HJC Newsletter Pesach Edition – April/May 2017

Editorial

As we move between Purim and Pesach – two Jewish festivals both, in very different ways, telling stories of persecution and hatred of the Jews, it’s a good time to reflect on past and present. Are we living in a different age now, an age of interfaith understanding and cooperation, or are we in an age of “fear” against “the other” as illustrated by so many examples in the media, such as the recent airline travel ban relating to Muslim countries. This edition explores these themes – reflections on the story of Purim, a very brief look at the Pesach story (blink, or you may miss it) and more thorough look at Interfaith, as exemplified by the recent Gloucester Cathedral exhibition.

Two forthcoming events will give us an opportunity to explore these themes further. In June, we have our annual Anne Frank interfaith service, to be held at Saxon Hall Hereford, to which we will invite members of different faiths. In a different way, we also having our first (for a long time) joint service with Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish community, which will be an opportunity to create or renew relationships with members of another community.

The recent controversial discussions arising from the death of Martin McGuinness show us that there is not necessarily an easy distinction between those who are ‘the other’ and those who can help create peace. The Purim story, however fantastic it may be, tells the story of how an interfaith marriage resulted in the saving of the Jews. We need to remember, as highlighted the recent tributes to the Westminster attacks, that communication with other faiths and those of other views is something we must continue to value. JB

In this edition:

Chair Chat: Comment on LJS Hebrew Day Tu B’Shvat Seder Film review – Denial Gloucester Interfaith exhibition Purim Comment Pesach k’neidlach recipe Book Reviews – Christian and Jewish Women in Britain, 1880-1940; East-West street

CHAIR CHAT

1. “KEEP CALM AND LEARN HEBREW” AT THE LIBERAL JEWISH SYNAGOGUE.

This was a great study day, particularly for those interested in the Hebrew language. There were a variety of different learning tracks, ranging from “Hebrew from scratch” to “Speaking Ivrit”. I chose sessions based on textual analysis, which actually encompassed a lot of grammatical points. I particularly enjoyed Rabbi Alexandra Wright’s session on a portion from Jonah in which she introduced us to the concept of the conversive Vav (as opposed to the conjunctive Vav)! I was constantly surprised by the intricacies (and difficulties) of the Hebrew language and was impressed by the knowledge of those in my group (some of whom were recent converts or were in the process of converting) which put my barmitzvah class Hebrew, based on thrice weekly cheder sessions, to shame. I also enjoyed Rabbi Rachel Benjamin’s session on Psalm 23 and found Rabbi Rene Pferzel’s afternoon sessions on the Mishnah particularly fascinating. We ended up with a communal singing session led by Rachel Benjamin. A fantastic day which I would thoroughly recommend to anyone who wants to brush up their Hebrew. I was also struck by the vibrancy of the LJS community with their excellent educational and cultural programmes, the work they do to support asylum seekers and their wonderful triumvirate of rabbis.

2. TU B’SHVAT AND PURIM

It was a great pleasure for us to have Rabbi Anna lead these two innovative events. The Tu b’ Shvat Seder is an interesting concept and it was fascinating to hear from Anna how it evolved into the form it is today. Many thanks to Cherry for organising the food to help make the event such a meaningful and sociable evening.

Our Purim service was great fun, with the usual cacophony from assorted “gragers.” Thespian talents were displayed in Anna’s own dramatised version of the Purim story, a veritable “Purim spiel.” The story of Esther, Mordechai and Haman is one of the most enigmatic and puzzling narratives in the Old Testament but it makes for a racy story with a rather unpleasant ending. No wonder it was not celebrated during the early years of Liberal Judaism.

3. DENIAL

This film split the critics between those who felt it lacked drama and catharsis and those who felt it gave a very straightforward and clear account of the complexity of an extremely important court case. I am of the latter view and admired the way it tackled the subject without the need to patronise its viewers. The court victory in 2000 over the arch holocaust denier, David Irving, was not easily won and revealed just how labyrinthine and time-consuming the process of legally unpicking these falsehoods was. Even more worrying, was the fact that Irving’s views were believed by so many people. And, of course, although the court case resulted in a complete refutation of his work, holocaust denial has, if anything, become even stronger in recent years with the growth of radical anti-semitism. Clearly there is a warning from history here. An important film and well worth seeing.

4. JEWS AND CATHOLICS ON SKIING

On a lighter note, I was amused by this extract from an article I read recently. “David Aaronovitch has put the Jewish aversion to winter sports down to the fact that his people ‘are particularly uninterested in endangering ourselves for fun’, that Catholics, in comparison, ‘have a steady belief in their entitlement – given some properly observed formalities – to the afterlife and that they might be said to have few natural predators’.”

Esther’s Mission

As Rabbi Anna reminded us at our Purim service, the Book of Esther has the air of oriental extravagance about it. Everything is just a bit over the top, and like Jewish communities all over we celebrated it – with our own bit of dressing up and a jokey retelling of the tale (à la Anna).

So what exactly are we celebrating? Haman, feeling slighted by the king, intends the genocide of the Jews. But as a result of the intervention by the righteous Mordechai and his beautiful niece Esther – the brave but reluctant heroine – the genocide is averted. And Purim, which is the only Jewish festival not mentioned in the Torah, gets its raison d’etre from this tale.

But when we discussed it in our Hebrew class the week before, we began to realize that Esther is rather a strange text in the Hebrew canon. For there is no mention of God in it, only the enigmatic reference by Mordechai that deliverance will come ‘from another place’ (4.14) if Esther does not agree to play the role he proposes for her. The rabbis had somehow to account for the divine absence here, so they interpreted it as an instance of God being ‘hidden from view’ – but not of course actually absent. They made this point by means of a biblical proof text asking: “Where is Esther indicated in the Torah?” Answer: “In Deut.31:18: ‘I will surely hide (Heb: astir) my face’” (astir being a word play on Esther’s name).

In more recent times, some interpreters have found this ‘hiddenness’ of God less reassuring and more problematic. The Jewish philosopher Emil Fackenhenim in his book The Jewish Bible After the Holocaust claims that for the post-Shoah generation of Jews, the Book of Esther now becomes a central text – but with implications that are rather disturbing. Is the Purim story in fact an instance of where Jews achieved victory over their enemies through their own actions rather than through divine assistance? Was their victory just a series of lucky coincidences? What if the king had not been sleepless that night? Or Vashti hadn’t acted like a proto-feminist? Or Mordechai hadn’t overheard the plotters and reported it? All this becomes more poignantly real in the light of that genocide in which no help (or not enough) came from ‘another place’ and thousands of would-be Mordechais and nameless willing Esther’s never got the chance to save their people from extermination.

Yet perhaps we can rediscover the hiddenness of God in this biblical text for our own age. In his book Modernity and the Holocaust Jewish historian Zygmunt Baumann (who died recently) claimed that among the conditions that made the mass extermination of the Jews possible, the most decisive factor was that of modernity itself. For modern civilization, in its inexorable pursuit of economic progress, sets up an order which privileges only certain sections of the population and treats the rest as expendable. In the C20th Europe, the religiously rooted mythology of anti-semitism meant that the ‘expendable’ population became the Jews. Baumann returns to this theme in another book of his which I’m reading now called Wasted Lives: Modernity and its Outcasts. He shows how modernity’s global triumph intensifies the process of creating certain people as superfluous or redundant. Their role then becomes to serve as a focus for new political anxieties and security fears: categories of people, like immigrants, asylum seekers, benefit dependents, or tribal people getting in the way of progress, are treated as a form of human waste.

But this trashing of populations and people which modernity generates can be seen as incompatible the central command of Hebrew scriptures, which enjoins us to treat the life of fellow humans as holy: You shall be holy for I am holy (Lev.11.44). Perhaps Esther’s mission to save a threatened people has in our own time been extended.

Angela West

‘Face to Faith’ Art Exhibition by Russell Haines – Gloucester Cathedral

After seeing a wonderful copy of a painting of Rabbi Anna, in the J.C. announcing an Art Exhibition on Faith by artist Russell Haines, at the Cloisters in Gloucester Cathedral, I went along to view the whole exhibition.

The Cathedral itself is a most beautiful building with a wonderful atmosphere and a lovely service was just finishing as I went through to the Cloisters.  The exhibition consisted of 37 wonderful huge paintings of people who held different beliefs.  Alongside each of the paintings was the text explaining what the person’s faith meant to them. The quality of each painting was exceptional and the artist was truly inspired and gifted, and I found the whole exhibition very moving.

On looking at the background of the artist later, I was amazed that he had only been painting a few years and had taken up art as a therapy to help his recovery after having a severe stroke.  He found he was unable to continue his main work as a builder and electrician and gradually had to start from scratch to rebuild his life and pick up the threads again.

This is an artist to look out for in the future.  I understand that he wishes to take this exhibition around the UK and abroad and hopes to continue the whole project with the theme of ‘Hope’ and then ‘Charity’.

For me it was so uplifting to read of Russell’s own life journey and the courage it must have taken to keep going and face such huge challenges and find what a wonderful creative gift he had to share as he recovered. It is so uplifting that he has found a way to inspire others who are challenged and not give up.

In terms of the exhibition, the message it contains for me is to be respectful of each person’s belief and let’s learn to live in harmony and peace together.  

As for Russell’s work – the perception and heart he put into each painting was truly exceptional and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to view the whole exhibition.  

Shirley G

Face to Faith Exhibition – further comment

gloucesterpic

Cherry and I went to this exhibition on a grey Saturday afternoon, having been told about it by Shirley Goldstein. It was certainly a stunning exhibition, set up along three sides of the cathedral cloisters and consisting of 37 larger-than-life sized portraits of leaders and members of different faiths. These included everything you could imagine from Rasta to Wicca to Runic to atheist, in addition to all the major world religions, with all of the individuals portrayed, living in or near Gloucester. The painting of Rabbi Anna Gerard, near the start of the exhibition, was very impressive and her writing as always, was moving and inspiring.

The paintings, in acrylic/oils are bold, bright, colourful, in your face with lots of primary colours as well as pieces of text woven into the fabric of the painting. It seems like a very bold step for such a wide-ranging exhibition to be mounted in the cathedral and indeed it has not been without local controversy with vandalism and attacks on the cathedral website resulting from the Islamic call to Prayer being recited at the initial exhibition launch. You can see more details of this at:

http://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/organisers-hit-out-at-inappropriate-claims-after-muslim-call-to-prayer-at-gloucester-cathedral/story-30065568-detail/story.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/12/vandals-artworks-gloucester-cathedral-religions-death-threats

I hope, that as Shirley Goldstein points out, this exhibition can have a successful tour in other locations, and we are thankful to Gloucester Cathedral and Rev. Ruth Fitter who helped organise the exhibition.

Julian Brown

Book Review

Author: Dr Anne Summers
Title: Christian and Jewish women in Britain, 1880-1940 : living with difference.
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan, 2017
Cost: hardcover £66.99; ebook £52.99; Chapters available from £23.94

Special offer – 20% discount on printed book or eBook using the token on palgrave.com PM1&TWENTY, valid until 05/06/2017.

HJCSummers

This is a series of vignettes of mainly Christian and Jewish women, their friendships, political campaigning and social works. Lily Montagu and Netta Franklin each have a chapter, so there is much of Liberal Jewish interest. It is very well-researched, each short chapter has pages of references. Miss Lily’s close ties with Margaret McDonald are explored and Netta’ close friendship with Charlotte Mason. Interfaith initiatives in the 1880s and 1890s in Salford and Manchester come from a wish to help poor women in entirely practical ways, such as the provision of soap, nurses and holidays for children. As on the Continent, there was co-operation between Jews and Christians to combat the social evil of prostitution, by appointing a dock agent to meet new arrivals and take them to safe suitable accommodation. Jews were seen as Honorary Protestants in some cases and invited on committees where Catholics were not. Constance Flower was an important bridge between the two groups, as she was born a Rothschild.

Dr Summers reckons it was these good relations that led to so much help from non-Jews for refugees from Nazism, in particular from Quakers, the National Council of Women and Save the Children among many other groups.

This is followed by chapters on Rebecca Sieff on English women and Zionism and finally on the very current topics of refuge and asylum. She concludes that in England there was a culture of decency interwoven with the ambiguities which bedevil all private and public relationships. The culture of wishing for neighbourliness and understanding must be embraced by senior clergy of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, not just a moderate liberal few individuals.
This is a very timely study for today, well written and very widely researched. I recommend this to all synagogue libraries, but the price is unfortunately high for many people. Light is thrown on many small groups, such as the Jewish Peace Society of 1914 and COPEC the Conference on Politics, Economics and Citizenship in 1924. This is an important contribution to our understanding of Britain in the late 19th century and up to the interwar years. Very readable and welcome as a contribution to the history of multiculturalism in Britain.

Alison Turner

Book review – East-West Street

Phillipe Sands, Penguin Random House

HJCeastwest

This is not a book for the faint hearted, dealing as it does with the origins of the crimes of Genocide, and Crimes against Humanity which were first established at the Nuremburg trials in 1945. However, it is also not too difficult a read, as it is also the personal story of the family history of the author, himself an expert in International Law. It traces the personal histories of the two eminent Law experts who first drafted the definition of these crimes, Hersche Lauterpacht and Raphael Lemkin, and also follows that of Hans Frank, the German Governor of Occupied Poland, and Hitler’s legal expert, who was one of those tried in Nuremburg, and whose son came to be a friend of the author while he was researching this book. This a very well researched account of middle Europe in the years leading up to 1939 and subsequent events during the war and in its immediate aftermath. I found this book fascinating, but at the same time, it is very much a factual narrative, as you may expect from a lawyer, but for me, it was sometimes lacking in emotion.

For more information, See: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/may/22/east-west-street-origin-genocide-crimes-against-humanity-philippe-sands-review

JB

KlezNorth 2017

HJCKleznorth

This is an opportunity to indulge yourself in Klezmer music, dance, and song. Only for Klezmer fanatics but a lot of fun, especially if it coincides with Purim, as this year. The event is held in the attractive village of Youlgrave in Derbyshire, with main activities taking place in the village hall, and workshops held in other locations throughout the village. You don’t have to be an instrumentalist, or even a singer to attend KlezNorth, but you do need to be prepared to participate, including helping with some of the practical/domestic tasks needing to be done over the weekend. Workshops on Yiddish Song, late night klezmer dancing and a wonderful Yiddish workshop/Purimspiel, at which we did yet another ludicrous re- enactment of the Purim story, were some of the highlights of the event. Catering was excellent, and accommodation is in the local Youth Hostel or local B&B’s. Recommended.

Julian & Cherry

Pesach K’neidlach Recipe (matzo balls)

I have tried various kneidle recipes and generally not got the nice fluffy texture that I was aiming for. However, this recipe I have found to be foolproof and comes from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem cookbook.

HJCKneidlach

Perfect Kneidlach (makes 12-15)

2 large eggs

40g margarine or chicken fat, melted and allowed to cool a bit

2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

75g matzo meal

4 tbsp soda water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk the eggs until frothy then whisk in the melted fat. Add ½ a teaspoon of salt, some black pepper and the parsley. Gradually stir in the matzo meal followed by the soda water and stir to a uniform paste. Cover the bowl and chill until cold and firm, at least an hour or two and up to a day ahead.

Line a baking sheet with cling film. Using your wet hands and a spoon, shape the batter into balls the size of small walnuts and place on the baking sheet

Drop the matzo balls into a large pot of boiling salted water. Cover partially with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Simmer gently until tender, about 30 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the kneidlach to a clean baking sheet to cool and then be chilled for up to a day, or they can go straight into the soup. Another option is to freeze them.

Cherry Wolfe

Members Welfare

Judith Labelter:

Some of you will have seen Judith Labelter at the last service and know that she is much improved, and now back at home, but still needs to improve further, and build up her strength. We wish her well for the future.

Pre-Pesach Story

Herschele Ostropolye is a Jewish wise guy who lived in the 18th Century near Mezhbizh in Southern Ukraine.

Here is a sample story relating to Pesach.

Herschele had a stall in the market where he was selling bric a brac including one item which was a large blank canvas. A passer-by came up and asked Herschele what sort of a painting it was. Herschele replied ‘If you give me a shekel, I’ll tell you all about it’. The curious punter paid over his shekel, and Herschele told him it was a famous painting of the Jews being chased by the Egyptians across the Red Sea.

So’, says the punter, ‘Where are the Jews?’

Oh, they’ve crossed already’

And where are the Egyptians?’

Oh, they haven’t come yet’.

The punter, now feeling really exasperated continues:

Nu, and where is the Red Sea?’

It’s parted.’

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Forthcoming Events
Our next HJC community meeting will be the Pesach Seder at Saxon Hall, Hereford on 13th April. Bookings are now closed, but contact Cherry Wolfe for any queries about this event.

AGM As last year, this will be a social event where we can relax in more comfortable surroundings and take the opportunity to review the community activities of the past year, and look at where we are going as a community.

AGM Sunday 7th May, Trumpet Inn, Ledbury, 1130 – 1230 followed by Social lunch. Please give in your menu choices on arrival.

Anne Frank Interfaith Service – Saturday 10th June 2017, Saxon Hall Hereford. We are hoping to have representatives of other faiths and local organisations present at this service which will be led this year by Rabbi Anna Gerrard.

Friday 28th April Interfaith Coffee morning, cakes, plant sale, raffle 10 – 12 Forbury Chapel , Leominster HR6 8NH

Herefordshire Interfaith Group

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 May 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 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

Wed 12th April Passover Seder meal 6.30 p.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE
Sunday 7th May AGM at Trumpet Inn, followed by Social lunch 11.30 a.m. Trumpet Inn, Ledbury, Ledbury Rd, Trumpet HR8 2RA
Saturday 27th May Shavuoth Shared Service with GLJC 11 a.m. Up Hatherley Village Hall Shiloh, Swindon Lane, Cheltenham GL51 9QG
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
Friday 28th April HIFG Interfaith Coffee morning, cakes, plant sale, raffle 10 – 12 Forbury Chapel , Leominster HR6 8NH

 

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

Email hjc@liberaljudaism.org Mark Walton

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

 

   
   
 

HJC Newsletter February/March 2017

Editorial

Despite our small numbers, HJC continues to be a very strong and active and local community, and we have managed to continue with a number of events, even through these dark winter months. We have also a number of members with ill health over this time, which has reduced attendances, and we wish everyone in our community good health as we move forward in 2017. Our next event will be a Tu b’Shvat Seder – a celebration of the Jewish New Year for trees, and this will also mark the beginning of spring in the Jewish calendar. This will be an afternoon Seder and tea, so we hope many of you will be able to come along.

Julian Brown, Editor

In this edition:

Chair Chat Hebrew Groups

Holocaust Memorial Day – Poems

Encounters with Shoah – Angela West

Chanukah song – Background to Ladino

Remembering Rabbi Lionel Blue

Book Review Terror, Trauma & Tragedy

Film Review – Through the Wall

Forthcoming events: Jewish Book Week, Klez North, Interfaith Women’s Day, Crash Hebrew course – Northwood and Pinner.

CHAIR CHAT

Chanukah party

As usual, a very pleasant evening with the customary doughnuts and latkes. Julian and daughter Maya entertained us with songs and stories while Rabbi Anna led a very interesting discussion on the “Book of the Maccabees.”

January service at Colwall

Many thanks again to Julian and Cherry for leading this. Unfortunately, the weather was poor which meant that attendance was lower than usual. However, we had an interesting discussion about the role of the Egyptian midwives in the Torah portion, “Shemot.” It was also an opportunity to reflect on “Holocaust Memorial Day,” with some very moving contemporary poems which are reprinted in this newsletter.

Rabbi Lionel Blue

Lionel Blue

We also took time to discuss our memories of the late lamented Rabbi Blue, one of the most popular and listened to religious figures of our time. But also a very brave and tormented individual, summed up for me by the following quotation:

I went along with religion for many years not believing it, because after all a lot of it is not believable, but as I went on in life I began to trust it more and more and it reshaped me, made me a much nicer person … the religion thing worked.” He claimed to be guided by a guardian angel whom he called Fred: “I hold his hand and we sit next to each other and we cuddle.”

Most people will remember him for the jokes with which he used to end his homilies on the Today programme and, in his honour and memory, here is my contribution to the Jewish humour archive – best spoken with the appropriate accents,

An Imam, a priest, and a rabbi, in their efforts to further the cause of interfaith relations, gather for their weekly spot of golf, but find they are waiting a very long time for a group ahead of them to move on. The caddy returns when he discovers the reason for the delay is that the group ahead are ‘blind golfers’ – they can’t see a thing.

The Imam responds by saying, “Aahh, Allah, praise Allah, that there are such wonders in the world. “

The priest responds by saying,” Praise be to Jesus, such miracles can happen, that their souls be touched.”

The Rabbi responds by saying,” so, they couldn’t choose to play at night time?”

Ochos Kandelikos and Ladino

At HJC Chanukah party we were introduced to a Chanukah song in Ladino, the language of the Sephardi Jews, equivalent to the Yiddish of Ashkenazi Jews. Here is more background on Ladino for those interested, with occasional pictures from our party, including the six dreidl challenge!

Ladino, otherwise known as Judeo-Spanish, is the spoken and written Hispanic language of Jews of Spanish origin. Ladino did not become a specifically Jewish language until after the expulsion from Spain in 1492 – it was merely the language of their province. It is also known as Judezmo, Dzhudezmo, or Spaniolit.

HJCChan1

1Musical Chanukah

When the Jews were expelled from Spain and Portugal they were cut off from the further development of the language, but they continued to speak it in the communities and countries to which they emigrated. Ladino therefore reflects the grammar and vocabulary of 14th and 15th century Spanish. The further away from Spain the emigrants went, the more cut off they were from developments in the language, and the more Ladino began to diverge from mainstream Castilian Spanish.

In Amsterdam, England and Italy, those Jews who continued to speak ‘Ladino’ were in constant contact with Spain and therefore they basically continued to speak the Castilian Spanish of the time.

HJCChan2

2concentration on dreidl spinning

However, in the Sephardi communities of the Ottoman Empire, the language not only retained the older forms of Spanish, but borrowed so many words from Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Turkish, and even French, that it became more and more distorted. Ladino was nowhere near as diverse as the various forms of Yiddish, but there were still two different dialects, which corresponded to the different origins of the speakers.

‘Oriental’ Ladino was spoken in Turkey and Rhodes and reflected Castilian Spanish, whereas ‘Western’ Ladino was spoken in Greece, Macedonia, Bosnia, Serbia and Romania, and preserved the characteristics of northern Spanish and Portuguese. The vocabulary of Ladino includes hundreds of archaic Spanish words which have disappeared from modern day Spanish, and also includes many words from different languages that have been substituted for the original Spanish word, from the various places Ladino speaking Jews settled. Some terms were actually transferred from one community to another through commercial or cultural relations, whereas others remained peculiar to particular communities. These foreign words derive mainly from Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish, Greek, French, and to a lesser extent from Portuguese and Italian. In the Ladino spoken in Israel, several words have been borrowed from Yiddish. For most of its lifetime, Ladino was written in the Hebrew alphabet, in Rashi script, or in Solitro, a cursive method of writing letters. It was only in the 20th century that Ladino was ever written using the Latin alphabet. In fact, what is known as ‘rashi script’ was originally a Ladino script which became used centuries after Rashi’s death in printed books to differentiate Rashi’s commentary from the text of the Torah.

HJCChan3

3candle lighting HJC 2016

At various times Ladino has been spoken in North Africa, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, France, Israel, and, to a lesser extent, in the United States (the highest populations being in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, and south Florida) and Latin America. By the beginning of this century, with the spread of compulsory education in the language of the land, Ladino began to disintegrate. Emigration to Israel from the Balkans hastened the decline of Ladino in Eastern Europe and Turkey.

The Nazis destroyed most of the communities in Europe where Ladino had been the first language among Jews. Ladino speakers who survived the Holocaust and emigrated to Latin America tended to pick up regular Spanish very quickly, whilst others adopted the language of whichever country they ended up in. Israel is now the country with the greatest number of Ladino speakers, with about 200,000 people who still speak or understand the language, but even they only know a very limited and basic Ladino.

It is important to note that Ladino is not modern Spanish, and also to note that just because someone speaks modern Spanish, this fact alone does not make them Sephardic.

http://www.sephardicstudies.org/quickladino.html

Shemot – Shifrah and Puah

Read at Shabbat Service 21 January

The story of Shifrah and Puah, the Hebrew Midwives, is an important one, particularly as there are few stories in the Torah in which women are at the centre. We are told of the moral courage of Shifrah and Puah in dealing with Pharaoh who orders them to slay all male babies. They are able to talk their way round Pharaoh by telling him that the Hebrew women give birth more quickly than the Egyptian women and the babies have arrived by the time they get there. Shifrah and Puah quietly practice passive resistance in how they disobey Pharaoh, yet making him think they are still to be trusted.

Shifrah and Puah are known as God-fearing which appears to describe their moral and ethical position, which transcends religion and culture.

Cherry Wolfe

Book review – Terror, Trauma and Tragedy: rabbinic responses.

Edited by Jonathan Romain and David Mitchell

This book has just been published by the Sternberg Centre for reform Judaism and contains short essays by 24 Reform and Liberal rabbis. The book tries to investigate responses that we may have to tragic events that happen in our lives, in the lives of those we know, or in the lives of the wider community. Some of the essays are very personal, for example what happened after the sudden death of a family member, and some relate to world events such as 9/11 and other terror attacks. I found the essay(s) by Sandra Kviat and Rebecca Lillian especially illuminating, written in response to terror attacks in Copenhagen in February 2015. Rebecca Lillian writes of the amazing support given to the Jewish community by members of other faiths: Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and by people of no particular faith. Muslims in particular promised to surround the local synagogue with a ring of peace for Shabbat service stating, ‘If anyone wants to commit violence in the name of Islam [they will] have to go through us Muslims first.’ Perhaps an extreme example but perhaps also very relevant to the times we are living in. Rebecca goes on to say that she was inspired to make a similar promise to their Muslim neighbours. Her final comment was a response to a statement written on a heart pinned up outside the synagogue after the tragedy which read, ’I believe in love without borders.’ Rebecca Lillian respectfully disagreed saying that she believes in love despite borders, as borders do exist but can be crossed, with respect friendship and mutual understanding. This is harder to achieve but creates a much stronger foundation.

JB

Two Encounters with the Shoah – Angela West

HJCBialystock

1. In 2008, Roger and I made some travels in Eastern Poland, where we visited a Polish friend in Bialystok. Here I happened to come across a small book by Tomasz Wiznievski, Jewish Bialystok and Surroundings in East Poland. The author was a journalist who had been arrested under the Communists for his dissident activities, and while in prison had discovered quite by chance that before the war the population of his city had been 60% Jewish. He set out to research its Jewish past, and thanks to his text, we were able to explore something of the Jewish heritage of the city – which, as we soon discovered, locals were not particularly keen to show off to tourists.

4 cemetery i Bialystok

Among other sites, we visited the main Jewish Cemetery in Wschodnia St, originally one of four, said to have 7000 mazevas within a 30 acre boundary. This was the only one to have survived the Nazis, who used many of the 35-40,000 gravestones for road building and paving stones. The cemetery now showed signs of sad neglect and local hostility, and presented a sharp contrast with the nearby Catholic cemetery which was lovingly tended by a constant stream of visitors. But in Bialystok after the Shoah, there is no Jewish community left to care for the graves of the ancestors.

Even more poignant was what we found when attempting to visit some of the graveyards of the smaller Jewish communities in the surrounding areas. These were completely unsignposted and not marked on local maps, often with no discernible pathway or evidence of their existence. Without Wiznievski’s account, we would never have found them. On more than one occasion as we approached the site, there seemed to be nothing there except boulders among the trees. Only on closer inspection did we notice some barely visible Hebrew letters on the ‘boulder’ – a sort of dying testimony to the destruction of a whole community.

2. Two books I read recently throw light on the factors which help to explain how the Shoah was possible. These are:

Amos Elon, The Pity of it All: A Portrait of the German Jewish Epoch 1743-1933, and secondly, Michael Mack, German Idealism and the Jew: the Inner Anti-Semitism of Philosophy and German Jewish Responses.

The first describes the attempts of German Jewry in the post-Enlightenment period to gain civic equality in the country of their birth. Despite the fact that they produced a stunningly successful community of writers, philosophers, scientists, tycoons and activists, non-Jewish German society

as a whole stubbornly resisted their advancement, choosing instead to regard this small minority as a deadly threat to German national integrity. The book’s title aptly indicates the feeling one is left with after reading about this tragic struggle.

The second book (which I am now re-reading) demonstrates how, in an age when German philosophers were promoting the Enlightenment vision of an age of universal reason, the idealist tradition of Kant, Hegel, Feuerbach (and others) remained deeply rooted in prejudicial narrative of Christian anti-semitism. These philosophers managed to transform it into a modern myth in which Jews were seen as enslaved to their irrational god, a race of materialist aliens who could not be assimilated into the polity of a nation founded on transcendent reason and the principle of autonomy.

The author also examines a number of Jewish writers from the Enlightenment period, from Moses Mendelssohn, to Rosenzweig, Benjamin and Freud. Fortunately, these give a less prejudicial account of enlightened reason, which in a post-Shoah age, is urgently needed for a more complete and humane model of rationality.

Angela West

Holocaust Memorial Day 27 January 2017

http://hmd.org.uk/news/reflections-loss-and-living-our-site-hmd-2017

Two poems read at the Shabbat Service on 21 January in recognition of Holocaust Memorial Day


September silence. The blackbird’s on the lawn
who sang all summer from the summit of the ash,
knew only a few acres of belonging
but held his ground, possessed it with a psalm,
the lovely Latin of a blackbird’s song.

He sang in Auschwitz, though he knew nothing
of the mother whose sheared hair he stole
to bind his nest of moss, and mud, and grasses,
or her starved child watching behind the wire
the murderous purpose of the trucks.

Innocent, he sang in Srebrenica
from the spires of cypress, cedar, palm,
above the grave of slaughtered boys and men,
beloved bodies cast in despair’s deep pit
and buried, nameless, without hymn or balm.

A bird’s pure voice heard in the killing fields
while Cambodia’s millions died, bodies thrown
like detritus into the wounded earth.
Now swallows in the evening air rehearse
their journey south over Rwanda and Darfur,

their flight and song remembering the dead,
telling their story. Sing their names like prayer.
Human, they loved once and were beloved,
heard birdsong, and words, our human song,
our shared claim to the earth, and to belong.

Gillian Clarke, National Poet for Wales 2008 – 2016

What is worse?

You would think that nothing could be worse than being

Discriminated against, having rights stripped away and being mocked

By the Nazis using my own passport, using my own religious star. I

Was poor and hurt. But actually I was wrong, the Ghetto was worse.

You would think that nothing could be worse than being moved to an

Isolated Ghetto, shut away from the outside world. There were

Guards at the exits to this place. I was hungry, thirsty and exhausted.

But actually I was wrong, the Concentration Camps were far worse.

You would think that nothing could be worse than being forced to

Work, hardly getting any sleep at night because of lying awake,

Worrying and asking a question over and over; do us Jews really

Deserve this? I was weak, in pain and had no sense of hope left. But

Actually I was wrong, the gas chambers were worse.

You would think that nothing could be worse than travelling on a

train to a gas chamber, knowing you would be dead soon. Well,

you could be right. But actually, we are both wrong, being a survivor is the worst.

There is nothing worse than knowing that 11 million other people

died and you didn’t. The Holocaust stopped, I was rescued, and,

somehow, I managed to survive. All the guilt, all the sorrow and

sadness. It’s so overwhelming. I could never forgive the Nazis, but I

could never forgive myself for what I did in order to survive…

Joseph Krakowski

written by Joseph Krakowski, Year 9, Bangor Grammar School, and submitted by Amanda Crossthwaite, Year 9 English teacher.

Members Welfare

Judith Labelter:

We’re hoping that Judith will soon be home from hospital where she has been for a few weeks. She is gradually improving and she has had a short visit home to assess her progress. David has been doing more than a sterling job in visiting Judith each day, which involves braving the hazards of the notorious Worcester Link road works. Not only that, he has also to look after the dog as well as making meals for himself, so quite a challenge for him to take on.

Film Review

Through The Wall a film by Rama Burshtein – available at Curzonhomecinema.com

f you want an alternative take on the Orthodox Jewish community (and maybe brush up your Hebrew at the same time), this film made by an ultra orthodox woman film maker in Jerusalem is a breath of fresh air. However, it is somewhat slow, and not like the fast action films we are used to seeing coming out of Hollywood, but it is well filmed, and tells the story of a mid-thirties single woman still looking for a husband. The opening scene with a Shadchan, a marriage maker, is a brilliant beginning, illustrating the blend of humour with searching questions which weave together in this film. You could call this film an orthodox Jewish mixture of Bridget Jones Diary with Eat, Pray, Love – but don’t take those associations too closely as this is set mainly in a Jerusalem Orthodox world. There are limitations to the film, and according to the Guardian review, it is not at all as good as Burstein’s first film, Fill the Void, so perhaps that may be one to go for in the future. Through the Wall may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s not altogether an easy film to watch, but Cherry and I found it worth watching, despite perhaps an unsatisfactory ending. You can watch this yourself at Curzonhomecinema.com for £8 for 48 hours rental, or less if you are a member.

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 March 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 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 Services

HJCTuBShvat

Our next service/event will be the Tu B’Shevat Seder, Saturday 11th February 2017. Note that this will be at 4 p.m. in Burgage Hall Ledbury, and will be led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard. Please bring contributions to tea, especially including anything that comes from trees, such as fruits and nuts. More details to follow.

Forthcoming Events

Learn to Read or Improve your Hebrew in a Weekend

Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue

Introducing our 11th Hebrew Crash Course: come and learn to read or improve your fluency and understanding of Hebrew in a weekend in a stimulating community atmosphere.

Dates: Friday 3 March – Sunday 5 March 2017

Times: Friday 6pm – 10pm including a 8:30pm Shabbat Service

Saturday 9:30am – 5pm ending with Havdalah

Sunday 10am – 4pm

Cost: £75 for members of a synagogue, £125 for non-members. The price includes all sessions, study materials and meals.

Led by Rabbi Aaron Goldstein & Rabbi Lea Mühlstein

For more information or to book your place, please contact Sukhi Latter on sukhi@npls.org.uk or 01923 822 592

Jewish Book Week

HJCJewBkWk

25 February – 5 March, Kings Place, London

A feast of talks with authors and a fascinating collection of new writing.

Details at:

http://jewishbookweek.com/?keys=&page=1&q=events2017&tid=&type=all#sthash.gEiooPsg.dpuf

KlezNorth

Musical klezmer weekend in Derbyshire Peak district. Come if you play an instrument or even if you don’t. 17th – 19th March 2017 See  https://kleznorth.org.uk/  for details.

Women 2 Women Faith 2 Faith
celebrating international women’s day

HJCIWD2017

Sat March 4th, 9.30am – 4.30 pm
at the Kindle Centre, Belmont Road, Hereford HR2 7JE

An exciting day of opportunities to get to together with other local women from all backgrounds.

Come at 9.30 for a drink and a chance to get to know one another – the morning will then start formally at 10.00 with a meditation to quieten the soul, followed by a variety of craft workshops.

We’ll have a shared lunch – please bring vegetarian food that is easy to share. Refreshments will be provided.

In the afternoon we will again start with a meditation, followed by some singing and an opportunity to share on the theme of The Many Ways That Women Love.
You are invited to prepare something to say on this subject: it can be something from your personal experience, something that you know 3
rd hand, or something about a special woman in history that has shown love and wisdom and made a difference within her sphere of influence or beyond.

The event is free to all but donations to support such events will be welcome.
There will be an opportunity to sit on cushions on the floor – chairs will be available as well.
Please book in advance if at all possible as, although no one will be turned away, it will help us to plan for numbers.

STRANGERS ARE FRIENDS THAT WE HAVE YET TO MEET

Bookings/Enquiries: Venerable Tenzin Choesang (Ani – la Choesang)
Tel: 01568 750082 email:
Jackymwarren@sky.com

 

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

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.

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

Wed 12th April

Passover Seder meal

6.30 p.m.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Sunday May 7th

AGM at Trumpet Inn, followed by Social lunch

11 a.m.

Trumpet Inn, Ledbury

Friday 19th May

Chavurah suppers

Hereford, Monmouth & Malvern

Saturday 10th June

Ann Frank service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

t.b.c.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

Email hjc@liberaljudaism.org

Telephone Mark Walton 01594 530721 after 6pm

HJC Newsletter April/May 2016

Editorial

This time of the year between Purim and Pesach is usually a flurry of activity, spring cleaning our houses, waking up to all those things we have been putting off through the long winter months.   In HJC, we have finally started our Hebrew Learning sessions, and some of us also took part in Purim activities in various locations.  Following our Pesach Seder, we will be preparing for our AGM in May, which is an opportunity to see what we have achieved in the year.  Despite members leaving, we still manage to put on a successful variety of events, and we also have new members joining us for activities, so for now HJC is an active community.

Julian Brown

In this edition:   

Chair Chat                  NIF/Yachad Security Conference                   Purim News               

Leo Baeck Youth Orchestra Concert              Herefordshire Interfaith Group report       

A Worcestershire Jewish Mystery                           Donation Thank you letters

                                                            Hebrew Learning

CHAIR CHAT April 2016

SERVICES

We have been fortunate while Rabbi Anna is on leave to have arranged a number of visiting rabbis to lead services for us.   Rabbi  Margaret Jacobi came to Colwall on Saturday February 27 and we had an interesting session before the service on the “Aleinu,” discussing why some progressive Jews are uncomfortable with the prayer and looking at a few alternative versions.   It is always a pleasure to welcome Margaret on one of her visits from Birmingham as there are many links between our two congregations.

We had hoped to say a fond farewell at this service to Andrea Berry-Ottaway who is moving to Banbury to be closer to her daughter.   Unfortunately, Andrea was not well enough to attend but we sent her all our best wishes.

We were very pleased to welcome Rabbi Alexandra Wright, the senior rabbi from the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London, to our Friday night service on March 11.   This was the first service we have held in the Burgage Hall  in Ledbury which I felt was a very nice venue for us, despite the difficulty in parking.    Rabbi Alexandra gave a very interesting talk about changing attitudes to Purim and it was particularly nice for her to welcome back Hanna Wine (who is also a member of LJS) to the community after her spell in hospital in London.    Alex also very kindly donated to us a newly published collection of sermons from women rabbis which anyone in the community is welcome to borrow.

We look forward to welcoming you all to our communal Seder at the Saxon Hall in Hereford on Tuesday April 24 (booking forms have already gone out).   I feel it is particularly appropriate this year to consider our own exodus when so many migrants are making perilous journeys to escape civil wars and poverty.

Finally, in our line up of visiting rabbis, we are looking forward to the visit of Rabbi Andrew Goldstein, currently  President of Liberal Judaism,  to Saxon Hall on Saturday June 11 to mark Anne Frank Day and the anniversary of our tree planting ceremony.   Please help to make this a very special day for us.

AGM

As last year, we are holding this at the Trumpet Inn, Ledbury HR8 2RA on Sunday May 22. This was a very successful venue and meeting last year, so let’s hope we can repeat the performance.  This is also a chance to air your views about the events of HJC in the past year, and, of course, elect Council Members for the next year.  We have lost some very valued Council members over the last two years and have been running on low numbers for several months, so would welcome new members to Council. HJC can only continue to run well if all of us play a part, however small, in helping organise our activities, so please let us know if you think you can help.   You will also be able to enjoy a nice Sunday lunch (pre order forms will be going out shortly).

TEA ROTA
Many thanks to the “volunteers” who have filled this important role.   A service is not the same without a nosh and a nice cup of tea afterwards.   As in many areas, we very much miss the organising ability of Andrea and welcome any offers of help.

Mark Walton

New Israel Fund and Yachad Security Conference: London, 6th March 2016

Report by Jacquie Hannan

 

The annual Security Conference was held in the Cavendish Conference Rooms near Regent Street, London, between 09.15 and 16.30. It was good to see the security presence of a police van outside as well.

The NIF’s inception was in 1979 and to paraphrase from their web site, they are a progressive organisation advocating for a tolerant, democratic and inclusive Israel, empowering marginalized Israelis and discourse in the Diaspora. They speak up for civil rights and religious tolerance issues.

There were Open Plenary meetings  to begin with through the morning followed by  one hour lively sessions with smaller groups, such as focussing on border security, followed by questions and answers. There were many interesting speakers for instance Ami Ayaloon who was a former director of Shin Bet. Apparently all the surviving former heads of Shin Bet favour a two state solution, as well as around half of the population.

The Opening Plenary Part 1.

On that panel were Aziz Abu Sarah, an East Jerusalem resident who attended Israel College of the Bible, who felt the government has failed to make all Israelis feel secure; Eyal Ben-Reuven of the Zionist Union who sees a two state solution as the only feasible solution to end the conflict, while retaining Israel as both a Jewish and Democratic state; Daniel Seideman; Talia Sasoon; and chaired by Jonathan Friedland.

An attempt has been made here to relay an amalgam of some of the themes.

“Core Security Challenges”

No-one knows what will happen, intelligence of the US and other countries can’t see the future, and the borders change every day. Syria is no longer a state. They see Russia attack Syria from the Golan Heights. The situation is very unstable, very dangerous, and they have to be prepared for anything. When they left they had been 51 days under missile and mortar attacks and Iran and Hezbollah are getting more confident. Jordan is struggling under 1 million refugees. Security is better than before 1967 but Hezbollah is dangerous. A new relationship is needed with Saudi and Egypt. The region has changed, Syria will be different, nobody is addressing existential threats, and Israelis need access to the Holy sites. Ceasefires mean 150 are killed a day instead of 250. Jordan must be kept stable and will need Israel to protect them, Lebanon is very stable. Security in the south is better since the disengagement. There are many Eritrean refugees. The people need to be given hope but there is high distrust. EU is an example that free trade can be achieved, however the BDS is unhelpful, Israelis think the world is against them. Israel and Jordan had common operations.

It was an informative conference and well worth attending.        

 Jacquie Hannan

 

 

Purim news

Alison Turner writes:

Marc and I went to see Hen Bradshaw and her husband Gary for Purim. We went to the Nottingham Liberal Synagogue, with Isaac in a bear suit a friend made for him and I wore one of the hats Hen has made. She’ll be selling the hats if anyone would like one. The Nottingham community is very lively and we all had great fun, reading the megillah, playing games and having a splendid kiddush, with whisky and wine as well as soft drinks and many sorts of hamantaschen and other food. Isaac distinguished himself by saying a coherent sentence, he kept dropping his rattle and at one point was most insistent “Hen get it”. She is much more experienced in baby talk than me, and was most impressed that he says “ank oo” for thank you and can use a straw. We were made most welcome by the community.

Hen Bradshaw writes:  “Hi, everyone, I am settled well in Chesterfield and thanks to Alison and Marc Turner, I have broken the ice with the Nottingham Liberal Community.
They made me so welcome and I have had volunteers to help me within the Shul, when I attend services. Rabbi Tanya is lovely and very bubbly, much like Rabbi Anna. Alison is posting photographs of Purim, where Alison and I won a prize for our hats.”

 

Leo Baeck Youth Orchestra Concert BPS

On 22 March, I went with our sometime members, Ralph and Val Eskinasi to the Purim evening concert given by Leo Baeck Youth orchestra at Birmingham Progressive Synagogue. It is always a pleasure to go to an event at BPS, as they have very welcoming premises, and are always happy to have visitors. This was a Big Band orchestra with a wide range of instruments including brass section, saxophone, a number of flutes and the usual classical orchestra instruments.

The orchestra is composed of young people in their final two years of school, all of whom give up much of their spare time to be part of the orchestra. This concert was one of six they are giving in the UK and they have also performed in Ireland and several locations in Germany.

They played a medley of different pieces, all with panache and flair, ranging from contemporary Israeli pop, to old favourites, such as Hallelujah, and Over the Rainbow.  Many pieces had been re-arranged for them by their musical conductor, David Sofer, a quietly spoken, but impressive young Israeli. The most powerful items for me were one in which the only male singer in the band sang an oriental style Salaam Shalom melody, and another slower and traditional melody, but the high energy contemporary items were also enjoyable.

The concert was followed by a Q & A session with members of the orchestra and their musical director.  One question related to where they perform, which included old people’s homes, school concerts, and to Holocaust survivors. It was also an opportunity to hear directly from the players, which showed their enthusiasm and variety of experience , including one ex-student, who is now an officer in the Israeli Defence Forces.

There are a number of projects in the Haifa area, all interlinked, of which this is one.  For more information, see: http://www.npls.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/LBEC-Youth-Big-Band-Orchestra-Resume.pdf

Julian Brown

Herefordshire Interfaith Meeting – report by Alison Turner

I went to the Kindle Centre in Hereford for an International Women’s Day event on 5 March, which was run by Ani-La Choesang Venerable Tsuiltrim Tenzin Choesang and attended by about 30 people. Most of them were Christians of various denominations and a few were of no particular spiritual path. In the morning we started with meditation and lighting candles, then split into pairs or threes and made corsages for each other. This was a good way to get to know each other and led on to making cards and artworks. The cards are Artists Friendship Cards, part of a project to connect to women across the world, in an attempt to break down barriers of ignorance and suspicion of those of different cultures. At first we will write as a group to another group, then hope to progress to individual contacts. Anyone who wants to join would be very welcome, please contact  june@the-hermit-online.co.uk

 

We had a vegetarian buffet lunch together, then dancing with live music and sharing our stories of how our faith and spirituality influences and supports us. It was a lively and interesting day, I learnt a lot about Christian Science, Bahai faith and attitudes to women in different faiths. We shared literature from our religions and many people did not know there was a Jewish community here, so it was well worth attending on a community as well as personal level.

Hebrew Learning

We are at last beginning our Hebrew Learning groups with one group meeting in Malvern and one in Monmouth. First meetings are planned f or 5th and 19th April. We have a range of resources and will report back on progress following the initial meetings.  The groups are open to anyone wanting to improve their Hebrew at whatever level.  If anyone else would like to be part of these groups (or set up another one), let us know, as we did not receive completed  Hebrew surveys from all members.  If you did not know the Hebrew alphabet includes 5 final letters, three pairs of double letters, two pairs of same sounding letters, and two silent letters, here is your chance to find out more, and if this is really true.

Note , we are still looking for transport for Hereford members to join the Monmouth group.  Julian Brown & Cherry Wolfe

High Holyday Appeal Thank you letters

We have received letters from St Michael’s Hospice and from Medecins Sans Frontieres in response to our donations. We have not yet heard back from the Children of Peace charity.

 

A Fascinating Story – Worcestershire mystery

Recently I was contacted by a man living not far from me, who wanted to make a link with a local Jewish community on account of a Tallith bag, which had a story attached to it. Read on for more information.

‘This story goes back to the Second World War, and who knows, perhaps further than that. Geographically it goes from some unknown country in Central Europe to a Prisoner of War Camp in Kent, and from there to rural Worcestershire.

It begins with   a young man, perhaps 16 years old or younger. All we know is that he was clearly well below the age to be enlisted and fight as a solider, and yet, this young man turns up, badly wounded, in a prisoner of War camp in Kent, during the war. We do not know where he came from, but we do know one more unusual fact – that he was Jewish, or at the very least had a close connection with a Jewish family.  Why would a young  Jewish teenager end up wounded in a British  P.O.W. camp? As a Jew it is very unlikely he would have been a German, but equally it is unlikely he would have been Polish, if in a P.O. W. camp.  It is more possible he could have been Ukrainian, but all this is pure conjecture.

This is also a story of kindness, and here comes the connection with Worcestershire, where there was a large Ministry of Defence site, called the Air Defence Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE)  based at the North edge of Malvern. We don’t know the precise details, as these were highly secret at the time, but we do know that there were frequent deliveries from ADRDE to this P.O.W. camp in Kent, and it wasn’t long before the wounded young lad, came to the attention of the ADRDE drivers, who felt sorry for him, and his plight, as he surely should not have been in such a situation. A lady from Malvern Link close by to the M.O.D. establishment, had a sister who worked in the canteen at ADRDE, and when she got to hear of this young man, she too felt sorry for him, so much so, that she decided to use her sweet ration (quite precious at that time) to buy sweets which she sent with the drivers to be given to this young man.  This went on for several visits, and the young man was clearly very grateful  for the sweets.

All in all, we know that at some point, this lady decided she wanted to visit the young man. Now visiting P.O.W’s was not a normal procedure in wartime Britain, and permission had to be sought, but it was in fact, granted. Not only that, but details of the train journey and times, and confirmation that she would be collected from the station in Kent by someone from the camp were sent to her for her visit the next month. You can imagine the anticipation on both sides before the meeting, but before this could happen, the young man tragically died from his injuries.  This, however is not the end of the story, and this is where the Jewish connection comes in.

The young man had in his possession what he called a prayer mat, which in fact we now know was a Tallith bag, the velvet bag used to keep Tallith or prayer shawl , and which all orthodox Jews would have in their possession. This particular bag was in maroon velvet, with Hebrew Inscription embroidered in gold and initials MS embroidered on the back flap.  The lad has asked before his death, that the bag be given to the kind lady from Malvern and sure enough the drivers brought the bag back to her. This whole story is quite amazing, if you consider Britain was at war, and yet all these actions were done on behalf of someone who was, at least, technically, the enemy.

Transcribed by Julian Brown from conversations with Jackie Davies and Paul Amphlett, March 2016

Forthcoming Events

HJC Communal Seder

There’s still time to book for HJC Communal Seder, which will be held at Saxon Hall. We look forward to an enjoyable and stimulating evening.

 

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

This is Liberal Judaism’s biggest event and is an opportunity to find out all the latest on LJ thinking, to go to a wide range of Limmud style workshops and discussions, and most of all to meet with a wide range of members of other Liberal Jewish Communities, as well as meet many of the diverse group of Liberal Jewish Rabbis. I promise you, you will not come back from this event disappointed.

For this year’s Biennial, LJ comment:

Liberal Judaism is in the initial stages of developing a new Siddur, this is a chance to be part of thinking what this will look like, but even more so it is an opportunity to think of new ways to use music, literature and arts within our communities. The Conference aims to combine study with practical explorations of what it means to enliven and enrich our congregations and our own personal spiritual, cultural and social Jewish lives. Rabbi Charley Baginsky, chair of the Biennial Weekend organising committee, said:
“Liberal Judaism has always been at the forefront of Progressive Jewish life, pushing us to think about the future in ways that can build on our heritage and our past” 

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.

 

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 May 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 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

Sunday 24 April    HJC Communal Seder 6.30 p.m. at Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Sunday 22 May   AGM at Trumpet Inn, near Ledbury, Herefordshire 11.30 a.m. Trumpet Inn, near Ledbury, Herefordshire. HR8 2RA

Saturday 11 June   Anne Frank Day Service led by Rabbi Andrew Goldstein time t.b.c. at Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Other Events of Interest

July 1st – 3rd Liberal Judaism Biennial Conference 7 p.m. start St John’s Hotel, Solihull

Communal Seder bookings extended to 11 April

This year’s Communal Seder will be held at Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE on Sunday 24th April 2016, at 6.30pm.

We have a good number of bookings for the Seder this year, but still have places left. It would be great if a few more of you want to come along, as we have plenty of space at Saxon Hall.  Please send in your applications by Monday 11 April.

Numbers are limited and will be allocated on a first come-first serve basis. The cost will be £20 each, children under 18 and students in full-time education free.

The service will be led by Julian Brown and Mark Walton. Catering will be provided by Cherry Wolfe – please choose your main course as shown below.

Please contact Mark Walton on 01594 530721 after 6pm to book your place.

Choice of main course: Salmon …………….Vegetarian …………..

DO IT NOW SO YOU DON’T FORGET!

Last date to reserve a place Monday 11th April

 

HJC Newsletter April/May 2015 – Pesach Edition

Editorial

As I write this we are approaching Pesach, a Festival of Freedom. Our communal Seder is always a time when we remember those in other communities and other times in our history, who are not, or were not, as free as we are in Herefordshire Community. It’s a time both to celebrate our freedom and to do what we can to bring about the freedom of others. It’s also an opportunity for us to develop the freedom from the limitations we impose on ourselves. Taking that first step is sometimes the hardest, as was the case for that first Hebrew to enter the Red Sea when the waters parted in the Pesach story.

There are some important events to look forward to in our calendar, once Pesach has ended. They include a Baby naming ceremony for Alison and Marc Turner’s son, Isaac which will be held on 11 July. For this event we hope Rabbi Danny Rich will be present. However prior to that we have our AGM on Sunday10 May where we hope to have lunch together at a pub, which is a new venture for HJC, and should be an enjoyable event for our community as well as a practical one.

I wish everyone a happy, healthy and enjoyable Pesach, and Chag Sameach,

Julian Brown

Chair chat

Purim service

We had a wonderful Purimspiel using Rabbi Anna’s “Megillah Musical” with tunes from well known shows. Although there was some initial reluctance to take on roles, we eventually had an all star cast with Cherry and Jonathan displaying hidden talents as Vashti and Haman respectively. It was great to see everyone enjoying themselves but Anna also reminded us of the less savoury aspects of the Purim story, which is why for many years it wasn’t celebrated by Liberal Judaism.

Future Events

Just to whet your appetite. Following our traditional communal Seder on Thursday April 9, we will be holding our AGM on Sunday May 10 at 12 noon at a local hostelry. The idea is that we hold our meeting between 11.30 and 1 p.m., followed by a hearty Sunday lunch. As I mentioned at the Purim service, there are some important proposed changes to our constitution that we would like to discuss with you. Venue to be decided upon but please keep the date free.

We will have another Shabbat morning service at Colwall with Rabbi Anna on Saturday May 16.

Last, but by no means least, there is Isaac Turner’s baby naming ceremony and Shabbat service on Saturday July 11 in Hereford.

Sir Martin Gilbert

I was very sorry to hear of the recent death of this great historian. His output was prodigious, writing an eight volume biography of Churchill and over 80 books on twentieth century history. All his works, including the many on various aspects of Judaism and Israel, are extremely well written, detailed and objective. My favourite volumes are “A Holocaust Journey”, in which he took a group of his postgraduate students around eastern Europe to visit sites connected with the Shoah, and “Letters to Auntie Fori” in which he told the history of Judaism in bite sized letter chunks originally written to an Indian lady he had adopted as an aunt.

Daniel Taub, Israel’s ambassador to Britain, summed up his contribution: “If modern Jewish history has a voice, it is the voice of Sir Martin Gilbert. It is hard to think of anyone who has done as much to document, to educate and to inspire, with passion and authenticity, the history of the Jews in modern times, the tragedy of the Shoah, the struggles of Jews in Arab lands and the Soviet Union, and the inspiring return of the Jewish people to statehood in the land of Israel. These were but a part of his extraordinary corpus of 80 works, which not only brought him recognition as a world class historian in many different fields, but enabled him to see and describe Jewish history against the canvass of world events.”

Jewish Identity

The old question – do we constitute a “people”, a civilisation/culture or are we “just” a religion? The best attempted answer for me to this came in an article by Brian Klug which Angela kindly sent to me:

“Why is “Jewish” the Houdini among identities: always escaping the boxes in which it is put?

Because the idea of “the people of God” is a conundrum and you cannot confine a conundrum to a box. The people (particular) of God (universal): it is a kind of surd: a quantity that does not add up or make sense, a formula that is always liable to split apart at the seams if Judaism forgets either element. When it forgets that it is a people it becomes a pale imitation of Christianity, turning itself into a kind of church. And when it forgets its

larger, universal aspect, it becomes just another nation or ethnos on the earth. But suppose the idea of “the people of God” remaining in tension with itself, holds: then what we get is a people defined by a surd: an absurd people: a particular people with a universal significance. That’s us, the Jewish people.”

Mark Walton

Community News

Alison & Marc Turner write:

Invitation to Baby Blessing

Alison and Marc Turner would like to invite everyone to the blessing and welcoming ceremony for their son Isaac George William Edward Turner. This will be on Saturday 11 July 2015 which is Shabbat Pinchas. The service will be at 11am and we are honoured to welcome Rabbi Danny Rich to take the service and baby blessing. Rabbi Danny Rich is the Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism where Alison works as a very part-time Archivist. The service will be in Hereford, contact Mark Walton for details. All are very welcome to meet baby Isaac and hear the story of why we chose the names we did and so many of them. There will be a special Kiddush and we hope to have visiting relatives and friends and good weather.

Hen Bradshaw writes:

It is with great sadness I have to say I am leaving you all and moving to Derbyshire. I have Young Onset Frontal Temporal Dementia, which gives me a life expectancy of approximately 8 years, and because my husband is much younger than me (his 40 to my 60) we thought that him being near his family for help was better than staying here with no-one but my friends. Don’t worry though, Nottingham has a Liberal Community and I aim to continue my studies.

Our new flat is in a lovely little village 4 miles from Chesterfield called Duckmanton. Our new home is warden assisted, 1 Markham Court, Duckmanton, Chesterfield S44 5HH. Please keep in touch, by post or, if you want to visit then email henbradshaw@gmail.com.

We wish Hen well in her new home, and would like to thank her and her children for their contributions to Learning Circle meetings, services and community events.

Learning Circle Corner

The Learning Circle group in Monmouth has decided not to continue with the Access to Liberal Judaism adult learning course. They will be meeting in future as a more informal group discussing various films and books of Jewish interest. If you would like to join them, please contact Mark Walton. The Learning Circle in Hereford will be continuing with the adult learning course after Pesach. We will begin with the Jewish Thought module, this comprises Jewish Identity, God, Prayer and Eternal life. Regular readers might note that we did this one last time, but due to illnesses and other factors like midwife and hospital appointments, we missed many of the sessions last year, so have decided to have another go at this module. Anyone who wishes to join is welcome, please contact Alison Turner.

HJC Website The website has been relaunched as a blog, it is still at http://www.herefordshirejc.org/ and now it has capacity for many more blog posts on anything of interest to us as a community. Please take a look at the new site and let me know if you would like to write something. I am still learning my way round it all, so there will be enhancements in due course.

Alison Turner

Maya Brown writes:

‘Oil Vey!’

A new organisation has sprung up, as a result of Jewish young people, interested in and passionate about environmental issues. Oil Vey, a name which was first suggested as a joke, is expanding. It is an organisation which will work on getting movements/organisations (or in this case synagogues) to divest-taking their investments away from and not investing in fossil fuels. This is similar to the student run fossil free campaign (run by People and Planet Groups), in which students campaign for their universities to divest from fossil fuels. This is all part of a larger movement of 350°. Org which started this idea off to get power away from the fossil fuel companies. It was figured out that the environment could not handle fossil fuels going beyond a certain amount, the temperature could not go beyond 2°, as our climate cannot handle the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere going beyond 350 parts per million. It is currently at 400. The fossil fuel companies are the ones that hold the power. If they do not stop hunting for fossil fuels, when the amount they have in their reserves is already too much, then the world we live in will soon become uninhabitable and dangerous, generations of humans will no longer be able to inhabit the earth. It is not the earth we are trying save, but the human race and all other inhabitants of the earth.

So, changing our lifestyles on its own will not achieve this goal and is difficult and blame giving. We must target fossil fuel companies. Oil vey came to Sheffield University J Soc (Jewish Society) and gave a workshop about the environment, and how Jews are meant to look after it, giving some quotes from the bible- the basic message being that we are stewards and are meant to care for the earth and not destroy it. We made a plan of action, as to how we can tackle work with Sheffield’s Jewish communities to divest from fossil fuels (if they in fact do invest) and leading on from that other faith organisations. This idea is not something you can do only through Hereford community (though not sure how this would work in practice) but through any other organisations you are part of. To find out more just got 350.0rg. Oil Vay are on facebook but I think do not have a website yet although they are setting up a blog.

Maya Brown

Letter from Mohamed Fahili, and Clare Lassman at Charles Clore Jewish Arab Community Centre, Acco – our Israeli Charity

Dear Friends

They say every cloud has a silver lining but for Fahili and me it has been hard to see one in the aftermath of the Israeli election. While we obviously accept the democratic process, it is hard to ignore or accept the racism directed at the more than 20% of Israeli citizens who are Arab. Surely most Israelis want to live in a society where every person is treated equally regardless of religion or background?

Imagine if Marine Le Pen had galvanised the French electorate to vote for her by warning that the Jews were voting in droves. Such language should galvanise people like us – who cherish justice, mutual respect and the dream that all its citizens should live in harmony – to action.

Fahili and I have worked together side by side for more than six years along with Jewish and Arab Israeli youth workers, teachers and trainers to serve the poor of Akko regardless of their faith. We endeavour to leave Politics and Religion at the door, enabling people to get to know one another through common interests and human concerns. We worked through the Akko riots in 2008, through terrorist acts in Israel and wars in Gaza. We have shared hopes for change – no more so than in the last few weeks – and work tirelessly to promote the Centre’s vision of shared living.

Please help us make the Centre a silver lining at this time. Since last week we have had offers of help from Israeli businessmen who want to do something to ensure that Arab youth have the tools to economically play a full part of society. We have had two donations from supporters who are very upset by the divisiveness of the election. Please add your support. We do make a difference and now, more than ever, we need to extend our services and outreach.

We intend to make our Centre a more active grass-roots MEETING PLACE, further reaching out to people from Akko and the Galil, and also welcoming groups from abroad who share our vision of a more just society. In the last week we welcomed 55 Conservative and Reform student rabbis from the US as well as 16 journalists from Germany and Austria. They saw first-hand the value of the work that we do. By bringing people together at a personal, educational and social level we can perhaps create a society that will withstand existential threats from within and beyond our borders. Please take a look at our new English website – ajcenter.org.il, or go straight to our online donation page at http://ajcenter.org.il/donate/

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Mohammad Fahili and Clare Lassman

Pesach Recipe

Foolproof K’neidlach (matzo balls)

Perhaps you have the perfect recipe for k’neidlach, or on the other hand you may have had that experience of making perfectly shaped matzo balls, only for these to change shape or disintegrate completely when put into soup. This recipe comes from chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s book, Jerusalem, but surprisingly the recipe was perfected by his Palestinian partner Sami Tamimi.

K’neidlach Recipe (makes 12 – 15)

2 large eggs

40g margarine or chicken fat, melted and allowed to cool a bit.

2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

75g matzo meal

4 tbsp soda water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl until frothy. Whisk in the melted margarine, or fat, then ½ teaspoonful of salt, some black pepper and the parsley. Gradually stir in the matzo meal, followed by the soda water, and stir to a uniform paste. Cover the bowl and chill the batter until cold and firm, at least an hour or two and up to a day ahead.

Line a baking sheet with cling film. Using your wet hands and a spoon, shape the batter into balls the size of small walnuts, and place on the baking sheet. Drop the matzo balls into a large pot of gently boiling salted water. Cover partially n with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Simmer gently until tender, about 30 minutes.

We’ve done this for the last two years with great success, so hope any others who try this enjoy the result.

Julian Brown & Cherry Wolfe

Book Review: My Promised Land by Ari Shavit

This is a deep, honest, and challenging book, but very well worth reading for anyone who wants to understand the psychology of modern Israel and the wider context in which Israel exists. Ari Shavit is a columnist for the newspaper Haaretz – the Israeli equivalent of the Guardian – and has both very personal experiences to relate, as well as having done extensive research, over many years, into different facets of Israel’s existence. The contents of the book ranges from Zionism at the end of the 19th century when Shavit’s great-grandfather, Herbert Bentwich, first visited Israel, through the development of the kibbutz movement and the harshness of life in Palestine in the early 20th century, to the social and economic growth of the newly established state, and modern day issues of settlers, Israeli Arabs, the Ashkenazi – Sephardi divide, and much, much more. There is no aspect of Israeli life, you feel, that he does not address. As a diaspora Jew, who never the less has visited Israel many times, I felt that this is an Israel I had really only skimmed the surface of in my own experience.

Shavit’s writing is fresh and absorbing: through a series of personal stories of those who’ve been at the forefront of each of these different aspects of life in Israel, he takes you to the core issues of what makes Israel tick. Whatever view you have of Israel and the Middle East, this book will surely change your thinking.

Julian Brown

Food Bank Contributions

It’s good if we can keep up our contributions to the food bank, especially as homelessness and food poverty continue to be in the news. Remember you can include toiletries and cleaning items, as well as tinned, dried and long life food items. Just add a couple of items when you do your next shop. Please bring to our next Shabbat service on 16th May.

Other Events of interest

Thames Valley Day Limmud to be held Monday May 4 (bank holiday) in Maidenhead.

It looks to be a very interesting programme featuring Clive Lawton, Rabbis Jonathan Romain and Norman Solomon and many others. See: http://limmud.org/day/thames-valley/

Liberal Judaism’s “Day of Celebration” at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London on Sunday June 7 will be on theme of our relationship with Israel. See: www.liberaljudaism.org/events-activities/lj-day-of-celebration.html

 

HJC Diary of Events

Date                           Event                      Time        Place

Thursday 9th April Communal Seder 6.30 p.m. Parish Hall, Belmont, Hereford

Monday 4 May Thames Valley Day Limmud 9.30 – 6.15p.m. Maidenhead

Sunday 10th May HJC AGM +Communal Pub lunch 11.30 a.m. Hereford Pub t.b.c.

Saturday 16th May Shabbat Service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard 11 a.m. Ale House, Colwall

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.

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 May

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 down. All contributions are welcome but depending on format, the editor reserves the right to edit or hold over to a future edition if needed.

For further information please contact our Chair:

Mark Walton mark.walton@bridgescentre.org.uk Tel: 01594 530721

Communal Pesach Seder

The Herefordshire Jewish Community Passover Seder will be held at the Parish Room, Church of Our Lady, Belmont Road, Hereford on Thursday 9th April 2015, at 6.30pm.

Numbers are limited and will be allocated on a first come-first serve basis. The cost will be £22 each, children under 15 free.

The service will be led by Julian Brown and Mark Walton. Catering will be provided by Mary Springer – please choose your main course as shown below.

Please email mark.walton@bridgescentre.org.uk or phone Mark Walton on 01594 530721 after 6pm no later than Friday 27th March to get a booking form. 

Choice of main course: Salmon …………….Vegetarian …………..

DO IT NOW SO YOU DON’T FORGET!

 The festival of Passover begins on Friday 3 April 2015 at 7.22pm (London)