Denial – the film in Hereford and Alone in Berlin in Hereford and Malvern

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Borderlines film festival runs from Friday 24 February to Saturday 12 March and has more than one film of Jewish interest. The first one that captured our attention is Denial which will be at the Courtyard in Hereford. Directed by Mick Jackson and starring Rachel Weisz, Timothy Spall, Andrew Scott, Tom Wilkinson, it was made in the UK and USA in 2016, and is 1 hour 50 minutes long, with a 12A film certificate.

Jewish American historian Deborah Lipstadt’s compelling story of the 1996 libel case against her brought by notorious Holocaust denier David Irving is adapted by David Hare. Denial is powered by performance; Spall’s Irving is a poisonous mix of insecurity and bravado, a man blinded by his own prejudice and amplified by bluster, while Weisz gives a nuanced turn as the impassioned Lipstadt, who finds herself representing an entire people in her quest to prove the truth. It’s an essential tale for our ‘post-fact’ times – with parallels to Brexit politics and Donald Trump’s mendacious presidential campaign – documenting a necessary triumph of truth, reason and forensic fact over ignorance and prejudice.

Fri 24 February 11:00am
Sat 25 February 2:15pm
Sun 26 February 5:00pm
Mon 27 February 11:00am
Tue 28 February 5:15pm

Another film that caught my attention is Alone in Berlin, directed by  Vincent Perez and starring: Emma Thompson, Brendan Gleeson, Daniel Brühl

Germany/France/UK, 2016, 1 hour 43 minutes

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Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson give committed, insightful performances in Vincent Perez’s (Once Upon an Angel) adaptation of Hans Fallada’s 1947 novel, based on the true story of a husband and wife who became part of the German Resistance during WWII. Thompson and Gleeson are Anna and Otto Quangel, living in 1940s Berlin. Their grief and despair at a war tragedy turns them into unlikely agitators, denouncing Hitler in a series of subversive postcards strewn across the city. Hotly pursued by Gestapo detective Escherich (Daniel Brühl) and under threat from anyone who sees them, they live out a bleak and terrifying existence. Fallada’s chilling masterpiece was one of the first anti-Nazi novels published by a German after the war and shows how ordinary citizens subsumed the reign of the Third Reich – with its intimate terror, violence, treachery and censorship – into their everyday consciousness; ideas well served by Perez’s handsome and very moving adaptation.

Fri 24 February 5:00pm
Sun 26 February 11:30am
Thu 2 March 7:45pm

The screening on Sunday 26 February has SOLD OUT, just a few tickets remaining for Friday 24 screening at The Courtyard Hereford.

Herefordshire Jewish Community Newsletter August/September 2016

Editorial

The summer is often a quiet time for our community, but certainly not so this year. Several of our members have been attending events both within and outside our local area, within the wider Liberal Jewish community and beyond, and with Interfaith activities.

For this reason, this newsletter is rather longer than usual, as we have had many contributions from members, which is very encouraging. However, readers may find they do not want to read it all in one go, for fear of overload of conference reports! Perhaps we need some alternative entries for next edition – story, article on some other topic, or recipe for example. I have not edited contributions sent in (except in one case), but may need to reconsider this policy in future.

Social Action – refugees. As we are living in a constantly changing political climate both nationally and internationally, we have to do our best to follow our own values and interpret them in the best way we can with regard to social and political action. The Rene Cassin Foundation is the Jewish organisation for Human Rights, and has been doing some very effective work with refugees and also those already in this country but who are detained in detention centres. See article on Limmud day on this topic.

ED

In this edition:

Chair Chat Biennial Reports Birmingham Limmud Reports Ammerdown report Chavurah Supper Interfaith events Charities Hebrew groups Book Review

CHAIR CHAT

ANN FRANK SERVICE

Our service on Saturday June 14 at Saxon Hall was a very special occasion led by Rabbi Andrew Goldstein, President of Liberal Judaism. Representatives of Christian and Buddhist faiths also attended. It was a great honour for us to have Rabbi Goldstein leading our service as he has so many links with present day Jewish communities in Europe and he gave an inspiring sermon on the importance of trees as symbols of renewal after destruction.   He spoke of the Anne Frank tree that had to be cut down, and its daughters – now growing in many locations….and a tree in Terezin that had the same fate.

Andrew also led an interesting study session for us on the Book of Ruth before the service. As an added bonus his wife, Sharon, enriched our service with her beautiful singing. We would also like to thank Peter Cocks, the Chair of the Saxon Hall Trust, for planting and nurturing the Anne Frank tree for us, and we would certainly like to make this an annual occasion.

LIMMUDNIKS

We certainly punched above our weight as a small community and it was wonderful to meet up again with Andrea Berry-Ottaway, who is well on her way to recovery. I had never been to a Limmud before and certainly enjoyed the informal but well organised atmosphere. The venue (Queen Elizabeth Hospital) and the food (lots of it) were both excellent. I was a little bit disappointed that there were no text based sessions – the session on the Psalms that I was going to attend was cancelled at the last moment. I particularly enjoyed the virtual tour of Jewish homes and hospitals in London by the excellent Rachel Kolsky and there was a particularly interesting session on end of life decisions led by a surgeon and our friend, Rabbi Margaret Jacobi. I would certainly go again to Limmud and encourage others to do so – a stimulating and enjoyable day.

THE FLYING LOVERS OF VITEBSK

If you love Chagall as I do, you would have loved this show which previewed at Bristol and went on to the Globe in London. Based very closely on Jackie Wullschlanger’s biography (also very well worth reading), it recounted Chagall’s courtship and marriage to Bella through the tempestuous times in which they lived. The story was told with movement and songs, many in Yiddish, and developed a magical atmosphere. The two actors bore an uncanny physical resemblance to Marc and Bella and recreated many of the scenes we are familiar with in Chagall’s paintings. There was humour but also sadness, in the destruction of Jewish culture in Vitebsk, the ravages of war and the early death of Bella. All in all, a great show.

NEXT SERVICE

Once again, Rabbi Danny Rich has come to our rescue and will be leading our service at Colwall on Saturday September 10. He has also agreed to lead a study session on a subject of our choice – any requests? We hope to have Rabbi Anna back with us after the High Holydays.

Biennial Reports

Alison Turner writes:

Liberal Judaism’s Biennial on 1st – 3rd July, was in Solihull this year, a new venue and thankfully much more compact than the previous one. I attended the whole weekend, Jaci Hannan joined me for the Saturday. Our old friend Rabbi Aaron Goldstein opened our Shabbat service with Rabbi Rachel Benjamin and his guitar and we had a choral service. On Saturday morning by contrast, we had Ma Tovu together, then we had an immersive prayer experience in various rooms. Options ranged from Solomon’s Temple with grain sacrifices, The Rabbinic period of freeform prayers around standard opening and closings, The Spanish Inquisition (chorus no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition), The Western Wall of the 2nd Temple, Chasidic dancing, Liberal Judaism around 1995 and the BuJew, influenced bythe teachings and practices of Buddhism. This was very interesting to be part of, though it did not last long. It reminded us that Judaism has always changed and adapted, and led us to our theme Thinking outside the book.

In the afternoon I attended a session on a strategy for music development. The vision is for our engagement with music to be at the forefront of Judaism and spirituality in the UK. Project aims are:

  1. Reinforcing and challenging our community’s musical traditions.

  2. Empowering music leaders and composers to be more successful and influential in musical practice.

  3. Creating closer ties of community access so we all have the same tunes.

  4. Maintaining a very high level of accessibility to new music and methods of delivery, using the internet and smartphones.

  5. Uphold intergenerational ties of music as a powerful means of engaging with youth.

They advise thinking of the atmosphere we wish to create in our service, then pick the music to enhance the text, engage and elevate our prayers. Cantors do this in the USA but it barely exists here in the UK. More music will go into the Resource Bank at ljresourcebank.org as copyright issues are cleared, and a songbook is planned. Funding will be needed for some of this.

I also went to a session on becoming a Baal Tefillah, a prayer leader for our community, which I hope to start in Jan. 2017. The course is personalised for each community so I will try to learn the things we need, for example there are differing levels of Hebrew used.

Jacquie Hannan writes:

LJ Biennial – July 1st – 3rd July 2016 – St John’s Hotel, Solihull, Birmingham.

Rabbi Charley Baginskey who chaired the Biennial committee was quoted as saying “the Biennial’s success is indicative of the passion that Liberal Judaism deserves.” This is a very apt view of the event in its entirety.

As an attendee for one day, my perspective was greatly limited by time. On my arrival, singers with guitars enlivened corridors as people poured into the hall for the Shabbat Shacharit service. Speakers, including Rabbis from Northwood and Elstree, ensured interest, conviviality, and a sincere time of worship. The service was followed by new graduations from the Ba’alei Tefillah Course. I attended two discussion sessions:

Is God still an Englishman?” – Cole Moreton and Rabbi David Goldberg

The author Cole Moreton is a broadcaster, journalist and feature writer for the Independent and Telegraph newspapers, and a professional speaker with an eclectic understanding of the UK’s contemporary social structures and politics. On receiving his 2016 Press Award, Cole’s reply was “It pays to compliment your audience”. This approach was evidently paying off at the Biennial, as the audience seemed more than duly appreciative, when he conveyed the gist of his book was that more than 75% of English people are developing a new spiritually separate from the mainstream ones to which they no longer feel any affiliation. I question whether true empathy arises without understanding of how a person can hold on to a deep enough faith to be sustainable through trials. Of course Cole is too gracious and socially aware to ever offend, and as in his many faceted book, he stands at edge of a sea of profundities and inference, barely wetting his toe, looking around for people not to offend. However, the issues were too vast to have been explored to any depth in that context.

The wise and erudite Rabbi David Goldberg was paired as his counterpart, perhaps an unenviable position due to their diverse stances.

How do we respond to Brexit and the apparent Division within Society and as a movement?

Ben Rich, Danny Rich, Tanya Sakhnovich, Nottingham Synagogue, and Ilan Baron, Durham University.

I attended this session, eagerly anticipating the imaginative exploration of roads forward following the democratic referendum. Sadly, the time only allowed for airing of frustrations held by most people present, who viewed their opponents who voted for Brexit as being both racists and stupid and uninformed about fiscal matters. Democracy can be surprisingly emotive. I reminded some people that anti-Semitism and related violence has been greatly increasing in Europe in recent years, completely unrelated to Brexit, and has resulted in the increase of numbers fleeing to Israel.

It was an interesting day, with opportunity to socialise with many lovely people from a wide variety of locations. Had I been able to stay longer, I would have chosen to attend many stimulating and very enjoyable sessions from the wide range on offer.

Angela West writes:

Wisdom Literature at the Ammerdown Conference Centre, Somerset, with Rabbi Howard Cooper, July 1st-3rd

The Ammerdown Centre has been the beautiful setting for several interfaith events that I have attended here in the past. The focus this time was on the text of Qohelet/Ecclesiastes, and the Jews in the group tended to be rather thin on the ground. But at least Howard made every one aware that it was a Hebrew text in translation we were considering (which those who think of the Hebrew scriptures as the ‘Old Testament’ occasionally tend to forget). It was good to be reminded that all translations are in fact interpretations.

Actually, in the course of the weekend, we only managed a couple of chapters of the text, as Howard takes an intensive rather extensive approach to bible study. Some would no doubt have preferred to get more of an overview, but I was fortunate in having some sense of the whole text as we had studied it at Bible Week the year before. Qohelet contains some stunningly beautiful poetry (I’m specially haunted by 12:3-8) but it is rather unusual among biblical texts in its uncompromising rejection of meaningfulness in human life: ‘Utter futility – said Qoheleth – all is futile!’ (12:8). Unlike most other texts in the Hebrew Bible, here God does not seem to be in charge of history – not that of Israel or of anyone else’s. Not a very reassuring theme – though some people in the group were clearly determined to derive some moral uplift from the text despite its apparent absence. May be the reasoning was: it’s in the bible so it must be edifying.

A question that often arises for me is: how does the religious/historical context of the reader affect how she reads the text? Just before one of the sessions, a lady sitting next to me remarked during a conversation: “My mother never really forgave Hitler. My father had just invested in a new bowler hat – and it got lost during an air raid!” I’m not sure to what extent she endorsed her mum’s perspective on this matter, as the session started before we had time to continue… But those who, like me, are exercised by this question, might be interested to know of Emil Fackenheim’s response to it in his book: The Jewish Bible After the Holocaust: A Re-reading.

Angela West

Limmud Day Reports

West Midlands Limmud day, Birmingham, Sunday 10 July 2016

On Sunday 10 July, five members of HJC, Mark, Angela, Shirley, Julian & Cherry attended the first Limmud study day to be held in Birmingham, hosted by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Medical Centre. We had a warm welcome from Richard Wharton, chaplain of QEH, who had been very instrumental in helping set up the Limmud day, and from Rabbi Yossi Jacobs of Singers Hill synagogue, who as always, had a pithy story to tell us. We then went off to a wide range of talks, film, and workshops, and between us covered a wide range of topics which included:

  • A holocaust survivor’s journey from Auschwitz to Birmingham
  • What are Jewish communities doing to help refugees in Calais and Dunkirk, and how can we improve the rights of those held in detention centres within the UK (where conditions are in some cases worse than prisons, as there is no knowing how long you may, as a refugee, have to remain there)?
  • The fascinating history of London’s Jewish homes and hospitals from the 18th century until today.
  • Jewish migration – how did we all come to be here, where did we come from, and most importantly why did we come?
  • Jewish music, art, and not least spirituality were part of other sessions engaged in.

All who went felt they gained something positive from the day, and all felt it was worth the effort, especially for the Monmouth contingent who had a long journey to get there. Perhaps next time there may be someone in our community who could present a session, as well as simply drinking in the wisdom of others?

Julian Brown

Shirley Goldstein writes:

One of my choices was listening to Mindu Hornick – From Auschwitz to Birmingham

An inspirational speaker who spoke straight from the heart, taking us through her life journey –  how she survived the horrors of the holocaust as a young girl losing her parents, two brothers and, after the war ended, found herself living in Birmingham and managed to adjust to life living with an Uncle and Aunt.  She went on to marry and had two children.   For many years she was too traumatised to speak about her earlier life and after around 20 years she started to communicate to her close family in the UK what had happened in the past.  She later decided to dedicate herself to sharing her story to schools and adults as an education for future generations.  She was moving, humbling and sincere and it was very touching listening to her.  She had an elegance, dignity and beauty that just shone through.

Great Jewish Lyricists – Mike Levy  

Most interesting workshop exploring words and music and how the two blended together, sharing the genius of the individual Jewish writers and musicians in days gone by.  It was very well presented and gave a fascinating insight into the clever use of words, sheer poetry and unbridled creativity.  We looked at the work of Ira and George Gershwin, Rogers and Hammerstein, Sammy Cahn and others – Many of the songs that we grew up with, loved and enjoyed from the great musicals of the past. 

Saving Forgotten Jews – Richard Rothschild Pearson

A most fascinating documentary showing how 18,000 Jewish people were rescued from Ethiopia and flown to Israel, after Israel received a request asking for help and to be rescued.  These were said to be part of the lost Tribe of 12 Tribes of Israel.  Three men, a Manchester Textile Merchant, a Mossad Spy and a seasoned Diplomat were instrumental in aiding this miraculous escape.  The film shown was very thought provoking on so many levels, especially when we look at what is going on in the world today with so many people being displaced and fleeing war and persecution.  It certainly gave food for thought when we reflect on the huge adjustments ahead once the people had managed to reached safety.  It was a fantastic achievement showing such courage and determination by all the people involved in this huge rescue operation. The film was beautifully made – a labour of love.

In terms of the Limmud day in Birmingham, it didn’t disappoint.  Each of the workshops I attended was an education, and was extremely well presented and was offered to the participants taking part as a pure gift.  Thank you for a wonderful day, I am so glad I came along.  

Shirley Goldstein

 Rene Cassin, Social Action and UK Detention Centres.

What do these three things have in common? A talk given by Sam Grant and Margaret Jacobi, gave us some insight into the current work of the Rene Cassin Foundation which is a Jewish Human Rights organisation. Rene Cassin was a French lawyer who was the driving force for the drawing up of the Universal declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

This organisation has been working in cooperation with many others in order to improve the conditions of asylum seekers kept in detention Centres in the UK. These centres are often far away from population centres, and the detainees are kept without any fixed time limit. Britain is one of only two countries in Europe that do not have a fixed period of detention for asylum seekers. The speakers were able to report some recent changes to the law, as a result of intense lobbying by the coalition of organisations working on this issue. For example, pregnant women and children now have strict limits on how long they can be detained. The situation is still far from ideal, and many people are unaware of what happens to many refugees when they finally reach the UK, thinking that they can now be free, but finding instead that they are kept in prison like conditions for an unknown period of time, which inmates can find very upsetting. That this state of affairs is allowed to continue in a Western democracy is regarded by many as a scandal. We will have to see what the new Home Secretary is prepared to do on this front.

For more information, see: http://www.renecassin.org/

Julian Brown

Chavurah – 15 July 2016

What is a Chavurah?

We had cheesecake and desserts, more than we could eat.

We had 2 guitars and beautiful voices for Friday evening songs and participation.

We had company, 17 of us, all somehow fitting into Cherry & Julian’s kitchen.

We had an experience like no other in HJC – a community gathering, yet also a Friday evening/Erev Shabat at home.

We had reflections on prayer, and learning that the world’s problems can be solved by activity, rather than passivity.

We had a wonderful of choice of tasty dishes and salads for our meal.

We had baby Isaac to delight us with smiles and play, and to test us with cries and squeals.

We learned that together we can become a strong community, acknowledging and respecting each other’s differences.

JB

 

Hebrew Groups

Hebrew groups have been running successfully now in both Monmouth and Malvern, although some learners were not able to attend the last sessions. The July session in Malvern was in part a musical one as we had the benefit of Cherry playing guitar, and we worked together on the Shema – singing, reading, and looking at the meaning. We continue to have interesting discussions and this is one of the highlights of our groups.

Most learners now have their own books, and we even have surplus copies of some books if anyone would like to purchase one. We are finding that the Learn Hebrew Today book (green book) is good for basic reading practice, but looking at meaning and roots of words is also important, and we found the Aleph Isn’t Enough book very informative in the last session. Books can be bought from Janet Elf at the Jewish Book service, or also via the web. If new learners wish to join groups in September, they would be very welcome, but contact Cherry or myself beforehand, so we can assess what level you are at.

Proposed next meeting dates are: Tuesday 20th September, 7.30 p.m. Malvern. Tuesday 27th September 4 p.m. Monmouth.

Julian Brown

Hebrew Reading Group

Jaci Hannan, Isaac and I have been privileged to attend a Hebrew Reading Group at the home of Archdeacon Paddy Benson in Hereford. They are working their way through Exodus, we joined them near the end of chapter 12, and worked our way through chapter 13. Each person reads a verse in Hebrew, then translates it into English, either from their own knowledge or from their Bible.

Isaac did not scream once, nor did he take any notice of the offered toys, preferring to run around and poke his nose in wherever he could: his favourite toy was an empty waste paper basket. We were made very welcome, as I’m sure would any other new members.

Alison Turner

Book Review:Some never see a map: a Talmud for creative community leadership

This is a very interesting piece of Talmud launched at the Biennial. It is “Some never see a map: a Talmud for creative community leadership” by Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu and Claire Helman. This is a new column of Talmud from Kehillah North London, talking about travelling forward, styles of leadership, cycles of the year, values, aloneness, tallit, spiritual space and resolving conflict. It is beautifully illustrated and has diverse voices weaving in and out of each other, our traditions and new ways of looking at things. I would like to recommend everyone to get a copy from rabbi@kehillah.org.uk and hope to lead a study session based on it. It is only 14 pages of A4 size and it gives me the confidence to say this, being aware that people I know can write Talmud and it lifts my spirits to new heights.

Alison Turner

Interfaith Activities

Somme Vigil – 1st July 2016

At 7 a.m., on 1st July, as representatives of HJC, Cherry and I attended the Somme Vigil at Malvern’s War Memorial, organised by Malvern Town Council. The event included readings of contemporary letters, news reports and poetry, as well as prayers for the many who had lost their lives. I was unaware that the Somme battle lasted for some 4 months, and that there were such huge losses on the first day 1st July 1916. Some of the individual accounts of local people who had lost their lives in the Somme were very moving, and the address by the Head of Malvern College, from where so many of the officer class came, was fluent and inspiring (as perhaps you might expect). Not how I would usually spend that hour of the day, but worth attending.

Peace Concert and other activities:

Several members have been involved in other interfaith activities or meetings, so we are quite active. HJC are part of the planning for the Peace Day Concert on 25th September, where we are contributing a Hebrew song to the proceedings. Please keep this date clear if you can, as it was a very worthwhile occasion last year.

 

Forthcoming Events

 

High Holyday services

In addition to our own Erev Rosh Hashanah evening, we are invited to join in with Rosh Hashanah morning service and Yom Kippur services at Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community (GLJC). See details below.

Rosh Hashanah Morning Oct 3rd 11.00 am at Friends Meeting House, Greyfriars, Gloucester, GL1 1TS. We will adjourn to a nearby restaurant for a communal Rosh Hashanah Lunch after the service. Please let Jill Rosenheim know in advance if you would like to join us for lunch so she can give appropriate numbers to the restaurant.

Contact:jillrosenheim@btinternet.com or 07771604735.

 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 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.

Donations can be made at our Rosh Hashanah gathering, but you can also send donations to our Treasurer, Alison Turner. Cheques payable to Herefordshire Jewish Community.

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 September 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 10th Sept Study Session led by Rabbi Danny Rich 10 a.m. Colwall Ale House
Saturday 10th Sept Shabbat Service led by Rabbi Danny Rich 11 a.m. Colwall Ale House
Sunday 2nd October Erev Rosh Hashanah Celebration meal and Readings – led by Julian & Cherry 6.30 p.m. Burgage Hall, Church Lane, Ledbury HR8 1DW
Friday Oct 21st/ OR Sat Oct 22nd t.b.c. Simchat Torah Service – led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard t.b.c. t.b.c. Bridges Centre, Drybridge Park, Monmouth, NP25 5AS

Other Events of Interest

Sunday 25th September Hereford Interfaith Group Peace Concert 5.30 p.m. Hereford Cathedral
Monday, Oct 3rd Rosh Hashanah Service – GLJC 11.00 a.m. Friends Meeting House, Greyfriars, Gloucester, GL1 1TS
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
Further Services and events
Sunday November 20th Mitzvah Day at Saxon Hall

Working in the garden

t.b.c. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford

 

 

June/July 2015 – Shavuot Edition Newsletter HJC

Editorial

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.

Julian Brown

CHAIR CHAT

AGM

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!

ANDREA BERRY-OTTAWAY

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.”

SHUL CRAWL

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

EVA KOR

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.”

RABBI ANNA

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.

Mark Walton

Seder 2015

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. 

Charities

Foodbank Contributions

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.

Martha Trust

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.

Kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Sue Mc Bride

Trust Director

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 .

Mohammad Fahili

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.

Our Vision

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.

Forthcoming Events

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.

Simchat Ben

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

in Hereford

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.

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 £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

Date

Event

Time

Place

Sunday 7 June

Liberal Judaism ‘Day of Celebration’

9.30 –

5 p.m.

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

11 a.m.

Hereford 

Sunday 13 September

Rededication of tombstones, followed by evening Rosh Hashanah service

t.b.c.

6.30 p.m.

Hereford Cemetery

Then at Andrea’s house

Tuesday 22 September

Yom Kippur Kol Nidrei service- led by Julian Brown

7 p.m.

Ledbury venue t.b.c.

27th – 31st August

Limmud in the Woods

Horley Scout Camp, Banbury, OX15 6AU

26 November

South West Regional Shabbaton

Swindon

STOP PRESS

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

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.