted by Rabbis Shulamit Ambalu and Rabbi Aaron Goldstein and surrounded by family and friends, including Orthodox family and non-Jewish friends.

If you have children, are any of them involved in Jewish activities?

Too young to say, we still count his age in weeks, not months or years. He has been to Purim and Shabbat services and to a community Seder as well as Shabbat and Pesach at home. He’s booked into the creche at the Liberal Judaism Day of Celebration. We hope he will want to continue to be involved when he is older. 

Charities

Foodbank Contributions

We have made donations to both Hereford and Malvern foodbanks over the past few months, and many members of HJC have made generous contributions, which have been much appreciated by the foodbank organisers. The next opportunity to bring donations will be at the Shabbat service on 11 July. A big thanks to everyone who has supported this initiative.

Martha Trust

We have received the following letter from Martha Trust on behalf of HJC donation.

Dear Mr Brown

Thank you for your kind donation of £100.00 which will be used towards the purchase of books for our residents. We have two homes caring for people aged between 16 and 45 all of whom have complex physical and intellectual difficulties so the money will be divided between both homes.

Due to the nature of their disabilities our residents are unable to read themselves however the staff read stories to the residents on a daily basis. We also have a story sack containing various pros relating to the specific story. The carers act out the stories which the residents love and although they would not admit it I think the carers have great fun playing the various characters in the book.

I hope this is acceptable to you. Please pass on our thanks to everyone who contributed to this generous donation and for agreeing to support Martha trust.

Kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Sue Mc Bride

Trust Director

Charles Clore Centre Summer Camp

We also thought it would be good if as a community we could support Charles Clore centre (who we have supported in the past) for a specific project – the summer Camp – see below. If you would like to support this, we will be having a collection at the Anne Frank Day service to try to raise the £100 needed to send a child to summer camp. You can also make an individual donation online (but let us know if you do this).

My Dear Friends

We are getting excited planning our Arab-Jewish Summer Camp for at-risk children in July and wish to ask if you would like to sponsor child to attend this year. 

You may remember that we wrote of the children’s huge disappointment at the cancellation of last year’s camp because of the war which made their security impossible to guarantee.  We are hoping to give them a wonderful time this year to make up for this and the more money we raise, the more children we can take.

It has been a hard year for those of us working towards a shared society.  The mistrust during the Gaza war last summer was compounded during the violence that followed within Israel and left many of us feeling hopeless.  Communities have become even more polarised and the general election here has resulted in a government whose position towards full equality is quite clear.  And yet, and because of all of this, the small things that we can affect, such as enabling poor Arab and Jewish kids to play together for three weeks during the long, hot summer, must be encouraged.  

100 British pounds will pay for a child to attend our three-week camp – to swim at a local kibbutz, to play in football tournaments, to do art, play music, enjoy daytrips and laugh and laugh.

Thank you in anticipation for enabling the children of Akko to get off the boiling and sometimes dangerous streets for this period, get to know each other and, hopefully through this experience, become part of a more just future for this country,

It’s now so easy to make a gift to our centre.  Simply click here to donate online https://support.newisraelfund.org.uk/clore-centre .

Mohammad Fahili

Director – Sir Charles Clore Jewish-Arab Community Centre, Akko

 Dancing in Jaffa – film review

Cherry and I went to see this film for Cherry’s birthday, and we were so glad we did. Pierre Dulaine has done an amazing task getting more than 2000 children by now, of both Jewish and Palestinian origins, dancing together within the Jaffa community. The film charts the course of one of these groups of around 30 children on a 12 week programme, from tentative first steps to giving a full competition performance at the end. Getting inner city children mixed boys and girsl aged 12 to do ballroom dancing is a difficult task at the best of times . Getting Jewish and Palestinian children to dance together is an amazing achievement. When you see these children with a mixture of shyness, sullenness, difficult backgrounds suddenly smiling and getting up to dance, it lifts your heart.

Pierre Dulaine comes from a mixed background with Palestinian mother and Irish father, and has been dancing and teaching dance for over 40 years. He is a 4 times ballroom dancing world champion. You can read more about the film’s vision below.

Our Vision

Although set in Israel, our film is ultimately about one man’s hopeful endeavour to shift the paradigm and stop the hate.
More than anything, we hope that 
Dancing in Jaffa can help transcend geographic and cultural boundaries by raising awareness of the challenges involved in dealing with hatred, while also proving that change is always possible, even in the direst of situations.

The film demonstrates the powerful role that the arts, and dance in particular, can play in enabling children to overcome prejudice and build strong personal ties with one another. Through his work, Pierre has demonstrated that the Dancing Classrooms method can be easily and successfully replicated worldwide.

Pierre has created a fun and challenging tool to generate behavioural change. Hate starts at a young age. If we can wipe it out early on by teaching mutual respect and understanding, we can encourage children to find their own ways to bridge chasms through the arts and community service.

Our overall goal is to have Dancing Classrooms in every school, in every city, in every country and bring change worldwide. Our film happens to take place in Jaffa but both the film and the program transcend geographic boundaries and can be utilized worldwide.

Forthcoming Events

Anne Frank Day – on the theme of Courage

Poem written by Michael Rosen, Poet Laureate, for the first Anne Frank Tree Planting Ceremony in 1998

We hope that anyone who knows this tree will remember Anne Frank

We hope that anyone who knows this tree will remember how from her attic window

Anne Frank watched a tree growing outside and was so moved and entranced

She couldn’t speak

We hope that anyone who knows of this tree will remember how Anne Frank lost her life

We hope that anyone who knows of this tree will never let such things happen again

We hope that anyone who knows of this tree will have as much hope in their hearts and minds as Anne Frank did .

———————————————————————————————————————–

Quote from Anne Frank’s Diary, 13 May 1944

My dearest Kitty,

Yesterday was Father’s birthday, Father and Mother’s nineteenth wedding anniversary, a day without the cleaning lady…and the sun was shining as its never shone before on 1944. Our chestnut tree is in full bloom. Its covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year.

Simchat Ben

Alison and Marc Turner cordially invite you to the Simchat Ben (celebration

of a son) following the birth of our beautiful baby

Isaac George William Edward Turner

(Yitzhak Naftali ben Yisrael v Simchah)

 Shabbat morning service with Rabbi Danny Rich

Herefordshire Jewish Community

in Hereford

The service will be taken by Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism assisted by others from the Herefordshire Jewish Community, relatives and friends.

It will be followed by a dairy kiddush and a kosher dairy buffet. On the Saturday afternoon there will be a houseparty at our house starting after lunch.

Limmud in the Woods

Exploring Jewish life… Radical Simplicity. 
August bank holiday weekend 27 – 31 August 2015

Limmud in the Woods is a unique event. We spend 5 days building our own community in the countryside, sleeping under canvas and experiencing top quality Jewish learning, activities in the great outdoors and events late into the night.

Cot £185 – 5 days £100 – 2 days £60 – one day (if booked by 19 June)

South West Regional Shabbaton Swindon, Saturday November 26 2015 including HJC. Communities involved will include Bristol, Gloucestershire, Oxford, Reading, Wessex and Herefordshire. Do mark this date in your diary as we hope to contribute to this day.

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Sunday 7 June

Liberal Judaism ‘Day of Celebration’

9.30 –

5 p.m.

Liberal Jewish Synagogue, St. John’s Wood Road, London, NW8 7HA 

Saturday 11 July

Shabbat Service and Baby Blessing for Isaac Turner led by Rabbi Danny Rich

11 a.m.

Hereford 

Sunday 13 September

Rededication of tombstones, followed by evening Rosh Hashanah service

t.b.c.

6.30 p.m.

Hereford Cemetery

Then at Andrea’s house

Tuesday 22 September

Yom Kippur Kol Nidrei service- led by Julian Brown

7 p.m.

Ledbury venue t.b.c.

27th – 31st August

Limmud in the Woods

Horley Scout Camp, Banbury, OX15 6AU

26 November

South West Regional Shabbaton

Swindon

STOP PRESS

Anyone who is concerned about plans for two new broiler chicken factories in Herefordshire’s Golden Valley and wishes to sign a petition on this. See: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/stop_the_factory_farms_her/?bcJBibb&v=59710

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 July

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.