HJC Newsletter Aug/Sept 2017

Editorial

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

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

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

Julian Brown

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

CHAIR CHAT JULY 2017

1. Ann Frank Service at Saxon Hall.

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

AnnaMarkSaxon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. AGM

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

5. London Klezmer Quartet.

HJCKlez

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

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

Day of Celebration at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue

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

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

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

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

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

Alison Turner (edited).

Alison Turner continues:

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

JW3 Parent and Baby Fest

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

HJCJW3

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

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

Shabbat service with Rabbi Margaret Jacobi

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

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

Yiddish

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

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

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

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

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

My own Hebrew Journey

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

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

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

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

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

Julian Brown

Monmouth Hebrew Group

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

Learning Biblical Hebrew – Paul Hocking

HJCDeadScrolls

נֵר־לְרַגְלִי דְבָרֶךָ

וְאוֹר לִנְתִיבָתִי׃

A lamp to my feet your Word

& A light to my path. Ps 119:105

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Hocking

Film Review – Left Luggage

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

Julian Brown

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

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

Forthcoming Events

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

Subscriptions

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

Deadline for next newsletter will be 22nd September 2017

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

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

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

Membership and Welfare

Chair

Cherry Wolfe

Mark Walton

mark.walton@bridgescentre.org.uk

Tel: 01594 530721

Treasurer

Newsletter Editor /Membership

Alison Turner

 

Julian Brown

 

Learning Circle Coordinator / Web Manager and Archivist

Cultural Coordinator

Alison Turner 

Ann Levy

 

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

High Holyday Dates

Wednesday 20th September

Erev Rosh Hashanah Service and Gathering

6.30 p.m.

Home of Eva Mendelsson, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire

GLJC Services

Thursday 21st Sept

Rosh Hashanah Morning service

1100 – 1400

t.b.a.

Friday 29th Sept

Kol Nidre

1900 – 2030

Up Hatherley Village Hall , Coldpool Lane, Cheltenham

Gloucestershire GL51 6JA

Sat 30th Sept

Yom Kippur Morning Service

1100 – 1430

t.b.a.

Sat 30th Sept

Yom Kippur Walk /Study session

1430 – 1630

t.b.a.

Sat 30th Sept

Yom Kippur Afternnon/Yizkor/Concluding service

1700 – 1930

t.b.a.

Sat 30th Sept

Breaking Fast/Chavurah supper

1930 – 2030

t.b.a.

Future HJC services and other Events

Friday 13th October

London Klezmer Quartet Concert

7.30 p.m.

Savoy Theatre, Church Street
Monmouth, Gwent
NP25 3BU

Saturday 14th October

Simchat Torah Service

11 a.m.

Bridges Centre, Monmouth NP25 5AS

Saturday 4th November t.b.c.

Lech Lecha Shabat Service led by student Rabbi

11 a.m.

Burgage Hall, Ledbury t.b.c.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Herefordshire Jewish Community

Erev Rosh Hashanah Booking Form 2017

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

Cost: £7.50 per person.

Name (s)…………………………………………………………….

Number of persons………..

Meal preference (state number required if more than 1)

meat vegetarian

Cheque enclosed (payable to Herefordshire Jewish Community)

£………………….(amount)

Please return booking forms to:

Mark Walton

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

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

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

l preference (state number required if more than 1)

meat vegetarian

Cheque enclosed (payable to Herefordshire Jewish Community)

£………………….(amount)

HJC Newsletter Shavuoth – June/July 2017

Editorial

This edition seems quite a full one. Having had our Community AGM where we had some discussion on ways our community might go in the future, we now seem to be in a time of plenty of activity. The Festival of Shavuoth, which is both a Spring Harvest festival and also a commemoration of the Giving of the Ten Commandments is one we don’t always mark so much. However, this year we have had a joint Shavuoth Service with GLJC, which turned out to be a successful collaboration between the two communities, and this newsletter includes an article by Rabbi Anna Gerrard on Counting of the Omer, as well as there being an interesting discussion on the Book of Ruth by Angela West. Mark Walton also made some insightful remarks on Ruth in his short ‘drasha’/discussion at this service which brought up how the outsider in our communities may well turn out to be a significant player in our history. So there is a lot we can learn from this story and this time of year. We also look forward to our annual Interfaith Anne Frank service at Saxon Hall, which will be attended by representatives from Hereford City and the Cathedral, and we hope also members of other faiths. JB

In this edition: HJC Chat, Counting the Omer, Notes on The Book of Ruth, Story of Anne Frank, Eva Schloss talk, Book Reviews, Film Review.

HJC Chat

Pesach Seder

RosalieEvaHJC

We had another successful HJC Seder at Saxon Hall, this year led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard. This gave us an opportunity to use the new LJ Hagaddoth which had a mixed reception. Anna chose to include a number of alternative readings, such as one for Miriam’s cup (as well as cup of Elijah) which made for interesting discussion, but it was sometimes confusing keeping up with which page of the Hagaddah we were on. One idea is to alternate our Seders with one year using the ‘Old’ version and one year using the new one. In her usual style, Anna also surprised us with her creative version of the song Ehad Mi Yodeah/Who knows one? For this, she distributed picture cards (see photo) , each of which had to be raised up at the appropriate moment when that number was called in the song – so rather like a Pesach Bingo. This led to much amusement, as well as much more communal singing than we often have. This was also the second year we had food provided by Cherry Wolfe, which was much appreciated, and we also had some excellent helpers from Saxon Hall who helped all the practical arrangements run smoothly. I would also like to thank all HJC Council and other members who were so efficient in getting the room set up and looking fit for purpose for our Seder.

Counting the Omer

There is a special period of time between Pesach and Shavuot – the period of the Omer.  The Counting of the Omer is a 49 day process that takes us from the springtime potential of Pesach to the summertime fulfilment of Shavuot.  Having told the story of the Exodus as is we ourselves came out of Egyptian oppression, we find ourselves wandering for 49 days before we finally receive the Torah on Mount Sinai.  The journey is one of confusion.  After the initial elation of the Red Sea crossing, the Israelites are lost and directionless, unsure whether freedom is better than slavery after all.  It is a period of transition and a test of patience.

Agriculturally, this is also time of potential, risk and uncertainty.  Seeds have been sown and the precise combination of warmth, moisture, light, protection and nutrition is now critical to their well-being and the crop that will appear in the coming months.  Too much water or too little light, too much heat or too little nitrogen… and the eventual crop could be

adversely affected.  One night without protection from slugs and the crop could disappear completely!  It is a risk we are willing to take and the rewards are great – but the process is nerve-wracking and lengthy.

That is the essence of the Counting of the Omer – nerve-wracking and length.  We are supposed to feel like we are in limbo and we are supposed to long for the end point – the festival of Shavuot.  Soon we will arrive at Sinai and our annual Shavuot service, this year a joint event with Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community.  It is a time to celebrate, receive and be joyous.  It is a time to put flowers in our hair and embrace summer and all its abundance.  We will read the ten commandments, learn about the book of Ruth and hold a cheesecake competition – a true sign that summer is here and the earth has provided.

Rabbi Anna Gerrard

Shavuoth Service with GLJC

We have just had our joint Shavuoth service with Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community, the first time we have had a formal joint activity for several years.

Seven members of HJC came along to the service in Up Hatherley, in a delightful small Village Hall which seems very suited to purpose. Shavuoth, as Rabbi Anna Gerard explained, is both a Spring harvest festival, and a day to mark the commemoration of the giving of the 10 Commandments, which were read out in the Torah piece. Following the Torah reading, members of HJC read sections of the book of Ruth in both Hebrew and English, followed by some interesting comment and discussion led by Mark Walton. Apart from the service, the highlight of the morning, of course, was the cheesecake competition, for which you had to taste all three cakes on offer in order to be able to vote for the winner. There are plans afoot for next year to have a GLJC Bake off competition, so are there any takers in HJC who feel up to the challenge? JB

Ruth’s Story – Comments by Angela West

HJCSHavuot

The Book of Ruth is not only about Ruth but also about Naomi – about the struggle for survival of these two women against hunger, loss and social isolation. Interpreters have in the past seen it as a lovely little story, a charming mini-novel. But isn’t this to trivialize it somewhat? More recently, some scholars have shown that it is not just narrative entertainment, but it has some theological axes to grind. In fact, it is part of a legal argument within the bible, with Ruth and Naomi having star parts in this drama.

When Naomi and her husband leave Bethlehem (which means the House of Bread) they have no bread – they are in the midst of a famine. In Moab, they are well received and their sons marry Moabite women. Then tragedy strikes Naomi. First her husband dies then both her sons. She’s utterly bereft and like Job she complains bitterly to God, but unlike Job, she doesn’t just complain or try to ‘sue God’.

But Naomi is not just an embittered old woman. She is resourceful and she and her loyal daughter-in-law come up with a cunning plan for survival which involves making use of two legal institutions current in Israelite society. One is levirate marriage: the obligation for a man to marry his brother’s wife, so as to provide for her and produce children that can preserve the family’s inheritance. The second is the custom of redemption, whereby when a particular family hits hard times and is threatened with destitution, a near relative has the moral obligation to buy up their land so that the family don’t lose it completely and become debt slaves.

So when Naomi identifies Boaz as ‘one of our redeeming kinsmen’ this is what she’s thinking of. And when Ruth, who goes even further than Naomi’s instructions and effectively proposes marriage to Boaz on the threshing floor, she’s linking these two legal institutions in a novel way. Boaz wasn’t actually her dead husband’s brother, but he was close enough to become a redeemer for her and Naomi. So in a sense, she is adapting these laws and bringing them up to date for her situation. And Boaz accepts her interpretation.

Of course, the scheme devised by Naomi and Ruth is actually a very daring one. If Boaz hadn’t been the decent sort of fellow that he clearly was, concerned to do right by the two widows, the older and the younger, it could all have backfired horribly for them.

And there is of course another very important strand in the story. Ruth is a foreigner: and in Deuteronomy 23 there is a verse which prohibits the acceptance of Moabites into the Israelite community. No welfare or benefits were to be extended to them! This is because according to that text, they had refused to show any hospitality to the Israelites on their journey from Egypt. Also in the Book of Nehemiah, when the Israelites had returned to Jerusalem after the exile, this condemnation is strongly reiterated by Ezra. He declares that there are to be no more mixed marriages.

So how then did Ruth and Boaz and Naomi get away with what they were doing, since it seems to be forbidden in Torah? One scholar has shown that the narrative of the Book of Ruth in effect counteracts the argument that the Moabites should be excluded because they were inhospitable to Israel. It does this by showing that Naomi and her hungry family were well treated when they emigrated to Moab. So now Boaz takes the lead in getting the community to accept this foreign born woman, who has shown such loyalty to her Judean mother-in-law and respect for the customs and laws of her people.

The elders and the people compare her to the matriarchs Rachel and Leah who ‘built up the House of Israel’: and indeed, according to the genealogy, Obed the son of Ruth and Boaz becomes the grandfather of King David. In the scriptures, the political history of Israel is told through family stories like this one.

And as Naomi holds her grandson in her arms, the women around her acknowledge that all her wretchedness and loss have at last been turned into blessing through the devotion of her daughter-in-law who, as they say ‘is better to you than seven sons’. All three of the main characters in this story show hesed in their actions, and thus demonstrate the loving-kindness of the God of Israel, who protects the rights of the disadvantaged, especially the widows and foreigners like Naomi and Ruth.

Anne Frank

AnneFrank

From the Jewish Women’s Archive:

On July 15, 1944, three weeks before the hiding place where she lived with her family and several others was discovered, Anne Frank wrote in her diary: “It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.” Anne Frank’s diary, particularly these sentences, became one of the central symbols of the Holocaust and of humanity faced with suffering: the strength of spirit that led a young girl to write such words after two years of imprisonment hidden in a small, crowded attic, decreed on her by senseless evil; and the opening which her words offer for a new era of hope and reconciliation after a world war that claimed tens of millions of victims. These words aroused great admiration for her diary and for the girl herself. Translated into more than fifty languages, the diary sold more than thirty million copies all over the world. Streets and squares, coins and stamps bear Anne’s name, along with prizes, conventions, exhibits, memorials, schools and youth institutions, to say nothing of films and plays that bring her diary to life, and thorough research of various kinds into her character and her diary, its translations and the different uses that have been made and still are being made of it.

Dinah Porat, Jewish Women’s Archive

Eva Schloss

EvaSchloss

On 3rd April, Cherry and I went to a talk entitled After Auschwitz: How can we bring more peace into the world today? given by Eva Schloss (nee Geringer), a Holocaust survivor, who was also hidden in Amsterdam for 2 years, before being discovered by the Gestapo. Eva spoke very powerfully and clearly about her experiences of living in Amsterdam and her subsequent arrest and experience in the camps.

Eva is the half sister of Anne Frank. They were born only a month apart, lived next door to one another in Amsterdam, and played together. They both fled the Nazis in their home countries (Anne Frank from

Frankfurt in Germany, and Eva from Vienna, Austria). Eva says
“We were not best friends but we were playmates, I was sporty, while Anne was interested in books and movies and stories which I sometimes listened to.”

After the war, the link between the two families became stronger when in 1953, Eva’s mother married Otto Frank, Anne’s father, thereby making them (posthumous) stepsisters.

The War years:

Eva was arrested in May 11th 1944 on the morning of her 15th birthday. She was taken to Westerbork transit camp and then days later, together with her family put on a train to Auschwitz. There, as reported

when they arrived, males and females were separated and Eva never saw her brother again. Eva’s mother ,Fritzi had the foresight to make Eva wear a long coat which made her look older than her 15 years, thus saving her from being directed straight to the gas chamber by the infamous Dr Josef Mengele who stood at the top of a ramp sizing up all the new arrivals’.

Eva survived 9 months in Auschwitz-Birkenau. After the war, Eva did not speak of her experiences, as like many Holocaust survivors she found this too traumatic, and also said that people did not want to hear those stories in the years after the war. In 1986 she was asked to say a few words about her past, at the opening of an Anne Frank exhibition in London, and the words began to pour out of her. Since then she has given talks constantly and feels better for having shared her story with so many people.

Having said that, her story was not easy to hear. The depths of the Polish winter, the stories of camp residents on work duty going out into the snow without shoes because they had been lost, or of the pitiful thin gruel that was called an evening meal that was all they were given to eat day after day – just simple facts of daily life in Auschwitz make your blood freeze.

After the War life for Eva was not easy, but Otto Frank was instrumental in helping her start a new life in London as a photographer, and gave her the Leica camera with which he had taken the iconic shots of Anne, which are now familiar the world over.

In 1999 Eva Schloss joined United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan signing the Anne Frank Peace Declaration, along with a niece of Raul Wallenberg, a man who also rescued thousands of Jews in Budapest.  Eva joins many courageous individuals who work tirelessly to end the violence and bigotry that continue to plague our world. 

Sources: http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/389709/Eva-Schloss-Anne-Frank-was-my-good-friend

https://www.alternatives.org.uk/event/after-auschwitz-how-can-we-bring-more-peace-world-today

Book reviews

HJCPsalms

For thou art with me: the healing power of Psalms by Rabbi Samuel Chiel and Henry Dreher, Rodale Books, 2000. The Psalms are a traditional Jewish source for times of hardship, this is a selection of 15 psalms excerpted to include verses that relate to healing, recovery and faith in God in the midst of crisis. I write this on the day we took part in a minute’s silence for those obliterated in Manchester and our flag flies at half mast. This book has prayers for healing, spiritual coping, acceptance and recovery. Many of us who have been bereaved have learnt the 5 stages of mourning, we hope to come eventually to acceptance. There was once a book produced by Lily Montagu and Rudi Brasch called A little book of comfort: for Jewish people in time of sorrow, published in 1948 and I think this book of Psalms is part of that tradition of readings and spiritual passages. Sources and examples are widespread, Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Heschel for example. It is more about illness than sudden catastrophe but the reminder to treasure each day and to share our burdens with the Eternal One are always worthwhile. I recommend this book to anyone who is in need of healing, and to anyone who wonders where God is in all of the bad things that happen in the world. The chapters are short and meaningful, the prayers can stay with us always.

Blue Horizons, Blue Heaven, Bolts from the Blue by Rabbi Lionel Blue, Coronet Books, 1987, 1988, 1990.

HJCBlue

These are just 3 of my books by the esteemed Reform Rabbi Lionel Blue z’l and they consist of short pieces on many everyday subjects, getting up in the morning, food, travel, religious holidays, politicians as well as faith, often found in unexpected places. For a good number of years Rabbi Blue had the God slot on radio 4’s Thought for the Day and tried to cheer people up and give us the strength to face the day. Families are frequent concerns, jokes and recipes abound in his work. These are pieces on finding and recognising true religion in ordinary life, true goodness and a hearty dose of common sense. In one way they are an easy read, in another they have profound messages, so they are easy and worthwhile to dip into and to seek out.

All available from usual online sources.

You will not have my hate by Antoine Leiris, Harvill Secker, 2016  

This is about the Bataclan attacks, from the point of view of one of those waiting for a loved one to come home, and then finding she will never come home.  It is very clear about how hard it is to go on, even to tell his infant son, and how the community rallied round, though not always in the most helpful ways. He refuses to live a life of hatred and remorse or allow his son to grow up in such an atmosphere. Deeply moving, very direct and personal, ultimately hopeful. This is one of those stories of what goes on when the cameras have moved away, that is well worth while reading, though not an easy read emotionally. 

(Available from Herefordshire Libraries)

Alison Turner

Film Review

Ida

HJCIda

This a sometimes bleak, but never the less intriguing tale of Ida, a young Polish novitiate, about to take her Vows to become a Nun, who suddenly finds out she is Jewish and that her parents were murdered during the Second World War. Set in 1962 in a grey Communist Poland, and shot in black and white, it is a both an insight into the Poland which many of our ancestors may have come from, and also contains stories of Poland’s more recent history.

For me the strength of the film comes from the relationship between Ida and her Aunt Wanda, who could not be more different in character, but who together set out on a journey, both geographical and emotional, to find out the truth about Ida’s parents’ murders. Wanda is a chain smoking, hard drinking lover of all the indulgences that life has to offer, but who, at the same time, has had a high profile career as a State prosecutor on early post war Poland. It is an almost surreal journey, but reality is always stranger than fiction, and it feels there is both truth and story mixed together in this film.

Detailed review can be found here: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/02/movies/ida-about-an-excavation-of-truth-in-postwar-poland.html?_r=0

Julian Brown

Forthcoming Events

Anne Frank Interfaith Service – Saturday 10th June 2017, Saxon Hall Hereford. We are hoping to have representatives of other faiths present at this service which will be led this year by Rabbi Anna Gerrard.  The Mayor of Hereford has accepted an invitation to attend, along with the canon of Hereford Cathedral. Please come along to support this special event in our calendar.

Shabbat Service with Rabbi Margaret Jacobi, Saturday 22nd July, Colwall Village Hall.

Deadline for next newsletter will be 22nd July 2017

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

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

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Saturday 10th June Ann Frank service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard – open to other faiths 11 a.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE
Sunday 18th June Film Session – Ushpezin, and Tea 4 p.m. Belmont Community Centre, Eastholme Avenue, Hereford HR2 7UQ
Saturday 22nd July Shabbat Service led by Rabbi Margaret Jacobi 11 a.m. Ale House, Mill Lane, Colwall,

Herefordshire WR13 6HE

High Holyday Dates

Wednesday 20th September Erev Rosh Hashanah Service and Gathering t.b.c. Home of Eva Mendelsson. Details in next newsletter.
Thursday 21st Sept Rosh Hashanah Morning service – GLJC t.b.c. t.b.c.
Friday 29th Sept Kol Nidre

Sat 30th Sept Yom Kippur

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

Email Chair
hjc@liberaljudaism.org Mark Walton

mark.walton@bridgescentre.org.uk

Tel: 01594 530721 (after 6pm or weekends)

Liberal Judaism Liberal Judaism Resource Bank
Our parent body

Home

 

resources for all http://ljresourcebank.org/
   
   

HJC Newsletter Pesach Edition – April/May 2017

Editorial

As we move between Purim and Pesach – two Jewish festivals both, in very different ways, telling stories of persecution and hatred of the Jews, it’s a good time to reflect on past and present. Are we living in a different age now, an age of interfaith understanding and cooperation, or are we in an age of “fear” against “the other” as illustrated by so many examples in the media, such as the recent airline travel ban relating to Muslim countries. This edition explores these themes – reflections on the story of Purim, a very brief look at the Pesach story (blink, or you may miss it) and more thorough look at Interfaith, as exemplified by the recent Gloucester Cathedral exhibition.

Two forthcoming events will give us an opportunity to explore these themes further. In June, we have our annual Anne Frank interfaith service, to be held at Saxon Hall Hereford, to which we will invite members of different faiths. In a different way, we also having our first (for a long time) joint service with Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish community, which will be an opportunity to create or renew relationships with members of another community.

The recent controversial discussions arising from the death of Martin McGuinness show us that there is not necessarily an easy distinction between those who are ‘the other’ and those who can help create peace. The Purim story, however fantastic it may be, tells the story of how an interfaith marriage resulted in the saving of the Jews. We need to remember, as highlighted the recent tributes to the Westminster attacks, that communication with other faiths and those of other views is something we must continue to value. JB

In this edition:

Chair Chat: Comment on LJS Hebrew Day Tu B’Shvat Seder Film review – Denial Gloucester Interfaith exhibition Purim Comment Pesach k’neidlach recipe Book Reviews – Christian and Jewish Women in Britain, 1880-1940; East-West street

CHAIR CHAT

1. “KEEP CALM AND LEARN HEBREW” AT THE LIBERAL JEWISH SYNAGOGUE.

This was a great study day, particularly for those interested in the Hebrew language. There were a variety of different learning tracks, ranging from “Hebrew from scratch” to “Speaking Ivrit”. I chose sessions based on textual analysis, which actually encompassed a lot of grammatical points. I particularly enjoyed Rabbi Alexandra Wright’s session on a portion from Jonah in which she introduced us to the concept of the conversive Vav (as opposed to the conjunctive Vav)! I was constantly surprised by the intricacies (and difficulties) of the Hebrew language and was impressed by the knowledge of those in my group (some of whom were recent converts or were in the process of converting) which put my barmitzvah class Hebrew, based on thrice weekly cheder sessions, to shame. I also enjoyed Rabbi Rachel Benjamin’s session on Psalm 23 and found Rabbi Rene Pferzel’s afternoon sessions on the Mishnah particularly fascinating. We ended up with a communal singing session led by Rachel Benjamin. A fantastic day which I would thoroughly recommend to anyone who wants to brush up their Hebrew. I was also struck by the vibrancy of the LJS community with their excellent educational and cultural programmes, the work they do to support asylum seekers and their wonderful triumvirate of rabbis.

2. TU B’SHVAT AND PURIM

It was a great pleasure for us to have Rabbi Anna lead these two innovative events. The Tu b’ Shvat Seder is an interesting concept and it was fascinating to hear from Anna how it evolved into the form it is today. Many thanks to Cherry for organising the food to help make the event such a meaningful and sociable evening.

Our Purim service was great fun, with the usual cacophony from assorted “gragers.” Thespian talents were displayed in Anna’s own dramatised version of the Purim story, a veritable “Purim spiel.” The story of Esther, Mordechai and Haman is one of the most enigmatic and puzzling narratives in the Old Testament but it makes for a racy story with a rather unpleasant ending. No wonder it was not celebrated during the early years of Liberal Judaism.

3. DENIAL

This film split the critics between those who felt it lacked drama and catharsis and those who felt it gave a very straightforward and clear account of the complexity of an extremely important court case. I am of the latter view and admired the way it tackled the subject without the need to patronise its viewers. The court victory in 2000 over the arch holocaust denier, David Irving, was not easily won and revealed just how labyrinthine and time-consuming the process of legally unpicking these falsehoods was. Even more worrying, was the fact that Irving’s views were believed by so many people. And, of course, although the court case resulted in a complete refutation of his work, holocaust denial has, if anything, become even stronger in recent years with the growth of radical anti-semitism. Clearly there is a warning from history here. An important film and well worth seeing.

4. JEWS AND CATHOLICS ON SKIING

On a lighter note, I was amused by this extract from an article I read recently. “David Aaronovitch has put the Jewish aversion to winter sports down to the fact that his people ‘are particularly uninterested in endangering ourselves for fun’, that Catholics, in comparison, ‘have a steady belief in their entitlement – given some properly observed formalities – to the afterlife and that they might be said to have few natural predators’.”

Esther’s Mission

As Rabbi Anna reminded us at our Purim service, the Book of Esther has the air of oriental extravagance about it. Everything is just a bit over the top, and like Jewish communities all over we celebrated it – with our own bit of dressing up and a jokey retelling of the tale (à la Anna).

So what exactly are we celebrating? Haman, feeling slighted by the king, intends the genocide of the Jews. But as a result of the intervention by the righteous Mordechai and his beautiful niece Esther – the brave but reluctant heroine – the genocide is averted. And Purim, which is the only Jewish festival not mentioned in the Torah, gets its raison d’etre from this tale.

But when we discussed it in our Hebrew class the week before, we began to realize that Esther is rather a strange text in the Hebrew canon. For there is no mention of God in it, only the enigmatic reference by Mordechai that deliverance will come ‘from another place’ (4.14) if Esther does not agree to play the role he proposes for her. The rabbis had somehow to account for the divine absence here, so they interpreted it as an instance of God being ‘hidden from view’ – but not of course actually absent. They made this point by means of a biblical proof text asking: “Where is Esther indicated in the Torah?” Answer: “In Deut.31:18: ‘I will surely hide (Heb: astir) my face’” (astir being a word play on Esther’s name).

In more recent times, some interpreters have found this ‘hiddenness’ of God less reassuring and more problematic. The Jewish philosopher Emil Fackenhenim in his book The Jewish Bible After the Holocaust claims that for the post-Shoah generation of Jews, the Book of Esther now becomes a central text – but with implications that are rather disturbing. Is the Purim story in fact an instance of where Jews achieved victory over their enemies through their own actions rather than through divine assistance? Was their victory just a series of lucky coincidences? What if the king had not been sleepless that night? Or Vashti hadn’t acted like a proto-feminist? Or Mordechai hadn’t overheard the plotters and reported it? All this becomes more poignantly real in the light of that genocide in which no help (or not enough) came from ‘another place’ and thousands of would-be Mordechais and nameless willing Esther’s never got the chance to save their people from extermination.

Yet perhaps we can rediscover the hiddenness of God in this biblical text for our own age. In his book Modernity and the Holocaust Jewish historian Zygmunt Baumann (who died recently) claimed that among the conditions that made the mass extermination of the Jews possible, the most decisive factor was that of modernity itself. For modern civilization, in its inexorable pursuit of economic progress, sets up an order which privileges only certain sections of the population and treats the rest as expendable. In the C20th Europe, the religiously rooted mythology of anti-semitism meant that the ‘expendable’ population became the Jews. Baumann returns to this theme in another book of his which I’m reading now called Wasted Lives: Modernity and its Outcasts. He shows how modernity’s global triumph intensifies the process of creating certain people as superfluous or redundant. Their role then becomes to serve as a focus for new political anxieties and security fears: categories of people, like immigrants, asylum seekers, benefit dependents, or tribal people getting in the way of progress, are treated as a form of human waste.

But this trashing of populations and people which modernity generates can be seen as incompatible the central command of Hebrew scriptures, which enjoins us to treat the life of fellow humans as holy: You shall be holy for I am holy (Lev.11.44). Perhaps Esther’s mission to save a threatened people has in our own time been extended.

Angela West

‘Face to Faith’ Art Exhibition by Russell Haines – Gloucester Cathedral

After seeing a wonderful copy of a painting of Rabbi Anna, in the J.C. announcing an Art Exhibition on Faith by artist Russell Haines, at the Cloisters in Gloucester Cathedral, I went along to view the whole exhibition.

The Cathedral itself is a most beautiful building with a wonderful atmosphere and a lovely service was just finishing as I went through to the Cloisters.  The exhibition consisted of 37 wonderful huge paintings of people who held different beliefs.  Alongside each of the paintings was the text explaining what the person’s faith meant to them. The quality of each painting was exceptional and the artist was truly inspired and gifted, and I found the whole exhibition very moving.

On looking at the background of the artist later, I was amazed that he had only been painting a few years and had taken up art as a therapy to help his recovery after having a severe stroke.  He found he was unable to continue his main work as a builder and electrician and gradually had to start from scratch to rebuild his life and pick up the threads again.

This is an artist to look out for in the future.  I understand that he wishes to take this exhibition around the UK and abroad and hopes to continue the whole project with the theme of ‘Hope’ and then ‘Charity’.

For me it was so uplifting to read of Russell’s own life journey and the courage it must have taken to keep going and face such huge challenges and find what a wonderful creative gift he had to share as he recovered. It is so uplifting that he has found a way to inspire others who are challenged and not give up.

In terms of the exhibition, the message it contains for me is to be respectful of each person’s belief and let’s learn to live in harmony and peace together.  

As for Russell’s work – the perception and heart he put into each painting was truly exceptional and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to view the whole exhibition.  

Shirley G

Face to Faith Exhibition – further comment

gloucesterpic

Cherry and I went to this exhibition on a grey Saturday afternoon, having been told about it by Shirley Goldstein. It was certainly a stunning exhibition, set up along three sides of the cathedral cloisters and consisting of 37 larger-than-life sized portraits of leaders and members of different faiths. These included everything you could imagine from Rasta to Wicca to Runic to atheist, in addition to all the major world religions, with all of the individuals portrayed, living in or near Gloucester. The painting of Rabbi Anna Gerard, near the start of the exhibition, was very impressive and her writing as always, was moving and inspiring.

The paintings, in acrylic/oils are bold, bright, colourful, in your face with lots of primary colours as well as pieces of text woven into the fabric of the painting. It seems like a very bold step for such a wide-ranging exhibition to be mounted in the cathedral and indeed it has not been without local controversy with vandalism and attacks on the cathedral website resulting from the Islamic call to Prayer being recited at the initial exhibition launch. You can see more details of this at:

http://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/organisers-hit-out-at-inappropriate-claims-after-muslim-call-to-prayer-at-gloucester-cathedral/story-30065568-detail/story.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/12/vandals-artworks-gloucester-cathedral-religions-death-threats

I hope, that as Shirley Goldstein points out, this exhibition can have a successful tour in other locations, and we are thankful to Gloucester Cathedral and Rev. Ruth Fitter who helped organise the exhibition.

Julian Brown

Book Review

Author: Dr Anne Summers
Title: Christian and Jewish women in Britain, 1880-1940 : living with difference.
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan, 2017
Cost: hardcover £66.99; ebook £52.99; Chapters available from £23.94

Special offer – 20% discount on printed book or eBook using the token on palgrave.com PM1&TWENTY, valid until 05/06/2017.

HJCSummers

This is a series of vignettes of mainly Christian and Jewish women, their friendships, political campaigning and social works. Lily Montagu and Netta Franklin each have a chapter, so there is much of Liberal Jewish interest. It is very well-researched, each short chapter has pages of references. Miss Lily’s close ties with Margaret McDonald are explored and Netta’ close friendship with Charlotte Mason. Interfaith initiatives in the 1880s and 1890s in Salford and Manchester come from a wish to help poor women in entirely practical ways, such as the provision of soap, nurses and holidays for children. As on the Continent, there was co-operation between Jews and Christians to combat the social evil of prostitution, by appointing a dock agent to meet new arrivals and take them to safe suitable accommodation. Jews were seen as Honorary Protestants in some cases and invited on committees where Catholics were not. Constance Flower was an important bridge between the two groups, as she was born a Rothschild.

Dr Summers reckons it was these good relations that led to so much help from non-Jews for refugees from Nazism, in particular from Quakers, the National Council of Women and Save the Children among many other groups.

This is followed by chapters on Rebecca Sieff on English women and Zionism and finally on the very current topics of refuge and asylum. She concludes that in England there was a culture of decency interwoven with the ambiguities which bedevil all private and public relationships. The culture of wishing for neighbourliness and understanding must be embraced by senior clergy of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, not just a moderate liberal few individuals.
This is a very timely study for today, well written and very widely researched. I recommend this to all synagogue libraries, but the price is unfortunately high for many people. Light is thrown on many small groups, such as the Jewish Peace Society of 1914 and COPEC the Conference on Politics, Economics and Citizenship in 1924. This is an important contribution to our understanding of Britain in the late 19th century and up to the interwar years. Very readable and welcome as a contribution to the history of multiculturalism in Britain.

Alison Turner

Book review – East-West Street

Phillipe Sands, Penguin Random House

HJCeastwest

This is not a book for the faint hearted, dealing as it does with the origins of the crimes of Genocide, and Crimes against Humanity which were first established at the Nuremburg trials in 1945. However, it is also not too difficult a read, as it is also the personal story of the family history of the author, himself an expert in International Law. It traces the personal histories of the two eminent Law experts who first drafted the definition of these crimes, Hersche Lauterpacht and Raphael Lemkin, and also follows that of Hans Frank, the German Governor of Occupied Poland, and Hitler’s legal expert, who was one of those tried in Nuremburg, and whose son came to be a friend of the author while he was researching this book. This a very well researched account of middle Europe in the years leading up to 1939 and subsequent events during the war and in its immediate aftermath. I found this book fascinating, but at the same time, it is very much a factual narrative, as you may expect from a lawyer, but for me, it was sometimes lacking in emotion.

For more information, See: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/may/22/east-west-street-origin-genocide-crimes-against-humanity-philippe-sands-review

JB

KlezNorth 2017

HJCKleznorth

This is an opportunity to indulge yourself in Klezmer music, dance, and song. Only for Klezmer fanatics but a lot of fun, especially if it coincides with Purim, as this year. The event is held in the attractive village of Youlgrave in Derbyshire, with main activities taking place in the village hall, and workshops held in other locations throughout the village. You don’t have to be an instrumentalist, or even a singer to attend KlezNorth, but you do need to be prepared to participate, including helping with some of the practical/domestic tasks needing to be done over the weekend. Workshops on Yiddish Song, late night klezmer dancing and a wonderful Yiddish workshop/Purimspiel, at which we did yet another ludicrous re- enactment of the Purim story, were some of the highlights of the event. Catering was excellent, and accommodation is in the local Youth Hostel or local B&B’s. Recommended.

Julian & Cherry

Pesach K’neidlach Recipe (matzo balls)

I have tried various kneidle recipes and generally not got the nice fluffy texture that I was aiming for. However, this recipe I have found to be foolproof and comes from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem cookbook.

HJCKneidlach

Perfect Kneidlach (makes 12-15)

2 large eggs

40g margarine or chicken fat, melted and allowed to cool a bit

2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

75g matzo meal

4 tbsp soda water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk the eggs until frothy then whisk in the melted fat. Add ½ a teaspoon of salt, some black pepper and the parsley. Gradually stir in the matzo meal followed by the soda water and stir to a uniform paste. Cover the bowl and chill until cold and firm, at least an hour or two and up to a day ahead.

Line a baking sheet with cling film. Using your wet hands and a spoon, shape the batter into balls the size of small walnuts and place on the baking sheet

Drop the matzo balls into a large pot of boiling salted water. Cover partially with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Simmer gently until tender, about 30 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the kneidlach to a clean baking sheet to cool and then be chilled for up to a day, or they can go straight into the soup. Another option is to freeze them.

Cherry Wolfe

Members Welfare

Judith Labelter:

Some of you will have seen Judith Labelter at the last service and know that she is much improved, and now back at home, but still needs to improve further, and build up her strength. We wish her well for the future.

Pre-Pesach Story

Herschele Ostropolye is a Jewish wise guy who lived in the 18th Century near Mezhbizh in Southern Ukraine.

Here is a sample story relating to Pesach.

Herschele had a stall in the market where he was selling bric a brac including one item which was a large blank canvas. A passer-by came up and asked Herschele what sort of a painting it was. Herschele replied ‘If you give me a shekel, I’ll tell you all about it’. The curious punter paid over his shekel, and Herschele told him it was a famous painting of the Jews being chased by the Egyptians across the Red Sea.

So’, says the punter, ‘Where are the Jews?’

Oh, they’ve crossed already’

And where are the Egyptians?’

Oh, they haven’t come yet’.

The punter, now feeling really exasperated continues:

Nu, and where is the Red Sea?’

It’s parted.’

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Forthcoming Events
Our next HJC community meeting will be the Pesach Seder at Saxon Hall, Hereford on 13th April. Bookings are now closed, but contact Cherry Wolfe for any queries about this event.

AGM As last year, this will be a social event where we can relax in more comfortable surroundings and take the opportunity to review the community activities of the past year, and look at where we are going as a community.

AGM Sunday 7th May, Trumpet Inn, Ledbury, 1130 – 1230 followed by Social lunch. Please give in your menu choices on arrival.

Anne Frank Interfaith Service – Saturday 10th June 2017, Saxon Hall Hereford. We are hoping to have representatives of other faiths and local organisations present at this service which will be led this year by Rabbi Anna Gerrard.

Friday 28th April Interfaith Coffee morning, cakes, plant sale, raffle 10 – 12 Forbury Chapel , Leominster HR6 8NH

Herefordshire Interfaith Group

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 May 2017

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

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Wed 12th April Passover Seder meal 6.30 p.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE
Sunday 7th May AGM at Trumpet Inn, followed by Social lunch 11.30 a.m. Trumpet Inn, Ledbury, Ledbury Rd, Trumpet HR8 2RA
Saturday 27th May Shavuoth Shared Service with GLJC 11 a.m. Up Hatherley Village Hall Shiloh, Swindon Lane, Cheltenham GL51 9QG
Saturday 10th June Ann Frank service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard – open to other faiths 11 a.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE
Sunday 18th June Film Session – Ushpezin, and Tea 4 p.m. Belmont Community Centre, Eastholme Avenue, Hereford HR2 7UQ
Friday 28th April HIFG Interfaith Coffee morning, cakes, plant sale, raffle 10 – 12 Forbury Chapel , Leominster HR6 8NH

 

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

Email hjc@liberaljudaism.org Mark Walton

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

 

   
   
 

HJC Newsletter February/March 2017

Editorial

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

Julian Brown, Editor

In this edition:

Chair Chat Hebrew Groups

Holocaust Memorial Day – Poems

Encounters with Shoah – Angela West

Chanukah song – Background to Ladino

Remembering Rabbi Lionel Blue

Book Review Terror, Trauma & Tragedy

Film Review – Through the Wall

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

CHAIR CHAT

Chanukah party

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

January service at Colwall

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

Rabbi Lionel Blue

Lionel Blue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ochos Kandelikos and Ladino

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

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

HJCChan1

1Musical Chanukah

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

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

HJCChan2

2concentration on dreidl spinning

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

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

HJCChan3

3candle lighting HJC 2016

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

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

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

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

Shemot – Shifrah and Puah

Read at Shabbat Service 21 January

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

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

Cherry Wolfe

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

Edited by Jonathan Romain and David Mitchell

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

JB

Two Encounters with the Shoah – Angela West

HJCBialystock

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

4 cemetery i Bialystok

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Angela West

Holocaust Memorial Day 27 January 2017

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Gillian Clarke, National Poet for Wales 2008 – 2016

What is worse?

You would think that nothing could be worse than being

Discriminated against, having rights stripped away and being mocked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Actually I was wrong, the gas chambers were worse.

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

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

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

There is nothing worse than knowing that 11 million other people

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

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

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

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

Joseph Krakowski

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

Members Welfare

Judith Labelter:

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

Film Review

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

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

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 March 2017

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

HJC Services

HJCTuBShvat

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

Forthcoming Events

Learn to Read or Improve your Hebrew in a Weekend

Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue

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

Dates: Friday 3 March – Sunday 5 March 2017

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

Saturday 9:30am – 5pm ending with Havdalah

Sunday 10am – 4pm

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

Led by Rabbi Aaron Goldstein & Rabbi Lea Mühlstein

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

Jewish Book Week

HJCJewBkWk

25 February – 5 March, Kings Place, London

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

Details at:

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

KlezNorth

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

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

HJCIWD2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

STRANGERS ARE FRIENDS THAT WE HAVE YET TO MEET

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

 

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Saturday 11th February

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

4 p.m.

Burgage Hall, Church Lane, Ledbury HR8 1DW

Saturday 11th March

Purim Shabbat service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

11.00 a.m.

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

Wed 12th April

Passover Seder meal

6.30 p.m.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Sunday May 7th

AGM at Trumpet Inn, followed by Social lunch

11 a.m.

Trumpet Inn, Ledbury

Friday 19th May

Chavurah suppers

Hereford, Monmouth & Malvern

Saturday 10th June

Ann Frank service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

t.b.c.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

Email hjc@liberaljudaism.org

Telephone Mark Walton 01594 530721 after 6pm

Newsletter December 2016/January 2017

Editorial

We are at a quieter time in the Jewish calendar, following all the intensity and excitement of the High Holydays, and in the month leading up to Chanukah, which after all is a minor festival in the Jewish calendar, though in practice it may be one of the most widely celebrated, due to possibly to its proximity to Christmas, but also the delight of the Chanukah candles and the enticement of latkes and anything fried and sweet. As we have discussed many times before, the origins of Chanukah, both military and religious may have been distorted over time, but as with so many Jewish Festivals, it is the message that is contained in our practice and tradition, as well as our current interpretation that makes it have meaning for us – the spirit of courage and defiance embodied by the Maccabees, may remind us that, despite the odds, it is always worth fighting for what we believe in, and the traditional story of the Chanukah lights, the Rabbis tell us, reminds us to have faith, and realise that spiritual help can be at hand. We need to remember in our current times, that both these elements may be a necessary part of our lives.

In this edition:

Chair Chat Hebrew Groups Opinion

Visit to Jewish Museum Leo Baeck College 60th anniversary

Book Review Amos Oz – Judas

CHAIR CHAT

Simchat Torah at Bridges

It was a particular pleasure to welcome back Rabbi Anna after her adoption leave and it was great that she brought her son, Joshua, to join the service with us.  Many thanks to Joe and Mary Walton for the klezmer music which got everyone dancing in traditional fashion.

Lech Lecha at Colwall

This is the Shabbat when Leo Baeck College send their rabbinic students out to far flung congregations.   We were delighted that student Rabbi Igor Zinkov was again asked to lead the lead the service for us.   His beautiful voice enriched the service and he gave a very thoughtful sermon.  It was a particularly cold day and unfortunately not a great turn out but Igor said he would be happy to visit us again.

Eva Mendelsohn

We are very pleased to welcome Eva as a member of our community.   Eva has recently moved from North London to Ross and from one of the biggest Jewish communities in the country (Alyth Gardens Shul with over 3,000 members) to one of the smallest.   She has already entered enthusiastically into our activities.

Chanukah Party

We look forward to welcoming everyone to our Chanukah party on Thursday December 29 at Saxon Hall, Hereford at 4 p.m.   I am sure Rabbi Anna will come up with interesting and innovative activities to keep us entertained.  Last year it was Chanukiah making, this year ….?

Opinion – Editor

As a council, HJC have worked hard this year to be creative and imaginative with our services and events. We have had a successful Friday evening Chavurah meal, an enjoyable and stimulating Rosh Hashanah gathering, and as always, an interesting and musical Simchat Torah service. We also recently had a Shabbat service, beautifully led by student Rabbi Igor Zinkov, so clearly we are doing something right.

However, I’m also aware that our Shabbat services, perhaps just by chance, are less frequent right now: we had one in September, one in November, and our next one is planned for late January. It may simply be a feeling of tradition, but my sense is that for a small community like ours, Shabbat services need to be held once a month if we are to keep together our continuity as a community and also keep us connected with our Jewish spiritual roots. We recognise that being a far-flung liberal community, not every member is able to, or wants to attend a Shabbat service and we need to be sure we also include Friday evening events in our calendar for those who are committed on Saturday mornings. However, this is something for us to think about, and I would be interested to hear others’ views on this. Perhaps it’s time for us to have a community survey to gather together ideas on what we really do want as a community.

However, we do have our regular Hebrew groups and there are always other activities HJC members are involved in such as educational and interfaith work, as well as attendance at services and meetings other than our own. This can also include in these days, participating by live streaming of Shabbat services on a computer, or of course reading talks and comments by other Rabbis on the web, so we are not as isolated as we may think.

In Britain, it’s easy to take for granted our choice in being part of Liberal Judaism. This is not such an easy choice in Israel, where recently a reform Synagogue was graffiti attacked by right-wing Jewish religious extremists, who resist any moves towards more equal and egalitarian services. Perhaps we at least owe ourselves in our community the chance to celebrate and honour our responsibilities, as far as we are able to.

JB

Report on the Service of Celebration

for the 60th Anniversary of Leo Baeck College

6th November 2016 at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St. John’s Wood.

I received an invitation to this event (probably because I am on their weekly D’var Torah mailing list) and as I happened to be in London that weekend, I decided to attend. LBC was founded by Werner van der Zyl, z”l and named for his distinguished teacher Rabbi Dr. Leo Baeck, z”l (who survived internment in Theresienstadt during the Shoah). It played a significant role in the revival of Judaism and Jewish communities in continental Europe after the devastation of the Second World War. In these sixty years, LBC has ordained over 180 rabbis and 90 educators, who have gone on to serve not only in UK but in Progressive communities worldwide, including Europe, the former Soviet Union, the US, Australia, South Africa, Israel and beyond.

The service was conducted by Rabbi Dr. Charles Middleburgh, the address given by the current principal, Rabbi Dr. Deborah Kahn-Harris. I noticed several faces that I knew from Bible Week – and also noted that one of the three people doing the music for the occasion was student rabbi Igor Zinkov who, as I happened to know, had been leading the service for HJC the day before! HJC was also represented by Alison Turner who was there too.

The Closing Blessing was delivered by Rabbi Professor Jonathan Magonet, a former principal of the college, and someone else I know from Bible Week as he is the leading light of that event. He took the opportunity of dedicating the honour of the blessing to Rabbi Lionel Blue, his friend, colleague and collaborator of many years, who had been one of the first two graduates of LBC in 1958. R. Lionel was actually present at the service, in his wheelchair with his carer, but no doubt too frail to speak up on this occasion in his unique and famously witty way.

I was accompanied to the service by my husband Roger, and as the Roll of Honour was being read out (which mentioned all the names of the deceased friends and patrons of the college and its work) we were startled to hear the name of Gordian Marshall included in this list. Fr. Gordian had been a friend and confrere of Roger in the Dominican Order to which both had belonged, and he had contributed on several occasions to the work of the Peace Preaching course which we were running at the time. He was one of only very few Catholics at that time who took seriously the new approach to Jewish Christian relations which the Church had called for in the Vatican document Nostra Aetate issued in 1964. He was deeply committed to interfaith dialogue, and had been a well-respected participant at some of the early sessions of Bible Week at Bendorf. We were very moved to hear him honoured in this way.

Angela West

Visit to Jewish Museum, Camden Town

Cherry and I decided to visit the Jewish Museum in order to see the photographic exhibition on Scottish Jewry, as Cherry is of Scottish Jewish ancestry. While we did not see any of Cherry’s relatives, we did see some Scottish Jews in unusual settings – working at a whisky distillery, herding sheep in the Highlands, and baking Challah on Yell in Shetland, as well of course, as seeing the inevitable Glasgow delicatessen.

Testing the Whisky

The exhibition was slightly frustrating as the photos were on a time limited electronic display, with no captions, so by the time you’d look up the details of the photo in the Exhibition Guide, the photo had disappeared! Not very well thought through.

Much better though, was the ceramic exhibition which was also much larger, and showing the work of a variety of Jewish potters who had each had interesting journeys, geographical, spiritual and emotional. The most moving and also beautiful piece was a re-casting of a small selection of some of the shoes you may often have seen in Holocaust exhibitions. These had been made with such care and with magical colour glazes, that it brought out the positive, in something which is so often seen as a dark reminder of our past.

Mitzvah Day, North London

Cherry happened to be in Golders Green on Mitzvah day, where it seemed Supermarkets were having a special place for donations of food to Foodbanks for Mitzvah day. A worthwhile action, but as Cherry comments, something they need to do each day or week, and not just once in a while.

Hebrew Groups

Hebrew groups have been meeting monthly in both Malvern and Monmouth. As well as doing some of the basics and encouraging beginning Hebrew readers to build their confidence, we have also been studying Torah text, which has been a cooperative effort between all those involved, both teachers and students. It is exciting to realise that to some degree, we are able to translate and make sense of Torah text and this leads us into some interesting debate. On the last occasion, we studied the story of the tower of Babel, which seems very appropriate for those of us struggling to communicate in an unfamiliar language.

On the downside, we have not always had attendance by all group members, and this leads us to the question of whether Hebrew groups are sustainable if we really want to make progress. Once a month is a minimum for maintaining some progress. Now is also an opportunity for members of the community who would like to join one of these groups to let us know, as we need to make the most of the sessions we do have.

JB

Members Welfare

Judith Labelter: Judith is still in hospital in Worcester and we wish her a good recovery. David Labelter has been making daily visits to see her, as well as looking after himself and their dog, so we also wish him support over this time. No visitors, but if anyone would like to send Judith a card, please send to her home address, available from Mark on 01594 530721 after 6pm or by email from hjc@liberaljudaism.org 

Book review – Amos Oz – Judas

I have not yet finished reading this book, but can tell you that it is both absorbing and interesting. Judas has recently been published in the UK, and Amos Oz is a renowned Israeli author who has written an inspiring and perhaps controversial book which explores Judaism’s relationship with Christianity, as well as dipping into many of the themes relating to the founding of the State of Israel. The book is also a novel about a young man called Shmuel Ash, set in Jerusalem in the winter of 1959 to 1960. Ash, a young man unsure of his purpose, finds himself invited to stay in an isolated house on the edge of the city, in order to keep entertained an old man who has much to say on many diverse topics. There is also a mysterious woman in the house, who we learn is the daughter in law of the old man, to add to the mix of unusual characters. However, the most important element of Oz’s writing is the infinite detail in which he describes characters and places which immediately takes you right to the heart of his subject. You cannot but help feeling you are there in the chilly room that Shmuel Ash inhabits, or the wild and wet streets of old Jerusalem. Amos Oz is not always easy reading but there is much in this book both to make you think, and also for pure enjoyment in his writing and storytelling.

Forthcoming Events

HJC Services

Our next service/event will be the Chanukah party on Thursday 29th of December at Saxon Hall which Rabbi Anna Gerrard will be leading. Please bring contributions of food for tea. Anything fried such as Chanukah donuts or latkes especially welcome – and remember to bring your own Chanukias so we can all light candles together.

Hebrew groups

Monmouth – Tuesday 13th December 4 p.m. Bridges Centre.

Malvern – t.b.c.

Shabbat service Saturday 21st January, Jean Simon Room, Colwall Village Hall, led by Julian & Cherry. Location details in events calendar. Weekly Parasha – Shemot/Exodus – the story of the Jews in Egypt. This will also give us plenty to focus on for our next Hebrew groups.

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 January 2017

Please send in contributions in WORD or pdf format if possible, but articles sent in by post are also welcome. In general contributions should be no longer than 500 – 750 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

Thursday 29th December Chanukah Party led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard 4.00 p.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE
Saturday 21st January 2017 Shabbat service led by Julian & Cherry 11.00 a.m. Meeting Room, Colwall Village Hall, Mill Lane, Colwall, WR13 6EQ (note this is not Colwall Ale House)
Saturday 11th February Tu B’Shvat Seder Tea – led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard 4 p.m. Burgage Hall, Church Lane, Ledbury HR8 1DW
Saturday 11th March Purim Shabbat service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard 11.00 a.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford HR2 6HE
Wed 12th April Passover Seder meal 6.30 p.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

 

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

To contact us please email hjc@liberaljudaism.org or phone Mark Walton on 01594 530721 after 6pm. 

 

HJC Newsletter October/November 2016

Editorial

I had planned to have this newsletter ready for Rosh Hashanah, but planning for Rosh Hashanah evening took over, so we are now in the period of reflection between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Certainly there is plenty to reflect on, within ourselves, within our own community, and with the wider world in which we live. Our readings on Rosh Hashanah also made us think there are many different perspectives on how we do this, so each of us has to find the way that suits us.

Some of us also attended the Rosh Hashanah morning service in Gloucester, which was Rabbi Anna Gerard’s first official duty following her period of leave. She spoke again about the Binding of Isaac – a challenge of all challenges, so I guess we all have to think how far we are prepared to go for our beliefs and principles.

Wishing everyone in the community G’mar Chatimah Tovah – Happy New Year.

In this edition:

Chair Chat Hereford Peace Service JMI Yiddish Summer school. Ladies who lunch. Charity Update. New year message from Charles Clore Centre. Hebrew groups.

CHAIR CHAT

Saturday September 10

We were very grateful to Rabbi Michael Standfield for leading our service on September 10.   He was very interesting, particularly about his time as a rabbi in Johannesburg and Durban, and it was also nice for him to meet up with Rosalie and Michelle, his former congregants from Middlesex New.    Many thanks also to Rabbi Danny Rich for arranging his “stand in” at very short notice.   Another new venue for us at Ledbury Community Centre – quite convenient but too big for our current needs.

 

Preparation for Rosh Hashanah

 As Rabbi Michael reminded us, the period before Rosh Hashanah is a time to seek reconciliation.   I am not sure that Joey Barton, the controversial and outspoken footballer and part time philosopher, has entirely got the message about apologies.   After withdrawing an unreserved apology to one of his team mates for an altercation, he tweeted, Apologising doesn’t always mean that you’re wrong and the other person is right. It means you value your relationship more than your ego.”

Rosh Hashanah Supper

The answer to encouraging people to come out on Erev Rosh Hashanah is obviously food.  We had a record attendance of 25 people at the Burgage Hall in Ledbury.  Julian and Cherry led an evening of readings, stories and songs to welcome the New Year and to explore its meaning.  This was a very thoughtful, innovative and inclusive approach, the highlight of which was the traditional blowing of the shofar.   The wonderful buffet laid on by Cherry with her team of willing helpers was a magnificent spread with a particularly impressive array of cakes.  As a community, we are extremely fortunate to have people like Julian and Cherry in our midst.  They worked tirelessly to make the evening such a success, ensuring that everyone was involved, well fed and included.

Peace Day Service – Herefordshire Interfaith group – 25th of September 2016

The second Interfaith Peace Day service to be held in Hereford Cathedral, was a moving event at which a large number of faiths were represented, including Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Baha’i, Quaker, and Christian. After an introduction by the Chancellor of Hereford Cathedral, there was a candle lighting ceremony for all the faiths, and we were then honoured to be the first event in the programme. Six members of HJC – Mark, Rosalie, Eva, Alison, Cherry and Julian joined in with singing Od Yavo Shalom Aleynu, which was led by Cherry Wolfe, and accompanied by guitar. We received very positive feedback from other participants in the service, so we must have been doing something right. One of the other very powerful contributions to the service was a ‘Qirat’, a Muslim chanting of a passage from the Koran, which had a style and tone not so different from that of a traditional Chazzan. There was also some fine singing and chants by the Interfaith choir, as well as a rather unexpected song from a Christian musical which had been performed in Belfast. Mark and Julian also read Psalm 23 in Hebrew which was then sung together in English by the congregation.

After the service we were served with local apple juice, and had chance to meet with other participants and those attending the service, which was very enjoyable, as we always find we have more in common than differences on these occasions.

This is a worthwhile event which I hope can be more widely supported in future and also include those not necessarily so directly involved in faith groups.

We are very grateful to Vanessa Pomeroy who took photographs of the service, two of which are included here.

Julian Brown

Ot Azoy Yiddish Course

In August, Cherry Wolfe attended a Yiddish summer schools at SOAS in London, run by JMI (Jewish music Institute). We recorded an interview with her about the course.

Why did you decide to go on a Yiddish course?

When I was growing up my parents sometimes spoke Yiddish, or bits of Yiddish at times when they didn’t want I or my brother to understand what they said. The sense of that Yiddish around me is still with me, and I want to explore my connection with it and with my ancestors and their stories and where they come from.

When did the course run and how was organised how long did it last?

It’s a summer course which is like a crash course for one week. It happens every summer in London and there were also Yiddish courses in other cities around the world but the one in London runs at SOAS, the school of African and Oriental studies near King’s Cross.

What was your overall experience of the course?

The students were diverse and came from a variety of different backgrounds. They weren‘t all Jewish: there were some who came from a mainly academic background, or those who had other kinds of interest, for example there was a young Polish woman I met, a young woman who originally came from Latvia and lived in the States, and an academic woman whose area was Slavic languages, and felt that Yiddish had an important place in that. The teaching was excellent, and I enjoyed the classes thoroughly.

Would you say you need to have a background in Hebrew or that having a background in Hebrew helps with learning Yiddish?

It would help but is not essential, though it is harder when you start without any background in the Hebrew alphabet which is what Yiddish is written in.

Was it primarily language or did you do music or other aspects of Yiddish culture?

It‘s a very intense week and very full. We do language in the morning: written language, spoken language, and we did homework and conversation in the afternoon. We have two music sessions for those who want to join those: song repertoire session after lunch for an hour, and then later in the afternoon there‘s Yiddish choir. There were film sessions about Yiddish film although I didn‘t go to any of these, as I chose to go to Yiddish choir. There are evening talks which are also very interesting, about different aspects of Yiddish culture and its historical context, covering the last 150 years approximately.

I‘m told you went on a walk in the East End?

That wasn‘t strictly a part of the course but it was connected, and it was an antifascist tour of the East End street, along Cable Street and parts of the East End where Mosley had tried to march in 1936.

Can you say anything about the way the course was organised and put together?

I thought it was very well put together. I felt I learnt a lot in the week, and I could have done with a month really, and all the staff were very helpful. It was very busy and quite tiring, but very well organised.

Would you recommend the course to others?

Absolutely I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I know many people who go year after year, and there is also the song school which is happening at the same time, which we join in some sessions with, but they are studying song repertoire for the whole week.

What did you do about accommodation the course?

One of the possible options for accommodation is that there are some SOAS halls of residence very near to where the course is taking place, and I stayed there for the course of the week.

Thank you very much telling us about JMI‘s Yiddish Course.

Ot Azoy: Details from JMI: https://www.jmi.org.uk/event/ot-azoy-2016/

Obituary – Ralph Eskinazi

Ralph Eskinazi, who died at the beginning of September, and his wife Val, have long supported Herefordshire Jewish community and attended several of our services and events over the years. Since their move to Malvern some years back, Ralph and Val have also been welcome visitors at many of our Malvern Seders, either at our house or at the Grandi family house. Ralph has always had some interesting anecdote or contribution to make to the proceedings.

Ralph was a fascinating character. Born in Cairo, and brought up in Egypt, where he had a French Lycee education, he came to Britain at the age of 18. He began work as a draughtsman and subsequently had a career as a planning engineer.

He had an enthusiasm for many aspects of life, from being an expert backgammon player, to regular swimmer at Malvern Splash, to being a member of a Greek culture club. He was interested in many aspects of Judaism and Jewish life and culture. Ralph and Val were lifelong members and regular attenders of Birmingham Progressive synagogue after their marriage. Barry Roseman of Birmingham Progressive synagogue said of Ralph: “It was clear from the attendance at the funeral and the evening prayers, that in life Ralph touched many people as the two gatherings cut across any boundaries in our community as well as those from outside.”

In the last five years, Ralph was lucky enough to be able to spend time with his grandson.

We wish a long life to Ralph’s widow Val Eskinazi, his two sons, Simon and David and his two sisters.

Julian Brown

Angela West writes:

Ladies who lunch…in this case at the Estero Lounge in Monmouth, where we discussed the Daughters of Zelophehad, 

(Num.27,1-11) – five remarkable sisters who petitioned Moses concerning their inheritance rights, and got a change in the law from Sinai! We were considering this (and other stories of bible women) as possible topics for discussion at the Jewish Cultural Group that meets in Monmouth.

Hanna’s sister Gail was also with us and took the photo.   

Angela West

Hebrew Groups

Hebrew groups in Malvern and Monmouth are again up and running after the summer break. As well as preparing for Rosh Hashanah with prayers and songs, the Monmouth group also took on the task of translating some of the Torah text of the binding of Isaac. There’s a lot of knowledge in the group once we all share what we know.

JB

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.

Many of you have already given donations but if anyone else would like to contribute, please send donations to our Treasurer, Alison Turner. Cheques payable to Herefordshire Jewish Community.

We are delighted to say that, following our Rosh Hashanah evening, we have already raised £300, a record for our Community, so thank you to everyone for your generosity.

Members Welfare

We wish health and recovery to Judith Labelter who is currently housebound with mobility problems.

 Picture Quiz

No picture quiz this month, but if you would like to feature in the next edition let us know. Last edition pictures were of course of Rosalie Tobe.

New Year message from Mohamed Fahili, Charles Clore Community Centre

What brings us hope in this upcoming year? 

      25 youths gaining life-skills for their national service
32 children enhancing their focus through Karate
35 women empowered to find employment
42 ballet dancers synchronising their steps
43 children expressing themselves through art
54 young musicians connecting through notes not words
60 pre-schoolers transitioning with confidence into school
60 new learners discovering the power of English words
68 children playing and laughing at our 3 daycare facilities

Hundreds of visitors celebrating Shared Society in action.

This is The Meeting Place

Our Meeting Place. Your Meeting Place.
 A place for all – Christian, Jew and Muslim.
A place to find hope and cherish it.

      We thank you for your ongoing support which has helped us become what we are today. Our Centre is doing so much for so many beautiful Arab and Jewish children in and around Akko. And the vision doesn’t end here. There is still so much more we can do together.
Stand up and be counted.

We at The Sir Charles Clore Jewish Arab Community Centre all join in wishing you and all your friends and family a sweet New Year filled with hopes for a better world.

Mohammad Fahili – Director
Clare King Lassman

Sir Charles Clore Jewish-Arab Community Centre http://www.ajcenter.org.il

 

 

Forthcoming Events

UK International Jewish Film Festival, 5 – 20 November 2016

There is an exciting programme of films for this festival. Most showings are in a range of venues in London with occasional events in Manchester, Nottingham, Leeds and Glasgow. If you happen to be in London during this period, do try and catch something. Always well worthwhile.

Details at: http://ukjewishfilm.org/

High Holyday services

Yom Kippur services at Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community (GLJC). See details below.

 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 Services

Our next service is the Simchat Torah service on Saturday 22nd October at Bridges Centre, led by Rabbi Anan Gerrard. This is always a most enjoyable and informative event, so please try to come along. Children especially welcome.

We are still waiting to hear of date and student Rabbi for our annual Lech Lecha service in November, but this is usually a most interesting service, so we hope you can join us. We will post information on Rabbi and location as soon as we know.

Hebrew groups

Monmouth – Tuesday 1st November 4 p.m. Bridges Centre.

Malvern – t.b.c.

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 November 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.

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

For all enquiries please email hjc@liberaljudaism.org  Or phone our Chair, Mark Walton 

on 01594 530721 after 6pm. 

 

 

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Saturday Oct 22nd Simchat Torah Service – led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard 11.00 a.m. Bridges Centre, Drybridge Park, Monmouth, NP25 5AS
Saturday 12th (5th/19th) November Lech Lecha Shabbat service led by student Rabbi 11.00 a.m. Colwall/Ledbury t.b.c.
Sunday 20th November Mitzvah Day t.b.c.

Other Events of Interest

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

 

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 April/May 2016

Editorial

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

Julian Brown

In this edition:   

Chair Chat                  NIF/Yachad Security Conference                   Purim News               

Leo Baeck Youth Orchestra Concert              Herefordshire Interfaith Group report       

A Worcestershire Jewish Mystery                           Donation Thank you letters

                                                            Hebrew Learning

CHAIR CHAT April 2016

SERVICES

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

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

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

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

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

AGM

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

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

Mark Walton

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

Report by Jacquie Hannan

 

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

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

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

The Opening Plenary Part 1.

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

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

“Core Security Challenges”

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

It was an informative conference and well worth attending.        

 Jacquie Hannan

 

 

Purim news

Alison Turner writes:

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

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

 

Leo Baeck Youth Orchestra Concert BPS

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

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

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

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

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

Julian Brown

Herefordshire Interfaith Meeting – report by Alison Turner

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

 

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

Hebrew Learning

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

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

High Holyday Appeal Thank you letters

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

 

A Fascinating Story – Worcestershire mystery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forthcoming Events

HJC Communal Seder

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

 

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

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

For this year’s Biennial, LJ comment:

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

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

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

 

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 May 2016

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

HJC Diary of Events

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

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

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

Other Events of Interest

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

HJC Newsletter February/March 2016 – Purim Edition

Editorial

Firstly, apologies for the lateness of this newsletter. Cherry and I both returned from a visit to Israel in January with a ‘flu bug which has taken us some time to recover from. The weather in Israel at this time of the year is not altogether Mediterranean! We include some comments on our trip in this newsletter, and it sounds as if we missed an interesting Shabbat service while we were away.

This edition contains a combination of more local news but also some from France and Israel. In Israel, while there are always negative actions by the Government, this past week sees the decision to create an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall, which is a brave move by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and must be applauded. While this may not directly affect many of us here, it is a significant step forward in inclusiveness, which has not been without its strong critics within the Israeli Government. As Liberal Jews we need to support any moves to more openness and acceptance of different perspectives, both religious and cultural, in the Middle East and also here in Herefordshire with our interfaith work – See details of events in calendar.

Julian Brown

In this edition: Chair Chat        Jerusalem Round up          Burns night in Jerusalem

                         Interfaith story          Community Matters                 Hebrew Learning

CHAIR CHAT JANUARY 2016

1. RABBI ANNA

As usual, Anna came up with something different and entertaining for our Chanukah party. This time it was a competition to construct a menorah from the materials provided. Quite a challenge for the butter fingered but great fun. 

Our last service with Anna before she begins her adoption leave was on January 23 at Colwall. We had a good attendance on a cold day and an interesting discussion on the nature of prayer, particularly in the light of the proposed new LJ prayer book. Anna told us that she is shortly to adopt Josh (5 years old) and we look forward to welcoming him to our services in the future. We wish her all the best of luck with this exciting challenge and look forward to welcoming her back in September.

2. FUTURE SERVICES

While Anna is on leave, we have arranged for some visiting Rabbis to take our services. On Saturday February 27, our old friend, Rabbi Margaret Jacobi from Birmingham, will be leading the service at Colwall. On Friday March 11, Rabbi Alexandra Wright, the senior Rabbi at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London, will take our Friday night service at Saxon Hall in Hereford. Many thanks to Gloucestershire Jewish Community and the LJS for facilitating this. Apparently, Alexandra is going to cycle between Hereford and Gloucester to take the Saturday morning service there – we shall see! Finally, we are honoured that the President of Liberal Judaism, Rabbi Andrew Goldstein, will take our service at Saxon Hall on Saturday June 11, to mark Anne Frank Day and a year since we planted the tree in front of the centre. It will also be erev Shavuot and Andrew has offered an additional study session.

3. SHUL CRAWL – YORK

I have a strong affinity with York, having spent over 6 years as a student there where I met Mary and got married, and my mother in law and brother in law have now settled there. I noted the recent growth of a new liberal Jewish group there with interest and on my last visit to the city managed to attend a service. They meet in the Friends Meeting House in the shadow of Cliffords Tower, notorious for the massacre of Jews in 1190. I was immediately struck by the vitality and inclusivity of the community. There were over 30 people at the service but I was told there are normally more than 50. The service was led by a very lively and charismatic student Rabbi, Daniel Lichman, who obviously had a great rapport with the community. With many children in the community, they are able to run a cheder and also have regular Hebrew lessons before the service (a model for us?). It was a great pleasure for me to meet there Josephine Woolfson, one of our founder members, who frequently comes over from Leeds to support her York based daughter. I can’t comment on the quality of the kiddush or the chavurah lunch they were having after the service as I had no time to stay but it looked and smelt good! I will certainly go again next time I am in York.

4. TEA ROTA

As our Council is now severely depleted, offers to make (and wash up) tea and coffee at services would be gratefully received. This would include bringing fresh milk to the service. Please let Julian, Cherry, Alison or myself know if you are willing to help on a rota basis. It will be one less thing we have to worry about!

5. IS SANTA JEWISH?

Totally unseasonal, I know, but glancing through December copies of the JC (courtesy of David L.). I chanced on the following.
Given the JC’s penchant for trying to establish Jewish lineage for celebrities such as Kate Middleton, David Beckham, Ben Cohen (rugby player) or George Cohen (footballer),  a letter offered 10 reasons why Santa is really Jewish.
“He wears a funny beard and hat.  Is always overdressed. Like traditions.  Is the centre of attention.  Loves kids.  Is his own boss – and has a lot of personnel.
Has a great sense of humour.  Is a regular at Brent Cross.  A self made career.  Always prefers reindeers over a car on Shabbat.  Obviously this can only mean one thing …Le’chaim Santa.”

Mark Walton

Jerusalem Round up

Whenever I return from a visit to Jerusalem, I feel that the sheer variety of backgrounds – cultural, architectural, social and religious, is probably unique in such a small city. In how many cities can you go from a narrow streeted world of Charedi Jews living in such a cloistered environment, where even normal Western dress feels very out of place, and then within no more than 10 minutes’ walk in another direction, you find yourself almost in another country, where women are dressed in black from head to toe, yet go about their business perfectly normally, where Palestinian men drink Turkish coffee, and Arabic instead of Yiddish is the norm? Here, over what was once the Green line between East and West Jerusalem, there is an educational bookshop crammed full of scholarly works, all exploring the Israeli-Palestinian situation, from the Palestinian side. Back in the Bokharan quarter (one of many ultra-religious areas of the city) even any references to modern day society or culture feels out of place, as everything turns around religious law, ritual and custom.

On a fairly sunny morning on our first day in Jerusalem, we sat in a café in the main Machaneh Yehudah market (shuk) talking to a young man in his mid thirties. He had grown up in the Charedi community in B’nei Barak, but from his mid-teens somehow felt this was not right for him, and eventually he left the community, which is no small step to take if you are Charedi.. Amazingly, he is still on good terms with his parents, telling us they are more open and tolerant than many Charedi. While he is still religious, his wife, who also grew up Charedi, has given up all her religious beliefs, and is now a campaigning photographer and film maker, and has made a powerful film called the Black Bus about the religious segregation in Jerusalem, for which you can see trailer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeIcuOuxQoI

Machaneh Yehudah is always an amazingly positive experience, with its myriad smells, colours, and stalls piled high with every fruit and, vegetable, cheeses and olives, fish, meat and breads of every shape and size. Only here can you meet a man who runs a small stall selling Etrog juice which he claims is the health drink par excellence.

A Jerusalem Burns night

Being only Yorkshire born, although having lived two years in Scotland, and been married for twenty-five years to a Glasgow born Scot, I felt privileged to be invited to participate in a Jerusalem Burns night, organised by Cherry’s brother. For anyone who does not know, Burns night is an annual occasion to celebrate the life and poetry of Rabbie Burns who wrote much of his verse in Lallans (lowland Scots). Being in Jerusalem, this Burns night had to cater for a range of ethnic backgrounds (although with a strong Scottish bias), and also included a multitude of languages. Lallans was translated into both Hebrew and Arabic. Auld Lang Syne was translated into Yiddish, and also bagpipes were very professionally played by an Israeli born member of the Embassy staff.

Cherry’s father was a Burns lover and to that end, her brother Lenny began hosting Burns’ nights, which he has now done for about 15 years, continuing the tradition after her father died in 2006. This Burns night was a great opportunity, although also slightly nerve wracking, for both Cherry and I to perform in front of 60 people. Cherry sang ‘Ye Banks and Braes, and I told a traditional Scottish story, with both being very well received. The evening also included Ode to a Haggis (vegetarian, of course), Glasgow street songs, and an address to the Lassies and the Laddies.

Living in Jerusalem, the atmosphere can be quite tough, especially as now, when there is an intifada in place, so a Burns night is an opportunity to drink deeply of the spirit of Rabbie Burns and also of the liquid spirits which hail from the peaty Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

Hebrew Survey

We have had a fair amount of interest in learning Hebrew within the community (though we would be grateful if any more members wish to return their surveys). It looks as if we may need to set up small groups in both Monmouth and Malvern areas, but as always it is the geographical logistics which is going to be the determining factor to making this all happen. We have a range of possible resources, and the next step is to set up initial meetings, where we can gauge more accurately the level of Hebrew knowledge of those members interested, and explore next steps for learning.

Community Matters – Farewell to Andrea

Andrea Berry-Ottaway, who has been such a constant member, and for many years the mainstay of our community, is finally leaving Herefordshire for Banbury on 7 March to be closer to her family. So our last chance to see her before her move will be at our next service on 27 February. I am sure we all wish her the best of health and many happy years to come in her new home.

 

Interfaith News – Rabbi meets Rapper

A story in the I newspaper on Saturday reported on the unusual pairing of a Rabbi and a black Muslim rapper teaming up to create a youTube music video against anti-semitism. Rabbi Michel Serfaty, from the southern suburbs of Paris, a founder of the Muslim –Jewish friendship association, visited the rapper, Coco Tkt, (pronounced t’inquiete) in prison, where he was serving a sentence for armed robbery. Whilst in prison, Coco Tkt had had a change of heart from his previous links with the anti-Semitic comedian, Dieudonne, and decided he wished to do something to try to combat anti semitic sentiment in Paris.

 

Book Review – Hebrew Talk

Whilst at the South West Regional Shabbaton in November, we bought a book on behalf of HJC, which hopefully can be loaned out to those members most interested.

This is a very accessible, fascinating and readable book, subtitled 101 Hebrew Roots and the Stories they tell, written by Joseph Lowin. Each short chapter gives a lightning tour of words and meanings, associated with the simple three letter root, not only in Hebrew, but with occasional shifts into other cultures and languages. The root (gimmel, daled, lamed) for example (Gadol) has a whole range of meanings associated with being big, great, strong and the stories told link with Biblical sources, Jewish history and modern Israeli society. Reading this book is a relatively painless way of absorbing the finer detail of Hebrew etymology, and gaining a basic knowledge of many of the key roots and words in the Hebrew language.

 

Hereford & Malvern Foodbanks

Please bring your donations to the next HJC Service. For details see below.

Malvern Foodbank provide emergency food for local people in crisis.

They are collecting donations of the following to help local people in crisis. If you can help, one or more items from the list will make a real difference.

They particularly need:

Coffee, tinned fish, tinned fruit, instant mash potato, jam, marmalade, tinned meat, UHT milk, pasta sauces, tinned sponge puddings, 500g bags of sugar, tinned tomatoes, treats, tinned vegetables.

Please note they cannot accept frozen, chilled or perishable items.

They also need the following non-food items:

Bleach, cleaning cloths, deodorant, shower gel, toilet rolls, washing powder.

Thank you for any help you can give the foodbank.

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 March 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 27th February

Shabbat service led by Rabbi Margaret Jacobi

11.a.m.

Ale House Colwall

Friday 11th March

Friday Evening Service led by Rabbi Alexandra Wright

7 p.m. 

Burgage Hall, Ledbury

Sunday 24 April

HJC Communal Seder

6.30 p.m.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Saturday 11th June

Anne Frank Day Service led by Rabbi Andrew Goldstein

t.b.c.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Other Events of Interest

Saturday 5th March

Herefordshire Interfaith Women’s Day

9.30 – 4.00

Kindle Centre Belmont Road, Hereford HR2 7JE

Thursday 10th March

Herefordshire Interfaith Group AGM

7p.m. –

9 p.m.

Kindle Centre Belmont Road, Hereford HR2 7JE

 

Other Events of Interest
Yachad and New Israel Fund UK are hosting a
Security Conference next month to look at the current position n Israel..
Security might be the most used term in Israeli political life – and in our conversations about Israel in the community. As two organisations committed to building a safe and secure Israel, we have invited an outstanding team of experts to help us unpack what security really means today.
We will be tackling the burning questions of how to approach Israel’s security in 2016, including: What are the greatest strategic threats currently facing the State of Israel? Is there a dichotomy between peace and security? Who are the potential Palestinian partners for peace?
When: Sunday 6th March, 09:15-16:45
Where: Cavendish Conference Rooms, 22 Duchess Mews, London W1G 9DT
Tickets: £20 adults/£10 students

Herefordshire Interfaith Group

are launching a Faith to Faith Women to Women’s project.

To be held on March 5th, celebrating International Women’s Day.

You are invited to an informal relaxed day, sharing food and interests, through the medium of Art, Craft, Music and Dance. Individual cards and gifts will be made to send to ‘friends and loved ones’ to maintain and create bonds among women of Faith including those who live their lives in friendship and openness. (Crafting packets provided)

The Group wish to reach out to women of Faith and Spirituality from around the World who have made their homes in Herefordshire and surrounding Borders. The intention is to provide a platform for a better understanding of different cultures in order to enable women of diverse Faiths to help, support, guide and encourage other women, leading to friendships and minimising the feelings of isolation that may be felt when settling into a New Country.

Through these links we plan to make contact with their relatives and friends left behind in their home countries, in order that we may start to understand their cultures and what forms the basis of their understanding of faith, spirituality and friendships.

It is envisaged that in this way a web will spread out to many cultures throughout the world where we, in the main have little understanding, such as Afghanistan and Syria regarding Islam and Baha’i faiths, across Eastern Europe and into Bulgaria, regarding forms of Islam and Catholicism and pockets across the Himalayas and into Myanmar regarding different forms of Buddhism.

The Idea was born from the passion of the Chairman, The Venerable Tenzin Choesang a Buddhist Nun. Venerable’s vast experience of travel, as a Business Woman and Nun have taken her to many places. She believes that friendships and understanding can be created using the Universal language of Art, Craft, Dance and Music thus crossing all barriers. Along her journey, she has made many friends and treasures gifts given to her that now adorn her Meditation Room.

Smiles, actions, kind words and good deeds

STRANGERS ARE FRIENDS THAT WE HAVE YET TO MEET

Come and MAKE IT HAPPEN