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 December 2015/January 2016 – Chanukah Edition

Editorial

We are in the middle of an exciting period for HJC with 4 different events taking place over 4 weeks that members of HJC are involved in, so we are definitely alive, well, and kicking. We began with the ‘educational’ service on 21st November led by Cherry and myself, which was followed by the South West Regional Shabbaton for small communities on 28th November and on 5th December, HJC had a good sized table at the LKQ concert in Monmouth. Finally we are looking forward to seeing members, both old and new at our Chanukah service and party on 12 December in Hereford, to be led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard. Hence this newsletter is slightly later than usual, as so much has been going on. We hope we can plan further events cultural, educational and social as well as services, and also show we are a community that cares about others around us through social action in whatever way we can.

This issue has a variety of reports from the recent South West Communities Shabbaton which was help in Swindon on 28th November. We are also looking forward to running some Hebrew learning sessions in the new year, and there is also information on how we might help refugees.

Julian Brown

In this edition: Chair Chat Shabbaton Report London Klezmer Quartet Concert Community Matters Refugee Matters Hebrew Learning

CHAIR CHAT

Shabbat Services

We were delighted to welcome student Rabbi Igor Zinkov to lead our service on Shabbat Lech Lecha on Saturday October 24.   Igor had obviously put a lot of thought into the service and gave us a lot to think about as well.   It was also good to learn some new tunes, including a lively Yiddish version of “Adon Alom”.   We were all fascinated  to hear Igor talk about Jewish life in Russia during our communal lunch.    It’s always a pleasure to meet new student Rabbis and a great opportunity for us to have someone new to lead our service.   Many thanks to Igor for making the effort to come up from London and to Liberal Judaism for its support.

Many thanks, too, to Julian and Cherry for leading our service on Saturday November 21. This was designed to be a learning service and, as such, Julian explained the different aspects of the service. We also took time to exploring the Torah portion in more detail than usual, giving us chance to look at the Hebrew and intricacies of sentences. We were also introduced to some new melodies by Cherry, and the service included additional prayers for International Understanding.

Jewish Chronicle

I always enjoy reading the past copies of the JC that Judith and David kindly bring to the services. There were a couple of items in the copy of November 6 that caught my attention. On the front page was a story about a daring rescue mission to save the last Jewish family in war torn Aleppo who were smuggled out of their home earlier this year. After a 36 hour terrifying journey, during which they had to negotiate many armed checkpoints, they managed to reach the relatively safe haven of Turkey. The Jewish Agency then took responsibility for the family. The 88 year old mother, Mariam, and her daughter, Sara, were given safe haven in Israel. However, the Agency officials decided that another daughter, Gilda, her Muslim husband, Khaled, and their three children could not make Aliyah under the law of return and had no alternative but to go back to Syria where they remain. Apparently this is not an uncommon situation. A Syrian Jewish community leader living in America commented, that “Daesh would kill women if they found out they were born Jewish – regardless of whether they converted to marry Muslims.” Surely the Jewish Agency should reconsider and offer sanctuary to these unfortunate refugees?

On a more positive note, I was very impressed by the sterling work that Israeli aid agencies are doing in the Greek islands, helping to rescue refugees who have made the dangerous crossing by sea. They are very much in the front line there, taking part in regular patrols along the beaches and often plucking desperate men, women and children from the water.

I was also interested in a letter written by Rabbi Jonathan Romain (who always is worth reading) who stresses the importance of mixed faith schools, in particular the “only Jew in a non Jewish school” syndrome.

We have found there that there are four benefits:

  • first, to have a real live Jew in the class who looks and acts ordinary is the best way of preventing or countering any anti-Jewish stereotypes amongst their peers.

  • Second, each Jewish child automatically becomes an ambassador for Judaism, has to answer questions about Jewish life and is impelled to find answers.

  • Third, it reinforces their identity as Jews, they learn to live in two worlds and effortlessly move between them on a daily basis.

  • Fourth, it prepares them well for when they go off to university and find the ‘outside world’ easy to navigate rather than challenging or overwhelming.

A model both for a society at ease with minorities and for being a Jew within it.”

A powerful counterblast to the growing movement for faith schools which I feel is a very dangerous and regressive step for those of all religions and civil society.

Mark Walton

Update on Peace Day Service Sunday 20th September 2015, Hereford Cathedral

A full account of this service (which was reported in the last HJC newsletter) can be found at : https://phulme.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/peace-day-service-in-hereford-cathedral/

This has been written by Peter Hulme, the Baha’i representative.

An extract is given here:

Yesterday Hereford Cathedral hosted its first Peace Day Service to observe today’s International Day of Peace. The service was organised by the newly formed Herefordshire Interfaith Group.

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Peace is celebrated on September 21 each year to recognize the efforts of those who have worked hard to end conflict and promote peace. The International Day of Peace is also a day of ceasefire – personal or political. On this day, also known as Peace Day, people around the world take part in various activities and organize events centred on the theme “peace.” This was Hereford’s offering.

The Canon Chancellor of Hereford Cathedral & Venerable Tenzin Choesang welcomed everyone to the peace day service.

Peter Hulme

South West Shabbaton on November 28th 2015

at Jurys Inn, Swindon

Several HJC members went to this event, and some of their reports are included here. Feel free to read as much or as little as you wish.

It was the first time I’d been to a meeting like this – and I certainly found it most rewarding.

Amazing to see so many different groups represented – Gloucester, Swindon, Oxford, Wessex, Reading, Kent, Hereford , Bristol & West, Kingston, Crouch End – oh, and the six of us from Hereford ( plus Rabbi Anna who I suppose is partly ours!)

The first session I attended – guided chevrutah text study was somewhat different from my expectations – but nicely so! The focus was on Jewish identity – a theme reflected in a selection of texts, which we discussed with a partner. It was led by Rabbi Sandra Kviat and she took the opportunity to tell us how her own Danish Liberal-Jewish identity and rabbinic calling had come about – rather interesting to me, as I’ve lived in Denmark and am particularly aware of the unique role Denmark played in relation to its Jewish population during the Shoah.

After lunch, I was in Julian’s story-telling group, ‘From Chelm to Chasid’. I hadn’t realised till then that he has a whole alternative career as a story-teller! I have always deeply appreciated the Jewish midrash tradition of biblical interpretation, and no doubt the richness of Jewish story telling grows out of this – or perhaps it’s the other way round! When I got back, I shared the ‘Prophetic Squire’ Chasidic story with Roger – and he was very tickled by it.

The last session, where Rita Adler, R.Lea Muehlstein, Tony Samuel & Danny Rich spoke movingly of their experiences of working with refugee communities, impressed me very much. Danny referred more than once to what a small group of committed people can achieve and the testimony of this team certainly bore that out. Having worked with a colleague for many years with refugee and migrant women in Newport, I am also keenly aware of the obstacles and possibilities for discouragement, so I felt their achievement was all the more remarkable. It helps, I think, to be part of a religious tradition which bids its adherents: ‘Remember that you were strangers in Egypt..’ as Rita reminded us.

Several of us from HJC were at various times clustered round the book table, inspecting the literary wares that were temptingly displayed. And out of conversations arising in this context, Julian has agreed (I think!) to lay on some Hebrew study days for those of us who are interested – for which b’racha to come, I give thanks!

Angela West

Alison Turner writes:

It was amazing to be part of the South West Regional Shabbaton in Swindon and find that we had people from 9 different Liberal communities as part of our Shabbat service. I was honoured to be called up on behalf of Herefordshire Jewish Community, for the reading from our very own Torah scroll by Rabbi Danny Rich. He pointed out that the name of Esau in our portion Vayishlach was written with dots around it, not as a pronunciation guide but as a warning that here was a man who was not good. He told us that Esau had been seen to have many negative traits by commentators, though Jacob had reason to be worried meeting him for the first time in 34 years, after stealing his blessing.   The exchange between them in Hebrew carries connotations that a simple translation would miss, so it is important to look at the original. It was very special to be part of a large congregation of Liberal Jews, praying together, and the earlier session I went to prepared me for it well.

This was taken by Alexander Massey and it was a meditation on Elohai N’shamah for which he has written music and devised physical movements. We discussed the nature of the soul, where and what it is, now and after the death of the body, which was a very deep way to start the day. I found it allowed me to move from worrying about the mechanics of my travel to Swindon and properly get into a Shabbat state of mind, literally take a breath and stop mundane worries and enter into the day of rest, ready for the prayer service. His work is available on www.alexandermassey.com which has the music as well as the words in Hebrew and English and transliteration, source readings and reflections. 

In the afternoon I went to an interesting conversation between Rabbi Danny Rich and Gary Webber on different Jewish denominations. Their experiences were mirror images of each other, Rabbi Danny did not discover Jewish Orthodoxy until he went to University, he had a traditional Liberal upbringing in South London, going to Friday evening and Saturday morning services every week, so to him normative Judaism is Liberal and he rejects any notion that it is less worthy than Orthodoxy. He sees Liberal Judaism as a prophetic form of Judaism, founded by ideologues, in contrast to Reform Judaism which he sees as similar in theology but different in history and culture. On the other hand, Gary grew up with Orthodoxy and knew little about Progressive Judaism until he was an adult. Now he goes to Liberal, Reform and Masorti congregations and Limmud twice a year with his family. They agreed that all the Rabbis are trained at the same college for all these movements, and we discussed some of the reasons for the failure of previous attempts to create one Progressive movement and the situation across Europe.

I finished the day making dreidl decorations for Chanukah under the expert guidance of Sue Naydorf, and came away with many ideas for future craft sessions. I explained that at 10 months my son was about to have his first Chanukah, so the time has not yet come when he can light his own candles, even cardboard ones.  In all, it was a most interesting chance to meet, pray, have lunch, make and discuss with other Liberal Jews in our part of the world, and it was good to have a whole day to do it.  

Alison Turner

Jacqui Hannan writes:

Coming into Liberal Judaism comparatively recently, there may be a simplistic element from my point of view of the SW Shabbaton, as I still tend to regard myself as a”freshman” and everything is seen for the first time. This is by no means a reflection on LJ hospitality that has always been superlatively warm with the Shabbaton being no exception. After a straightforward journey via Gloucester from Hereford, we were immersed into the friendly relaxed atmosphere at the ideal hotel venue. From the good selection of sessions the first was appropriate for my learning situation and interests “Beit Midrash: Identity” which was led by Rabbi Sandra Kviat, in a lively manner. We looked at different aspects of Jewish identity, Biblical quotes and profound statements. Particularly notable is the paragraph by Lev Chadash that begins “Who is a Jew?” followed by (paraphrasing) Jews feel conscious of a connection as though they have met before…”..It may have been at Sinai, where according to tradition, all the unborn souls of the Children of Israel were assembled.” Rabbi Sandra spoke about Jacob’s struggle (Gen. 32.39), which was part of this week’s Torah study. It was interesting to have the opportunity to split into couples and groups to explore our personal perspectives, history and experiences in our walks, and in the case of conversion participants like myself, review our expectations. I had the opportunity to talk with a man who completed his conversion course this summer, who like me, had not come into Judaism from an uninformed platform, but rather as a chosen pathway as the result of wider experience and study as a mature person. I realise I am not alone in being “led by my heart” and “seeking truth” in this direction, in respect for our Creator. It was a reassuring and prophylactic experience to meet some of the wide range of other SW Liberal Jewish members.

After this we participated in the Shabbat Service and beautiful singing.

Following Kiddush and a light lunch the two sessions I attended were “In conversation: Why do we need denominations”, led by Danny Rich and a “Panel discussion: Experiences of working with refugee communities”, which revealed a glimpse of some of the large number of LJ initiatives in this area. There is not space here to expand and to do the day and sessions true justice.

It was on the whole an interesting, enjoyable and useful day. Everybody I spoke had something positive to say, and I felt privileged to be there. It was good to have had the opportunity to spend more time with other HLJ members, especially Alison Turner and Angela West with whom I shared some travelling time.

However, apologies for a more negative note there was one down side – we stepped out into heavy rain! I hope the organizers can improve on that aspect next year.

Jacqui Hannan

John Davies, for whom this was the first such cross communal event he had attended says he would give it 11/10.

He says he feels there is hope for the future, but that there are lots of truths that need to be addressed by both by Judaism and other religions, and we will need both spiritual and physical courage to address these. He attended the session with Danny Rich and Gary Webber and felt that Liberal Judaism has a particular role to play.

Refugees

Following on from the Refugee workshop at the Shabbaton day, we need to ask the question ‘What can HJC do directly to help refugees? We have already made a specific donation re our High Holiday appeal and no doubt some individual members have made donations in kind to local refugee collection points. We know HJC cannot do anything on the scale of LJS or Northwood and Pinner, but perhaps we can have a collective focus – for example, on the financial front, individuals could make a regular donation to a specific charity. One of the points raised in the Shabbaton refugee session was that we must be conscious of the needs of refugees who do arrive in Britain (it was also pointed out that only a minority of these are Syrian). The process of seeking asylum is fraught with issues – social, educational, legal, health which refugees are often unsure how to deal with. Perhaps we could pool ideas on this at the next opportunity – as this an issue which is not going to go away. JB

Hebrew

At our ‘teaching’ service on 21st November, we gave out copies of the Hebrew alphabet and spent more than the usual time on looking at some of the Hebrew words in the Torah verses for the week. The Hebrew alphabet seems to feature strongly in Jewish tradition, having more character to it than the more prosaic English alphabet. In addition, Hebrew letters are also used as numbers in Israel. Following on from the service, some of us at the Shabbaton looked at books available to help those who want to participate more fully in services, and learn some simple Hebrew for familiar prayers.

This felt like a starting point which a number of members of our community have expressed an interest in. ‘If only I could just read the blessing for the reading from the Torah’ for example. There seems to be current interest in having a Hebrew learning day, or perhaps evening, when we could look at resources available (including some in the Liberal Judaism Resource Bank) which could then be used for further individual study at home. As always, time and venue will need to be decided, but anyone interested in this please contact myself or Cherry, as we will be leading the sessions.

Short article on the alphabet to follow for anyone interested.

JB

Hebrew Alphabet

Early Hebrew alphabet was used by the Jews in the period before the Babylonian Exile–i.e., prior to the 6th century BC. As is usual in early alphabets, it has many local variants and also shows development over time. The Early Hebrew alphabet, like the modern Hebrew variety, had 22 letters, with only consonants represented, and was written from right to left; but the early alphabet is more closely related in letter form to the Phoenician than to the modern Hebrew.

Between the 6th and 2nd century BC, Classical, or Square, Hebrew gradually displaced the Aramaic alphabet, which had replaced Early Hebrew in Palestine. Square Hebrew became established in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC and developed into the modern Hebrew alphabet over the next 1,500 years. Though obviously derived from the Aramaic alphabet rather than from Early Hebrew it was nonetheless strongly influenced by the Early Hebrew script. Classical Hebrew showed three distinct forms by the 10th century AD: Square Hebrew, a formal or book hand; rabbinical or “Rashi-writing,” employed by medieval Jewish scholars; and various local cursive scripts, of which the Polish-German type became the modern cursive form.

The Square Hebrew Alphabet 

From: http://www.orbilat.com/General_References/Alphabets/The_Hebrew_Alphabet.html

Hereford & Malvern Foodbanks

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

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

Items requested by Hereford Food Bank are:

  • Tins: Meat – hot or cold; vegetables; fruit; rice pudding.
  • Dry goods: Smash potato; rice; powdered custard; dried milk; instant coffee; sugar

  • General: UHT milk; pasta sauce; jam; marmalade; instant/microwave meals.
  • Hygiene: Shampoo; toothpaste; soap; household cleaners e.g. washing up liquid, detergent.

Thank you. Any queries please contact them on 01432 353347

Malvern Food Bank has sent a letter of thanks or our recent donations.

 

London Klezmer Quartet – Bridges Centre, Monmouth 5 December

This was a sell out success and a wonderful evening, so a big thank you to Mark for setting this up with Wye Valley Music Society.

London Klezmer Quartet are not only the leading Klezmer music group in the UK, running workshops and playing at events, they are also delightful to watch and listen to, with their effortless, but endlessly creative variations on both traditional and contemporary melodies. They also have a great deal of humour, for example, their story of how when travelling in Australia, they found themselves short of a (double) bass player, so looked up ‘Lonely Australian klezmer bass players.com’ and found one brilliant bass player (only one of course, as she was lonely), who had Latvian heritage and is now playing with them in the UK. This bass player also sings in Yiddish so we had three or four vocal numbers, varying in theme from potatoes (bulbas) to borscht to lost love and the Czar’s army.

All the players were very talented and each with their particular strengths, from the astonishing clarinet playing to the sensitive and emotional accordion playing to the dancing violin sounds of their leader Ilana Kravitz. Everyone seemed to enjoy the evening immensely and it is such a thrill to have real live Klezmer music in Monmouth, giving an opportunity for HJC member as well as local residents to experience some Jewish culture.

Forthcoming Events

Limmud Conference – Birmingham, 27 – 31 December 2015

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

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

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 January 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

Date

Event

Time

Place

Saturday 12th December

Chanukah service and party, led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

3 p.m.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Saturday 23rd January

Shabbat Service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

11 a.m.

Ale House Colwall

Saturday 27th February

Shabbat service led by Rabbi Margaret Jacobi

11.a.m.

Ale House Colwall 

Other Events of Interest

27th Dec – 31st Dec 2015

Limmud Winter Conference – residential or day places available.

Birmingham

 

Programme for South West Regional Shabbaton announced

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

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

A relaxing day of Jewish learning, services and community.

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

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

10:00 – 10:20
Registration in Foyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15:45 – 16:15
Afternoon Tea in Foyer

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

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

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

17:30-18:00
Havdallah in Foyer

Herefordshire Jewish Community Newsletter October/November 2015

Editorial

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

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

Julian Brown

In this edition:

Bible week Limmud in the Woods

Community events: Rededication ceremony High Holyday services

Peace Day Event London Klezmer Quartet visit

CHAIR CHAT

CEMETERY REDEDICATION, SUNDAY SPTEMBER

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

HIGH HOLYDAY SERVICES.

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

SIMCHAT TORAH SERVICE.

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

HJC COUNCIL

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

Mark Walton

Peace Day Service Sunday 20th September 2015, Hereford Cathedral

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

Cherry Wolfe

Summer Events

A Report on Jewish Christian Bible Week 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Angela West

Limmud in the Woods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julian Brown

Hereford Cemetery Stones

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

:

1 HJC members at rededication ceremony

Markers and gravestones in Jewish section, Hereford Cemetery

Rabbi Bernard Hooker

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

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

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

Marion and Gerald Weisbloom

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

Max and Ilsa Conu

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

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

Joseph Collard

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

Josephine and George Waldren

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

Irvine Rose

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

David Springer

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

Marcelle Greenbaum

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

Contributed by Susan Moore (formerly Kirkhope)

Hereford Food Bank

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

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

Items requested by Hereford Food Bank are:

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

Thank you. Any queries please contact them on 01432 353347

 

Welfare

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

There’s still chance to donate to our

HJC Charity High Holyday Appeal

Our two charities for this year are:

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

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

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

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

Forthcoming Events

Limmud Conference – Birmingham, 27 – 31 December 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Book online: www.tunyurl.com/southwestshabbaton

Or call Aaron Abraham at Liberal Judaism on 0207 631 9830

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

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

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

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 November

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

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Friday 2nd October

Simchat Torah Service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

7 p.m.

Bridges Centre, Monmouth NP25 5AS

Saturday 24th October

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

11 a.m.

Ale House, Colwall WR13 6HJ

Sat 21st November

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

11 a.m.

Ale House, Colwall

WR13 6HJ

Saturday 12th December

Chanukah service and party, led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

3 p.m.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford HR2 6HE

Other Events of Interest

Saturday 28 November

South West Regional Shabbaton

www.tunyurl.com/southwestshabbaton

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Jury’s Inn, Swindon

SN1 2NG

Saturday 5 December

London Klezmer Quarter performance,

7.30 p.m.

Bridges Centre, Monmouth. NP25 5AS