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/
   
   

Purim and Pesach – booking for the Seder now open

Shabbat and Purim Service
Colwall Ale House Saturday 11th March at 11 a.m. 
led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard
 Rabbi Anna always brings something of interest to our Purim Service, so we hope you can join us. 
Foodbank Contributions still very much needed.
 
Urgent items: tinned meat, sponge puddings, shampoo
 
                                                       Seder plate

HEREFORDSHIRE JEWISH COMMUNITY

COMMUNAL SEDER

Pesach 5776

Wednesday 12th April 2017, at 6.30pm.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford,

HR2 6HE

led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard.

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.

Catering will be provided by Cherry Wolfe – there is a choice of salmon or vegetarian main course.  Please tell us if you have any food allergies or intolerances.

Please contact hjc@liberaljudaism.org or phone Mark on 01594 530721 after 6pm or at weekends for a booking form. 

DO IT NOW SO YOU DON’T FORGET!

Last date to reserve a place Tuesday 28th March

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

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.

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)