HJC Newsletter February/March 2017

Editorial

Despite our small numbers, HJC continues to be a very strong and active and local community, and we have managed to continue with a number of events, even through these dark winter months. We have also a number of members with ill health over this time, which has reduced attendances, and we wish everyone in our community good health as we move forward in 2017. Our next event will be a Tu b’Shvat Seder – a celebration of the Jewish New Year for trees, and this will also mark the beginning of spring in the Jewish calendar. This will be an afternoon Seder and tea, so we hope many of you will be able to come along.

Julian Brown, Editor

In this edition:

Chair Chat Hebrew Groups

Holocaust Memorial Day – Poems

Encounters with Shoah – Angela West

Chanukah song – Background to Ladino

Remembering Rabbi Lionel Blue

Book Review Terror, Trauma & Tragedy

Film Review – Through the Wall

Forthcoming events: Jewish Book Week, Klez North, Interfaith Women’s Day, Crash Hebrew course – Northwood and Pinner.

CHAIR CHAT

Chanukah party

As usual, a very pleasant evening with the customary doughnuts and latkes. Julian and daughter Maya entertained us with songs and stories while Rabbi Anna led a very interesting discussion on the “Book of the Maccabees.”

January service at Colwall

Many thanks again to Julian and Cherry for leading this. Unfortunately, the weather was poor which meant that attendance was lower than usual. However, we had an interesting discussion about the role of the Egyptian midwives in the Torah portion, “Shemot.” It was also an opportunity to reflect on “Holocaust Memorial Day,” with some very moving contemporary poems which are reprinted in this newsletter.

Rabbi Lionel Blue

Lionel Blue

We also took time to discuss our memories of the late lamented Rabbi Blue, one of the most popular and listened to religious figures of our time. But also a very brave and tormented individual, summed up for me by the following quotation:

I went along with religion for many years not believing it, because after all a lot of it is not believable, but as I went on in life I began to trust it more and more and it reshaped me, made me a much nicer person … the religion thing worked.” He claimed to be guided by a guardian angel whom he called Fred: “I hold his hand and we sit next to each other and we cuddle.”

Most people will remember him for the jokes with which he used to end his homilies on the Today programme and, in his honour and memory, here is my contribution to the Jewish humour archive – best spoken with the appropriate accents,

An Imam, a priest, and a rabbi, in their efforts to further the cause of interfaith relations, gather for their weekly spot of golf, but find they are waiting a very long time for a group ahead of them to move on. The caddy returns when he discovers the reason for the delay is that the group ahead are ‘blind golfers’ – they can’t see a thing.

The Imam responds by saying, “Aahh, Allah, praise Allah, that there are such wonders in the world. “

The priest responds by saying,” Praise be to Jesus, such miracles can happen, that their souls be touched.”

The Rabbi responds by saying,” so, they couldn’t choose to play at night time?”

Ochos Kandelikos and Ladino

At HJC Chanukah party we were introduced to a Chanukah song in Ladino, the language of the Sephardi Jews, equivalent to the Yiddish of Ashkenazi Jews. Here is more background on Ladino for those interested, with occasional pictures from our party, including the six dreidl challenge!

Ladino, otherwise known as Judeo-Spanish, is the spoken and written Hispanic language of Jews of Spanish origin. Ladino did not become a specifically Jewish language until after the expulsion from Spain in 1492 – it was merely the language of their province. It is also known as Judezmo, Dzhudezmo, or Spaniolit.

HJCChan1

1Musical Chanukah

When the Jews were expelled from Spain and Portugal they were cut off from the further development of the language, but they continued to speak it in the communities and countries to which they emigrated. Ladino therefore reflects the grammar and vocabulary of 14th and 15th century Spanish. The further away from Spain the emigrants went, the more cut off they were from developments in the language, and the more Ladino began to diverge from mainstream Castilian Spanish.

In Amsterdam, England and Italy, those Jews who continued to speak ‘Ladino’ were in constant contact with Spain and therefore they basically continued to speak the Castilian Spanish of the time.

HJCChan2

2concentration on dreidl spinning

However, in the Sephardi communities of the Ottoman Empire, the language not only retained the older forms of Spanish, but borrowed so many words from Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Turkish, and even French, that it became more and more distorted. Ladino was nowhere near as diverse as the various forms of Yiddish, but there were still two different dialects, which corresponded to the different origins of the speakers.

‘Oriental’ Ladino was spoken in Turkey and Rhodes and reflected Castilian Spanish, whereas ‘Western’ Ladino was spoken in Greece, Macedonia, Bosnia, Serbia and Romania, and preserved the characteristics of northern Spanish and Portuguese. The vocabulary of Ladino includes hundreds of archaic Spanish words which have disappeared from modern day Spanish, and also includes many words from different languages that have been substituted for the original Spanish word, from the various places Ladino speaking Jews settled. Some terms were actually transferred from one community to another through commercial or cultural relations, whereas others remained peculiar to particular communities. These foreign words derive mainly from Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish, Greek, French, and to a lesser extent from Portuguese and Italian. In the Ladino spoken in Israel, several words have been borrowed from Yiddish. For most of its lifetime, Ladino was written in the Hebrew alphabet, in Rashi script, or in Solitro, a cursive method of writing letters. It was only in the 20th century that Ladino was ever written using the Latin alphabet. In fact, what is known as ‘rashi script’ was originally a Ladino script which became used centuries after Rashi’s death in printed books to differentiate Rashi’s commentary from the text of the Torah.

HJCChan3

3candle lighting HJC 2016

At various times Ladino has been spoken in North Africa, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, France, Israel, and, to a lesser extent, in the United States (the highest populations being in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, and south Florida) and Latin America. By the beginning of this century, with the spread of compulsory education in the language of the land, Ladino began to disintegrate. Emigration to Israel from the Balkans hastened the decline of Ladino in Eastern Europe and Turkey.

The Nazis destroyed most of the communities in Europe where Ladino had been the first language among Jews. Ladino speakers who survived the Holocaust and emigrated to Latin America tended to pick up regular Spanish very quickly, whilst others adopted the language of whichever country they ended up in. Israel is now the country with the greatest number of Ladino speakers, with about 200,000 people who still speak or understand the language, but even they only know a very limited and basic Ladino.

It is important to note that Ladino is not modern Spanish, and also to note that just because someone speaks modern Spanish, this fact alone does not make them Sephardic.

http://www.sephardicstudies.org/quickladino.html

Shemot – Shifrah and Puah

Read at Shabbat Service 21 January

The story of Shifrah and Puah, the Hebrew Midwives, is an important one, particularly as there are few stories in the Torah in which women are at the centre. We are told of the moral courage of Shifrah and Puah in dealing with Pharaoh who orders them to slay all male babies. They are able to talk their way round Pharaoh by telling him that the Hebrew women give birth more quickly than the Egyptian women and the babies have arrived by the time they get there. Shifrah and Puah quietly practice passive resistance in how they disobey Pharaoh, yet making him think they are still to be trusted.

Shifrah and Puah are known as God-fearing which appears to describe their moral and ethical position, which transcends religion and culture.

Cherry Wolfe

Book review – Terror, Trauma and Tragedy: rabbinic responses.

Edited by Jonathan Romain and David Mitchell

This book has just been published by the Sternberg Centre for reform Judaism and contains short essays by 24 Reform and Liberal rabbis. The book tries to investigate responses that we may have to tragic events that happen in our lives, in the lives of those we know, or in the lives of the wider community. Some of the essays are very personal, for example what happened after the sudden death of a family member, and some relate to world events such as 9/11 and other terror attacks. I found the essay(s) by Sandra Kviat and Rebecca Lillian especially illuminating, written in response to terror attacks in Copenhagen in February 2015. Rebecca Lillian writes of the amazing support given to the Jewish community by members of other faiths: Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and by people of no particular faith. Muslims in particular promised to surround the local synagogue with a ring of peace for Shabbat service stating, ‘If anyone wants to commit violence in the name of Islam [they will] have to go through us Muslims first.’ Perhaps an extreme example but perhaps also very relevant to the times we are living in. Rebecca goes on to say that she was inspired to make a similar promise to their Muslim neighbours. Her final comment was a response to a statement written on a heart pinned up outside the synagogue after the tragedy which read, ’I believe in love without borders.’ Rebecca Lillian respectfully disagreed saying that she believes in love despite borders, as borders do exist but can be crossed, with respect friendship and mutual understanding. This is harder to achieve but creates a much stronger foundation.

JB

Two Encounters with the Shoah – Angela West

HJCBialystock

1. In 2008, Roger and I made some travels in Eastern Poland, where we visited a Polish friend in Bialystok. Here I happened to come across a small book by Tomasz Wiznievski, Jewish Bialystok and Surroundings in East Poland. The author was a journalist who had been arrested under the Communists for his dissident activities, and while in prison had discovered quite by chance that before the war the population of his city had been 60% Jewish. He set out to research its Jewish past, and thanks to his text, we were able to explore something of the Jewish heritage of the city – which, as we soon discovered, locals were not particularly keen to show off to tourists.

4 cemetery i Bialystok

Among other sites, we visited the main Jewish Cemetery in Wschodnia St, originally one of four, said to have 7000 mazevas within a 30 acre boundary. This was the only one to have survived the Nazis, who used many of the 35-40,000 gravestones for road building and paving stones. The cemetery now showed signs of sad neglect and local hostility, and presented a sharp contrast with the nearby Catholic cemetery which was lovingly tended by a constant stream of visitors. But in Bialystok after the Shoah, there is no Jewish community left to care for the graves of the ancestors.

Even more poignant was what we found when attempting to visit some of the graveyards of the smaller Jewish communities in the surrounding areas. These were completely unsignposted and not marked on local maps, often with no discernible pathway or evidence of their existence. Without Wiznievski’s account, we would never have found them. On more than one occasion as we approached the site, there seemed to be nothing there except boulders among the trees. Only on closer inspection did we notice some barely visible Hebrew letters on the ‘boulder’ – a sort of dying testimony to the destruction of a whole community.

2. Two books I read recently throw light on the factors which help to explain how the Shoah was possible. These are:

Amos Elon, The Pity of it All: A Portrait of the German Jewish Epoch 1743-1933, and secondly, Michael Mack, German Idealism and the Jew: the Inner Anti-Semitism of Philosophy and German Jewish Responses.

The first describes the attempts of German Jewry in the post-Enlightenment period to gain civic equality in the country of their birth. Despite the fact that they produced a stunningly successful community of writers, philosophers, scientists, tycoons and activists, non-Jewish German society

as a whole stubbornly resisted their advancement, choosing instead to regard this small minority as a deadly threat to German national integrity. The book’s title aptly indicates the feeling one is left with after reading about this tragic struggle.

The second book (which I am now re-reading) demonstrates how, in an age when German philosophers were promoting the Enlightenment vision of an age of universal reason, the idealist tradition of Kant, Hegel, Feuerbach (and others) remained deeply rooted in prejudicial narrative of Christian anti-semitism. These philosophers managed to transform it into a modern myth in which Jews were seen as enslaved to their irrational god, a race of materialist aliens who could not be assimilated into the polity of a nation founded on transcendent reason and the principle of autonomy.

The author also examines a number of Jewish writers from the Enlightenment period, from Moses Mendelssohn, to Rosenzweig, Benjamin and Freud. Fortunately, these give a less prejudicial account of enlightened reason, which in a post-Shoah age, is urgently needed for a more complete and humane model of rationality.

Angela West

Holocaust Memorial Day 27 January 2017

http://hmd.org.uk/news/reflections-loss-and-living-our-site-hmd-2017

Two poems read at the Shabbat Service on 21 January in recognition of Holocaust Memorial Day


September silence. The blackbird’s on the lawn
who sang all summer from the summit of the ash,
knew only a few acres of belonging
but held his ground, possessed it with a psalm,
the lovely Latin of a blackbird’s song.

He sang in Auschwitz, though he knew nothing
of the mother whose sheared hair he stole
to bind his nest of moss, and mud, and grasses,
or her starved child watching behind the wire
the murderous purpose of the trucks.

Innocent, he sang in Srebrenica
from the spires of cypress, cedar, palm,
above the grave of slaughtered boys and men,
beloved bodies cast in despair’s deep pit
and buried, nameless, without hymn or balm.

A bird’s pure voice heard in the killing fields
while Cambodia’s millions died, bodies thrown
like detritus into the wounded earth.
Now swallows in the evening air rehearse
their journey south over Rwanda and Darfur,

their flight and song remembering the dead,
telling their story. Sing their names like prayer.
Human, they loved once and were beloved,
heard birdsong, and words, our human song,
our shared claim to the earth, and to belong.

Gillian Clarke, National Poet for Wales 2008 – 2016

What is worse?

You would think that nothing could be worse than being

Discriminated against, having rights stripped away and being mocked

By the Nazis using my own passport, using my own religious star. I

Was poor and hurt. But actually I was wrong, the Ghetto was worse.

You would think that nothing could be worse than being moved to an

Isolated Ghetto, shut away from the outside world. There were

Guards at the exits to this place. I was hungry, thirsty and exhausted.

But actually I was wrong, the Concentration Camps were far worse.

You would think that nothing could be worse than being forced to

Work, hardly getting any sleep at night because of lying awake,

Worrying and asking a question over and over; do us Jews really

Deserve this? I was weak, in pain and had no sense of hope left. But

Actually I was wrong, the gas chambers were worse.

You would think that nothing could be worse than travelling on a

train to a gas chamber, knowing you would be dead soon. Well,

you could be right. But actually, we are both wrong, being a survivor is the worst.

There is nothing worse than knowing that 11 million other people

died and you didn’t. The Holocaust stopped, I was rescued, and,

somehow, I managed to survive. All the guilt, all the sorrow and

sadness. It’s so overwhelming. I could never forgive the Nazis, but I

could never forgive myself for what I did in order to survive…

Joseph Krakowski

written by Joseph Krakowski, Year 9, Bangor Grammar School, and submitted by Amanda Crossthwaite, Year 9 English teacher.

Members Welfare

Judith Labelter:

We’re hoping that Judith will soon be home from hospital where she has been for a few weeks. She is gradually improving and she has had a short visit home to assess her progress. David has been doing more than a sterling job in visiting Judith each day, which involves braving the hazards of the notorious Worcester Link road works. Not only that, he has also to look after the dog as well as making meals for himself, so quite a challenge for him to take on.

Film Review

Through The Wall a film by Rama Burshtein – available at Curzonhomecinema.com

f you want an alternative take on the Orthodox Jewish community (and maybe brush up your Hebrew at the same time), this film made by an ultra orthodox woman film maker in Jerusalem is a breath of fresh air. However, it is somewhat slow, and not like the fast action films we are used to seeing coming out of Hollywood, but it is well filmed, and tells the story of a mid-thirties single woman still looking for a husband. The opening scene with a Shadchan, a marriage maker, is a brilliant beginning, illustrating the blend of humour with searching questions which weave together in this film. You could call this film an orthodox Jewish mixture of Bridget Jones Diary with Eat, Pray, Love – but don’t take those associations too closely as this is set mainly in a Jerusalem Orthodox world. There are limitations to the film, and according to the Guardian review, it is not at all as good as Burstein’s first film, Fill the Void, so perhaps that may be one to go for in the future. Through the Wall may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s not altogether an easy film to watch, but Cherry and I found it worth watching, despite perhaps an unsatisfactory ending. You can watch this yourself at Curzonhomecinema.com for £8 for 48 hours rental, or less if you are a member.

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 March 2017

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.

HJC Services

HJCTuBShvat

Our next service/event will be the Tu B’Shevat Seder, Saturday 11th February 2017. Note that this will be at 4 p.m. in Burgage Hall Ledbury, and will be led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard. Please bring contributions to tea, especially including anything that comes from trees, such as fruits and nuts. More details to follow.

Forthcoming Events

Learn to Read or Improve your Hebrew in a Weekend

Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue

Introducing our 11th Hebrew Crash Course: come and learn to read or improve your fluency and understanding of Hebrew in a weekend in a stimulating community atmosphere.

Dates: Friday 3 March – Sunday 5 March 2017

Times: Friday 6pm – 10pm including a 8:30pm Shabbat Service

Saturday 9:30am – 5pm ending with Havdalah

Sunday 10am – 4pm

Cost: £75 for members of a synagogue, £125 for non-members. The price includes all sessions, study materials and meals.

Led by Rabbi Aaron Goldstein & Rabbi Lea Mühlstein

For more information or to book your place, please contact Sukhi Latter on sukhi@npls.org.uk or 01923 822 592

Jewish Book Week

HJCJewBkWk

25 February – 5 March, Kings Place, London

A feast of talks with authors and a fascinating collection of new writing.

Details at:

http://jewishbookweek.com/?keys=&page=1&q=events2017&tid=&type=all#sthash.gEiooPsg.dpuf

KlezNorth

Musical klezmer weekend in Derbyshire Peak district. Come if you play an instrument or even if you don’t. 17th – 19th March 2017 See  https://kleznorth.org.uk/  for details.

Women 2 Women Faith 2 Faith
celebrating international women’s day

HJCIWD2017

Sat March 4th, 9.30am – 4.30 pm
at the Kindle Centre, Belmont Road, Hereford HR2 7JE

An exciting day of opportunities to get to together with other local women from all backgrounds.

Come at 9.30 for a drink and a chance to get to know one another – the morning will then start formally at 10.00 with a meditation to quieten the soul, followed by a variety of craft workshops.

We’ll have a shared lunch – please bring vegetarian food that is easy to share. Refreshments will be provided.

In the afternoon we will again start with a meditation, followed by some singing and an opportunity to share on the theme of The Many Ways That Women Love.
You are invited to prepare something to say on this subject: it can be something from your personal experience, something that you know 3
rd hand, or something about a special woman in history that has shown love and wisdom and made a difference within her sphere of influence or beyond.

The event is free to all but donations to support such events will be welcome.
There will be an opportunity to sit on cushions on the floor – chairs will be available as well.
Please book in advance if at all possible as, although no one will be turned away, it will help us to plan for numbers.

STRANGERS ARE FRIENDS THAT WE HAVE YET TO MEET

Bookings/Enquiries: Venerable Tenzin Choesang (Ani – la Choesang)
Tel: 01568 750082 email:
Jackymwarren@sky.com

 

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Saturday 11th February

Tu B’Shvat Seder Tea – led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

4 p.m.

Burgage Hall, Church Lane, Ledbury HR8 1DW

Saturday 11th March

Purim Shabbat service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

11.00 a.m.

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

Wed 12th April

Passover Seder meal

6.30 p.m.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Sunday May 7th

AGM at Trumpet Inn, followed by Social lunch

11 a.m.

Trumpet Inn, Ledbury

Friday 19th May

Chavurah suppers

Hereford, Monmouth & Malvern

Saturday 10th June

Ann Frank service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

t.b.c.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

Email hjc@liberaljudaism.org

Telephone Mark Walton 01594 530721 after 6pm

HJC Newsletter April/May 2016

Editorial

This time of the year between Purim and Pesach is usually a flurry of activity, spring cleaning our houses, waking up to all those things we have been putting off through the long winter months.   In HJC, we have finally started our Hebrew Learning sessions, and some of us also took part in Purim activities in various locations.  Following our Pesach Seder, we will be preparing for our AGM in May, which is an opportunity to see what we have achieved in the year.  Despite members leaving, we still manage to put on a successful variety of events, and we also have new members joining us for activities, so for now HJC is an active community.

Julian Brown

In this edition:   

Chair Chat                  NIF/Yachad Security Conference                   Purim News               

Leo Baeck Youth Orchestra Concert              Herefordshire Interfaith Group report       

A Worcestershire Jewish Mystery                           Donation Thank you letters

                                                            Hebrew Learning

CHAIR CHAT April 2016

SERVICES

We have been fortunate while Rabbi Anna is on leave to have arranged a number of visiting rabbis to lead services for us.   Rabbi  Margaret Jacobi came to Colwall on Saturday February 27 and we had an interesting session before the service on the “Aleinu,” discussing why some progressive Jews are uncomfortable with the prayer and looking at a few alternative versions.   It is always a pleasure to welcome Margaret on one of her visits from Birmingham as there are many links between our two congregations.

We had hoped to say a fond farewell at this service to Andrea Berry-Ottaway who is moving to Banbury to be closer to her daughter.   Unfortunately, Andrea was not well enough to attend but we sent her all our best wishes.

We were very pleased to welcome Rabbi Alexandra Wright, the senior rabbi from the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London, to our Friday night service on March 11.   This was the first service we have held in the Burgage Hall  in Ledbury which I felt was a very nice venue for us, despite the difficulty in parking.    Rabbi Alexandra gave a very interesting talk about changing attitudes to Purim and it was particularly nice for her to welcome back Hanna Wine (who is also a member of LJS) to the community after her spell in hospital in London.    Alex also very kindly donated to us a newly published collection of sermons from women rabbis which anyone in the community is welcome to borrow.

We look forward to welcoming you all to our communal Seder at the Saxon Hall in Hereford on Tuesday April 24 (booking forms have already gone out).   I feel it is particularly appropriate this year to consider our own exodus when so many migrants are making perilous journeys to escape civil wars and poverty.

Finally, in our line up of visiting rabbis, we are looking forward to the visit of Rabbi Andrew Goldstein, currently  President of Liberal Judaism,  to Saxon Hall on Saturday June 11 to mark Anne Frank Day and the anniversary of our tree planting ceremony.   Please help to make this a very special day for us.

AGM

As last year, we are holding this at the Trumpet Inn, Ledbury HR8 2RA on Sunday May 22. This was a very successful venue and meeting last year, so let’s hope we can repeat the performance.  This is also a chance to air your views about the events of HJC in the past year, and, of course, elect Council Members for the next year.  We have lost some very valued Council members over the last two years and have been running on low numbers for several months, so would welcome new members to Council. HJC can only continue to run well if all of us play a part, however small, in helping organise our activities, so please let us know if you think you can help.   You will also be able to enjoy a nice Sunday lunch (pre order forms will be going out shortly).

TEA ROTA
Many thanks to the “volunteers” who have filled this important role.   A service is not the same without a nosh and a nice cup of tea afterwards.   As in many areas, we very much miss the organising ability of Andrea and welcome any offers of help.

Mark Walton

New Israel Fund and Yachad Security Conference: London, 6th March 2016

Report by Jacquie Hannan

 

The annual Security Conference was held in the Cavendish Conference Rooms near Regent Street, London, between 09.15 and 16.30. It was good to see the security presence of a police van outside as well.

The NIF’s inception was in 1979 and to paraphrase from their web site, they are a progressive organisation advocating for a tolerant, democratic and inclusive Israel, empowering marginalized Israelis and discourse in the Diaspora. They speak up for civil rights and religious tolerance issues.

There were Open Plenary meetings  to begin with through the morning followed by  one hour lively sessions with smaller groups, such as focussing on border security, followed by questions and answers. There were many interesting speakers for instance Ami Ayaloon who was a former director of Shin Bet. Apparently all the surviving former heads of Shin Bet favour a two state solution, as well as around half of the population.

The Opening Plenary Part 1.

On that panel were Aziz Abu Sarah, an East Jerusalem resident who attended Israel College of the Bible, who felt the government has failed to make all Israelis feel secure; Eyal Ben-Reuven of the Zionist Union who sees a two state solution as the only feasible solution to end the conflict, while retaining Israel as both a Jewish and Democratic state; Daniel Seideman; Talia Sasoon; and chaired by Jonathan Friedland.

An attempt has been made here to relay an amalgam of some of the themes.

“Core Security Challenges”

No-one knows what will happen, intelligence of the US and other countries can’t see the future, and the borders change every day. Syria is no longer a state. They see Russia attack Syria from the Golan Heights. The situation is very unstable, very dangerous, and they have to be prepared for anything. When they left they had been 51 days under missile and mortar attacks and Iran and Hezbollah are getting more confident. Jordan is struggling under 1 million refugees. Security is better than before 1967 but Hezbollah is dangerous. A new relationship is needed with Saudi and Egypt. The region has changed, Syria will be different, nobody is addressing existential threats, and Israelis need access to the Holy sites. Ceasefires mean 150 are killed a day instead of 250. Jordan must be kept stable and will need Israel to protect them, Lebanon is very stable. Security in the south is better since the disengagement. There are many Eritrean refugees. The people need to be given hope but there is high distrust. EU is an example that free trade can be achieved, however the BDS is unhelpful, Israelis think the world is against them. Israel and Jordan had common operations.

It was an informative conference and well worth attending.        

 Jacquie Hannan

 

 

Purim news

Alison Turner writes:

Marc and I went to see Hen Bradshaw and her husband Gary for Purim. We went to the Nottingham Liberal Synagogue, with Isaac in a bear suit a friend made for him and I wore one of the hats Hen has made. She’ll be selling the hats if anyone would like one. The Nottingham community is very lively and we all had great fun, reading the megillah, playing games and having a splendid kiddush, with whisky and wine as well as soft drinks and many sorts of hamantaschen and other food. Isaac distinguished himself by saying a coherent sentence, he kept dropping his rattle and at one point was most insistent “Hen get it”. She is much more experienced in baby talk than me, and was most impressed that he says “ank oo” for thank you and can use a straw. We were made most welcome by the community.

Hen Bradshaw writes:  “Hi, everyone, I am settled well in Chesterfield and thanks to Alison and Marc Turner, I have broken the ice with the Nottingham Liberal Community.
They made me so welcome and I have had volunteers to help me within the Shul, when I attend services. Rabbi Tanya is lovely and very bubbly, much like Rabbi Anna. Alison is posting photographs of Purim, where Alison and I won a prize for our hats.”

 

Leo Baeck Youth Orchestra Concert BPS

On 22 March, I went with our sometime members, Ralph and Val Eskinasi to the Purim evening concert given by Leo Baeck Youth orchestra at Birmingham Progressive Synagogue. It is always a pleasure to go to an event at BPS, as they have very welcoming premises, and are always happy to have visitors. This was a Big Band orchestra with a wide range of instruments including brass section, saxophone, a number of flutes and the usual classical orchestra instruments.

The orchestra is composed of young people in their final two years of school, all of whom give up much of their spare time to be part of the orchestra. This concert was one of six they are giving in the UK and they have also performed in Ireland and several locations in Germany.

They played a medley of different pieces, all with panache and flair, ranging from contemporary Israeli pop, to old favourites, such as Hallelujah, and Over the Rainbow.  Many pieces had been re-arranged for them by their musical conductor, David Sofer, a quietly spoken, but impressive young Israeli. The most powerful items for me were one in which the only male singer in the band sang an oriental style Salaam Shalom melody, and another slower and traditional melody, but the high energy contemporary items were also enjoyable.

The concert was followed by a Q & A session with members of the orchestra and their musical director.  One question related to where they perform, which included old people’s homes, school concerts, and to Holocaust survivors. It was also an opportunity to hear directly from the players, which showed their enthusiasm and variety of experience , including one ex-student, who is now an officer in the Israeli Defence Forces.

There are a number of projects in the Haifa area, all interlinked, of which this is one.  For more information, see: http://www.npls.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/LBEC-Youth-Big-Band-Orchestra-Resume.pdf

Julian Brown

Herefordshire Interfaith Meeting – report by Alison Turner

I went to the Kindle Centre in Hereford for an International Women’s Day event on 5 March, which was run by Ani-La Choesang Venerable Tsuiltrim Tenzin Choesang and attended by about 30 people. Most of them were Christians of various denominations and a few were of no particular spiritual path. In the morning we started with meditation and lighting candles, then split into pairs or threes and made corsages for each other. This was a good way to get to know each other and led on to making cards and artworks. The cards are Artists Friendship Cards, part of a project to connect to women across the world, in an attempt to break down barriers of ignorance and suspicion of those of different cultures. At first we will write as a group to another group, then hope to progress to individual contacts. Anyone who wants to join would be very welcome, please contact  june@the-hermit-online.co.uk

 

We had a vegetarian buffet lunch together, then dancing with live music and sharing our stories of how our faith and spirituality influences and supports us. It was a lively and interesting day, I learnt a lot about Christian Science, Bahai faith and attitudes to women in different faiths. We shared literature from our religions and many people did not know there was a Jewish community here, so it was well worth attending on a community as well as personal level.

Hebrew Learning

We are at last beginning our Hebrew Learning groups with one group meeting in Malvern and one in Monmouth. First meetings are planned f or 5th and 19th April. We have a range of resources and will report back on progress following the initial meetings.  The groups are open to anyone wanting to improve their Hebrew at whatever level.  If anyone else would like to be part of these groups (or set up another one), let us know, as we did not receive completed  Hebrew surveys from all members.  If you did not know the Hebrew alphabet includes 5 final letters, three pairs of double letters, two pairs of same sounding letters, and two silent letters, here is your chance to find out more, and if this is really true.

Note , we are still looking for transport for Hereford members to join the Monmouth group.  Julian Brown & Cherry Wolfe

High Holyday Appeal Thank you letters

We have received letters from St Michael’s Hospice and from Medecins Sans Frontieres in response to our donations. We have not yet heard back from the Children of Peace charity.

 

A Fascinating Story – Worcestershire mystery

Recently I was contacted by a man living not far from me, who wanted to make a link with a local Jewish community on account of a Tallith bag, which had a story attached to it. Read on for more information.

‘This story goes back to the Second World War, and who knows, perhaps further than that. Geographically it goes from some unknown country in Central Europe to a Prisoner of War Camp in Kent, and from there to rural Worcestershire.

It begins with   a young man, perhaps 16 years old or younger. All we know is that he was clearly well below the age to be enlisted and fight as a solider, and yet, this young man turns up, badly wounded, in a prisoner of War camp in Kent, during the war. We do not know where he came from, but we do know one more unusual fact – that he was Jewish, or at the very least had a close connection with a Jewish family.  Why would a young  Jewish teenager end up wounded in a British  P.O.W. camp? As a Jew it is very unlikely he would have been a German, but equally it is unlikely he would have been Polish, if in a P.O. W. camp.  It is more possible he could have been Ukrainian, but all this is pure conjecture.

This is also a story of kindness, and here comes the connection with Worcestershire, where there was a large Ministry of Defence site, called the Air Defence Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE)  based at the North edge of Malvern. We don’t know the precise details, as these were highly secret at the time, but we do know that there were frequent deliveries from ADRDE to this P.O.W. camp in Kent, and it wasn’t long before the wounded young lad, came to the attention of the ADRDE drivers, who felt sorry for him, and his plight, as he surely should not have been in such a situation. A lady from Malvern Link close by to the M.O.D. establishment, had a sister who worked in the canteen at ADRDE, and when she got to hear of this young man, she too felt sorry for him, so much so, that she decided to use her sweet ration (quite precious at that time) to buy sweets which she sent with the drivers to be given to this young man.  This went on for several visits, and the young man was clearly very grateful  for the sweets.

All in all, we know that at some point, this lady decided she wanted to visit the young man. Now visiting P.O.W’s was not a normal procedure in wartime Britain, and permission had to be sought, but it was in fact, granted. Not only that, but details of the train journey and times, and confirmation that she would be collected from the station in Kent by someone from the camp were sent to her for her visit the next month. You can imagine the anticipation on both sides before the meeting, but before this could happen, the young man tragically died from his injuries.  This, however is not the end of the story, and this is where the Jewish connection comes in.

The young man had in his possession what he called a prayer mat, which in fact we now know was a Tallith bag, the velvet bag used to keep Tallith or prayer shawl , and which all orthodox Jews would have in their possession. This particular bag was in maroon velvet, with Hebrew Inscription embroidered in gold and initials MS embroidered on the back flap.  The lad has asked before his death, that the bag be given to the kind lady from Malvern and sure enough the drivers brought the bag back to her. This whole story is quite amazing, if you consider Britain was at war, and yet all these actions were done on behalf of someone who was, at least, technically, the enemy.

Transcribed by Julian Brown from conversations with Jackie Davies and Paul Amphlett, March 2016

Forthcoming Events

HJC Communal Seder

There’s still time to book for HJC Communal Seder, which will be held at Saxon Hall. We look forward to an enjoyable and stimulating evening.

 

LJ Biennial –  7 p.m. Friday 1st July –  4 p.m. Sunday 3rd July,  St John’s Hotel, Solihull

This is Liberal Judaism’s biggest event and is an opportunity to find out all the latest on LJ thinking, to go to a wide range of Limmud style workshops and discussions, and most of all to meet with a wide range of members of other Liberal Jewish Communities, as well as meet many of the diverse group of Liberal Jewish Rabbis. I promise you, you will not come back from this event disappointed.

For this year’s Biennial, LJ comment:

Liberal Judaism is in the initial stages of developing a new Siddur, this is a chance to be part of thinking what this will look like, but even more so it is an opportunity to think of new ways to use music, literature and arts within our communities. The Conference aims to combine study with practical explorations of what it means to enliven and enrich our congregations and our own personal spiritual, cultural and social Jewish lives. Rabbi Charley Baginsky, chair of the Biennial Weekend organising committee, said:
“Liberal Judaism has always been at the forefront of Progressive Jewish life, pushing us to think about the future in ways that can build on our heritage and our past” 

Book now online, in order to secure your place, by following the link http://tinyurl.com/bien2016 or for more information call Aaron at the Montagu Centre on 020 7631 9830

The rate is per person and includes accommodation, all meals and materials. All delegates will receive complimentary access to the hotel’s health club, swimming pool and spa. Day attendance bookings are also available.

 

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 May 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 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.

HJC Diary of Events

Sunday 24 April    HJC Communal Seder 6.30 p.m. at Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Sunday 22 May   AGM at Trumpet Inn, near Ledbury, Herefordshire 11.30 a.m. Trumpet Inn, near Ledbury, Herefordshire. HR8 2RA

Saturday 11 June   Anne Frank Day Service led by Rabbi Andrew Goldstein time t.b.c. at Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Other Events of Interest

July 1st – 3rd Liberal Judaism Biennial Conference 7 p.m. start St John’s Hotel, Solihull