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Herefordshire Jewish Community Newsletter August/September 2015

Editorial

We will soon be approaching the High Holydays, but before that we have the month of Elul which is traditionally a time of reflection and introspection, in preparation for the New Year and Yom Kippur. As well as reflecting on our own deeds over the past year, this year, we also have a duty to think about others. For the first time, for this month of August, Liberal and Reform Judaism have linked up with the Council for Christians and Jews (CCJ) in a joint initiative entitled ‘If not now, when?’ This encourages us to take action on the persecution of Christian communities in the Middle East, which is sadly currently taking place in dramatic fashion, and which reminds us of the persecution we have similarly have encountered in previous times. I recently read an interview with one Christian refugee fleeing from persecution (and there will surely be others) who was amongst those in the so called migrant camp at Calais, so we need to remember that each person in the camp has a story, and remember also that many of our community are descended from refugees to this country.

Looking ahead to the HJC calendar for the next few months, we have a wide variety of activities to take part in – social, cultural and educational, as well as services. This year we are taking part in the South West small communities Shabbaton in November, which will include a day of workshops, talks, and activities which should have something to suit all members, and we hope to have a contingent attending from HJC. We can also look forward to a performance in Monmouth by London Klezmer Quartet in December, which, while not sponsored by HJC, will surely be an event we might like to attend. Finally, at this time of review, we are always looking for different ideas for activities within our own community, so if you have a particular interest which you think may suit other HJC members, let us know.

Julian Brown

In this edition:

Chair Chat Anne Frank Day Danny Rich Service

Month of Reflection Book Review Hereford Food Bank

Etgar Keret –Israeli Essayist Forthcoming Events

CHAIR CHAT

NEW LJ SIDDUR

There is a regular LJ Chair email forum which I rarely contribute to. However, I did join in this one as there seemed to be a growing feeling that we didn’t really need another siddur, it would be expensive and time consuming to produce and costly for small communities to replace their existing siddurim. Some communities said they actually preferred the Reform siddur and I suggested that if there was to be a new one then it should be a joint progressive undertaking between LJ and the Reform movement so that it could be used by congregations in both organisations, combining the best elements from both traditions. I also personally prefer the Reform siddur with translations and explanations of the rationale and origin of certain prayers on the same page. It was suggested that my proposal would never be accepted as a combined prayer book would be seen as the “thin end of the wedge” in encouraging a merger between the two organisations. What would be the problem with that? Which leads into …..

REFORM MOVEMENT AND PATRILINEALITY

Very encouraging that the Reform rabbis are seriously considering this which is now the only outstanding doctrinal difference between the two movements. See, http://news.reformjudaism.org.uk/press-releases/reform-rabbis-balance-tradition-and-welcome.html

There is also an interesting clip on the subject of patrilineality on the BBC website of a discussion between Reform Rabbi Jonathan Romain and Dr Yaakov Wise representing orthodoxy – no meeting of minds between the two!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b062hn6n

Is there any logical reason now for the two movements not to combine to form one strong and influential Progressive voice?

Mark Walton

Anne Frank Day

Members of Herefordshire Jewish Community were privileged to take part in a joint interfaith celebration/commemoration on the theme of ‘courage’ to mark Anne Frank day on Friday 12th June, in order to remember children who have been killed through war and conflict, as well as to commemorate the courage of all those who have given their service to protect our own rights and freedoms in recent times.

Both Christian and Jewish services contributed to the atmosphere of the occasion, as more than 70 people gathered outside the Community centre to see the garden of remembrance, the tree planted in honour of Anne Frank, and the unveiling of a plaque in honour of Anne Frank and other children. It felt a very unified occasion with both Reverend Philip Brown and Rabbis Danny Rich and Anna Gerrard leading thoughtful and moving prayers to mark the occasion. It was wonderful to see so many representatives of Hereford City, Church, ex-service personnel and community organisations, praying together with members of the Jewish community. Singing by teenagers from a local school as well as bugle playing added to the sense of the occasion.

The services were followed by a magnificent tea in Saxon Hall. This gave everyone an opportunity to socialise as well as to see the photographic exhibition on the life of Anne Frank, and watch a video presentation of the development of the remembrance garden. Presentations were made to members of Hereford College who had worked on the creation of the garden.

The final part of the day was a Friday evening Erev Shabbat service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard of Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community and Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief executive of Liberal Judaism. A smaller number of Christian visitors joined in with this service together with members of Hereford Jewish Community. In addition, everyone seemed to be both surprised and impressed by the impromptu question and answer session offered by Rabbi Danny Rich. This covered a wide variety of aspects of Jewish faith, including the different strands of Judaism, the origins of Liberal and progressive Judaism, women Rabbis, our relationship with the Five Books of Moses, and attitudes to Israel.

In all, this was a very worthwhile occasion and shows what can be achieved through cooperation of many disparate groups and interests who have a shared vision and purpose. Hereford Jewish Community are very grateful to Centre Manager, Victoria Craig and Chair of Trustees, Peter Cocks for their commitment and enormous hard work in organising this event.

Julian Brown

Shabbat Service 11 July with Rabbi Danny Rich

Due to illness in Marc Turner’s family, the naming ceremony for baby Isaac had to be postponed. However despite this, Rabbi Danny Rich was still kind enough to lead a service for us in Hereford Scout Hut which around 14 of us attended. The venue was a welcome change in a pleasant setting.

The parasha for the week was Pinchas. As usual Danny had much to say on a range of topics. He began by talking about Pinchas’ zealotry in killing Jews who had been consorting with Midianites, which even some of Pinchas’ compatriots did not necessarily approve of. Danny went on to talk about the need for care over the way we understand the Torah Law. Just because there is a law does not necessarily mean we have to implement it, so while Pinchas was within his legal rights to kill the men who had been with the Midianite women, he did not necessarily need to exercise this right – perhaps there could have been some other form of punishment. He also then alluded to the actions of ISIS in the name of Islam, and pointed out that even if violent punishment is prescribed in the Koran, Muslims today can choose not to exercise that right.

He also spoke about the transfer of leadership from Moses to Joshua which we read in the Torah piece, and from Elijah to Elisha which we read in the Haftarah. In both cases the successor was someone offering more thought and introspection compared with the charismatic and more outgoing figure that preceded him, but this was what was required at the time.

We are all very grateful for Danny making his second visit to HJC within a month. 

Hereford Food Bank

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

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

Items requested by Hereford Food Bank are:

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

Thank you. Any queries please contact them on 01432 353347

Welfare – Andrea is currently housebound but improving gradually and in receipt of good regular care visits. Rosalie had a fall on the road several weeks ago and is much improved.

BBooook Review – The Dogs and the Wolves by Irène Némirovsky

Book review – Irene Nemirovsky – The Dogs and The Wolves.

Irene Némirovksy’s name may be known as the author of Suite Française, which became a film shown in cinemas earlier this year. However she wrote several other works, and I read The Dogs and The Wolves whilst in France this summer. Irene Némirovksy came from a wealthy Russian Jewish family who settled in Paris in 1920, and wrote her novels in French. The Dogs & The Wolves was published in 1940, only 2 ½ years before her deportation to Auschwitz, where she died from typhus, soon after.

This is a story of Jewish society, in particular the relationships between the lowest ranks and those at the top of the pile. It tells the story of Ada, born amongst the poorest ranks in a ghetto in Ukraine, and her cousin Ben, born amongst the highest ranks. It tells of their lives as children in the city in Ukraine in the early years of the20th century, and the subsequent life in Paris, where Ada becomes an artist, and Ben a businessman. It is a powerful and passionate book, though when I began reading it, there was little hint of how dramatic the story would become. It tells a fascinating tale of life for Jews (though not particularly observant ones) in both Ukraine and as emigrés in Paris. Némirovksy’s writing is vivid and very visual, and I would recommend this as very worthwhile.. To quote from the Jewish Women’s Archive: Irene Nemirovski was a writer….. ‘who could look inside the human soul and make music with words’. JB

Etgar Keret – The Seven Good Years – Comment

Etgar Keret is a 47 year old Israeli novelist who has recently published a collection of essays entitled ‘The Seven Good Years’ coming from the biblical story of Pharaoh’s dream of seven fat-fleshed cows and seven lean and scrawny cows standing by a river. Joseph was called on for an interpretation and explains that seven years of abundance are coming to Egypt followed by seven years of famine.

Keret explains, ‘the seven good years were the years when I was able to be both son to my father and father to my son, when I could look back and see my past and look forward and see my future’. His parents were Holocaust survivors: his father survived by living for almost 600 days in a ‘hole in the ground’ outside a Polish village. His parents wanted their children to have richer lives spiritually rather than materially.

Seven Good Years’ is not published in Israel as it is intended to communicate the Israeli reality to an outside world that sees the Israel-Palestine situation in a very black and white ‘goodies and baddies’ way and resists the idea that the reality might be more complex.

Keret writes opinion pieces on the conflict for both the Israeli and international press. In Israel, as a liberal left wing Israeli writing against the government and the Gaza war people would boycott him saying he was a traitor, and overseas people would boycott him as an Israeli. This shows the dilemma Keret faces in expressing his views.

The Seven Good Years is published by Granta. For further information see Guardian Article at: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/aug/01/etgar-keret-books-interview-israel-the-seven-good-years

Cherry Wolfe

Month of Reflection CCJ – If not now, when?

This initiative aims to encourage the Jewish community to engage in prayer and spiritual reflection on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, extending the circle of spiritual engagement from the Christian community into the Jewish community and beyond. In conjunction with our Still An Issue initiative raising awareness of antisemitism and encouraging a response within the Christian community, we are bringing the communities closer together through profound engagement with one another’s key issues.

The spiritual engagement on this issue will be centred around the month of August, providing a focal point for the response, but we expect and intend the initiative to continue beyond this with further engagement throughout the year. A nationwide response to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, the initiative is endorsed by our Presidents from across the Christian and Jewish spectrums.

To provide a springboard for prayer and other forms of spiritual reflection, we have created a general resource with information about Christians in the Middle East and ideas for personal and communal responses. This is supplemented by resources written by individual rabbis that may be more appropriate for use in certain denominations that also provide a more personal response to this issue. All of these resources can be found here.

There are plenty of ways for individuals or communities to engage in the initiative, either separately or coming together. You could:

  • Arrange a reciprocal visit between the local Church and Synagogue

  • Hold a cross-communal vigil, potentially in conjunction with the local CCJ branch

  • Host a joint educational event with a speaker on this issue

For more ideas, please contact cjrelations@ccj.org.uk.

Council for Christians and Jews

Background to Christian Persecution in the Middle East – see next page.

If not now, when?

There are many references in the T’nach and commentaries as to how and why we should treat others (non-Jews) fairly.

  • we are all created b’tselem Elokim – in the image of God. We believe that every person is equally significant before the divine, all human beings are equal, all human beings are unique and most importantly all human beings are of infinite value (Tzelem UK mission statement).

  • Rabbi John Rayner wrote in Siddur Lev Chadash concerning peace, that we are required ‘to denounce injustice, not only when it is committed against us, but also when it is committed against others; to defend human rights, not only our own, but theirs….’

  • Our Rabbis have taught: We support the poor of the Gentiles along with the poor of Israel, and visit the sick of the Gentiles along with the sick of Israel, and bury the poor of the Gentiles along with the dead of Israel, for these are the ways of peace. Babylonian Talmud Gittin 61a

Reform & Liberal Judaism

Forthcoming Events

Limmud in the Woods

Exploring Jewish life… Radical Simplicity. 
August bank holiday weekend 27 – 31 August 2015

Limmud in the Woods is a unique event. We spend 5 days building our own community in the countryside, sleeping under canvas and experiencing top quality Jewish learning, activities in the great outdoors and events late into the night.

Cot £199– 5 days, £100 – 2 days, £60 – one day

South West Regional Shabbaton Swindon, Saturday November 28 2015 including HJC. Communities involved will include Bristol, Gloucestershire, Oxford, Reading, Wessex and Herefordshire.

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

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

 

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Sunday 13 September

Re-consecration of tombstones, followed by evening Rosh Hashanah service , led by Mark Walton

4.00 p.m. &

5.30 p.m.

Hereford Cemetery

Then at Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford HR2 6HE

Tuesday 22 September

Yom Kippur Kol Nidrei service- led by Julian Brown

7 p.m.

Catholic Church Ledbury t.b.c.

Friday 2nd October

Simchat Torah Service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

7 p.m.

Bridges Centre, Monmouth

Saturday 24th October

Shabbat Service, Lech Lecha, led by student Rabbi (t.b.c.)

11 a.m.

Ale House, Colwall

Sat 21st November

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

11 a.m.

Ale House, Colwall

Saturday 12th December

Chanukah service and party led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

3 p.m.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford HR2 6HE

Other Events of Interest

Saturday 28 November

South West Regional Shabbaton

Day event

Swindon

Saturday 5 December

London Klezmer Quarter performance,

evening

Bridges Centre, Monmouth.

Subscriptions

Note that subscriptions for HJC were due by 31 July, so if you have not already sent yours in, please send to HJC Treasurer, Hanna Wine, as soon as possible.

For more information or to join our community please contact our Chair: Mark Walton  mark.walton@bridgescentre.org.uk  Tel: 01594 530721 (eve)

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 September

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 are 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.

Book Review – The Dogs and the Wolves by Irène Némirovsky

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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