Chanukah party this Saturday

The first night of Chanukah is on Tuesday 12th December, with the first day being Wednesday 13th December.  The last night will therefore be on Tuesday 19th December.

The HJC Chanukah party will be on Saturday 16th December  at 3 p.m. at Saxon Hall,  Hoarwithy Road, Hereford HR2 6HE.  We hope that, weather permitting, a good number of you will be able to attend. This is usually an enjoyable event for all of us.
Please bring:
1. Food Contribution to  afternoon tea.
2. Menorah/Chanukiah (+ candles) if you want to bring this to light on the night.
3. Contributions to the Foodbank if you are able to. Please see list below of what is needed, and what is not needed, and only bring items in the first two lists  The foodbank greatly appreciates our support, especially at this time of the year.
Looking forward to seeing you on 16th.
Julian Brown
Herefordshire Jewish Community

FOODBANK REQUEST LIST

URGENTLY NEEDED ITEMS (30 NOVEMBER 2017)

  • UHT MILK
  • SPONGE PUDDINGS
  • WASHING POWDER
  • WASHING UP LIQUIDFOR CHRISTMAS BOXES WE NEED
  • TINNED SALMON
  • TINNED HAM
  • CHRISTMAS GOODIES: MINCE PIES, PUDDINGS, SMALL CAKES, BISCUITS, NIBBLES, CHEESE BISCUITS
  • CHUTNEY

OUR SHOPPING LIST

  • TINNED MEAT, FISH, FRUIT, VEG
  • TEA, COFFEE, UHT MILK, FRUIT JUICE, FRUIT SQUASH
  • CEREALS
  • JAM, MARMITE, PEANUT BUTTER
  • RICE
  • SAUCES FOR RICE AND PASTA
  • SUGAR (500G)
  • BISCUITS, SNACKS, TREATS
  • HOUSEHOLD CLEANING ITEMS
  • PERSONAL HYGIENE ITEMS

WE’VE GOT PLENTY OF

  • BAKED BEANS
  • PASTA
  • TINNED SOUP
  • TINNED VEGETABLES
  • PORRIDGE
  • FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS
  • CAT FOOD

HJC newsletter October/November 2017

Editorial

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

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

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

Julian Brown

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

CHAIR CHAT SEPTMEBER 2017

HANNA WINE

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

 EREV ROSH HASHANAH

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

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

SIMCHAT TORAH SERVICE.

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

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

 

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

HJCBiblewk

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

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

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

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

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

Angela West

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

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

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

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

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

Yiddish language

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

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

Yiddish Song

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

HJCsongschool

Polina Shepherd and Song School

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

Julian Brown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Engel

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

MY JEWISH JOURNEY – Mark Walton

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark Walton September 2017.

 

Are you visiting other Communities?

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

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

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

Alison Turner

Book review by Alison Turner

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

HJCangelbk

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

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

High Holydays Appeal

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

Forthcoming Events

HJCKlez

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

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

Please see diary below for more HJC events.

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

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

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

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

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

Membership and Welfare Chair
Cherry Wolfe

 

 

Mark Walton

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

Treasurer Newsletter Editor /Membership
Alison Turner

 

Julian Brown

hjc@liberaljudaism.org

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

 

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

HJC services and other Events

Friday 13th October London Klezmer Quartet Concert

7.30 p.m.

Savoy Theatre, Church Street
Monmouth, Gwent
NP25 3BU

Saturday 14th October Simchat Torah Service

11 a.m.

Bridges Centre, Monmouth NP25 5AS

Saturday 4th November Shabbat Service led by Cherry & Julian

11 a.m.

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

Saturday 16th December Chanukah Party with Rabbi Anna Gerrard

3 p.m. t.b.c.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford HR2 6HE

Advance Notice

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

Hereford t.b.c

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

Hereford t.b.c.

 

HJC Charity High Holyday Appeal 2017/5778

Our two charities for this year are:

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

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

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

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

HJC Newsletter Pesach Edition – April/May 2017

Editorial

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

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

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

In this edition:

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

CHAIR CHAT

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

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

2. TU B’SHVAT AND PURIM

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

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

3. DENIAL

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

4. JEWS AND CATHOLICS ON SKIING

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

Esther’s Mission

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

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

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

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

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

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

Angela West

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shirley G

Face to Faith Exhibition – further comment

gloucesterpic

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

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

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

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

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

Julian Brown

Book Review

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

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

HJCSummers

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

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

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

Alison Turner

Book review – East-West Street

Phillipe Sands, Penguin Random House

HJCeastwest

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

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

JB

KlezNorth 2017

HJCKleznorth

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

Julian & Cherry

Pesach K’neidlach Recipe (matzo balls)

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

HJCKneidlach

Perfect Kneidlach (makes 12-15)

2 large eggs

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

2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

75g matzo meal

4 tbsp soda water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

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

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

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

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

Cherry Wolfe

Members Welfare

Judith Labelter:

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

Pre-Pesach Story

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

Here is a sample story relating to Pesach.

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

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

Oh, they’ve crossed already’

And where are the Egyptians?’

Oh, they haven’t come yet’.

The punter, now feeling really exasperated continues:

Nu, and where is the Red Sea?’

It’s parted.’

Courtesy of Wikipedia

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

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

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

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

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

Herefordshire Interfaith Group

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 May 2017

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

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Wed 12th April Passover Seder meal 6.30 p.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE
Sunday 7th May AGM at Trumpet Inn, followed by Social lunch 11.30 a.m. Trumpet Inn, Ledbury, Ledbury Rd, Trumpet HR8 2RA
Saturday 27th May Shavuoth Shared Service with GLJC 11 a.m. Up Hatherley Village Hall Shiloh, Swindon Lane, Cheltenham GL51 9QG
Saturday 10th June Ann Frank service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard – open to other faiths 11 a.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE
Sunday 18th June Film Session – Ushpezin, and Tea 4 p.m. Belmont Community Centre, Eastholme Avenue, Hereford HR2 7UQ
Friday 28th April HIFG Interfaith Coffee morning, cakes, plant sale, raffle 10 – 12 Forbury Chapel , Leominster HR6 8NH

 

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

Email hjc@liberaljudaism.org Mark Walton

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

 

   
   
 

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

Newsletter December 2016/January 2017

Editorial

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

In this edition:

Chair Chat Hebrew Groups Opinion

Visit to Jewish Museum Leo Baeck College 60th anniversary

Book Review Amos Oz – Judas

CHAIR CHAT

Simchat Torah at Bridges

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

Lech Lecha at Colwall

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

Eva Mendelsohn

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

Chanukah Party

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

Opinion – Editor

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

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

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

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

JB

Report on the Service of Celebration

for the 60th Anniversary of Leo Baeck College

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

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

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

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

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

Angela West

Visit to Jewish Museum, Camden Town

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

Testing the Whisky

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

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

Mitzvah Day, North London

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

Hebrew Groups

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

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

JB

Members Welfare

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

Book review – Amos Oz – Judas

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

Forthcoming Events

HJC Services

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

Hebrew groups

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

Malvern – t.b.c.

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

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 January 2017

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

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

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

 

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

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

 

HJC Newsletter October/November 2016

Editorial

I had planned to have this newsletter ready for Rosh Hashanah, but planning for Rosh Hashanah evening took over, so we are now in the period of reflection between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Certainly there is plenty to reflect on, within ourselves, within our own community, and with the wider world in which we live. Our readings on Rosh Hashanah also made us think there are many different perspectives on how we do this, so each of us has to find the way that suits us.

Some of us also attended the Rosh Hashanah morning service in Gloucester, which was Rabbi Anna Gerard’s first official duty following her period of leave. She spoke again about the Binding of Isaac – a challenge of all challenges, so I guess we all have to think how far we are prepared to go for our beliefs and principles.

Wishing everyone in the community G’mar Chatimah Tovah – Happy New Year.

In this edition:

Chair Chat Hereford Peace Service JMI Yiddish Summer school. Ladies who lunch. Charity Update. New year message from Charles Clore Centre. Hebrew groups.

CHAIR CHAT

Saturday September 10

We were very grateful to Rabbi Michael Standfield for leading our service on September 10.   He was very interesting, particularly about his time as a rabbi in Johannesburg and Durban, and it was also nice for him to meet up with Rosalie and Michelle, his former congregants from Middlesex New.    Many thanks also to Rabbi Danny Rich for arranging his “stand in” at very short notice.   Another new venue for us at Ledbury Community Centre – quite convenient but too big for our current needs.

 

Preparation for Rosh Hashanah

 As Rabbi Michael reminded us, the period before Rosh Hashanah is a time to seek reconciliation.   I am not sure that Joey Barton, the controversial and outspoken footballer and part time philosopher, has entirely got the message about apologies.   After withdrawing an unreserved apology to one of his team mates for an altercation, he tweeted, Apologising doesn’t always mean that you’re wrong and the other person is right. It means you value your relationship more than your ego.”

Rosh Hashanah Supper

The answer to encouraging people to come out on Erev Rosh Hashanah is obviously food.  We had a record attendance of 25 people at the Burgage Hall in Ledbury.  Julian and Cherry led an evening of readings, stories and songs to welcome the New Year and to explore its meaning.  This was a very thoughtful, innovative and inclusive approach, the highlight of which was the traditional blowing of the shofar.   The wonderful buffet laid on by Cherry with her team of willing helpers was a magnificent spread with a particularly impressive array of cakes.  As a community, we are extremely fortunate to have people like Julian and Cherry in our midst.  They worked tirelessly to make the evening such a success, ensuring that everyone was involved, well fed and included.

Peace Day Service – Herefordshire Interfaith group – 25th of September 2016

The second Interfaith Peace Day service to be held in Hereford Cathedral, was a moving event at which a large number of faiths were represented, including Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Baha’i, Quaker, and Christian. After an introduction by the Chancellor of Hereford Cathedral, there was a candle lighting ceremony for all the faiths, and we were then honoured to be the first event in the programme. Six members of HJC – Mark, Rosalie, Eva, Alison, Cherry and Julian joined in with singing Od Yavo Shalom Aleynu, which was led by Cherry Wolfe, and accompanied by guitar. We received very positive feedback from other participants in the service, so we must have been doing something right. One of the other very powerful contributions to the service was a ‘Qirat’, a Muslim chanting of a passage from the Koran, which had a style and tone not so different from that of a traditional Chazzan. There was also some fine singing and chants by the Interfaith choir, as well as a rather unexpected song from a Christian musical which had been performed in Belfast. Mark and Julian also read Psalm 23 in Hebrew which was then sung together in English by the congregation.

After the service we were served with local apple juice, and had chance to meet with other participants and those attending the service, which was very enjoyable, as we always find we have more in common than differences on these occasions.

This is a worthwhile event which I hope can be more widely supported in future and also include those not necessarily so directly involved in faith groups.

We are very grateful to Vanessa Pomeroy who took photographs of the service, two of which are included here.

Julian Brown

Ot Azoy Yiddish Course

In August, Cherry Wolfe attended a Yiddish summer schools at SOAS in London, run by JMI (Jewish music Institute). We recorded an interview with her about the course.

Why did you decide to go on a Yiddish course?

When I was growing up my parents sometimes spoke Yiddish, or bits of Yiddish at times when they didn’t want I or my brother to understand what they said. The sense of that Yiddish around me is still with me, and I want to explore my connection with it and with my ancestors and their stories and where they come from.

When did the course run and how was organised how long did it last?

It’s a summer course which is like a crash course for one week. It happens every summer in London and there were also Yiddish courses in other cities around the world but the one in London runs at SOAS, the school of African and Oriental studies near King’s Cross.

What was your overall experience of the course?

The students were diverse and came from a variety of different backgrounds. They weren‘t all Jewish: there were some who came from a mainly academic background, or those who had other kinds of interest, for example there was a young Polish woman I met, a young woman who originally came from Latvia and lived in the States, and an academic woman whose area was Slavic languages, and felt that Yiddish had an important place in that. The teaching was excellent, and I enjoyed the classes thoroughly.

Would you say you need to have a background in Hebrew or that having a background in Hebrew helps with learning Yiddish?

It would help but is not essential, though it is harder when you start without any background in the Hebrew alphabet which is what Yiddish is written in.

Was it primarily language or did you do music or other aspects of Yiddish culture?

It‘s a very intense week and very full. We do language in the morning: written language, spoken language, and we did homework and conversation in the afternoon. We have two music sessions for those who want to join those: song repertoire session after lunch for an hour, and then later in the afternoon there‘s Yiddish choir. There were film sessions about Yiddish film although I didn‘t go to any of these, as I chose to go to Yiddish choir. There are evening talks which are also very interesting, about different aspects of Yiddish culture and its historical context, covering the last 150 years approximately.

I‘m told you went on a walk in the East End?

That wasn‘t strictly a part of the course but it was connected, and it was an antifascist tour of the East End street, along Cable Street and parts of the East End where Mosley had tried to march in 1936.

Can you say anything about the way the course was organised and put together?

I thought it was very well put together. I felt I learnt a lot in the week, and I could have done with a month really, and all the staff were very helpful. It was very busy and quite tiring, but very well organised.

Would you recommend the course to others?

Absolutely I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I know many people who go year after year, and there is also the song school which is happening at the same time, which we join in some sessions with, but they are studying song repertoire for the whole week.

What did you do about accommodation the course?

One of the possible options for accommodation is that there are some SOAS halls of residence very near to where the course is taking place, and I stayed there for the course of the week.

Thank you very much telling us about JMI‘s Yiddish Course.

Ot Azoy: Details from JMI: https://www.jmi.org.uk/event/ot-azoy-2016/

Obituary – Ralph Eskinazi

Ralph Eskinazi, who died at the beginning of September, and his wife Val, have long supported Herefordshire Jewish community and attended several of our services and events over the years. Since their move to Malvern some years back, Ralph and Val have also been welcome visitors at many of our Malvern Seders, either at our house or at the Grandi family house. Ralph has always had some interesting anecdote or contribution to make to the proceedings.

Ralph was a fascinating character. Born in Cairo, and brought up in Egypt, where he had a French Lycee education, he came to Britain at the age of 18. He began work as a draughtsman and subsequently had a career as a planning engineer.

He had an enthusiasm for many aspects of life, from being an expert backgammon player, to regular swimmer at Malvern Splash, to being a member of a Greek culture club. He was interested in many aspects of Judaism and Jewish life and culture. Ralph and Val were lifelong members and regular attenders of Birmingham Progressive synagogue after their marriage. Barry Roseman of Birmingham Progressive synagogue said of Ralph: “It was clear from the attendance at the funeral and the evening prayers, that in life Ralph touched many people as the two gatherings cut across any boundaries in our community as well as those from outside.”

In the last five years, Ralph was lucky enough to be able to spend time with his grandson.

We wish a long life to Ralph’s widow Val Eskinazi, his two sons, Simon and David and his two sisters.

Julian Brown

Angela West writes:

Ladies who lunch…in this case at the Estero Lounge in Monmouth, where we discussed the Daughters of Zelophehad, 

(Num.27,1-11) – five remarkable sisters who petitioned Moses concerning their inheritance rights, and got a change in the law from Sinai! We were considering this (and other stories of bible women) as possible topics for discussion at the Jewish Cultural Group that meets in Monmouth.

Hanna’s sister Gail was also with us and took the photo.   

Angela West

Hebrew Groups

Hebrew groups in Malvern and Monmouth are again up and running after the summer break. As well as preparing for Rosh Hashanah with prayers and songs, the Monmouth group also took on the task of translating some of the Torah text of the binding of Isaac. There’s a lot of knowledge in the group once we all share what we know.

JB

HJC High Holyday Charity Appeal

As a community HJC aims to raise at least £100 for each of our chosen charities, and this year we are hoping to raise even more, as we have an increasingly active community, and we have very worthwhile causes to support. Our chosen charities are the Charles Clore Centre, and Combat Stress.

Many of you have already given donations but if anyone else would like to contribute, please send donations to our Treasurer, Alison Turner. Cheques payable to Herefordshire Jewish Community.

We are delighted to say that, following our Rosh Hashanah evening, we have already raised £300, a record for our Community, so thank you to everyone for your generosity.

Members Welfare

We wish health and recovery to Judith Labelter who is currently housebound with mobility problems.

 Picture Quiz

No picture quiz this month, but if you would like to feature in the next edition let us know. Last edition pictures were of course of Rosalie Tobe.

New Year message from Mohamed Fahili, Charles Clore Community Centre

What brings us hope in this upcoming year? 

      25 youths gaining life-skills for their national service
32 children enhancing their focus through Karate
35 women empowered to find employment
42 ballet dancers synchronising their steps
43 children expressing themselves through art
54 young musicians connecting through notes not words
60 pre-schoolers transitioning with confidence into school
60 new learners discovering the power of English words
68 children playing and laughing at our 3 daycare facilities

Hundreds of visitors celebrating Shared Society in action.

This is The Meeting Place

Our Meeting Place. Your Meeting Place.
 A place for all – Christian, Jew and Muslim.
A place to find hope and cherish it.

      We thank you for your ongoing support which has helped us become what we are today. Our Centre is doing so much for so many beautiful Arab and Jewish children in and around Akko. And the vision doesn’t end here. There is still so much more we can do together.
Stand up and be counted.

We at The Sir Charles Clore Jewish Arab Community Centre all join in wishing you and all your friends and family a sweet New Year filled with hopes for a better world.

Mohammad Fahili – Director
Clare King Lassman

Sir Charles Clore Jewish-Arab Community Centre http://www.ajcenter.org.il

 

 

Forthcoming Events

UK International Jewish Film Festival, 5 – 20 November 2016

There is an exciting programme of films for this festival. Most showings are in a range of venues in London with occasional events in Manchester, Nottingham, Leeds and Glasgow. If you happen to be in London during this period, do try and catch something. Always well worthwhile.

Details at: http://ukjewishfilm.org/

High Holyday services

Yom Kippur services at Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community (GLJC). See details below.

 Kol Nidre 11th October 7.00pm at Up Hatherley Village Hall (UHVH), Cold Pool Lane, Cheltenham GL51 6JA

 Yom Kippur 12th October 11.00am – 7.30pm approx. at Friends Meeting House, Greyfriars, Gloucester, GL1 1TS. with Morning and Additional Service, Study or walk, Afternoon service,
Yizkor and Concluding Service then breaking the fast with a communal chavurah meal.

HJC Services

Our next service is the Simchat Torah service on Saturday 22nd October at Bridges Centre, led by Rabbi Anan Gerrard. This is always a most enjoyable and informative event, so please try to come along. Children especially welcome.

We are still waiting to hear of date and student Rabbi for our annual Lech Lecha service in November, but this is usually a most interesting service, so we hope you can join us. We will post information on Rabbi and location as soon as we know.

Hebrew groups

Monmouth – Tuesday 1st November 4 p.m. Bridges Centre.

Malvern – t.b.c.

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 November 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.

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

For all enquiries please email hjc@liberaljudaism.org  Or phone our Chair, Mark Walton 

on 01594 530721 after 6pm. 

 

 

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Saturday Oct 22nd Simchat Torah Service – led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard 11.00 a.m. Bridges Centre, Drybridge Park, Monmouth, NP25 5AS
Saturday 12th (5th/19th) November Lech Lecha Shabbat service led by student Rabbi 11.00 a.m. Colwall/Ledbury t.b.c.
Sunday 20th November Mitzvah Day t.b.c.

Other Events of Interest

Tuesday October 11th GLJC Kol Nidre Service 7 p.m. Up Hatherley Village Hall (UHVH), Cold Pool Lane, Cheltenham GL51 6JA
Wednesday, October 12th GLJC Yom Kippur Services, followed by breaking of Fast & meal. 11.00 a.m. (t.b.c.) – 7.30 p.m. Friends Meeting House, Greyfriars, Gloucester, GL1 1TS

 

Book now for Rosh Hashanah 2016/5777

Rosh Hashanah Gathering and Meal with readings, and music for the New Year

on Sunday 2 October, at 6.30pm at

Burgage Hall 

Ledbury

Herefordshire HR8 1DW

Directions for location and parking are here: http://www.ledburycivicsociety.org/burgage-hall/directions-to-burgage-hall/

Parking in the Bye Street car park is free on Sunday evening, and is only a short walk to Burgage Hall.

Burgage Hall is less than 10 minutes walk from Ledbury railway station.

£10 per head including a vegetarian meal and soft drinks.

Please book by 23 September to join our Jewish New Year celebration,  either by email to hjc@liberaljudaism.org or phone Mark Walton on 01594 530721 after 6pm.

rosh-hashana-flyer

Purim Concert in Birmingham, 22 March

Birmingham Progressive Synagogue and West Midlands Friends of Israel

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

Leo Baeck “Big Band” Youth Orchestra in Concert

with musicians and vocalists from the

Leo Baeck Education Centre, Haifa, Israel

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

Tuesday, 22nd March 2016

7:00 p.m. at

Birmingham Progressive Synagogue

1 Roseland Way

Birmingham, B15 1HD West Midlands

Tickets £10 adults, £5 under-18s

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

0121 634 3888

HJC Newsletter 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