HJC Newsletter Aug/Sept 2017

Editorial

Language has always been crucial to Jews as throughout history, Jews lived in and learned languages of such a variety of places and cultures. From Spanish, we have Ladino (see article in previous edition). From German, we have Yiddish, and Jews spoke Russian, Polish and a whole host of other Western and Eastern European languages. Hebrew was always a language for prayer and Festivals but not for everyday use (much like Latin was used in the Roman Church). So we are linguists of a kind, not through academic study, but more from force of circumstances. This edition (and next) include some comments and articles on Yiddish and Hebrew.

Next week, I will be going with Cherry on the Jewish Music Institute (JMI) Yiddish Song summer school, so should have much more knowledge about Yiddish by the time of the next edition of this newsletter.

This is the summer break, as far as HJC activities are concerned, but in September, we will then have our Rosh Hashanah service and meal together, which this year will be in the home of one of our members, Eva Mendelsson. If you want to join us, make sure you send in your booking form in good time. Finally, a reminder that HJC subscriptions are now due, and still perhaps the best value of any LJ community, so please send your forms in as soon as you can.

Julian Brown

In this edition: Chair Chat, A Hebrew Learning journey, Background to Yiddish, LJ Day of Celebration, Baby Fest report , Film Review.

CHAIR CHAT JULY 2017

1. Ann Frank Service at Saxon Hall.

Each year, on or around the 12th June, Anne Frank Day is celebrated all around the world on what would have been her birthday. Herefordshire Jewish Community marked the day on Saturday June 10 with a special service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard. We were delighted to welcome the Mayor of Hereford, Councillor Sharon Michael, and her consort, Mr Paul Needs. The inter faith element was enhanced by the presence of Canon Anna Nugent from Hereford Cathedral and the Venerable Sister (Ani) Choesang , representing the Buddhist faith. The service was particularly memorable as one of our community, Eva Mendelsson, gave a very moving account of her time as a survivor of the holocaust. Brought up in Germany, many members of her family were exterminated by the Nazis and she was herself transported to camps in France before escaping to Switzerland and Italy before eventually arriving safely in England. Eva frequently returns to Germany to talk about her experiences to young people there and all present were privileged to hear her story and inspired by the many people who risked their lives to bring her to safety. After the service, we gathered around the Ann Frank tree, planted three years ago by the Saxon Hall committee, to hear readings from Ann Frank’s diary and to offer prayers for all victims of genocide.

AnnaMarkSaxon

Photograph (from left to right), Eva Mendelsson, Councillor Sharon Michael, Rabbi Anna Gerrard, Mark Walton, Canon Anna Nugent.

We have already decided next year to share this service with Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community, as part of our programme to work more closely together.

2. Bread and Cheese Ceremony, St Briavels, Forest of Dean.

We have some strange customs in the village where I live. Every Whitsun the “King of the Hudnalls” (an ancestral title) stands on the wall of the old pound in the centre of the village and distributes a “bread and cheese” dole to the villages (and tourists) waiting below who try to catch the fragments in umbrellas, buckets or other receptacles as they are meant to bring good luck.

There is also a tradition to invite a visiting clergy on the same day to give a sermon for which they are rewarded the princely sum of £1 6s 8d if he or she is cheered by the crowd, as laid down in the 1625 will of William Whittington.

This year’s guest preacher was Rt. Rev Rachel Treweek, the Bishop of Gloucester, who asked the pertinent question, “Where is God?”, after the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.

Her answer included the following: “God Has given us a choice to choose love or to choose evil. God took the risk of creating each of us to live in perfect relationship to God and one another and with our world.

We can each make choices which lead to destruction or lead to love and life. It’s not about life being perfect in material terms, not about never having pain or struggles but it is about discovering that we can each be free to be the people God has created us to be, to know that even in places of pain and darkness, God’s hope and life will always have the final word.”

Needless to say, the Bishop earned her purse. She struck me as an inspiring religious leader and I was very moved by her words.

3. Jewish Joke of the week – courtesy of (Lord) Danny Finkelstein.

“The dutiful son is by his father’s side as his dad lies dying. And the father says: “Son, is that your mother’s famous cheesecake I can smell baking? I would love just one last piece. Will you get it for me?” Shortly afterwards, the son returns from the kitchen. “Mum says you can’t have any. They’re for the funeral.”

4. AGM

A belated write up. We had our usual Sunday lunch nosh up at the Trumpet Inn, near Ledbury. We addressed the issue of our declining membership and the difficulties of attracting new members to the community, particularly families. The Council has worked hard to try to attract new members (or encourage old ones to rejoin us) but we have not been able to reverse the trend. We feel that the future direction probably lies in greater cooperation with the Gloucestershire community which is vibrant and growing and with whom we share Rabbi Anna. We already attended and were made very welcome at their Shavuot service and they have agreed to come to our Ann Frank service next year (see above). If we want to continue holding our own services and inviting rabbis to join us from London or elsewhere, we really do need to increase the numbers attending – up from the 8 to 10 regulars we can now count upon back to the 15 to 20 we were attracting not so long ago. So please make every effort to attend services in the coming year to give us the encouragement to carry on. And, of course, if there are other events you would like us to put on, please let one of the Council members know.

5. London Klezmer Quartet.

HJCKlez

Advance notice of the return of this very popular group – this time to the Savoy Theatre in Monmouth on Friday October 13 – the night before our Simchat Torah service in Monmouth! The last LKQ concert in Monmouth was a sell-out so make sure you get your tickets if you want to hear this very talented and exciting Klezmer group.

Charities: Note that the Charities adopted by HJC for the coming year are: Hereford Special Needs Baby Unit and the Charles Clore Centre, Acco Israel. We agreed at the AGM that both of these were very worthwhile causes. Further details in our next post re our High Holyday Charity Appeal.

Day of Celebration at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue

I started with Lessons from Yehudi Menuhin’s Menschlichkeit: Vision, Engagement & Impact by David Dolan, the first time I have had the chance to study this subject in a Liberal Jewish context. I did not know how many recordings of Menuhin were on YouTube and shall be following up the snippets we heard. “A violinist must play every day like a bird must fly every day” was a good opening remark, we heard how he insisted his students played in prisons, hospitals and underprivileged areas long before the Venezuela project showed the value of music for deprived children and adults. Alumni continue to teach, reducing crime by giving children things to do they enjoy, and building community and some fine orchestras and performers, and even instruments.

Menuhin himself went to Bergen-Belsen weeks after liberation with Benjamin Britten to play for displaced persons, German POWs and German people, seeing music as a weapon to fight savagery. He said it was time to start healing and show what Beethoven and Brahms can bring to the world again. Yehudi Menuhin saw Western music bringing harmony whereas Eastern music does wonderful things with rhythm. Classical Indian music is mostly improvised, Ravi Shankar taught him improvisation, Yehudi had been wedded to order after World War One. Www.medici.tv has a lot of these performances. It was a truly unusual and interesting session and a rare privilege to have it presented by David Dolan, himself an international concert pianist and educator, who worked for Yehudi Menuhin’s school in Surrey.

This was followed by Lord Alf Dubs who said he would be back to the new Government to get more refugees into this country and that the young people who helped refugees in Calais were wonderful people. Personally, I feel it is right to help those in need but equally we should be careful about whom we allow in to the UK and should be led by common sense, rather than by emotion.

In the afternoon, I went to a session led by Rabbi Charley Baginsky and James Sorene, Chief Executive of Bicom, which works with the British public and organisations to educate and inform. He warned that if the So-called Islamic State was defeated, trained fighters would disperse all over the world and a new Islamic force will arise from the instability, sooner or later. He took us through some of the power brokers and alliances in the Middle East and what it could mean for Israelis and Palestinians. He contrasted Presidents Obama and Trump, saying the latter is completely unpredictable. Obama was rational and logical, the Arabs could predict and outmanoeuvre him, they could see 10 steps ahead, whereas Trump does not even know himself what he will do next. In the UK we have a lever of power, we send a lot of aid to the Palestinian Authority, so we should try to reduce radicalisation in Palestinian schools by inspecting and making sure the children are not being taught to hate. Schools named after terrorists will not lead to peace. We could invest in dialogue as we did in Northern Ireland. In all, this was a wide-ranging session, with no easy answers but important questions.

Finally, came the LAFTA awards, chedarim had been asked to make a short film about what their community would look like in the Messianic Age, Crouch End were the winners with a short film about repair one step at a time, first self, then community and after that the world.

Alison Turner (edited).

Alison Turner continues:

After the Day of Celebration at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue, many of us went next door to the Northwood Methodist Church which had an excellent play put on jointly with the synagogue. This was 2067 – Hard New World about a society in which people over 70 were uploaded and only existed online. Naturally Judaism had a ceremony to mark this passing, and a family gathering for this led us on an exploration of whether people really were happy in their new lives, and a rebellion led by the children to restore their grandparents to them. This was an excellent end to an inspiring and very worthwhile day.

JW3 Parent and Baby Fest

This was an all day event at London’s Jewish Community Centre in Finchley, which I had only been to once before. The basement outside area had been transformed into a Tel Aviv beach scene, with a paddling pool for little ones, a sandy beach, and tables and chairs for onlookers and those sipping cocktails, or having food from the bar or kosher restaurant. There were also a few stalls, one from the Nursing and Carers group that sponsored the day. We had interactive puppet theatre for tinies, singing, classical music and cookery. Isaac was in his element of course, in and out of the water and playing in the sand. The

HJCJW3

first thing I had to do was get him a balloon from around the pool and take his shoes and socks off before he went in the water. Lots of Jewish mothers and fathers and security guards helped me keep an eye on him and rescued him when he tried to get in the lift without me. The area was very secure so even if I couldn’t see him I knew he couldn’t get away. PJ Library were also sponsors so we came away with a free book from their excellent collection. This one is about Noah’s wife Naamah singing the animals to sleep on the Ark.

JW3 has a huge range of activities – theatre, cinema, music, talks and discussions, art studio, adult learning classes and courses, food and drink, health and fitness. https://www.jw3.org.uk/ for more information. Worth looking at if you are planning a trip to London, I found the Baby Fest by chance when flicking through the brochure and we had a wonderful time. The beach continues as Hampstead Beach throughout the summer.

Shabbat service with Rabbi Margaret Jacobi

Rabbi Margaret Jacobi from Birmingham BPS, led a service for HJC on 22nd July. As always, she was pleased to come to Colwall, and lead a service for us. Several of us also joined in a study session prior to the service on the topic of Cities of refuge. This raised significant questions of ethic s and morality. How do we distinguish who is a murderer or who has committed manslaughter? What is the appropriate punishment for each of these crimes. It could be said that the Cities of refuge (for those committing manslaughter) were, for their time, an enlightened way of offering protection to those who had committed a lesser crime, and might otherwise be at risk of death from the common populace. We also learned, in passing, that the phrase ‘an eye for an eye’ did not necessarily mean punishment by physically taking out the aggressor’s eye, but more likely meant an appropriate monetary fine.

The following Shabbat service was both moving and thoughtful and we are very grateful to Margaret for continuing to support HJC in this way.

Yiddish

The Yiddish language is said to date from around the 10th century. It became the vernacular language of Ashkenazi Jews in Central and Eastern Europe. It is a Germanic language with a significant Hebrew-Aramaic component, and with vocabulary deriving from Slavic languages. Yiddish literature, incorporating folk culture, was already in evidence in the medieval period in a variety of forms. Modern Yiddish literature developed in the 19th century and by the eve of the Second World War, there existed a huge corpus of poetry, fiction, drama. There were regular performances of song recitals, operas, cabaret and plays in Eastern Europe, the USA and beyond. At this time, Yiddish was spoken by approximately 10-12 million Jews throughout the world.

Courtesy of Jewish Music Institute: https://www.jmi.org.uk/music-genres/yiddish/

The Yiddish-speaking world was seriously diminished by the Holocaust, by Stalinist repressions in the Soviet Union, and by immigration to Israel where Yiddish was actively discouraged. It has always been a stateless language and its speakers have moved around the globe from medieval times until the present.

Yiddish is a rich language with a complex history, a vibrant culture and an extraordinary literature. At present, there are approximately 1-2 million speakers, the majority belonging to the ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic communities. A smaller, separate group are descendants of Yiddish speakers who migrated to Israel, North and South America, Western Europe, South Africa or Australia. New Yiddish speakers are those who develop an interest in the language and its culture, and become speakers as a result of their passion and efforts. ‘ (JMI website as above).

Yiddish is an interesting language. It is written using the Hebrew alphabet, which makes it less accessible to many in its written form, but much of Yiddish vocabulary and grammar derives from German, with a healthy smattering of other East European languages. And of course a good dose of Hebrew thrown in. as many people say Yiddish is the language of the soul as well as that of everyday life. (JB)

My own Hebrew Journey

Like many people who grow up in a particular way, I did not realise that I was anything different from the ordinary, until years later when I moved away and lived in different Jewish communities. Not all communities, I realised, taught modern Hebrew, or used the modern Israeli pronunciation in their services. However, that is how it was in Sheffield, where I grew up, and while the Hebrew books we used, weren’t the most inspiring, they never the less began a grounding in me, which developed and bore fruit in later years.

I grew up with Hebrew and language. My mother was always interested in languages, and like many in the early days of the State of Israel, a keen Zionist. When she discovered that a local Jewish family had an Israeli au pair for their children, she was keen to take advantage of having a native Hebrew speaker in our small community in Sheffield. In those days we had a group of 10 – 15 adults who were all enthusiastic to learn and improve their modern Hebrew. We met in people’s houses, and the group ran for several years, very much depending on the Hebrew newspaper (LaMatchil) for new immigrants. I have to confess to becoming an upstart Hebrew teacher at age 14, though this lasted only for a couple of years.

Now many years later, I find myself as a Hebrew teacher, once again, without any proper credentials. It is true that my Hebrew has developed since I was a teenager, not least because I spent my first ever month in Israel in a kibbutz of 200 people, of whom only 2 spoke English, and most others spoke German, which I had no knowledge of at the time. Hence Hebrew was our only language in common.

I have also learned (modern) Hebrew through my brother in law’s family who live in Jerusalem, and who speak English, but often Hebrew is the preferred language.

However, I am definitely learning more from our Monmouth Hebrew group than I ever expected.

Julian Brown

Monmouth Hebrew Group

Monmouth Hebrew Group have now been running for almost two years, meeting monthly at Bridges Centre Monmouth. Whilst only a small group, we are strong on motivation and interest in the vagaries of Hebrew language – mainly classical but Modern Hebrew also makes itself known in a range of contexts. It’s amazing we keep going with our different background and ranges of ability, but in fact we can all contribute in different ways in our reading and interpretations of Torah texts, and hopefully, we have all gained some confidence in this. We also manage to have some fun, including eating fresh picked cherries at our last meeting (it has been a bumper cherry season this year) and also playing Hebrew bingo. We were joined in the last session by a part-time pastor, Paul Hocking, who is also a biblical scholar, and he has written about his ‘Hebrew Journey’ below

Learning Biblical Hebrew – Paul Hocking

HJCDeadScrolls

נֵר־לְרַגְלִי דְבָרֶךָ

וְאוֹר לִנְתִיבָתִי׃

A lamp to my feet your Word

& A light to my path. Ps 119:105

 

My interest in the Hebrew Scriptures started when I was young. Brought up in a devout Christian home, my father had a passion for the Bible. He came to love the Hebrew scriptures particularly, and their rich and vivid ways of setting out the purposes of God for His people.

This passion and gift ‘rubbed off’ on me, and I began to study the Bible from my teens. Later, in University, then teaching Biology, led me to discover what the Bible actually said, and drove me to delve into the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, at that stage, with the aid of Bibleworks software, interlinear translations and Bible Lexicons. It also gave me a life-long interest in ancient manuscripts, like those discovered in the Dead Sea vicinity.

Then an invite to teach students in a Bible College in Serbia for 2 weeks each year – 15 sessions on Leviticus (Vayyiqra) and 15 on Joshua (Yehoshua)! This meant further exploration of the Hebrew scriptures. People kept telling me I should write a book on the things I was teaching!

During a sabbatical time, I came across an independent Jewish scholar in Jerusalem, called Moshe Kline. He was a US citizen who had lived and been educated in the US, but then had made Aliyah and devoted himself to elucidating the structured nature of the Mishnah and then the Torah. I came across his ideas on his web site (chaver.com) and was absolutely amazed at his insight into the literary structure of the Torah, and Vayyiqra specifically. (If you want to get a flavour, enter The Creation Weave or The Exoteric Decalogue into your search engine). I contacted Moshe and he asked me if I would like to study the text of Vayyiqra with him via Skype. I was delighted to say yes – and that was 9 years ago! In our weekly sessions, we have since studied every unit of text in the whole Torah, and have started once again with Vayyiqra!

As I felt convinced that Moshe’s ideas were valid and, indeed, hugely illuminating, I was called to give up my paid employment, and register for a PhD at Chester University, to seek to evaluate his ideas in the context of the wider scholarly conversation. I felt sure the insights would be of value to Jewish and Christian believers. But, in order to pursue a PhD in Hebrew Bible Studies, I had to have a basic knowledge of the language! I felt the most efficient way to do this would be by self-studying for the OCR GCSE and then an A-level in my spare time. In my 60s, I registered each year, gaining an ‘A’ in GCSE after 2 years, and am now working for an ‘A’ at A-level after another 2 years! Onwards and upwards!

This study of the original language has certainly helped me with my study of the scriptures generally. I can see more clearly the graphic nature of the words and syntax, and have enjoyed many eureka moments when mediating on the poetic form, the parallelisms and the rhetoric that are so different from modern English.

Paul Hocking

Film Review – Left Luggage

This is a more light hearted look at the Chassidic world from the perspective of a young secular woman who gets a job as a Nanny to the children of a Chassidic family in Antwerp. While the film does come across as less than believable at times, it is never the less, a moving, and relevant film exploring especially the role of women in orthodox communities.

Julian Brown

Set in Antwerp, Belgium in the early 70’s, a tale about Chaja, an impetuous, liberal-minded philosophy student, and her complex relationship with her parents who are Holocaust survivors. With the help of a family friend, she secures a job as a nanny for a Hassidic Jewish family, the Kalmans, whose world and lifestyle are alien to her liberated self. Chaja adores the Kalmans’ five-year-old son Simcha and becomes emotionally attached to him. Through her relationship with the family she gains insight into the lives of her own parents, who are survivors of a concentration camp’.(Rotten Tomatoes).

Detailed review can be found here: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/left-luggage-2001

Forthcoming Events

Rosh Hashanah Service and Meal at home of Eva Mendelsson, Wednesday 20th September, 6.30 p.m. in Ross on Wye. Booking Form attached and full details will be sent out on booking.

Subscriptions

HJC Subscriptions for 2017-18 are now due no later than 30th Sept 2017. Contact Mark Walton for Subscription Form. 

Deadline for next newsletter will be 22nd September 2017

Note that I have changed the deadline to fit with when contributions usually arrive, but note this is a Deadline, and if you miss this date, I cannot guarantee your contribution will be included.

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

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

Membership and Welfare

Chair

Cherry Wolfe

Mark Walton

mark.walton@bridgescentre.org.uk

Tel: 01594 530721

Treasurer

Newsletter Editor /Membership

Alison Turner

 

Julian Brown

 

Learning Circle Coordinator / Web Manager and Archivist

Cultural Coordinator

Alison Turner 

Ann Levy

 

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

High Holyday Dates

Wednesday 20th September

Erev Rosh Hashanah Service and Gathering

6.30 p.m.

Home of Eva Mendelsson, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire

GLJC Services

Thursday 21st Sept

Rosh Hashanah Morning service

1100 – 1400

t.b.a.

Friday 29th Sept

Kol Nidre

1900 – 2030

Up Hatherley Village Hall , Coldpool Lane, Cheltenham

Gloucestershire GL51 6JA

Sat 30th Sept

Yom Kippur Morning Service

1100 – 1430

t.b.a.

Sat 30th Sept

Yom Kippur Walk /Study session

1430 – 1630

t.b.a.

Sat 30th Sept

Yom Kippur Afternnon/Yizkor/Concluding service

1700 – 1930

t.b.a.

Sat 30th Sept

Breaking Fast/Chavurah supper

1930 – 2030

t.b.a.

Future 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 t.b.c.

Lech Lecha Shabat Service led by student Rabbi

11 a.m.

Burgage Hall, Ledbury t.b.c.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Herefordshire Jewish Community

Erev Rosh Hashanah Booking Form 2017

I/we would like to attend the evening Rosh Hashanah Service and meal on Wednesday 20th September. To be held at home of Eva Mendelsson, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire.

Cost: £7.50 per person.

Name (s)…………………………………………………………….

Number of persons………..

Meal preference (state number required if more than 1)

meat vegetarian

Cheque enclosed (payable to Herefordshire Jewish Community)

£………………….(amount)

Please return booking forms to:

Mark Walton

no later than Wednesday 7th September 2017 to confirm your place(s), as numbers are limited.

For address ring 01594 530721 (after 6pm or at weekends), or email mark.walton@bridgescentre.org.uk

Details of location will be sent on receipt of booking form.

l preference (state number required if more than 1)

meat vegetarian

Cheque enclosed (payable to Herefordshire Jewish Community)

£………………….(amount)