The theme of Liberal Judaism’s Day of Celebration on 7 June this year is Liberal Judaism’s ‘contemplation and celebration’ of its relationship with Israel. There is a fascinating programme, so I’m glad that Alison and Marc will be representing HJC there. The theme of our forthcoming interfaith event to mark Anne Frank day is ‘courage’ as embodied by Anne Frank as a young person, but is also to recognise those who have fought to defend human rights in recent times with the dedication of a Remembrance garden.
The themes of youth and relationships with Israel are also coincidentally covered in this issue with two separate but in many ways similar initiatives in Israel linking Israeli young people, both Arab and Jewish, one in Acco and one in Jaffa. While there are many difficult issues about how we see Israel and how Israel is seen in the diaspora, these initiatives show what can be done to sow the seeds of friendship for future generations, and we encourage HJC members to support an initiative one of these projects run by the Charles Clore Centre, who we have supported in the past.
Many thanks to all who came to the AGM. We had a fantastic turnout (22 out of 28 members!) which was unprecedented for one of our AGMs. We were able to make some important changes to our constitution: regularising the status of non Jewish members and enabling non Jewish partners to be buried in the Jewish section of the Hereford cemetery. We were delighted that Hannah Wine agreed to join the Council. The AGM was followed by an excellent and very convivial Sunday lunch. We have decided that the Trumpet Inn is the epicentre of our community!
The AGM also marked the resignation of Andrea as Treasurer. As I said in my Chair’s Report, “Unfortunately, Andrea has decided to resign from the Council after 20 selfless years of service due to ill health. Andrea has been the beating heart of the community, the fount of all knowledge, the chief organiser of events and the person who has kept in touch with all our members. We will miss her tremendously and would like to thank her for the great contribution she has made to the continuity of HJC and obviously wish her a speedy return to full health.”
To continue my irregular series. I visited Bristol Progressive on April 11. I always feel very welcome here. It is a cosmopolitan and erudite community, probably as a result of the university presence. Rabbi Monique Mayer is obviously very popular and has an excellent rapport with congregation.
There were about 30 people at the service which contained a lot more singing than we are used to. It included a very Interesting text study on parashat “shemeini” – with the two sons of Aaron consumed by fire (or “getting zapped”, to use Monique’s term) for not doing the temple sacrifices correctly.
The shul is currently being refurbished and was thus somewhat bare although it is usually very comfortable. It is not in the most salubrious area of Bristol and difficult to find if you don’t know where you’re going.
It has a very strong cheder, apparently attracting families from as far away as Cardiff, and an excellent monthly magazine, “Alonim”.
Last, but by no means least, they normally have a good kiddush but it was much reduced when I went because of the refurbishment
I was very moved by the testimony of Eva Kor who gave evidence at the recent trial of Oskar Groning, who was known as the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz”. She embraced and forgave him – an act that she was heavily criticised for by other survivors. Her parents, two older sisters and many other relatives were murdered in Auschwitz. Eva and her twin sister, Miriam, suffered terribly at the hands of the infamous Dr Josef Mengele – her sister subsequently dying, almost certainly as a result of the poisons that had been injected into her, while Eva miraculously survived. She wrote in an article in “The Times”:
“Forgiveness is different from reconciliation. Forgiveness is an act of self healing, self liberation and self empowerment. I do not need anybody’s approval or acceptance. Reconciliation takes two people, this is why it is so difficult.
I also call forgiveness the best revenge against the perpetrator. And everyone can afford it. It is free. If you do not like it, you can take back your pain. No one will stop you.
Some Holocaust survivors do not like this and some call me a traitor. I have been told that in Jewish tradition, the perpetrator must repent and ask forgiveness. Do you think that Hitler, Himmler and Mengele would have repented and asked for forgiveness? What would that do for my freedom? Should I remain a victim for the rest of my life? ………..
It is not only Jews who tend to nurture victimhood. It is an international problem. The world is filled with victims because nobody is making the right effort to help people heal.
That is why I am so passionate about forgiveness. I realised that Hitler was an angry man who considered himself a victim. Anger is a seed for war. Forgiveness is a seed for peace. I forgave the Nazis, not because they deserve it but because I deserve it.”
We were very sorry to hear about her recent illness and wish her a speedy recovery back to full health. We were very grateful to Julian and Cherry for stepping in at short notice to lead the service on May 16.
Though not as large as previous years, we had an enjoyable Pesach Seder at Belmont Parish Hall this year.
Continuing our series of interviews with community members –
Meet Your Community – Alison Turner
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in North-West London on the outskirts near Pinner, going to secondary school in Harrow, grammar, not the public school!
Was there a Jewish community there?
There was a Jewish community in Pinner, but it was much smaller than it is now.
Was your family observant/kasher etc.?
My mother and father were observant and kept a kosher home, they were members of Harrow United Synagogue I think, which has since closed. Sadly my mother died when I was only 2 years old. Then I was looked after by my father’s mother, who was from Latvia and had come from there to Belgium with her family, then gone back to Russia, escaped after the Russian Revolution to Antwerp, married and settled in Paris, then escaped from there during the Second World War and settled in London. She thought it would be safer for me not to be Jewish, so she didn’t keep kosher or observe Judaism at all. Then my father remarried and suddenly my sister and I were in a kosher observant home, where we were members of Pinner United Synagogue. I discovered Progressive Judaism later on my own.
Have you visited Israel?
Yes I have been 4 times, first with my boyfriend for a month, then with 2 Liberal Jewish tours, then on my honeymoon.
Do you have any knowledge of Hebrew?
Not much, some prayerbook Hebrew but very little modern Hebrew.
What is your favourite Jewish food?
Smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels.
What do you value most about your Jewish connection?
Being rooted in Jewish history, family, language, food, approach to the Divine.
How has being a member of HJC influenced your Jewish identity/connection?
It has kept me part of the Liberal Jewish community even though I am now far from London and mainstream Jewish life. I think there were more Jewish people in our street when we last lived in London, then in the whole county we now live in. HJC is my lifeline to Judaism in Herefordshire.
What do you value in particular about Liberal Judaism?
Women Rabbis and the ability to question and to relate religion to 21st century modernity. I felt excluded from United Synagogue services, like an outsider watching the men pray. In Liberal services I feel included, I know my contribution counts as part of the community and women can take any role they like, whether housewife or Rabbi.
What would you say is the Jewish highlight of your life?
My wedding to Marc at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue, conducted by Rabbis Shulamit Ambalu and Rabbi Aaron Goldstein and surrounded by family and friends, including Orthodox family and non-Jewish friends.
If you have children, are any of them involved in Jewish activities?
Too young to say, we still count his age in weeks, not months or years. He has been to Purim and Shabbat services and to a community Seder as well as Shabbat and Pesach at home. He’s booked into the creche at the Liberal Judaism Day of Celebration. We hope he will want to continue to be involved when he is older.
We have made donations to both Hereford and Malvern foodbanks over the past few months, and many members of HJC have made generous contributions, which have been much appreciated by the foodbank organisers. The next opportunity to bring donations will be at the Shabbat service on 11 July. A big thanks to everyone who has supported this initiative.
We have received the following letter from Martha Trust on behalf of HJC donation.
Dear Mr Brown
Thank you for your kind donation of £100.00 which will be used towards the purchase of books for our residents. We have two homes caring for people aged between 16 and 45 all of whom have complex physical and intellectual difficulties so the money will be divided between both homes.
Due to the nature of their disabilities our residents are unable to read themselves however the staff read stories to the residents on a daily basis. We also have a story sack containing various pros relating to the specific story. The carers act out the stories which the residents love and although they would not admit it I think the carers have great fun playing the various characters in the book.
I hope this is acceptable to you. Please pass on our thanks to everyone who contributed to this generous donation and for agreeing to support Martha trust.
Sue Mc Bride
Charles Clore Centre Summer Camp
We also thought it would be good if as a community we could support Charles Clore centre (who we have supported in the past) for a specific project – the summer Camp – see below. If you would like to support this, we will be having a collection at the Anne Frank Day service to try to raise the £100 needed to send a child to summer camp. You can also make an individual donation online (but let us know if you do this).
My Dear Friends
We are getting excited planning our Arab-Jewish Summer Camp for at-risk children in July and wish to ask if you would like to sponsor child to attend this year.
You may remember that we wrote of the children’s huge disappointment at the cancellation of last year’s camp because of the war which made their security impossible to guarantee. We are hoping to give them a wonderful time this year to make up for this and the more money we raise, the more children we can take.
It has been a hard year for those of us working towards a shared society. The mistrust during the Gaza war last summer was compounded during the violence that followed within Israel and left many of us feeling hopeless. Communities have become even more polarised and the general election here has resulted in a government whose position towards full equality is quite clear. And yet, and because of all of this, the small things that we can affect, such as enabling poor Arab and Jewish kids to play together for three weeks during the long, hot summer, must be encouraged.
100 British pounds will pay for a child to attend our three-week camp – to swim at a local kibbutz, to play in football tournaments, to do art, play music, enjoy daytrips and laugh and laugh.
Thank you in anticipation for enabling the children of Akko to get off the boiling and sometimes dangerous streets for this period, get to know each other and, hopefully through this experience, become part of a more just future for this country,
It’s now so easy to make a gift to our centre. Simply click here to donate online https://support.newisraelfund.org.uk/clore-centre .
Director – Sir Charles Clore Jewish-Arab Community Centre, Akko
Dancing in Jaffa – film review
Cherry and I went to see this film for Cherry’s birthday, and we were so glad we did. Pierre Dulaine has done an amazing task getting more than 2000 children by now, of both Jewish and Palestinian origins, dancing together within the Jaffa community. The film charts the course of one of these groups of around 30 children on a 12 week programme, from tentative first steps to giving a full competition performance at the end. Getting inner city children mixed boys and girsl aged 12 to do ballroom dancing is a difficult task at the best of times . Getting Jewish and Palestinian children to dance together is an amazing achievement. When you see these children with a mixture of shyness, sullenness, difficult backgrounds suddenly smiling and getting up to dance, it lifts your heart.
Pierre Dulaine comes from a mixed background with Palestinian mother and Irish father, and has been dancing and teaching dance for over 40 years. He is a 4 times ballroom dancing world champion. You can read more about the film’s vision below.
Although set in Israel, our film is ultimately about one man’s hopeful endeavour to shift the paradigm and stop the hate.
More than anything, we hope that Dancing in Jaffa can help transcend geographic and cultural boundaries by raising awareness of the challenges involved in dealing with hatred, while also proving that change is always possible, even in the direst of situations.
The film demonstrates the powerful role that the arts, and dance in particular, can play in enabling children to overcome prejudice and build strong personal ties with one another. Through his work, Pierre has demonstrated that the Dancing Classrooms method can be easily and successfully replicated worldwide.
Pierre has created a fun and challenging tool to generate behavioural change. Hate starts at a young age. If we can wipe it out early on by teaching mutual respect and understanding, we can encourage children to find their own ways to bridge chasms through the arts and community service.
Our overall goal is to have Dancing Classrooms in every school, in every city, in every country and bring change worldwide. Our film happens to take place in Jaffa but both the film and the program transcend geographic boundaries and can be utilized worldwide.
Anne Frank Day – on the theme of Courage
Poem written by Michael Rosen, Poet Laureate, for the first Anne Frank Tree Planting Ceremony in 1998
We hope that anyone who knows this tree will remember Anne Frank
We hope that anyone who knows this tree will remember how from her attic window
Anne Frank watched a tree growing outside and was so moved and entranced
She couldn’t speak
We hope that anyone who knows of this tree will remember how Anne Frank lost her life
We hope that anyone who knows of this tree will never let such things happen again
We hope that anyone who knows of this tree will have as much hope in their hearts and minds as Anne Frank did .
Quote from Anne Frank’s Diary, 13 May 1944
My dearest Kitty,
Yesterday was Father’s birthday, Father and Mother’s nineteenth wedding anniversary, a day without the cleaning lady…and the sun was shining as its never shone before on 1944. Our chestnut tree is in full bloom. Its covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year.
Alison and Marc Turner cordially invite you to the Simchat Ben (celebration
of a son) following the birth of our beautiful baby
Isaac George William Edward Turner
(Yitzhak Naftali ben Yisrael v Simchah)
Shabbat morning service with Rabbi Danny Rich
Herefordshire Jewish Community
The service will be taken by Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism assisted by others from the Herefordshire Jewish Community, relatives and friends.
It will be followed by a dairy kiddush and a kosher dairy buffet. On the Saturday afternoon there will be a houseparty at our house starting after lunch.
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 £185 – 5 days £100 – 2 days £60 – one day (if booked by 19 June)
South West Regional Shabbaton – Swindon, Saturday November 26 2015 including HJC. Communities involved will include Bristol, Gloucestershire, Oxford, Reading, Wessex and Herefordshire. Do mark this date in your diary as we hope to contribute to this day.
HJC Diary of Events
Sunday 7 June
Liberal Judaism ‘Day of Celebration’
Liberal Jewish Synagogue, St. John’s Wood Road, London, NW8 7HA
Saturday 11 July
Shabbat Service and Baby Blessing for Isaac Turner led by Rabbi Danny Rich
Sunday 13 September
Rededication of tombstones, followed by evening Rosh Hashanah service
Then at Andrea’s house
Tuesday 22 September
Yom Kippur Kol Nidrei service- led by Julian Brown
Ledbury venue t.b.c.
27th – 31st August
Limmud in the Woods
Horley Scout Camp, Banbury, OX15 6AU
South West Regional Shabbaton
Anyone who is concerned about plans for two new broiler chicken factories in Herefordshire’s Golden Valley and wishes to sign a petition on this. See: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/stop_the_factory_farms_her/?bcJBibb&v=59710
Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 July
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