Reminder – Herefordshire Interfaith Peace Day service

There will be a Herefordshire Interfaith  Peace Day Service on Sunday 25 September at 5.30 p.m. in Hereford Cathedral, 5 College Cloisters, Cathedral Close, Hereford HR1 2NG.

This is an opportunity for people of all faiths and none to come together in a sincere desire to promote peace among all the peoples of the world.
Herefordshire Jewish Community will be contributing to the service by singing  Od Yavo Shalom Aleynu, which we have  sung before at services. It would be good to have a group of us leading this, so please let Cherry know beforehand if you are happy to join in.
Also it’s good if you can support HJC at this event.
Julian

Book now for Rosh Hashanah 2016/5777

Rosh Hashanah Gathering and Meal with readings, and music for the New Year

on Sunday 2 October, at 6.30pm at

Burgage Hall 

Ledbury

Herefordshire HR8 1DW

Directions for location and parking are here: http://www.ledburycivicsociety.org/burgage-hall/directions-to-burgage-hall/

Parking in the Bye Street car park is free on Sunday evening, and is only a short walk to Burgage Hall.

Burgage Hall is less than 10 minutes walk from Ledbury railway station.

£10 per head including a vegetarian meal and soft drinks.

Please book by 23 September to join our Jewish New Year celebration,  either by email to hjc@liberaljudaism.org or phone Mark Walton on 01594 530721 after 6pm.

rosh-hashana-flyer

Herefordshire Jewish Community Newsletter August/September 2016

Editorial

The summer is often a quiet time for our community, but certainly not so this year. Several of our members have been attending events both within and outside our local area, within the wider Liberal Jewish community and beyond, and with Interfaith activities.

For this reason, this newsletter is rather longer than usual, as we have had many contributions from members, which is very encouraging. However, readers may find they do not want to read it all in one go, for fear of overload of conference reports! Perhaps we need some alternative entries for next edition – story, article on some other topic, or recipe for example. I have not edited contributions sent in (except in one case), but may need to reconsider this policy in future.

Social Action – refugees. As we are living in a constantly changing political climate both nationally and internationally, we have to do our best to follow our own values and interpret them in the best way we can with regard to social and political action. The Rene Cassin Foundation is the Jewish organisation for Human Rights, and has been doing some very effective work with refugees and also those already in this country but who are detained in detention centres. See article on Limmud day on this topic.

ED

In this edition:

Chair Chat Biennial Reports Birmingham Limmud Reports Ammerdown report Chavurah Supper Interfaith events Charities Hebrew groups Book Review

CHAIR CHAT

ANN FRANK SERVICE

Our service on Saturday June 14 at Saxon Hall was a very special occasion led by Rabbi Andrew Goldstein, President of Liberal Judaism. Representatives of Christian and Buddhist faiths also attended. It was a great honour for us to have Rabbi Goldstein leading our service as he has so many links with present day Jewish communities in Europe and he gave an inspiring sermon on the importance of trees as symbols of renewal after destruction.   He spoke of the Anne Frank tree that had to be cut down, and its daughters – now growing in many locations….and a tree in Terezin that had the same fate.

Andrew also led an interesting study session for us on the Book of Ruth before the service. As an added bonus his wife, Sharon, enriched our service with her beautiful singing. We would also like to thank Peter Cocks, the Chair of the Saxon Hall Trust, for planting and nurturing the Anne Frank tree for us, and we would certainly like to make this an annual occasion.

LIMMUDNIKS

We certainly punched above our weight as a small community and it was wonderful to meet up again with Andrea Berry-Ottaway, who is well on her way to recovery. I had never been to a Limmud before and certainly enjoyed the informal but well organised atmosphere. The venue (Queen Elizabeth Hospital) and the food (lots of it) were both excellent. I was a little bit disappointed that there were no text based sessions – the session on the Psalms that I was going to attend was cancelled at the last moment. I particularly enjoyed the virtual tour of Jewish homes and hospitals in London by the excellent Rachel Kolsky and there was a particularly interesting session on end of life decisions led by a surgeon and our friend, Rabbi Margaret Jacobi. I would certainly go again to Limmud and encourage others to do so – a stimulating and enjoyable day.

THE FLYING LOVERS OF VITEBSK

If you love Chagall as I do, you would have loved this show which previewed at Bristol and went on to the Globe in London. Based very closely on Jackie Wullschlanger’s biography (also very well worth reading), it recounted Chagall’s courtship and marriage to Bella through the tempestuous times in which they lived. The story was told with movement and songs, many in Yiddish, and developed a magical atmosphere. The two actors bore an uncanny physical resemblance to Marc and Bella and recreated many of the scenes we are familiar with in Chagall’s paintings. There was humour but also sadness, in the destruction of Jewish culture in Vitebsk, the ravages of war and the early death of Bella. All in all, a great show.

NEXT SERVICE

Once again, Rabbi Danny Rich has come to our rescue and will be leading our service at Colwall on Saturday September 10. He has also agreed to lead a study session on a subject of our choice – any requests? We hope to have Rabbi Anna back with us after the High Holydays.

Biennial Reports

Alison Turner writes:

Liberal Judaism’s Biennial on 1st – 3rd July, was in Solihull this year, a new venue and thankfully much more compact than the previous one. I attended the whole weekend, Jaci Hannan joined me for the Saturday. Our old friend Rabbi Aaron Goldstein opened our Shabbat service with Rabbi Rachel Benjamin and his guitar and we had a choral service. On Saturday morning by contrast, we had Ma Tovu together, then we had an immersive prayer experience in various rooms. Options ranged from Solomon’s Temple with grain sacrifices, The Rabbinic period of freeform prayers around standard opening and closings, The Spanish Inquisition (chorus no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition), The Western Wall of the 2nd Temple, Chasidic dancing, Liberal Judaism around 1995 and the BuJew, influenced bythe teachings and practices of Buddhism. This was very interesting to be part of, though it did not last long. It reminded us that Judaism has always changed and adapted, and led us to our theme Thinking outside the book.

In the afternoon I attended a session on a strategy for music development. The vision is for our engagement with music to be at the forefront of Judaism and spirituality in the UK. Project aims are:

  1. Reinforcing and challenging our community’s musical traditions.

  2. Empowering music leaders and composers to be more successful and influential in musical practice.

  3. Creating closer ties of community access so we all have the same tunes.

  4. Maintaining a very high level of accessibility to new music and methods of delivery, using the internet and smartphones.

  5. Uphold intergenerational ties of music as a powerful means of engaging with youth.

They advise thinking of the atmosphere we wish to create in our service, then pick the music to enhance the text, engage and elevate our prayers. Cantors do this in the USA but it barely exists here in the UK. More music will go into the Resource Bank at ljresourcebank.org as copyright issues are cleared, and a songbook is planned. Funding will be needed for some of this.

I also went to a session on becoming a Baal Tefillah, a prayer leader for our community, which I hope to start in Jan. 2017. The course is personalised for each community so I will try to learn the things we need, for example there are differing levels of Hebrew used.

Jacquie Hannan writes:

LJ Biennial – July 1st – 3rd July 2016 – St John’s Hotel, Solihull, Birmingham.

Rabbi Charley Baginskey who chaired the Biennial committee was quoted as saying “the Biennial’s success is indicative of the passion that Liberal Judaism deserves.” This is a very apt view of the event in its entirety.

As an attendee for one day, my perspective was greatly limited by time. On my arrival, singers with guitars enlivened corridors as people poured into the hall for the Shabbat Shacharit service. Speakers, including Rabbis from Northwood and Elstree, ensured interest, conviviality, and a sincere time of worship. The service was followed by new graduations from the Ba’alei Tefillah Course. I attended two discussion sessions:

Is God still an Englishman?” – Cole Moreton and Rabbi David Goldberg

The author Cole Moreton is a broadcaster, journalist and feature writer for the Independent and Telegraph newspapers, and a professional speaker with an eclectic understanding of the UK’s contemporary social structures and politics. On receiving his 2016 Press Award, Cole’s reply was “It pays to compliment your audience”. This approach was evidently paying off at the Biennial, as the audience seemed more than duly appreciative, when he conveyed the gist of his book was that more than 75% of English people are developing a new spiritually separate from the mainstream ones to which they no longer feel any affiliation. I question whether true empathy arises without understanding of how a person can hold on to a deep enough faith to be sustainable through trials. Of course Cole is too gracious and socially aware to ever offend, and as in his many faceted book, he stands at edge of a sea of profundities and inference, barely wetting his toe, looking around for people not to offend. However, the issues were too vast to have been explored to any depth in that context.

The wise and erudite Rabbi David Goldberg was paired as his counterpart, perhaps an unenviable position due to their diverse stances.

How do we respond to Brexit and the apparent Division within Society and as a movement?

Ben Rich, Danny Rich, Tanya Sakhnovich, Nottingham Synagogue, and Ilan Baron, Durham University.

I attended this session, eagerly anticipating the imaginative exploration of roads forward following the democratic referendum. Sadly, the time only allowed for airing of frustrations held by most people present, who viewed their opponents who voted for Brexit as being both racists and stupid and uninformed about fiscal matters. Democracy can be surprisingly emotive. I reminded some people that anti-Semitism and related violence has been greatly increasing in Europe in recent years, completely unrelated to Brexit, and has resulted in the increase of numbers fleeing to Israel.

It was an interesting day, with opportunity to socialise with many lovely people from a wide variety of locations. Had I been able to stay longer, I would have chosen to attend many stimulating and very enjoyable sessions from the wide range on offer.

Angela West writes:

Wisdom Literature at the Ammerdown Conference Centre, Somerset, with Rabbi Howard Cooper, July 1st-3rd

The Ammerdown Centre has been the beautiful setting for several interfaith events that I have attended here in the past. The focus this time was on the text of Qohelet/Ecclesiastes, and the Jews in the group tended to be rather thin on the ground. But at least Howard made every one aware that it was a Hebrew text in translation we were considering (which those who think of the Hebrew scriptures as the ‘Old Testament’ occasionally tend to forget). It was good to be reminded that all translations are in fact interpretations.

Actually, in the course of the weekend, we only managed a couple of chapters of the text, as Howard takes an intensive rather extensive approach to bible study. Some would no doubt have preferred to get more of an overview, but I was fortunate in having some sense of the whole text as we had studied it at Bible Week the year before. Qohelet contains some stunningly beautiful poetry (I’m specially haunted by 12:3-8) but it is rather unusual among biblical texts in its uncompromising rejection of meaningfulness in human life: ‘Utter futility – said Qoheleth – all is futile!’ (12:8). Unlike most other texts in the Hebrew Bible, here God does not seem to be in charge of history – not that of Israel or of anyone else’s. Not a very reassuring theme – though some people in the group were clearly determined to derive some moral uplift from the text despite its apparent absence. May be the reasoning was: it’s in the bible so it must be edifying.

A question that often arises for me is: how does the religious/historical context of the reader affect how she reads the text? Just before one of the sessions, a lady sitting next to me remarked during a conversation: “My mother never really forgave Hitler. My father had just invested in a new bowler hat – and it got lost during an air raid!” I’m not sure to what extent she endorsed her mum’s perspective on this matter, as the session started before we had time to continue… But those who, like me, are exercised by this question, might be interested to know of Emil Fackenheim’s response to it in his book: The Jewish Bible After the Holocaust: A Re-reading.

Angela West

Limmud Day Reports

West Midlands Limmud day, Birmingham, Sunday 10 July 2016

On Sunday 10 July, five members of HJC, Mark, Angela, Shirley, Julian & Cherry attended the first Limmud study day to be held in Birmingham, hosted by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Medical Centre. We had a warm welcome from Richard Wharton, chaplain of QEH, who had been very instrumental in helping set up the Limmud day, and from Rabbi Yossi Jacobs of Singers Hill synagogue, who as always, had a pithy story to tell us. We then went off to a wide range of talks, film, and workshops, and between us covered a wide range of topics which included:

  • A holocaust survivor’s journey from Auschwitz to Birmingham
  • What are Jewish communities doing to help refugees in Calais and Dunkirk, and how can we improve the rights of those held in detention centres within the UK (where conditions are in some cases worse than prisons, as there is no knowing how long you may, as a refugee, have to remain there)?
  • The fascinating history of London’s Jewish homes and hospitals from the 18th century until today.
  • Jewish migration – how did we all come to be here, where did we come from, and most importantly why did we come?
  • Jewish music, art, and not least spirituality were part of other sessions engaged in.

All who went felt they gained something positive from the day, and all felt it was worth the effort, especially for the Monmouth contingent who had a long journey to get there. Perhaps next time there may be someone in our community who could present a session, as well as simply drinking in the wisdom of others?

Julian Brown

Shirley Goldstein writes:

One of my choices was listening to Mindu Hornick – From Auschwitz to Birmingham

An inspirational speaker who spoke straight from the heart, taking us through her life journey –  how she survived the horrors of the holocaust as a young girl losing her parents, two brothers and, after the war ended, found herself living in Birmingham and managed to adjust to life living with an Uncle and Aunt.  She went on to marry and had two children.   For many years she was too traumatised to speak about her earlier life and after around 20 years she started to communicate to her close family in the UK what had happened in the past.  She later decided to dedicate herself to sharing her story to schools and adults as an education for future generations.  She was moving, humbling and sincere and it was very touching listening to her.  She had an elegance, dignity and beauty that just shone through.

Great Jewish Lyricists – Mike Levy  

Most interesting workshop exploring words and music and how the two blended together, sharing the genius of the individual Jewish writers and musicians in days gone by.  It was very well presented and gave a fascinating insight into the clever use of words, sheer poetry and unbridled creativity.  We looked at the work of Ira and George Gershwin, Rogers and Hammerstein, Sammy Cahn and others – Many of the songs that we grew up with, loved and enjoyed from the great musicals of the past. 

Saving Forgotten Jews – Richard Rothschild Pearson

A most fascinating documentary showing how 18,000 Jewish people were rescued from Ethiopia and flown to Israel, after Israel received a request asking for help and to be rescued.  These were said to be part of the lost Tribe of 12 Tribes of Israel.  Three men, a Manchester Textile Merchant, a Mossad Spy and a seasoned Diplomat were instrumental in aiding this miraculous escape.  The film shown was very thought provoking on so many levels, especially when we look at what is going on in the world today with so many people being displaced and fleeing war and persecution.  It certainly gave food for thought when we reflect on the huge adjustments ahead once the people had managed to reached safety.  It was a fantastic achievement showing such courage and determination by all the people involved in this huge rescue operation. The film was beautifully made – a labour of love.

In terms of the Limmud day in Birmingham, it didn’t disappoint.  Each of the workshops I attended was an education, and was extremely well presented and was offered to the participants taking part as a pure gift.  Thank you for a wonderful day, I am so glad I came along.  

Shirley Goldstein

 Rene Cassin, Social Action and UK Detention Centres.

What do these three things have in common? A talk given by Sam Grant and Margaret Jacobi, gave us some insight into the current work of the Rene Cassin Foundation which is a Jewish Human Rights organisation. Rene Cassin was a French lawyer who was the driving force for the drawing up of the Universal declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

This organisation has been working in cooperation with many others in order to improve the conditions of asylum seekers kept in detention Centres in the UK. These centres are often far away from population centres, and the detainees are kept without any fixed time limit. Britain is one of only two countries in Europe that do not have a fixed period of detention for asylum seekers. The speakers were able to report some recent changes to the law, as a result of intense lobbying by the coalition of organisations working on this issue. For example, pregnant women and children now have strict limits on how long they can be detained. The situation is still far from ideal, and many people are unaware of what happens to many refugees when they finally reach the UK, thinking that they can now be free, but finding instead that they are kept in prison like conditions for an unknown period of time, which inmates can find very upsetting. That this state of affairs is allowed to continue in a Western democracy is regarded by many as a scandal. We will have to see what the new Home Secretary is prepared to do on this front.

For more information, see: http://www.renecassin.org/

Julian Brown

Chavurah – 15 July 2016

What is a Chavurah?

We had cheesecake and desserts, more than we could eat.

We had 2 guitars and beautiful voices for Friday evening songs and participation.

We had company, 17 of us, all somehow fitting into Cherry & Julian’s kitchen.

We had an experience like no other in HJC – a community gathering, yet also a Friday evening/Erev Shabat at home.

We had reflections on prayer, and learning that the world’s problems can be solved by activity, rather than passivity.

We had a wonderful of choice of tasty dishes and salads for our meal.

We had baby Isaac to delight us with smiles and play, and to test us with cries and squeals.

We learned that together we can become a strong community, acknowledging and respecting each other’s differences.

JB

 

Hebrew Groups

Hebrew groups have been running successfully now in both Monmouth and Malvern, although some learners were not able to attend the last sessions. The July session in Malvern was in part a musical one as we had the benefit of Cherry playing guitar, and we worked together on the Shema – singing, reading, and looking at the meaning. We continue to have interesting discussions and this is one of the highlights of our groups.

Most learners now have their own books, and we even have surplus copies of some books if anyone would like to purchase one. We are finding that the Learn Hebrew Today book (green book) is good for basic reading practice, but looking at meaning and roots of words is also important, and we found the Aleph Isn’t Enough book very informative in the last session. Books can be bought from Janet Elf at the Jewish Book service, or also via the web. If new learners wish to join groups in September, they would be very welcome, but contact Cherry or myself beforehand, so we can assess what level you are at.

Proposed next meeting dates are: Tuesday 20th September, 7.30 p.m. Malvern. Tuesday 27th September 4 p.m. Monmouth.

Julian Brown

Hebrew Reading Group

Jaci Hannan, Isaac and I have been privileged to attend a Hebrew Reading Group at the home of Archdeacon Paddy Benson in Hereford. They are working their way through Exodus, we joined them near the end of chapter 12, and worked our way through chapter 13. Each person reads a verse in Hebrew, then translates it into English, either from their own knowledge or from their Bible.

Isaac did not scream once, nor did he take any notice of the offered toys, preferring to run around and poke his nose in wherever he could: his favourite toy was an empty waste paper basket. We were made very welcome, as I’m sure would any other new members.

Alison Turner

Book Review:Some never see a map: a Talmud for creative community leadership

This is a very interesting piece of Talmud launched at the Biennial. It is “Some never see a map: a Talmud for creative community leadership” by Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu and Claire Helman. This is a new column of Talmud from Kehillah North London, talking about travelling forward, styles of leadership, cycles of the year, values, aloneness, tallit, spiritual space and resolving conflict. It is beautifully illustrated and has diverse voices weaving in and out of each other, our traditions and new ways of looking at things. I would like to recommend everyone to get a copy from rabbi@kehillah.org.uk and hope to lead a study session based on it. It is only 14 pages of A4 size and it gives me the confidence to say this, being aware that people I know can write Talmud and it lifts my spirits to new heights.

Alison Turner

Interfaith Activities

Somme Vigil – 1st July 2016

At 7 a.m., on 1st July, as representatives of HJC, Cherry and I attended the Somme Vigil at Malvern’s War Memorial, organised by Malvern Town Council. The event included readings of contemporary letters, news reports and poetry, as well as prayers for the many who had lost their lives. I was unaware that the Somme battle lasted for some 4 months, and that there were such huge losses on the first day 1st July 1916. Some of the individual accounts of local people who had lost their lives in the Somme were very moving, and the address by the Head of Malvern College, from where so many of the officer class came, was fluent and inspiring (as perhaps you might expect). Not how I would usually spend that hour of the day, but worth attending.

Peace Concert and other activities:

Several members have been involved in other interfaith activities or meetings, so we are quite active. HJC are part of the planning for the Peace Day Concert on 25th September, where we are contributing a Hebrew song to the proceedings. Please keep this date clear if you can, as it was a very worthwhile occasion last year.

 

Forthcoming Events

 

High Holyday services

In addition to our own Erev Rosh Hashanah evening, we are invited to join in with Rosh Hashanah morning service and Yom Kippur services at Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community (GLJC). See details below.

Rosh Hashanah Morning Oct 3rd 11.00 am at Friends Meeting House, Greyfriars, Gloucester, GL1 1TS. We will adjourn to a nearby restaurant for a communal Rosh Hashanah Lunch after the service. Please let Jill Rosenheim know in advance if you would like to join us for lunch so she can give appropriate numbers to the restaurant.

Contact:jillrosenheim@btinternet.com or 07771604735.

 Kol Nidre 11th October 7.00pm at Up Hatherley Village Hall (UHVH), Cold Pool Lane, Cheltenham GL51 6JA

 Yom Kippur 12th October 11.00am – 7.30pm approx. at Friends Meeting House, Greyfriars, Gloucester, GL1 1TS. with Morning and Additional Service, Study or walk, Afternoon service, Yizkor and Concluding Service then breaking the fast with a communal chavurah meal.

HJC High Holyday Charity Appeal

As a community HJC aims to raise at least £100 for each of our chosen charities, and this year we are hoping to raise even more, as we have an increasingly active community, and we have very worthwhile causes to support. Our chosen charities are the Charles Clore Centre, and Combat Stress.

Donations can be made at our Rosh Hashanah gathering, but you can also send donations to our Treasurer, Alison Turner. Cheques payable to Herefordshire Jewish Community.

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 September 2016

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

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Saturday 10th Sept Study Session led by Rabbi Danny Rich 10 a.m. Colwall Ale House
Saturday 10th Sept Shabbat Service led by Rabbi Danny Rich 11 a.m. Colwall Ale House
Sunday 2nd October Erev Rosh Hashanah Celebration meal and Readings – led by Julian & Cherry 6.30 p.m. Burgage Hall, Church Lane, Ledbury HR8 1DW
Friday Oct 21st/ OR Sat Oct 22nd t.b.c. Simchat Torah Service – led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard t.b.c. t.b.c. Bridges Centre, Drybridge Park, Monmouth, NP25 5AS

Other Events of Interest

Sunday 25th September Hereford Interfaith Group Peace Concert 5.30 p.m. Hereford Cathedral
Monday, Oct 3rd Rosh Hashanah Service – GLJC 11.00 a.m. Friends Meeting House, Greyfriars, Gloucester, GL1 1TS
Tuesday October 11th GLJC Kol Nidre Service 7 p.m. Up Hatherley Village Hall (UHVH), Cold Pool Lane, Cheltenham GL51 6JA
Wednesday, October 12th GLJC Yom Kippur Services, followed by breaking of Fast & meal. 11.00 a.m. (t.b.c.) – 7.30 p.m. Friends Meeting House, Greyfriars, Gloucester, GL1 1TS
Further Services and events
Sunday November 20th Mitzvah Day at Saxon Hall

Working in the garden

t.b.c. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford

 

 

Interfaith event Leominster

Herefordshire Interfaith Forum is having a Face to Faith event on Tue 5 July 7-9pm at Leominster Methodist Church, Green Lane, Leominister HR6 8QJ

You are warmly invited to an informal evening to celebrate the different faith communities in Herefordshire. Learn about our different faiths through friendship, conversation, readings and music. Light refreshments.

For further details contact Frances Biseker 01568 612406

HJC should have a table with artefacts and prayer shawls to show people what sorts of things we do. Yes, we have been invited to bring fruit or vegetarian finger food to share and of course we will, eating together is an important part of what HJC does.

Herefordshire Jewish Community Newsletter June/July 2016

Editorial

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

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

Julian Brown

In this edition:

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

CHAIR CHAT April 2016

AGM

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

SEDER

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

 

HEBREW LESSONS ARE GOOD FOR THE BRAIN – OFFICIAL

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

ANNE FRANK SERVICE, SATURDAY JUNE 11.

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

This should be a very special and interesting service.

Mark Walton

 

Charities

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

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

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

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

My Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

 Many thanks in anticipation for your continued support

 Mohammad Fahili – Director 

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

Hebrew Groups

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

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

Julian Brown

Herefordshire Interfaith Activities

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

Community News

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

Chavurah Supper

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

Gender Discrimination on El Al Flight?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Forthcoming Events

Limmud Birmingham WM 2016 – Sunday 10th July 2016!

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham B15 2TH

Where else can you learn…

  • about the work of Janusz Korczak?

  • study Megillat Esther as a literary text.

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

  • watch a film about Ethiopian Jewry.

  • discuss the future of our community.

    gain insights into the current situation in the Middle East

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

  • What can I expect on the day?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

    LJ Biennial Community Task.

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

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

     

    Subscriptions

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

    Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 July 2016

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

    Calendar of  HJC events

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

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

    Other events of interest

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

HJC Newsletter April/May 2016

Editorial

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

Julian Brown

In this edition:   

Chair Chat                  NIF/Yachad Security Conference                   Purim News               

Leo Baeck Youth Orchestra Concert              Herefordshire Interfaith Group report       

A Worcestershire Jewish Mystery                           Donation Thank you letters

                                                            Hebrew Learning

CHAIR CHAT April 2016

SERVICES

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

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

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

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

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

AGM

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

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

Mark Walton

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

Report by Jacquie Hannan

 

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

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

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

The Opening Plenary Part 1.

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

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

“Core Security Challenges”

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

It was an informative conference and well worth attending.        

 Jacquie Hannan

 

 

Purim news

Alison Turner writes:

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

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

 

Leo Baeck Youth Orchestra Concert BPS

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

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

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

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

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

Julian Brown

Herefordshire Interfaith Meeting – report by Alison Turner

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

 

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

Hebrew Learning

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

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

High Holyday Appeal Thank you letters

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

 

A Fascinating Story – Worcestershire mystery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forthcoming Events

HJC Communal Seder

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

 

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

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

For this year’s Biennial, LJ comment:

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

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

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

 

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 May 2016

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

HJC Diary of Events

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

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

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

Other Events of Interest

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

HJC Newsletter December 2015/January 2016 – Chanukah Edition

Editorial

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

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

Julian Brown

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

CHAIR CHAT

Shabbat Services

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

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

Jewish Chronicle

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

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

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

We have found there that there are four benefits:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark Walton

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

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

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

An extract is given here:

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

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

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

Peter Hulme

South West Shabbaton on November 28th 2015

at Jurys Inn, Swindon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Angela West

Alison Turner writes:

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

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

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

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

Alison Turner

Jacqui Hannan writes:

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

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

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

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

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

Jacqui Hannan

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

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

Refugees

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

Hebrew

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

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

Short article on the alphabet to follow for anyone interested.

JB

Hebrew Alphabet

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

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

The Square Hebrew Alphabet 

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

Hereford & Malvern Foodbanks

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

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

Items requested by Hereford Food Bank are:

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

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

Thank you. Any queries please contact them on 01432 353347

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

 

London Klezmer Quartet – Bridges Centre, Monmouth 5 December

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

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

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

Forthcoming Events

Limmud Conference – Birmingham, 27 – 31 December 2015

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

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

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 January 2016

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

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Saturday 12th December

Chanukah service and party, led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

3 p.m.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford, HR2 6HE

Saturday 23rd January

Shabbat Service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

11 a.m.

Ale House Colwall

Saturday 27th February

Shabbat service led by Rabbi Margaret Jacobi

11.a.m.

Ale House Colwall 

Other Events of Interest

27th Dec – 31st Dec 2015

Limmud Winter Conference – residential or day places available.

Birmingham

 

Prayer in response to the attacks in Paris, November 2015

Offered by Liberal Judaism Senior Rabbi and Chief Executive, Danny Rich at a Citizens UK inter-faith vigil of solidarity with Paris and unity in London held on Sunday 15th November, at Potters Fields by City Hall, London.

El Male Rachamim: God, full of Compassion:
Our thoughts and prayers go to the families and friends of those who were brutally murdered in Paris on Friday evening. They, like so many others around the globe, are the victims of what sometimes appears to be on-going evil acts of terror.

We express our solidarity with the residents of Paris and the citizens of France for whom this is the second outrage in 2015. It is an attack on the freedoms and ethical way of life – at the heart of Jewish teaching – by which Jews in every country would seek to live.

We commend the efforts of all of those in public service who tend the wounded, comfort the bereaved, protect the vulnerable, and work to pursue the perpetrators.

We call upon Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and those of all faiths and none to endorse the values of pluralism and democracy which require respect for the rule of law and the rejection of terror.

Acts of terror: ‘Not in Our Name’.

Eternal God, as we appreciate the world is a partnership between You and humanity so do we call for the unity of all people of compassion and decency to fulfil the vision expressed in the metaphorical hope of the Biblical Hebrew Prophet, Micah (4:4):

“And each shall sit under their vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.”

Programme for South West Regional Shabbaton announced

The Regional Shabbaton  will be in Swindon on Saturday 28 November, 10am-6pm.  It will be at Jury’s Inn, Swindon, Fleming Way SN1 2NG

This is a joint venture brought to you by Liberal Judaism’s communities in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Oxford, Reading, Wessex, and Bristol & West. It is a Liberal Judaism event, kindly sponsored by the NLPS Trust.

A relaxing day of Jewish learning, services and community.

Book online at www.tinyurl.com/southwestshabbaton or call Aaron Abraham at Liberal Judaism on 0207 631 9830

Cost is £20 for adults, £5 for children (includes lunch and refreshments)

10:00 – 10:20
Registration in Foyer

10:20 – 11:20
Morning Session 1: Beit Midrash: Identity
Guided chevrutah text study on the week’s themed reading.
Rabbi Sandra Kviat
Room 4

Morning Session 2: Prayer Before Prayer
Preparation for prayer through music and meditation.
Alexander Massey
Room 5

Youth Session: Who are we? (ages 5-9)
Games and activities to explore what makes us who we are.
LJY-Netzer
Room 6

Youth Session: What makes us Jewish? (ages 10-15)
Games and a chance to consider what makes a Jew.
LJY-Netzer
Room 7

11:30 – 13:00
Shabbat Service
Musical service, with sermon from Rabbi Danny Rich.
Rabbi Monique Meyer
Room 4

Youth Shabbat Service
Creative service for 5-15 year-olds – LJY Netzer Style!
Rabbi Sandra Kviat
Room 6

13:00 – 14:30
Kiddush & Lunch in Foyer & Restaurant

14:30 – 15:45
Early Afternoon Session 1: Why are we Liberal?
In Conversation: Do we still need Jewish denominations?
Rabbi Danny Rich & Gary Webber
Room 4

Early Afternoon Session 2: From Chelm to Chasid
Enjoy and learn how to use storytelling in your community.
Julian Brown
Room 5

Early Afternoon Session 3: Sustaining Community
Practical workshop and sharing about outreach and continuity.
Rabbi Anna Gerrard
Room 6

Youth Session 1: Leaving Home (ages 5-9)
Creative activities and learning about refugees.
LJY-Netzer
Room 7

Youth Session 2: In a Strange Land (ages 10-15)
A session about Judaism, the refugee crisis and peer leadership.
LJY-Netzer
Room 8

15:45 – 16:15
Afternoon Tea in Foyer

16:15 – 17:30
Late Afternoon Session 1: Refugee Matters
Panel Discussion: Experiences of working with refugee communities – chaired by Rabbi Danny Rich.
Tony Samuel, Rita Adler & Rabbi Lea Muehlstein
Room 4

Late Afternoon Session 2: Tomorrow’s Siddur
Share your views about the possibility of a new Liberal siddur.
Nicky Spencer-Hutchings
Room 5

Late Afternoon Session 3: Chanukah Crafts (ages 0-99)
Have fun making Chanukah decorations for your home.
Sue Naydorf
Rooms 6 & 7

17:30-18:00
Havdallah in Foyer

June/July 2015 – Shavuot Edition Newsletter HJC

Editorial

The theme of Liberal Judaism’s Day of Celebration on 7 June this year is Liberal Judaism’s ‘contemplation and celebration’ of its relationship with Israel. There is a fascinating programme, so I’m glad that Alison and Marc will be representing HJC there. The theme of our forthcoming interfaith event to mark Anne Frank day is ‘courage’ as embodied by Anne Frank as a young person, but is also to recognise those who have fought to defend human rights in recent times with the dedication of a Remembrance garden.

The themes of youth and relationships with Israel are also coincidentally covered in this issue with two separate but in many ways similar initiatives in Israel linking Israeli young people, both Arab and Jewish, one in Acco and one in Jaffa. While there are many difficult issues about how we see Israel and how Israel is seen in the diaspora, these initiatives show what can be done to sow the seeds of friendship for future generations, and we encourage HJC members to support an initiative one of these projects run by the Charles Clore Centre, who we have supported in the past.

Julian Brown

CHAIR CHAT

AGM

Many thanks to all who came to the AGM. We had a fantastic turnout (22 out of 28 members!) which was unprecedented for one of our AGMs. We were able to make some important changes to our constitution: regularising the status of non Jewish members and enabling non Jewish partners to be buried in the Jewish section of the Hereford cemetery. We were delighted that Hannah Wine agreed to join the Council. The AGM was followed by an excellent and very convivial Sunday lunch. We have decided that the Trumpet Inn is the epicentre of our community!

ANDREA BERRY-OTTAWAY

The AGM also marked the resignation of Andrea as Treasurer. As I said in my Chair’s Report, “Unfortunately, Andrea has decided to resign from the Council after 20 selfless years of service due to ill health. Andrea has been the beating heart of the community, the fount of all knowledge, the chief organiser of events and the person who has kept in touch with all our members. We will miss her tremendously and would like to thank her for the great contribution she has made to the continuity of HJC and obviously wish her a speedy return to full health.”

SHUL CRAWL

To continue my irregular series. I visited Bristol Progressive on April 11. I always feel very welcome here. It is a cosmopolitan and erudite community, probably as a result of the university presence. Rabbi Monique Mayer is obviously very popular and has an excellent rapport with congregation.

There were about 30 people at the service which contained a lot more singing than we are used to. It included a very Interesting text study on parashat “shemeini” – with the two sons of Aaron consumed by fire (or “getting zapped”, to use Monique’s term) for not doing the temple sacrifices correctly.

The shul is currently being refurbished and was thus somewhat bare although it is usually very comfortable. It is not in the most salubrious area of Bristol and difficult to find if you don’t know where you’re going.

It has a very strong cheder, apparently attracting families from as far away as Cardiff, and an excellent monthly magazine, “Alonim”.

Last, but by no means least, they normally have a good kiddush but it was much reduced when I went because of the refurbishment

EVA KOR

I was very moved by the testimony of Eva Kor who gave evidence at the recent trial of Oskar Groning, who was known as the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz”. She embraced and forgave him – an act that she was heavily criticised for by other survivors. Her parents, two older sisters and many other relatives were murdered in Auschwitz. Eva and her twin sister, Miriam, suffered terribly at the hands of the infamous Dr Josef Mengele – her sister subsequently dying, almost certainly as a result of the poisons that had been injected into her, while Eva miraculously survived. She wrote in an article in “The Times”:

“Forgiveness is different from reconciliation. Forgiveness is an act of self healing, self liberation and self empowerment. I do not need anybody’s approval or acceptance. Reconciliation takes two people, this is why it is so difficult.

I also call forgiveness the best revenge against the perpetrator. And everyone can afford it. It is free. If you do not like it, you can take back your pain. No one will stop you.

Some Holocaust survivors do not like this and some call me a traitor. I have been told that in Jewish tradition, the perpetrator must repent and ask forgiveness. Do you think that Hitler, Himmler and Mengele would have repented and asked for forgiveness? What would that do for my freedom? Should I remain a victim for the rest of my life? ………..

It is not only Jews who tend to nurture victimhood. It is an international problem. The world is filled with victims because nobody is making the right effort to help people heal.

That is why I am so passionate about forgiveness. I realised that Hitler was an angry man who considered himself a victim. Anger is a seed for war. Forgiveness is a seed for peace. I forgave the Nazis, not because they deserve it but because I deserve it.”

RABBI ANNA

We were very sorry to hear about her recent illness and wish her a speedy recovery back to full health. We were very grateful to Julian and Cherry for stepping in at short notice to lead the service on May 16.

Mark Walton

Seder 2015

Though not as large as previous years, we had an enjoyable Pesach Seder at Belmont Parish Hall this year. 

Continuing our series of interviews with community members –

Meet Your Community – Alison Turner

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in North-West London on the outskirts near Pinner, going to secondary school in Harrow, grammar, not the public school!

Was there a Jewish community there?

There was a Jewish community in Pinner, but it was much smaller than it is now.

Was your family observant/kasher etc.?

My mother and father were observant and kept a kosher home, they were members of Harrow United Synagogue I think, which has since closed. Sadly my mother died when I was only 2 years old. Then I was looked after by my father’s mother, who was from Latvia and had come from there to Belgium with her family, then gone back to Russia, escaped  after the Russian Revolution to Antwerp, married and settled in Paris, then escaped from there during the Second World War and settled in London. She thought it would be safer for me not to be Jewish, so she didn’t keep kosher or observe Judaism at all. Then my father remarried and suddenly my sister and I were in a kosher observant home, where we were members of Pinner United Synagogue. I discovered Progressive Judaism later on my own.

Have you visited Israel?

Yes I have been 4 times, first with my boyfriend for a month, then with 2 Liberal Jewish tours, then on my honeymoon.

Do you have any knowledge of Hebrew?

Not much, some prayerbook Hebrew but very little modern Hebrew.

What is your favourite Jewish food?

Smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels.

What do you value most about your Jewish connection?

Being rooted in Jewish history, family, language, food, approach to the Divine.

How has being a member of HJC influenced your Jewish identity/connection?

It has kept me part of the Liberal Jewish community even though I am now far from London and mainstream Jewish life. I think there were more Jewish people in our street when we last lived in London, then in the whole county we now live in. HJC is my lifeline to Judaism in Herefordshire.

What do you value in particular about Liberal Judaism?

Women Rabbis and the ability to question and to relate religion to 21st century modernity. I felt excluded from United Synagogue services, like an outsider watching the men pray. In Liberal services I feel included, I know my contribution counts as part of the community and women can take any role they like, whether housewife or Rabbi.

What would you say is the Jewish highlight of your life? 

My wedding to Marc at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue, conducted by Rabbis Shulamit Ambalu and Rabbi Aaron Goldstein and surrounded by family and friends, including Orthodox family and non-Jewish friends.

If you have children, are any of them involved in Jewish activities?

Too young to say, we still count his age in weeks, not months or years. He has been to Purim and Shabbat services and to a community Seder as well as Shabbat and Pesach at home. He’s booked into the creche at the Liberal Judaism Day of Celebration. We hope he will want to continue to be involved when he is older. 

Charities

Foodbank Contributions

We have made donations to both Hereford and Malvern foodbanks over the past few months, and many members of HJC have made generous contributions, which have been much appreciated by the foodbank organisers. The next opportunity to bring donations will be at the Shabbat service on 11 July. A big thanks to everyone who has supported this initiative.

Martha Trust

We have received the following letter from Martha Trust on behalf of HJC donation.

Dear Mr Brown

Thank you for your kind donation of £100.00 which will be used towards the purchase of books for our residents. We have two homes caring for people aged between 16 and 45 all of whom have complex physical and intellectual difficulties so the money will be divided between both homes.

Due to the nature of their disabilities our residents are unable to read themselves however the staff read stories to the residents on a daily basis. We also have a story sack containing various pros relating to the specific story. The carers act out the stories which the residents love and although they would not admit it I think the carers have great fun playing the various characters in the book.

I hope this is acceptable to you. Please pass on our thanks to everyone who contributed to this generous donation and for agreeing to support Martha trust.

Kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Sue Mc Bride

Trust Director

Charles Clore Centre Summer Camp

We also thought it would be good if as a community we could support Charles Clore centre (who we have supported in the past) for a specific project – the summer Camp – see below. If you would like to support this, we will be having a collection at the Anne Frank Day service to try to raise the £100 needed to send a child to summer camp. You can also make an individual donation online (but let us know if you do this).

My Dear Friends

We are getting excited planning our Arab-Jewish Summer Camp for at-risk children in July and wish to ask if you would like to sponsor child to attend this year. 

You may remember that we wrote of the children’s huge disappointment at the cancellation of last year’s camp because of the war which made their security impossible to guarantee.  We are hoping to give them a wonderful time this year to make up for this and the more money we raise, the more children we can take.

It has been a hard year for those of us working towards a shared society.  The mistrust during the Gaza war last summer was compounded during the violence that followed within Israel and left many of us feeling hopeless.  Communities have become even more polarised and the general election here has resulted in a government whose position towards full equality is quite clear.  And yet, and because of all of this, the small things that we can affect, such as enabling poor Arab and Jewish kids to play together for three weeks during the long, hot summer, must be encouraged.  

100 British pounds will pay for a child to attend our three-week camp – to swim at a local kibbutz, to play in football tournaments, to do art, play music, enjoy daytrips and laugh and laugh.

Thank you in anticipation for enabling the children of Akko to get off the boiling and sometimes dangerous streets for this period, get to know each other and, hopefully through this experience, become part of a more just future for this country,

It’s now so easy to make a gift to our centre.  Simply click here to donate online https://support.newisraelfund.org.uk/clore-centre .

Mohammad Fahili

Director – Sir Charles Clore Jewish-Arab Community Centre, Akko

 Dancing in Jaffa – film review

Cherry and I went to see this film for Cherry’s birthday, and we were so glad we did. Pierre Dulaine has done an amazing task getting more than 2000 children by now, of both Jewish and Palestinian origins, dancing together within the Jaffa community. The film charts the course of one of these groups of around 30 children on a 12 week programme, from tentative first steps to giving a full competition performance at the end. Getting inner city children mixed boys and girsl aged 12 to do ballroom dancing is a difficult task at the best of times . Getting Jewish and Palestinian children to dance together is an amazing achievement. When you see these children with a mixture of shyness, sullenness, difficult backgrounds suddenly smiling and getting up to dance, it lifts your heart.

Pierre Dulaine comes from a mixed background with Palestinian mother and Irish father, and has been dancing and teaching dance for over 40 years. He is a 4 times ballroom dancing world champion. You can read more about the film’s vision below.

Our Vision

Although set in Israel, our film is ultimately about one man’s hopeful endeavour to shift the paradigm and stop the hate.
More than anything, we hope that 
Dancing in Jaffa can help transcend geographic and cultural boundaries by raising awareness of the challenges involved in dealing with hatred, while also proving that change is always possible, even in the direst of situations.

The film demonstrates the powerful role that the arts, and dance in particular, can play in enabling children to overcome prejudice and build strong personal ties with one another. Through his work, Pierre has demonstrated that the Dancing Classrooms method can be easily and successfully replicated worldwide.

Pierre has created a fun and challenging tool to generate behavioural change. Hate starts at a young age. If we can wipe it out early on by teaching mutual respect and understanding, we can encourage children to find their own ways to bridge chasms through the arts and community service.

Our overall goal is to have Dancing Classrooms in every school, in every city, in every country and bring change worldwide. Our film happens to take place in Jaffa but both the film and the program transcend geographic boundaries and can be utilized worldwide.

Forthcoming Events

Anne Frank Day – on the theme of Courage

Poem written by Michael Rosen, Poet Laureate, for the first Anne Frank Tree Planting Ceremony in 1998

We hope that anyone who knows this tree will remember Anne Frank

We hope that anyone who knows this tree will remember how from her attic window

Anne Frank watched a tree growing outside and was so moved and entranced

She couldn’t speak

We hope that anyone who knows of this tree will remember how Anne Frank lost her life

We hope that anyone who knows of this tree will never let such things happen again

We hope that anyone who knows of this tree will have as much hope in their hearts and minds as Anne Frank did .

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Quote from Anne Frank’s Diary, 13 May 1944

My dearest Kitty,

Yesterday was Father’s birthday, Father and Mother’s nineteenth wedding anniversary, a day without the cleaning lady…and the sun was shining as its never shone before on 1944. Our chestnut tree is in full bloom. Its covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year.

Simchat Ben

Alison and Marc Turner cordially invite you to the Simchat Ben (celebration

of a son) following the birth of our beautiful baby

Isaac George William Edward Turner

(Yitzhak Naftali ben Yisrael v Simchah)

 Shabbat morning service with Rabbi Danny Rich

Herefordshire Jewish Community

in Hereford

The service will be taken by Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism assisted by others from the Herefordshire Jewish Community, relatives and friends.

It will be followed by a dairy kiddush and a kosher dairy buffet. On the Saturday afternoon there will be a houseparty at our house starting after lunch.

Limmud in the Woods

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

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

Cot £185 – 5 days £100 – 2 days £60 – one day (if booked by 19 June)

South West Regional Shabbaton Swindon, Saturday November 26 2015 including HJC. Communities involved will include Bristol, Gloucestershire, Oxford, Reading, Wessex and Herefordshire. Do mark this date in your diary as we hope to contribute to this day.

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

Sunday 7 June

Liberal Judaism ‘Day of Celebration’

9.30 –

5 p.m.

Liberal Jewish Synagogue, St. John’s Wood Road, London, NW8 7HA 

Saturday 11 July

Shabbat Service and Baby Blessing for Isaac Turner led by Rabbi Danny Rich

11 a.m.

Hereford 

Sunday 13 September

Rededication of tombstones, followed by evening Rosh Hashanah service

t.b.c.

6.30 p.m.

Hereford Cemetery

Then at Andrea’s house

Tuesday 22 September

Yom Kippur Kol Nidrei service- led by Julian Brown

7 p.m.

Ledbury venue t.b.c.

27th – 31st August

Limmud in the Woods

Horley Scout Camp, Banbury, OX15 6AU

26 November

South West Regional Shabbaton

Swindon

STOP PRESS

Anyone who is concerned about plans for two new broiler chicken factories in Herefordshire’s Golden Valley and wishes to sign a petition on this. See: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/stop_the_factory_farms_her/?bcJBibb&v=59710

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 July

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