HJC newsletter Purim edition Feb/Mar 2018

Editorial

Holocaust Memorial Day

On 27th January, there was very moving testimony on TV, given by Freddie Zoller, Holocaust survivor, who like many others of his kind, had experienced things none of us should ever have to experience. It was at times somewhat racy, at times hair raising, but all the way through an uplifting story of survival. There was also another more disturbing story aired on Channel 4 on Holocaust Memorial Day, about a Jewish plot to kill millions of Germans in revenge for the Holocaust. This is not necessarily material we want to hear, but it shows is that all is not light in the post-Holocaust period. It is this contradiction between positivity and destruction that is also mirrored in many of the other Holocaust scenarios that have happened in more recent times: positive stories of survivors and kindness, together with stories of unbelievable horrors. I think history has taught us fairly clearly that revenge, as the Channel 4 programme was titled, is never an answer to the hurt that we feel. I will never forget hearing, on the morning after 9/11, the voice of someone who had lost a loved one in the tragedy, but said she would never resort to violence in response.

As we move forward in the Jewish calendar towards Tu B’Shvat, the New Year for trees, and then Purim, we become aware that there are hints of spring, new growth and new beginnings around us. Let us hope that these new beginnings in 2018 lead to positive change.

Julian Brown

In this edition:

Chair Chat

Community Roundup

Chanukah party photos

Holocaust Memorial Day

Angela West – Learning Journey

Limmud Whistle Stop Tour

Limmud – Story of Nicholas Winton

Book Review – Jerusalem Chronicles

CHAIR CHAT: JANUARY 2018

1. HAPPY NEW YEAR

Best wishes to all our members and visitors. Unfortunately, we had no service in January but are all looking forward to our first service of the New Year at Saxon Hall in Hereford on Saturday February 3 at 11 a.m. with Rabbi Anna. I’m hoping that the draft copies of the Shabbat morning service from the new LJ siddur will have arrived by then. LJ want us to try it out and send back comments to them. As usual, we had a very good Chanukah party with Anna on Sunday December 16. I particularly enjoyed the mock trial of the three “converted” Jews, played with conviction by Julian, Cherry and myself.

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 1. Barbara and Jonathan concentrating hard on Chanukah Bingo. 2. Alison and Isaac.

3. It must be fun! (Mark Walton and Anna Silver).

4. Musical Duo – Julian & Cherry. 5. Chanukiot.

2. THE PROMISED ISLAND

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Worth watching on BBC i player, if you didn’t catch it live. It tells the remarkable story of the exodus of a group of ultra orthodox Jews from Stamford Hill to Canvey Island to set up a new Charedi community to escape the high rents and overcrowding in Hackney. Canvey Island is a particularly unlikely destination as having a reputation for insularity and very strong support for UKIP and Brexit. However, the local community proved very welcoming and willing to make a huge effort to welcome the rather strange newcomers. This was reciprocated tentatively by the Charedis and there was a certain amount of inter communal bonding. However, my concern is that, once the ultra orthodox group becomes stronger, they will retreat into a closed community with their own schools, shops and way of life with little contact with their neighbours, as I witnessed when my son’s family was living in the midst of the orthodox community in Gateshead.

3. FUTURE OF THE COMMUNITY.

As we discussed at the last AGM, our small Council (essentially Julian and Cherry, Alison and myself) were concerned with declining numbers at services and events and needed to consider other options to retain a Jewish presence in Herefordshire. As such, we have opened discussions with Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community (who employ Rabbi Anna on a part time basis) to look at the possibility of a federal approach whereby we have access to all their services and events but also ensure that there are a certain number of activities that take place in our core area. This process has already begun to a certain extent with our joint Purim party to be held with Gloucestershire on March 4 at Upper Hatherley in Cheltenham and the decision to open up our Ann Frank service in June to both groups. There are still a number of issues to be talked through but we hope to have some proposals to put to members at our AGM in May. Watch this space!

Community Roundup

Shirley Goldstein has sold her house and is moving home, but she will be staying in Ledbury for a few months yet in a short-term let, so we look forward to seeing her at our next events.

Judith Labelter is still unwell, but resting at home. We hope to see her at our next Colwall service.

Journey towards Judaism

Angela West

I think the best way for me to describe this journey is as a series of encounters. The first took place rather early on in life. When I was about five, I had a little friend at ballet class whose name was Janet. Her family were German Jews and her parents and older brother spoke with heavy German accents – unlike Janet, a post-war British child like me. Once, when playing with our dolls, we speculated about what would happen if we flushed them down the toilet.

‘Maybe they’ll go to heaven and live with Jesus’ I said.

(Odd really, as I didn’t come from a very religious family). Janet looked at me with her big brown eyes and said matter-of-factly: ‘There isn’t a Jesus’

Having dealt with matters theological, we went on playing with our dolls.

My next encounter was as a student at university. Here I attended some talks arranged by the Student Christian Movement and given by Werner Pelz, who had written a book called Distant Strains of Triumph. He and his wife Lotte were also of German Jewish origin, and strictly speaking not Jewish, as Werner had become an ordained Anglican minister. But when some friends and I got to know them better, it became clear that the ‘trinity’ they revered was rather more literary than theological, consisting of the authors Nietsche, Kafka and Dostoevsky. But from them, I got a first taste of that deep seriousness about textual study which has been a feature of so many of my subsequent Jewish encounters.

A few years later, I was in Denmark, participating in a sixties-ish educational venture, called New Experimental College, located in a Danish farmhouse in Jutland north of the Limfjord. It was founded by an eccentric Dane, Aage Rosendal Nielsen, whose family came from those parts.

Prior to this he had been a leading light in the Scandinavian Seminar which brought many young Americans over to Denmark for a taste of Scandinavian culture. By the time, I arrived at NEC a few were still coming, attracted by Aage’s zany charisma, and several of these were Jewish. One of them was a philosophy graduate student from Detroit, Ron Manheimer, who was working on a study of existentialist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. In the summer of 1968, he organised a Plato seminar for us at NEC. The texts we were studying were neither biblical nor Jewish, yet from the way Ron got us to interrogate the text, I glimpsed a sensibility which in retrospect seems to me a unique part of Jewish heritage. I began to see how one could bring one’s own questions about the meaning of existence to the study of a philosophical text. This was not something I had picked up in the introductory course to philosophy at my university. At NEC, our communal life, though largely secular, had a curious mixture of religious influences. On Fridays, we had a Sabbath meal, sometimes with a kiddush over the candles (if one of the Jewish women present could say it): but also often with some ‘table talks’ (reflecting Aage’s Lutheran heritage). On Saturday mornings, there was the Sabbath lecture, a kind of shiur, to which Ron and others made stimulating contributions.

Back in UK I became a Catholic, but in those days, I knew nothing of the doleful history of Jewish Christian relations. In the early 1980s, a Christian feminist friend gave me a book by Rosemary Ruether to read, called Faith and Fratricide. Ruether claimed that the foundations of anti-Judaic thought were laid in the New Testament, developed in the classical age of Christian theology and went on to become the taproot of anti-Semitism with its genocidal consequences in the C 20th. This book made a deep impression on me and in 2000, I began a new MA course at the Centre for the study of Jewish Christian relations. This was founded by Ed Kessler, one of Liberal Judaism’s educational innovators, and under his leadership, the centre has now become the Woolf Institute for the study of Jewish, Christian and Muslim relations, based in Cambridge. My course served to improve my knowledge of Judaism considerably and it also led to some important new encounters, too numerous to mention here.

However, one of these encounters from this time was particularly signficant for me. In about 2002, I attended a CCJ weekend at Ammerdown where I met Jan Fuchs, by then an old man in his late 80s. Originally from Czechslovakia, he had managed to get to Denmark during the war through an agricultural scheme serving as an escape route for Jews. When the Nazis began to move against the Jews in Denmark to deport them, the Danish resistance, supported by most of the population, ensured that the Jews were evacuated, by means of a variety of little fishing boats, across the Oresund to the safety of neutral Sweden. I heard this amazing story first-hand from Jan, who had himself been rescued in this manner. And perhaps because of the Danish connection we shared, we became friends. He knew that I was studying for the MA, and being someone with a great respect for study – even though he’d never had great educational opportunities himself – he did his best to support me, lending me books, sending me cuttings from the Jewish Chronicle, forwarding poems or addresses he’d written (the latter from his post-retirement job as a hospital chaplain), and inviting me to Holocaust Memorial day conference at his synagogue in Manchester where he lived. It was he who encouraged me to start learning Hebrew, gave me some first lessons, and I acquired a second-hand copy of Hertz so that I could follow the parashah each week.

It was also Jan who introduced me to Bible Week, at which he had been a regular attender for many years. Here were more fruitful encounters, and the opportunity to engage in a close study of the Hebrew text from the Tanakh. I witnessed how the richness of meanings could be teased out of the text by argument and discussion, and attention to the resonances of the Hebrew roots. The fact that Bible Week always takes place in Germany, and involves German Christians, as well German-speaking Jews from Holland, Israel & Britain gives it an added historical dimension, usually not present in interfaith meetings in UK. At Bible Week, I began to experience a much fuller exposure to Jewish liturgy, especially that of the Sabbath (in a Reform & Liberal tradition): And here once again, I encountered the shiur as a stimulating mode of instruction, sometimes in a rather unusual setting – as when Rabbi Jonathan Magonet regularly delivers a short shiur in the Departure lounge at Dortmund airport to the British party, waiting for our flight home!

So this then has been my journey towards Judaism– a rich tapestry of encounters with Jews who have impressed and instructed me (not always with conscious intention) about what it means to be ‘Israel’ – to ‘wrestle with God’ personally and philosophically, and to see how by serious attention to the narrative of Torah and the ancient texts, one can survive and surmount its often tragic and terrifying history. In particular, I am fascinated by what one might call the ‘pedagogical principle of Pesach’. Thus in the context of a commemorative meal, the older generation seek to pass on a tradition about escape from slavery and the search for human freedom, by allowing the younger ones to ask significant questions (Mah Nishtanah), and then adapting the answers given, to the needs, attitude, and level of understanding of the particular child. It’s a principle that should be more widely studied and applied!

Lastly, I’d like to acknowledge my gratitude to members of HJC who have been so welcoming and supportive – and who have encouraged me to believe that it is possible to become Jewish, even in Monmouth’s sleepy hollow!

Angela West

Limmud 2017 – Whistle Stop Tour

I went to Limmud Conference/Festival 2017 with my daughter Maya for two and a half days at the end of December. For those who don’t already know, this is the largest Jewish cultural and educational gathering in the UK, and the largest Limmud worldwide. One of its sessions even hit the top spot in the morning Radio 4 news, on the morning I arrived.

There are so many workshops, talks and performances that it is impossible to give a full picture of everything that goes on at Limmud, and it’s certainly not possible to go to everything you would wish to. However, the organisation was excellent, and my initial nervousness about getting lost and missing sessions was unfounded, although I did attend one important session (Q & A with the Universities Minister, Jo Johnson) by accident.

My own choices, some if which coincided with my those of my daughter, centred around Hebrew text, Israel Palestine, and Jewish music, with a dash of ecology/environmental awareness thrown in. From the very start, sessions were fascinating and enjoyable with a wonderful text discussion in a small group led by Rabbi Margaret Jacobi on Rabbi Nahum of Gamzu, where we read and talked, initially in pairs, of our interpretations of two teaching stories. Much later in Limmud, I went to an equally inspiring session, all based around a Leonard Cohen song, The Gypsy Wife, which led us into a rich discussion of love and betrayal, a good dose of sex, and the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people. Much of this resulted from texts in the prophets which the session leader, Rabbi Naftali Brawer had related to the text of the song, based on his interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s biblical references.

I also went to a performance of Sephardi music, and two sing along sessions with new songs that can be sung at services, which gave some contrast to the heady mix of talk sessions.

As for Israel/Palestine, there was a huge variety of perspectives in sessions offered. I focussed on learning about the ins and outs of the ‘occupation’ which has now been in place for 50 years., and the difficulties this presents, not just to Palestinians but also to the Israeli soldiers who have to respond to many of the policies and practices put down by the Israeli government, and also by the settlers themselves. There are many organisations working to try and improve relations between Israelis and Palestinians, to ease the difficulties experienced by Palestinians, and to try to work for peace in various ways. While we constantly get shown the harsher side of Israel-Palestine as a conflict, there are many other sides to look at.

One of the most unusual sessions in this field was that presented by a 21 year old Israeli Arab , Yahya Mahamed, who grew up in Umm el-Fahm, a hotbed of anti-Israel sentiment, but who now campaigns for the pro-Israel Zionist lobby throughout the world. I didn’t necessarily agree with all his views, but he was a remarkably eloquent speaker for a 21 year old, peppering his presentation with jokes about smoked salmon and gefilte fish (well he had worked in the hotel trade). He also gained some credibility through having escaped from his home village, as a result of death threats against him for his views, and of course being ostracised by much of his family, but his story was still a strange one to take in.

Beyond the sessions at Limmud, there is always the opportunity to sit and relax over a cup of coffee and meet with others. For me, this was more effective at mealtimes, where we often sat in the dining room, but for my daughter, meetings took place anywhere, and at any time, especially at the late night hours, when I was most likely asleep. Our first night at Limmud was also unusual in that there was a good covering of snow on the ground when we left to go to our hotel, only a short way away, but as we had offered to give a lift to two acquaintances of Maya’s turned into marathon tour around the range of hotels near Birmingham NEC, and at the end of which, we were no nearer to the hotel our passengers hoped to go to!

Yes, as many people say, it is expensive (you need to think conference rates about £100/day) but there are bursaries, and early booking discounts. We also booked our hotel independently and had 2 comfortable nights in Holiday Express for only £20 per night per person, so consider booking accommodation separately. In addition, if you are prepared to help or volunteer, you can go for half price. Finally, it may always be worth asking if the community can help if you are going to bring back something worthwhile the community can benefit from.

Although we went for half of Limmud Festival, which for me was both very intensive and enough input, I can also see the benefit of going for the whole 5 days as you can then follow through themes and develop your learning on particular topics, which is harder to do in a short time. It’s certainly a great learning opportunity, but for many of us, the Day Limmuds, such as the one coming up in Bristol in June, may be a much better option.

Julian Brown

Limmud 2 – Nicholas Winton

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On my final day at Limmud, I went to a talk by Barbara Winton, the daughter of Sir Nicholas Winton, who is responsible for saving the lives of 669 Czech children in 1939, by organising trains to bring them to Britain, out of the total of 10,000 kindertransport children. This story is a fascinating one worth writing about in more depth. His motivation for arranging the transport of Jewish children from Prague, was not to avoid the consequences of the Nazi regime, which of course were unknown at that point in time, but because he was moved by the terrible conditions these ‘refugee’ children and their families had to endure in huge refugee camps, outside of Prague, having fled from Sudetenland, the German occupied part of Czechoslovakia.

Nicolas Winton was a man of determination and character who also shared some similarities with my own father. Both were born in the same year, 1909, both were moved to help Jewish refugees in the 1930s, and both were incapable of taking no for an answer. Of course, Nicholas Winton’s achievements were far more dramatic, but both were active at a similar point in history. Nicolas Winton’s motto was, ‘if something is not impossible, then it is possible’. On applying to the British committee for refugees (BCR) in 1939, for permission to contact the Home Office to allow these children into the UK, he was told, ’Don’t bother, they’ve already had so many requests.’ His response to this, unknown to the BCR, was to take a sheet of their headed notepaper, had his own stamp made saying Children’s Section, which was pure fiction at that time, and then wrote a letter to the Home Office on the stamped headed notepaper, asking that the children be admitted. This request was accepted (despite opposition in the national press, little different from the tabloid headlines of today, saying that Britain already had too many (Jewish) immigrants. Three months later, after a good number of children had been brought into the UK, the British Council for Refugees appointed Nicolas Winton as the secretary of its Children’s Section.

Barbara Winton went on to describe how her father went on to do many other charitable projects in his life and was somewhat annoyed that people only ever asked him about his saving the lives of these Jewish children in 1939.

In the question and answer session which followed the talk, Barbara Winton was asked how she dealt with a more hostile audience to that of Limmud, who of course were mainly favourable her father’s actions. Her response was quite interesting. She said that it so happened that her father, Nicholas Winton, lived in Maidenhead, which was Teresa May’s constituency, when she was an MP. As a result, Teresa May had come to know Nicholas Winton and his family, including attending his 100th birthday party. On the occasion of his 105th birthday party, Barbara Winton, who described herself as just an ordinary ‘complementary therapist who digs the garden’ found herself standing next to Teresa May, who was then Home Secretary. She realised that this was a now or never opportunity to plead her case for a change in the British government’s policy of having such a severe cap on the number of refugees currently being allowed into the UK. She said that Teresa May did listen carefully to the points she made, but of course the strict limits on refugee numbers are still in place.

A final addition to all this discussion was by Clive Lawton, who many people may know, from his Jewish education role, as well as several Radio 4 broadcasts. Clive Lawton commented that he happened to have been in position of meeting with government committees responsible for refugees in the 1980s, at the time of Vietnamese boat people coming to the UK. The limit at that time was 18,000. It was clearly the government’s intention that this was 18,000 people, but Clive Lawton in his discussions, which were minuted in those meetings, repeatedly used the phrase 18,000 families, and indeed this was the number actually admitted. So the conclusion from this story and that of Nicholas Winton is that the official committees organisations or governments, don’t necessarily completely understand their own policies, but you do have to be pretty brass necked to make an impact.

Barbara Winton completed her talk by asking us to take what action we could to further the support for refugees currently in refugee camps in Europe and particularly urging us to write to the Home Secretary on this matter. Having done this on my return from Limmud, I’m still waiting for a reply from Amber Rudd.

Julian Brown

Holocaust Memorial Day 2018

‘I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I am so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s in me. When I write I can shake off all my cares; my sorrow disappears; my spirits are revived.’ – Anne Frank, written in her diary, 5 April 1944.

 

Book review: Jerusalem, Chronicles from the Holy City, Guy Delisle (£18.99)

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Strictly speaking, this is a book beyond the interest of HJC, as there is no specifically Jewish connection. The author is a French Canadian cartoonist/comic strip writer, who spent a year in Jerusalem, while his wife was working for Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) in the region. However, as a freelance writer, and often also a househusband, his comic strip stories of his life in Jerusalem, and by implication, much of Israel beyond, is clever, humorous and sharply informative about the everyday experiences of living in Jerusalem, whether as an orthodox Jew, an Armenian Christian, and East Jerusalem Arab, or any one of the countless other denominations the author encounters on his travels. He experiences the relaxing beaches of Tel Aviv one day, while going deep into the occupied territories – Nablus or Hebron – the next day. As a (non-Jewish) worker linked to an NGO, you might think he would pose less of a security risk, but his stories of going through security at Ben-Gurion airport or at local checkpoints, are far more hair raising than a bog-standard Jew from Britain with family in Israel, like myself, is likely to encounter. The beauty of this book, apart from the superbly drawn images of Jerusalem and surrounding areas, is that it is an impartial view given by an outsider who has no political or religious axe to grind and sees himself more as an observer (often amused or bemused), of the heady mix of cultures, people, practices and environments that he finds on his doorstep. If you want a short, humorous and comprehensive tour of Jerusalem, life in the West Bank and tourist trails in greater Israel, this is an easy and enjoyable read.

We were lucky to get a copy of this book from our local bookshop in exchange for an unwanted gift, but it has certainly been worthwhile.

Julian Brown

Forthcoming Events

Shabbat Service, 11 a.m. Saturday 3rd February, Saxon Hall, Hereford, led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard.

Purim Party with GLJC, 3 p.m. Sunday 4th March – Up Hatherley Village Hall, Cold Pool Lane, Cheltenham.

HJC Pesach Seder

6 p.m. Saturday 31st March 2018, at Bridges Centre, Monmouth.

We are fortunate in that the new Bridges Centre Bistro team have offered to cater for our Pesach Seder, so this will be our first Seder in Monmouth. We are keeping the cost the same as last year at £20 per head, which is a very reasonable rate, children under 18 and students in full-time education free. We hope as usual this will be an enjoyable and informative evening, so please take note of the date and contact Mark Walton for your booking form, phone him on 01594 530721 after 6pm or at weekends or email mark.walton@bridgescentre.org.uk The deadline for booking is 12 March. Numbers are limited and will be allocated on a first come-first serve basis so book your place now.

Anne Frank DaySaturday 9th June, Hereford

Limmud Bristol – Sunday 10th June 2018

Draft programme to include:

  • Working in the West Bank

School education on Israel and Palestine

Israeli and Palestinian Voices

Jews of Ethiopia and Israel

Jews and the Slave Trade

The Story of the Jews of Bristol and Bath – with an optional visit to Park Row Synagogue

Hungarian Jews During the Shoah

Archaeology and the Bible

To contact us, please email info@limmudbristolsw.co.uk

Deadline for next newsletter15th March 2018.

Web edition: Note that the newsletter is published on the HJC website (excluding any contact details). If you do not want your contribution to appear there, or would like it edited prior to web publication, please let me know. 

Please send in contributions in WORD or pdf format if possible, but articles sent in by post are also welcome. In general, contributions should be no longer than 500 – 750 words, but longer contributions may be included, if appropriate. Pictures also welcome, but please try to keep image sizes small and below 250 KB for newsletter inclusion. All contributions are welcome but depending on format and content, the editor reserves the right to edit or hold over to a future edition if needed.

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

HJC services and other Events

Saturday 3rd February Shabbat service led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard

11 a.m.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford HR2 6HE

Sunday 4th March Joint Purim Party with GLJC

3 p.m.

Up Hatherley Village Hall

Cold Pool Ln, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL51 6JA

Saturday 31st March Pesach Communal Seder

6.00 p.m.

Bridges Centre, Monmouth NP25 5AS

Advance Notice

April 14th /21st Shabbat Service

t.b.c.

Colwall Ale House t.b.c.

Sunday 6th May HJC AGM

11.30 a.m.

Trumpet Inn, Trumpet, Herefordshire

Saturday 9th June Anne Frank Day Service

11 a.m.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford HR2 6HE

Sunday 10h June Bristol Limmud Day

9.45 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.

Bristol Cathedral Choir School, College Square, Bristol BS1 5TS

 

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

Membership and Welfare Chair
Cherry Wolfe

 

Mark Walton

mark.walton@bridgescentre.org.uk

Tel: 01594 530721 after 6pm or at weekends

Treasurer Newsletter Editor /Membership
Alison Turner

 

Julian Brown

 

Learning Circle Coordinator / Web Manager and Archivist Cultural Coordinator
Alison Turner  Ann Levy

 

Herefordshire Jewish Community Newsletter Chanukah edition – December 2017/January 2018

Editorial

This newsletter comes in the period approaching Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, as the nights draw in and we move towards winter. The Chanukah stories – both the secular story of the military success, and the spiritual story of the miracle of the jar of oil lasting eight days – are designed to uplift us, even if the historical basis for the facts is not so clear.

In today’s world, it is story that influences what we do, just as much as facts, which themselves can become distorted in the post-truth world. We need to be aware of both facts and the different narratives in relation to Israel and Palestine as we have just marked the centenary of the Balfour declaration, which marked the beginning of the formal journey to creating a Jewish state in Israel.

There have been some very moving and powerful pieces written and spoken on this, each giving slightly different perspective on the situation. Some examples are included in this newsletter. We wish everyone in the community a Happy Chanukah.

Julian Brown.

 

In this edition:

Chair Chat

Obituary – Anthony Leslie

Update on Upsherin ceremony

Lech Lecha and Balfour Declaration Danny Rich statement on Balfour declaration

Visit to Prague

Film Review – In Between

 

CHAIR CHAT

November 2017

Recent Services.

We had a very enjoyable Simchat Torah service at Bridges in Monmouth. Many thanks to the Monmouth Klezmer Band (Maya Brown and Joe and Mary Walton) for providing the musical accompaniment. Serious competition for the “London Klezmer Quartet” who had played the night before in Monmouth. A particular feature of the Kiddush was the wonderful and enormous challah specially baked for us by local baker, Dilly Boase. Many thanks also to Julian and Cherry for leading the service at Colwall on Saturday November.

Avignon Synagogue

Mary and I recently spent a very enjoyable week in Avignon. Our tiny apartment was part of a medieval cloister and almost immediately opposite the synagogue. My curiosity aroused, I found out a little more about the history of the Jewish community there. Avignon was the home of the papacy for several decades in the 14th century, after Pope Clement V moved his court there to avoid the chaos in Rome. The legacy of that papal schism can be seen in the vast and magnificent Palais des Papes in the centre of the city. Jews expelled from south-eastern French provinces in the 14th century found refuge here. They settled in Avignon and three nearby cities (L’Isle sur la Sorgue, Carpentras and Cavaillon) in pre- Venetian ghettos that the popes staffed with Christian gatekeepers – paid for by the Jews. Jews called these communities arba kehillot, in reference to Israel’s four holy cities. The popes viewed the Jews as despised, homeless wanderers who had not recognised Jesus as the messiah but had to be preserved. They could survive but not thrive, relegated to moneylending, second-hand textiles and furnishings.

The present community is relatively flourishing with an influx of North African Jews. The synagogue, in the heart of the old ghetto, was rebuilt after a fire in 1845. The Christian architect designed a synagogue more like a Greek temple than a Jewish one. It is (possibly uniquely) completely circular in design. I attended the Friday night service there with about 20-30 congregants. It was an interesting experience trying to follow the Sephardi service but I was struck by how much “audience participation” there was, davening being picked up and led by different people around the room, children (sons of the rabbi?) reading the Shema and leading the singing at one point, and a question and answer session as part of the sermon. I can certainly recommend a tour of exploration to Avignon and its environs, made easier now by direct Eurostar trains.

Brighton and Hove Reform Synagogue.

On a more local note, we spent last weekend in Hove where my son, Daniel and his family are now living. Hove is like Golders Green on Sea with three shuls, kosher food in the supermarkets, matzah meal options in the fish and chip shops and the JC freely available. I chose to go to the Reform Shul where I was made to feel very welcome. It’s a large shul which can easily accommodate its 400+ membership although there were only about 40 people there for the Shabbat service. As such, there is a large divide between the bimah and the congregation and I missed the cosy informality of our services. They have a very engaging Italian rabbi (Dr Andrea Zanardo) although I found his sermon hard to hear, probably because of the acoustics. The service was enhanced by the wonderful singing of a small choir. Next time I will try the Liberals.

Shul Shlapper.

I am like a train spotter ticking off the shuls everywhere I visit. But I am not the only one engaged in this activity. See the JC’s secret “shul shlapper” (can’t find it on the JC website but it’s there somewhere). I would certainly endorse her (it is definitely a she) views from my experience on Rabbi Alexandra’s Wright’s wonderful sermons at LJS, and the five star welcome and Kiddush at Wimbledon Reform.

High Holyday Appeal

We have raised nearly £400 so far for our High Holyday Appeal. There are some extra donations to be accounted for so I hope we will reach the £500 mark. This will be split between Wye Valley NHS Special Care Baby Unit based at Hereford Hospital and the Sir Charles Clore Jewish Arab Community Centre, Acco. Thank you everyone for your generosity.

Mark Walton

Anthony Leslie

Anthony (Tony) Leslie, the brother of Jackie Eisenstein, sadly passed away on 4th November 2017. Both Jackie and her husband Eric were valued past Council members of HJC for many years. Tony had been ill for some weeks, but his death was unexpected. Jackie spoke these words about her brother at his funeral: My brother Ant who liked to be known as Tony was born in 1946. It soon became apparent that he had asthma and the pea souper fogs of London saw him in hospital many times. The only answer at that time was to send him to a boarding school in Kent where the air was much cleaner. Fortunately, the Clean Air Act was passed after not too long so home he came to London.

On leaving school he went into the garment trade which he thoroughly enjoyed as he was always a very sociable chap, however it wasn’t a good time to be in that line of work and he was made redundant three times after which he took what was laughingly referred to in the family as early retirement at age 30. Time never hung heavy for him as he and my mother went to bingo (which he loved) most afternoons. He would come and visit me and do my shopping while I was working; shopping was another favourite pastime, one he never got tired of and when he moved to Hereford after the death of our mother it was one of our regular activities.

When he moved to Hereford in 2001 to be near me he did something he hadn’t done in London and that was to belong to social clubs. He thoroughly enjoyed the outings, the parties and the holidays to Blackpool, and even when he was in hospital this last time, he asked me make sure they knew he wanted to come to the Christmas party. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years he started to develop Parkinson’s disease and that combined with his various lifelong ailments took its toll but as I think a lot of people here knew, he was very good natured and got on with things. He was never envious or resentful of the things that were missing in his life but took great pleasure in the achievements of his niece and nephew and more recently in the lives of his great nephews. Finally, he was the best brother I could have wished for and he leaves a big gap in my life.

Jackie Isenstein

Upsherin Ceremony update

Alison and Marc Turner are sorry to announce that because of a family bereavement which happened suddenly in October, they have decided to postpone Isaac’s hair-cutting Upsherin service from the end of January until later in the year. We are aware that the Upsherin is not normally carried out in Liberal Judaism and may never have happened in Hereford before, so we want to get it right. We hope that you can all join us in due course.

Alison Turner

VISIT TO PRAGUE

I recently visited my son Alasdair who is living and working in the elegant city of Prague. I thought it would be good sense to make contact with the Progressive Jewish community there. I regularly receive the newsletter of the European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) and had seen an article written by David Pollak about the 2018 Biennial Conference which is being held in Prague. I got in touch with David who is the conference chairman. He gave me several email addresses of people to get in touch with in Prague.

I contacted and subsequently met with Jonathan Wootliff, the Czech Republic representative on the EUPJ Executive Board and also a member of the Biennial Conference committee. Jonathan represents Bejt Simcha and the Liberal Jewish Union in Prague, as well as communities in the provinces including Liberec. We met in the beautiful Savoy Café where if you look up at the ceiling you see the most wonderful work of art. This was covered over during the period of Communist rule. Jonathan was both charming and informative.

Some of the main points he conveyed to me are as follows: Jews had been very well respected in Prague prior to the Holocaust. They had made up one third of the population and their contribution to Czech life and society had been valuable and appreciated.

Jonathan spoke of the first Jewish marriage for 60 years that had recently taken place in the synagogue in Decin. Built in 1906 for the Reform community, the synagogue was the only surviving one in former Sudetenland and amazingly survived the destruction of Crystal Nacht. The couple who have made history are Ivan and Kamila Cohout. Ivan is the cantor for both the Progressive community Beit Simcha in Prague and for Decin. Interestingly he is a PhD in Kabbalah! The officiating rabbi was the Czech born, but now Munich based Tom Kucera. (I hope to meet him on my annual visit to my brother and family in Holzkirchen near Munich in December.)

I wanted to visit Josefov, the Jewish Quarter and was interested in doing this with a member of Bejt Simcha. Jonathan put me in touch with Irena Kubesova who is an official guide and member of the community. She took me around some of the area including two of the synagogues, the Old New Synagogue and the Maisel Synagogue and the Jewish cemetery. The Maisel Synagogue includes a museum and memorial to all those who were lost during the Holocaust. Many of the interior walls are covered with their names. Irena also showed me some of the drawings the children had made whilst in Terezin. I was unprepared for the effect this had on me – there are no words. She showed me two pictures drawn by survivors who have lived to an old age and whom she knew personally.

I shall be returning to Prague in February and will visit the Spanish synagogue and hopefully join in a service and enjoy one of the classical music concerts that regularly take place there. I am planning to attend the EUPJ Biennial Conference _ Regeneration. Here is the link for any of you who may be interested in attending too. http://eupj.org/event/prague-2018- regeneration/ There is an early bird discount available until the end of this year and you may pick and choose how many days you attend.

Helen Dubovie Brown

November 2017

 

100th Anniversary of Balfour declaration – Shabbat Service 4 November 2017 Lech Lecha and Balfour declaration

Rather later than other communities, we read a section from Lech Lecha in the Torah at our Service on Shabbat 4 November 2017 (Genesis, Chap. 13 vs 1 – 17) which contained two narratives: The first was that of Abram (note no ‘h’ in the name at this stage), who was travelling with Lot (with all their goods, property, cattle and sheep) when the herdsmen fell out and began arguing. Abram generously offered a choice to Lot of which part of the land he would like to live on. As Abram said, there was more than enough land overall: ‘If you go to the left I will go to the right, and if you go to the right, I will go to the left.’ And so it was. Lot chose the plains of Jordan and Abram chose Canaan.

The second was the covenant made by G-d to Abram, promising him the land and to ‘all his seed’ for future generations. This powerful and dramatic promise between G-d and Abram is the source of much of Jewish history. As Jonathan Sachs says in his talk on Balfour Declaration: Jews have been waiting to return to the promised land for 2000 years, it is the heart and soul of Jewish yearning, and we note this is also enshrined in the Jewish National Anthem.

However, we have to take a step back at this point to think about what is being said.  Howard Cooper in his blog, based on His Rosh Hashanah sermon, talks about the Greek words mythos and logos. Logos refers to the countable, the everyday, the logical – those things we can measure and identify in a scientific way. This is the way in which the land was divided between Abram and Lot with regard to the large numbers of servants and animals both possessed. It was concrete and practical, as well as being human.

Mythos refers to the emotional, the uncountable, the aspect of humanity which refers to feeling, emotion and perhaps spiritual. It cannot be measured or recorded on a piece of paper, so the promise made by God to Abram is more in the realm of mythos. It is a spiritual covenant, which in accepting, requires Abram to become a steward of the earth for his and all future generations. It is not simply a covenant relating to ownership of a particular piece of territory. This is where confusion between logos and mythos can be dangerous. If we think of the land of Israel simply in logos type human ownership then we forget the depth and meaning in which it was promised to Abram. There are those that believe that the covenant made with Abram means we can completely ignore the rights of others living in the (ancient) land of Israel, but is this what we think God wanted us to do?

Clearly the debate on the land of Israel will continue, especially between those of the religious right and those of more liberal perspective. We end with the statement by Rabbi Danny Rich on the Balfour declaration.

Julian Brown

Statement by Rabbi Danny Rich, Senior Rabbi of Liberal Judaism 30 October 2017

Liberal Judaism representatives and communities, in common with much of world Jewry, will mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration at a series of events with thanks, pride and hope.

Conscious of the 3,000 year old historic link between the Jewish people and the ancient Biblical land, and aware that the Balfour letter was the first external recognition of the rights of Jews to a national revival in the land of the Hebrew Bible, we recall with appreciation those early pioneers who, as exemplars, drained swamps, built kibbutzim and revived the Hebrew language.

The ramifications of the Balfour letter included the establishment of the State of Israel which was to serve as a refuge for the broken souls, hearts and bodies of the victims of the Shoah, the attempt to destroy European Jewry in the middle of the 20th century.

We cherish with pride many aspects of modern Israel including, for example, its impressive Supreme Court, its robust free press, and its life-giving development work on the African continent.

At the same time as we rightly commemorate this event in the Jewish story and the achievements of a Jewish homeland and the State of Israel, we are conscious that this is not Page | 8 paralleled in the perceptions and realities of other communities in the region whose ‘civil and religious rights’ were not to be prejudiced, according to the Balfour letter.

Therefore, aware that all narratives contain their share of truth and history, intrigue and legend, we acknowledge that the current situation in Israel/Palestine results in suffering for both peoples.

We hope and pray for a just and lasting resolution in which the State of Israel and its Palestinian neighbour will dwell together in mutual respect and security.

The Hebrew Biblical prophet Isaiah (19:23) foresaw: On that day let there be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria; and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. What is our hope and vision?

Further links: YouTube perspective by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSxPjCo3wwk

Interview with Danny Rich

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4yOWmvT3z4

For a more alternative perspective: Independent Jewish Voices:100 Years after Balfour film (24 mins) ;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2Y3Pllutjo

Film Review – In Between

This film was shown in Malvern in early November.

This may not be a film for everyone and certainly not for the faint hearted but it is a bold venture by a Palestinian woman director, Maysaloun Hamoud, to break the mould of films on Israel/Palestine which often focus on the political/security situation.

The film is the story of three young Palestinian women living in Tel Aviv, and sharing a flat. This film is important because it shows the conflict between cultures – the free living secular culture of Tel Aviv in which each of the three women are exploring their lives, and the traditional family culture from which each of them come, and which cannot be denied in their lives, no matter how much they wish to leave it behind. This is a story that could equally apply to many traditional religious families, and the social /cultural transitions that have occurred in the past two generations.

In some ways, it shows similarities between Israelis and Palestinians, rather than exaggerating the differences. It is also important, as it is a film about how women are exploring their power and identity in a culture different from their own, and it does this very boldly. This film has won awards but has also received harsh criticism from both Israelis and Palestinians, each of whom may be uncomfortable about the stories it tells.

Forthcoming Events

Limmud Conference / Festival 24 – 28 December 2017 Pendigo Lake, Birmingham.

Limmud Conference is now renamed Limmud Festival and is the biggest celebration of Jewish learning and culture in the UK Jewish calendar, bringing in Jews, and some non-Jews, from a wide variety of backgrounds. Details from: https://limmud.org/festival/ Late booking is still possible. Day rates £109 for which you get a huge variety of international and talented presenters, plus evening entertainment.

Deadline for next newsletter

Deadline for the next newsletter will be 22nd January 2018. If you miss this date, I cannot guarantee your contribution will be included. Please send in contributions in WORD or pdf format if possible, but articles sent in by post are also welcome. In general, contributions should be no longer than 500 – 750 words, but longer contributions may be included, if appropriate. Pictures also welcome, but please try to keep image sizes small and below 250 KB for newsletter inclusion. All contributions are welcome but depending on format and content, the editor reserves the right to edit or hold over to a future edition if needed.

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

Email hjc@liberaljudaism.org or phone 01594 530721 (after 6pm or at weekends)

HJC Diary of Events

HJC services and other Events

Tuesday 12th December 1st night of Chanukah Home ceremony

Saturday 16th December Chanukah Party with Rabbi Anna Gerrard 3 p.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford HR2 6HE

2018 dates

Saturday 27th January CANCELLED

January/February service Shabbat service 11 a.m. Date and details to be announced

Sunday 4th March Joint Purim Party with GLJC Up Hatherley Village Hall Cold Pool Ln, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL51 6JA

Saturday 31st March Pesach Communal Seder 6.00 p.m. Bridges centre, Monmouth NP25 5AS

Advance Notice

Sunday 13th May HJC AGM 11.30 a.m. Trumpet Inn, Trumpet, Herefordshire

Saturday 9th June Anne Frank Day Service 11 a.m. Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford HR2 6HE

Sunday 10th June Bristol Limmud Day time and place t.b.c.

Purim and Pesach – booking for the Seder now open

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

HEREFORDSHIRE JEWISH COMMUNITY

COMMUNAL SEDER

Pesach 5776

Wednesday 12th April 2017, at 6.30pm.

Saxon Hall, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford,

HR2 6HE

led by Rabbi Anna Gerrard.

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

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

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

DO IT NOW SO YOU DON’T FORGET!

Last date to reserve a place Tuesday 28th March

HJC Newsletter October/November 2016

Editorial

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

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

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

In this edition:

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

CHAIR CHAT

Saturday September 10

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

 

Preparation for Rosh Hashanah

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

Rosh Hashanah Supper

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julian Brown

Ot Azoy Yiddish Course

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

Why did you decide to go on a Yiddish course?

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

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

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

What was your overall experience of the course?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you recommend the course to others?

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

What did you do about accommodation the course?

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

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

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

Obituary – Ralph Eskinazi

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

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

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

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

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

Julian Brown

Angela West writes:

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

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

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

Angela West

Hebrew Groups

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

JB

HJC High Holyday Charity Appeal

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

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

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

Members Welfare

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

 Picture Quiz

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

New Year message from Mohamed Fahili, Charles Clore Community Centre

What brings us hope in this upcoming year? 

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

Hundreds of visitors celebrating Shared Society in action.

This is The Meeting Place

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

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

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

Mohammad Fahili – Director
Clare King Lassman

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

 

 

Forthcoming Events

UK International Jewish Film Festival, 5 – 20 November 2016

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

Details at: http://ukjewishfilm.org/

High Holyday services

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

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

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

HJC Services

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

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

Hebrew groups

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

Malvern – t.b.c.

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 November 2016

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

Herefordshire Jewish Community Contacts

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

on 01594 530721 after 6pm. 

 

 

HJC Diary of Events

Date

Event

Time

Place

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

Other Events of Interest

Tuesday October 11th GLJC Kol Nidre Service 7 p.m. Up Hatherley Village Hall (UHVH), Cold Pool Lane, Cheltenham GL51 6JA
Wednesday, October 12th GLJC Yom Kippur Services, followed by breaking of Fast & meal. 11.00 a.m. (t.b.c.) – 7.30 p.m. Friends Meeting House, Greyfriars, Gloucester, GL1 1TS

 

Herefordshire Jewish Community Newsletter 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 April/May 2015 – Pesach Edition

Editorial

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

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

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

Julian Brown

Chair chat

Purim service

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

Future Events

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

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

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

Sir Martin Gilbert

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

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

Jewish Identity

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

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

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

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

Mark Walton

Community News

Alison & Marc Turner write:

Invitation to Baby Blessing

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

Hen Bradshaw writes:

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

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

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

Learning Circle Corner

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

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

Alison Turner

Maya Brown writes:

‘Oil Vey!’

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

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

Maya Brown

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

Dear Friends

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Mohammad Fahili and Clare Lassman

Pesach Recipe

Foolproof K’neidlach (matzo balls)

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

K’neidlach Recipe (makes 12 – 15)

2 large eggs

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

2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

75g matzo meal

4 tbsp soda water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

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

Line a baking sheet with cling film. Using your wet hands and a spoon, shape the batter into balls the size of small walnuts, and place on the baking sheet. Drop the matzo balls into a large pot of gently boiling salted water. Cover partially n with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Simmer gently until tender, about 30 minutes.

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

Julian Brown & Cherry Wolfe

Book Review: My Promised Land by Ari Shavit

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

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

Julian Brown

Food Bank Contributions

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

Other Events of interest

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

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

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

 

HJC Diary of Events

Date                           Event                      Time        Place

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deadline for next newsletter will be 15 May

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

For further information please contact our Chair:

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

Communal Pesach Seder

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

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

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

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

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

DO IT NOW SO YOU DON’T FORGET!

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