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)

 

   
   
 

Purim and Pesach – booking for the Seder now open

Shabbat and Purim Service
Colwall Ale House Saturday 11th March at 11 a.m. 
led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard
 Rabbi Anna always brings something of interest to our Purim Service, so we hope you can join us. 
Foodbank Contributions still very much needed.
 
Urgent items: tinned meat, sponge puddings, shampoo
 
                                                       Seder plate

HEREFORDSHIRE JEWISH COMMUNITY

COMMUNAL SEDER

Pesach 5776

Wednesday 12th April 2017, at 6.30pm.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford,

HR2 6HE

led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard.

Numbers are limited and will be allocated on a first come-first serve basis. The cost will be £20 each, children under 18 and students in full-time education free.

Catering will be provided by Cherry Wolfe – there is a choice of salmon or vegetarian main course.  Please tell us if you have any food allergies or intolerances.

Please contact hjc@liberaljudaism.org or phone Mark on 01594 530721 after 6pm or at weekends for a booking form. 

DO IT NOW SO YOU DON’T FORGET!

Last date to reserve a place Tuesday 28th March

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. 

 

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

Communal Seder bookings extended to 11 April

This year’s Communal Seder will be held at Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE on Sunday 24th April 2016, at 6.30pm.

We have a good number of bookings for the Seder this year, but still have places left. It would be great if a few more of you want to come along, as we have plenty of space at Saxon Hall.  Please send in your applications by Monday 11 April.

Numbers are limited and will be allocated on a first come-first serve basis. The cost will be £20 each, children under 18 and students in full-time education free.

The service will be led by Julian Brown and Mark Walton. Catering will be provided by Cherry Wolfe – please choose your main course as shown below.

Please contact Mark Walton on 01594 530721 after 6pm to book your place.

Choice of main course: Salmon …………….Vegetarian …………..

DO IT NOW SO YOU DON’T FORGET!

Last date to reserve a place Monday 11th April

 

HJC Newsletter April/May 2015 – Pesach Edition

Editorial

As I write this we are approaching Pesach, a Festival of Freedom. Our communal Seder is always a time when we remember those in other communities and other times in our history, who are not, or were not, as free as we are in Herefordshire Community. It’s a time both to celebrate our freedom and to do what we can to bring about the freedom of others. It’s also an opportunity for us to develop the freedom from the limitations we impose on ourselves. Taking that first step is sometimes the hardest, as was the case for that first Hebrew to enter the Red Sea when the waters parted in the Pesach story.

There are some important events to look forward to in our calendar, once Pesach has ended. They include a Baby naming ceremony for Alison and Marc Turner’s son, Isaac which will be held on 11 July. For this event we hope Rabbi Danny Rich will be present. However prior to that we have our AGM on Sunday10 May where we hope to have lunch together at a pub, which is a new venture for HJC, and should be an enjoyable event for our community as well as a practical one.

I wish everyone a happy, healthy and enjoyable Pesach, and Chag Sameach,

Julian Brown

Chair chat

Purim service

We had a wonderful Purimspiel using Rabbi Anna’s “Megillah Musical” with tunes from well known shows. Although there was some initial reluctance to take on roles, we eventually had an all star cast with Cherry and Jonathan displaying hidden talents as Vashti and Haman respectively. It was great to see everyone enjoying themselves but Anna also reminded us of the less savoury aspects of the Purim story, which is why for many years it wasn’t celebrated by Liberal Judaism.

Future Events

Just to whet your appetite. Following our traditional communal Seder on Thursday April 9, we will be holding our AGM on Sunday May 10 at 12 noon at a local hostelry. The idea is that we hold our meeting between 11.30 and 1 p.m., followed by a hearty Sunday lunch. As I mentioned at the Purim service, there are some important proposed changes to our constitution that we would like to discuss with you. Venue to be decided upon but please keep the date free.

We will have another Shabbat morning service at Colwall with Rabbi Anna on Saturday May 16.

Last, but by no means least, there is Isaac Turner’s baby naming ceremony and Shabbat service on Saturday July 11 in Hereford.

Sir Martin Gilbert

I was very sorry to hear of the recent death of this great historian. His output was prodigious, writing an eight volume biography of Churchill and over 80 books on twentieth century history. All his works, including the many on various aspects of Judaism and Israel, are extremely well written, detailed and objective. My favourite volumes are “A Holocaust Journey”, in which he took a group of his postgraduate students around eastern Europe to visit sites connected with the Shoah, and “Letters to Auntie Fori” in which he told the history of Judaism in bite sized letter chunks originally written to an Indian lady he had adopted as an aunt.

Daniel Taub, Israel’s ambassador to Britain, summed up his contribution: “If modern Jewish history has a voice, it is the voice of Sir Martin Gilbert. It is hard to think of anyone who has done as much to document, to educate and to inspire, with passion and authenticity, the history of the Jews in modern times, the tragedy of the Shoah, the struggles of Jews in Arab lands and the Soviet Union, and the inspiring return of the Jewish people to statehood in the land of Israel. These were but a part of his extraordinary corpus of 80 works, which not only brought him recognition as a world class historian in many different fields, but enabled him to see and describe Jewish history against the canvass of world events.”

Jewish Identity

The old question – do we constitute a “people”, a civilisation/culture or are we “just” a religion? The best attempted answer for me to this came in an article by Brian Klug which Angela kindly sent to me:

“Why is “Jewish” the Houdini among identities: always escaping the boxes in which it is put?

Because the idea of “the people of God” is a conundrum and you cannot confine a conundrum to a box. The people (particular) of God (universal): it is a kind of surd: a quantity that does not add up or make sense, a formula that is always liable to split apart at the seams if Judaism forgets either element. When it forgets that it is a people it becomes a pale imitation of Christianity, turning itself into a kind of church. And when it forgets its

larger, universal aspect, it becomes just another nation or ethnos on the earth. But suppose the idea of “the people of God” remaining in tension with itself, holds: then what we get is a people defined by a surd: an absurd people: a particular people with a universal significance. That’s us, the Jewish people.”

Mark Walton

Community News

Alison & Marc Turner write:

Invitation to Baby Blessing

Alison and Marc Turner would like to invite everyone to the blessing and welcoming ceremony for their son Isaac George William Edward Turner. This will be on Saturday 11 July 2015 which is Shabbat Pinchas. The service will be at 11am and we are honoured to welcome Rabbi Danny Rich to take the service and baby blessing. Rabbi Danny Rich is the Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism where Alison works as a very part-time Archivist. The service will be in Hereford, contact Mark Walton for details. All are very welcome to meet baby Isaac and hear the story of why we chose the names we did and so many of them. There will be a special Kiddush and we hope to have visiting relatives and friends and good weather.

Hen Bradshaw writes:

It is with great sadness I have to say I am leaving you all and moving to Derbyshire. I have Young Onset Frontal Temporal Dementia, which gives me a life expectancy of approximately 8 years, and because my husband is much younger than me (his 40 to my 60) we thought that him being near his family for help was better than staying here with no-one but my friends. Don’t worry though, Nottingham has a Liberal Community and I aim to continue my studies.

Our new flat is in a lovely little village 4 miles from Chesterfield called Duckmanton. Our new home is warden assisted, 1 Markham Court, Duckmanton, Chesterfield S44 5HH. Please keep in touch, by post or, if you want to visit then email henbradshaw@gmail.com.

We wish Hen well in her new home, and would like to thank her and her children for their contributions to Learning Circle meetings, services and community events.

Learning Circle Corner

The Learning Circle group in Monmouth has decided not to continue with the Access to Liberal Judaism adult learning course. They will be meeting in future as a more informal group discussing various films and books of Jewish interest. If you would like to join them, please contact Mark Walton. The Learning Circle in Hereford will be continuing with the adult learning course after Pesach. We will begin with the Jewish Thought module, this comprises Jewish Identity, God, Prayer and Eternal life. Regular readers might note that we did this one last time, but due to illnesses and other factors like midwife and hospital appointments, we missed many of the sessions last year, so have decided to have another go at this module. Anyone who wishes to join is welcome, please contact Alison Turner.

HJC Website The website has been relaunched as a blog, it is still at http://www.herefordshirejc.org/ and now it has capacity for many more blog posts on anything of interest to us as a community. Please take a look at the new site and let me know if you would like to write something. I am still learning my way round it all, so there will be enhancements in due course.

Alison Turner

Maya Brown writes:

‘Oil Vey!’

A new organisation has sprung up, as a result of Jewish young people, interested in and passionate about environmental issues. Oil Vey, a name which was first suggested as a joke, is expanding. It is an organisation which will work on getting movements/organisations (or in this case synagogues) to divest-taking their investments away from and not investing in fossil fuels. This is similar to the student run fossil free campaign (run by People and Planet Groups), in which students campaign for their universities to divest from fossil fuels. This is all part of a larger movement of 350°. Org which started this idea off to get power away from the fossil fuel companies. It was figured out that the environment could not handle fossil fuels going beyond a certain amount, the temperature could not go beyond 2°, as our climate cannot handle the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere going beyond 350 parts per million. It is currently at 400. The fossil fuel companies are the ones that hold the power. If they do not stop hunting for fossil fuels, when the amount they have in their reserves is already too much, then the world we live in will soon become uninhabitable and dangerous, generations of humans will no longer be able to inhabit the earth. It is not the earth we are trying save, but the human race and all other inhabitants of the earth.

So, changing our lifestyles on its own will not achieve this goal and is difficult and blame giving. We must target fossil fuel companies. Oil vey came to Sheffield University J Soc (Jewish Society) and gave a workshop about the environment, and how Jews are meant to look after it, giving some quotes from the bible- the basic message being that we are stewards and are meant to care for the earth and not destroy it. We made a plan of action, as to how we can tackle work with Sheffield’s Jewish communities to divest from fossil fuels (if they in fact do invest) and leading on from that other faith organisations. This idea is not something you can do only through Hereford community (though not sure how this would work in practice) but through any other organisations you are part of. To find out more just got 350.0rg. Oil Vay are on facebook but I think do not have a website yet although they are setting up a blog.

Maya Brown

Letter from Mohamed Fahili, and Clare Lassman at Charles Clore Jewish Arab Community Centre, Acco – our Israeli Charity

Dear Friends

They say every cloud has a silver lining but for Fahili and me it has been hard to see one in the aftermath of the Israeli election. While we obviously accept the democratic process, it is hard to ignore or accept the racism directed at the more than 20% of Israeli citizens who are Arab. Surely most Israelis want to live in a society where every person is treated equally regardless of religion or background?

Imagine if Marine Le Pen had galvanised the French electorate to vote for her by warning that the Jews were voting in droves. Such language should galvanise people like us – who cherish justice, mutual respect and the dream that all its citizens should live in harmony – to action.

Fahili and I have worked together side by side for more than six years along with Jewish and Arab Israeli youth workers, teachers and trainers to serve the poor of Akko regardless of their faith. We endeavour to leave Politics and Religion at the door, enabling people to get to know one another through common interests and human concerns. We worked through the Akko riots in 2008, through terrorist acts in Israel and wars in Gaza. We have shared hopes for change – no more so than in the last few weeks – and work tirelessly to promote the Centre’s vision of shared living.

Please help us make the Centre a silver lining at this time. Since last week we have had offers of help from Israeli businessmen who want to do something to ensure that Arab youth have the tools to economically play a full part of society. We have had two donations from supporters who are very upset by the divisiveness of the election. Please add your support. We do make a difference and now, more than ever, we need to extend our services and outreach.

We intend to make our Centre a more active grass-roots MEETING PLACE, further reaching out to people from Akko and the Galil, and also welcoming groups from abroad who share our vision of a more just society. In the last week we welcomed 55 Conservative and Reform student rabbis from the US as well as 16 journalists from Germany and Austria. They saw first-hand the value of the work that we do. By bringing people together at a personal, educational and social level we can perhaps create a society that will withstand existential threats from within and beyond our borders. Please take a look at our new English website – ajcenter.org.il, or go straight to our online donation page at http://ajcenter.org.il/donate/

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Mohammad Fahili and Clare Lassman

Pesach Recipe

Foolproof K’neidlach (matzo balls)

Perhaps you have the perfect recipe for k’neidlach, or on the other hand you may have had that experience of making perfectly shaped matzo balls, only for these to change shape or disintegrate completely when put into soup. This recipe comes from chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s book, Jerusalem, but surprisingly the recipe was perfected by his Palestinian partner Sami Tamimi.

K’neidlach Recipe (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

Method

Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl until frothy. Whisk in the melted margarine, or fat, then ½ teaspoonful 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 the batter 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 gently boiling salted water. Cover partially n with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Simmer gently until tender, about 30 minutes.

We’ve done this for the last two years with great success, so hope any others who try this enjoy the result.

Julian Brown & Cherry Wolfe

Book Review: My Promised Land by Ari Shavit

This is a deep, honest, and challenging book, but very well worth reading for anyone who wants to understand the psychology of modern Israel and the wider context in which Israel exists. Ari Shavit is a columnist for the newspaper Haaretz – the Israeli equivalent of the Guardian – and has both very personal experiences to relate, as well as having done extensive research, over many years, into different facets of Israel’s existence. The contents of the book ranges from Zionism at the end of the 19th century when Shavit’s great-grandfather, Herbert Bentwich, first visited Israel, through the development of the kibbutz movement and the harshness of life in Palestine in the early 20th century, to the social and economic growth of the newly established state, and modern day issues of settlers, Israeli Arabs, the Ashkenazi – Sephardi divide, and much, much more. There is no aspect of Israeli life, you feel, that he does not address. As a diaspora Jew, who never the less has visited Israel many times, I felt that this is an Israel I had really only skimmed the surface of in my own experience.

Shavit’s writing is fresh and absorbing: through a series of personal stories of those who’ve been at the forefront of each of these different aspects of life in Israel, he takes you to the core issues of what makes Israel tick. Whatever view you have of Israel and the Middle East, this book will surely change your thinking.

Julian Brown

Food Bank Contributions

It’s good if we can keep up our contributions to the food bank, especially as homelessness and food poverty continue to be in the news. Remember you can include toiletries and cleaning items, as well as tinned, dried and long life food items. Just add a couple of items when you do your next shop. Please bring to our next Shabbat service on 16th May.

Other Events of interest

Thames Valley Day Limmud to be held Monday May 4 (bank holiday) in Maidenhead.

It looks to be a very interesting programme featuring Clive Lawton, Rabbis Jonathan Romain and Norman Solomon and many others. See: http://limmud.org/day/thames-valley/

Liberal Judaism’s “Day of Celebration” at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London on Sunday June 7 will be on theme of our relationship with Israel. See: www.liberaljudaism.org/events-activities/lj-day-of-celebration.html

 

HJC Diary of Events

Date                           Event                      Time        Place

Thursday 9th April Communal Seder 6.30 p.m. Parish Hall, Belmont, Hereford

Monday 4 May Thames Valley Day Limmud 9.30 – 6.15p.m. Maidenhead

Sunday 10th May HJC AGM +Communal Pub lunch 11.30 a.m. Hereford Pub t.b.c.

Saturday 16th May Shabbat Service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard 11 a.m. Ale House, Colwall

Sunday 7 June Liberal Judaism ‘Day of Celebration’ 9.30 – 5 p.m. Liberal Jewish Synagogue St. John’s Wood Road, London, NW8 7HA,

Saturday 11 July Shabbat Service and Baby Blessing for Isaac Turner led by Rabbi Danny Rich 11 a.m. Hereford.

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 May

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 down. All contributions are welcome but depending on format, the editor reserves the right to edit or hold over to a future edition if needed.

For further information please contact our Chair:

Mark Walton mark.walton@bridgescentre.org.uk Tel: 01594 530721

Communal Pesach Seder

The Herefordshire Jewish Community Passover Seder will be held at the Parish Room, Church of Our Lady, Belmont Road, Hereford on Thursday 9th April 2015, at 6.30pm.

Numbers are limited and will be allocated on a first come-first serve basis. The cost will be £22 each, children under 15 free.

The service will be led by Julian Brown and Mark Walton. Catering will be provided by Mary Springer – please choose your main course as shown below.

Please email mark.walton@bridgescentre.org.uk or phone Mark Walton on 01594 530721 after 6pm no later than Friday 27th March to get a booking form. 

Choice of main course: Salmon …………….Vegetarian …………..

DO IT NOW SO YOU DON’T FORGET!

 The festival of Passover begins on Friday 3 April 2015 at 7.22pm (London)