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.

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

 

 

Herefordshire Jewish Community Newsletter June/July 2016

Editorial

Despite times when we may feel unsure where our community is going, it also feels as if we there are many positive currents which help keep our community alive and well. You can read in Chair Chat about successful events during the past year, and with new members on our Council, we look forward to planning an exciting programme for the coming year. In this edition you can read about the new Hebrew groups we have started, and also about events beyond Herefordshire. July will see the first West Midlands Limmud gathering in Birmingham, and if you have not attended one of these events before, it is a worthwhile venture.

Note that HJC subscriptions are now due, and forms are in the next post on this site. We still believe we offer excellent value for money, so please get your subscriptions in on time.

Julian Brown

In this edition:

Chair Chat Charities Mystery Photo Hebrew groups El Al flight story Subscriptions Form Chavurah Supper

CHAIR CHAT April 2016

AGM

The Trumpet Inn again proved to be an excellent location for our AGM.    Sunday lunch is obviously the answer to getting people to come!   We didn’t have quite as many people as came last year but we still had a good “minyan”.    I mentioned in my report what was probably the highlight of the year, the Ann Frank service at Saxon Hall in June 2015 which proved to be a very inspiring occasion, wonderfully stage managed by Rabbis Anna and Danny Rich.  We hope this year’s service (see below) will be equally special.   I also mentioned the moving rededication service of our headstones at Hereford cemetery led by Julian which was a fitting reminder of former members and friends.    I am very pleased that we used some of our funds to enable the tombstones to be repaired.   Our financial position and membership remains fairly stable and I am very grateful to Alison for taking over the reins as Treasurer at very short notice.  We chose two charities for our High Holyday collections this year.   Combat Stress is a mental welfare society in the UK that helps ex-service personnel suffering from psychological injuries and mental health problems. They have a presence in Hereford.   And our old friends, the Charles Clore Centre in  Acre which does such valuable inter-communal work (see article below).   I hope you will all give generously to two such worthy charities.    Finally, I am delighted that Helen Dubovie has agreed to join us on the Council and, subsequently, our new member from Hereford, Ann Levy, will also join us.  

SEDER

We held our first Seder at the Saxon Hall this year and found it a much more amenable setting than the church hall in Belmont.    Cherry bravely took on the catering, ably assisted by Helen Dubovie and two very helpful ladies from Saxon Hall who helped to serve.    I think the readings had an added resonance this year with the wave of migration to Europe very much mirroring the way many of us arrived in this country and our past history.    We had an excellent meal with benching done in traditional style by  Jonathan and a good sing song at the end.    What could be better?   An excellent Seder all round.

 

HEBREW LESSONS ARE GOOD FOR THE BRAIN – OFFICIAL

I’m really pleased that these have got off the ground this year with great credit to Julian and Cherry for their hard work and flexibility.   Learning (or improving your skills at) a new language helps to stave off Alzheimer’s – Angela Rippon said so in a recent BBC documentary, so it must be true.  I’m hoping so, anyway.

ANNE FRANK SERVICE, SATURDAY JUNE 11.

Please make every effort to attend this one.   Rabbi Andrew Goldstein, President of Liberal Judaism (and father of our good friend, Rabbi Aaron Goldstein), is coming from London especially for this service to which we have also invited other faith and civic leaders – so we need a good showing from our side!     Andrew is going to lead a study session on the inspiring story of Ruth at 10 a.m. as an added extra, and he is going to preach on “Two sad but inspiring trees,”  the Anne Frank tree that had to be cut down and its daughters….and a tree in Terezin that had the same fate…..symbols of renewal after destruction.

This should be a very special and interesting service.

Mark Walton

 

Charities

As mentioned in Chair Chat, our two charities for this year are: Combat Stress and the Charles Clore community Centre in Akko.

Combat Stress is the UK’s leading Veterans’ mental health charity. Mental ill-health affects ex-Service men and women of all ages. Right now, we’re supporting over 5,900 Veterans aged from 19 to 97. We’re a vital lifeline for these men and women, and their families. Our treatment and support services are always free of charge, and are proven to work.’

For more info, see: https://www.combatstress.org.uk/

Sir Charles Clore Jewish Arab Community centre, Akko. Latest letter from them below. Note we will be making a community donation to them in due course, but if anyone would like to make an individual donation in the meantime, you can see what it will be used for.

My Dear Friends,

Some of you know of Larine and Leah-Sara, two little girls who became friends through the ballet class they attend together at The Sir Charles Clore Jewish-Arab Community Centre in Akko.   It’s the most natural thing in the world for Larine and Leah-Sara to be counting the days till the start of their first ever Summer Camp in July – to spend 15 full days playing, swimming, making music and art and even going on outings together.  What they don’t realise is how unusual their experience is in this part of the world – a Muslim Arab and an observant Jew at the same summer camp.   

I’d like to offer you the opportunity to sponsor one or more children to attend the Centre’s Arab-Jewish Summer Camp this July.  Your generosity will enable us to include up to 200 children (most are low-income).  Each place costs the Centre around £100 ($150).  The camp provides activities for Arab and Jewish children most of whom, without this chance, will not leave the sweltering streets of Akko the entire summer.  For these three weeks at least, let them be safe, be happy and be together.

We wish to thank your ongoing support for our Centre, be it by one-off or monthly gifts. I hope you will wish to make even more of a difference through your sponsorship.

 To sponsor, please visit our website donation page http://ajcenter.org.il/donate/ where you can make your gift online or through our conduits in the UK (FPJ).We would be grateful if you would let us know about your sponsorship so that we are aware of the number of children that we can accommodate.

 Many thanks in anticipation for your continued support

 Mohammad Fahili – Director 

Sir Charles Clore Jewish-Arab Community Center www.ajcenter.org.il

Hebrew Groups

We now have two Hebrew groups up and running, one in Malvern and one in Monmouth, and we may yet a get a third group going in Hereford, but that would need a different teacher, or simply be a peer led group supporting work learners do in the other two groups. We were up to maximum capacity in Cherry & Julian’s house on 24th May with five learners and two teachers. The Monmouth group had four learners, two working on prayer book Hebrew, one working on beginning reading, and one on Torah Hebrew, but all areas interlink. There is also an interest in some Modern Hebrew, so it’s a journey of exploration. Both groups have worked consistently on getting to grips with the Hebrew alphabet, which is not simply learning 22 letters, but learning about final letters, letters with and without dots, letters that look similar but have different sounds, and letters that have the same sound but look different. All that before you even begin to work with vowels. However, several of our beginner learners are already reading simple words or made up words, so we are making progress, and having fun at the same time.

We have agreed a small charge for each group to cover expenses, but these still need to be reviewed, as these may be different between the Malvern and Monmouth groups. Some learners have already bought their own books, and we have some books on order for the group. The most popular seems to be Alef Bet for Adults, by Paul Yedwab and Howard Bogot. Books can be bought from Janet Elf at the Jewish Book service, or also via the web.

Julian Brown

Herefordshire Interfaith Activities

We agreed at the AGM that we would like to do more interfaith work in the coming year, especially in the context of current reports in the media about anti-Semitism, but this is often difficult to organise for our small community. Cherry Wolfe will be running a session for special needs pupils at a school in Hereford in June, and we also have our Anne Frank service to follow, to which other faith representatives are being invited, so we will see what else we can plan over the coming year.

Community News

We now have two new members on Council, Helen Dubovie, and Anne Levy. We very much look forward to working with them, and planning an exciting programme of events for next year.

Chavurah Supper

We are planning hold our first Chavurah supper on Friday evening 8 July in Malvern. This will be a chance to share a meal with members of the community together with Friday evening music and readings to mark the start of Shabbat. If you would like to come along, please contact Cherry Wolfe, so we can know likely numbers, and plan food.

Gender Discrimination on El Al Flight?

Renee Rabinowitz, an 81 year old retired lawyer and holocaust survivor was recently interviewed by Eddie Mair on Radio 4’s PM programme. Cherry Wolfe heard the broadcast, and this was her response:

What made you listen to this story? I’d read about it in the newspaper, and as a regular visitor to Israel on many El Al flights, I was curious about what happened.

I’m told that the woman in question was asked to change her seat. Why was this? She initially thought she was being offered an upgrade, and then realised that was not the case. She’d been asked because the orthodox man next to her had asked not to sit next to a woman. Being observant herself, she had a conversation with him in which he agreed there was nothing in the Torah that forbids men to sit next to women. BUT, he also said ‘there are verses in the Torah which have been interpreted to show that men should not socialise with women.

What happened in the end? After returning home, Renee went to a talk by Anat Hoffman of the Israel religious Action Centre (IRAC) and decided she could take out a lawsuit against El Al in order to illustrate what she felt was unlawful discrimination.

You can hear her story in the BBC podcast at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03v1tty

 

Forthcoming Events

Limmud Birmingham WM 2016 – Sunday 10th July 2016!

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham B15 2TH

Where else can you learn…

  • about the work of Janusz Korczak?

  • study Megillat Esther as a literary text.

  • hear a first-hand description of the situation in Europe’s refugee camps.

  • watch a film about Ethiopian Jewry.

  • discuss the future of our community.

    gain insights into the current situation in the Middle East

    and meet people from the West Midlands and beyond you never knew shared your interests.

  • What can I expect on the day?

    • Registration is at 9.00am, first session starting at 10:00am and finishing around 5:00pm.

    • Choice of 5 or 6 sessions in each slot – no need to book the session, just choose and show up.

    • Kosher lunch, suitable for vegetarians, and all day refreshments

    • A chance to find out more the delights of Birmingham and the Jewish communities in the West Midlands

    Early bird offer of £35 per person, ends on Thursday 9th June.

    Tickets increase to £40 per person from Friday 10th June.

    For further information or any queries please email our team atbirminghamwm@limmud.org. Or, call the Limmud office on 020 3115 1620.

     

    If you are interested in going and need a lift, please contact Mark Walton

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

    It’s still not too late to apply for the LJ Biennial, Liberal Judaism’s biggest event. It would be good if any other HJC member wanted to attend.

    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.

    LJ Biennial Community Task.

    We have been asked as a Community to create a Tallith based around the Hashkivenu Prayer:

    We have asked Rosalie Tobe if she is prepared to work on this on our behalf, and the Tallith can then be sent to LJ in time for the Biennial. However we all feel that this is a ‘big ask’ before the Biennial, and it may have to be a task for the forthcoming year!

     

    Subscriptions

    Membership subscriptions are now due for the next financial year. Rates are unchanged from last year, at £55 per adult individual – still we think the lowest for any LJ community in the country. Please complete membership form attached and send to Alison Turner no later than 30 June 2016.

    Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 July 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.

    Calendar of  HJC events

  • Saturday 11 June Study Session on Book of Ruth – led by Rabbi Andrew Goldstein 10 a.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE
  • Saturday 11 June Anne Frank Day Service led by Rabbi Andrew Goldstein 11 a.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE
  • Friday 15th July Friday Evening Chavurah Supper at Cherry & Julian’s house, Malvern – Bring & share meal. Contact Cherry for details. 7 p.m
  • .
  • Saturday 3rd/10th September Shabbat Service date and place t.b.c.
  •  

    Sunday 2nd October Erev Rosh Hashanah Celebration meal and Readings 6.30 p.m. Burgage Hall. Ledbury

    Other events of interest

  • July 1st – 3rd Liberal Judaism Biennial Conference 4 p.m. start St John’s Hotel, Solihull
  • July 10th Birmingham West Midlands Day Limmud 10.00 a.m. – 6 p.m. Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham
  •  Oct 3rd Rosh Hashanah Service – GLJC t.b.c.  details in next newsletter.
  •  October 11th/12th Yom Kippur – no HJC Services. Members welcome to attend GLJC Services :
  • Kol Nidre Oct 11th
  • Day services Oct 12th date and place t.b.c. GLJC _ details in next newsletter.

HJC Newsletter December 2015/January 2016 – Chanukah Edition

Editorial

We are in the middle of an exciting period for HJC with 4 different events taking place over 4 weeks that members of HJC are involved in, so we are definitely alive, well, and kicking. We began with the ‘educational’ service on 21st November led by Cherry and myself, which was followed by the South West Regional Shabbaton for small communities on 28th November and on 5th December, HJC had a good sized table at the LKQ concert in Monmouth. Finally we are looking forward to seeing members, both old and new at our Chanukah service and party on 12 December in Hereford, to be led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard. Hence this newsletter is slightly later than usual, as so much has been going on. We hope we can plan further events cultural, educational and social as well as services, and also show we are a community that cares about others around us through social action in whatever way we can.

This issue has a variety of reports from the recent South West Communities Shabbaton which was help in Swindon on 28th November. We are also looking forward to running some Hebrew learning sessions in the new year, and there is also information on how we might help refugees.

Julian Brown

In this edition: Chair Chat Shabbaton Report London Klezmer Quartet Concert Community Matters Refugee Matters Hebrew Learning

CHAIR CHAT

Shabbat Services

We were delighted to welcome student Rabbi Igor Zinkov to lead our service on Shabbat Lech Lecha on Saturday October 24.   Igor had obviously put a lot of thought into the service and gave us a lot to think about as well.   It was also good to learn some new tunes, including a lively Yiddish version of “Adon Alom”.   We were all fascinated  to hear Igor talk about Jewish life in Russia during our communal lunch.    It’s always a pleasure to meet new student Rabbis and a great opportunity for us to have someone new to lead our service.   Many thanks to Igor for making the effort to come up from London and to Liberal Judaism for its support.

Many thanks, too, to Julian and Cherry for leading our service on Saturday November 21. This was designed to be a learning service and, as such, Julian explained the different aspects of the service. We also took time to exploring the Torah portion in more detail than usual, giving us chance to look at the Hebrew and intricacies of sentences. We were also introduced to some new melodies by Cherry, and the service included additional prayers for International Understanding.

Jewish Chronicle

I always enjoy reading the past copies of the JC that Judith and David kindly bring to the services. There were a couple of items in the copy of November 6 that caught my attention. On the front page was a story about a daring rescue mission to save the last Jewish family in war torn Aleppo who were smuggled out of their home earlier this year. After a 36 hour terrifying journey, during which they had to negotiate many armed checkpoints, they managed to reach the relatively safe haven of Turkey. The Jewish Agency then took responsibility for the family. The 88 year old mother, Mariam, and her daughter, Sara, were given safe haven in Israel. However, the Agency officials decided that another daughter, Gilda, her Muslim husband, Khaled, and their three children could not make Aliyah under the law of return and had no alternative but to go back to Syria where they remain. Apparently this is not an uncommon situation. A Syrian Jewish community leader living in America commented, that “Daesh would kill women if they found out they were born Jewish – regardless of whether they converted to marry Muslims.” Surely the Jewish Agency should reconsider and offer sanctuary to these unfortunate refugees?

On a more positive note, I was very impressed by the sterling work that Israeli aid agencies are doing in the Greek islands, helping to rescue refugees who have made the dangerous crossing by sea. They are very much in the front line there, taking part in regular patrols along the beaches and often plucking desperate men, women and children from the water.

I was also interested in a letter written by Rabbi Jonathan Romain (who always is worth reading) who stresses the importance of mixed faith schools, in particular the “only Jew in a non Jewish school” syndrome.

We have found there that there are four benefits:

  • first, to have a real live Jew in the class who looks and acts ordinary is the best way of preventing or countering any anti-Jewish stereotypes amongst their peers.

  • Second, each Jewish child automatically becomes an ambassador for Judaism, has to answer questions about Jewish life and is impelled to find answers.

  • Third, it reinforces their identity as Jews, they learn to live in two worlds and effortlessly move between them on a daily basis.

  • Fourth, it prepares them well for when they go off to university and find the ‘outside world’ easy to navigate rather than challenging or overwhelming.

A model both for a society at ease with minorities and for being a Jew within it.”

A powerful counterblast to the growing movement for faith schools which I feel is a very dangerous and regressive step for those of all religions and civil society.

Mark Walton

Update on Peace Day Service Sunday 20th September 2015, Hereford Cathedral

A full account of this service (which was reported in the last HJC newsletter) can be found at : https://phulme.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/peace-day-service-in-hereford-cathedral/

This has been written by Peter Hulme, the Baha’i representative.

An extract is given here:

Yesterday Hereford Cathedral hosted its first Peace Day Service to observe today’s International Day of Peace. The service was organised by the newly formed Herefordshire Interfaith Group.

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Peace is celebrated on September 21 each year to recognize the efforts of those who have worked hard to end conflict and promote peace. The International Day of Peace is also a day of ceasefire – personal or political. On this day, also known as Peace Day, people around the world take part in various activities and organize events centred on the theme “peace.” This was Hereford’s offering.

The Canon Chancellor of Hereford Cathedral & Venerable Tenzin Choesang welcomed everyone to the peace day service.

Peter Hulme

South West Shabbaton on November 28th 2015

at Jurys Inn, Swindon

Several HJC members went to this event, and some of their reports are included here. Feel free to read as much or as little as you wish.

It was the first time I’d been to a meeting like this – and I certainly found it most rewarding.

Amazing to see so many different groups represented – Gloucester, Swindon, Oxford, Wessex, Reading, Kent, Hereford , Bristol & West, Kingston, Crouch End – oh, and the six of us from Hereford ( plus Rabbi Anna who I suppose is partly ours!)

The first session I attended – guided chevrutah text study was somewhat different from my expectations – but nicely so! The focus was on Jewish identity – a theme reflected in a selection of texts, which we discussed with a partner. It was led by Rabbi Sandra Kviat and she took the opportunity to tell us how her own Danish Liberal-Jewish identity and rabbinic calling had come about – rather interesting to me, as I’ve lived in Denmark and am particularly aware of the unique role Denmark played in relation to its Jewish population during the Shoah.

After lunch, I was in Julian’s story-telling group, ‘From Chelm to Chasid’. I hadn’t realised till then that he has a whole alternative career as a story-teller! I have always deeply appreciated the Jewish midrash tradition of biblical interpretation, and no doubt the richness of Jewish story telling grows out of this – or perhaps it’s the other way round! When I got back, I shared the ‘Prophetic Squire’ Chasidic story with Roger – and he was very tickled by it.

The last session, where Rita Adler, R.Lea Muehlstein, Tony Samuel & Danny Rich spoke movingly of their experiences of working with refugee communities, impressed me very much. Danny referred more than once to what a small group of committed people can achieve and the testimony of this team certainly bore that out. Having worked with a colleague for many years with refugee and migrant women in Newport, I am also keenly aware of the obstacles and possibilities for discouragement, so I felt their achievement was all the more remarkable. It helps, I think, to be part of a religious tradition which bids its adherents: ‘Remember that you were strangers in Egypt..’ as Rita reminded us.

Several of us from HJC were at various times clustered round the book table, inspecting the literary wares that were temptingly displayed. And out of conversations arising in this context, Julian has agreed (I think!) to lay on some Hebrew study days for those of us who are interested – for which b’racha to come, I give thanks!

Angela West

Alison Turner writes:

It was amazing to be part of the South West Regional Shabbaton in Swindon and find that we had people from 9 different Liberal communities as part of our Shabbat service. I was honoured to be called up on behalf of Herefordshire Jewish Community, for the reading from our very own Torah scroll by Rabbi Danny Rich. He pointed out that the name of Esau in our portion Vayishlach was written with dots around it, not as a pronunciation guide but as a warning that here was a man who was not good. He told us that Esau had been seen to have many negative traits by commentators, though Jacob had reason to be worried meeting him for the first time in 34 years, after stealing his blessing.   The exchange between them in Hebrew carries connotations that a simple translation would miss, so it is important to look at the original. It was very special to be part of a large congregation of Liberal Jews, praying together, and the earlier session I went to prepared me for it well.

This was taken by Alexander Massey and it was a meditation on Elohai N’shamah for which he has written music and devised physical movements. We discussed the nature of the soul, where and what it is, now and after the death of the body, which was a very deep way to start the day. I found it allowed me to move from worrying about the mechanics of my travel to Swindon and properly get into a Shabbat state of mind, literally take a breath and stop mundane worries and enter into the day of rest, ready for the prayer service. His work is available on www.alexandermassey.com which has the music as well as the words in Hebrew and English and transliteration, source readings and reflections. 

In the afternoon I went to an interesting conversation between Rabbi Danny Rich and Gary Webber on different Jewish denominations. Their experiences were mirror images of each other, Rabbi Danny did not discover Jewish Orthodoxy until he went to University, he had a traditional Liberal upbringing in South London, going to Friday evening and Saturday morning services every week, so to him normative Judaism is Liberal and he rejects any notion that it is less worthy than Orthodoxy. He sees Liberal Judaism as a prophetic form of Judaism, founded by ideologues, in contrast to Reform Judaism which he sees as similar in theology but different in history and culture. On the other hand, Gary grew up with Orthodoxy and knew little about Progressive Judaism until he was an adult. Now he goes to Liberal, Reform and Masorti congregations and Limmud twice a year with his family. They agreed that all the Rabbis are trained at the same college for all these movements, and we discussed some of the reasons for the failure of previous attempts to create one Progressive movement and the situation across Europe.

I finished the day making dreidl decorations for Chanukah under the expert guidance of Sue Naydorf, and came away with many ideas for future craft sessions. I explained that at 10 months my son was about to have his first Chanukah, so the time has not yet come when he can light his own candles, even cardboard ones.  In all, it was a most interesting chance to meet, pray, have lunch, make and discuss with other Liberal Jews in our part of the world, and it was good to have a whole day to do it.  

Alison Turner

Jacqui Hannan writes:

Coming into Liberal Judaism comparatively recently, there may be a simplistic element from my point of view of the SW Shabbaton, as I still tend to regard myself as a”freshman” and everything is seen for the first time. This is by no means a reflection on LJ hospitality that has always been superlatively warm with the Shabbaton being no exception. After a straightforward journey via Gloucester from Hereford, we were immersed into the friendly relaxed atmosphere at the ideal hotel venue. From the good selection of sessions the first was appropriate for my learning situation and interests “Beit Midrash: Identity” which was led by Rabbi Sandra Kviat, in a lively manner. We looked at different aspects of Jewish identity, Biblical quotes and profound statements. Particularly notable is the paragraph by Lev Chadash that begins “Who is a Jew?” followed by (paraphrasing) Jews feel conscious of a connection as though they have met before…”..It may have been at Sinai, where according to tradition, all the unborn souls of the Children of Israel were assembled.” Rabbi Sandra spoke about Jacob’s struggle (Gen. 32.39), which was part of this week’s Torah study. It was interesting to have the opportunity to split into couples and groups to explore our personal perspectives, history and experiences in our walks, and in the case of conversion participants like myself, review our expectations. I had the opportunity to talk with a man who completed his conversion course this summer, who like me, had not come into Judaism from an uninformed platform, but rather as a chosen pathway as the result of wider experience and study as a mature person. I realise I am not alone in being “led by my heart” and “seeking truth” in this direction, in respect for our Creator. It was a reassuring and prophylactic experience to meet some of the wide range of other SW Liberal Jewish members.

After this we participated in the Shabbat Service and beautiful singing.

Following Kiddush and a light lunch the two sessions I attended were “In conversation: Why do we need denominations”, led by Danny Rich and a “Panel discussion: Experiences of working with refugee communities”, which revealed a glimpse of some of the large number of LJ initiatives in this area. There is not space here to expand and to do the day and sessions true justice.

It was on the whole an interesting, enjoyable and useful day. Everybody I spoke had something positive to say, and I felt privileged to be there. It was good to have had the opportunity to spend more time with other HLJ members, especially Alison Turner and Angela West with whom I shared some travelling time.

However, apologies for a more negative note there was one down side – we stepped out into heavy rain! I hope the organizers can improve on that aspect next year.

Jacqui Hannan

John Davies, for whom this was the first such cross communal event he had attended says he would give it 11/10.

He says he feels there is hope for the future, but that there are lots of truths that need to be addressed by both by Judaism and other religions, and we will need both spiritual and physical courage to address these. He attended the session with Danny Rich and Gary Webber and felt that Liberal Judaism has a particular role to play.

Refugees

Following on from the Refugee workshop at the Shabbaton day, we need to ask the question ‘What can HJC do directly to help refugees? We have already made a specific donation re our High Holiday appeal and no doubt some individual members have made donations in kind to local refugee collection points. We know HJC cannot do anything on the scale of LJS or Northwood and Pinner, but perhaps we can have a collective focus – for example, on the financial front, individuals could make a regular donation to a specific charity. One of the points raised in the Shabbaton refugee session was that we must be conscious of the needs of refugees who do arrive in Britain (it was also pointed out that only a minority of these are Syrian). The process of seeking asylum is fraught with issues – social, educational, legal, health which refugees are often unsure how to deal with. Perhaps we could pool ideas on this at the next opportunity – as this an issue which is not going to go away. JB

Hebrew

At our ‘teaching’ service on 21st November, we gave out copies of the Hebrew alphabet and spent more than the usual time on looking at some of the Hebrew words in the Torah verses for the week. The Hebrew alphabet seems to feature strongly in Jewish tradition, having more character to it than the more prosaic English alphabet. In addition, Hebrew letters are also used as numbers in Israel. Following on from the service, some of us at the Shabbaton looked at books available to help those who want to participate more fully in services, and learn some simple Hebrew for familiar prayers.

This felt like a starting point which a number of members of our community have expressed an interest in. ‘If only I could just read the blessing for the reading from the Torah’ for example. There seems to be current interest in having a Hebrew learning day, or perhaps evening, when we could look at resources available (including some in the Liberal Judaism Resource Bank) which could then be used for further individual study at home. As always, time and venue will need to be decided, but anyone interested in this please contact myself or Cherry, as we will be leading the sessions.

Short article on the alphabet to follow for anyone interested.

JB

Hebrew Alphabet

Early Hebrew alphabet was used by the Jews in the period before the Babylonian Exile–i.e., prior to the 6th century BC. As is usual in early alphabets, it has many local variants and also shows development over time. The Early Hebrew alphabet, like the modern Hebrew variety, had 22 letters, with only consonants represented, and was written from right to left; but the early alphabet is more closely related in letter form to the Phoenician than to the modern Hebrew.

Between the 6th and 2nd century BC, Classical, or Square, Hebrew gradually displaced the Aramaic alphabet, which had replaced Early Hebrew in Palestine. Square Hebrew became established in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC and developed into the modern Hebrew alphabet over the next 1,500 years. Though obviously derived from the Aramaic alphabet rather than from Early Hebrew it was nonetheless strongly influenced by the Early Hebrew script. Classical Hebrew showed three distinct forms by the 10th century AD: Square Hebrew, a formal or book hand; rabbinical or “Rashi-writing,” employed by medieval Jewish scholars; and various local cursive scripts, of which the Polish-German type became the modern cursive form.

The Square Hebrew Alphabet 

From: http://www.orbilat.com/General_References/Alphabets/The_Hebrew_Alphabet.html

Hereford & Malvern Foodbanks

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

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

Items requested by Hereford Food Bank are:

  • Tins: Meat – hot or cold; vegetables; fruit; rice pudding.
  • Dry goods: Smash potato; rice; powdered custard; dried milk; instant coffee; sugar

  • General: UHT milk; pasta sauce; jam; marmalade; instant/microwave meals.
  • Hygiene: Shampoo; toothpaste; soap; household cleaners e.g. washing up liquid, detergent.

Thank you. Any queries please contact them on 01432 353347

Malvern Food Bank has sent a letter of thanks or our recent donations.

 

London Klezmer Quartet – Bridges Centre, Monmouth 5 December

This was a sell out success and a wonderful evening, so a big thank you to Mark for setting this up with Wye Valley Music Society.

London Klezmer Quartet are not only the leading Klezmer music group in the UK, running workshops and playing at events, they are also delightful to watch and listen to, with their effortless, but endlessly creative variations on both traditional and contemporary melodies. They also have a great deal of humour, for example, their story of how when travelling in Australia, they found themselves short of a (double) bass player, so looked up ‘Lonely Australian klezmer bass players.com’ and found one brilliant bass player (only one of course, as she was lonely), who had Latvian heritage and is now playing with them in the UK. This bass player also sings in Yiddish so we had three or four vocal numbers, varying in theme from potatoes (bulbas) to borscht to lost love and the Czar’s army.

All the players were very talented and each with their particular strengths, from the astonishing clarinet playing to the sensitive and emotional accordion playing to the dancing violin sounds of their leader Ilana Kravitz. Everyone seemed to enjoy the evening immensely and it is such a thrill to have real live Klezmer music in Monmouth, giving an opportunity for HJC member as well as local residents to experience some Jewish culture.

Forthcoming Events

Limmud Conference – Birmingham, 27 – 31 December 2015

When? Limmud Conference will be taking place from Sunday 27 to Thursday 31 December 2015. It will be preceded by Limmud Shabbat from Friday 25 to Saturday 26 December. We look forward to you joining us there!

Where? The hotels surrounding Pendigo Lake, just outside Birmingham, UK. More detailed information on our exciting new site can be found by visiting the frequently asked questions page. See: http://limmud.org/conference/

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 January 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

Date

Event

Time

Place

Saturday 12th December

Chanukah service and party, led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

3 p.m.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Saturday 23rd January

Shabbat Service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

11 a.m.

Ale House Colwall

Saturday 27th February

Shabbat service led by Rabbi Margaret Jacobi

11.a.m.

Ale House Colwall 

Other Events of Interest

27th Dec – 31st Dec 2015

Limmud Winter Conference – residential or day places available.

Birmingham

 

Herefordshire Jewish Community Newsletter October/November 2015

Editorial

Now we have passed the end of the High Holydays, we embark on a new phase in the year. We have been reviewing and re-focussing ourselves, especially our inner selves as we have been through the intense period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and the ‘Day of Atonement’ itself. We start the New Year with new clarity and new intentions. Now we come to Succoth, where one of our tasks is to sit in a Succah, or temporary dwelling, to remind ourselves how we were once tent dwellers and wanderers. In present times, we cannot but also think of the many refugees who have no option but to live in tents, and so our lives turn to social action and our contributions to the communities in which we live.

One of the messages from Yom Kippur this year has been that we have to live both these parts of our lives to the best of our ability: reflecting on our actions as individuals, but also taking action out in the world to do what we can to create the world in which we want to live, both for ourselves and others.

Julian Brown

In this edition:

Bible week Limmud in the Woods

Community events: Rededication ceremony High Holyday services

Peace Day Event London Klezmer Quartet visit

CHAIR CHAT

CEMETERY REDEDICATION, SUNDAY SPTEMBER

It was good to see all the stones back in their rightful position and it was wonderful to have Susan Moore (formerly Kirkhope, one of the founder members of HJC) who could tell us more about the people who were buried there. We were surprised to find one unmarked grave there and we have already made enquiries to the cemetery authorities to see what we can do to rectify this. Julian led prayers for us at the cemetery before we all went back to Saxon Hall for a cup of tea before our Erev Rosh Hashanah service.

HIGH HOLYDAY SERVICES.

We held both of these this year at Saxon Hall in Hereford, which will probably now become our new base in Hereford, as it has excellent facilities. We can also keep an eye on how the “Anne Frank” tree is doing. Many thanks to Julian for leading the Kol Nidrei service and for some effective shofar blowing.

SIMCHAT TORAH SERVICE.

My favourite of the year and a welcome return to Rabbi Anna. We had a great service last year and I’m sure this year will be no different. Please make every effort to come along to the Bridges Centre in Monmouth at 7 p.m. (Post code of Bridges for those who haven’t been there before is NP25 5AS).

HJC COUNCIL

I have to say that it has been a bit of a struggle to keep going! We are all very much missing Andrea who knew where everything was and was very much the lynchpin of the community. We’re delighted to hear that her health has improved and look forward to welcoming her back to our services shortly. Meanwhile, we are soon going to have to say good bye to Steve Lavender who is moving to Cardiff and would like to thank him for all the help he has given us. We wish a speedy recovery to Hanna Wine who is convalescing in London. Alison Turner has kindly agreed to take on the role of interim treasurer. So our Council is now very thin on the ground. If anyone would like to join us, please let me know!

Mark Walton

Peace Day Service Sunday 20th September 2015, Hereford Cathedral

On Sunday 20th September, as an observance of The international Day of Peace (on Monday 21st September), the Herefordshire interfaith Group held a Peace service at Hereford Cathedral. The service started with candle lighting by representatives of the different faith groups gathered. The service included music and readings from 8 faiths or more, also including a Jewish contribution (reading on Peace from Rabbi John Rayner, and singing of Lo Yisa Goy – Nation shall not lift up sword against nation) led by Julian and myself. In all, this was a lovely event, which felt open and inclusive, and the Interfaith group are hoping to hold more events over the coming year.

Cherry Wolfe

Summer Events

A Report on Jewish Christian Bible Week 2015

In August this year, I attended the 47th International Jewish Christian Bible Week at Haus Ohrbeck near Osnabrueck in Germany. My first experience of this rather unique gathering was in 2006 – and since then I have returned to it six times. Bible Week is the sort of thing that people go back to – sometimes year after year. What is so special about it?

It was founded in 1968 by Rabbi Jonathan Magonet, then a young rabbinic student, together with some older Catholic sisters. They were no doubt inspired by that huge shift in the Church’s attitude to Jews, marked by the publication of Vatican encyclical Nostra Aestate. From then onwards, for more than 40 years, Jews and Christians from Germany, England, the Netherlands, Israel, the USA and other countries have been coming together each summer to study biblical texts against the background of the two traditions. Rabbi Magonet later became the Principal of Leo Baeck College, and among those who come from UK, there is always a contingent who have connections of one sort or other with Leo Baeck. Rabbi Jonathan, now retired and a grandfather, continues to play a key role in Bible Week. From the playful exercise on the first evening to accustom us to the theme (and each other), through his sermon at the Sabbath liturgy, to the singing on the last night of three special songs fiercely prescribed by custom, his is a presiding presence.

However, the day to day running and leadership of the event is managed by a highly competent team which is also representative of the diverse participants. Each year, one particular book from the Hebrew scriptures is taken as the subject of study in the groups that take place every morning for five days. This year there were 11 of such groups, and each participant is attached to one of them. The tasks of the groups range from ‘Intensive study of the Hebrew Text’, through to a ‘Creative response to the text through Visual (or other) arts’. And then there’s also the Children’s group.

A Children’s group? Why on earth would there be one of those in a gathering apparently devoted to such studious pursuits? The fact is that Bible Week is not quite what it seems from the label. In many ways, it’s more like a huge house party where you meet up each year with friends – people active in their professions and communities, older people including some of the very old, younger ones including young families (and even some teenagers) to discuss, argue, play and celebrate together in a well established way – also remembering those who have passed on, and welcoming those who have joined us for the first time. In fact, there are always newcomers. This year more people applied than ever before. 136 people attended, with ages ranging from 4 months to 80 years, but still there was a waiting list, and someone who had to drop out at the last minute could straight away be replaced.

But what of the text? This year our text was Qohelet (Ecclesiastes), one of the five Megillot and a book which in many ways sits oddly in the Hebrew canon. Its writer seems not at all to engage with the God of Abraham and Isaac, who delivered Israel from Egypt, and is zealous for the keeping of his covenant. Was Qohelet then a world-weary sage for whom ‘everything is vanity/futility’ and ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ ? For whom God is a distant and passive ‘elohim’ unconcerned with any human affairs? Or is he someone who is subtly mocking the worldly wisdom and popular philosophy of the early Hellenistic age, and at last affirms that, although God’s purpose for us is ultimately unknowable, ‘the sum of the matter, when all is said and done, is to revere God and keep his commandments’?

These were the kind of questions that we discussed in our groups, and they were also addressed in the three main lectures, one by a Jewish scholar, one by a Christian scholar, and one who is chosen only in relation to their special expertise in the text of this year. The opinions of the scholars at these three lectures are always respectfully listened to, but it is by no means only they who have a chance to speak. Most afternoons and some evenings, anyone is free to offer a ‘Speaker’s Corner’ topic or some ‘Fringe’ entertainment, and many do so. Nor is it only those with intellectual or scholarly contributions who get a chance to shine. Musical, artistic or comic talents are much in demand – specially at the Apodosis (concluding concert & talent show) on the last night.

This aim of making everyone feel included seems to be the hallmark of Bible Week, whether it’s keeping a balance between Jewish or Christian, German or English speaking, women and men, Catholic and Protestant, young and old. With all these to include, the weekends are liturgically rich, and sometimes a trifle overwhelming! But there is also a beauty about the harmonious interfaith cooperation and mutual respect, which I have rarely seen elsewhere. The majority of Jews present are from the progressive wings of Judaism, but those with a more Orthodox orientation are also catered for. All food for the week is vegetarian, but at least one family has stricter requirements in respect of food – and the kitchen is well able to cope with special diets, whether kosher or lactose free!

There is no doubt that Bible Week has been in some sense constructed around Rabbi Jonathan, his unique vision and teaching capacity. Yet, in one of the songs he composed – and is never allowed not to sing every year at the Apodosis – he affectionately honours the memory of those Catholic sisters who were his fellow founders. ‘Who is bound and who is free?’ goes its poignant refrain, gently suggesting that those who chose to live a ‘restricted’ life of religious commitment, may have something important to teach about the nature of real freedom.

But when all is said and done (to borrow a phrase from Qohelet) it is somehow, by an unspoken consensus, the Jews who are the hosts at this unique event, even in (perhaps specially in) its distinctive inclusivity. Here on German soil, where Jews were brutally driven out to their deaths more than 50 years ago, descendants of the survivors now offer a very particular kind of hospitality to those who come in order to learn, to understand the lessons of that history, and to share with each other the search for wisdom in our traditions.

Angela West

Limmud in the Woods

Over August Bank holiday weekend, myself, my wife Cherry, and our daughter Maya attended Limmud in the Woods, which is the only event of the many organised by the Limmud Jewish Education movement, which is held under canvas, and for that reason also creates a stronger community of it’ s members, than perhaps other larger Limmud events. For four days we camped in a lovely setting – a large open space, which indeed was surrounded by woods, which also played a part in some of the events that took place over the period. Each member of the impromptu Limmud community was also asked to contribute 4 hours of their time over the 4 days towards maintaining the camp and doing necessary chores from putting up fences, or setting up floodlights in the woods, to chopping spring onions for salad for 120 people.

The programme is as varied as you could imagine, from sessions on the environment, Jewish meditation, and T’ai Chi, to study of biblical Text, kashrut, wild and edible plants, and of course debate on the Middle East and Israel. So there is always something to suit all tastes and levels of Jewish interest and orthodoxy. This is one of the wonderful things about Limmud in that it can hold within its format a wide range of Jewish practice, as well as cater for all ages and backgrounds.

Workshops run all day from early morning running or yoga sessions at 8 a.m., through to 6 p.m. when there is dinner, and, although it is tempting to go for a walk in the woods, or just spend time reading by your tent, I found that most days I was keen to attend my full complement of sessions. As usual, the only difficulty with Limmud is being sure you’ve made the right choice of session when each one has something of particular interest. Do I go to a workshop on a novel Israeli approach to developing communication in communities , or a session on Literature and poetry? Feeling what is right for you at any moment of the day is an important task.

One of the most inspiring workshops, for all of us in my family was one which ran over two sessions given by a young woman, Sara Moon, who had cycled from the UK (Sheffield) to the West Bank (admittedly, taking boats for two parts of the journey), which was a particular mission of hers, socially , environmentally and politically. It was clear from her talk that she was very keen to develop her knowledge, experience and engagement both with the Palestinians who lived on the West Bank, and with whom she picked olives, and with the Israelis, where she wanted to find out more about her Jewish roots and history. The cycle journey, from which she showed us some wonderful photos, was very much a journey of discovery for her, and one in which she received such kindness and support from people along the way, that it was also a story of humanity.

To return to the picture of Limmud, two further elements need to be mentioned. The evening entertainment was also a novel experience in many ways. From bonfires, to a Ceilidh, to an impromptu discussion café, and a late night ’silent disco’ as well as further talks and films, there was always a choice. One of the least expected and yet most enjoyable for me was the silent disco, DJ’d by the ‘Rebbetsen’ , where you listened to music through a set of headphones, and could dance to the music if you wished, but if you took the headphones off there was blissful silence, and you could sip a drink from the bar either in musical or quiet mood.

Finally, no report of Limmud event such as this would be complete without reference to the unique Shabbat experience. From the alternative musical progressive evening service held in a stepped mini amphitheatre in the woods, to the first ever Limmud attempt to combine liberal/reform and orthodox services into one, for the Shabbat morning service, this was definitely something different. Before Havdalah many of sat out under the darkening skies singing niggunim (wordless melodies) until it was time for the ceremony. Shabbat gave you a chance to socialise more with others, when the pace of the day was less, but only slightly less frantic than other days in the camp.

If you can cope with the camping, and would like a Limmud where the numbers are much smaller than Limmud conference or even one day events, I would recommend this as a true learning experience, after which you may never quite see the associations of being Jewish in the same way as before.

Julian Brown

Hereford Cemetery Stones

Following our rededication of gravestones at Hereford Cemetery pre-Rosh Hashanah, Susan Moore has kindly sent in information she gave us during the ceremony re past members of the community. Perhaps we can build on this to create a community history archive. There will be more on this in the next edition of HJC newsletter.

:

1 HJC members at rededication ceremony

Markers and gravestones in Jewish section, Hereford Cemetery

Rabbi Bernard Hooker

When we started The Herefordshire Jewish Community, Rabbi Hooker and his wife Eileen had retired to Ledbury. He was born in London in 1922 and trained at Jews’ college. He was the youngest Chaplain to be appointed to the Armed Forces serving on the Rhine and in the Middle East. He later served as Minister to the Birmingham Progressive Synagogue and the Wembley Liberal Synagogue until in 1965 he was invited to become the Spiritual Leader of the Jewish Community in Jamaica. Whilst there, he wrote many books, serving the community for 10 years.

On his return to London he became Minister of the North London Progressive Synagogue and was a Vice President of the ULPS for many years.

He was a marvellous support for us giving much advice on starting and running the group and leading services ourselves. He conducted many of our High Holy Day, and Seder Services.

Marion and Gerald Weisbloom

Marion and Gerald lived in Malvern and joined the group shortly after it started. They were friendly and enthusiastic members, working on the Committee and often offering the use of their home for meetings and services. They both had a love of music and also for walking. A small group of us had many an enjoyable “Sunday Ramble” usually ending at a Public House for lunch! After Marion’s death Gerry served as Chairman of the Community.

Max and Ilsa Conu

Max and Ilsa joined the Group from the first meeting. They were both older members and retired – I believe Max had had and Engineering Business in Hereford. Ilsa came to many of the services and they were both particularly pleased and enthusiastic for the provision of the Cemetery area!

Ilsa enjoyed playing Bridge and had been a member of the Bowls Club. She also enjoyed Horse Racing and indeed her “wake” was held at the Racecourse.

Joseph Collard

I know little about him, as his wife Miriam was the member of the Community and would come with their daughter Yudit. Miriam once appeared on Mastermind! The funeral service was conducted by (then Student Rabbi) Janet Burden who many of us knew, with the ashes later interred at Hereford.

Josephine and George Waldren

Again they were very early members and supporters of the Community, but already well on in years by the time it started. I don’t think they had any children.

Irvine Rose

Irvine Rose had lived for many years in Hereford and although retired when I met him, he had had a hairdressing salon in the city. He did remember a much earlier Orthodox Jewish group in Hereford which died out because of lack of members. He helped us a lot with the Hebrew prayers, and he was survived by his son (Michael I think).

David Springer

Many of you will remember David who served as our Chairman for many years from the beginning of the Community. He was a wonderful and friendly person with a huge enthusiasm for the Group. He had lived in Hereford since 1969 and was one of the first people to respond to Josephine’s advertisement in 1991, coming with his cousin to the first meeting in December. David used his particular strengths to work for the Community, not least being in obtaining all the items needing for our Passover celebrations, travelling to London and Birmingham as necessary. His wife Mary did and still does all the cooking for these wonderful evenings. David had a Music Shop in Hereford and used his considerable keyboard skills in making cassettes of the traditional Jewish melodies so that we could learn them and sing them in our services. He also took upon himself the compiling and reading out of the names of loved ones in the memorial service on Kol Nidre. Committee meetings with David were great fun with lots of jokes. He came to rest in the Jewish Cemetery far too early.

Marcelle Greenbaum

We were contacted by Social Services when Marcelle was placed in a small self managed group home near Malvern. She was Jewish by birth but following a road accident in London had suffered a brain injury and had been placed by her family in a Mental Institution, which was then closed. She loved coming to our meetings, especially ones held in our homes, and hearing songs remembered from her youth. She was a sweet person but we never met any of her family. It is a shame that her grave is not marked in any way, and perhaps a small subscription could be raised by the Community to pay for a simple marker.

Contributed by Susan Moore (formerly Kirkhope)

Hereford Food Bank

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

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

Items requested by Hereford Food Bank are:

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

Thank you. Any queries please contact them on 01432 353347

 

Welfare

We wish Alan Toffel a good recovery. Alan came to our Rosh Hashanah service, and has been staying in Hereford since then, through a period of illness.

There’s still chance to donate to our

HJC Charity High Holyday Appeal

Our two charities for this year are:

St Michael’s Hospice, Hereford (http://www.st-michaels-hospice.org.uk/)

and Children of Peace (charity for Israel & Middle East https://www.childrenofpeace.org.uk/)

We are also making additional donations this year in aid of refugees to Medecins sans Frontieres.

Please send your donations for this to our interim Treasurer – Alison Turner

Forthcoming Events

Limmud Conference – Birmingham, 27 – 31 December 2015

When? Limmud Conference will be taking place from Sunday 27 to Thursday 31 December 2015. It will be preceded by Limmud Shabbat from Friday 25 to Saturday 26 December. We look forward to you joining us there!

Where? The hotels surrounding Pendigo Lake, just outside Birmingham, UK. More detailed information on our exciting new site can be found by visiting the frequently asked questions page. See: http://limmud.org/conference/

South West Regional Shabbaton Communities involved will include Bristol, Gloucestershire, Oxford, Reading, Wessex and Herefordshire.

LIBERAL JUDAISM SOUTH WEST REGIONAL SHABBATON A relaxing day of Jewish learning, services and community Saturday 28th November 2015, 10am to 6pm Jury’s Inn, Swindon, Fleming Way, SN1 2NG. For full details see poster attached to your email. Early booking if possible and no later than 20 November, please. We will try to coordinate travel for HJC members wishing to attend.

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

Book online: www.tunyurl.com/southwestshabbaton

Or call Aaron Abraham at Liberal Judaism on 0207 631 9830

London Klezmer Quartet –Bridges Centre, Monmouth, Saturday 5th December@7.30 p.m. This is one of the premier Klezmer groups in the country, and we are lucky that they will be playing relatively locally. This should be a wonderful evening, so do save the date.

Tickets (£15) from Mark Walton or available online (see below):

 http://www.wyevalleymusic.org.uk/tckts_online.html

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 November

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

Date

Event

Time

Place

Friday 2nd October

Simchat Torah Service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

7 p.m.

Bridges Centre, Monmouth NP25 5AS

Saturday 24th October

Shabbat Service, Lech Lecha, led by Student Rabbi Igor Zinkov

11 a.m.

Ale House, Colwall WR13 6HJ

Sat 21st November

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

11 a.m.

Ale House, Colwall

WR13 6HJ

Saturday 12th December

Chanukah service and party, led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

3 p.m.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford HR2 6HE

Other Events of Interest

Saturday 28 November

South West Regional Shabbaton

www.tunyurl.com/southwestshabbaton

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Jury’s Inn, Swindon

SN1 2NG

Saturday 5 December

London Klezmer Quarter performance,

7.30 p.m.

Bridges Centre, Monmouth. NP25 5AS

Herefordshire Jewish Community Newsletter August/September 2015

Editorial

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

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

Julian Brown

In this edition:

Chair Chat Anne Frank Day Danny Rich Service

Month of Reflection Book Review Hereford Food Bank

Etgar Keret –Israeli Essayist Forthcoming Events

CHAIR CHAT

NEW LJ SIDDUR

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

REFORM MOVEMENT AND PATRILINEALITY

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

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

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

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

Mark Walton

Anne Frank Day

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

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

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

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

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

Julian Brown

Shabbat Service 11 July with Rabbi Danny Rich

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

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

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

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

Hereford Food Bank

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

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

Items requested by Hereford Food Bank are:

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

Thank you. Any queries please contact them on 01432 353347

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

BBooook Review – The Dogs and the Wolves by Irène Némirovsky

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

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

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

Etgar Keret – The Seven Good Years – Comment

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

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

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

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

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

Cherry Wolfe

Month of Reflection CCJ – If not now, when?

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

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

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

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

  • Arrange a reciprocal visit between the local Church and Synagogue

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

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

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

Council for Christians and Jews

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

If not now, when?

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

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

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

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

Reform & Liberal Judaism

Forthcoming Events

Limmud in the Woods

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Sunday 13 September

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

4.00 p.m. &

5.30 p.m.

Hereford Cemetery

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

Tuesday 22 September

Yom Kippur Kol Nidrei service- led by Julian Brown

7 p.m.

Catholic Church Ledbury t.b.c.

Friday 2nd October

Simchat Torah Service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

7 p.m.

Bridges Centre, Monmouth

Saturday 24th October

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

11 a.m.

Ale House, Colwall

Sat 21st November

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

11 a.m.

Ale House, Colwall

Saturday 12th December

Chanukah service and party led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

3 p.m.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford HR2 6HE

Other Events of Interest

Saturday 28 November

South West Regional Shabbaton

Day event

Swindon

Saturday 5 December

London Klezmer Quarter performance,

evening

Bridges Centre, Monmouth.

Subscriptions

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

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

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 September

Please send in contributions in WORD or pdf format if possible, but articles sent in by post are also welcome. In general contributions should be no longer than 500 – 750 words, but longer contributions may be included if appropriate. Pictures are also welcome, but please try to keep image sizes small and below 1 Mb. All contributions are welcome but depending on format, the editor reserves the right to edit or hold over to a future edition if needed.

Book Review – The Dogs and the Wolves by Irène Némirovsky