HJC Newsletter February/March 2016 – Purim Edition

Editorial

Firstly, apologies for the lateness of this newsletter. Cherry and I both returned from a visit to Israel in January with a ‘flu bug which has taken us some time to recover from. The weather in Israel at this time of the year is not altogether Mediterranean! We include some comments on our trip in this newsletter, and it sounds as if we missed an interesting Shabbat service while we were away.

This edition contains a combination of more local news but also some from France and Israel. In Israel, while there are always negative actions by the Government, this past week sees the decision to create an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall, which is a brave move by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and must be applauded. While this may not directly affect many of us here, it is a significant step forward in inclusiveness, which has not been without its strong critics within the Israeli Government. As Liberal Jews we need to support any moves to more openness and acceptance of different perspectives, both religious and cultural, in the Middle East and also here in Herefordshire with our interfaith work – See details of events in calendar.

Julian Brown

In this edition: Chair Chat        Jerusalem Round up          Burns night in Jerusalem

                         Interfaith story          Community Matters                 Hebrew Learning

CHAIR CHAT JANUARY 2016

1. RABBI ANNA

As usual, Anna came up with something different and entertaining for our Chanukah party. This time it was a competition to construct a menorah from the materials provided. Quite a challenge for the butter fingered but great fun. 

Our last service with Anna before she begins her adoption leave was on January 23 at Colwall. We had a good attendance on a cold day and an interesting discussion on the nature of prayer, particularly in the light of the proposed new LJ prayer book. Anna told us that she is shortly to adopt Josh (5 years old) and we look forward to welcoming him to our services in the future. We wish her all the best of luck with this exciting challenge and look forward to welcoming her back in September.

2. FUTURE SERVICES

While Anna is on leave, we have arranged for some visiting Rabbis to take our services. On Saturday February 27, our old friend, Rabbi Margaret Jacobi from Birmingham, will be leading the service at Colwall. On Friday March 11, Rabbi Alexandra Wright, the senior Rabbi at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London, will take our Friday night service at Saxon Hall in Hereford. Many thanks to Gloucestershire Jewish Community and the LJS for facilitating this. Apparently, Alexandra is going to cycle between Hereford and Gloucester to take the Saturday morning service there – we shall see! Finally, we are honoured that the President of Liberal Judaism, Rabbi Andrew Goldstein, will take our service at Saxon Hall on Saturday June 11, to mark Anne Frank Day and a year since we planted the tree in front of the centre. It will also be erev Shavuot and Andrew has offered an additional study session.

3. SHUL CRAWL – YORK

I have a strong affinity with York, having spent over 6 years as a student there where I met Mary and got married, and my mother in law and brother in law have now settled there. I noted the recent growth of a new liberal Jewish group there with interest and on my last visit to the city managed to attend a service. They meet in the Friends Meeting House in the shadow of Cliffords Tower, notorious for the massacre of Jews in 1190. I was immediately struck by the vitality and inclusivity of the community. There were over 30 people at the service but I was told there are normally more than 50. The service was led by a very lively and charismatic student Rabbi, Daniel Lichman, who obviously had a great rapport with the community. With many children in the community, they are able to run a cheder and also have regular Hebrew lessons before the service (a model for us?). It was a great pleasure for me to meet there Josephine Woolfson, one of our founder members, who frequently comes over from Leeds to support her York based daughter. I can’t comment on the quality of the kiddush or the chavurah lunch they were having after the service as I had no time to stay but it looked and smelt good! I will certainly go again next time I am in York.

4. TEA ROTA

As our Council is now severely depleted, offers to make (and wash up) tea and coffee at services would be gratefully received. This would include bringing fresh milk to the service. Please let Julian, Cherry, Alison or myself know if you are willing to help on a rota basis. It will be one less thing we have to worry about!

5. IS SANTA JEWISH?

Totally unseasonal, I know, but glancing through December copies of the JC (courtesy of David L.). I chanced on the following.
Given the JC’s penchant for trying to establish Jewish lineage for celebrities such as Kate Middleton, David Beckham, Ben Cohen (rugby player) or George Cohen (footballer),  a letter offered 10 reasons why Santa is really Jewish.
“He wears a funny beard and hat.  Is always overdressed. Like traditions.  Is the centre of attention.  Loves kids.  Is his own boss – and has a lot of personnel.
Has a great sense of humour.  Is a regular at Brent Cross.  A self made career.  Always prefers reindeers over a car on Shabbat.  Obviously this can only mean one thing …Le’chaim Santa.”

Mark Walton

Jerusalem Round up

Whenever I return from a visit to Jerusalem, I feel that the sheer variety of backgrounds – cultural, architectural, social and religious, is probably unique in such a small city. In how many cities can you go from a narrow streeted world of Charedi Jews living in such a cloistered environment, where even normal Western dress feels very out of place, and then within no more than 10 minutes’ walk in another direction, you find yourself almost in another country, where women are dressed in black from head to toe, yet go about their business perfectly normally, where Palestinian men drink Turkish coffee, and Arabic instead of Yiddish is the norm? Here, over what was once the Green line between East and West Jerusalem, there is an educational bookshop crammed full of scholarly works, all exploring the Israeli-Palestinian situation, from the Palestinian side. Back in the Bokharan quarter (one of many ultra-religious areas of the city) even any references to modern day society or culture feels out of place, as everything turns around religious law, ritual and custom.

On a fairly sunny morning on our first day in Jerusalem, we sat in a café in the main Machaneh Yehudah market (shuk) talking to a young man in his mid thirties. He had grown up in the Charedi community in B’nei Barak, but from his mid-teens somehow felt this was not right for him, and eventually he left the community, which is no small step to take if you are Charedi.. Amazingly, he is still on good terms with his parents, telling us they are more open and tolerant than many Charedi. While he is still religious, his wife, who also grew up Charedi, has given up all her religious beliefs, and is now a campaigning photographer and film maker, and has made a powerful film called the Black Bus about the religious segregation in Jerusalem, for which you can see trailer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeIcuOuxQoI

Machaneh Yehudah is always an amazingly positive experience, with its myriad smells, colours, and stalls piled high with every fruit and, vegetable, cheeses and olives, fish, meat and breads of every shape and size. Only here can you meet a man who runs a small stall selling Etrog juice which he claims is the health drink par excellence.

A Jerusalem Burns night

Being only Yorkshire born, although having lived two years in Scotland, and been married for twenty-five years to a Glasgow born Scot, I felt privileged to be invited to participate in a Jerusalem Burns night, organised by Cherry’s brother. For anyone who does not know, Burns night is an annual occasion to celebrate the life and poetry of Rabbie Burns who wrote much of his verse in Lallans (lowland Scots). Being in Jerusalem, this Burns night had to cater for a range of ethnic backgrounds (although with a strong Scottish bias), and also included a multitude of languages. Lallans was translated into both Hebrew and Arabic. Auld Lang Syne was translated into Yiddish, and also bagpipes were very professionally played by an Israeli born member of the Embassy staff.

Cherry’s father was a Burns lover and to that end, her brother Lenny began hosting Burns’ nights, which he has now done for about 15 years, continuing the tradition after her father died in 2006. This Burns night was a great opportunity, although also slightly nerve wracking, for both Cherry and I to perform in front of 60 people. Cherry sang ‘Ye Banks and Braes, and I told a traditional Scottish story, with both being very well received. The evening also included Ode to a Haggis (vegetarian, of course), Glasgow street songs, and an address to the Lassies and the Laddies.

Living in Jerusalem, the atmosphere can be quite tough, especially as now, when there is an intifada in place, so a Burns night is an opportunity to drink deeply of the spirit of Rabbie Burns and also of the liquid spirits which hail from the peaty Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

Hebrew Survey

We have had a fair amount of interest in learning Hebrew within the community (though we would be grateful if any more members wish to return their surveys). It looks as if we may need to set up small groups in both Monmouth and Malvern areas, but as always it is the geographical logistics which is going to be the determining factor to making this all happen. We have a range of possible resources, and the next step is to set up initial meetings, where we can gauge more accurately the level of Hebrew knowledge of those members interested, and explore next steps for learning.

Community Matters – Farewell to Andrea

Andrea Berry-Ottaway, who has been such a constant member, and for many years the mainstay of our community, is finally leaving Herefordshire for Banbury on 7 March to be closer to her family. So our last chance to see her before her move will be at our next service on 27 February. I am sure we all wish her the best of health and many happy years to come in her new home.

 

Interfaith News – Rabbi meets Rapper

A story in the I newspaper on Saturday reported on the unusual pairing of a Rabbi and a black Muslim rapper teaming up to create a youTube music video against anti-semitism. Rabbi Michel Serfaty, from the southern suburbs of Paris, a founder of the Muslim –Jewish friendship association, visited the rapper, Coco Tkt, (pronounced t’inquiete) in prison, where he was serving a sentence for armed robbery. Whilst in prison, Coco Tkt had had a change of heart from his previous links with the anti-Semitic comedian, Dieudonne, and decided he wished to do something to try to combat anti semitic sentiment in Paris.

 

Book Review – Hebrew Talk

Whilst at the South West Regional Shabbaton in November, we bought a book on behalf of HJC, which hopefully can be loaned out to those members most interested.

This is a very accessible, fascinating and readable book, subtitled 101 Hebrew Roots and the Stories they tell, written by Joseph Lowin. Each short chapter gives a lightning tour of words and meanings, associated with the simple three letter root, not only in Hebrew, but with occasional shifts into other cultures and languages. The root (gimmel, daled, lamed) for example (Gadol) has a whole range of meanings associated with being big, great, strong and the stories told link with Biblical sources, Jewish history and modern Israeli society. Reading this book is a relatively painless way of absorbing the finer detail of Hebrew etymology, and gaining a basic knowledge of many of the key roots and words in the Hebrew language.

 

Hereford & Malvern Foodbanks

Please bring your donations to the next HJC Service. For details see below.

Malvern Foodbank provide emergency food for local people in crisis.

They are collecting donations of the following to help local people in crisis. If you can help, one or more items from the list will make a real difference.

They particularly need:

Coffee, tinned fish, tinned fruit, instant mash potato, jam, marmalade, tinned meat, UHT milk, pasta sauces, tinned sponge puddings, 500g bags of sugar, tinned tomatoes, treats, tinned vegetables.

Please note they cannot accept frozen, chilled or perishable items.

They also need the following non-food items:

Bleach, cleaning cloths, deodorant, shower gel, toilet rolls, washing powder.

Thank you for any help you can give the foodbank.

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 March 2016

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

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Saturday 27th February

Shabbat service led by Rabbi Margaret Jacobi

11.a.m.

Ale House Colwall

Friday 11th March

Friday Evening Service led by Rabbi Alexandra Wright

7 p.m. 

Burgage Hall, Ledbury

Sunday 24 April

HJC Communal Seder

6.30 p.m.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Saturday 11th June

Anne Frank Day Service led by Rabbi Andrew Goldstein

t.b.c.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Other Events of Interest

Saturday 5th March

Herefordshire Interfaith Women’s Day

9.30 – 4.00

Kindle Centre Belmont Road, Hereford HR2 7JE

Thursday 10th March

Herefordshire Interfaith Group AGM

7p.m. –

9 p.m.

Kindle Centre Belmont Road, Hereford HR2 7JE

 

Other Events of Interest
Yachad and New Israel Fund UK are hosting a
Security Conference next month to look at the current position n Israel..
Security might be the most used term in Israeli political life – and in our conversations about Israel in the community. As two organisations committed to building a safe and secure Israel, we have invited an outstanding team of experts to help us unpack what security really means today.
We will be tackling the burning questions of how to approach Israel’s security in 2016, including: What are the greatest strategic threats currently facing the State of Israel? Is there a dichotomy between peace and security? Who are the potential Palestinian partners for peace?
When: Sunday 6th March, 09:15-16:45
Where: Cavendish Conference Rooms, 22 Duchess Mews, London W1G 9DT
Tickets: £20 adults/£10 students

Herefordshire Interfaith Group

are launching a Faith to Faith Women to Women’s project.

To be held on March 5th, celebrating International Women’s Day.

You are invited to an informal relaxed day, sharing food and interests, through the medium of Art, Craft, Music and Dance. Individual cards and gifts will be made to send to ‘friends and loved ones’ to maintain and create bonds among women of Faith including those who live their lives in friendship and openness. (Crafting packets provided)

The Group wish to reach out to women of Faith and Spirituality from around the World who have made their homes in Herefordshire and surrounding Borders. The intention is to provide a platform for a better understanding of different cultures in order to enable women of diverse Faiths to help, support, guide and encourage other women, leading to friendships and minimising the feelings of isolation that may be felt when settling into a New Country.

Through these links we plan to make contact with their relatives and friends left behind in their home countries, in order that we may start to understand their cultures and what forms the basis of their understanding of faith, spirituality and friendships.

It is envisaged that in this way a web will spread out to many cultures throughout the world where we, in the main have little understanding, such as Afghanistan and Syria regarding Islam and Baha’i faiths, across Eastern Europe and into Bulgaria, regarding forms of Islam and Catholicism and pockets across the Himalayas and into Myanmar regarding different forms of Buddhism.

The Idea was born from the passion of the Chairman, The Venerable Tenzin Choesang a Buddhist Nun. Venerable’s vast experience of travel, as a Business Woman and Nun have taken her to many places. She believes that friendships and understanding can be created using the Universal language of Art, Craft, Dance and Music thus crossing all barriers. Along her journey, she has made many friends and treasures gifts given to her that now adorn her Meditation Room.

Smiles, actions, kind words and good deeds

STRANGERS ARE FRIENDS THAT WE HAVE YET TO MEET

Come and MAKE IT HAPPEN

Published by

hjcliberal

I moved to Hereford in 2012, before that I was a Londoner, from North and Northwest London. I continue to work as Archivist at Liberal Judaism in London 2 days a month. I am also Archivist for HJC.

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