Belmonde Belmont Shulâ€˜s Magazine
Rosh Hashanah 5781 September 2020 Issue 23
Image by Hannah Pillemer, winner of Young Personsâ€™ Cover Competition
Young Personsâ€™ Cover Competition A big thank you to everyone who sent in entries - wonderful work, and to David Lerner who sponsored pizzas for the competitors
Maya Rodney age 6
Hannah Pillemer with her winning entry, shown on the cover
Racheli Levene, age 12
Olivia Rodney age 4
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
Joint entry by Megan and Tamara Godley, ages 5 and 7
Ariella Lerner, age 4, in New York with her art work
Roline Pillemer, age 9
Rachel Haberfeld, age 17
Please see pages 81 and 108 for more entries
Elijah Pillemer, age 11
Belmonde - September 2020
Inside Belmonde To jump to a page, click on the item below 2
Cover competition entries
Sewing scrubs bags, Judith Simmons
Recipes - Judith Simmons
Shul and Community Directory
New year Greetings
Message from Rabbi Levene
Chair’s message - Barbara Mazliah
Editor’s Page - David Simmons
On the hotline - Barbara Lerner
A tale of two towns - Peter Bush Roses in lockdown - Fiona & Neville Rose
Our little apple tree, Jacqueline Segal
Zoom etiquette, Danny Boxer
Ads by Coaching Futures, China Presentations, Bob Blackman and Simon Abrahams
Diary of a Covid-19 Journey - Eve Pearl
SciFi Club - Alan Drew Davis Sings - Louise Bronstein
Britain’s Nomadic Race - Nigel Bender
Scrub Gowns for hospices Selwyn Foreman
Specialist dieticians - Shifra Boxer
Film club - Salvador Mazliah
Pesach with a difference, Linda Boxer plus Melvyn Hartog Whisky tasting - David Simmons Belmont Community Cares
43 44 45
Fresher at Durham - Joseph Gellman
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
KLBD Roadshow - Frances Grossman
Recovery, rehab, return - Ivor Brookstone
CST Community pharmacist - Julia Hildebrand
Growing up in Egypt - Raphael Mansour
Belmont choir - Russell Shaw
Poets corner - various
Downtime in lockdown - Max Livingstone
Lockdown bas mitzvah - Racheli Levene
Lockdown at uni - Sam Cowen
On the wards - Dr Sara Hildebrand
Seder in Cairo - Michael Italiaander
Sewing bags - Kyla Davis
Counselling for Chai - Susan Freedman
JAMI support - Tony Kaye
2nd Belmont Brownie Pack Andrea Winthrop
To survive and thrive - Alice Hubbers
Ad by RH Rose Associates
WoW - Judy Levenson
In a bit of a stew over lockdown - Richard Simon
A lockdown bar mitzvah Cynthia Arden
The land girl - Norma Lerner
My father wanted a son - Viv Waters
Black lives matter - Hannah Pillemer
On spending Shabbat in lockdown - David Levenson
More Cover Competition Entries
Ladies Discussion Group - Sue Broza
Ads by: Eclipse, Jewish Legacy, Laytons Wartime memories - Tony Kaye’s Dad’s diary In the Far East - Philip Leigh A baby in Terezin (photos) - Judy Simon A baby in Terezin - Judy Simon
83 84 85 86 87
Greenbank - David Simmons
Family Nisner’s greeting Family Lerner’s greeting
Book Club - Michelle Minsky Belmont Hospitality(&more) Fund - Jacqueline Segal
Heads Up Kids - Claire Godley
Board of Deputies - President
Zman Torateinu - David Levenson
Knitting circle - Jacqueline Segal
2nd Belmont Guides - Roberta Diamond
Holocaust Memorial Day - Judy Levenson
Raffi Berg’s Red Sea Spies
Ads by West End Carpets and Goodmans
Anyone who has a heart Anthony Kaiser
Mitzvah Day 2019
Hospital Kosher Meals Service
Lockdown walks - Jeff Graham
Association of Rape Crisis Centres, Israel
Chief Rabbi’s Rosh Hashanah Message
Belmont golf society - Nigel Charig
Belmonde - September 2020
Belmonde Belmont Shulâ€™s Magazine
Rosh Hashanah 5781 September 2020 Issue 23
Shul and Community Directory BELMONT SYNAGOGUE Address: 101 Vernon Drive, Stanmore HA7 2BW Administrator: Sharon Laifer (firstname.lastname@example.org ) Finance Administrator: Devorah Cohen (email@example.com)
020 8426 0104 020 8426 0104
RABBINICAL TEAM Rabbi Marc Levene (firstname.lastname@example.org) Lisa Levene (email@example.com)
07989 538525 07957 606 882
EXECUTIVE Chairman: Barbara Mazliah (firstname.lastname@example.org) 07931 995 784 Vice-Chairman: Richard Simon (email@example.com) Wardens: Danny Boxer (firstname.lastname@example.org) 020 8954 8529 Stephen Grossman (email@example.com) 020 8954 9395 Graham Morrison-Wood 020 8952 3193 Financial Representative: Timothy Gellman (firstname.lastname@example.org) 020 8954 6560 Executive Members Carol Hart (email@example.com) 020 8954 4198 Rabbi Marc Levene & Lisa Levene (ex officio) Womenâ€™s Officer: Barbara Lerner (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Caroline Burke, Bev Ginsberg, Carole Hart, Barbara Lerner, Viv Waters, Illona Weitzman, Barry Gilbert, Stephen Grossman, Salvador Mazliah, Norman Rubin, Elvin Samson
BELMONDE MAGAZINE Editorial, design & production: David Simmons (email@example.com) 07960 904 676 Articles: David Lerner (firstname.lastname@example.org) 07966 386 878 Advertising: Mel Berman (email@example.com) 020 8952 2124 Additional help and proof reading: Judy Levenson, Barbara Mazliah, Viv and Eddie Waters, Murray Freedman s
Sharon Laifer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
WEBSITE URL Webmaster
https://www.belmontsynagogue.org.uk/ Philip Bunt (Philip@bunt.org.uk)
SECURITY CO-ORDINATOR 6
Richard Simon (email@example.com)
Belmonde Rosh Hashana 5781
020 8952 9643
BELMONT CHARITABLE TRUST Rabbi Marc Levene Nigel Hart 020 8954 4198 Barbara Mazliah 020 8958 2584 John Simmons 020 8954 8237
BOARD OF DEPUTIES REPRESENTATIVES
Maurice Minsky (firstname.lastname@example.org), Nigel Hart (email@example.com)
MEMBERS OF UNITED SYNAGOGUE COUNCIL
Stephen Grossman, Barbara Mazliah, Elvin Samson
UNITED SYNAGOGUE BURIAL OFFICE, BUSHEY 020 8950 7767
BELMONT ORGANISATIONS, COMMITTEES & SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS Belmont Catering: Rommy Simon (firstname.lastname@example.org) 020 8357 6543 Belmont Community Cares: Karen Bunt, Tina Freedman, Judy Levenson Community Cares line 020 8863 3000 Belmont Choir: Russell Shaw (email@example.com) Belmont Social Club & Seniors Social Club: Norman Rubin (firstname.lastname@example.org) 020 8416 0167 Book Club: Michelle Minsky (email@example.com) 020 8357 0254 Bridge Club: Laura & Mel Berman (firstname.lastname@example.org) 020 8952 2124 Facebook/PR: Raffi Berg (email@example.com) 020 8954 0069 Film Club: Salvador Mazliah (firstname.lastname@example.org) 020 8958 2584 Functions@Belmont Barry Gilbert (email@example.com) 020 8954 2833 (F@B) Mel Berman (firstname.lastname@example.org) 020 8952 2124 Knitting Circle: Jacqueline Segal (email@example.com) 020 8954 3296 Kiddush Team: Janice Kaiser (firstname.lastname@example.org) 020 8420 7427 Barbara Mazliah (email@example.com) 020 8958 2584 Simon Tucker (ST@debenhamsottaway.co.uk) 020 8863 5403 Ladies Discussion Group: Sue Broza (firstname.lastname@example.org) 020 8954 2772 New Members Liaison: Mel Berman (email@example.com) 020 8952 2124 Sci-Fi Club: Alan Drew-Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org) 020 8421 1109 Russell Shaw (email@example.com) 020 8954 4573 Speakers Corner: Elvin Samson firstname.lastname@example.org Raymond Levy email@example.com Carole Sinclair, Simone Levy Whisky Club : Jeremy Jacobs (firstname.lastname@example.org) 07841 794 847 WOW - Women of Worth: Lisa Levene (email@example.com) 07957 606 882
YOUTH AND CHILDREN 2nd Belmont Brownies: Andrea Winthrop (firstname.lastname@example.org) 020 8909 1899 2nd Belmont Guides: Roberta Diamond (email@example.com) 07753 747490 Stanmore & Phoenix Explorer Scouts: Roberta Diamond (firstname.lastname@example.org) 07753 747490 Belmonde is published by Belmont United Synagogue, 101 Vernon Drive, Stanmore HA7 2BW. Belmont United Synagogue is a member synagogue of the United Synagogue, Registered Charity Number 242552 All articles are accepted subject to inclusion and editing at the editorâ€™s discretion. The views expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the Rabbi or Executive of Belmont United Synagogue.
Belmonde September 2020
Best wishes for a healthy, happy and peaceful New Year to Rabbi Levene & Lisa, the Council and Executive and everyone in the Belmont Community from... Ronnie & Cynthia Arden and family Laura & Mel Berman with Carly & Michael, Malka, Richard & family Linda and Danny Boxer and their expanding family
Ruth, Robin, Yanina, Adam, Melissa, Marnie and Isabelle Fish Carole Fletcher with Rachel, Stuart and Aaron
Carol and Ivor Brookstone, Matthew, Joshua, Francesca, Mia and Zac
Michael, Janice, Elliott, Darren, Claire, Phoebe and Milo Gale
Sue & Anthony Broza together with Michelle, Dan, Ellie, Meital, Eitan and Yishai Sacker; Abi, Dan, Rafi, Liora and Amitai Keene; Zach and Rivka; Josh and Avital
Ruth & Tony Garson
Karen and Philip Bunt and family Linda & Stuart Burns, together with Daniella, Brian, Aeden, Oren, Evy and Thea Green, Lisa, Aviad and Yarden, David and Nicola
Carolyn and Barry Gilbert Peter, Bev, Jessica, Rebecca and Hannah Ginsberg Debbie and Richard Goldstein together with Marc, Diana, Isaac and Rafi Bernard & Lorna Glass and family
Daniel Caspi, the girls and all their families
Helen & Paul Greek and family
Jane, Michael, Judith, Kate, Daniel, Evie and Isabelle Caplan
Sara, Stephen, Harry and Ella Greek
Shana Tova to the Rabbi, officers and all members from Elaine & Louis Cohen Barbara & Philip Cowen
Gideon, Mia, Meirav and Liora, Emma & Adam, Daniel & Amy
Frances & Stephen; Sorah, Ben, Jake & Yoni; Katie, David, Oliver & Minnie Grossman Hilary & Tony Hammell
Shelley, Richard, Sam, Olivia and Josh Cowen
Barry & Susan Harris with Marc, Nick and Melissa
Gill and Ian Davis, together with Jason, Tanya, Oliver, Cara and Theo
Carol & Nigel Hart along with Emma & Sam, Michelle and Josh and their families
Adele and Amir Delijani and Family
Julia & Simon Hildebrand and family
Karen & Jonnie Dorman, together with Sara,
Robert & Greer Jaffe and Family
Belmonde Rosh Hashana 5781
שנה טובה ומתוקה Shanah Tovah U’Metukah!
Jack and Maureen Katz together with Lisa, David and Joanna and grandchildren Noah, Isaac, Sophie, Freddie, Arran and Calvin
Julia & Graham Morrison-Wood and family
Barry and Michele Karmel
Rochelle & Maxwell Nisner together with all the family wish everyone a healthy and happy new year.
Melinda and Russell Kett, Justin, Shira & Nicholas, with Miri, Doniel and Dassi, wish everyone a happy, healthy and Covid-free New Year Karen & Selwyn Korklin, together with Ben, Lynsey, Alicia & Josh, Philip, Katie, Aimee & Archie Suzie and Julian, Emily and Aaron Kostick Bernice and Michael Krantz, Sharon & Gaby Laifer with Evie, Eli and Leo and Robert & Laura Krantz with Joshua, Isabel, Matilda, Florence and Reuben. Helen Lamb together with Andrew & Eve, Richard, Miriam and Ariel
Howard & Marlene Napper and families
Anthony & Liz Reindorp and all the family Michelle, Steve, Dani and Adam Rose Estelle & Norman Rubin and family Lindy & Laurence Sacker and all the family Sara & Laurence Seeff and gang wish everyone in Belmont a happy, healthy and SAFE New Year Lynn and Graham Shaw, David, Steven and Nadine
Judy & David Levenson and family
Judith and David, Michael & Neil Simmons with Claire, Benjy, Tamara, Megan and Evie Godley
Sue and Ivor Levene
Linda & John Simmons
Louise and Gary Lewis, their children and grandchildren
Carole Sinclair & Frank Yantin
Barry & Linda Lightman together with Simon, Debbie, Zac, Evie, Tali, Amanda, Matt, Aaron and Rafi
Doreen and Michael Swan Ruth & Ellis Temerlies along with Laura, Jonathan and Shari
Neil, Max and Ava Livingstone
Barbara & Salvador Mazliah, Daniel, Mandy, Ruben, Rosa, Saul, Jonathan & Michael
Susan & Charles Wyburn, Marc, Marisa, Amelia & Elysia and Matthew, Nikki & Dexter Belmonde September 2020
BELMONT CHRONICLE 5780 Membersâ€™ family surnames in bold
A Big Welcome to our NEW MEMBERS Melanie Blake Hedda Boxer Melanie Bresgall & Daniel Becker, with Gabriella and Joshua
MAZAL TOV to these new parents, grandparents and their families:
Linda & Danny Boxer on the birth of a grandson, Rafi, a son for Shifra and Adam
Linda & Danny Boxer on the birth of a granddaughter, Eden Mitchell, a daughter for Michelle and Ben
Michael Glicksman Daniel Goldwyn Rachel Goodman
James & Francesca Leibowitz
Elaine & Louis Cohen on the birth of a great-grandson, Leo David (Arieh David), born to Elliot & Mushka Cohen
Hymie Reingold on becoming a greatgrandfather
Nurit & Uriel Cohen on the birth of a grandson, a son for Ortal and Simon Gold Judy & David Levenson on the birth of a grandson, Yuval Shlomo, a son for Miriam and Alan in Israel
Simon & Sharon Levy
Claire & Darren Gale, on the birth of a son, Milo - now 1, a grandson for Janice & Mike Gale
Sossie Baker on the birth of a grandson
Eddy & Suzanne BreuerWeil, with Ilana, Natan and Michal
Tanya and Oliver Coen on the birth of a son, Theo, a brother for Cara and grandson for Gill and Ian Davis
Susan & Anthony Broza on the birth of a grandson, Amitai Baruch born to Abi and Dan
Stephen & Diane Miller Francesca Rose Stephanie & Philip Firestone on the birth of a granddaughter, Libby Aziza, born to Scott and Lauren.
Sonia Rosenblatt Stuart & Beverley Rosenblatt Gil Sassoon Richard Sarsby Nicholas Simon
Carol & Ivor Brookstone on the birth of a grandson To Linda & Stuart Burns on the birth of a grandson
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
Frances & Stephen Grossman on the birth of a granddaughter, Minnie Ayva, born to Katie and David
Carol & Nigel Hart on the birth of a grandson, Yaron Raphael, a son for Michelle and Josh
Carol and Nigel Hart on the birth of a grandson, Motti, a son for Rabbi Sam and Emma Taylor
Janice & Anthony Kaiser on the birth of a granddaughter, a daughter for Deborah and Leor Harel
Julia & Graham MorrisonWood on the birth of a granddaughter Paula & David Newman on the birth of a grandson, a son for Jonathan and Elisheva
Zillah & Jeff Rubinstein on the birth of a granddaughter, Lila Rose, born to Rachel and Paul.
Rochelle & Maxwell Nisner on the birth of a granddaughter, born to Elissa and Adam Julia & Simon Hildebrand on the birth of a granddaughter, Amaya Zahra, great granddaughter for Freda Hildebrand, born to Natalie and Owen
Jeremy & Karen Jacobs on the birth of a granddaughter Laura & Richard Jaffe on the birth of a daughter, Lily Isla, and to grandparents Karen & Howard Glass
Bernice & Michael Krantz on the birth of a grandson, a great-grandson for Doris & Michael Italiaander
Stephanie & Neil Rabinowitz on the birth of a grandson, Ezra Leo, a son for Leah & Howard.
Louise & Gary Lewis on the birth of a grandson, Carson Brodkin born to Anastasia and Edward
Liz & Anthony Reindorp and the late Simone zâ€™l, on the birth of a granddaughter, Shoshana Chaya, born to Avigail and Joshua
Jacqueline and Melvyn Segal on the birth of a granddaughter, Lucia Zitren born to Sara and Marc.
Tamara & Aubrey Selig on the birth of a great granddaughter born to Naomi and Leiby Michelle & Maurice Minsky on the birth of a grandson, born to Robin and Tanya Julia & Graham MorrisonWood on the birth of a grandson, Yossi, a son for Jenny and Jacob
Liz & Anthony Reindorp and the late Simone zâ€™l, on the birth of a grandson, Shneur Zalman, born to Shalom and Mushki
Elizabeth & Michael Stone on the birth of a granddaughter born to Nicky and Gayle
Belmonde - September 2020
BELMONT CHRONICLE 5780 Members’ family surnames in bold
Linda & Philip Walzer on the birth of a grandson, Noah, a son for Francesca & Matthew
Leslie, Geoffrey & Olivia Glynn on Ella’s Bat Mitzvah
Josh, grandson of Linda and John Simmons
MAZAL TOV on Special Birthdays to: Alice Fraser on her 100th birthday Alan Goldin Norman & Estelle Rubin
Barmitzvahs and Batmitzvahs MAZAL TOV to: Ronnie Arden on his second Bar Mitzvah Eden, daughter of Avril & Gary Davis, granddaughter of Gillian & Roy Davis
Eli, grandson of Bernice & Michael Krantz, and greatgrandson of Doris & Michael Italiaander ,
Jude, grandson of Beryl & Peter Silverstone
Racheli, daughter of Rabbi and Lisa Levene, sister of Miri, Ruthie and Rivka, granddaughter of Sue and Ivor Levene and of Lydia and Bruce Koster
Lynn & Graham Shaw on the marriage of Steven to Nadine Miller
MAZAL TOV to
MAZAL TOV on Significant Anniversaries to: Karen & Philip Bunt on their 40th wedding anniversary
Lorna & Bernard Glass on their 50th wedding anniversary
MAZAL TOV on Academic Success Mia, daughter of Dalia & Richard Fraser, granddaughter of Lola and Ronnie Fraser and great-granddaughter of Alice Fraser
Sam, grandson of Evelyn & Robert Rose Jacob, grandson of Gloria & Stephen Sands, son of Emma and Howard Michelle, Jamie and Lexi Sidney on Joshua’s Bar Mitzvah
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
Andrea Royce on her Ll.B Francesa Rose graduated in Psychology Elliot Rose graduated in Hospitality Congratulations on great GCSE and ‘A’ level results to Jayden Awad, Anya Berg, Kyla Davis, Amelia Diamond, Jessica Davis, Nathan Gellman, Brandon Roche and Dan Weitzmann. We wish them every success in their future studies.
Maureen & Jack Katz on their 50th Wedding anniversary Judy and David Levenson on their 40th wedding anniversary
CONDOLENCES to these members and their families who have lost loved ones during the year: Edward Aspis, on the passing of his wife, Linda Eunice Barnett, on the passing of her husband, John
Thelma Epstein, on the passing of her husband, Norman
Susan Mednick, on the passing of her husband, Laurence
Jenny Feldman, on the passing of her husband, John
Steven Merrill, on the passing of his brother, Fred Merrill
Michael Foreman, on the passing of his mother, Arline Foreman
Maurice Minsky, on the passing of his mother, Trudie Leigh
Susan Freedman, on the passing of her mother, Hazel Sheldon
Nadine Baskir, on the passing of her mother, Luanne Reingold
Alison Gellman, on the passing of her father, Anthony Hildebrand
Shirley Black, on the passing of her husband, Melvin
Silke Goldberg, on the passing of her mother, Leoni Kimmel
Laura Berman, on the passing of her mother, Betty Arnold
Linda Harris, on the passing of her mother, Kitty Smulovitch
Shirley Black, on the passing of her husband, Melvin
Davina Kerstein, on the passing of her brother Tony Silverston
Steven Bluestone, on the passing of his mother, Jean Steen
David Lack, on the passing of his mother, Sylvia Lack
Louise Bronstein, on the passing of her father, Maurice Canter
Brian Marks, on the passing of his sister, Lynda Marks
Edna Cohen, on the passing of her sister, Irene Class
Samantha Martyn, on the passing of her mother, Sheila Titton
Uriel Cohen, on the passing of his brother, Samuel Cohen
Paul Magen, on the passing of his mother, Mavis Magen
Valerie Nathan, on the passing of her husband, Barry Reginald Samuels, on the passing of his wife, Rosetta
We send CONDOLENCES to the families of these members who have passed away during the past year: Julia Decker Pearl Goodwin Hermann Hirschberger MBE Sidney Kenton
Judith Sint, on the passing of her husband, Brian
Patricia Singer, on the passing of her husband, Martin
David Solomon, on the passing of his father, Benjamin Solomon
Please note that compilation of Belmont Chronicle 5780 involved collating and reformatting many entries from a number of sources. If, in spite of great care, we have inadvertently missed any entries or introduced errors, we apologise and hope you will understand.
Linda Warner, on the passing of her brother, Lawrence Richman Daryl White and Anthony Rebuck on the passing of their mother, Gloria Rebuck
Belmonde - September 2020
Rabbi Marc Levene Dearest Friends Think back to 2015, just five years ago. Try and cast your mind back, where were you, what were you doing, what were you thinking? Ask yourself these questions, close your eyes and try hard to remember. Maybe picture yourself, in a specific place and time. Now someone asks you – where would you like to be in five years? You challenge yourself to think about it, where are you, what are you doing etc – Somebody did this to me, it was scary! I know for many of us, life doesn’t seem to change that much but of course, it does. We may have the same job, the same friends and even the same daily routine – however, there are always changes. People change, circumstances though sometimes subtle, do change. Maybe you lost a loved one or even gained a friend. Perhaps, you have taken on a new role or made some serious lifestyle changes. However, could we have predicted just five years later, in 2020 – life would be this way? The world has changed, maybe forever, it is the stuff movies are made of. I remember how it felt when we as a family went into isolation just a few days before lockdown started. When we finally emerged I got into my car to pick up some shopping and it was as if I had woken in a strange movie – no one, but no one was out on the streets. All the shops, bar food retailers where closed. Where was I and what had happened? This shows us so clearly that we can make all the plans we like but essentially we have no control over the outcome. We can but only look deep inside ourselves and think – how do I react to these challenges? How can I confront those metaphorical bricks that come flying at me from all directions, often hitting me and leaving a scar? One aspect that I have personally struggled with, is the lack of personal contact with people… I love a good hug! To embrace another person can be so uplifting, to show love and support, or even to feel loved as well. This has been taken from me, but it only got worse. We love to smile in our family! A smile can add positivity and warmth and can change the whole dynamic of a room… But now the
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
smiles seem to have also gone. Not just because there are those suffering hardships, but because now when we see people out and about, we are all wearing masks. On many occasions, I have been embarrassed meeting members of our community having not recognised them due to their entire face being covered. The smiles have been taken from our highstreets as we go about our daily lives. Therefore, we have to work that bit harder. We have to take the teachings of our sages, to greet everyone with a good positive face and work at it, use more extreme facial expressions, hand gestures, our eyes and even our words, to show the love, smiles and those virtual hugs. We must adapt to this new normal; it takes hard work and effort, but we must! It is essential to remind ourselves, even under the masks – to keep smiling! The bricks that get thrown our way might make a scar, but let that not define us. Instead empower us to grow a little taller – stand on those bricks, learn from them and be that bit better. Let us keep rising to the challenges that come our way, and do so with our wonderful community spirit. I am so proud to be the Rabbi of our superb Kehilah. Witnessing first hand and on so many levels, how people have pulled through, rallied around, supported, phoned, shopped, cooked, showed concern, volunteered time, joined committees and WhatsApp groups and more and more and more. We have shone, become a leading light amongst our friends at the United Synagogue, and stood together during this distressing and challenging time. I along with Lisa and the girls want to thank you all, and wish everyone a very happy, healthy and smiley new year ahead. May Hashem bless us all for life and good things, and may we all have the strength we need to overcome everything we face. Shanah Tovah
Belmonde - September 2020
Barbara Mazliah’s message
From the chair Friends, I have just looked at last year’s beautiful Belmonde magazine and read through my article written after only three months as Chair. Who could have imagined how different life would be twelve months on - life without the regular Shul activities, without social interaction and with far fewer formal services. We could never have imagined such a scenario. However, here we are over half way through 2020 living a new way. These last six months have shown our wonderful Belmont Community at its best. We have come together via Zoom for a whole host of events, both educational and entertaining. We have been inspired by Divrei Torah, delighted by the stories of incredible individuals facing isolation, educated by the Rabbi’s daily doses of inspiration and above all brought together secured in the knowledge that we are a true Community. Rabbi Levene and Lisa have taken us on our spiritual journey through these troubled times and will continue to guide us towards a clearer future. Thank you to Belmont Community Cares and Belmont Community Trust and all those who contribute to their work in caring for our welfare. Week after week, our amazing volunteers have phoned, shopped, schlepped and above all cared for the Community. Thank you to those who have arranged events online and those who have supported them. Thank you to the Shul’s Reopening Committee which has worked so hard to reopen the Shul safely and will continue to organise a safe environment in which to hold services in the coming months.
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
A special thank you to the wardens for the hours spent organising services for Shabbat and Yamim Noraim. Of course, we should thank John our caretaker and Sharon and Devorah who have ensured the smooth running of the Shul even when the building was closed. Circumstances prevented us from holding an AGM in May. I am really pleased that the Members of the Council and the Exec agreed to remain in post for another year. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Cynthia Arden, who has stepped down, for her support and to wish thank Anthony Kaiser for taking on his new role as Bereavement Coordinator. Thank you to my fellow members of the Exec:; Vice Chair Richard Simon, Honorary Officer Danny Boxer, Financial Representative Tim Gellman, Women’s Officer Barbara Lerner, Carol Hart and to the whole Shul Council for all their hard work and support during these difficult months. Thank you to David Simmons and his team for working so hard to produce a very different style Belmonde magazine, adapted to suit today’s world. Let us pray that the next twelve months will bring health and happiness to the whole Community. We should continue to move forwards secure in the support we have for each other. No one should feel alone. We wish each and every one a Shanah Tovah Um’Metukah and pray that 5781 will bring us a healthier, more tolerant and more thoughtful world.
Editor’s page When I walked through the door of Belmont on my first visit, looking for a shul to join when we moved to Stanmore, I was impressed by the greeting I got on the way in, by the service and by the friendliness of the people I met, including the Rabbi (then Rabbi Feldman but continued by Rabbi Levene) who came across to greet me. I had no idea then, how this first impression, seven years ago, would continue to get even better and better. It was clear that this was not just a collection of people who went to shul but a real community. In 2020 I am filled with admiration at how this community has acted in concert to overcome the many problems we have all faced during this awful pandemic. People have worked tirelessly within and for the Belmont community and for the community at large. Part of the evidence for this can be seen in the (virtual) pages of this magazine. This is the fourth Belmonde of which I have been editor. The first three were 80 pages long; this on-line one is 110 pages (with coves) and it is filled by inspirational stories of coping and other activities that people have experienced during ‘lockdown’. I think that there are two main reasons for the increase in size. The first is that we live in a crisis. People think about and share their experiences at these times; they even hark back to previous difficult times and Covid has restricted the range of our activities so people are happier to sit down and write. The second is that our Articles Editor, David Lerner, has pulled out all the stops to cajole and encourage articles plus photos. Sometimes, I don’t know whether to be grateful for this rich harvest or to moan about the extra work. Technology has become a major facilitator in nearly every walk of life. Belmont Shul has used it phenomenally – at least one email every day, except Shabbat, with the day’s activities and inspirational messages together with the ubiquitous Zoom to successfully hold all sorts of meetings, with local participants and national and international participation. Technology is one thing, but the work and organisational skills that have been used to bring all this to
the community is another and a very great vote of thanks is due to everyone who contributed. Sadly we have seen all sorts of health consequences and threats to businesses and livelihoods from the pandemic. It looked obvious early on that there would be no advertising revenue to pay for printing a shul magazine. I was overpessimistic because a number of our loyal advertisers have placed ads again this year and we are sincerely grateful for their support. I must add my thanks to Mel Berman who cheerfully and politely encouraged them. The solution was to go online using a ‘flipbook’ - a facsimile of a printed magazine that allows you to turn the pages. Since some members don’t have internet access, we needed some printing after all – a small number of text-only copies. For observant members to read Belmonde on Shabbat and Yom Tov, that version is also available for download to print as much or as little as they wish on their home printers. It’s not a perfect solution but we think it goes a long way. In these difficult times the magazine lets the community communicate and greet each other. Tell us what you think at email@example.com Putting together a magazine is not the work of one person. We couldn’t even start without articles, from members and their children as well as external contributors. What a wonderful collection of artwork, competing to go on our virtual cover, has been received from the younger generation. Scrutiny from proof-readers has made Belmonde readable. Support from Belmont’s Chair, Administrator and others has been invaluable. Finally, our readers - without whom there would be no point! Thank you all. Belmonde - September 2020
Raphael Mansour recollects
Growing up in Egypt
World War II Experiences
Raphael Mansour was born in 1932 in Port Said Egypt. Port Said is on the Mediterranean coast, next to the Suez Canal and thus a city with a lot of trading. Raphael recollects that the city had four distinct districts - a foreigners’ district, an area of mixed housing, the Arab area and, on the outskirts, an area where the poorest Arabs lived. He, his siblings and his parents were born there, members of the small Jewish community which never exceeded 1,000 souls. Many, like his grandfather had come there from the ancient Jewish community of Aden (now known as the Yemen). Today Yemen is at the heart of a cruel civil war, but as recently as the year 1800, Aden was a tiny village with a population of no more than 600 Arabs, Somalis, Jews and Indians. In the 1830s it came under British administration and at least its ‘foreigners’ became British citizens, so Mr Mansour’s father arrived in Port Said with British citizenship. This is not the only British connection to Port Said. In 1875, the ruler of Egypt went bankrupt and sold shares in the Suez Canal (of whose traffic four-fifths was British). Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli purchased 44% of the Canal’s total shares as an investment, financed by the Rothschilds. Amazingly the United Kingdom and France owned the canal until July 1956, when the President of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser, nationalised it. Raphael remarked “He was an extremist – but he had a point.” The Anglo-Jewish traveller S. Samuel found about 20 Jewish families in the town in 1879, earning their livelihood as tailors, retail traders, and money lenders. The community prospered after the building of the Suez Canal but was subject to blood libels in 1882 and 1892 and as late as 1930. Incidentally the main Egyptian newspaper, Al Ahram, was repeating the blood libel as a fact as recently as 2005. During the 1920s, the
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
community had two synagogues and briefly a Jewish school. In 1956 the number of Jews in the town was estimated at 300, most of whom were compelled to leave as a result of the Suez Campaign. Raphael remembers that the different groups in Port Said kept to themselves. Although his household spoke Arabic, many of the overseas residents did not and, as he put it, “didn’t care a damn about the Arabs”. His grandfather and his father and siblings were goldsmiths, able to make a good living with so much shipping going through the Canal. He remembers good relations between Egyptians and Jews, even during the war. He went to a school which followed the English curriculum – after a brief stay at a strict French Catholic school where he nearly won a school prize of a statue of Saint Mary – something that would not have gone down well at home. He has a strong memory of the grand Sephardi shul – quite remarkable given what a small community there was throughout its time. In the war Egypt was occupied by British troops and so Raphael remembers that they were joined in the packed shul on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur by British Jewish troops. He doesn’t recollect antisemitism during the war, but after Israel declared independence “we had to be careful”. When it came time to leave, in 1950 when he was 18, there was of course no direct link between Egypt and Israel. Various ‘societies’ helped the Jewish community make Aliyah by taking a boat, in their case to Brindisi in Southern Italy and then a boat back across the Mediterranean to Israel. He recalls how tough it was in Israel in the early years. In 1951 Raphael was called up for national service in the IDF where he was trained as an engineer for the Israeli Air Force. He has two children – a daughter who is a physiotherapist and a son who is an editor for Radio 4.
Ivor Brookstone recalls his
Recovery, rehab, return Perhaps return should come first, as thanks to Harefield Hospital Intensive Care, I did return from imminent death.
Louise and Jonathan Abrahams and family wish the Belmont Community a Happy, Healthy and Sweet New Year
recommend me to the rehab unit at Hillingdon Hospital, which would aid a quicker and fuller recovery. I had got rid of COVID-19 fully but had problems with my left leg in two places, an unresponsive knee and solidified liquid on my thigh and pelvis - both from my time in intensive care. Getting better from these is just a matter of time. Who knows how long? As good as his word, on a Friday afternoon, I met Dr Nair who ran the rehab unit and I was transferred there the following Monday. After a few days in my room, where I was required to move around and re-learned how to shave, comb my ever increasing hair etc, I was taken to the on-site gym. There I was subject to REAL physio and occupational therapy: - on the cycle machines, lifting weights and walking with a frame every day. The result was that I gained real strength and purpose. Those three to four weeks were invaluable to my recovery. Thanks to my brother-in-law, Jeffrey, I read seven books and did crosswords which means that, contrary to the general view, I have some intellectual capacity. A major factor in my recovery was being told by Carol every day at 4 .00 pm how she had nearly all the Shul praying and supporting me (including Arsenal supporters!) Together with my friends, relatives and many creditors this was so important. I have been home a month or so doing physio and more. Iâ€™m now walking with a stick and not the frame - and doing the ironing, making coffee and sandwiches and driving Carol mad - so back to almost normal! That I am here is due to the wonderful NHS and the support of everybody. THANKS, THANKS and more THANKS! Belmonde - September 2020
A Covid-19 experience
I cannot recall what happened in ITU, but the weeks on the Harefield wards saw me gain some strength and fortunately, also, positive results on the daily blood pressure checks, blood tests and so on that I so bravely went through. So much so that after three weeks on the wards one of the doctors told me that he would
Diary of a Covid – 19 Journey Celebrations ! -Howard Pearl came home after 10 weeks in hospital with Covid-19; it was far from certain that he would survive. Day 1 : Tuesday 24th March 2020 We both feel unwell. Symptoms? Flu, dizziness, high temperature, loss of appetite. We both take to our beds. Is this Covid? Day 4 : Friday 27th March I’m feeling better. Able to get out of bed, drink and stay upright. Worried about Howard, he’s getting worse, he can’t even take a sip of water or get out of bed. He has a yellow tinge to his skin. Day 6 : Sunday 29th March Telephone a friend (retired GP). What should I do? I’m afraid he’s dehydrated. Friend asks, “Is he breathless?”. Answer ”No but very unwell”. “Ring your GP tomorrow then 111 if need be. Day 7 : Monday 30th March Ring GP and have a phone conversation. Howard is sent antibiotics – still not breathless. Also prescribed ‘rest and fluids’.
A Covid-19 experience
Day 8: Tuesday 31st March Howard is getting worse, Rang 111. Two and a half hours waiting time. Oh no what do I do? I’m well enough to dress and have my first meal since this started. Day 9 : Wednesday 1st April 2020 I’m desperate to get help. Call GP again. This time I’m taken more seriously. I am told to take him to a Covid testing centre in North Harrow. The appointment is in 30 minutes. It’s so hard getting him dressed and bundled into the car. At the assessment centre Howard had to wait in the car till someone came in full PPE to collect him and take him to be triaged. Howard was now breathless and could hardly walk. Within 10 minutes Howard was back with instructions to go to Northwick Park Hospital A&E immediately. OMG, he really is bad! We arrived at NPH A&E and I helped him out of the car. I’m not allowed in. Little did I know that this would be the last time I would see him for over two months. No visitors allowed in hospital.
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Day 10 : Thursday 2nd April Howard has been admitted and immediately put on oxygen. Staff take swabs to test for the Covid virus. Despite the oxygen Howard is still finding it difficult to breathe. Days 11– 15 : Friday 3rd - Tuesday 7th The situation is becoming increasingly alarming. The doctors put Howard on a CPAP, he just cannot catch his breath. By Monday he’s taken to HDU (High Dependency Unit) for closer monitoring. Monday evening, we are told he can return to the main ward. I and our children can sleep a bit easier that night. Tuesday things look grim again. The doctors say that the virus has come back to attack him again and he goes back into HDU. The day before Pesach, Howard is aware that Seder night begins tomorrow night and wants Kosher for Pesach food. He asks me to contact Rabbi Levene. I contact him, to be told that the hospital chaplain retired two months ago but Kosher for Pesach food is clearly labelled. Day 16 : Wednesday 8th April NIGHTMARE Howard asks me to bring in some matzos etc. I pack a bag and make my way to NPH. I can leave the bag at the door of the ward and the nurses will take it to him. I ring the ward bell and a masked nurse opens the door. “Howard Pearl”, I say. “Wait”, she says, “a doctor wants to talk to you”. Not a good sign. The doctor comes out - “Sit down Mrs Pearl”, oh no, not a good sign again. “Your husband is critically unwell. We had a team meeting and the only way to deal with the situation
is to put him into ICU (Intensive Care Unit) on a ventilator. I must warn you that he is seriously ill”. A nurse then comes out with a clear bag containing Howard’s watch, phone and glasses and hands the bag to me. I sit in shock. It can’t be. Howard is a fit man who never even takes a paracetamol. The situation is surreal and all I can do is sob. Somehow, I call the kids, somehow, I drive home. Will he survive? Jonathan, our eldest son, is waiting for me when I get back home. I sob again into his arms. He has packed a bag and will stay with me. It’s Seder night - what shall we do about Seder? “Dad would want us to go ahead” says Jonathan so we do. Just the
two of us with me crying all the way through. Day 18 : Friday 10th April Second day Pesach. People come into the garden to visit. My only contact with Howard is via a daily phone call from the doctors. Their message is ‘Expect the worst, hope for the best’. This is the mantra for the next four weeks. Day 20 : Sunday 12th April Chol Hamoed. Usual doctor’s call, “We’re going to transfer him to the Nightingale Hospital. We are desperate for beds here in ICU and he seems stable enough to be moved”. A glimmer of hope? Day 21 : Monday 13th April They haven’t moved him. More grim news. The virus has come back for a third time and now it has attacked his kidneys. He needs to go on dialysis. Can the situation get any worse? Day 25 : Friday 17th April Pesach out last night. A yomtov we will always
remember... Call from the hospital, “We are transferring your husband to the Hammersmith Hospital in one hour”. What? Why? “They have a bed in their Cardiac ICU and we need his bed here”. Hammersmith? Never been there, where is it? Oh, I forgot, doesn’t matter, can’t visit anyway. Day 27 : Sunday 19th April Same old mantra ”Expect the worst, hope for the best”. Johnny is still staying with me. The kids are fearful that I’ll get that dreaded phone call in the middle of the night. They don’t want me to be on my own. We don’t watch or listen to the news. How many have died now…? Day 28 to Day 41 : 20th April – 4th May We hear the news. It’s been three and a half weeks now. Daily updates from the hospital still repeat the same mantra. His kidneys require dialysis .Will they recover? Doctors don’t know. The picture is still bleak. Over the last three weeks Howard has had various infections. His blood pressure became a concern. There was some internal bleeding. They managed to stabilize him. We are so grateful to the doctors and nurses in ICU. Day 44 : Thursday 7th May Great news, things are looking more hopeful. Howard’s lungs are taking less oxygen from the ventilator so doctors say his lungs have more function. Everyone is davening for him: Family here, Israel, Canada, friends in Belmont and beyond. The doctors have decided to bring Howard out of sedation. First they perform a tracheotomy and remove the tube from his throat. He will still need the ventilator. They decide that once he is awake he will be more able to assist with his own recovery. Day 49 : Tuesday 12th May It is now four days since they stopped sedation. He hasn’t woken up. Is there a problem? The doctors plan to do an MRI to rule out the possibility of a stroke. That evening Rabbi Levene holds a ceremony via Zoom to add another Hebrew name to Howard. We arrange for family all over the world to join us. Very, very emotional! Will it help? - hope so. Day 52 : Friday 15th May The family decide to recite all 150 Tehillim (Psalms) over Shabbat for Howard. At 7:00pm a message is sent on the Belmont Friends WhatsApp group to do the same. Within 20 minutes all 150 Tehillim have been allocated to friends and their adult children – an amazing feat!!! With all this surely Hashem will hear and wake Howard up.
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Days 53 -54 : 16th May – 17th May A MIRACLE. Howard begins to wake up. Nurses say he is moving his head and hands and is responding to questions. We cry with joy. We tell all those who have davened that their prayers have been answered. Day 55 : Tuesday 18th May The nurses kindly organize a zoom meeting. The children and I see Howard for the first time in 46 days. He is groggy but awake and very confused. We begin to celebrate, telling family and friends everywhere home and abroad. Days 56 – 62 : 19th – 25th May So much is happening. Lots of calls to Howard. He can’t speak as the doctors have fitted a ‘trachi’ to his windpipe so that he can still take oxygen from the ventilator. They introduce liquid and then pureed food and begin intensive physiotherapy.
A Covid-19 experience
Day 63 : Tuesday 26th May Red letter day. Howard is off the ventilator completely and the ‘trachi’ is removed. He is moved out of ICU with much fanfare. Doctors, nurses, physios and other staff line the corridor and clap and smile as he is transferred to another ward. The day we had all prayed for, for so long, had arrived. Day 65 : Thursday 28th May It’s Shavuot tonight. What a difference from Pesach. Howard may be missing another Yomtov at home, but he is alive and improving. Friends walk over on Friday and Shabbat to sit in the garden and get the latest update. The sun is shining and the feeling is positive. We allow ourselves to relax and catch up on sleep. Day 69 : Tuesday 2nd June Howard is coming home on Thursday. The hospital OT has arranged for the equipment he will
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need at home to be delivered tomorrow:pressure mattress for the bed, frames around the toilet, air cushions to sit on and zimmer frames to help him walk. At its best the NHS is a magnificent and efficient machine. So here we are in early August. Howard has been home for a number of weeks now. This dreaded virus nearly took him from us. We hear the statistics say that patients on a ventilator for more than two weeks have only a 14% chance of survival. Howard was on a ventilator for 4½ weeks. It really is a miracle. It will be months before he is anywhere near back to his former health. Covid has left him breathless, with a weakness down his left arm. He has a condition called ‘Drop Foot’ where he cannot move his left foot below the ankle. No one knows if this will be permanent. He still has blood clots and his kidneys need to be monitored. Don’t let anyone say this virus is no worse than flu. We are so thankful to the NHS for the expertise and devotion of their staff. We are also so grateful to all our friends and the community for the love and support and prayers shown during this crisis. Finally we are so thankful to Hashem for listening to all of you and saving Howard.
Sci fi club The Belmont Science fiction Club had a great 10th year. Meetings about sci-fi can range into discussions about morality and get a bit philosophical, but ours tend to be great fun, well-attended, lots of socialising and enjoyed by all. We had all this for the first part of the year - then Covid came along!
present, and never quite the same. Close, but life is always different. Zoom and Webex were our answer- A fantastic sci-fi quiz was put together and enjoyed by all - notably won by a new participator. This was after our first Zoom meeting which was well attended, and we enjoyed the difference, but missed the cakes!
Future pandemics had been covered many times in sci-fi, from films like Contagion to I-Legend- but not in the
Our next Zoom meeting (which will have been on) 18 August is about changing the future by altering the past - if only!
sings Lockdown has been strange for us all. My family have had an arrival of a baby, a bereavement and a marriage postponement. Obviously these have all caused their fair share of stress. There have been two pastimes that have kept me going during this difficult time. One has been exercise. I love pilates and since lockdown I have bought an exercise bike. The other is singing. I sing in two choirs, a Rock choir and a Classical choir. We have been singing on Zoom and the sessions work really well as we are all muted most of the time! It is great to see all my choir buddies and now I have started to have small groups come over to sing in my garden.
The Rock choir
For me, singing is food for the soul. I always feel uplifted after a good sing. Go on, give it a go! This quote sums it up for me: “I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing.”
Belmonde - September 2020
Linda Boxer, Operation Manager, United Synagogue Burial Society writes
Pesach with a difference My experiences of the COVID-19 crisis
I can say with all honesty that I have never worked as hard as I did during the last two weeks of March and all of April. Thankfully, by mid-May, normality seemed to resume. Obviously, the Burial Society had been preparing for contingencies from February when it had become clear that Coronavirus could have severe implications on our operations. However, it was impossible to imagine the severity of the situation and whatever plans we had made were constantly modified and updated as the situation unfolded....
Working during Covid
A preplanned week off over Purim was periodically interrupted by conversations with Mark Williams, the cemeteries manager, where we discussed how to keep our staff as safe as possible; staff were put into bubbles long before this was generally recommended, we ordered more PPE and coffins than we could ever imagine we would need and we had to convert a storage area to a temporary mortuary by putting in refrigeration units and use additional vehicles as ambulances. The Jewish community was hit earlier and harder than the general population. Currently it looks like 1.2% of the deaths were Jewish compared to approximately 0.5% of the population. Iâ€™m sure that many papers and reasons will be written on this. All of my staff worked six days a week during that period, we had to relinquish holiday we had booked to prepare for Pesach. I was working 10-12 hours a day dealing not only with bereaved families and funeral management but also working with Directors of the US in giving guidance on who and how many could attend a funeral, safe methods of collecting people who had passed away from Coronavirus and how taharas should be carried out and by whom, taking relevant advice from medical
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professionals. A Zoom meeting took place with over 200 voluntary Chevra Kadisha attendees from all over the country, where Dayanim, medical advisors and United Synagogue professional staff carried out a full briefing on all decisions we had made. The phones were ringing constantly. I, like some of my colleagues, was working from home and a number of volunteers were helping in the burial office. There were days when we received 15-20 bereavement phone calls. An average day should be three. All paperwork regulations were being constantly changed and we had to adapt our systems to manage each stage of the process so that we were immediately all aware when we could bring a deceased person to our cemeteries and arrange a funeral. Hospitals, GPs and registrars were working very differently to normal and at times it was taking over a week to get all the paperwork processed before we could arrange a funeral, which was a very distressing situation for bereaved families. I never dreamed that I would have to ask our Dayanim for permission to work and bury on 2nd and 8th day Pesach, but I did, and they agreed, obviously within certain limitations. This was an unprecedented situation in this country - halachically it is permitted to bury on these days, but it had never before been necessary. A three-day closure at the start of Pesach, first Seder being on a Wednesday night, meant this had to be considered otherwise our backlog might have meant the authorities would consider that we were not able to deal with our deaths and insist on cremation. Eighteen burials in total
were carried out on those days. It was a very strange Chag. I still do not know how I got our home ready for Pesach and I thank my children for all the food they cooked for us. We had been so excited as for the first time ever, we were going to our children for Seder rather than making it for them! An abridged second Seder took half an hour, after which I started working, managing what was going to happen the following day. Between mid-March and the end of April we carried out 330 burials between Bushey, Waltham Abbey and Willesden. Our normal expectation would have been around 100-110 during that period. We had one day where we had 23 funerals and another with 22. Previously, a busy day might have had five. There are so many people I have to thank: Firstly all my colleagues for whom it was unbelievably stressful. We just had to get on with our jobs, dealing with all families with the same, if not more, compassion and time as in normal circumstances. Many of my team were very uncomfortable about the need to work on Yom Tov but they did so. Then the ground staff who had to dig graves non-stop and also who helped us to collect the deceased
from hospitals. There were days where we had five ambulances out on the roads, travelling all around the London area. Thank you to the volunteers who assisted, not only in the office but also on our ambulances and on funerals. Taharas were done by far fewer than normal. A large number of Chevra Kadisha members are over 70 and were not permitted in these circumstances to help. Taharas were arranged through two WhatsApp groups, one for men, another for women, and these amazing volunteers had to be extremely quick to reply in order to be part of the team. And finally to Danny - for around six weeks I don’t think I did more than grunt at him when I wasn’t working or sleeping. Even when I wasn’t working in my improvised office upstairs, my phone was ringing constantly. I never want to have to go through anything like this period again. Wishing everyone well - Chaim Aruchim to anyone who lost a family member and a continued Refuah Shelayma to those who are still experiencing the awful after-effects of this dreadful virus..
The following has been extracted from the report of
Melvyn Hartog, Head of Burial
I felt it was even more appropriate this year to give you an up-date as far as the United Synagogue Burial Society is concerned during this current pandemic.
burial forms as everything was done online which saved families going back and forth.
Bushey New Cemetery has been fully running since 2017 and we are carrying out funerals and stone settings there and at Bushey Old and Waltham Abbey cemeteries
We could only allow immediate mourners to the grounds and in the main most people adhered to this. Some people found it quite humbling to have so few people present, it was very quiet, no chatting, people concentrated on what they were there for. All stone settings were postponed or cancelled. Cemetery Maintenance have worked through a backlog of nearly 700 families with those that were postponed and families with recent burials that could not book.
The Burial Society has an amazing work ethic and all the staff from the cleaners, ground staff, Burial Staff, Cemetery Maintenance and the Burial Office gave 100% effort during lockdown. A huge thank you also goes to the local delis and restaurants in the Bushey area sending in food parcels for all the staff every single day. It was coordinated by a couple of very caring people. Registrars did not require a personal visit to collect green
In a normal month we would carry out around 75 funerals, in March we did 107 and, in April 263 - out of these 162 were Covid deaths.
I thank all the Rabbonim, volunteers, men’s and women’s Chevra Kadisha and everyone connected to the burial society, may you all be blessed with a sweet and healthy new year. Belmonde - September 2020
David Simmons reports on
Belmont Whisk(e)y Lockdown can’t suppress Jewish Whisky drinkers so Belmont’s Whisky Club conZoomed (a new word for the OED) at the beginning of July. Doubtless, everyone had their own varying personal stocks of usquebaugh, ‘the water of life’ but how do 20 members sip the identical nectar at the same time? Simple, buy a Whisky tasting set of five different 3cl, 46%, high-quality whiskies. At £26.95 it’s a bit more than the club normally charges but there’s enough in each sample for the spouse to join in, though neither would get tipsy. As the photographer I had to focus on the event and needed to keep a clear head so I confined myself to a tot of Aldi’s ‘limited release’ Speyside, Glen Marnoch. I was dismayed to find that my screen-grab facility wouldn’t work on zoom and I had to hurriedly put my camera on a tripod and photograph the screen. The whiskies tasted were from Master of Malt’s Father’s Day set and have names that are proprietary to Master of Malt - you won’t find them in duty free. Very briefly, they were: Scallywag from Douglas Laing - a vatted malt made from Speyside whiskies, including Mortlach, Macallan and Glenrothes. Price £38.75 a bottle. Peaty Aerolite Lyndsay from the Islay Whisky Company - aged for 10 years in a mixture of bourbon barrels and Spanish oak sherry quarter casks. Its name is an anagram of ‘ten year old Islay’. Full price £44.95 a bottle.
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The ONE Sherry Expression Bottling - from The Lakes Distillery, with a finishing period in first-fill Pedro Ximénez casks, The blend is created from whiskies from across the British Isles.Price £44.95 a bottle. Colonel EH Taylor Bourbon - a small batch bourbon, named after Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, an important figure in bourbon’s history from the 1800s who owned many distilleries and innovated production methods which are still used today. Price £38.75 a bottle. Loch Lomond 12 Year Old single malt Scotch whisky (without an ‘e’) from the Highland region - drawn from a selection of bourbon casks, refill casks and recharged casks. Price £36.83 a bottle. There was plenty of discussion and appreciation. No consensus was reached on the most enjoyable and the barely drinkable but there was plenty of mouth swilling and nostalgic flashbacks to past whiskies given, consumed and received. Our rabbi was not shy about relating how, realising few guests would be physically present, he decided to treat himself to the best whisky ever for Racheli’s bat mitzvah. A most enjoyable evening with no problems about designated drivers. The zoom meeting was extremely well organised by Danny Boxer.
y Tasting Club photographed on Zoom by David Simmons
Belmonde - September 2020
Karen, Tina and Judy report ...
Belmont Community C and continues caring through the Lockdown!!
Volunteering during Covid
For 13 years the Belmont Community Cares team has been providing practical and members. We try to reach out and ensure we are a warm and caring community. Between last September and January this year,we continued to support our members in a wide variety of ways - visiting members at home and in hospital, providing lifts to medical appointments, and we were so happy to be able to start up regular ‘cook-ins’ in the shul kitchen, where meals are made to give to our members who are unwell or frail. We were involved with Mitzvah Day and United Synagogue Chesed projects to help others in the wider community over the Christmas period, and our own community at Purim, and were helped by our very willing Belmont youngsters on these occasions; great team work!. We have been, hosting monthly afternoon teas for the elderly in volunteers’ homes and a highlight was celebrating Alice Fraser’s 100th birthday at our September tea party! Little did we know, as 2020 began, that so many of these activities would have to be curtailed for the foreseeable future. It has been a great disappointment for us and for our members, and it was a real concern that for so many vulnerable and elderly people in particular, the long period of lockdown and isolation could also bring about loneliness, sadness and anxiety. Our volunteers
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readily adapted to the situation by changing how they interacted with our members. They obviously could not visit them in their homes, so they made sure to call instead when they would normally visit, so as to keep in touch. Tea parties could not take place, but again contact has been maintained, and some more of our members received parcels of cake and danish pastries delivered to them to bring a smile at Shavuot. In response to a plea for help in the newsletter, our team of volunteers almost doubled during March and April with new volunteers offering to help, so we could reach out to more people. More efficient than the supermarkets, goods and prescriptions were dropped off mere hours after they were requested and all with the required social distancing arrangements made for delivery and payment! Other volunteers made calls to our members, so that we would know if people were ill or self-isolating, and who might need a bit of extra help for a while with shopping for essentials, or might be alone and feeling down, needing an extra call during those difficult days of isolation. Most people were fine, but all appreciated the call, and hopefully,
everyone was left feeling that Belmont is indeed the caring Community it tries to be. Thanks to all our volunteers, we managed to reach out to every member. Rabbi Levene and Lisa have been a great support, as have the United Synagogue’s Chesed Department, offering training to all new volunteers. Belmont’s Chair Barbara Mazliah and Vice-chair Richard Simon, were so supportive to us and also found time to call members, and drop off shopping and meals. So a huge thank you to everyone who has been part of a truly great volunteering effort. All over the country there was a real sense of communities pulling together and if there is a silver lining to this rotten pandemic, it is the way in which people have come together to help others in need. The Jewish value of Hakarat ha Tov - in a nut shell, ‘showing gratitude’ is an important one, and whilst we know our volunteers neither seek not expect gratitude, that does not mean it should not be shown. Everyone’s contribution is so appreciated. We really hope it will not be long before our full range of activities – the visits, teas, driving and cooking can begin again safely, but we don’t yet know when that will be.
Cares Sewing If you could spare a little time and have a good ear for listening, or would prefer to provide more practical support like shopping or delivering meals, visiting members, maybe driving or joining a cooking team when things start again, we would be very pleased to have you on the team. Please also continue to let us know about anyone who might benefit from our support. You can call us on 020 8863 3000 (our dedicated answerphone which we check regularly) email communitycares@ belmontus.org.uk or you can contact us via the Shul 020 8426 0104 email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help and although we are volunteers, we strive to act in a professional manner. We all receive training and are DBS checked. All our support is offered in the strictest confidence. We look forward to hearing from you soon. Karen Bunt, Tina Freedman and Judy Levenson The Co-ordinator Team email@example.com
Shortly after lockdown started, I came across an article about groups organising the sewing of scrubs outfits. I contacted the North West London Group and spoke to the organiser who is based in Pinner. I was told that they had a number of people sewing scrubs but that they needed scrubs bags. Each set of scrubs needs to be put in a draw-string bag made of material that will wash at least 60 degrees C and then put into the hospital laundry service. This suited me since fitting sleeves into garments is not my favourite occupation. I was given a pattern and using new material that was supplied, old bedding mine and donated, some from neighbours and some donated, cords, ribbons and long shoe laces, a large number of reels of cotton - inherited from my mother and mother-in-law, and my new sewing machine I set to work. I discovered that pillowcases were easily transformed, duvets were good to work with, sheets, particularly fitted ones, could be problematic, large pieces of new material were a doddle but with all except the duvets there were offcuts that need to be used up. The ability to do jigsaws came in handy at that point. 248 scrubs bags later I was informed that the NHS in the area was on top of things and that I could stop. It took a day to clear up the scraps, threads and pins I had scattered over the dining room and I think I heard my sewing machine give a sigh of relief. Belmonde - September 2020
Volunteering during Covid
d emotional support for our
Recipes by Judith Simmons Spinaca A friend gave me this tasty and useful Sephardi recipe. The name comes from the Spanish ‘espinaca’ meaning ‘spinach’. It is a very forgiving dish because the quantities do not need to be exact, it can be served hot, warm or cold and as a starter, main course or, cut into small portions as canapés or snacks. The alternative filling for Spinaca is to substitute the spinach for chopped and blanched leeks - its name is then ‘Prassa’ Ingredients • 150g spinach - washed and roughly chopped • 150g potato - cooked and mashed • 3 eggs • Salt and pepper • 100g cheese - well flavoured mature cheddar or a mixture of cheeses Method Heat oven to 180oC; Lightly oil an oven or flan dish and line the bottom with non-stick baking paper Beat two of the eggs together with salt and pepper Add the spinach, potato and 75g of cheese and mix together thoroughly; Spread the mixture in the dish , levelling the surface Beat the third egg and pour over the surface then sprinkle on the remaining cheese Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Delicious!
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Rhubarb, Orange and Almond Cake This recipe is also adaptable. Different fruits can be used and it is fine served warm or cold on its own or with cream, ice-cream or custard Ingredients • 400g rhubarb - cut into 2cm pieces • 200g caster sugar - preferably golden • 150g softened butter or margarine • 2 eggs - lightly beaten • 75g self-raising flour • ½ teaspoon baking powder • 100g ground almonds • Grated zest of 1 orange plus 2 tbsp juice • 25g flaked almonds
Method Preheat the oven to 190oC. Grease a round 23cm springform tin; line base with baking parchment or use an ordinary tin and a baking parchment cake liner Put rhubarb in a bowl and sprinkle on 50g of the sugar. Leave for 30 minutes Beat together remaining sugar and butter or margarine, then whisk in the eggs Mix together flour, baking powder and ground almonds then fold them in Mix together sugared rhubarb with any juice that has formed, orange zest and orange juice and stir into the cake mixture Spoon into the prepared tin, sprinkle over the flaked almonds and bake for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 180oC. and cook for a further 20 -25 minutes until firm. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold Alternatives - same method: Chopped plums, nectarines, or apricots - other ingredients the same; Gooseberries - exchange orange zest and juice for 2 tbls elderflower cordial; also works with raspberries and strawberries Belmonde - September 2020
Peter bush tells
A tale of two towns
Being in lockdown at home has given me plenty of time to reflect. I have always been fascinated with family history, but this turned from being an interest to something more focused when I lost my mother very suddenly in 1985. Becoming a genealogist gave me a thread to keep me connected to her during those dark times. I started researching and quite soon was able to trace my families through the generations. This has been a journey of discovery, enlightenment and adventure ever since. I became a real-life detective, exploring every clue, looking for photographs, letters, any documents or perceived family stories from my own and relatives’ collections. My maternal great grandparents came to London in 1888. This was to escape pogroms in their area of Poland, which was part of the Russian Empire at that time. They settled in the East End, in Stepney and brought up their seven daughters in a happy, safe and loving atmosphere. My Great Grandfather Herschel Endenzweig, was known as Harris Harris and he was a leather bag and purse maker. During the first world war he made saddles for the army and even had his own shop in Poplar High Street. Harris had come from Wieniawa, ‘the lost town of Poland’. You may ask why it was known as lost. This was because during the Second World War the Nazis
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completely destroyed it, not a brick was left in situ and they replaced it by building a giant sports stadium. Even the matzevot were removed and the cemetery levelled to become a football pitch. The whole area was eventually incorporated into the city of Lublin. But in Harris’s time this was almost exclusively a Jewish shtetl, made
up of attractive wooden houses situated by the side of a small lake. The central focus of the town, by the market square, was an early 19th century Synagogue and interspersed between the homes there were many inns and taverns. A number of my family members were married in this synagogue and I have also found that an ancestor was a landlord here. I can picture it being something like a scene from Fidler on the Roof, where life was slow paced, but steeped in tradition and everyone there knew everyone else. Harris had two brothers and one sister. Their mother Tula died when they were young and their father Mordecai remarried and had two more children. Both Mordecai and Tula’s families had lived in Wieniawa for many years and I have been able to trace them back to the 1770s. On one of my first trips to Poland I made sure I visited the site of Wieniawa, therefore part of the city of Lublin, where I met with nothing but kindness and great interest from local
people. This is what I have experienced on my many trips since. In Lublin’s old town there is a cultural centre, called NN Theatre, that keeps alive the memory of the Jewish Community. They have a beautiful model of how Jewish Lublin once looked and a photographic collection of past residents. Staff there explained to me that the Wieniawa cemetery stones/matzevot were now stacked against the wall of the new Jewish Cemetery in Lublin. I went along to check and to pay my respects. They were propped against a wall, higgeldy-piggledy and unfortunately too heavy to prise apart. Even though the Nazis destroyed all of the Jewish area, which had existed for centuries beneath the castle outside the city walls, there are still a number of Jewish sites that are worth visiting in Lublin. One of them is the Chachmei Lublin Yesihiva building which operated from 1930 to-1940 and was one of the largest yeshivas in the world. Miraculously the building still stands in all its glory to this day and has a functioning synagogue. There are no existing records to prove exactly when Harris left Wieniawa, or how he happened to meet my Great Grandmother Bloomah Miller. She was living in a small shtetl 120 miles away called Chmielnik. Chmielnik has fascinated me ever since my first visit there over 15 years ago. I met with the mayor and his staff and they did everything possible to make me feel welcome. They took me to see the imposing, but ruined 17th century synagogue. How sad it looked, no roof, stairs missing, a few faint frescos just discernible through blackened walls. My Great Grandmother Bloomah’s sister Ruchla Welke, was married here in November 1882, and I have a copy of her wedding certificate. Over the years Piotr Krawczyk, an employee of the mayor’s office, made it his mission to preserve Chmielnik’s Jewish heritage. He scoured the archives and wrote a book recording the town’s Jewish history, members of the community and their trades. He gave me a copy which
I treasure. Piotr has worked tirelessly with the local population to commemorate their lost neighbours. However, his greatest achievement to date was when he spearheaded a building project enabling the synagogue to rise from the ashes transforming it into a museum and centre for learning. It has at its centre a replica of the original bimah, a masterpiece made of transparent glass. Every year in June, the town hosts a Jewish Cultural Festival, inviting former Jewish residents and their families to celebrate with the townspeople. There are stands with ceramics, painting and sculpture. Artistic groups present Jewish art and culture which culminates in local schoolchildren dancing and singing to a large crowd of guests. It has been my pleasure to be a part of the festivities. How would my Great Grandmother Bloomah have reacted had she known what would become of her town and all the recent developments? I’m sure she would have been as amazed as the holocaust survivors who have attended each year. As many records were destroyed in fires through the centuries, I can’t be sure when Bloomah’s ancestors originally set up home in the town. However, I do know that they were there in 1800, as her Grandparents Sura Lai, and Herschel Miller, are recorded as living there on a death certificate that I have. So why did they choose to come to London, was it because they stopped off on their way to America, as many did in those times? It’s a question that will never be answered. I can only say how thankful I am that they did come to live in London, closely followed by some of their siblings. I am in touch with many of the extended family on a regular basis and I organised a family reunion for 150 members of the Endenzweig family. There are so many records out there waiting to be discovered, including naturalisations, books of residents, passport applications and much more. If you haven’t thought of becoming a family detective, now is the time!
Belmonde - September 2020
Fiona and Neville are
Roses in lockdown Our lockdown experience has been pretty wonderful in a lot of ways. We have been lucky enough to be able to work from home, and thank God, no one has been touched by COVID-19. This has given us the opportunity to slow down and take life at a much more relaxed pace. that’s quite a lot of food! For a while there, the snacking was an issue, but we seem to have finally found a balance. Kettle chips are not an essential food item, apparently.
Shopping during Covid
The Rose family garden shed
Routine has been very important. It is essential that we all get up promptly, shower and have breakfast in order to be ready for the first delivery of the day. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to boast that the Rose household has probably single-handedly kept Amazon in business. And once TK Maxx came back online, all bets were off ! Despite not being able to get a single slot of food delivery, we have still had to replace the doorbell through excessive use. Lockdown has seen a revival of our garden in terms of outdoor décor, new sheds, fire pits and the like. If social distancing in
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the garden is to be a thing, then we’ve fully embraced the concept. Home delivery has now extended to the Range, Partylite Candles (citronella, of course) and our beloved Amazon. And can we please appreciate food bills? Has anyone else spent their entire life savings on groceries? Post panic buying (pleased to say we have finally managed to get the multipack loo roll under control in the spare room), our weekly shopping has become, not only the high point of the week, but also a major expense. With all of us at home eating three times a day plus snacks,
So, here’s the thing. Round about Wednesday, a message goes out to the elderly folk in the family to see if their food deliveries are sufficient, or whether they need a top up. Every single week, Iceland and Sainsbury’s comes up short and I am sent an itemised list of undelivered essential items. These habitually include cinnamon and raisin bagels, grapes, tinned peas in water, and small dog dentix. I can’t wait for my next mailer from Sainsbury’s to see what have now become my favourites! Once I get to Sainsbury’s and have donned my exceedingly fetching black cloth face mask with coordinating black latex gloves (very matchy-matchy even in lockdown, thank you), I embark on the weekly shop, which has become an It’s A Knock Out Supermarket Sweep challenge all of its own. I have to say that Sainsbury’s in Stanmore has been absolutely fantastic despite old Jewish folk thinking that ducking is akin to social distancing. With one eye on the two metres circumferencing me and the three grocery lists, shopping has never been so exhausting!
Then, there is the delivering of the shopping. My parents-in-law live in a flat with a gated entrance. I pull up my car, call them at least three or four times, because no matter what time I arrive, they are inevitably vacuuming and can’t hear the phone. My anxiety levels increase as I mentally run down the items that may now be melting or turning in the heat, when at last they answer and, ‘Hey Sesame’, the gate pulls back and I can deposit their ‘bag for life’ containing their ‘essential’ items on the door step. Taking several cautious steps back, we enjoy a lovely chat about nothing, because there is literally nothing to say, but it’s still lovely to see them, so we talk about their shopping and if I had to swap out any brands for Sainsbury’s own - etc, etc. Then it’s on to the next delivery. Inevitably, my parents always seem to be on their front drive when I get there. I have encountered my octogenarian father in a manner of occupations, some of which defy belief. Finding him up a ladder repairing the cover over their front door was a particularly spectacular moment for me - especially as the ladders are older than I am. I stayed to make sure he didn’t fall off the wretched things, then politely reminded him that Northwick Park was a little bit busy at the moment and it was probably best to stay at ground level. I received an arched eyebrow in return, but I am glad to report he’s stayed on terra firma. My Mum and I have almost perfected the art of the shopping bags switch. It’s similar to dancing
at a frum wedding where you’re not supposed to touch, but there isn’t quite enough room to avoid the merest brush of an errant fingertip! When I finally get home, the family is there to greet me. I have lots to tell them while we unpack the shopping to a cacophony of cries of delight and joy where I have found items we haven’t been able to get for ages. The day I came home with flour was one that will go down in Rose family history. Sadly, there is currently a shortage of Frosties, resulting in several debates on substitute cereals. Honey Nut Cornflakes is a front runner, at the moment. But, all joking aside, lockdown has definitely had some amazing moments. We have revived the art of conversation and embraced quality family time together. There has been no stress over time-bound social arrangements, with garden get-togethers happening as and when the weather permits. And we’ve finally got all those little round the house and garden jobs done, that we previously never had time for. While the world rages angrily around us, the Rose Family bubble is holding firm, and with the regular Belmont Zoom events keeping us in the loop, life, for now, is good. We wish all our beloved fellow Belmont members and their families, a Happy and Healthy New Year. Stay safe and be kind to one another, and hopefully, we will all be together soon.
Our little apple tree by Jacqueline Segal
On 15 Shevat 5778 (5th February 2018) as part of WoW’s delightful Tu b’Shevat seder, we started the evening by planting a small sapling. This year, for the first time, our beautiful little apple tree has produced its first fruits! The apple tree is a variety called ‘Annie Elizabeth’ and is named after a child who sadly passed away in 1866 at a very young age. Judaism places vital importance on trees as a representative of the life support system for man. It was indeed in the apple orchards in Egypt that the Israelite women seduced their husbands to ensure the continuity of the Jewish nation - hence the use of apples in our charoset! Although Jewish law prohibits us from eating the fruits for the first three years, we can still focus on the wonders of creation - how a tiny seed can transform into something so beautiful and alive. We can truly appreciate Hashem’s work and praise Him for creating such wonders in this world. May we be blessed to be able to gather together around our little tree next Spring in the month of Nissan to recite the bracha birkat ha’ilanot as we gaze and marvel at its new delicate blossoms. Belmonde - September 2020
Frances Grossman writes On Tuesday 7 January, the Roadshow of the Kashrut Division of the London Beth Din arrived at Belmont. Sharon Feldman-Vazan from KLBD started the evening off with a short talk about her work and then it was on to viewing and sampling the amazing variety of food and drink she brought with her, taking up eight trestle tables. The USP of this event was that these were all items available in our local supermarkets and health food shops, rather than just in the kosher food stores. Although we’re very fortunate in Belmont that we have easy access to kosher shops and delis, it’s very useful to know what we can buy if we’re not near such facilities. Over 70 attendees had an enjoyable, informative and tasty time!
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Danny Boxer suggests a
Zoom etiquette for the COVID era We hope you won’t be offended but here’s how to make everyone’s experience of ZOOM better. • Mute yourself • In case you didn’t get the message, Mute yourself ! • Don’t have chats with long-lost friends during meetings, the other attendees don’t want their screens taken over by your conversations about trips to the Algarve etc. Use the phone? • Don’t use the ‘chat all’ function for similar conversations. It pops up on everyone’s screen, partially obscuring the lecturer’s image of the Second Temple (or similar) and to be honest, we don’t care if Milly was the person you met on a Mediterranean cruise in 1994. • Unmute before you ask a question and only if the lecturer has asked for questions. • Mute yourself again!! • Keep questions short, we are time limited. • During lectures only ask questions, we want the lecturer’s opinions, not yours • Stop your video and mute yourself if you are eating, no one likes close ups of mastication. • Ditto if you go to the loo! • Mute yourself !!!!!!!!
Belmonde - September 2020
Wishing everyone in Belmont Shul a happy, healthy New Year Shana Tova 5781
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Wishing the Belmont community a happy and healthy New Year from the Davis and Corper families 38
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
Wishing the Belmont Community a Happy New Year
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Simon Abrahams wishes the whole Belmont Community Shana Tova & well over the Fast
Belmonde - September 2020
Britain’s nomadic race by Nigel Bender
Believe it or not there is, during these modern times, still a nomadic tribe of people travelling around Great Britain. No, they are not Gypsies, although these people at times are referred to as Gypsies by those who should know better. They are travelling showmen, who are business people who visit villages, towns and cities in the United Kingdom, bringing joy, entertainment and pleasure to millions of people, young and old. They take with them their families, their equipment and their mobile homes wherever they go. The showman’s business is not only his livelihood, but is also his life. The fairground wherever it may be, is his place of work, from his birth to his grave. There is no such thing in his life as unsocial hours, as he works all hours of every day. He usually enjoys it and would never think of changing it. His heritage goes back many generations and in many cases several centuries. The word ‘showman’ in the masculine gender is actually a general term, which covers both male and female. In fact the women of this fraternity work just as hard and in most cases even harder than their men. The community of showmen is close knit and the family unit is extremely important. Divorce, promiscuity, single parenthood (except in bereavement), drug abuse, knife crime and theft are virtually non-existent in show land.
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The compensation of the showman’s hard work and dealing with the inclement British weather is being his own boss. Pretty well every showman is self sufficient, being a past-master in DIY. He is a self -taught painter, decorator, plumber, electrician, carpenter, french polisher, coach builder and vehicle mechanic as well as his own accountant. These skills he has inherited and they are part of the rich tapestry of his life. Although in past centuries showmen often lived in cramped, wooden, horsedrawn caravans, they now live in luxury, modern mobile homes, which they call living wagons. The units each have all the facilities of luxury apartments and are not only a showman’s home but also his place to entertain his visitors and friends, as well as his business headquarters. The travelling season of the showman usually starts at the Easter Bank Holiday and ends by the middle of November. So showmen have to find somewhere to stay for up to five months of the year. Many of them have, over the years, bought plots of land, which they use as their winter quarters. They may still live in their
wagons, but many showmen have (with planning permission) built chalets or even houses on their plots. These sites also accommodate showmen who no longer travel - mostly elderly members of the family - who not only act as caretakers of the equipment left in the winter quarters, but also look after their grandchildren, who go to the local schools during term time. The children naturally join their parents at the fairs during the school holidays. When the children finish their education at school-leaving age, they join their parents to permanently work at the fairs. Some children also start helping their folks during their school holidays from as early as six years old, so by the time they leave school full time, they know how to graft. Although many fairs in the United Kingdom originated as occasions for hiring staff, and selling produce and livestock, entertainment was supplied by a travelling breed of people to encourage the punters to attend for their own enjoyment. These people literally put on shows. There may be menageries showing off all types of exotic animals. Then there were jugglers, acrobats and dancers and
when films were first invented these were shown in bioscopes at the fairs well before the time of cinemas. It was a time when the less well-off could not travel to find entertainment, not owning horse-drawn carriages and the automobile had not been invented. So these entertainers brought the shows to the public and that is how they became known as ‘showmen’. They graduated to providing rides. In the early days the roundabouts were crudely constructed out of wood and were operated by hand and some were pushed round by gangs of boys and then in the late 19th century they were steam driven Traction Engines came into use on the fairs. Not only did these powerful machines tow the showmen’s loads, but also generated electricity to drive and light their rides. Many of the funfairs of today have benefitted from the fact that in the early days they had been granted a charter by the sovereign of the time. A typical example is our local funfair, which takes place in the streets of Pinner on the first Wednesday after Whitsuntide and is reputed to be the best one day street fair in the U.K. It is also protected by a Royal Charter that
was granted by King Edward III on the 30th May 1336, which allows the fair to take over the streets (disrupting the traffic for just one day each year.) The showmen are proud of their heritage and always maintain their equipment in pristine condition. Each ride has to have a certificate of safety supplied by the ‘Health and Safety’ executive and a regular annual inspection takes place before the beginning of each season starts and no ride is allowed to operate without passing the examination. The showmen’s catering units - the hot dog units, candy floss stalls and fish and chip vans are regularly visited at each funfair that they attend by representative of the local council’s environmental health inspector. The showmen have to display their certificate of approval in their units for the public to see. They are also regulated by the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain. This is similar to a trades union and works to protect the showmen’s rights. Each travelling fair unit is run by the lessee of the fair, who is a showman and he is responsible to the local council for the running of the fair and for collecting the rent from his tenants to
pay the council. He also has to leave a cash deposit with the council, which is refunded to him after the fair has moved from the site, providing that no damage is done by the showmen to the site which must be left as clean as it was before the fair arrived. He also has to pay for water supply, waste disposal and refuse collection On most occasions the showmen leave the site in even better condition than it was before they arrived. My knowledge of these wonderful people during my working years has made me believe that they are akin to the Jews of the world, being a nomadic race and like us they are hard- working, family orientated, honest, trustworthy, exceedingly charitable and always like to drive a hard bargain. They are also religious, although not orthodox, as working seven days a week, they do not have time to go to church. However at some large funfairs they often hold services on the Sunday evening, when they are not open. The hymns are accompanied on the organ which is on one of the large rides and they invite the public to attend as well as the vicar from the local church to take the service. Belmonde - September 2020
Volunteering during Covid
Making scrub gowns for local hospices
Selwyn Foreman writes: Our Rotary Club has been active in the community for decades and along with many other projects we have supported our local hospices. In April it became clear that those hospices were not getting the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) they needed for the safety of their nurses and doctors. Together with Robin Fish, I co-ordinate the Neighbourhood Watch for Vernon Drive. We run an annual Summer Fair raising money for local charities and have given £700 to St Luke’s Hospice. So, with the help of our Neighbourhood Watch and the Rotary Club of Edgware and Stanmore, I decided to do something about it. A bulletin went out to the road and within hours we had a driver, a sewer with an overlocking sewing machine, a garment manufacturer and a graphic designer - all wanting to help in this awful crisis. Our team contacted St Luke’s, Kenton, the Peace Hospice, Watford and Michael Sobell, Northwood and established their requirement for scrubs. We contacted a local Scrub Hub, one of the many teams of seamstresses making scrubs for NHS hospitals but they were all too busy to extend their work. A ton of calls elicited a fabric cutting resource and a couple of contacts who could connect us with furloughed garment warehouses which had material that we could use. Further phone calls and contacts with Rotary Club members throughout the capital set off responses from a stream of people. Messages were coming in from seamstresses all over north-
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west London and south Herts all wanting, and many able, to help. We even recruited an experienced quality controller to check all our finished scrub sets. It was a swift learning curve for me. My grandfather came over from Minsk with his tailoring skills and set up as a bespoke men’s tailor opposite the Hackney Empire, servicing the vaudeville acts of the 1920s but I had no knowledge of the shmutter business whatever. We soon realised we needed the right material to meet NHS standards colour fast up to 60 degrees centigrade with a weight above 115 grams per square metre. The design template for the two-piece outfit in six sizes had to be borrowed from another scrub-hub and once a pilot had been run successfully to test our design and output quality, we were ready to take orders. It was quite a challenge to devise routing schedules for the collection and delivery of fabric and finished goods between warehouses, cutters, sewers and hospices all complying with social distancing but the smiles on the faces of Ursula Reeve and Carol Weston, the nursing directors at the hospices, made it all worthwhile. Hundreds of scrubs were secured, and thousands of pounds saved for this Cinderella of the nation’s care system.
We were so pleased that we could do something to help at this incredible time. We made two hundred sets of scrubs, all using volunteers and material donations.
Specialist dietician working during COVID-19
Shifra Boxer writes: I work as a Band 6 Specialist Dietician for Adults with a Learning Disability within the Adult Clinical Community Team based at Dunstable Health Centre*.
Since the start of COVID-19 lockdown, we have been working remotely and have set up our Business Continuity Plan. For our team this meant we would only provide dietetic advice via telephone consultations and only to priority service users. We have also been providing weekly support for community bedded rehab units who are accepting COVID-19 and to patients who no longer need to be in hospital. During the start of COVID-19 we were also preparing and upskilling ourselves for potential re-deployment to support our colleagues in local acute hospitals. Now, we are contact service users by telephone on an ad-hoc basis. This gives a number of challenges such as: non-response, difficulties with communicating over the telephone especially for those with a language barrier or non-verbal communication, and difficulties in effectively assessing nutritional status for those who need to be seen face to face, eg to obtain a weight. To overcome some of these challenges we have access to a telephone interpreter service and have
reintroduced a booked appointment system for those we have not been able to contact. This ensures that concerns about safeguarding can be managed effectively and those we are unable to contact can be discharged, as long as they are deemed safe and it is appropriate. The paediatric service is trialling video consultations which, if successful, have the potential to be used within the wider department and post COVID-19 too. As a community dietitian during a pandemic, it has been hard at times to see the positive impact we are having day to day and the importance of our role as key workers despite not being on the front line. However, I believe in the importance of community dietetic work in keeping people well and out of hospital as well as the importance of maintaining and optimising nutrition after discharge from hospital. This is essential and should not be overlooked. Patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 are usually wellnourished. 36% are not referred to a dietitian in hospital and are not being identified as at risk of malnutrition. From hospital statistics, there is a higher risk of COVID-19 in men, older people, diabetes, hypertension, obesity and multiple morbidities. This highlights the need for malnutrition
screening for obese individuals to include muscle and weight loss and not just BMI. Malnutrition screening is also particularly important for elderly and high-risk patients. It is particularly important for nutritional treatment to continue after hospital discharge with individualised nutritional plans because pre-existing nutritional risk factors continue to apply and acute disease and hospitalisation are likely to worsen the risk or condition of malnutrition. A stay in ICU for much above two weeks for many COVID-19 patients is likely to further enhance muscle wastage. Once in recovery, there is a need to build up muscle through diet and exercise. Preserving nutritional status and preventing or treating malnutrition is also important because it has the potential to reduce complications and negative outcomes in patients who might get COVID-19 in the future. It has been found that focusing on the overall quality of a patientâ€™s diet reduces the risk of frailty the future. There is a need for focusing on a range of nutrients, including protein, vitamins and minerals, to help support recovery - not just calories. Vitamin D supplementation especially for those in recovery or selfisolation is also recommended. * (Cambridgeshire Community Services)
Belmonde - September 2020
World War II Experiences
Dietitians are qualified and regulated health professionals who assess, diagnose and treat dietary and nutritional problems at an individual and wider public health level.
Salvador Mazliah reports on
Belmont film club We had a very short 2019/2020 season! Our plans for 2019/2020 had been to screen Best Picture Oscar Winners and Murder Mystery Film Noir, but we only managed to screen two films before Salvador tore his knee tendons and UK went into lockdown (both painful but not connected. Ed.). They were the “Green Book” and “The Blue Dahlia” starring Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake. Both were very well received and generated lively discussions over tea, coffee and tasty pastries. The Green Book is an American biographical drama set in 1962. The film was inspired by the true story of a tour of the Deep South by African American classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley and Italian American bouncer Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga who served as Shirley’s driver and bodyguard. The film received very positive reviews from critics, in particular Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali’s performances. The Green Book received numerous accolades and nominations, winning several Oscars, including Best Picture. The Blue Dahlia is a 1946 American film noir directed by George Marshall and based on an original screenplay by Raymond Chandler. The film, with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake in the main roles, is the story of three discharged United States Navy aviators who arrive in California to restart their lives. All three flew together in the same flight crew in the South Pacific. Veronica Lake plays the femme fatale and Allan Ladd, the raincoat hero. As all Raymond Chandler plots, this is very complicated and involves a murder. The Blue Dahlia is a very enjoyable ‘who dunnit’ film, with good cops and gangsters, some blackmail and the bad guy being shot at the end - a classic! During lockdown, we hosted a Zoom discussion on the controversial 2019 comedy-drama “Jojo Rabbit”, directed by Taika Waititi. The film portrays Johannes “Jojo” Betzler, a 10-year-old Hitler Youth member and his imaginary friend, Adolf, a buffoonish version of Adolf Hitler. The film won the 2019 Toronto Film Festival top prize and was nominated for several Oscars.
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Around twenty four people joined us in a lively debate on the pros and cons of making a humorous film about the Nazis. The Zoom format worked well and after the debate, all the participants agreed that the film was not a comedy, but a drama in which comedy was being used to convey the horrors of Nazi Germany. Everybody said
that they would recommend the film. If you have not seen it, see it and send us an email with your opinion. Looking forward to the rest of this year, we will have a Film Quiz Event and other online activities. Hopefully, in the new year we will be able to restart our Sunday Film screenings and continue with our
A fresher at Durham I have just finished by first year at Durham University, where I am studying Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. Many of the activities that students get up to in their first year of university are hardly appropriate for a community magazine; so, I shall instead mention what I deem to be an uplifting story about Jewish life at the university.
At one of these Friday nights, we were joined by a Jewish alumnus of the university who was in the area and wanted to see the Jewish Society in action. As I chatted with her over dinner, she explained to me that during her years in the university, which were in the 1980s, Durham was not the friendliest place for Jews and she had kept her background private. I am fortunate enough to have not had this experience and have felt it easy to be open about my own Jewish background with the friends I have made, most of whom are not Jewish. It is even more encouraging when many of those I speak to take a genuine interest in my background and are keen to learn more. season of Best Picture Oscar Winners. Please look out for details of our next event in the Shul weekly newsletter. If you have any ideas that youâ€™d like the Belmont Film Club to do, please let us know at bmazliah@hotmail. com or email@example.com
We live in a world where many feel that Jewish life is increasingly threatened. Even in the United Kingdom we have seen antisemitism come to the forefront of our political system. This is why I see a silver lining in the fact that a university in a small city in the North-East of England has become increasingly accepting and inclusive to those of a Jewish background and culture. Belmonde - September 2020
Education during Covid
Despite not having a large number of Jewish students, the Durham University Jewish Society is very warm and welcoming; I enjoyed attending many of the Friday night dinners and other socials throughout the year.
Russell Shaw sings enthusiastically about
Belmont choir The Belmont choir has been singing almost as long as the Belmont community has existed. It has had some distinguished people leading it with the likes of Rev Elkan Levy, a past president of the United Synagogue, Eli Kienwald, Chief Executive of the Federation of Synagogues, David Druce, The London Cantorial Singers Chairman and our last choir master, Jeremy Jacobs past Chief Executive of the United Synagogue. All of them have been musicians and have led the choir in their own inimitable way. And then there’s me. To me shuls and choirs just go together. I grew up being told that the services on a Shabbat and Yom Tovim were glorification services and what better way to show that than the glory of music. It saddens me to see how choirs have vanished from our shuls and in many cases the Shabbat and Yom Tovim services have become almost the same as any other service with little or no communal singing led in many cases by well meaning but musically lacking people. They had music to enhance the services in the Temple but it no longer seems important for our shul services. Everyone who has led the Belmont choir has done it in their own way.
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in musicality it makes up for by singing with heart and feeling. That is my way.
I grew up in the Dollis Hill community and at the age of nine, my father took me into the Dollis Hill choir screaming and kicking when its then choir master Aubrey Jacobs (father of our own Jeremy Jacobs) was having a drive to get new members into the choir. I enjoyed it so much I never left. When I moved to Stanmore, I joined Belmont because it had a choir.
So, what’s my way? I grew up in the sixties when they still had operatic chazanim together with professional choirs. When they sang you listened. I do not believe that is the sort of choir that we want, need or should have in the 2020’s. I almost fall into the category of musically lacking. I have to work very hard to learn new tunes as I can’t read music. When I first joined the Dollis Hill choir, I was continually told I was going flat so I have to work hard not to do that. I am a chorister not a soloist. I believe that the modern day shul choir should lead but not replace the congregation. That it should help the congregants to learn new tunes and should enhance the service. From a choir that, at its heyday entered competitions, the current Belmont choir is no longer as musically proficient but what it lacks
The current shul board has been extremely supportive of the choir. As I said, unlike my predecessors, I cannot just read music and help all the other harmony lines out if they have a problem. So, to get around this we now have a computerised music program that enables a person to sing along with it to learn their line. During the lockdown, I have spent a lot of time putting the vast majority of the music we sing on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur onto this program. I am now starting on the tunes that we sing on a Shabbat and on Yom Tovim. “Why?” you may ask. Well, after all I have said, I am now appealing to the great Belmont community to see if we can get some more members for the Belmont choir to continue its great tradition. To see if there are any fathers who will take their sons to the choir, screaming and kicking and maybe they too will not want to leave. Because I believe that the way to keep our services vibrant and to show the glory that they require is to learn new tunes instead of singing the same ones over and over. To sing as a community with our hearts and souls. None of us bite (as far as I know) and we are all friendly. So if you or your sons would like to join or just find out more about the choir drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07795398109 or, better still, when we get back to seeing each other in shul have a chat with me.
our community a peaceful,
healthy & safe New Year
It is CST’s mission to protect our Jewish communities
a neo-Nazi. Using a homemade gun, he tried and
up and down the country. We are committed to you,
failed to enter the synagogue, but did kill a passer-by
and ensuring your security, so that Jewish life can
and a customer at a nearby kebab shop. It was the
continue to exist and thrive in the UK.
cooperation of the congregants and shul staff, simply properly closing the door behind them, that saved the
The past year has been filled with challenges, both
lives of those inside the service.
individual and collective. The pandemic has touched all of our lives, some in deeply tragic ways. The
CST is here to protect you and facilitate the flourishing
ability to physically meet with friends, family and in
of Jewish life. This works best when you work with us.
community – the networks that can make the most
Please be mindful of basic security procedures and
difficult and uncertain of times more bearable – has
of our many dedicated volunteers who are devoting
been removed. Where there is crisis, anger and blame
their time and efforts to ensure our safety, allowing us
follow, often directed at Jewish people. Now that we
to spend the High Holy Days in peace. We wish you a
can gather together once again, CST is here to make
safe, happy New Year, and a meaningful fast.
sure it happens safe from prejudice and physical harm. Please consider volunteering for CST or donating We wish that the security we provide were not
to us. We are a charity and we cannot do our work
necessary, but sadly terrorism, although rare, is a
without your help. In an emergency, call the Police
reality that can happen anywhere. Last Yom Kippur,
and then call our 24-hour National Emergency
the synagogue in Halle, Germany, was attacked by
Number 0800 032 3263.
Community Security Trust
National Emergency Number (24-hour) 0800 032 3263 London (Head Off ice) 020 8457 9999
Manchester (Northern Regional Off ice) 0161 792 6666 Community Security Trust is a registered charity in England and Wales (1042391) and Scotland (SC043612)
The community pharmacist
Working during Covid
Monday 23rd March was weather-wise a nice day. I was en-route to my usual place of work when my phone rang. It was my boss to say that the regular pharmacist (I only do one day a week) had to self â€“isolate as his wife was displaying COVID symptoms, so could I work full time for that period. That day lockdown was announced as well. Community pharmacy was now at the forefront of the fight against Coronavirus. As many GP surgeries were closed for visits and hospitals were being overwhelmed, the go-to place for advice became your local pharmacy and our footfall quadrupled. The biggest demand was for personal protective equipment (PPE), but there was none to be had. NHS England had sent a supply of 100 facemasks and 100 disposable gloves to each pharmacy in the country, but with four people working in the shop it did not last long. Thereafter we had no protection at all. Social distancing was in its infancy so getting people to keep apart was difficult. Clients wanted to be served and also expected diagnosis for symptoms COVID or otherwise. In our own way and just like the teams in hospitals, our consideration was the patient/client and doing our best for them. Night-times were difficult as that was when you had the chance to reflect on what had happened during the day and dwell upon the potential risks faced. As a result, sleep became difficult, tossing and turning was the norm. Our prescription numbers dramatically increased, partly as a result of the lockdown, but also due to our being willing to deliver, whereas some pharmacies would or could not. Word quickly got around, as surgeries would mention those pharmacies that were delivering. However, there is a limit and our driver could not cope so we had to avail ourselves of voluntary help as well as delivering myself. In
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
many instances, patients were prescribed a reserve of antibiotics just in case. During those first two weeks, as everyone got used to a new life style, the pressure in the shop was immense. I know of some pharmacies that were closing for a couple of hours during the day just to catch up, whilst others closed at their normal time and then carried on working behind closed doors in order to reduce the backlog. Aside from the dispensing side, the constant queries were in regard to facemasks, hand sanitiser and thermometers. The price of paracetamol tripled overnight as some manufacturers and wholesalers took advantage of the situation. There were other items which perhaps were unexpected in terms of demand such as hair dye and temporary tooth fillings. Demand for acetone (nail polish remover) also went through the roof. The telephone went non-stop. As many people were unable to speak to their doctorâ€™s surgery, pharmacies were considered the next best thing as, after all, if we give out the medicines, surely we must know all about them and what they are to be used for. As we are now easing lockdown, I can report that overall prices for all medicines has increased, shortages abound in many cases and we spend time on the telephone to doctors discussing alternatives due to non-availability. On the positive side, the price of facemasks and sanitiser has dramatically reduced, so now might be a good time to stock up in case there is a second spike. The biggest problem I face these days is recognising patients who come in with long grey hair and wearing facemasks.
Barbara Lerner, aka Dr Frosh
On the hotline
I was really enjoying being retired from working as a GP… spending a significant amount of time flying off to see one or other child and grandchildren in one or other continent, and just beginning to see this big wide world of ours … and then BOOM! The Coronavirus SARS Co2 pandemic arrived with its attendant COVID-19 disease outbreak and we went into lockdown.
As soon as the NHS sent out an invitation letter to those health professionals who had been retired or had left the profession in the past five years, I took up the offer to return to work. More than anything else, I felt a moral imperative to do so. The NHS was quick to allay any fears of us retirees. We would need to be indemnified and restored to the GMC (General Medical Council) register, and have a significant amount of mandatory training to bring us up to date, revisiting learning platforms and attending many webinars. I am one of over a thousand doctors asked to work specifically for the COVID Clinical Assessment Service (CCAS) - the part of 111 dedicated to dealing with patients who may have COVID. It took nearly six weeks to sort out all training and many complex IT issues. I finally began to do sessions for CCAS at the beginning of May. This involved 4-hour sessions dealing with telephone queries and advice and ensuring patients are redirected to the right service from self-care at home, back to their GP, and on many occasions direct to hospital. It was interesting, with anxiety provoking interactions, especially for us older ex-GPs. As most people are probably aware, General Practice is working in a very different way than before with a lot of consultations by telephone and sometimes video. At last the day of E-Consult has arrived allowing a timely message to your doctor or nurse, who may then request you download some photographs (if relevant) or recordings eg of blood pressure, using specially crafted
The NHS was quickly becoming overwhelmed with a new and frightening illness and having to manage patients in a decreasingly hands-on, face to face fashion.
apps. It’s taken a pandemic for government to provide the funds to do what some of us were trying to achieve for many years. I am watching to see what happens with this service as the current numbers of COVID cases slowly reduce and what I may be asked to do next. I’m grateful and happy to be able to help using the knowledge and training from so many years of previous practice. I am finding the work interesting, although you can be sure I would rather be running around with the various children and grandchildren who live abroad, at least some of the time. If any of you had told me that, less than three years after “retiring from the NHS”, I would be back in the fold, voluntarily of course, I would have replied that it would only be if there was a major crisis in the community! I wish you all stay safe and well. Try to ride out the hopefully small waves and smaller ripples yet to come. Belmonde - September 2020
poets’ corner Ballad A Small Act of Kindness by Max Livingstone At first it may seem like an elusive ghost, But mental health is a problem that is cruel to most. Yet a small act of kindness can go a long way, It could change someone’s life in an immeasurable way. A terrible shaking, writhing over your body, A veil over your eyes that makes everything foggy. Yet a small act of kindness can go a long way, It could change someone’s life or just improve their day. Loud obnoxious noises filling your head, Getting no sleep when you try to go to bed. Yet a small act of kindness can go a long way, It can help you rest easy when it is time to hit the hay. No-one really cares about how I feel, So shut up, suck it up it’s not real. Yet a small act of kindness can go a long way, It makes everyone feel better, so to say. Oh, but it’s real – it’s far too prominent. It will squash you and hurt you, make you feel like you can’t. Yet a small act of kindness can go a long way, It will make you realise you don’t need to suffer and pay. It can swiftly tear through you, an unstoppable beast, Saying just ignore it really helps the least. Yet a small act of kindness can go a long way, You can change someone’s life just by checking if they’re ok. Though it may seem like a ravenous monster, We can all help by supporting each other. Yet a small act of kindness can go a long way, It could change someone’s life in an immeasurable way.
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Waves By JD Milaric Wave after wave continuously comes ashore They never end - there are always more As I sit or stand and gaze At the sight of crashing waves I have often found That, also the sound Of them is hypnotic And so therapeutic At any time - day or night Waves are such a delight To hear and see For poetic me
The Ballad of Lily and Josh I’m lockdown Lily. Are weights heavy? Don’t be silly. Every day I lift a few, And now I’m nearly Three foot two. I’m jailbreak Josh, I’m only three. I have an elephant Can’t you see? I’m alert and very tough, I’ve saved the NHS, it’s enough (already).
A Life Lesson
Behind the Mask By Laurence Seeff Have you ever been to a grand masked ball Like the one for the Carnival of Venice? The many disguises without doubt will enthral With fun and sometimes with menace You approach a lady or a man You have questions you are dying to ask Why is their face so very deadpan? And what lies behind their mask? This one may be a countess, that one a prince It’s for you to discover the truth They will make every effort and try to convince To find out you’ll have to be quite a sleuth In quite a posh voice, speaks a man in a cape “Hello and how do you do” From him you wish to make your escape You think he’s a cad through and through A very shapely lady, says she’s a genuine royal Stating that her blood is only pure blue It soon becomes clear your excitement did she spoil As you knew that can’t possibly be true From London to Paris and of course Barcelona Masked balls meet the new regulation They help to protect against the dreaded corona So, we lose less of the population So, as you can tell your work is cut out You are faced with an arduous task To guess who’s who and for sure have no doubt About whose face hides behind the mask
by Sally Richards At first it was in China we didn’t have to fear, It was an awful virus, but it couldn’t happen here. And then we started hearing of people getting sick. Shops ran out of hand gel if you didn’t get there quick. Panic started to set in, supermarket shelves were bare, Loo rolls, pasta, tinned stuff, greedy folk just didn’t care. We heard about the NHS and how they couldn’t cope. It all became so worrying all we could do was hope. And now we’re all in lockdown and trying not to moan, Kids off school and parents are all working from home. Restaurants, Pubs, non essential shops are all closed When will life get back to normal ? no one knows. Us ladies will all have plain nails and long grey hair, Gyms are closed so all exercise is out in the fresh air. Everyone is so clean now, we keep washing our hands, And 2 meters from each other is where we have to stand. With all our family and friends being stuck at home How would we manage without FaceTime and phone? Even Belmont shul is closed ,something we’ve never seen But we’ve kept going, thanks to Lisa and Rabbi Levene. People are more friendly now looking out for each other, And the good news is the planet is beginning to recover. It’s happening for a reason or is this just a theory Things in the future won’t be taken for granted so easily. Hopefully we’ll all go out again, in the car and on the bus Instead of sitting at home and thinking about Coronavirus.
Bad poem: great occasion by David Simmons Young Racheli Levene was twelve, not even thirteen. She had her bas mitzvah admired by her sister and sister and sister and sister (and all of Belmont) during lockdown, remaining serene
Belmonde - September 2020
Education during Covid
Max Livingstone uses his
downtime in lockdown
Lockdown has been quite interesting, to say the least, if not a bit maddening. Occasionally I thought what it would be like to be alone with only a few others for company, but I always just shrugged it off thinking it would never happen so why bother. It is strange to think that this is how people isolated on desert islands or even on the International Space Station feel, with just a few others to talk to and not much room to move in. An upside of lockdown is you have a bit more spare time. Some people spend this time watching YouTube or TV and others try to learn a new skill. I fall a bit into both categories but most of the time I am trying to learn how to code. I have always wanted to learn how to code and make video games so I decided that the lockdown would be the perfect time to start learning. I think it is a good idea to try and broaden your horizons and learn new skills during this lockdown as lots of people might not have as much free time again.
Another cool thing I did in lockdown was listen to Natan Sharansky speak about his experiences in prison and in solitary. It was really fascinating hearing about how the prisoners communicated and what he did while in solitary confinement. The most intriguing part for me was when he talked about how important having a sense of humour was in keeping hopes up. I think his story is especially relevant today with the lockdown and how to stay cheery through the isolation. When the lockdown is finally over and the epidemic has passed, there will heaps of places I want to go, like cinemas or swimming pools. Despite how much I want this to be over I think it will be a worthwhile experience.
Before lockdown I was preparing to take my GCSE examinations. Although GCSEs are stressful and hard work, I was personally looking forward to taking them. I saw them as the ‘boss level’ of secondary school; before A-levels, of course. Following our exams, we also had lots to look forward to; Israel tour, prom, and our leavers assemblies. Due to lockdown, not only have we been denied the chance to take our exams but also all the excitement following their end. I was personally very worried when our exams were cancelled. Of course, I was nervous to take them, but I knew it was in my hands. If I worked hard I would do well. Now suddenly a new worry has appeared. Results are now being chosen by teachers based on former examinations and classwork. The thought of the results I have worked for since the start of secondary school being based on teacher suggestions and not exams is very daunting and frightening.
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Next year I am hoping to take maths, politics and geography for A-levels. To be allowed to study the subjects I hope to take next year I need to reach the required grades set by the school. Not knowing whether I will be allowed to take my desired subjects next year has given me a real lack of motivation to do the work I am being set throughout lockdown. For the first time in my life the future is unclear and that is very unnerving. (Editor’s note – in the meantime Nathan did a fantastic job producing an inspired PowerPoint for the Belmont Summer zoom talks on WW2). Editor’s note: Nathan achieved three 5s, three 7s, two 8s and one 9 (or in old currency - 3 A stars, 3 As and 3 Cs)
Lockdown Bas Mitzvah One Shabbos during, I was called into a room - it was me and my father. I was a bit nervous but I knew that it wouldn’t be terrible. I sat down opposite him and breathed a sigh of relief when he smiled at me. He said, “your Bas Mitzvah is coming up ...” Those two words, ‘Bas Mitzvah’ - I wasn’t happy to hear them at that moment. I wanted a party, a Shabbos with my family who don’t live in London. I knew that I wasn’t going to have any of that, but I smiled and listened. He said that it was hard to live in times like this, when you can’t even hug your grandparents, so you can choose. You can either have a big function in about a year, maybe more, or you could do a live broadcast and do something a bit simpler. Which would you prefer?
week”, but I didn’t need to do that. I knew my answer straight away and I said: “I would love a big party and everything but, a Bas Mitzvah isn’t that. A Bas Mitzvah is a serious time. Some people make a big thing but that is not what it’s about. It’s about knowing that you are able to take all the laws upon yourself ”.
You all know that I chose the live broadcast. But why did I choose it? Wouldn’t I rather have had a big party?
I hate lockdown. I find it really boring whenever I haven’t been cooking or I can’t see friends, or hug grandparents. Hopefully we’ll be able out of this very soon, back in to Shul and people’s homes! I miss you all. I can’t wait to see you!
Yes, I did want a party and my family all around me, but I knew that it was the wrong thing to do. Daddy said “tell me in a few days and we will discuss it later on in the
So I chose the live broadcast, an opportunity to make it small but very meaningful for me. I have to say it was amazing and I am really happy I chose it, and once again, really appreciate how generous the amazing Belmont Community have been.
Ever since COVID-19 started, I have been home schooling - Maths, English, PE, Spellings, History, JS, French, Geography and Science. So, anyway, every day I go to my online lessons and do my assignments. Sometimes I have extra tasks on celebrations and festivals, like VE day. I liked Maths day. We could choose to do a lot of interesting activities. I created my own maths game and a diagram of insects in my garden. It was fun! On Lag B’Omer we did loads of fun activities. We played games, sang songs, drew pictures and did Kahoot (a game based platform for schools). It was AMAZING!! Other than being home-schooled by my school, Sinai, my mum also teaches me. I learn how to cook, bake and do arts and crafts. I do extra Maths and English. I also get taught how to play the violin. I do it every day and I do a lesson on Zoom once a week with my violin teacher!!! There isn’t a rush to go to school and do extra murals now. I have finally got time to write my stories, poems, and play. But I miss my amazing friends and going swimming. Roline’s maths game
Belmonde - September 2020
Sam Cowen Sam Cowen
lockdown at uni
Education during Covid
My first year at Birmingham University was both daunting and exciting. Coming into it there were endless possibilities to thrive and succeed and yet a degree of uncertainty due to such a big change in my life. Whilst there were many Jews in Birmingham, not all were my friends. I wasn’t living in a Jewish accommodation, meaning the change from living in Edgware, going to the biggest Jewish primary and secondary school, and attending shul regularly was massive. After a year of living in Birmingham I can safely say it was the best decision I ever made, and I very much consider the city and university my home. A memory which conveys the sheer drastic change in lifestyle, was definitely the societies freshers’ fair. This was held for students to get us to explore our interests and branch outside of our comfort zone. I signed up for many societies that day, including karate, ultimate frisbee and tennis, but I stuck with none of these consistently, except for the Jewish society ( JSOC). In university you are constantly challenged to try new activities and break from the childhood bubble, and whilst I did that with many other sports and clubs, I always made sure I was part of the JSOC. I played weekly football with my ‘ancient history’ team (editor’s note – how old was the team?) and lost every game, went to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) on the weekends and for nights out with people both on my course and with whom I was living. I always made sure to go to Friday night dinners and stay involved in the Jewish community as much as I would have back at home. My first proper Jewish experience in Birmingham had to be spending the first Yom Kippur by myself. The JSOC in Birmingham was so inviting that I was able to do everything as if I was with Dad at Belmont Shul. I started my fast by going to Kol Nidre and ended it
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with Ne’ilah. The only negative I have to say, was that the person leading Ne’ilah finished 20 minutes late – something which would never happen at Belmont, even if the choir were performing! I am pleased to say, that what I did gave me a healthy balance between not losing my Jewish life as well as branching out of my comfort zone, meeting new people, and having fun learning and even failing at new activities. I studied ancient history which was a testament for trying something new. I entered the course with very little prior knowledge but a strong desire to learn. After a year I can say it was one of the best decisions I made. Not only was I able to expand my knowledge and love for history but I challenged myself, with learning languages such as Latin and reading ancient scriptures from Mesopotamia. As mentioned before, I joined my course’s football team, which helped me make a lot of friends on the course. We lost nearly every game, coming bottom of the league, but I would still want to wake up early every Wednesday morning and play a 6-a-side match with my friends. Unfortunately, like every university student, my year was cut short due to Coronavirus, so I didn’t have time to finish certain modules I was studying. Despite this I still have a strong love for the subject and cannot wait to pick up where I left off when term starts. Overall, my first year at university was everything I could have hoped for and more. I was able to keep my Jewish traditions and customs whilst stepping outside my comfort zone and branching out of the ‘Jewish bubble’, as well as trying new sports and activities. I cannot wait to continue the journey.
Dr Sarah Hildebrand Sarah Hildebrand
on the wards Some of you would have watched the BBC2 programme Hospital, a clear and accurate depiction of the devastating effects coronavirus has had within our wider community. Perhaps less memorable to some was the featured case of a kidney transplant recipient being sent to critical care to be ventilated. The consultant in charge, my old boss Professor Salama, telephoned his wife with an update. At the end of the conversation, he put the phone down. His emotion was clear, and he had to terminate the subsequent interview and walk away.
The gratitude expressed by these relatives, often elderly self-isolating spouses, was humbling. I would often chat with them about the patient on a personal level and then I would put the phone down knowing that they were alone and having to phone the rest of the family to pass on the news. For the first six weeks of the pandemic, most of my shifts were at night covering the wards of Lister hospital, Stevenage. For every individual admitted to hospital, the medical team would have decisions to make as to what extent treatment was to be offered if the patient was to deteriorate. Was the patient’s care going to be transferred to intensive care or would we have to manage the condition on the regular wards without the same level of care being offered? These are valid questions as just because a machine is available, it does not mean that its use would benefit the patient. Nonetheless, the brutality in which we were required to instantly address
this question at the front door of the hospital was unique to this situation. Often, in cases where the patient was kept on the general medical ward, the most that could be done upon their deterioration, was to request my junior to write up the medication to keep the patient comfortable. It was important to provide some moral support to the nursing staff who were caring for the patient. I am fortunate that I am able to compartmentalise my thoughts and emotions. My drive home gives me the opportunity to reflect on the day’s or night’s events. Whatever the outcomes for the patients, I need to think that the care I have delivered has been of the standard expected. I feel that I can look back through the past couple of months and be confident that it has been. And as I open the door of my house, after yet another night shift, I am greeted by my two-year-old twins who point upstairs and tell me “mummy, go sleep” and there is no time to dwell on work any longer. Looking forward, as the work pattern is beginning to normalise, I begin to look towards the future. I am hopefully in my last job as a junior doctor before I gain the consultant qualification. My mum met one of the consultants from my current hospital at her work in the pharmacy. Having introduced myself to this consultant last week, she said “your mum is trying to find you a consultant job”. Good to know that the roles of mums do not change as the result of a pandemic. Belmonde - September 2020
Working during Covid
Those phone calls have been the most difficult aspect of the pandemic to me as a clinician. I have nearly completed my training as a dual renal and general medical trainee, currently in what is potentially my last job prior to consultancy. Over the last 10 years, I have frequently been the most senior on-site physician overnight at the hospital, responsible for the medical care of the majority of patients. I have broken bad news on countless occasions. But I have never done so with such frequency over a phone call to a faceless relative, who I was never going to meet.
Michael Italiaander and the full Monty
Seder in Cairo, leave in Palestine
World War II Experiences
Michael Italiaander was born in Bow in 1923. He was the son of two immigrants from Holland, one descended from a Chief Rabbi of Amsterdam. Rachel and Harry, his parents, were both from Amsterdam. They didn’t know each other in Holland and only met in London Michael was told by his parents that when he was as young as four or five, he loved drawing. Ninety years later Michael is still a painter, having spent his entire professional life using his remarkable skills as a portrait artist, illustrator and Creative Director in Advertising. After a brief period of time in Balham, the family moved back north of the river, where his dad worked with his older brother in the garment trade. This included school blazers and sports kits. Through this his family became friendly with such remarkable cricket luminaries as Jack Hobbs and Stuart Surridge, visitors to the Italiaander home - Surridge being famed makers of cricket bats and balls. Michael went to art school and, having been rejected for the RAF as being under 21 at the outset of war, he was waiting for his call up papers. Whilst doing this he and some colleagues from the firm he had been working at were
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commissioned by the Ministry of Information to do ‘war paintings’ as positive propaganda for the war effort. Michael remembers a painting he did of a Mustang reconnaissance plane downing two Messerschmitt’s – a very unusual feat for a reconnaissance aircraft. As Michael had, of course, not seen the incident – it being up in the air - he was provided with descriptions and diagrams by the Ministry and had to use his imagination for the rest. His painting appeared in the Illustrated London News. There were many others for various papers. When he was called up to the army it became clear that he was the only one in his basic training group with artistic skills and so he was sent out to the Middle East to be with the 8th Army, the section of the Allies confronting Rommel in North Africa. Michael’s job, with his skills, was to draw maps. Of course, there were existing maps of the Saharan
desert – though they weren’t that detailed. Reconnaissance planes had to fly very low over the desert at a steady height, taking photographs at such a level of detail that maps could be produced showing gaps in hedges or drops in desert levels - information that was essential for the artillery. Michael had to draw these in caves dug in stone, the same rock material that was used to make the pyramids. In these underground caves they had printing machines which reproduced the maps. Being underground whilst in the desert, he didn’t see much in the way of enemy action, but the ship that took him in convoy to Port Said did sink a U-Boat, a great morale booster for the men on board. They also brought down a German dive bomber in a way that is unimaginable in modern warfare. The men on deck used rifles to shoot at a plane – an unlikely way to bring down a plane flying at speed – but
2,000 rifles shooting in cross fire guaranteed that some shots would hit their target and down an enemy aircraft.
Incidentally, this was not the last time Michael showed extraordinary chutzpah. Years later he was to do a portrait of a young Prince Edward at the wedding of Princess Anne to Mark Phillip. His brother challenged him to send a photo of his picture to Buckingham Palace. Eventually Michael got a letter with a Royal Crest inviting him to the Palace with the portrait – which is now in Her Majesty’s private collection. Returning to Michael’s war exploits, he was on leave in Palestine, where he got dropped off in a Jerusalem street. Looking around to get his bearings, to his complete astonishment he recognised one of his Dutch cousins, Hermann Taal, whom he had heard had been captured by the Germans. Indeed this cousin had been taken to Belsen and almost uniquely had managed to escape, joined the Resistance and after acts of sabotage against German troops, was given the task of accompanying Jewish refugees in hiding to the southern Mediterranean ports to get boats to sail to Israel. He was finally ordered to stay on the boat and land in Israel – though Michael was not to learn the details of this story for another 20 years. Towards the end of the war, back in London, the army was having officers teach ‘trades’ for post war employment to those waiting discharge. Michael was the art teacher. He made an exhibition of his students’ work which became quite well known. One day he was due to have weekend leave, but the man who had to give the weekend pass refused to give him his leave paper until Saturday morning rather than Friday night. This became known to the senior officers he was showing around his exhibition. They thought this was ridiculous and told him to get in their jeep and go back to get his leave papers. Michael got in with them and immediately got his papers. As Michael was accompanied by Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, he thus found himself faced by an order from the full Monty.
16 year-old Kyla Davis joined a local initiative and used her sewing skills to sew face coverings, nurse’s hairbands (to attach masks so they didn’t chafe behind the ears after long periods of use) and scrubs bags for the NHS. Kyla is the daughter of Avril & Gary Davis - they are all really proud that she was able to help out at such a crucial time during the pandemic!
When Michael and Doris, his wife of 73 years, moved to Stanmore from Pinner, they joined Belmont where daughter Bernice Krantz has been one of our long standing members and her daughter, his granddaughter, Sharon Laifer is Shul administrator. Belmonde - September 2020
Volunteering during Covid
From time to time, Michael got leave to go to Cairo and visited the ‘Harrods’ of Cairo owned by a Jewish gentleman, Mr Abrada. Michael noted that his adverts were of poor quality, and with another Jewish friend who was a copy-writer had the chutzpah to send an example of a better advert. They met him and were commissioned to do his advertising, so whenever they stayed in Cairo, instead of being accommodated in cheap army billets, they stayed in top hotels. In due course, they had Seder at Mr Abrada’s home, an extraordinary experience reciting the celebration of leaving Egypt in Cairo itself.
Counselling for Chai
I have worked as a counsellor for Chai Cancer Care at their centre in Hendon, since 2012. I w diagnosed with cancer and relatives who have been bereaved by cancer.
Working during Covid
When a person receives a cancer diagnosis their internal and external world is thrown into chaos, with uncertainty, fear and shock added to the mix. This has a ripple effect on the whole family which is why at Chai we support those who have been affected by cancer and not just the patient. Clients describe their cancer journey as a roller-coaster of emotions, of hospital visits, doctors appointments, scans, treatments, waiting for results, side effects, such as nausea, neuropathy, physical weakness, hair loss and pain. Chai, now in its 30th year, has been here to support all aspects of this journey. Sadly, now due to COVID-19 and social distancing, the Centre itself has temporarily closed, but Chai remains open and is still working hard to support new and existing clients in innovative and creative ways. With the use of technology, counselling and some groups at Chai, are still supported. Covid has added another layer to all the emotions around cancer. There is the fear of Covid especially as the shielding letters and media emphasise the increased risks to people with underlying health issues, such as cancer and those who are immunosuppressed. Clients are worried about going to hospital for treatment or scans for
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fear of picking up Covid, others avoid check-ups. Patients are not allowed to bring a relation or friend for support, and often consultations are conducted over the phone. Patients are faced with the medics in PPE and the whole experience feels very surreal. Bereaved clients have been denied the attendance of the wider community at funerals and Shivas and normal mourning rituals have temporarily been curtailed. Clients who are shielding are not allowed to leave their homes or see family and friends and this can feel very lonely and isolating. Financial issues, relatives being furloughed or losing their jobs add to the stress. These are all issues which come into the therapy on top of the many issues around a cancer diagnosis and loss. Prior to Covid, most sessions were conducted face to face in the centre in Hendon in a mindfully designed counselling room. There would be no distractions. The privacy of the room would allow a feeling of safety and security to emerge despite the rawness of emotion or subject of the therapy which would quite often feel far from safe. Sitting face to face in a room with a client allows a therapeutic relationship between the client and myself to develop, together with a dialogue that can be spoken,
can be creative and the nuances of body language can be looked at and wondered about.
Once lockdown was upon us, face to face sessions could no longer take place and all sessions are currently conducted either over the phone, by Zoom or Skype according to the clientâ€™s preference. This is a huge transition for me as the counsellor and also for the client. The client and I are now both attending these sessions from our own homes. Clients definitely miss coming into the centre where there is privacy, and often feel that it is difficult to find that safe space in their home, free from interruption or being overheard. I am fortunate enough to have an office in my home, where I can shut myself off from the outside world and interruptions but I have worked with clients in their lounges, bedrooms, bathrooms, gardens, and cars. Once the session is over it can also be difficult for the client to re-adjust back into family life after the session. I always suggest they take some time for themselves. Despite these unexpected challenges, our clients have adjusted well to working in a different way and are so grateful that the support is continuing during the pandemic. We are still connecting and developing
the therapeutic relationship despite the fact we are not in the same room and we are working through and exploring the challenges of a cancer diagnosis combined with Covid and its impact on life. Counselling in this technological way is working well and is definitely beneficial. A video session can be very intense and intimate, especially when all that the client and I can see of each other is a close up of each other’s face, sometimes shoulders and our personal surroundings. For me, working from home can be more flexible around appointment times and not sitting in traffic is definitely a bonus! I also feel safe as I am not exposed to Covid. But as a counsellor I miss the Chai Centre. I miss walking into a beautiful building which exudes an atmosphere of calm and serenity despite the buzz of activity. I miss the smell of the aromatherapy oils which pervade the corridors. I miss the smell of client’s lunches emanating from the kitchen. I miss the aesthetic beauty of the gardens, flowers and shrubs, but most of all, I miss the physical presence of my clients and my colleagues. If anyone reading this is currently affected by a cancer diagnosis and would like the support of Chai, please contact Chai 020 8202 2211 or Freephone Helpline 0808 808 4567.
I started volunteering at the JAMI hub in Edgware about three years ago. A colleague and I alternated every fortnight and run music appreciation sessions. This has been well received, to the extent that I was asked if I could also support sessions at other hubs. Given my other charitable commitments to Ataxia UK, U3A and the Royal Photographic Society, I politely declined. However, I recommended a very good friend of mine, Stephen Colman in Barkingside, knowing he would do a good job at the Redbridge hub. Since the lockdown, Stephen and I have been discussing how we transfer our music sessions into a virtual environment. Like most folk, we have been having Zoom sessions. Following some testing between us, we have been able to put together, using PowerPoint and similar software, music themed presentations that feature a mix of music and video that we share via Zoom with the service users at JAMI. Working in the virtual world eliminates geographical boundaries so folk from all the
hubs can participate. All presentations have been themed. They cover film music, one hit wonders, and we have in preparation sessions on Motown, Disco, Jazz etc. These are proving very popular and, given the level of work involved in compiling the sessions, Stephen and I are offering to share what we have done with other community groups and charities. We have now run the sessions that we originally put together for JAMI with Ataxia UK and Cranbrook United Synagogue. While lockdown hasn’t been much fun it has allowed me to improve my computing skills at putting together on-line presentations. When you see service users from JAMI on a Zoom call, dancing, clapping and singing along it really makes the effort put into compiling the presentations worthwhile.
Belmonde - September 2020
Volunteering during Covid
work with clients who have been
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Barry Gilbert reports on
Functions at Belmont F@B
F@B is the main fund-raising committee of Belmont Shul, aiming to provide a range of value-for-money functions and fund-raising activities that will appeal to as many shul members as possible while raising much needed funds. The committee has fourteen hard working members. Three of them also serve on the Shul Council, providing a close connection between the committee and the shul’s management. We are grateful for the enthusiastic support of Rabbi and Lisa Levene at our functions and we also thank the shul office and staff for their help. The Coronavirus pandemic and associated shul closure have curtailed our usual fund-raising events and activities. In 2019 we held our annual Supper Quiz, Ladies Supper Quiz and December function featuring a Simon and Garfunkel tribute band. These were all very successful and enjoyable and included excellent catering. We also held the Wimbledon Draw and our main fund-raising activity, the 100 Club, which continues to run. Up to 31st December 2019, F@B made a total profit of almost £17,655 before donations to charities - a record for the committee . We are grateful for the hard work of committee members, shul members and their friends. We were able to donate £850 to support Save a Child’s Heart and Ezra Umarpeh charities. The total F@B charity donations to the end of 2019 is almost £7,600, with profits before charity donations of almost £158,000. This demonstrates the importance of the Committee’s fund-raising activities to the shul’s finances.
We were able to use Zoom to hold a successful online quiz in May. This raised an incredible £2,750 for the Belmont Charitable Trust. We are extremely grateful for the generosity of quiz participants and donors and for the help we received in putting on this event. F@B is totally reliant on the support and goodwill of our shul members and their friends for the success of its functions and fund raising activities, By putting on enjoyable high-quality functions at reasonable prices we are not only able to raise much needed funds for the shul and make donations to a range of deserving charities but we can also project a highly favourable reputation and image of our community well beyond Belmont. We hope to return to normality during the course of next year and in the meantime we are proposing to hold an online event later this year so please look out for announcements in the shul newsletter. We will also be seeking new members to join the 100 Club later this year. This is only £10 per month or 33p per day and produces £225 in prize money each month. It’s a great way to contribute extra funds to the shul during these difficult times. The Committee is always open to new fund-raising ideas from members of the community, so please get in touch with any suggestions. Barry Gilbert and Mel Berman Joint Chairmen
2020 has been a very different year! Our annual supper quiz was due to be held in April; a fantastic tribute act for was due for December but the Coronavirus pandemic and shul closure has prevented both from going ahead. However, the impact on F@B does not compare to the impact on the shul and the health and well-being of the Belmont community, some of whom have been seriously affected by Coronavirus. We wish them all to stay safe and healthy. Belmonde - September 2020
Andrea Winthrop, Brown Owl reports on
2nd Belmont Brownie Pack As I sit down to write my Annual Brownie report I cannot believe how far from ‘normal’ our Brownie meetings since Pesach have been. We started the year, last September, with our usual activities including making New Year cards and honey cake. We were also looking forward to joining the Bi-annual camp run by the Jewish Guide Advisory Council which was due to be held in May, but this obviously did not happen. Last November we did participate in Mitzvah Day and the brownies baked fairy cakes decorated with green icing for the Shul tea. We also made hamantashen for ‘Mishloah Manot’ delivered to the Belmont community and for Jewish Care. In February we also managed to join other local brownie packs for a fun ‘Badge Day’ and animal encounter, which turned out to be the last event we participated in. Since lockdown we took the bold decision to keep brownies going weekly by Zoom. This has been very successful with most brownies joining weekly. Our activities have included baking mug cakes and
shortbread, scavenger hunts, a virtual Disney Escape Room, many craft activities and quizzes. We also had to be mindful of what the brownies could use around the house to avoid a problem obtaining resources. I anticipate, by the time Belmonde is published, we will still be meeting on Zoom. We have many more exciting ideas for programmes next term, it is just unfortunate that the girls miss the social aspect of the meetings. However, if anyone reading this article knows of any 7 – 10 year old girls who would like to join us please contact me via the shul office. My thanks as always to my assistant leaders (Roberta Diamond, Sharon Segall, Rachel Rose, Gemma Adamis and Leah Corper) whose help is invaluable.
Raymond Levy reports on
Speakers Corner An exciting year for Speaker’s Corner, but not in the way we had anticipated. We started with some excellent speakers. John Ashmele a toastmaster entertained us with tales of his career. Ian Keeble spoke about the life of Charles Dickens who was a magician as well as an author and performed some magic tricks. In January Richard Cohen gave a fascinating insight into the life of his great uncle Jack Cohen and how he developed the Tesco empire.
account of his life as a young gentleman in the music industry and as a politician. Then Richard Cohen entertained us for a second time with a talk entitled Churchill and the Jews.
Then came lockdown with no events in the Shul and a switch to Zoom. The speakers were still excellent but we couldn’t have coffee and chat following the talks that we always used to enjoy.
In October, we will be welcoming Peter James, the international bestselling author. Our future events programme will be advertised in the Shul newsletter. Speaker’s Corner consist of a small dedicated team namely: Simone and Raymond Levy, Elvin Samson, Carole Sinclair. We thank Salvador Mazliah and Alan Winthrop for their help in setting up the sound system and our Shul Chair, Barbara Mazliah, for her support.
Raffi Berg’s talk about the Red Sea Agent was absorbing and he kept us enthralled on a cold evening whilst restrictions were at their height. Raffi’s ability to keep people entertained is immense. Lord Levy gave a brilliant
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The number of people entertained by Speaker’s Corner events has continued to grow and more and more people from surrounding Shuls are joining in for a pleasant couple of hours.
Richard Simon - Volunteering during furlough
In a bit of a stew over lockdown
Like many people at the beginning of the lockdown, I was looking for voluntary work that would keep me busy and would also keep my mental health from breaking down. Spending two weeks sitting in the garden always sounded like something I would enjoy but in reality, I was feeling quite miserable at the thought of a long period of inactivity.
When I first went to One Stonegrove, there were about seven other volunteers, most of whom were in the same work situation as me, and who also enjoyed cooking. As a group, we look at the ingredients available, and put together a plan for what to make that day. We don’t know what the food delivery will bring us, so the planning session is a little like Ready, Steady Cook. The ingredients are collected from a charity called the Felix Project, which collects almost-out-of-date food from supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and other catering establishments that would otherwise have ended up in landfill. We gathered around Natasha, who was leading the group, and came up with a plan to provide 300 to 500 meals for the local community, where people are in desperate need of free hot meals. We were also providing meals for a local cancer hospice, so that patients returning from chemotherapy treatments would not need to cook a meal when they arrived back home. I spent my first day peeling several kilos of potatoes and making basmati rice by the 5kg bag. In the afternoon, I spent a couple of hours washing up, then
boxing up and labelling some of the meals that had been cooked that day. I was exhausted when I came home, but I loved every minute of the day and have been back almost daily for the last eight weeks. I find the whole process so rewarding and so fascinating. Our food deliveries have included 2-year-old mature cheddar from Fortnum & Mason, fillet steaks, rump steaks, wild salmon, pheasant, sourdough loaves as well as a vast array of fresh vegetables and fruit. Remember, this would all have ended up in landfill if we didn’t make use of it. Over the last few weeks, my cooking has definitely improved, and my family would probably agree! I used to rely on recipes for my cooking but now I’ll happily experiment with ingredients to create a meal. Most of the time, the meals are quite palatable, too! I’ve also had the privilege of working with the most amazing people, which has made the whole experience so enjoyable. All the volunteers work so hard and the teamwork and work ethic is exceptional. Everyone wants to deliver the best quality meals possible given the constraints. There’s always a great atmosphere and over the last two months I’ve learned so much from the other volunteers, who come from a diverse set of backgrounds. I’ll remember the time I spent at One Stonegrove fondly. When I’m at home and make West African jollof rice, or Jamaican beef stew or Indian onion bhajis I will think about my time as a volunteer and the wonderful people that I’ve met at One Stonegrove. Belmonde - September 2020
Volunteering during Covid
Initially I was busy driving meals to Norwood care homes and to NHS hospitals for some Facebook Covid startups. Then Rommy showed me a request for volunteers at a local community centre to help cook meals for people in need, within the Borough of Barnet. I enjoy cooking and as it was so local, I decided to volunteer.
The land girl
World War II Experiences
Norma Lerner was born in Birkenhead in 1927 – just across the Mersey from Liverpool. Both parents were raised in the British Isles – her dad in Dublin (though he had been born in Chelm – yes there was really was a place called Chelm) and her mum in Whitechapel. She went to Hope Place, the original Jewish school in Liverpool – and was in a class with Frankie Abelson – whose stage name was Frankie Vaughan. Nothing to do with Mrs Lerner but true story - when he was asked to explain his choice of stage name he explained that his booba used to say “Frankie – you are my number vorn boy”. Norma’s war memories include evacuation to Southport and one time taking the train from Liverpool to Southport when an air raid started. The train came to a halt – not necessarily in the best place – a timber yard which was set alight by a falling bomb. Their home was destroyed by bombing in Liverpool. Her dad was too old for active service (though he used to claim he was a motor bike rider for the IRA At Habonim training farm. Cricklade – on the grounds that some recruiting guys came round to his house in Dublin and said to this diminutive little Jewish guy – “Mick – you are riding for us”). During the war he served as an air raid warden and amongst other tasks had to pull bodies out of bombed out homes – something which he understandably found traumatic. Norma was an active member of Habonim and stayed at the home of the Minister of Preston Shul – Raphael Levy – father of our first Minister, Rev Elkan Levy. During the war she joined a Habonim training farm in Cricklade Wiltshire – kibbutz Shmaryahu. There, the leader was Ossie Edelstein and it was there she met her husband Harry. He looked after the cows at a neighbouring farm, as any refugee boy from a German town might do. Norma’s specialty was standing on top of a harvester so she could throw down the wheat stalks
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
into a drum so that the chaff could be separated from the stalks. She said she was asked to do it because she was slim, fast and nimble. She still treasures a special memory from the war. The Wiltshire agricultural committee occasionally lent them a van so they could go to the cinema. It was once when she was with her Habonim friends that the film was stopped and the manager came out and announced the war was over. They all cheered but of course for most refugee children it was a time of great anxiety and in most cases sadness. Half the chaverim were refugees and they were told not to go to Europe to try and find their parents because Europe was in chaos. She remembers that one of her friends, Hannah Baker went anyway. Harry was fortunate in that both parents had escaped from Germany along with his older sister, though his father had the distinction of being interned by the Germans in Dachau and by the British on the Isle of Man. Norma recollects sitting round the radio listening to the UN vote on whether the State of Israel should be recognised and the cheers as the USSR unexpectedly voted for Israel. They got married in Greenback Drive Shul in Liverpool – where Norma was secretary. She became a wages clerk and at one point was the pay-mistress for Prince Edward. Her favourite activity is visiting her great grand-children in New York and Petach Tikveh and of course seeing Shoshy in London.
WHAT IS THE POINT? THE POINT IS FOR US TO ENSURE THE FUTURE OF OUR JEWISH COMMUNITY
Barry Harris wishes all the Belmont community a Happy New Year
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Extract from Donald Kaye’s (Tony Kaye’s Dad) 1944 wartime diary
Sunday, February 19 There was a very heavy air raid from 1 to 2 o’clock this morning. For the first time I got up out of bed. They dropped mostly incendiary bombs, and many flares which made the street look like daylight. Edna and Dad were on fire watch in the street. Edna was standing in the porch all the time. What a fire watcher. All of a sudden there was a bang so Mum dived under the table, and as soon as she got there it became quiet out. The people from next door came in, a woman who was on fire watch with Dad and Edna, and the Chief Fire Watcher of this street. Mum made them all a cup of tea. Yesterday lightening caught the barrage balloon over the reck and it came down in flames catching two houses in Wargrave Avenue alight. In the afternoon I saw Arsenal beat Luton town 7-1. Drake scored 4, Denis Compton Sunday, March 26 I went with Chris Collins up the West End. First of all, we went to Trafalgar Square to see the Youth Rally. There were Army Cadets, Naval Cadets, A.T.C., Scottish Regiment, Fire Force, and Boy Scouts, and A.R.P. From the women, there were N.F.S., and the rest were mostly nurses. Then we walked up the Haymarket to Piccadilly Circus and we walked along Piccadilly. We came to Buckingham Palace and saw the Changing of the Guards. Then we walked along the road parallel to the park till we came to the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge. The West End was crowded with people, I think because it was the first fine day of the year and the people took advantage of it. In all it cost me about 1/6.
Monday, June 5 Rome was taken by our army today, I wonder how much longer this war is going to last, if it lasts much longer, I will be in the army. Tuesday, June 6 The second front started today. Allied Forces landed in northern France, it is on everyone’s lips. I saw a French play from school today at South Kensington, and I hardly understood any of it. I came to bed at 8:20 today so that I could do my homework in quiet.
World War II Experiences
Saturday, June 17 There were 2 raids in the night, and pretty heavy gunfire. Up till now, 7:35 p.m., there have been 4 daylight raids today. At 7:38 p.m., now, another alert has just started. By 11 o’clock the all clear has just gone to the 7th warning today. Tuesday, June 27 Few warnings. For the first time since the Blitz we slept in our Anderson shelter, i.e. Mum and Dad and Edna and myself. It was terribly uncomfortable. Dad was shouting at everybody for making a noise. Mum took up all the room, and I was squashed against the wall Friday, June 28 There were a few raids at school today, and when we were having dinner, the Headmaster announced that Crowland Road had been bombed at 11:30 this morning. I got permission from the old man to go home, so did most of the kids from our way. I found that the pilotless plane had fallen on the allotments over the reck. AUNTIE HYLDAS’S HOUSE IS BOMBED TO BITS, SO IS MRS. MCARTHY’S. The damage the blast has done is terrible. The Crowland Road school has been badly hit. About 6 or 7 streets have all their windows out. We had a little bit of glass cracked, and a bit of ceiling broken. Monday, July 3 They have made a new rule at school about the air raids which is we take cover now, when the outside alert sounds and not just when it’s danger overhead. We were in the shelters all day long. I beat Dad getting undressed. Sunday, July 9
A doodlebug bomb dropped at the top of Seven Sisters Road doing a lot of
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damage. When the weather is nice, they don’t come, when it is bad, they come all the time. Wednesday, July 19 I did good in the Chemistry exam, I got 59% and came 9th. I got a bit of a shock when I got off the bus at Wargrave Avenue and I saw all the High Road windows out. Then up in Wargrave Avenue all the windows were out and then I saw Auntie Hylda and she told me it fell in Mountfield Road. When I got home, I found upstairs in Mum’s room, the front door, and the back-pantry windows were all out. Mum was here with Auntie Hylda and they got in the cupboard under the stairs, when they heard it coming. They said it was a terrific noise and the whole house shook. Then she heard windows all coming out. I went and had a look at the damage and it was terrible, Mountfield Road being wiped out and also Olinda Road, and Craven Park Road at the bottom end. The blast stretches about a ½ mile radius. Wednesday, August 23
Marvellous news today, Paris is free again
Thursday, August 24 fight against the Gerrys.
More good news, Romania has capitulated and she is gonna
Saturday, August 26 Harold came back from Wales and in the afternoon, he came with me to see Spurs draw with West Ham 2-2. It was a very good game and fly bombs didn’t keep the crowd away. The game should have been played on West Ham’s ground but it was doodle bugged. Friday, September 1 Dieppe.
We took Verdun today, and by the evening we will have got
Sunday, September 3 Besides being the 5th anniversary of the war it was a very important day, MY SISTER EDNA WAS MARRIED TO MY COUSIN LAURIE. I was up at 7 o’clock and I rushed into Edna’s room shouting, get up Edna you’re getting married today. There was much excitement in the house before leaving by car to the Quadrant (Regent Street). Neighbours coming into see Edna, everybody getting dressed up etc. I was considered important as I was given a flower to wear. The ceremony started ¼ hour late. It was really nicely done. Then we had 20 minutes to drink round the bar. At 2 o’clock dinner was served, I sat in between Elsie Stoke and Doris Green. First, we had hors d’oeuvres, then fish and chips and then ted pears and cream. Then there was coffee. All I enjoyed was the fish and chips. There was a smashing band which had 6 men, which Laurie hired for £15. I had about 10 dances. One with the bride, two with Kitty, two with Lily, and four with Elsie. At 6 o’clock the wedding finished. The whole wedding without fruit, drinks, band, cars, flowers, tips etc. cost £109 Tuesday, September 26 When I came out from school, I banged into Dad who left off work at 4 o’clock as it is wrsb kf night (I wrote that in Hebrew to show I haven’t forgotten it). I went to shul tonight. Wednesday, September 27 Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. I had to fast all day long. I began to feel really lousy at 3 o’clock. Thursday, October 26 Gerry has stopped sending doodlebugs over but he is sending rockets. This morning at 8:05 a.m. there was a tremendous crash. I learned later that it had dropped near the boating place. I went over there and saw the damage, luckily it fell on marshy land and no one was killed.
Belmonde - September 2020
In the Far East Philip Leigh was born in 1923, the son and indeed grandson of tailors. His mother was Esther, an East End girl. Up to the age of 11 he lived near Great Portland Street. He was a West End Jew at a time when there were many thriving communities in the centre of town.
World War II Experiences
Later, Philip’s parents moved to Battersea where his father managed a grocery store. They were members of what used to be known as Victoria & Chelsea Associate Synagogue – now Chelsea United Synagogue. It was there that he became friendly with Fulham Road Baker, Joe Freedman, the father of Belmont members Jane Caplan and David Freedman. Philip and his wife Edith were lifelong friends of Joe and Doré and they used to go on holidays together. Philip went to Upper Marylebone Primary School. He didn’t enjoy secondary school and left to find work. He started as an office boy in a tea firm founded in the 1700s. Sticking stamps on letters and other mundane activities were not for him and so he got a job at an engineering firm making trucks for the military. With no background or training, he was soon on lathes, milling and drilling ma-chines making air compressors that could help dig holes in the desert ground where mines could be placed. He was 16 at the start of the war. He did not wait to be conscripted but wanted to be useful for the war effort and volunteered for the RAF. This distinguished him from many others. He thinks because he chose to do this, he was much more motivated and came top of 200 on his basic training in Weston Super Mare. The RAF needed engineers in so many different parts of the world and he was posted to the Far East. He took a ‘slow boat’ out there. They had to be part of a convoy and he recollects that it took weeks, via South Africa to get to Bombay. He didn’t return home until 10 months after VJ day (15 August 1945). His late brother Ted also joined the RAF.
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Philip worked on numerous air strips from the Sind desert to the Burmese jungle. His task was to make sure that planes were airworthy and one way that he had to prove that was by joining the pilot on a test flight after a plane had been serviced. Of course, obtaining spare parts was a problem. With luck, one might find some available at Dum Dum airport – now the modern airport serving Calcutta. It played an important role in the Second World War. In 1942, the United States Army Air Force’s 7th Bombardment Group flew B-24 Liberator bombers from the airport on combat missions over Burma. The airfield was used as a cargo aerial port for the Air Transport Command and was also used as a communication centre for the Tenth Air Force. Generally, spares were not available and on one air strip they had a Liberator which never flew. It was just used to disassemble for parts. Philip observed that he was different from most of the other men because he was a volunteer. He pointed out that they were all thrown together from all walks of life and indeed all parts of the UK. Regional accents were much stronger in the era before mass media and dialects like those from South Shields were incomprehensible. The places they lived were desolate and generally extremely hot and the food wasn’t fit for animals. There was nothing to do except work all day and all night. One day rolled into the next and they were exhausted. Occasionally one might get lucky and hitch a ride on a plane, have a couple of days off and then have to hitch back. Everyone caught malaria and the bottom of the tents had to be rolled up to let air in. This unfortunately resulted in snakes getting caught
Philip Leigh (Belmont Founder Member)
in the folds and so they all kept a stick by their bed. Philip pointed out that bed was a fancy term for a wooden frame with some rope across it. Of course, the monsoon periods of several months brought torrential rain and the humidity left one utterly drained. As engine men, they all had to work outside. When he returned to Liverpool dock in 1946 his parents, Esther and Charles, had just acquired a phone and as we can imagine, his Mum was tremendously excited that she could hear his voice. Although it was a very hot summer, he had to wear his RAF greatcoat because his blood was so thin, due to the malnutrition he had experienced. Philip went back to his old firm where many employees were still there from before the war. It wasn’t a comfortable situation, so he went to the motor works of Jack Barclay, the Rolls Royce distributors, and told them what he had done during the war. He recalls saying: “If you give me a job, at the end of the week if you don’t like me you can get rid of me”. Thus began a career of many years as a motor engineer. His next job was as purchase manager for Decca Electronics as they had a major role in the development of navigation systems. Being part of a large organisation had its downside, so he joined a much smaller electronics company involved with process control equipment which enabled him to visit Japan for a couple of weeks. He married Edith when he was 37 and their first and only home was where he lives now in Kingshill Drive. His daughter Miriam remembers how she and her brother Mark went with Philip door to door to encourage a minyan in the early days of Belmont. Philip, as an engineer, was very good at making and fixing things. He built a portable Bimah for Belmont as services were in different places each week and when we moved into the permanent building, he built an Ark, a lectern and book-shelves for our early use. Friday night services and Barmitzvah classes were often in their lounge. He still remembers taking Mark to Shul one winter Shabbat morning in deep snow. There was Philip, his son Mark, Elkan Levy (Belmont’s first minister) and three other people. “We said a few brachot and went home.” He concluded by remarking on what a welcoming gentleman Elkan was.
Judy Simon – from Terezin to Windermere to Weir Courtney – see over for article
A baby in Terezin
Photograph of children in Terezin taken by the Red Cross. Most of the children and adults in Terezin were murdered in Auschwitz or died of starvation or disease.
Judy was one of the few little girls with ‘The Boys’ in Windermere
Alice Goldberger who cared for Judy in Weir Courtney
Belmonde - September 2020
To survive and thrive The remarkable story of Judy Simon
Judy Simon is among the youngest Holocaust survivors in the UK. She has had a very happy life so far, with three great kids and six wonderful grandchildren. Well it certainly did not start out that way. She was born on 20th (probably) of April 1942 in Vienna. By August she was in Terezín in Czechoslovakia, also known as Theresienstadt. It was used by the Nazis as a show camp to prove to the Red Cross that all was well in concentration camps.
World War II Experiences
On 10 October 1941 Heydrich identified Theresienstadt as the desired Jewish settlement for German, Austrian and Czech Jews over the age of 65, First World War veterans, or well-known cultural or political figures. It was intended to serve as both a holding site for Jews on their way to extermination camps in the east or for Jews of cultural or political fame until their eventual deportation or death. It was used to explain the deportation of elderly Jews from Germany, since it was implausible to suggest that they were being deported to complete forced labour due to their frail state and age. Instead, the Nazis claimed, these elderly Jews were sent for ‘retirement’ in the spa town of Theresienstadt. On 24 November 1941, the first Jewish prisoners arrived in Theresienstadt. The Nazified German Red Cross visited the ghetto in 1943 and filed the only accurate report on the ghetto, describing overcrowding and undernourishment. In 1944, the ghetto was ‘beautified’ in preparation for a delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Danish government. The delegation visited on 23 June; ICRC delegate Maurice Rossel wrote a favourable report on the ghetto and claimed that no-one was deported from Theresienstadt. On 23 June 1944, the visitors spent eight hours inside Theresienstadt, were led on a predetermined path and only allowed to speak with Danish Jews and selected representatives,
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including Paul Eppstein. Driven in a limousine by an SS officer posing as his driver, Eppstein was forced to deliver an SS-written speech describing Theresienstadt as “a normal country town” of which he was “mayor” and give the visitors fabricated statistical data on the ghetto. He still had a black eye from a beating administered by Rahm and attempted to warn Rossel that there was “no way out” for Theresienstadt prisoners. A soccer game and performance of the children’s opera Brundibár* were also staged for the guests. [Rabbi Leo Baeck, a spiritual leader at Theresienstadt, stated, “The effect [of the Red Cross visit] on our morale was devastating. We felt forgotten and forsaken.” As late as April 1945, another ICRC delegation was allowed to visit the ghetto; despite the contemporaneous liberation of other concentration camps, it continued to repeat Rossel’s findings. In the midst of all this, arrived baby Judy Auerbach, as she then was, accompanied by a nurse from Vienna, Martha Wenger. Martha managed to care for this infant, who somehow got enough food to survive and avoid dying from the many infections that swept through Terezín. To this day, Judy does not know how she arrived in the UK, one of many mysteries for her. She was taken with ‘The Boys’ to Windermere – something she did not discover until her adult years. ** Her sons Richard and Nick went to the same prep school as some of the children of The Boys and Judy was told by one of The Boys that he remembered her from Windermere and that she used to sit on his lap.
When she saw the BBC documentary film, she recognised herself. From Windermere she went to Lingfield House, Weir Courtney, near Epsom. There she was looked after by a remarkable German Jewish refugee called Alice Judy Simon Goldberger, who was to be the subject of This is your life with Eamonn Andrews in 1978. Alice had looked after disadvantaged children before the war in Germany. Arriving in the UK she was interned for a time as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man. On release she worked at Anna Freud’s nursery in Hampstead and then went on to Lingfield House, to create a group home for these young children. The magazine JOHN BULL, 9 Oct. 1948, reported an interview with Alice Goldberger: “On the night the first children arrived in 1945 they were full of hostility, fear and distrust when they caught sight of food they rushed to it, snatching bits from each other’s plates and stuffing their pockets with uneaten pieces. These they later hid under their pillows fearing that they would get no more. When the staff tried to undress them for bed, pandemonium broke out. They had decided that this fairyland was a trick; as soon as the lights were turned out the SS men would come and kill them in their beds. Some of the children were difficult to understand because they spoke a mixture of several languages picked up in the various camps through which they passed. They were visited by people thinking of adopting a refugee child. Two such visitors were Rosa and Arthur Gardner who fell in love with Judy and took her to their home. Judy does have some memories of the grand Lingfield House and happy days there but remembers how all the children ran and hid when visitors came around. Eventually she moved to the Gardner’s home in South Harrow. For Arthur it was the fulfilment of a commitment he had made, having been part of the liberation forces at Belsen, that he would adopt a refugee child. Judy remembers being naughty, her mum being gentle and Arthur trying to give her some structure. Looking back, Judy says she always felt loved by them and indeed Arthur’s parents whom she remembers visiting in Cambridge.
In due course Arthur and Rosa had two children of their own, David and Ingrid. They made no distinction between the three of them. Ingrid told Judy once that she was sure that she was adopted and eventually she and David were sat down to be told that it was Judy who was adopted, which came as a total surprise to them. Judy’s adoption was not straightforward. She was the first Jewish refugee child to be adopted. The law had to be changed so that British citizens could adopt children born overseas and the adopting parents had to prove that the birth parents were dead. In Judy’s case this could not be proved. She knows nothing about her birth parents. To this day, it is believed that it is possible that her birth father escaped at some point and made it to Colombia. After school, Judy went to Pitman’s to train to be a secretary. She met her husband Lewis on a matzah ramble, whilst he was training to be a dentist. Thy would meet every day for lunch in town and he soon proposed to her. They lived in Connecticut for a year shortly after he qualified and returned to Stanmore where they had their three children: Richard Simon our Vice Chairman, Nick who has the unusual distinction of having shared a bedroom with Boris Johnson whilst volunteering at Kibbutz Kfar Hanassi and Joanne, their daughter, an artist who lives in Boston, having graduated from the Bezalel school of Art in Jerusalem. *Ed - Brundibár is a children’s opera by Jewish Czech composer Hans Krása with a libretto by Adolf Hoffmeister, made most famous by performances by the children of Theresienstadt concentration camp (Terezín) in occupied Czechoslovakia. The name comes from a Czech colloquialism for a bumblebee. ** World Jewish Relief (previously called The Central British Fund for German Jewry) rescued and rehabilitated over 700 child Holocaust survivors after the liberation of the concentration camps. The Jewish children, known as ‘The Boys’, although nearly 200 were girls, were initially brought to Windermere in the Lake District, and later to other hostels around the country, where they were given education, training, language skills and psychological assistance to help them integrate into British society.
Belmonde - September 2020
David Simmons remembers
Greenbank My very first memory of Greenbank Drive Synagogue, Liverpool or ‘Greenbank’, as we usually called it, was being in shul with my father, whose seat was near the back; my grandpa sat on the second row near the Ark. “David, please take this to Mr Glassman with my compliments” Grandpa would tell me in his heavy accent, handing me his snuff box. I was about four and I would cross the shul, in front of the bimah to Mr Glassman on the other side who would open the snuff box and take a pinch. He would put it on the back of his hand, sniff it up and then blow his nose. Often, he would ask me to take his box across to my grandpa or send his grandson, Irvine, my friend, with it. I was once allowed to sniff some of the snuff. It made me sneeze. (Men took snuff on Shabbos because they couldn’t smoke.) Grandpa was really my step-grandfather who had married my widowed grandmother after his own wife had died. He wore a shiny black top hat, as did Mr Glassman. So did the wardens and honorary officers as well as several ex-officers who occupied the front rows nearest the ark. The chazan and rabbi wore full canonicals. This was not surprising for an old established congregation that had moved from being the Liverpool New Hebrew Congregation from 1857 to 1937 in the Hope Place Synagogue (now a theatre.) My Grandpa had been one of the founding members of the renamed ‘Greenbank Drive Hebrew Congregation’. Years later he laid the foundation stone of the Allerton Synagogue. Of course, at that age, I didn’t notice the beauty of the building. I just knew that it was a long way across that blue carpet, carefully carrying the snuff box to Mr Glassman and that everyone seemed to be looking at me. And it was a beautiful building. It was designed by the Liverpool architect Sir Ernest Alfred Shennan and was very different from both the traditionally designed synagogues in Britain at that time and the few other synagogues that had dared to be modern or different. The style is a combination of Shennan’s previous art deco style and other modern architectural directions. It
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reflects Swedish architectural influences, in the exterior of the building, which is inspired by the late Swedish romantic style, and in its interior. It was unique in Liverpool as it included a communal function hall, later to become the Max Morris Hall and it had its own car park. The synagogue has a reinforced concrete and steel frame structure, with the external walls faced in ‘golden brown’ hand cut bricks. There is a grand approach to the west front entrance up two flights of shallow steps, with curved concrete balustrades. I spent many cheder breaks chatting to friends on the platform between those wide, shallow flights of steps. Above the steps, there is a threebay projecting entrance, with three semi-circular headed double curved brick arches supported on circular brick piers. The interior is absolutely flooded with daylight. The cantilevered ladies gallery is wrapped around three sides in a graceful elliptical curve, open at the ark end. The barrel-curved ceiling runs the length of the building and, on each side of the ceiling, are rows of canopies which intersect the walls as arches above the upper range of windows.
View of Greenbank Shul interior from the Ladies’ Gallery.
There is a high central bimah in light oak with gilt metal railings. The ark is in oak inlaid macassar ebony with gilt art metal work, approached up five centrally carpeted, travertine marble steps. Both the bimah and the ark are fine examples of art deco - craftsman-made joinery and metal work which became characteristic of the great 1930s ocean liners. I remember cheder, which I attended from the age of five or six to about fifteen. The entry class was held in the shul library and was taught by a delightful and kindly lady called Mrs Sablow, whom I adored. The long room had tall, glass-fronted bookcases along each side, high leaded light windows at the end, a parquet floor and small desks with iron frames down the middle. We gradually learned to read Hebrew and say some blessings and we heard Jewish stories and fairy tales. Our Hebrew primer was a book called Rashis Das. The first lessons consisted of a consonant such as dalet (D) repeated with each possible vowel before moving on to
the next consonant and all the vowels . Eventually we started putting it together to make Hebrew words and after many years I could read pointed Hebrew reasonably fluently. Apart from a meeting room that doubled as a classroom at the back of the ladies’ gallery and that could be opened as an extension on yomtov, there were no purpose-built classrooms in the synagogue. It had been planned to add them at a later date but that didn’t happen until well after my time when an extension was built at the side. So lessons took place in the ladies’ cloakroom, the gents’ cloakroom, the choir loft, the library, the bet hamedrash and other places. We went to cheder on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings. It was a huge chunk out of leisure and, later, homework time. Other kids used to attend sporadically but my father insisted on our attending every session. I do not regret going to cheder; I do regret the huge inefficiency of the system and the resultant waste of time. Belmonde - September 2020
However, Cheder was not altogether a bad thing. I learned an awful lot - I ended up reading Hebrew better than many of my contemporaries; I could translate a lot of Chumash; I had quite a good Hebrew vocabulary and I knew quite a lot about Jewish festivals, Shabbos and many religious laws. I really had a pretty good grasp of classical Hebrew grammar as well. Some of my teachers were excellent. Besides Mrs Sablow, I was taught by Martin Dover, an excellent teacher and a lovely, gentle man who later taught me my barmitzvah parsha. I was also taught by Assistant Minister, Rev Sam Wolfson who claimed to be able to finish any verse in the Chumash given three words from it but was renowned for singing flat when leining. As well as the three days on which I went to cheder, I and my two brothers went to shul on Shabbos and festivals so Greenbank was very much a part of my life until my early twenties. I had to take my brothers back and forth and one particular day, exploring the drained lake in nearby Greenbank Park, my little brother, Anthony, got stuck in the mud and had to abandon his wellie; he was not allowed into cheder and I had to walk him home. Another time, shortly after my barmitzvah, I skived off going to shul on Shabbos morning, climbed over railings in Sefton Park and caught the leg of my first pair of long trousers on the spike, ripping it. Punishment ensued and ‘invisible mending’ but they were never quite the same again. From early on I recognised that the synagogue was a very special building, having explored every part of it - the main shul, the Max Morris Hall below it, the choir loft where I sang till my voice broke and so on. It embarrasses me now to realise that my pathetic soprano voice was part of a choir that accompanied an absolutely wonderful chazan, Rev Hirsch Laib Katz who was celebrated throughout Europe for his fine tenor voice and command of chazanut. Apparently, after his cantoral studies he ‘would travel with his brother and manager, all over Europe to sing in countless synagogues for Shabbos and concerts’. By the time he was 30, he had ‘vocally conquered the synagogues of Europe.’ Rev HL Katz, Chazan
Although I now recognise our chazan’s talents, as a
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Exterior of Greenbank Drive Synagogue
young lad it all seemed to drag and I was more interested in reaching the end of the service than in appreciating his chazanut! The father of a great friend from school and cheder used to present every child at each annual Chanukah party with an envelope containing 12 shiny new farthings. How I wish I had kept them all. I lost touch with my friend until we met in Israel on an IUJF student trip. By this time he was extremely frum. Some members of the group removed his tephillin bag and when he recovered the, now empty, bag, there was a note inside - ‘Help, I am a prisoner in a tephillin factory’. One Purim we put on a ‘radio play’ at cheder. The actors were behind a screen and we read our parts. No need to memorise them. It was very successful. It was written and devised by another friend, Alan Swerdlow, two years older than me. We both went to Quarry Bank school. Alan was very interested in art, calligraphy and, in particular italic handwriting. The two of us founded the ‘Italic Handwriting Society’ at the school. For me it was the start of a lifelong interest in calligraphy, both English and Hebrew. A year after my barmitzvah, I went for a year, on Wednesdays after school and on Sunday mornings, to Liverpool Yeshiva where we learned some gemara. I remember two things - iced buns on the Wednesdays which I loved and Rashi script which I hated. As an aside, Belmont’s own Norma Lerner was not only married in Greenbank in 1946 but was shul secretary for some years. See her article, page 62. Very sadly, the Jewish Community in Liverpool declined, as happened throughout the provinces. In 2008, the remaining 40 members of Greenbank decided that it was impossible to continue and Greenbank Drive Hebrew Congregation was dissolved.
Michelle Minsky reports on
Belmont’s book club The book club continues to flourish, with a small but committed group of regular readers. We’re always happy to welcome new people, so please do get in touch if you would enjoy having an informal discussion about a book that we have all read. Here are some of the ones we have read in the past year, to give you a flavour.
title character is a retired schoolteacher from Maine, struggling to adapt to the changes in her life and Where the Crawdads Sing – which, to quote the New York Times, is “a murder mystery, a coming of age narrative and a celebration of nature” and was one of those rare books that everyone both enjoyed and admired.
We generally choose modern novels, but Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel was an enjoyable exception. The topics we have covered include a bizarre property crime in Louise Candlish’s Our House and an unusual Jewish mother/stalker in Francesca Jakob’s Bitter. There seems to have been a strong American influence this year, with Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage - the story of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout - whose
I would also like to mention The Beekeeper of Aleppo, a novel about Syrian refugees who are forced to flee their home city and come to the UK - yes it does give you a picture of an immigrant’s experience here, but it about so much more than that as well. Of course, this has been a strange year but we have continued our meetings on Zoom - no tea, no coffee, but plenty of time for discussion. We’ll continue to meet virtually until we can revert to face to face meetings.
Jacqueline Segal reports
Belmont Hospitality(&more) Fund This past year, the BHF has raised funds for two charities - JAMI and The Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Victims in Israel. £500 covered the cost of occupational therapy sessions for JAMI’s clients and £700 paid for social activities for Holocaust survivors in Israel as part of their volunteer programme. Our current project is to raise funds for Noa Girls which offers practical, emotional and therapeutic support for Orthodox girls aged 12-24 who are at risk. These funds will be used to purchase materials for a special art therapy
project enabling the girls to express their journey and their progress when words are just too difficult to find. Donations in lieu of gifts for hospitality OR special occasions (hence the ‘&more’ addition to our name!) quickly mount up - together we can help those less fortunate than ourselves. For further information, please contact: Jacqueline Segal - 020 8954 3296 or email@example.com or Russell Kett - firstname.lastname@example.org Belmonde - September 2020
This Year’s Appeals We are delighted to introduce the charities that will benefit from our Yom Kippur Appeal
Hospital Kosher Meals Service The Hospital Kosher Meals Service – HKMS – began life in 1968 as the inspiration of two members of the Golders Green Beth Hamedrash community who recognised that unless hospital patients were fortunate to have family or friends to bring them food, they would be obliged to eat only fresh fruit and raw vegetables as no kosher food was available in hospitals at that time. On Shabbos and Yomtovim, without the ability to bring in meals, all patients were without a cooked meal. At the outset, it was recognised that the food to be provided would need to have a level of Kashrus acceptable to all members of the Jewish community and thus must be under Kedassia supervision. Fresh meals were made every day at the kosher restaurant owned by Mrs Lisser z”l, the mother of the current CEO of Hermolis, and delivered to hospitals by taxi. Those hospitals that were not prepared to pay for the meals were supplied nonetheless and very soon, demand for the meals became such that it was not viable to provide fresh food on a daily basis. Chest freezers were purchased and a fund-raising Committee formed to ensure the resources were made available for the Service to expand. In due course, production was moved to Hermolis’ premises in Wembley. HKMS purchased a refrigerated van, hired a driver/warehouseman and not long after, established a freezer storage facility in Golders Green. From such small beginnings, the Service grew to supplying some 4,000 meals a week to hospitals and nursing homes within the Greater London area, all facilitated by raising funds from the Jewish community. Twenty-five years ago, it became necessary to expand HKMS’s storage capacity with a purpose-built freezer facility based in Colindale which is now sorely in need of replacement.
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Although the number of meals delivered each week has significantly reduced in recent years, (as day cases become the norm and people spend less time in hospital), the profile of hospital catering has changed radically, with most hospitals outsourcing their catering, cleaning and security services to large facilities management companies. HKMS is highly regulated, having to meet stringent health & safety regulations plus the additional requirements of the FM companies themselves. We offer a range of meat, parev, vegetarian and puree meals, plus soups, desserts and sandwiches. Meals are delivered in our own vehicle, up to six days a week and there is sufficient choice for a patient to have a different meal, soup or dessert twice each day for a full week. We pride ourselves on delivering within 24-48 hours of orders being placed and we do not make a delivery charge, all of which encourages hospitals and nursing homes to purchase from us, despite the cost of kosher meals far exceeding that of standard hospital fare. Though hospitals pay for the meals, HKMS is obliged to fundraise to cover all auxiliary costs: personnel, storage, delivery, insurances, etc. As an additional service to the community, for the last fifteen years or so, HKMS has been making our meals available to post-natal mothers to help them cope with feeding their families
when they first come home from hospital. This service is available in North and North-West London. In the entire fifty-two year plus history of HKMS, we have had only two driver/warehousemen, both extremely loyal and dedicated to their work. The administrative side of HKMS is run by two Belmont members, Elizabeth Stone and Linda Haberfeld, her part-time colleague. In addition, our Hospital Liaison Officer, Mrs Sharon Patashnik, carries out free-of-charge, in-house training for hospital staff (ranging from catering managers, dieticians, ward
hosts through to staff responsible for distribution of our meals) educating staff as to our Kashrus laws and way of life as it impacts a hospital stay. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, HKMS has continued to provide the service our customers expect and we are so grateful to Belmont Shul for selecting our tzedokah to support in this unprecedented year. Wishing you all Shana Tovah u’Metuka and Kesiva v’Chasima Tovah.
Association of Rape Crisis Centres Israel ARCCI is the lead organization in Israel combatting sexual violence. It also advocates for victims on the national stage. It is at the helm of nine independent Rape Crisis Centres spread throughout the country, serving all the diverse communities of women and children in Israeli society. One of our biggest successes in the past has been in the arena of changing laws. Indeed, over the past few years, ARCCI has initiated or furthered the passage of 15 new laws advocating for victims of sexual violence. We have run media campaigns to highlight the risks to children, especially at school holiday times and like your own Jewish Womens Aid, run school programmes on healthy inter-personal relationships. The COVID-19 crisis has placed all of us in a more difficult and uncertain situation than ever. The challenges worldwide are tremendous, but even more so for women and children. Approximately 40% of sexual assaults happen at home and/or by a family member. Those who suffer most are women and young girls. Quarantine and home isolation have caused victims to be stuck in their homes in three different situations, none of them good. First, they were confined inside their own homes with abusers; Second, simply being confined and isolated, causes a triggering of past experiences of sexual violence - and there’s nowhere to turn. Finally, some women were receiving phone calls from past perpetrators, which was of course, emotionally triggering and distressing. These victims of abuse have not had good access to
the necessary support services from the welfare system because everything has been on pause since March, while simultaneously many of them are out of work. There has been a dramatic spike in calls to our hotlines during the isolation period. Victims of sexual violence or abuse need an immediate and appropriate response, otherwise there is real danger of severe mental and emotional deterioration. Over and beyond our usual advocacy work ARCCI has created an Emergency Fund during the COVID-19 Pandemic to help victims of sexual violence with complicated legal needs, indeed emotional needs. We want to help these women through therapy and psychological treatment as well as helping with financial needs and mentoring and guidance with employment. Belmont Synagogue members, thank you for selecting our work as your Israeli charity for this year’s Yom Kippur appeal. May we all have a safe and healthy year ahead, free of fear for our physical and mental well-being. Orit Sulitzeanu
Director, The Association of Rape Crisis Centres in Israel
Belmonde - September 2020
To Survive and Thrive The remarkable stories of Alice Hubbers and her parents Alice Hubbers was born Alice Engel in 1925 in Vienna. Her father was Viennese and her mother was born in Leve in Slovakia, now called Levice, where her grandparents ran an inn. Her uncle used to stop off at the inn on a trade route and told his brother that there was a suitable daughter in the house. Alice’s father went to introduce himself to the grandfather, eventually met the daughter and they married. She moved to Vienna where she and her husband ran a parfumerie and lived in a flat above the shop. Alice was a single child and though at times she felt lonely, they were part of a large family.
World War II Experiences
On Sundays they went on picnics in the Vienna Woods, to a coffee house or, in the winter as an occasional treat, to the cinema. Outside of the home she had few friends, but one, Lotte Halpern, was to play a key role in her journey to safety. Alice went to the local primary and high school; she doesn’t recollect any antisemitism in her early years. The School was open on a Saturday morning. The local Shul, now destroyed, on Storchengasse ran a youth programme on Shabbat afternoon. The boys sat on one side of a gangway, the girls on the other. Between them a lady walked up and down telling them to stop talking – shh shh – and became known as the Shusher. Of course, with the Anschluss on 12 March 1938 everything changed. As they lived on Vienna’s main street, Alice saw Hitler riding in and the crowds wildly cheering. Local Nazi sympathisers were posted outside any Jewish owned shops to intimidate people from coming in to buy. Austria was a part of Germany after the Anschluss and so the community was attacked on Kristallnacht. Their home was invaded by brown-shirts on that evil night. The invaders took the keys to the shop to find scrubs and rags which they gave to the poor Jewish souls forced to scrub the streets.
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
Two months after the Anschluss Alice’s father had been taken to Dachau and then on to Buchenwald. Amazingly, he survived the war. Alice writes: “I was not to see my father from May 1938 to April 1947. I was forced to leave school and whilst I could have gone to a Jewish school, I didn’t want to leave Mother alone in the shop and so my formal education more or less ended. “Mr Halpern the father of my friend Lotte, worked for the Jewish community as a printer and came round to tell us he was printing leaflets about Jewish children being allowed to leave for Holland. Two days later he told us that Holland was off but there were now trains to England on the Kindertransport. So, at the age of thirteen, I persuaded my Mother that I should go as I would be one less mouth to feed and worry about. Lotte and I left on 10 December for Harwich and were placed at nearby Dovercourt, a Butlins holiday camp. We were then moved on to another camp in Lincoln. “After a while families came to ‘pick’ children to take them home. A couple from Lincoln took Lotte and me. It was a cold, wet, miserable dark place and the father smelt of beer. They couldn’t really afford to look after us and we were very unhappy. Someone came from the Committee (probably the Central British Fund) and agreed to move us. We were in several locations. Finally, at Selsey in Sussex, I once more had a visit from the Committee and was asked if I would like to prepare to go and live in Israel. Lotte and I parted, though I
met up with her years later in Vienna. Going to Israel seemed like a good idea so after spending two days in Bloomsbury, I and some other girls, got a train to Edinburgh and arrived at the Whittingehame Estate which had been the property of Arthur Balfour, former Prime Minister and author of the Balfour Declaration. “The home eventually accommodated 160 children. It was a big adventure. The house was enormous and had not been lived in for years. Nineteen of us girls arrived first. We had to clean it from top to bottom. Eventually there were more boys than girls. We began to get some schooling – English, maths and, of course, Hebrew. I still have my notebooks. We undertook all the tasks to help us prepare for kibbutz life from cooking and laundry to looking after cows and 1,000 chickens. Once we were past ‘refugee age’ we had to leave and we went to a rundown place in Devon with other young Jews. The man running it used to have his friends, the Mitzmans from London, come down to visit. I did not like this place and was able to arrange a transfer back to London, to a hostel in Cazenove Road. One of the ladies in charge was the Shusher from the Storchengasse Shul. Luckily the Mitzmans used to invite me for Friday night meals and eventually invited me to live with them. I was an au pair and had to pay for my keep, but Mrs Mitzman was saving the money I gave her. I can remember the coat I bought with it. I am still in touch with their son Michael. “I had already left for England when my father was released from Dachau and given three months to leave Austria. My parents journeyed to my grandparents’ hometown to say their goodbyes. My grandfather was to die before the war started, whilst grandmother was on one of the transports. My parents were some of the lucky ones. They got a ticket to Shanghai on a boat leaving from Trieste. The Kultusgemeinde (Vienna’s Orthodox Jewish community) paid for a first class ticket, which was the only way one was allowed to leave Austria. My
parents had what turned out to be a luxurious ‘cruise’ of several weeks. Of course, this was before war had actually started. Shanghai was the only place in the world allowing Jews to enter without visas and without a restriction on numbers. (Eventually more than 23,000 European Jews made their way there including the only Eastern European yeshiva to survive intact – the Mir – now in Jerusalem). “Well, my parents had to start all over again economically. They weren’t shy of hard work and started a small coffee ‘stall.’ As that grew in popularity my father bought a cooking pot and my mother made goulash soup. It sold out within minutes and so they bought a bigger pot and sold more soup. Shanghai was (as it is today) a part of China. There was a 19th century, economically strong Sephardi community whose leaders helped support the influx of penniless refugees, as did the Joint Distribution Committee ( JDC). The Japanese had occupied Shanghai since 1937. Once the Americans entered the war, all the Jewish and other European refugees were moved into a restricted area – a ghetto of sorts and so my parents had to start all over again. They opened a restaurant called Hungaria. I don’t know where they got the raw ingredients from to make the food. (For those who don’t know the story of the Shanghai Jewish neighbourhood, the Nazis sent the murderer who destroyed the Warsaw ghetto and told their allies, the Japanese, to kill all Jews by putting them on boats, taking them into the harbour and then scuttling the ships.) “The Japanese military governor of the city sent for the Jewish community leaders. The delegation included the Amshinover Rabbi, Shimon Sholom Kalish. The Japanese governor was curious and asked “Why do the Germans hate you so much?” Without hesitation and knowing the fate of his community hung on his answer, Reb Kalish told the translator (in Yiddish): “Zugim weil wir senen orientalism — Tell him [the Germans hate us] Belmonde - September 2020
To survive and thrive (continued)
A lockdown bar mitzvah
because we are Orientals”. The governor, whose face had been stern throughout the confrontation, broke into a slight smile. In spite of the military alliance, he did not accede to the German demand and the Shanghai Jews were never handed over. Though there were many privations, there were no anti-Semitic actions.
My grandson Naftali was due to have his Bar Mitzvah just when Lockdown came into effect. As you can imagine it posed quite a dilemma as to how he could read his parsha, that he had been studying for the last year. It was as a result of the good work of his Rabbi Alex Chapper, that he was able to perform, albeit only via the shuls Facebook page. This he did admirably, however it went viral and was seen in several other countries.
“Freedom came with VJ day, although just before, an American plane bombed Shanghai, leading to the death of many people. Today there is a wonderful memorial to all the Jews who lived in the ‘stateless persons encampment’ a restored shul – the Ohel Moshe and a Jewish Refugee Museum telling the story of the war years. “Unlike most other children from the Kindertransport, I was in touch with my parents throughout the war, via Red Cross postcards. Though we were only allowed a maximum of 25 words, they and I knew that each other were safe. My parents went back to Vienna and once more had to start over. My father told me not to come back. There was no life for a young Jewess there. He had been very unwell in Shanghai and his cancer returned. I visited him in 1947, the first time I had seen him in nine years. He was barely recognisable. He passed away a year later. I arrived the day after the levoya. My mother eventually remarried and came to England to join us at the age of 98. She lived to be 101 and had the pleasure of seeing great grand-children.
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
This resulted in him being interviewed on James Corden’s Late, Late Show in Los Angeles. And, because his intention was to have the Bar Mitzvah as a Friends theme, he also had a few words with one of the Friends cast, namely Courtney Cox. You can imagine his surprise well he was almost lost for words! However, she was so impressed with his being such a great fan of the show - he told her he had seen the whole series seven times - that she agreed to have a football table, as used in the show, sent to him. He was also interviewed on Three Counties Radio; he did a podcast for JW3 and he was interviewed by ITV. So, Naftali’s Bar Mitzvah celebration, which with Friday night dinner, Shabbat kiddush, family lunch and a party would have involved about 150 people, was viewed by approximately 5,000 people! He has become quite a celebrity. I have to say that with all this publicity he is still a sweet and lovely boy, it has not gone to his head.
Viv Waters did this one herself
My father wanted a son (with apologies to feminists)
In 1954 my late father was most disappointed and surprised to be presented with me, a second daughter. This simple statement of fact has had consequent effects on my lockdown experience. Throughout my childhood and young adult life I was given opportunities to take part in activities, which were then considered to be of a more masculine nature. For example, by the age of five, I could list the four strokes of the internal combustion engine equally as fluently as I could recite ‘Jack and Jill’. I attended car maintenance classes in my young teens with my father. He taught me how to wallpaper a room and how to use: bradawls, hammers, screwdrivers, spanners, chisels, spirit levels, drills, pliers… My father-in-law, who re-wired his home at the age of eighty, picked up on my interests with delight and added the rudiments of electrical wiring to my skills. I just love DIY! In my childhood home my father did all the internal decoration. In our home I have done all the wallpapering but I do leave the pre- rubbing down to my husband, Eddie. Looking around in lockdown, I noticed some tiny necessary adjustments and repairs on the wallcoverings to keep me busy. I discovered a damp patch which I have remedied by treating the wall and renewing the wallpaper. On to the bathroom. I was alarmed at the condition of the ceiling and the ancient light fitting and extractor fan. A quick on-line shop and a scoot to B&Q followed by a few hours work resulted in a crack free white ceiling and a correctly wired (thank you father-in-law) new LED light and fan. Next I had a battle with some spotlights that weren’t working. I discovered that a loose wire in the loft was the culprit. Turning to the outdoors. I bought a pressure washer and cleaned the paving around our house, finishing with a re-sanding. I always knew I would eventually find a use for my old ski dungarees: I was covered from head to foot in
grime, including my Perspex safety eye mask (a must for any serious DIYer). As I worked around the patio area I realised that this needed re-concreting but I am sorry to say that this arduous and boring project is still in progress! Finally, last week I turned my hand to fencing – of the wooden variety not the combat sort. I showed up at ‘Harrow Fencing’ to purchase my supplies, much to the amusement of the all-male clients who were about three times my size. ‘One 3 metre gravel board and six nails,’ I requested. As I am an old lady, 4ft 11inches tall, my ‘mate’ Jack kindly sawed off 10 cm for me and carried the remaining 2.9 metre board to the car. As it is a wholesale firm I am the proud owner of half a kilo of fencing nails, so if anyone needs some, please just ask. I hope as you look down upon me, Dad, your disappointment will at last be assuaged. Thank you for keeping me busy in lockdown!
Belmonde - September 2020
David Levenson reflects
On spending Shabbat in lockdown ּוַבּיֹום ַ ֹהְּׁשִביִ֔עי ָׁשַ֖בת ַו ִּיָָּנ ַ ֽפש “And on the seventh day (we) refreshed and renewed” There is something to be said for expressing one’s thoughts in the moment rather than with the benefit of hindsight. By the time this article is read, in four months from now, it is to be hoped that we can assemble together in Shul on Rosh Hashanah as we are accustomed to doing every year. But who can predict what may have happened by then? Even the weather has defied all expectations. We have just experienced the balmiest Pesach on record (make that the barmiest). It was different from all other Pesach festivals before and, hopefully ever afterwards. Indeed, who could have predicted last Rosh Hashanah any of the events that have occurred in this strange springtime in 2020 which will be remembered many years later by our children and grandchildren as the time they spent learning their school lessons from a screen at home. Our friends who have been unwell have been constantly in our minds. Belmont may have socially distanced, but we have come together and prayed together for those who have suffered the worst of the virus. Please G-d, our prayers will have been answered. It is Motzei Shabbat May 2nd as I write, at the end of the seventh Shabbat since Shuls were closed, the date from when we can count, as if it were the Omer, our own communal lockdown. With the weather having been unseasonably warm and
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
kind nearly every Shabbat, as well as on Pesach, we have been determined to make the most of the outdoors and in particular we have grown to appreciate being able to walk in the peaceful grounds of Stanmore Golf Club. Of course, most of the time Shabbat has been spent at home and like everyone else, time that we might have expected to be eating and socialising with friends has instead been spent by ourselves and with other friends; good long books. With time not being of the essence, and the urge to nod off after the first few pages less strong than usual following Shabbat lunch, my stamina for long reads has improved immeasurably these past weeks. I completed the whole of Ruth Wisse’s “The Modern Jewish Canon”. Over Pesach I became immersed in the author’s exposition of 20th century Jewish literature, from Sholom Aleichem to SY Agnon, and Franz Kafka to Philip Roth. I am now engrossed in Ron Chernow’s epic biography of American founding father Alexander Hamilton, which inspired the Broadway sensation depicting Hamilton’s life. Judy and I also took the time to learn together and study a parsha for the Belmont Zman Torateinu programme during the Omer. These pleasures would have been harder won on any ordinary non-lockdown Shabbat. Time has been the most significant differential on
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Gila Levenson, age 6
Noam Levenson, age 3 - in Modi’in
lockdown Shabbat. If I am being honest, time has never been my strong point; you wouldn’t entrust me with a set of Shul keys to be first to open the doors on Shabbat morning. Nevertheless, knowing that communal davening begins, punktlich at 9.15am is a comfort and its loss has been disorientating. It has been a challenge to be in the moment at the appointed time of 11.00am for Musaf, sometimes earlier at other times, later. By Pesach, knowing that there were some people spending Seder night in total isolation, we consoled ourselves with hearty renditions of Hallel on Yom Tov mornings in our back garden and, like the song birds of Spring around us, we listened intently for hopeful sounds of echoed responses from our neighbours across the fences. Day-by-day, imperceptibly at first, a routine established itself and the contours of the week took shape. Thursday night Parsha shiurim on Zoom were swiftly followed by Kabbalat Shabbat (Facebook and YouTube). As the Levene family became accustomed to their roles as our cheerleaders to send us with hearts and minds uplifted
Gila Levenson, age 6 - in Modi’in
into another lockdown Shabbat, there was a palpable sense of slowing down from the moment the screens went blank. Perhaps we were being taught a lesson, albeit a challenging one, on what Shabbat is really about. Shabbat is the bridge in between our weekly activities, the rhythms of regular life – work, school, domestic and social interaction. But what happens when these rhythms are disrupted or disappear completely from view? Every day seems like a rest day but now we are getting restless. It is not our natural state to be in semi-repose, we were brought into the world to engage with it. The gift of Shabbat is that it is applicable in every situation. During lockdown the combination of lighter traffic, clear blue and relatively unpolluted skies amidst the natural joys of Springtime that we are often too busy to appreciate, have created an unprecedented sense of Shalom v’Chadash – peace and renewal. For the sake of those living with the impact of the Coronavirus, the infirm, the elderly, the lonely and isolated, may we be able to hold on to the restorative qualities that we enjoy from Shabbat when the normal rhythms of life return. Belmonde - September 2020
Sue Broza reports on The
Ladies Discussion Group Silver Anniversary Year With the start of its 25th year, the Ladies Discussion Group is proud to continue its exciting and interesting sessions - albeit by a format that, a few months ago, was more or less unknown to most people……. Zoom! The first two terms commenced as usual with Summer Term programme but I am pleased to philosophical questions such as ‘Is borrowing share that, with the wonderful cooperation of our without asking stealing?’, ‘Is gambling kosher?’ fantastic speakers, we continued to do all sessions ‘Sinai’s Significance?’ and ‘Which tree would you be over Zoom. Whilst this has impinged a little on our on Tu B’Shevat’. usual free fall discussions, it never-the-less allowed Jewish personalities, ‘Samson the Jewish Superman’, us to reach an even larger than usual audience as ‘David and Yehudah: Models of Repentance’, ladies did not have to leave the comfort of their ‘Yonah and the own homes to Join the Belmont Ladies Discussion Group this Autumn! days Of Awe’ and participate. ‘The wonderful We covered world of Rabbi ‘Mysterious Pinchas Ben Yair’ Minhagim of were animatedly Shabbat’, ‘How discussed. Jewish are Rabbi Shisler Birthdays?’, ‘The delighted the Righteous women crowd with of the Exodus’ and his abundant concepts like ‘The knowledge of Apparent Imbalance the notations in of Shavuot’. the chumash and Next term starts Tuesday mornings, 10am 11am Zoom meeting ID:889-4524-3400 their meanings on 13th October 13th October: A Closer look At The Shema Part 1 24th November: Chanukah and Gratitude revealing what after all the Yamim Ariella Joy - Jewish Studies Teacher with MA in Education Chava Wulwick Educator and Bradfield Graduate all the dots and Noraim have 8th December : Biblical Jewish History in Five Objects 27th October: A Closer look At The Shema Part 2 squiggles mean. finished, so put the From The British Museum: An Interactive Virtual Tour Chava Wulwick - Educator and Bradfield Graduate Michelle Sint - LSJS Lecturer and Bradfield Graduate Karine Morris dates in your diary 10th November: Insights into Pirkei Avot More details: continues to now. Please see the Sue Broza 020 8954 email@example.com Karine Morris - LSJS Lecturer and Bradfield Graduate enlighten us with poster for all the an in-depth look at Pirkei Avot (The Ethics Of The details. We are always happy to see new faces so Fathers) which I’m delighted to report will continue join us on Zoom and give it a go. into next year as well. Wishing everyone a Shana Tova U’Metukah and Due to the constraints of social distancing the hoping that you and your families keep healthy and safe during these challenging times. group was unable to physically meet up for the
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
Rochelle & Maxwell Nisner together with Lauren Neil Orly Zev & Eden Hamburger; Elissa Adam Annabelle Blake & Olivia Benjamin; Philippa Robert and Mya Rosenberg wish everyone in Belmont Synagogue a healthy happy and prosperous 5781. May there only be simchas in the year ahead
Wishing everyone a healthy and contented year ahead from Grandma Norma, Barbara and David Lerner; Shoshy and Aron; Zippy and Daniel with Ruchi, Aryeh and Eliyahu; Dov and Miriam with Orly and Ariella
Belmonde - September 2020
Claire Godley* writes about
Heads Up Kids Like many organisations, when lockdown started, we were thrown into a world of unknowns. As an organisation that trains and supports primary school teachers with emotional wellbeing, our work is â€“ or WAS - all about face-to-face contact. Between us and the teachers, between teachers and children. How on earth would we continue?
Education during Covid
At this point in the term we were working with 19 Jewish primary schools and we were two weeks from being able to collect evaluation data that would allow us to gain accreditation for our programme. Back in 2013 Andy Hugh and I co-founded Heads Up Kids, a universal social and emotional wellbeing programme for primary schools, facilitated by the teacher for the whole class. Our experience in delivering targeted groups for children struggling with social and emotional issues in school had taught us that, while small group programmes could be enormously helpful, in many cases progress was not maintained for these children. We wanted to support teachers and give them tools that could be used beyond our sessions, fostering a shared emotional language in the classroom. We believe that in a classroom where children have the words to express their feelings and feel confident to do so, those children will be more resilient, more able to solve problems. They will have more empathy for others and be better able to work collaboratively. Fast-forward to 2020, we had formed a three-way partnership with Norwood and PaJeS (Partnership for Jewish Schools) and had begun to establish ourselves as the primary provider of wellbeing education in Jewish primary schools. After taking some time to get to grips with the new status quo in our own households (Never did I imagine that when I returned to work after maternity leave I would also be home-schooling two young children and continuing to care for a baby at home!) we started to think about whether we had a role in this extraordinary
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
situation. Everybody seemed to have turned their attention to creating online content. Parents and teachers had well-meaning resources coming at them from every angle, it was overwhelming. We decided to focus on childrenâ€™s return to school. How, after weeks of isolation, they could be helped to feel safe, to process their experiences and to settle back into school, whatever that may look like. At the time, there had been no indication of when schools would re-open, what restrictions or guidelines would be put in place and, in this unprecedented situation, what would be the impact on young children. Research on large-scale traumas such as natural disasters shows that the best medicine for children is the community itself; strong connection with friends and teachers and opportunities to talk about what has happened in a safe secure environment. Additionally, while children should have permission to express worries and other uncomfortable feelings it is also important to help children to feel positive and optimistic as this will support resilience As we started to learn more about guidelines for schools, guidelines that changed more than 40 times in one week, we adjusted and edited. Games could not require children to move around the room, worksheets could not be collected. Our activities, which aimed to build connections and a sense of group would need to be done without contact and with minimal collaboration. Although schools were open for children in reception, year 1 and year 6 we had no idea how many parents would choose to send their children back or how many
would ‘wait and see’ possibly joining part-way through our carefully designed process! We assumed the earliest possible deadline, the week before half-term and, with support from the Community Wellbeing Project, PaJeS and Norwood, we were able to launch our 10-day wellbeing programme complete with recorded training webinar. Our funders generously allowed us to redirect our budget which enabled us to make the programme free to all schools – I suddenly became obsessed with social media promotion and was astounded by the results… Over the next few weeks the programme was downloaded by 219 different schools and organisations. After half-term children began to return to school and we were delighted to receive some wonderful feedback, “There was lots of nodding and smiling! They were reassured by the idea that it was fine to have lots of different feelings and emotions and that everyone was having them. It helped them to feel positive and confident rather than worried or fearful” “The children have been so happy to return to school… their adjustment has been helped by the daily routine of HUK Back 2 School scheme which has helped establish our new way of learning and interacting with each other.” It will be some time before we know the full impact that this time has had on young children. For some, lockdown has been challenging and many families have faced very significant hardship and loss. Some children have had to watch on longingly while siblings returned to school and they could not. Others have become anxious about the outside world after being protected from it over this extended time. Teachers have already identified a trend that children’s independent learning and stamina has decreased. Some homes have not been the safe and
protective environments we would hope for. We must be cautious about accepting children’s smiling faces on their return as proof that they have come through this unscathed. It is in fact testament to the huge importance that school and relationships with teachers and peers has in their lives. That school is a safe haven and something to be treasured is something we have all started to appreciate more, but now schools must use this special position to provide both universal and targeted support to children on their return. In the last week of the summer term we launched an edited version of the Back 2 School programme designed to be integrated into schools ‘recovery curriculum’. The programme gives detailed instructions on activities to promote reconnecting, expressing feelings, managing change and the prolonged uncertainty that is likely to continue into next academic year. We also hosted a webinar for over 60 teachers where we explored some of the challenges that they may face in September such as difficulty in separating from caregivers, school refusal or even school phobia. Those children who were already vulnerable and those that already struggled socially or emotionally at school are likely to be affected most and find the return to school more difficult. There will also be parents who have had difficulties with their own mental health and some anxious parents may find sending their children back to school particularly hard. At the time of writing we are all planning for a fullscale return to school in September, albeit with changes and adjustments that children and teachers will need to adapt to. We hope that a second wave will not once again disrupt our children’s education and we also hope that the focus on wellbeing which so many schools have initiated in response to these extraordinary events will be maintained even when everything is wonderfully ordinary again. * Claire is the daughter of David & Judy Simmons
Belmonde - September 2020
Mitzvah Day 2019
Belmont goes green The theme of Belmont’s 2019 Mitzvah Day was “going greener” in line with our policy of avoiding plastic waste and recycling wherever possible. As usual, the hall buzzed with lively activities ranging from knitting squares for blankets to making Chanukah cards for Jewish Care; from decorating tissue boxes for Jewish Women’s Aid to collecting toys and clothes for the Asylum Seekers’ Centre. We treated our Senior members to a delicious tea and were entertained by our resident crooner Michael Swan. Bob Blackman, Harrow Councillors and members of the local church popped in and were delighted by what they saw. All in all, the community came together to do what Belmont does best - thinking of one another and of those less fortunate than ourselves. Many thanks to everyone involved in organising the event and to all those who came along to support it.
Belmonde Rosh Hashana 5781
Belmonde September 2020
Jeff Graham, despite no Ramblers’ Group, rambles on
Lockdown walks Like so many others Evelyn and Jeff have tried to get out for a daily walk during this difficult period for a spot of exercise. Here are our three favourite places for a walk.
Stanmore Common I think that most of us should be very thankful to have this wonderful open space on our doorstep. You can visit the woods, open spaces; lakes; deer park and Bentley Priory. Our favourite walk during lockdown has been to park close to Springfield Close in Stanmore Hill, take the footpath near Brewer’s Lake, and from there walk past the rugby pitch and clubhouse to the car park. If you take a sharp right at the car park entrance and walk along the footpath you come to two more lakes. The second lake, situated opposite a row of extremely lovely old cottages; is our favourite. The water is beautifully clear, and, sitting on a nearby bench, we can watch ducks, and moorhens serenely paddling around, together with two enormous fish (koi karp maybe?). Recently we visited, and to our amazement, for the first time saw hundreds of tiny fish swimming round the lake - hope the resident terapin doesn’t get them! We feel quite envious of those who own a property up by the pond. It’s a beautiful, peaceful spot. From here, you can walk past the houses and back to Stanmore Hill or maybe to the London Viewpoint, along Wood Lane. Another walk that we like to do in Stanmore is to park in Masefield Avenue and walk to the deer park, turn right at the top and then left at the waymark. From here we walk down to the Summerhouse Lake, passing the oak tree whose origins are supposed to date back to Henry VIII. Having stopped at the lake to admire the wildlife we walk
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
down the main path back to Masefield Avenue.
Hampstead Heath Extension Hampstead Heath Extension is bounded by Hampstead Way and Wildwood Road. On its Northern side is the Great Wall of Hampstead. The extension was saved from development by the actions of Henrietta Barnett around 1907 who was concerned about development in the area. This meant that the proposed tube station near the Bull & Bush pub was no longer viable, since this extension and the creation of Golders Hill Park reduced the amount of land available for the construction of housing. The Great Wall was meant to have been one of the suburb’s outstanding architectural features. The design for the Garden Suburb was laid out by Raymond Unwin and his intention had been to use this wall to make a grand statement. Unfortunately, only a third of the Wall was completed before the advent of the first World War , and it was left uncompleted after the war, probably due to a lack of funds. You can walk from this wall along Heathgate into the Central Square where the two churches and a girls school named after Dame Henrietta are situated. Here you will find a memorial commemorating Dame Henrietta Barnett. From Heathgate look back across the extension and you will experience a view that is practically unchanged since this area was farmland in the nineteenth century. I like the fact that, compared to the actual Heath, it is a
lot easier to park here and that fewer walkers are drawn to it.
me on 07745 942723 and I will add you to the Belmont Ramblers Whatsapp group.
There are a variety of small ponds here, with fish and other wildlife and school playing fields. It is a peaceful to walk place through, and, as I have briefly explained, it has a fascinating history in its association with the creation of the Garden Suburb. I also enjoy looking at the amazing properties surrounding the Extension, including one, in Wildwood Road, that comes complete with life-size models of Spiderman, Superman and Batman on its roof !
Rickmansworth Aquadrome Situated not far from the centre of Rickmansworth, just ten minutes walk from the Metropolitian Line station and close to the Grand Union Canal. There is a large free car park in the Aquadrome. The Aquadrome consists of Bury & Batchworth Lakes created in the 1920s by the extraction of gravel required for the construction of the nearby Wembley Stadium. The adjacent Stockers Lake was also created by gravel extraction and became a Local Natural Reserve in 1984, managed by Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust. The Bury & Batchworth lakes are a delight to walk round. Another advantage of a walk here is that it is completely flat, so long as you avoid falling into one of the lakes, that is! These two lakes are home to a large variety of wildlife. We have spotted herons, kingfishers, masses of swans, ducks, geese, moorhens etc. Water skiing and sailing yachts also take place on these busy waters.
Stop Press: the large, pleasant coffee shop has
now reopened. Yay!
If you have not been to any of the places mentioned, then please take a trip and try one, if not all. You wonâ€™t be disappointed. Good exercise and cheaper and more exciting than the local gym! If, after life returns to some form of normality, you would like to try some of our rambles, please send a message to Belmonde - September 2020
The Chief Rabbi’s Rosh Hashanah Message As I reflect on an extraordinary year, my first thoughts are with those whose lives were tragically cut short by the Coronavirus. May their memories be for a blessing and may their families find comfort in their sad loss. My heart goes out to the many whose health, whether physical or mental, has been affected and to those who are facing severe financial hardship or crises in their personal relationships. The restrictions on social interaction, abrupt changes to our routine and the grip of deep uncertainty have dramatically impacted the fabric of all of our lives in ways that we could never have imagined. In the years to come, while many will admiringly recall our resilience and forbearance during these most trying of times, ultimately the success of our response to this Pandemic will be judged not by how we felt, but by how we acted. The Torah portion of Nitzavim, which is always read immediately prior to Rosh Hashanah, commences with these words: “You are all standing this day before the Lord your God; your heads, your tribes (shivtechem), your elders and your officers”. In this list of national leaders, ‘tribes’ appears to be out of place. Mindful of the fact that ‘shevet’ also means ‘staff ’ or ‘sceptre’, our commentators explain that the leaders of our people are being referred to according to the item that they carried that symbolised their role. In the same way as ‘the Crown’ refers to the monarch and ‘First Violin’ refers to an orchestra’s lead musician, a person who leads is known by the instrument of that leadership. The message that emerges is extremely powerful. You are defined by what you do. The essence of a person is measured according to what they have achieved. For this reason, we call community leaders ‘machers’ (makers). ‘Macher’ is a role that conveys respect, because the people who change the world are not the
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
dreamers and thinkers; the people who change the world are the ‘doers’. On Yom Kippur, we read the book of Jonah, in which the prophet informs the inhabitants of Nineveh of their impending doom. In response, they fast and repent for their evil ways. The text captures that epic event in just a few words: “God saw their deeds”. Their words of apology and their fasting were merely steps towards a life-changing moment. What concerned God was not their protestations, but their actions. This year, without any preparation whatsoever, every one of our communities was plunged into a crisis of unprecedented proportions. Your response has been simply magnificent. With our Shuls closed, our communities redoubled their creativity and their altruism. We have never known such an outpouring of compassion, such acts of selfless care for the vulnerable and such generosity in charitable giving. I have no doubt that such action will remain at the heart of our Covid-19 response for as long as it takes us to overcome the dangers it presents to all of humankind. As we commence 5781, may Hashem inscribe and seal each and every one of us in the Book of Life, good health, peace and fulfilment.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis September 2020 • Ellul 5780
Nigel Charig reports on
Belmont golf society September 2019 saw the inaugural game of the Belmont Golf Society on the 9-hole course at Aldenham. The course is challenging, with a tendency to narrow fairways bordered by dense undergrowth. Nevertheless, it’s an attractive location, with the added advantage that you can go round quickly and get away without losing a whole morning. However, we soon transferred by consensus to the club at Stanmore; it’s closer, and offers an attractive deal for an 18hole game on Mondays. We played throughout the winter with four core regular members – Selwyn Foreman, Robin Fish and Richard Goldstein as well as myself. We’re all keen to improve our game, but we don’t take it too seriously. Ours is a spirit of co-operation, where we try
and encourage one another, or at least spot where it all went wrong. Maybe we will become more competitive later! Coronavirus precautions permitting, we like to have a coffee and chat in (or outside) the clubhouse after the game before getting on with the rest of the day. We were hoping that as March arrived, with its longer days and warmer weather, more people might be tempted out to play. But of course, we all know why that didn’t quite turn out as planned.
Wishing Belmont Shul a Healthy and Happy New Year
R.H. Rose Associates Chartered Surveyors, Valuers and Property Consultants Buckingham House East The Broadway, Stanmore HA7 4EB Tel: 020 8954 9288 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yet golf is one activity that lends itself naturally to social distancing. Preserving a 2-metre gap is easy in the wide open spaces of a golf course – and in any case, most people are keen to avoid being walloped by an enthusiastically swung golf club! Stanmore Golf Club is up and running again; we can book a game as non-members, and the Monday deals are available again. If you’re interested in playing, just contact me on 07968 720316 or email email@example.com Belmonde - September 2020
Judy Levenson reports on WoW Under the leadership of our Rebbetzen Lisa, we have had a wide variety of events over the last year; some to coincide with YomTov and others by talented speakers on a variety of topics.
In April, we were joined on screen by Elana Mizrahi, a women’s health care practitioner living in Israel. Elana talked about ‘Finding the Balance with BASIC PH’. She gave us practical tips about how to stay focussed and relaxed using Belief, Acceptance, Social interaction, Imagination, Cognitive skills and Physical Health (exercise and healthy eating). Four weeks into lockdown, I came away feeling inspired and calm.
In May, prior to Yom Yerushalayim, we were joined on screen by Rebbetzen Freda Kaplan from Jerusalem. She gave a unique talk packed with facts and we had a virtual tour of Jerusalem, a city of many On Simchat Torah the women in the community were camulli a N ia ilv S names. f e invited to a debate in the lounge. he Soul ch d This was enhanced with croissants and alcohol.
. Born an Cooking for T havuot WOW S r u o ke a m and writes Thank you to all our helped to ters, teaches, a c e sh , e m o Her onamazing speakers who raised in R me cooking. o h n lia a It l a n ke o a iti c d a se e tr e t made these fun and h u fc abo monstration o e d g n y b ki o d o e c h worthwhile events screen rt was watc baked desse ring, te a -w th u o m and a ricotta possible and to our ked . The food loo l! a u rt eighty women vi re committee members: e w e calories but at least th Alison Gellman, Janice
At a pre-Purim evening, Lisa introduced the character of Esther while participants enjoyed cheese and wine. Fiona Rose led a fun activity about being Queen for the day and who you would invite to your Purim Seudah. Our guest speaker Rebbetzen Ilana Epstein gave an inspiring talk about Megillat Esther in Art. She explained the themes in paintings depicting the story of Purim ranging from 16th Century old masters such as Rubens and Michelangelo to more recent examples by Minerva Teichert and Marc Chagall. Her insightful explanations shone a new light on Esther’s character. This enjoyable and fascinating evening set the scene for the Megillah reading. Who could have imagined at our Purim event in March that future events would be held online using Zoom? Our Zoom events would not have been possible without the generosity of international educators who kindly gave their time to help, guide and inspire us through such unprecedented times.
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
Kaiser, Barbara Lerner, Jane Marks, Barbara Mazliah, Karene Morrow, Fiona Rose, Jacqueline Segal, Lynn Shaw and of course our very own Lisa Levene.
Message from the President This has been a year like no other. The global pandemic has affected life more in a short space of time than any other event in peace time. Of course, the effects have been experienced worldwide with hundreds of thousands dead and millions more badly affected by this virulent virus. We are a small community but we have been hit heavily. Sadly, our death rate has been more than double that of the general community and we have lost some wonderful people since March, taken from us way before their time. It has been a time to mourn but also a time to act. The Board of Deputies lobbied hard to ensure that local councils could not cremate bodies without first consulting with the families of the deceased. This was a fine example of collaboration between Jews and Muslims who shared the same concerns. We collaborated closely with other community organisations to ensure that UK Jews are received all the help and information possible in the emergency, using all of our resources for the benefit of those affected. We collated a document bringing together all of the special guidelines for Passover this year and devised a card for members of the community to print off, fill out and post through the letter box to neighbours, letting members of the local community know that people are available do a food shop or even just to speak to someone on the phone who is self-isolating. No less importantly, our team has had the sad but necessary duty of collating the deaths we have endured so that we have an accurate record. Last year, we were in the midst of Labour’s antisemitism crisis. Twelve months on and Labour are, in the words of new leader Sir Keir Starmer, “under new management”. We set out our Ten Pledges on anti-Jewish racism in January and they were enthusiastically adopted by the new leadership team. The progress we have seen is very encouraging. The scourge of antisemitism has not disappeared from the Labour Party but the determination to address it and take action where it is needed, as in the case of the sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey, gives all of us reason to be optimistic after a dark few years. Even Coronavirus could not completely overshadow the worldwide movement which developed rapidly in response to the racist murder of George Floyd. We
in the Jewish community felt we needed to formulate our own initiative. The result is the Board of Deputies’ Commission on Racial Inclusivity in the Jewish Community which is being chaired by distinguished journalist Stephen Bush. We need to make sure that we are accepting of people of all backgrounds and I look forward to making progress on this most important of issues. Those who know the Board of Deputies will understand we work on a diverse set of issues – indeed so much that it is impossible to list everything in a short message. We exist to ensure that the UK’s Jewish community can live freely, happily and continue to practise our traditions. We are passionate about protecting our religious freedoms, whether the right to circumcise our baby boys in accordance with our tradition or to ensure that employees are able to take time off for Jewish festivals and follow their Jewish traditions within the law. Our interfaith activities have certainly made the news – for example our support for the Chinese Uyghur Muslims currently suffering oppression in China, has raised awareness of the problems Through Pikuach, we supervise religious education in Jewish schools, and, pandemic permitting, we travel the country with the Jewish Living Experience exhibition, educating non-Jewish children and adults about our way of life. We engage with Government ministers, MPs, local councillors, diplomats, faith leaders and with a huge variety of public bodies on behalf of the community we represent. We can only do this work with the help of communities across the UK, so I thank you for all the support that you all give. Let’s hope the New Year truly does bring health and happiness to all of us. Shana Tovah. President Belmonde - September 2020
David Levenson on
The big Belmont lockdown learn-in Just before Rosh Hashanah 2019, Rabbi Levene said he had an idea for a Torah learning programme open to everyone in Belmont between Pesach and Shavuot. Between Simchat Torah and Purim we fleshed out his original idea and made plans for what became Zman Torateinu, “Our Time for Torah”. Seventy-three members of Belmont took part in this programme and everyone chose a parsha to study individually or in pairs. All the fifty-four parashot in the Chumash were studied. Online learning resources were made available on the Shul website and everyone could study at their own pace and level.
Education during Covid
Just as we were launching the Zman Torateinu programme, lockdown intervened. Little did we realise when we began thinking about it that learning a weekly parsha or sedra in our homes would be so in tune with the times. For some, this was a first-time experience of getting down and close to Torah study and that was the point. The Rabbi was keen to make Zman Torateinu appeal to everyone, not just the regular Shiur attenders. The biggest challenge for us posed by the Shul having to close its doors was how to conclude and celebrate the programme. Our original plan was to hold a Siyum (festive meal) on the first night of Shavuot, replete with a classic Belmont 5-star milchik dessert, with an opportunity to hear from some of the participants. Zoom came to the rescue - without the traditional cheesecake and ice-cream.
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
Around eighty-five people joined a virtual Siyum which included a personal message to the Belmont Community from Chief Rabbi Mirvis and Divrei Torah from five participants about the parsha each of them had learned: Linda Boxer – Chayei Sara, Bereishit “The Rashba wrote in the 13th century that getting married was a positive commandment and as God’s wishes take precedence over man’s, a child’s wish to get married in accordance with His will should not be overridden by the child’s parents.” Joe Gellman – Vayishlach, Bereishit “As hard as it is to separate ourselves from those we care about, we have had to isolate and social distance, much like Yaakov did when he split his camps into two before isolating his family.” Cynthia Arden – Bo, Shemot “In conclusion, the parsha gives us the three mitzvot of Rosh Chodesh, redeeming of the firstborn son and the Pesach story. We are commanded to ensure the story is told every year, lest we forget the miracles performed by God to free us from slavery in Egypt.” Marvin Winthrop – Korach, Bamdibar “By throwing himself among the people afflicted by the plague and standing ‘between the dead and the living’, Aaron violated a strict rule for a Cohen concerning coming into contact with the dead, in order to save the living. When Aaron died, all the house of Israel cried for 30 days.”
Marcel Manson – Vayeilech, Devarim “Having received 612 commandments, the final mitzvah of ‘writing this song’ is Moses’ final testimony, to teach Torah to the people of Israel and put it into their mouths. This is understood as a mitzvah for every Jew to write, or at least to take part in writing, a Sefer Torah.” At the Siyum we considered the question, what does Torah means for us? The Torah has many dimensions, here are two:
TORAH IS OUR HERITAGE
At the beginning of the very last parsha in the Torah, VeZot HaBracha is a familiar verse which is sung by the Shul choir to Belmont’s Barmitzvah boys. Here is the verse as translated from the Chumash of Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch. : קב ֹ ֽ יַ ֲע
מֹור ָׁשה ְק ִהּלַ ת ָ ּתֹורה צִ ּוָ ה־לנּו מ ֶֹׁשה ָ
“The Teaching which Moses commanded us, that is the inheritance, O Congregation of Jacob!” Rav Hirsch says that the Jewish people’s true inheritance “Morasha” is what the Torah teaches us. It is significant that congregation “Kehilla” and Jacob “Yaacov” are joined together in the verse. Yaacov is the patriarch’s name before he wrestles with the angel and becomes Israel. It is a reference to the Jewish people in its smallest or embryonic form. Kehilla is written elsewhere as “Kahal” or “Klal Yisrael”, the collective term for the whole Jewish people. As with Yaacov, Kehilla is a diminutive term for the community of Israel. Rav Hirsch says that the Torah was commanded not only to the whole Jewish nation “Klal Yisrael”. It was also given to every Kehilla whether large or small. And each Kehilla throughout our history has had to take responsibility for inheriting and realising the Torah.
TORAH IS OUR LIFE
The people’s leader, Moses is approaching the end of his life’s work and in the parsha, Nitzavim, his magnificent oration to the Children of Israel that commences at the beginning of Sefer Devarim is reaching its culmination as he prepares to hand over his mantle of leadership to Joshua. Moses tells the people that the Torah is not just for you alone, but for all those who will follow you. It does not reside far away in Heaven; it is near to us in our world. The Torah is not some remote inaccessible tract only to be studied by Rabbis and intellectuals. Finally, Moses says in God’s name, “With this Torah I have called upon you, Children of Israel to choose between life and death”. Moses exhorts them to choose life. Rabbi Lord Sacks says that the uniqueness of the Jewish religion is that we make the choice whether to be great or small, whether to do right or do wrong. The way of Torah is life, and we can choose whether or not to live by it. Having studied his parsha, Robin Fish commented: “There is so much ‘depth’ to the Torah which not only makes it so interesting to study but also makes you think about life and the way we should conduct ourselves.” At a time of great stress for us, for Jewish people everywhere and for the whole world, Zman Torateinu was Belmont Shul’s response to the call of Moses 3,332 years ago, to embrace our heritage and bring Torah closer to us, in our homes and our lives. As I write, Rabbi Levene is, no doubt, giving thought to Belmont’s next learning challenge. We look forward to hearing what it will be.
Belmonde - September 2020
Jacqueline Segal reports on
The knitting circle The Knitting Circle last met on 10th March, but despite being unable to gather together each month, the knitting has continued! In fact, I have received heartwarming messages from our members expressing how knitting has helped relieve stress and the feeling of isolation at this time. It is with great sadness that I write about the passing of Betty Arnold zâ€?l, mother of Laura Berman. She was truly the matriarch of our Knitting Circle, always ready to offer sound guidance and clear instructions when needed. It was rare for her to arrive at a meeting without at least one or two of her beautiful blankets. Her standards and expectations were high and I hope she knew that we always tried our very best to meet them. She really will be missed. This past year we have donated knitted goods to: elderly and needy in Kiryat Malachi, AKIM Haifa, childrenâ€™s cancer wards at Tel Hashomer Hospital and Schneider Childrenâ€™s Medical Centre, Israeli soldiers and the neonatal ward at the Royal Free Hospital. We have also started donating blankets to The Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Victims in Israel who distribute them to their clients. We participated in Mitzvah Day and were delighted to sponsor the ladies of Chai at their Knitathon. I must take this opportunity to thank El Al for their generosity in always granting me an extra bag at no charge, enabling me to transport even more of our beautiful goods to the needy in Israel. For more information, please contact: Jacqueline Segal on 020 8954 3296 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
Resident in Kiryat Malachi, age 105 from Ethiopia.
Holocaust survivor Sheli, age 95, was thrilled to receive a lap blanket!
Roberta Diamond reports on a year with
2nd Belmont Guides What a strange different year we have had but being Guides, and being 2nd Belmont Guides, we have carried on throughout this time. We have six months of normal Guiding and six moths of Virtual Guiding and we continued to have great activities and fun throughout. During the Autumn term, we had a great time completing the Take Action skill builder where we discussed what is happening in the world and how our actions affect it. We each thought about our own choices and changes we can make. We completed the Conscience Consumer badge and learnt about how much plastic travels, how much we use single use plastic and how supermarkets have tried to changed their ways with their carbon footprint. We visited a supermarket to see just how many products we buy contain plastic and how far these products have travelled to get to us. This helped us see what we could do to reduce our carbon footprint. We completed the badge Aspiration which involved and looking at our values and where we see ourselves in the future. We considered who our role models are and why we look up to them. We finished with an end of term party, where we ate doughnuts and lots of sweets, and had party games. New year arrived and a term started. The themes were based on the communications and explorer skill builders, vlogging and mixology badge, as well the yearly ‘cook-in competition’. All the girls enjoyed trying something new to eat and stretching themselves at the cook-in We spent evenings learning sign language and what different signs around the house mean and the importance of knowing their meanings. Also the important parts of going abroad and what to do and in what order (this was before knowing about Covid 19), as well as understanding the countryside and the best way to keep your energy going. The annual ‘cook in’ was very different from the last one. This year the Patrols could choose which country and cuisine that they were going to make and they had to include a mocktail and dip from scratch. They chose Italian and Mexican. Both Patrols worked their magic and on the night worked really hard and made a fantastic three-course
meal. We had an independent judge and the Italians won. After half term, the world was starting to lock down due to Covid19, so it was time to start sorting out Virtual Meetings Our last meeting before Covid 19 lockdown, with both face to face Guiding and the Shul closed to all activities, we made citrus bird feeders - the last time the Guides had a chance see each other and talk. Two weeks later, we started our Zoom meetings with a noisy evening with the Guides catching up and seeing each other and finishing off some unfinished badges. While Zoom meetings have been very different, with leaders working full time from home, we continued with the fun of guides. We managed to amend our Unit Activities meetings cards and completed some unofficial challenge badges, having a Superhero and American evenings. We completed a little bit of Arts and Craft with painting crates and eco-growing of plants, along the way as well. This year I am proud to be able to award two Bronze awards and two Gold Transition Awards. The Gold awards have been presented to Hannah Ginsberg and Sophie Woodrow, who have worked so hard during their time at Guides and have led the other guides especially during the last few months in lockdown. I presented the awards to them at the end of term, but we will hold more of a celebration with everyone, once we are able to. Because it has been so hard to split them this year, we decided to award Guide of the Year to both of them Finally, we will continue with Guides in September via Zoom on Thursday nights but, depending on the situation, we may be able to meet in person. If there are any 10 – 14 years olds who would like to find out more, please contact me on 07753 747490 or email 2ndbelmontguides@gmail. com, we have lots of spaces available. Lastly I would like to thank all my leaders and occasional helpers, Stacey Tepper, Abi Glass, Gabby Bishop and Justin Tepper, for all of their support and help with running Guides and keeping it going through this difficult time. Guide Leader Belmonde - September 2020
September 2020 Tishrei 5781
305 Ballards Lane London N12 8GB T: 020 8343 8989 E: email@example.com www.theus.org.uk Registered Charity No. 242552
Message from the President of the United Synagogue The most powerful event in our nation’s history is about to take place. The morning sun rises. The Children of Israel are camped at the foot of Mount Sinai, clothes washed, expectant. The scene is set. They are ready to hear from God Himself. Thunder and lightning fill the air. A thick cloud envelops the mountain. Shortly it will smoke and quake. The people shudder. But a close reading of the text shows that it wasn’t the thunder, the lightning or the fire which cause them to tremble. Rather, – וְקֹ֥ ל שׁ ָ ֹ֖פר חָ זָ ֣ק ְמ ֹ֑אדit is ‘a very strong Shofar blast’ (Exodus 19:16). This is the first mention of the word ‘Shofar’ in the Torah. And it provides a clue, I think, to why the hearing of the Shofar has resonated with Jews of all backgrounds for centuries. Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the creation of the world. Mount Sinai is the anniversary of our covenant with God. The Shofar blasts of Rosh Hashanah echo the ones heard at the giving of the Torah. The Shofar focuses our minds and reminds us of our responsibilities as Jews to study, to pray and to make the world a better place. This Rosh Hashanah will be one like no other. Many of us will still not be comfortable heading to shul, perhaps spending our first Rosh Hashanah away from synagogue in decades. To help, do look out for our new publication – Shana Tova! – arriving in the post soon and to be used whether you are in shul or at home. We’ve also teamed up with the publishers Koren to offer you a discount on the Rabbi Sacks Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur machzors. But if I can urge you to do one thing – safely – this Rosh Hashanah, it is to hear the Shofar blasts. Our communities are organising Covid-secure blowings in shul, in youth and family programmes, in parallel services and in open spaces (this year on second day only as first day falls on Shabbat). This is not how we expected to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the United Synagogue. But Jews are the people of tikva, hope, and so even in times of crisis we look for the silver linings. I have never been more proud to be the President of the United Synagogue as I have this year. Our communities, led by dedicated Honorary Officers supported by many volunteers, have without fail, stepped up to combat the Coronavirus crisis. Our Rabbis and Rebbetzens have conducted pastoral visits and funerals at the most difficult of times. Through the United Synagogue Chesed department and our Community Care coordinators, 1,000 ‘Seder in a box’ kits were delivered to isolated members ahead of Pesach. The ‘Shabbat in a box’ initiative with three freshly-cooked meals has enabled those unable to put food on the table to celebrate Shabbat. Our communities have re-imagined themselves virtually and I have been struck by the extraordinary range of programmes our shuls have provided, including inspirational Kabbalat Shabbat services online. The United Synagogue’s new video on-demand service, TheUS.tv, has attracted thousands of viewers and, more importantly, has kept people connected to their Judaism. These are our Shofar blasts: a call to our members that our communities are here for you. At this most unusual of Jewish New Years, my sincere good wishes to you and your families. Shana tova.
Michael Goldstein President, United Synagogue Treasurer: Maxwell Nisner Trustees: Andrew Eder, Claire Lemer, Fleurise Lewis, Nicola Rosenfelder, Barry Shaw, Saul Taylor, Jacqui Zinkin Chief Executive: Steven Wilson
The Kol Nidre Appeal is the UK Jewish Community's opportunity to come together in support of an array of projects that benefit local communities, UK Jewry and, of course, the people of Israel.
Belmonde - September 2020
Judy Levenson on
Holocaust Memorial Day &Tribute to Hermann Hirschberger MBE
As I write this article about our 2020 Holocaust Memorial Day event at Belmont, I am sad that we will not be holding an event for schools in Belmont for HMD 2021. Whilst I understand the reason - we cannot plan to host hundreds of students together with Holocaust survivors - I feel it is important that the work to educate our youth about the Holocaust and issues of racism, bullying and discrimination that still resonate in society continues, online if necessary. Northwood Holocaust Memorial Day Events have been running since 2002 and we have held sessions at Belmont Synagogue for seven years and have hosted 300-400 students each year. The organisation is now called Holocaust Learning UK (HLUK) and is a registered charity. The Holocaust Education Trust (HET) have helped put together an updated workshop programme that youngsters can relate to and that meets the requirements of the national curriculum and it is free of charge to participating schools. HLUK educates over 3,000 secondary school children every year about the Holocaust from more than 50 schools in Harrow and from as far afield as Ealing and Hertfordshire. According to the HET, it is the largest single Holocaust education programme in the UK, and possibly any other country outside Israel. Due to the pandemic, HLUK is planning to produce a distance-learning alternative, which can be sent out to schools for HMD 2021, rather than require them to come to us. Around thirty Belmont volunteers took part in delivering the programme this year during the week of Holocaust Memorial Day 2020, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. This year, for the first time at any of the HLUK centres, a Jewish school participated in the programme here in Belmont. 100 students from JFS attended and listened to the testimony of Manfred Goldberg BEM, a survivor of the Riga Ghetto, the notorious slave labour camp at Stutthof and the death marches. Mr Goldberg was
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
awarded the British Empire Medal in the 2020 New Yearâ€™s Honours List. At other sessions, students from Hatch End High School, Park High, Shaftesbury School and Whitefriars were held spellbound by survivors Mala Tribich MBE and Zigi Shipper BEM who, like Manfred Goldberg, had been an inmate at Stutthof. Holocaust educator Helen Stone spoke to students about the experience of her mother, Emmy Golding who escaped from Germany in May 1939. As well as hearing a survivor speak, the students took part in workshops about the Holocaust delivered by Belmont volunteer educators. They also wrote their thoughts on a postcard after hearing the survivor speak. One student wrote that her great-grandmother was a survivor of the Holocaust who died when she was just four years old and did not truly understand what she had experienced before listening to Manfred Goldbergâ€™s testimony. Another student wrote that he would take what he had learned to heart and do everything he could to ensure nothing like the Holocaust happens again. Each session culminated with a candle lighting ceremony and a moment for reflection. In the presence of students from Hatch End High School, a candle was lit in honour of the memory of former Hatch End High School governor and founder member at Belmont Synagogue Hermann Hirschberger MBE who passed away on January 1st. Hermann was born in Karlsruhe in western Germany and in March 1939, aged 12, he and his brother Julius came to England on the Kindertransport to escape
the Nazi persecution. Both his parents perished in Auschwitz. Hermann went to night school to become an engineer and had a successful career. He married Eva and had two children, Miriam and Danny, who grew up in Belmont. Hermann always enjoyed the company of his four grandchildren. Eva’s artwork adorns our Shul, including her beautiful stained-glass windows and sefer torah covers. After retiring, Hermann made hundreds of visits to schools around the country to talk about his experiences. He was passionate about educating the next generation about hate and learning from the Holocaust. Hermann regularly attended and spoke at the annual HLUK programme in Belmont. He supported many of his fellow refugees and in 2008 successfully lobbied the Government to amend the pension law. Prior to this, Kinder were unable to claim full compensation the German Government paid to those who had lost their citizenship. He was awarded the MBE in 2010 for services to the Jewish community and his fellow kinder.
Herman and Eva at the Palace
Mala Tribich with Hatch End High
Mala Tribich MBE
Manfred Goldberg with JFS students
At the conclusion of each HLUK session, Rabbi Levene addressed all the students and said that they were now witnesses to a Survivor’s story and they will have the responsibility to tell it to their family and friends. I would like to thank Rabbi Levene and all our amazing volunteers who have worked tirelessly at this year’s events, many of whom have helped every year since 2014. Thank you: Cynthia Arden, Valerie Braun, Jill Breslaw, Karen Bunt, Bev Corper, Pamela and Stephen Gellman, Carole Gerstler, Karen Goldberg, Harold Harris, Maureen Hayward, Roselyn Hyman, Anthony Kaiser, Bernice Krantz, Hazel Laifer, Norma Lerner , David Levenson, Raymond Levy, Barbara and Salvador Mazliah, Liz Reindorp, Fay Rosen, Lynn Shaw, Yvette Shaw, Carole Sinclair, Laurence Summers, Allan Winthrop, Maxine Winthrop plus those who could not help this year, but have supported us in the past.
Ziggy Shipper with Hatch End High
General view of students in the Shul
Belmonde - September 2020
Raffi Berg’s Red Sea Spies On a pleasant evening in February, David and I arrived at Daunt Books and saw some familiar faces peering in. We were attending the book launch of Raffi Berg’s debut book Red Sea Spies – The True Story of Mossad’s Fake Diving Resort. It was exciting to see the window display filled with the colourful copies of the book we had heard so much about. We had been given updates from Raffi over the previous 18 months of how he was getting on and knew that he had taken some time out to complete the writing of his book. The shop soon filled up with Raffi’s family, friends (including a large contingent from Belmont), colleagues from the BBC and Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev. Neither the publisher nor Daunt Books were expecting quite such a huge crowd. We had a glass of kosher wine and nibbles and caught up with friends.
news website (more than 7 million), Raffi decided to research the story further and write a book about the remarkable operation to smuggle more than 28,000 Ethiopian Jews, about 80% of the entire community, through Sudan to Israel. As a journalist, he wanted to ensure that he had all the facts straight from the horse’s mouth. If this meant meeting members of the Mossad who were involved at the time, this is what he was determined to do. We were honoured to hear from Agent Dani, who had travelled from Israel for the book launch. As a retired Mossad agent, he did not give interviews to anyone, not least without them being vetted first. He was the Operation Commander and he wanted to be sure that if Raffi was telling the story, it would be researched and backed up with evidence. Dani opened doors to enable Raffi to meet others who were involved in the secret operation in the 70s and 80s.
When the formal proceedings began, the only way for Raffi to be seen or heard, was for him to talk from the mezzanine level, looking down over the balustrade at his huge crowd of Raffi Berg at Daunt Bookshop fans. The representative from Icon Books, his publisher, gave Raffi a glowing introduction and then Raffi told us all about how this project came about and the lengths to which he went to research the content for We had a truly memorable evening and his book. As Middle East Editor felt honoured to be have heard from of the BBC News website, he had Raffi and Dani about their relationship written an online article about the over the previous couple of years. Dani fake diving resort at Arous on the also visited Belmont the following Sudanese coast of the Red Sea. After evening and talked to another packed Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev, Raffi, Dani, Raffi’s father and wife Suzi the article had a record number of views on the BBC house about the history of the Ethiopian Jews.
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
secrecy of the unit in which he served. She said she threw herself on top of Benny in the hope that her body might
These first-hand encounters were
"I told my crew we should stay till the end. Every one of them agreed without
Dani, Raffi and publisher
David read our signed copy of the book immediately after the book launch. By the time I settled down to read it, we were locked down and it was Pesach. The book reads like spy fiction, but in this case the operation is all true. Once I had started, I could not put it down until I had read all the details of the incredible evacuation of thousands of Jews from persecution to freedom and how they realised their dream of going up to Jerusalem in the Promised Land. â€˜Raffi Berg has, for the first time, managed to accomplish the herculean task of rendering a complex, manifold, story, full of human diversity into a credible, readable, dynamic, passionate and well-documented Quiz answers: 1) b 2) a 3) c 4) c 5) a 6) b 7) c 8) c 9) a 10) b book.â€™ -- Dani, Operation Commander
Wishing all in the Belmont community a happy & prosperous New Year and well over the fast...
Anyone who has a heart…. In retrospect, I ought to have known that there was something potentially seriously wrong with me for ages, because my performance never improved despite swimming for exercise for years. But the clincher came when I lost consciousness while swimming in the Mediterranean in August 2013. I won’t detail the trauma of Janice and me being thrown off our cruise ship (because I was a medical risk) in darkest Montenegro, and being locked up in a hospital where none of the staff spoke English. Once home, I was investigated by cardiologists. My fourth episode of losing/nearly losing consciousness happened on the back stairs to my office at St Thomas’ Hospital. Only then was I diagnosed with a tendency to attacks of exceptionally high heart rate (ventricular tachycardia, VT) caused by a degenerative heart muscle. Apparently I would probably not have survived had this collapse occurred outside hospital. As it is I caused consternation when the cardiac arrest team rushed to resuscitate me on the main stairs and couldn’t find me! I was started on medication to stop my heart rate going high and fitted with a defibrillator to give me a shock if I had further VT—which worked successfully on several further occasions, including three more where I passed out. My consultant told me the degeneration would be very gradual and would not kill me. But after about a year of this I started getting out of breath walking up even slight slopes, and the cardiologists decided that I was in heart failure. In 2017 I was referred to Papworth Hospital for consideration of a heart transplant. Those of a certain age actually remember the first successful human heart transplant in 1967. Although transplant surgery and especially heart transplants
Belmonde - Rosh Hashana 5781
have progressed enormously since then, it’s still only something that other people need, never you or me! The cardiologists at Papworth did lots of tests and reviewed me every so often, until in spring 2019 they recommended that I go on the transplant list. Again I won’t go into the details of the delays just before that when they decided that my other medical conditions needed to be dealt with first, which ended up very complicated including “non-invasive” brain surgery. Janice and I were told that heart transplant was not a cure but entailed a completely new lifestyle because of the side-effects of the drugs to suppress rejection. In particular I would be at high risk of infection and of skin cancer. We were told the risks of the operation (about 10% fail to survive 1 month). You can imagine how unreal it all felt. I still thought that I wasn’t the sort of person who should undergo a heart transplant: I was walking around without needing oxygen or more; and anyway there were lots of people in worse situations. Not least it was on my conscience that it would be necessary for somebody else to die, to make a heart available for my benefit. On the other hand, I was told that my life expectancy with unoperated ARVC of my severity was two years. It was also essential to give me a new heart before the old one degenerated enough to affect my other organs, because that would seriously increase the risk of failure.
Just a few weeks after going on the list, I had my first call to go up for the operation. Janice and I were “blue lighted” up to Cambridge early one evening. As we were driven along, I was looking around at the scenery thinking, “is this the last time I will ever see the world, the trees, the sky, people I know and love?” We waited around in the cardiac surgery ward (which had only opened a few weeks before in these new premises, and nobody seemed to know where anything was; very confidence-inspiring!). I had to shower all over in special antiseptic, and the front of my body shaved from neck to knees (bacteria from hair getting into the wound is an infection risk). But it was a false alarm. As soon as a potential donor heart becomes available they have to call you in, so you don’t cause a delay getting ready once the heart (which is also being transferred in) has its final tests for suitability. If they do it the other way round, the heart can deteriorate waiting for you. In this case, it was found that the heart had bruising which made it unsuitable. We had two more false alarms one day apart! But on the 20th October, erev Shmini Azteret, we were called up again and this time for real. I was still not optimistic about my chances, and it was only seeing the fuss that the staff made over my personal belongings being stored securely that made me realise that they did expect me to survive. At midnight I went into Theatre, and that’s the last I remember for two days—which were far more gruelling for Janice and the children. When I came round, I think the first thing I said, incredulously, was, “I’m alive!” Or perhaps it was “water” rather more pragmatically. I was in the Intensive Care Unit for a further day, moderately confused and with vivid dreams (from the morphine). On the surgical ward I was quite rapidly rehabilitated, first to sitting up, then walking, and various tubes and wires were removed (oh the relief of having the urinary catheter taken out!) while my drips were steadily reduced. I was blessed with so much attention by my family, by the nurses and their assistants, by having hardly any pain, by good wishes from dozens of people from Belmont shul, and by my
amazingly rapid recovery. After about a week, I was walking circuits of the ward quite vigorously and then allowed to use the exercise bikes. The nurses showed me how to log my liquid input and output on my own, and give my own medicines, and I was soon chafing at the bit to be discharged—which happened 16 days after the operation! All the more remarkable since later some of the doctors who attended the operation told me that my heart was the biggest one they had ever seen, an indication of how hard my body was trying to compensate for the heart’s serious damage. I was very emotional as I walked out of the hospital, to the sights I had wondered if I would ever see again. At home, my rehabilitation has continued. Within a few months I was able to do more than I had for years before the transplant; I had not realised how ill the ARVC had made me. I have even been fortunate enough to survive a Covid infection with little difficulty, which would surely have killed me pre-transplant. Naturally I wondered about the “donor”. The rules in the UK are that the donor family and recipient are not allowed to receive detailed information about each other, so I was only told that “it was a man in his 30’s”. But I was allowed to write to his family to express my condolences and gratitude, and the Papworth team passed the letter on. I have learnt many lessons from this adventure in my life, expressed here in no particular order. Firstly, it has reinforced my belief in how wonderful life is and how much worth living. What a blessing Hashem has given us all! Secondly, the confirmation of what are the important things in life: health and showing compassion. Thirdly, the strength that family and community support can provide. Fourthly, how important it is to carry on living and acting despite the knowledge that something catastrophic is about to happen to you. In other words, even while waiting for your operation or whatever change in circumstances, carry on as if “business as usual” to prevent spiralling into fear, worry and lassitude. You can just cancel or postpone your arrangements when they become impossible. Fifthly, the importance of the Government decision to change the transplant donor status to opt out instead of opt in, which I am pleased to see receives the endorsement of our Jewish authorities, and will hopefully allow many, many others, like me, to improve their life unimaginably. Belmonde - September 2020
Image by Eli Laifer, age 13, runner-up in Belmondeâ€™s under-21 Cover Competition
Belmondeâ€™s editorial team wish you all a happy, healthy and sweet New Year
The annual community magazine of Belmont Synagogue