HJC newsletter October/November 2017

Editorial

This newsletter falls into two parts. In the first it is a carry over from the last edition which began stories relating to Yiddish and Hebrew. These stories are continued in this edition with reports of a Yiddish Summer school, a piece about how Yiddish language is in use today in Britain and America, and the Hebrew journey of our Community Chair, as well as report on Jewish-Christian Bible week.

Secondly, as this newsletter goes to press it is in the middle of the High Holyday season once again. This is a season of change, change in seasons from late summer to autumn, change in our thinking from summer breaks, to focussing on new tasks ahead, and as our resident squirrel does, preparing for the winter ahead. The Book Review gives a flavour of how this time might be spent in reflecting on our priorities.

It is also the time of our annual High Holyday Charity Appeal, for which we have already had a good start, and donation forms are attached to this newsletter. We have two very worthwhile causes, so we hope we can exceed our target once again.

Julian Brown

In this edition: Chair Chat, Summer Reports: Bible Week; Ot Azoy, Yiddish language; Yiddish crossing the Atlantic; My Jewish Journey; Book Review; Visiting Other Communities.

CHAIR CHAT SEPTMEBER 2017

HANNA WINE

 We were very sorry to hear of Hanna’s death in August.   We knew that she had been seriously ill for some time but the news still came as a devastating shock.   Hanna was a very active member of our group for the short time that she was with us and was very keen to get involved in all that we did.   Her sister told me how much she appreciated being welcomed into our group while also continuing her membership of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London.   She was buried at Willesden cemetery on August 27 and we will certainly remember her in our prayers over the High Holydays.

 EREV ROSH HASHANAH

 We had a wonderful Erev Rosh Hashanah evening hosted by Eva Mendelsson at her home in Ross on Wye. This was attended both by members of Eva’s family and friends, and also by some members of HJC, with a wide variety of ages present. HJC provided the Service and Shofar blowing, and Eva and her family provided a beautiful venue and a great selection of delicious food, which I think everyone enjoyed. We are very grateful for Eva for inviting us all to this evening, and for generously donating all the money collected for the evening from our members to the High Holyday appeal.

The gathering included Zvi, a friend of Eva’s who is also a Holocaust survivor , who now lives in New York, who told us how his experiences during the Holocaust, when he was still quite young, had led him to becoming an adult very early on, as sadly, he no longer had parents or family to support him.

SIMCHAT TORAH SERVICE.

 We hope as many as possible will be able to come to the Simchat Torah service at the Bridges Centre in Monmouth on Saturday October 14 at 11 a.m.    This is always a very enjoyable service with plenty of singing and dancing!

PORTION CONTROL
There’s a famous Jewish joke:  “Waiter, this food is terrible,” says one Jewish diner.  “Yes, and such small portions,” says the other. (Courtesy of “The Times”)

 

Report from Bible Week 2017 on Mishlei (Book of Proverbs)

HJCBiblewk

Bible Week, as ever, is for me a high point of the year – a stimulating and sometimes almost overwhelming experience, as 120 Jews and Christians from Germany, UK, Holland and Israel (and a few other places) gather at Haus Ohrbeck near Osnabruck for a week of instruction and lively discussion. We were people of all ages & stages of life, from toddlers upwards, young children, parents, teenagers, students, professors, rabbis, pastors, elders – and this year even a dying man in a wheelchair who didn’t feel that his advanced cancer was a reason to miss his regular attendance at Bible Week! Some have been coming on and off from its early days in Bendorf (next year will be its jubilee as it started in 1968) and others were there for the first time. The Hebrew text chosen as the subject for this year’s study was the Book of Proverbs, part of the Wisdom literature of the bible. This time we had as much fruitful fun with the text as we usually do!

The first lecture was given by Lindsay Taylor-Gutharz , who teaches at Oxford, and was titled, ‘Weaving the Web of Wisdom’. She ended by suggesting that the text of Mishlei is a bit like a cloth woven from different yarns, and structured through warp and weft into into a rich text/textile with diverse and fascinating patterns.(The tutor in my Hebrew group picked up this metaphor, saying how aptly it describes the character of Hebrew poetry). Lindsay, and her husband Norm who came with her, are an Orthodox couple (most Jews in Bible Week are Reform or Liberal) and in the question time, someone asked her if they were in the habit of chanting the text of the eshet chayil (the ‘Woman of Valour’ Proverbs 31:10-31) at their family shabbat celebration. She said yes they did – together with hand gestures to help engage the kids! It seems that they are Orthodox couple with a difference, because although (I suspect) she is the main breadwinner as in many Orthodox families, she is also the main scholar. But as she told us, Norm, though he’s worked as a teacher and a journalist, does more than his fair share of the housework and childcare. To general amusement, she recounted an anecdote in which, on returning from her Orthodox women’s feminist group one day, she was holding forth in the kitchen on the injustices endured by women in patriarchal society, while Norm was quietly mopping the floor around her feet! By the end of Bible Week, Norm had acquired a reputation as a new model ish chayil (man of valour)!

One of the other keynote speeches was given by Sr. Nazak Matty, a young Dominican sister from Iraq. She was introduced by liberal Rabbi James Baaden, one of the Bible Week team, who had been responsible for inviting her to speak to us and arranging it despite difficulties. The two of them had met a few years ago in a student residence in North Oxford when both were there doing an MA, and seemed to be good friends!. I spoke to her at breakfast and discovered that she had done most of her research in Blackfriars library, and knew several of the Dominicans whom I also remember. After completing her course, she opted to go back to her congregation which is located in Nineveh near Mosul. Here in 2014, they were bombed, driven into exile and the convent razed to the ground by ISIS. Though Mosul has since been recaptured, the sisters remain in exile in Kurdistan, and her lecture, entitled ‘For the Lord will be Your confidence’ (Prov. 3.26) gave a poignant account of how the sisters are struggling to find a language to express their sense of loss, betrayal and radical disorientation resulting from their catastrophe as, on a greater scale, Jews had to do 70 years before.

The morning study groups explore the text togther as usual and ours worked very well, with excellent resource persons and facilitator – no big clashes or over-zealous talkers. With a good translation (like the Jewish Study Bible) some parts of Proverbs have quite a modern feel to them – like the warning to young men about joining violent gangs, or against ‘scoffers’ which could be the ancient equivalent of the male ‘banter’ culture that has recently become popular in some quarters. But we also enjoyed the vision of Wisdom playing before God at the beginning of creation: and the scenario of Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly setting out their rival stalls. Their wares at times seemed to be a trifle similar… One could not help but wonder if Wisdom could really offer riches, honour, success and long life, why would anyone choose Folly? If as she claims, ‘Through me Kings reign and rulers decree just laws’ (Prov. 8.15) was she perhaps over-egging the pudding? How come then that world rulers, like Trump have fallen into the arms of Dame Folly? And as several of our European colleagues commiserated with the UK party over Brexit, I wondered how she had managed to lure so many its architects into her camp.

And yet, after this week of joyful immersion in Hebrew scripture, I come away with the feeling that, if somehow we can continue to cultivate wisely its resources in the Bible Week manner, it may even be possible to re-grow a European culture that is capable of avoiding the calamity of the old.

Angela West

Ot Azoy Yiddish and Golden Peacock Song School – JMI August 2017

Cherry and I attended the Jewish Music Institute (JMI) one week Summer School in August.

As the title may tell, this was quite a full week, combining an intensive 6 day Yiddish language course held in the mornings, with an intensive song school and choir in the afternoons – although for this, I took more of a back seat, as I am far from being a performer/singer in the way that Cherry is. However , both groups were fascinating to be part of, and I certainly learned a good deal in the language classes, and learned some beautiful melodies in the Song sessions. If that wasn’t enough there were also lectures and films in the evenings, but being off campus, we were only able to attend one of these (on the Yiddish poet/writer Avrom Sutzgever (who is well worth looking up if you are interested in Jewish/Yiddish history. He was one of the very few Yiddish writers to have been published in Yiddish in Israel) plus an East End walk on the final evening.

The theme of the Song school was positivism in the face of adversity, in other words how to be positive in the fact of difficulties in the world we live in. This was clearly mirrored by songs which dealt with difficult struggles in the past, recorded in Yiddish – for example, songs of workers’ struggles, as well as songs of loss and yearning. The repertoire also included a Yiddish protest song written in New York in 2010 in relation to the recent Occupy movement about the over-weaning power of Wall street and the super rich. Whatever your ideas, there is a far wider variety of Yiddish songs than you can possibly imagine, as well as translations into Yiddish from other popular songs.

This was the first year that the Jewish Music Institute (JMI) had run all four of its courses simultaneously under one roof (SOAS main building near Russel Square, London). This was a mammoth undertaking and was not without some hiccups. However, it did allow for a lot of overlaps and combinations between the different groups, culminating in a Thursday evening performance in which each of the four schools (language/song/klezmer music and dance) contributed items they had worked on over the week.

Yiddish language

I was in the beginners group (Cherry was in Level 2). As you may see from the article on Yiddish in the last newsletter, Yiddish has strong links with German (about 70% of vocabulary and much of the grammar), as well as Hebrew /Aramaic (about 20%) and a smaller percentage of Slavic language influence, plus a little of the Romance languages. Yiddish is written in the Hebrew alphabet, but has several phonetic differences, so while it helps to have a knowledge of Hebrew alphabet, you still need to learn the rules of Yiddish. Similarly, for those who know German, it is dangerous to think you can follow Yiddish as there are some key differences, especially over grammar as well as vocabulary. The Hebrew language element is largely for those items relating to an aspect of Jewish culture or practice, often relating to Torah, but also includes some everyday words (such as direh for flat) and also linking words such as efsher (possibly).

Teaching is excellent, with one teacher being an absolute stickler for attention. On the last day we played a game to test our knowledge of Yiddish numbers (where you have to say Buzz for numbers containing 3’s and 7’s , or multiples of). If you made a mistake you were mercilessly taken out of the game, but it was great fun. We had previously done some Yiddish arithmetic which was in itself challenging, as you had say the numbers and four rules signs in Yiddish, as well as finding the correct answer. Our other teacher, Lily prattled on at us in Yiddish at the start of each lesson, and you had to pick up as best you could, but there was lots of repetition and practice. We had a good group of about 20 students, but there was one particularly annoying character, (who I often seemed to end up in conversation with) who insisted on using his Hebrew and smattering of German, in conversations, even though we had been expressly forbidden to use any other languages, and was continually going off topic. Well it wouldn’t be a Yiddish class if there wasn’t something to kvetch about.

Yiddish Song

As for the song element, apart from the choir and whole group music sessions, one of the fascinating elements of the course was the master classes held each afternoon. This gave an opportunity for budding singers and also experienced performers to try out their songs in front of an audience, and get feedback from the Song school tutors – rather like the feedback dancers get in ‘Strictly…’ – for those who indulge in that programme. This was informative not only to the performers themselves, but also to onlookers like myself, who could then get a sense of what makes a good performance. The truth of this is that is very individual according to the singer and their choice of song, but one common rule of thumb is to under-perform rather than over-perform – that is, to get to the heart of the song, and feel it for yourself, rather than being focussed all the time on the audience.

HJCsongschool

Polina Shepherd and Song School

The week is certainly intensive, but at the same time extremely supportive, and you do not need to have any experience of Yiddish, or necessarily of song, to be able to take part. The challenge as with any course is to how to follow it up, when you live in a small community with few fluent Yiddish speakers (I am making an assumption here). There are online materials and we have a couple of good books from the course, and we hope to have occasional meetings with a relatively local Yiddish speaker.

Julian Brown

What a shemozzle! The strange story of Yiddish in Britain – by Matthew Engel

This article first appeared in the Jewish Chronicle’s Rosh Hashanah magazine. Matthew Engel is a member of HJC and lives with his family in the Golden Valley.

In 1988 The Guardian newspaper, my then employers, decided to have a redesign and a relaunch, as newspapers do when they are going through a sticky patch.

It was accompanied by a poster campaign which used a series of phrases that were supposed to convey the paper’s distinctive virtues. One of these was irreverence: we were cheekier and less stuffy than our rivals at the posh end of the market. So one of these posters said simply: “The chutzpah“.

The ad agency may have been a bit too clever for its clients’ good. In Northampton – where I grew up – a baffled Guardian-reading friend said to me “What’s a chutzpah?”, pronouncing the ch- as in church. This question is famously difficult to answer without resorting to the old gag about the boy who murders his parents and cries for mercy because he’s an orphan.

Anyway, not much Yiddish was being spoken in Northampton by the late 1980s, as the generation who might have hakked the odd chainik in shul on Yom Kippur began to die off. And the Yiddish words that slipped easily into American English in Victorian times have struggled to make it to this side of the Atlantic.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately while researching my latest book*, which is a history of the way American vocabulary has travelled to Britain – and a cry for help about what was once an gentle incoming tide and has now turned into a tsunami.

In the early 19th century the British began using American words because they were often apt and snappy, and this did a great deal to enliven a language which was becoming as tight-laced as the society itself. Come the 21st century, with Hollywood, TV and the internet constantly sending the American language across the globe, this is no longer an import-export business but a rampaging takeover.

Yiddishisms — and Jewishisms, which are not quite the same thing — have played a significant role in the development of the American language. But they have been only minor components of the export trade. Yiddish in Britain, according to Leonard Prager, is not measurable but detectable “like a trace element”.

He wrote in his 1990 book Yiddish Culture in Britain: “It may assert itself as a cadence of speech of a taxi-driver, a hand gesture in the conversation of a diamond merchant, a metaphor in the verbal repertoire of a publicist… barely perceptible except when it comes from a newly-imported word from America.” And when the words do pass into British English, they tend to come in because they are already American, not directly from Jewish usage.

Why? Well, Anglo-Jewry has always been more heads-down than its US counterpart; the Jewish component of London never matched New York’s; and Jewish cuisine and humour never had the same impact here as there. The linguistic scholar Sol Steinmetz said the only Yiddish word to become embedded in British English was nosh – and even then it subtly changed its meaning in Britain, conveying a meal rather than a snack (though part of the British Americanisation process is eating more snacks than meals).

And sometimes even when we think we’re using Yiddishisms, we’re not. At Carmel College, my Jewish boarding school in the 1960s, cod-Yiddish played a major part in our slanguage, and the most common phrase (anatomical insults excepted) was probably in shtook = trouble. We pronounced it, as we thought correctly, as shtooch – as in chutzpah.

It seems we were wrong, along with many other people; even the Oxford English Dictionary shrugs its shoulders as to the word’s origin, except to say it isn’t Yiddish. It may be that it isn’t even American and could be a rare example of Jewish Cockney. So might shemozzle, which Leo Rosten attributed to British bookmakers.

On the other hand, shtook‘s sound-alike, shtik, as a stage routine, does seem to be Yiddish and is now used in the UK, at least in theatrical circles. And bagels are now eaten across Britain, though outside London they are usually mass-produced in a factory in Yorkshire and heaven only knows where you can find fresh cream cheese.

There are more examples of Jewishisms, which may or may not have their origins in Yiddish expressions but which certainly fit with the speech patterns of Yiddish-speakers who learned English as a second language. Big deal! as an all-purpose expression of contempt may have been popularised by Jack Benny’s wartime radio show.

Eat your heart out!, Enjoy!, (I need that like a) hole in the head and Tell me about it! may all come into the same category – along with for free, one of the phrases that get right up the noses of all right-thinking Britons over 50, though maybe not if their first language is Yiddish. Listen, as a way of enforcing attention at the start of a sentence, is another candidate. And OK by me.

Directly from Yiddish, glitch has now more it into Britain’s vocabulary. And on the edges lurk the Yiddish K-twins, klutz and kibbitz along with shlep, spiel and shtum. And nebbish.

These are comparatively thin pickings when set against the mass takeover of the world’s vocabulary by American usages. The selective use of foreign words is a sign of a healthy language. But to me this total reversal of Babel is a long-term catastrophe, a cultural variant of climate change, destroying the delicate balance of the planet’s intellectual resources.

For this is far from being just a British problem; it affects countries with their own languages (poor old France, oy-yoy-yoy) even more acutely. However, I suspect the epicentre of this disaster might be found in the cafes frequented by teenage girls in North-West London. “Hey guys!” “I was like, yeah!” “OMG!” “Don’t even go there!””Whatever!”

Please help me do something about this. Then maybe I can use one of the few Hebrew words that has passed into English, lately given fresh life by the Buddhist-Jewish genius Leonard Cohen. Hallelujah!

Matthew Engel

*That’s the Way It Crumbles: The American Conquest of English by Matthew Engel (Profile Books)

MY JEWISH JOURNEY – Mark Walton

My grandparents all emanated from the Pale of Settlement in Russian occupied Poland, escaping from the pogroms and forced conscription into the Russian army at the turn of the century. They settled, as with previous and succeeding waves of immigrants, in London’s East End: one grandfather was a tailor, helping to make uniforms for the British army, the other ran an “open all hours” sweet shop and tobacconist. Neither family were particularly observant although my paternal grandmother originated from a rabbinic family. My mother suffered T.B. as a child and was sent to Margate where she spent seven years in an isolation hospital* and my father worked in the “shmutter” (aka drapery) business, aspiring eventually to open his own shop while also working the markets twice a week. It was a hard life and one I was determined not to follow. The family moved away from the East End along the Northern line to Highgate, where a new Jewish colony was established with related families buying houses in the same street. As a matter of course my parents were members of the local shul but, as they both worked for six days a week, my father was a three days a year attender and my mother only appeared on social occasions.

My own Jewish journey began in the gloomy underground depths of the Highgate District Synagogue** in Archway Road, North London, where Mr and Mrs Looms (equally gloomy), the resident caretakers, would provide the children with jam sandwiches and tea before starting cheder lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays straight after school. This was supplemented by a Sunday morning session and attendance at the children’s service on Saturday mornings. We actually had four classes at cheder, ending up in the top class with the late lamented Rabbi Emil Nemeth aka ‘Nobs’. Our main activity in this class was to goad the poor man into a state of hysterical anger by such pranks as hiding in the toilets, the cupboards or any other suitable orifice. Our anthem was “Ma’otzur ye shoo otsee, the cat’s in the cupboard and ‘Nobs’ can’t see” which, for some reason, we all thought was hilarious and now, of course, I feel terribly guilty about for all the harassing of this eminently gentle, kind and learned man. As a by product of all this, yes, I did learn to be able to read Hebrew (without being able to speak it), recite common prayers (without understanding what they meant) and prepare for my barmitzvah. Rabbi Nemeth kindly recorded my “muftir and haftarah” on a tape recorder (which I somehow managed to erase) and prepared me for my barmitzvah test at Woburn House (do people still have to go through this ordeal?). My barmitzvah passed by in a whirl (I can’t even remember what portion I read) and then ….. nothing. No post barmitzvah classes, no regular shul attendance, apart from the High Holydays when my peer group would spend the minimum amount of time in the service and the maximum amount of time downstairs in the hall or performing the annual Yom Kippur circular pilgrimage between Highgate, Muswell Hill, Norrice Lea and, yea, even unto Kinloss Gardens shuls.

At the time, I never questioned the why and wherefores of this and am actually grateful that it gave me a reasonably thorough grounding in my religion, even if I was to reject it for a long period in my life. I attended a Church of England primary school where there were very few Jewish children and then progressed to William Ellis School in North London, where we made up approximately 25% of the school population and had three Jewish assemblies a day. I still clearly identified with this group and most of my close friends were Jewish, reinforced by attendance at the Highgate and Muswell Hill, Woodside Park, and Finchley Jewish youth clubs as well as various Habonim groups.

My big move away from this environment came on leaving school when I did a year’s VSO in the (then) British Solomon Islands before going to York University. A small group of my ex school friends (all mostly coincidentally Jewish) joined me at York but I never even considered joining the Jewish society or taking part in any form of organised religion. After university and marrying Mary, we spent two years teaching in Sierra Leone before finally settling down and raising a family in the Forest of Dean. I am just beginning to understand how supporting her in bringing up our children in a religious faith has helped keep alive aspects of my own early grounding. Mary, whose Catholicism is rooted in the Hebrew scriptures, was always very keen for me to pass on my Jewish heritage to them but I was reluctant to do this in view of my own lack of commitment. So what precipitated the change? Primarily, visits to Prague and Krakow where I found still active Jewish communities despite everything that those people had gone through. The fact that there was this element of continuity made me feel my heritage was important and that I should no longer reject it, even if I did not necessarily believe in God (or G-d, as I was taught to write it to the mystification of my primary school teachers). Secondly, the discovery of Liberal Judaism. This was an unknown (and would undoubtedly have been considered to be an alien) concept when I was growing up. You were either “United Synagogue” (ie.mainstream orthodox, however unobservant one might actually be) or “froomies” (whom we would now call “charedi” or ultra-orthodox). No other alternatives presented themselves. So it was a revelation to me when I attended a service in Hereford led by Rabbi Aaron Goldstein which was relatively short, accompanied by the guitar, was conducted as much in English as in Hebrew, which people listened to and took part, and was actually enjoyable and made sense. That’s how I ended up here, much to the amazement of my dear late mother who warned me, “Never join a synagogue, they will only want your money”. So thank you Aaron, Anna and all the other liberal rabbis who have helped me back into my religion. And thank you HJC (and particularly Josephine, Andrea, Julian and Cherry) for providing a base for my further understanding and development of Judaism. I just wish I could now put things right with Rabbi Nemeth.

*Read Linda Grant’s “The Dark Circle” for a graphic account of the treatment methods used in these sanatoria, before the availability of streptomycin.

**This building is now a Hindu temple as many of the Jewish families have moved further along the Northern line to Hendon, Golders Green and Edgware or leapfrogged these altogether to the newer pastures of Bushey, Borehamwood, Radlett and Elstree. My own family only eventually made it as far as the less affluent Mill Hill East. There is now a smaller synagogue in Highgate, serving mainly the young professionals who have moved into the area.

Mark Walton September 2017.

 

Are you visiting other Communities?

As members of Herefordshire Jewish Community, any of us would be welcomed by any other congregation within Liberal Judaism. There is a simple searchable map on the website of Liberal Judaism, at http://www.liberaljudaism.org/where-we-are/communities/ This has contact details for each community, so you can get in touch. Many of them like notice of any visitors for security reasons, so please do contact them in advance of your visit if at all possible and/or take ID with you.  

Liberal Judaism has 40 communities, and three additional developing/affiliated congregations, covering all parts of England, as well as in Scotland, the Republic of Ireland, Holland and Denmark.  Click here for a list. Liberal Judaism’s communities are vibrant, diverse and democratic, offering a meaningful and spiritual Jewish experience in the 21st Century. Above all else, they are welcoming and inclusive. 

Details about visiting for High Holydays were sent out in a previous email.

Alison Turner

Book review by Alison Turner

God’s to-do list : 103 ways to be an angel and do God’s work on earth by Dr. Ron Wolfson, Jewish Lights Publishing, 2007.

HJCangelbk

I have been very fond of Jewish Lights publishing for many years and I have been called an angel a couple of times in my life, so I was attracted to this book by the title and I was not disappointed. We are asked to consider if God was writing a to-do list for each of us, bearing in mind our own unique skills, life experiences and talents that can be used to make a difference in the world, what would be on it? This is based on the Biblical teaching that we are all made in the image of God and have a spark of divinity within us. We are here for a purpose, which is to do God’s work, the tasks God has for us, as God’s partners on earth. Before you protest that such things may be beyond your abilities and powers, consider that there are many small things that make the world a better place, like volunteering our time, reading to a child, visiting sick people, or blessing our food, which we can do. Many of us probably do quite a few of these things already.

Dr Wolfson takes 10 ways in which God has acted in relationship to human beings, and suggests we too can act like God does, in order to play our part in repairing the world. The actions are to create, bless, rest, call, comfort, care, repair, wrestle, give and forgive. These are all acts within our everyday lives, and each chapter has 10 suggestions for ways in which we can do these things, plus a bonus 3 at the end. This is a workbook to be done, not just another book to read. You will be guided to create your very own to-do list after reading the book and to carry it out. I thought I am far too busy a person for this, and put it aside for a long time, but once I picked it up I found it very accessible, friendly and above all a practical guidebook to how I can help God and everyone else repair the world. As we take part in the High Holy Days, this is an excellent book to read.

High Holydays Appeal

Details of our High Holyday Appeal, and Donation forms are attached to this newsletter. We already have a wonderful start of almost £100 raised through our Rosh Hashanah Service and meal. Our charities this year are the Hereford Hospital Special Care Baby Unit and The Sir Charles Clore Community Centre, Acco, Israel, both very worthwhile causes.

Forthcoming Events

HJCKlez

London Klezmer Quartet Concert, Savoy Theatre, Monmouth Friday 13th October 7.30 p.m. (tickets £15 from Savoy Theatre Monmouth, http://www.monmouth-savoy.co.uk/theatre/)

Next HJC meeting: Simchat Torah Service at Bridges Centre, Saturday 14th October 2017 11a.m. led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard.

Please see diary below for more HJC events.

Limmud Conference / Festival 24 – 28 December 2017 Pendigo Lake, Birmingham.

Limmud Conference is now renamed Limmud Festival and is the biggest celebration of Jewish learning and culture in the UK Jewish calendar, bringing in Jews, and some non-Jews, from a wide variety of backgrounds. Details from: https://limmud.org/festival/

Deadline for next newsletter will be 22nd November 2017. If you miss this date, I cannot guarantee your contribution will be included.

Please send in contributions in WORD or pdf format if possible, but articles sent in by post are also welcome. In general, contributions should be no longer than 500 – 750 words, but longer contributions may be included, if appropriate. Pictures also welcome, but please try to keep image sizes small and below 250 KB for newsletter inclusion. All contributions are welcome but depending on format and content, the editor reserves the right to edit or hold over to a future edition if needed.

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

Membership and Welfare Chair
Cherry Wolfe

 

 

Mark Walton

Tel: 01594 530721 (after 6pm or at weekends)

Treasurer Newsletter Editor /Membership
Alison Turner

 

Julian Brown

hjc@liberaljudaism.org

Learning Circle Coordinator / Web Manager and Archivist Cultural Coordinator
Alison Turner  Ann Levy

 

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

HJC services and other Events

Friday 13th October London Klezmer Quartet Concert

7.30 p.m.

Savoy Theatre, Church Street
Monmouth, Gwent
NP25 3BU

Saturday 14th October Simchat Torah Service

11 a.m.

Bridges Centre, Monmouth NP25 5AS

Saturday 4th November Shabbat Service led by Cherry & Julian

11 a.m.

Colwall Ale House, Mill Lane, Colwall, WR13 6HJ

Saturday 16th December Chanukah Party with Rabbi Anna Gerrard

3 p.m. t.b.c.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford HR2 6HE

Advance Notice

Saturday 27th January 2018 HJC Holocaust Memorial Day service with Rabbi Danny Rich

Hereford t.b.c

Sunday 28th January Ushperin’ Hair cutting ceremony for Isaac Turner with Rabbi Danny Rich

Hereford t.b.c.

 

HJC Charity High Holyday Appeal 2017/5778

Our two charities for this year are:

Wye Valley NHS Special Care Baby unit, based in Hereford Hospital which looks after pre-term and newborn infants who are sick. https://www.wyevalley.nhs.uk/visitors-and-patients/county-hospital-(acute)/a-z-of-wards/scbu-(special-care-baby-unit).aspx

and Sir Charles Clore Jewish Arab Community Centre, Acco which runs a range of activities from ballet, to sport, music and summer camps for children in this Jewish/Arab area of Israel.

Our target this year is £300, split equally between our two charities. Last year we raised a record £400 for our two charities, so if we can beat that this year, that would be wonderful.

If you wish to donate, please email hjc@liberaljudiasm.org  or ring Mark Walton on 01594 530721 (after 6pm or weekends only) for a donation form.

HJC Newsletter Aug/Sept 2017

Editorial

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

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

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

Julian Brown

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

CHAIR CHAT JULY 2017

1. Ann Frank Service at Saxon Hall.

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

AnnaMarkSaxon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. AGM

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

5. London Klezmer Quartet.

HJCKlez

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

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

Day of Celebration at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue

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

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

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

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

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

Alison Turner (edited).

Alison Turner continues:

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

JW3 Parent and Baby Fest

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

HJCJW3

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

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

Shabbat service with Rabbi Margaret Jacobi

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

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

Yiddish

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

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

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

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

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

My own Hebrew Journey

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

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

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

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

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

Julian Brown

Monmouth Hebrew Group

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

Learning Biblical Hebrew – Paul Hocking

HJCDeadScrolls

נֵר־לְרַגְלִי דְבָרֶךָ

וְאוֹר לִנְתִיבָתִי׃

A lamp to my feet your Word

& A light to my path. Ps 119:105

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Hocking

Film Review – Left Luggage

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

Julian Brown

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

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

Forthcoming Events

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

Subscriptions

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

Deadline for next newsletter will be 22nd September 2017

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

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

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

Membership and Welfare

Chair

Cherry Wolfe

Mark Walton

mark.walton@bridgescentre.org.uk

Tel: 01594 530721

Treasurer

Newsletter Editor /Membership

Alison Turner

 

Julian Brown

 

Learning Circle Coordinator / Web Manager and Archivist

Cultural Coordinator

Alison Turner 

Ann Levy

 

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

High Holyday Dates

Wednesday 20th September

Erev Rosh Hashanah Service and Gathering

6.30 p.m.

Home of Eva Mendelsson, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire

GLJC Services

Thursday 21st Sept

Rosh Hashanah Morning service

1100 – 1400

t.b.a.

Friday 29th Sept

Kol Nidre

1900 – 2030

Up Hatherley Village Hall , Coldpool Lane, Cheltenham

Gloucestershire GL51 6JA

Sat 30th Sept

Yom Kippur Morning Service

1100 – 1430

t.b.a.

Sat 30th Sept

Yom Kippur Walk /Study session

1430 – 1630

t.b.a.

Sat 30th Sept

Yom Kippur Afternnon/Yizkor/Concluding service

1700 – 1930

t.b.a.

Sat 30th Sept

Breaking Fast/Chavurah supper

1930 – 2030

t.b.a.

Future HJC services and other Events

Friday 13th October

London Klezmer Quartet Concert

7.30 p.m.

Savoy Theatre, Church Street
Monmouth, Gwent
NP25 3BU

Saturday 14th October

Simchat Torah Service

11 a.m.

Bridges Centre, Monmouth NP25 5AS

Saturday 4th November t.b.c.

Lech Lecha Shabat Service led by student Rabbi

11 a.m.

Burgage Hall, Ledbury t.b.c.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Herefordshire Jewish Community

Erev Rosh Hashanah Booking Form 2017

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

Cost: £7.50 per person.

Name (s)…………………………………………………………….

Number of persons………..

Meal preference (state number required if more than 1)

meat vegetarian

Cheque enclosed (payable to Herefordshire Jewish Community)

£………………….(amount)

Please return booking forms to:

Mark Walton

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

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

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

l preference (state number required if more than 1)

meat vegetarian

Cheque enclosed (payable to Herefordshire Jewish Community)

£………………….(amount)

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

aloneinBerlin001_web_badged

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.