The CTJC magazine
Tishrei 5779 September 2018
CTJC The Cambridge Traditional Jewish Congregation Number 123
Contents A letter from the Editor ........................................................................... 3 From the Chair ......................................................................................... 4 Community news ..................................................................................... 8 Communal information ........................................................................... 8 Shavuot in the Wren library .................................................................. 10 "To see oorsels as ithers see us" ........................................................... 12 Zelda ...................................................................................................... 14 A note from the AGM on the CTJC deed of trust .................................. 16 The Call of the Shofar ............................................................................ 17 Tzemach and Levi Leigh's Bnei Mitzvah................................................. 19 On being 13: my Bar Mitzvah d'rash ..................................................... 22 Conversion and its history ..................................................................... 24 Jacob Hassan.......................................................................................... 27 Some memories of Leon Mestel 1927-2017 ......................................... 29 Grandpa Eric's 97th birthday ................................................................. 32 The late great Philip Roth ...................................................................... 33 Book review: "Rising Sparks" ................................................................. 34 Book review: "The Alphabet" ................................................................ 37 Jweb: A resource for our time .............................................................. 42 "Head of a fish" shortbread cookies for Rosh HaShanah ...................... 44 Festival calendar 2018, 5779 ................................................................. 46 Views expressed in this magazine do not necessarily represent the views of the Editor, nor of the Committee of the CTJC Front cover and page 7: The Wren Library Sefer Torah
A letter from the Editor Jane Liddell-King Shalom All, Firstly, a huge thank you to all those who have helped keep this publication afloat, particularly the contributors and Barry Landy who gets it printed and posted in record time. As I write, the wonderful 'continental' weather is about to change. For me, it has been a blessing, easing my journey from the warmth of Canberra's early Autumn. Aside from spending 6 weeks working with artists at an arts' association on the edge of the bush, very fortunately I met some of Australia's first people. The 'Holocaust' that they have suffered since the invasion of Europeans struck me deeply. Unlike ourselves, they have no books recording their experiences, no authoritative texts containing their 250 languages. And so most of these are now lost leaving them culturally orphaned. How remarkably lucky are we as Jews to have such a treasury of texts not only to guide us in our everyday lives but to pass on to the next generation. But who are we if we do not support the displaced of the world? Australia's first people are expert in land management, land economy, and ecology. Clearly, we have much to learn from them. As with all years, the last one has brought us, as a community, a tallit bag of mixed blessings: tzores and simchas. We celebrated the 80th birthday of Thompson's Lane and the Bnei Mitzvah of Levi and Tzemach Leigh. But very suddenly, agonisingly, we lost Jacob Hassan. Today, personally, I celebrate the continuing life of a traditional Jewish community which still finds space for diverse voices. May they all be heard in the coming year. שנה טובה לכולם
From the Chair Jonathan Allin, Chair, CTJC Welcome to the Rosh HaShanah CTJC magazine. We have a wonderful range of articles to feed the soul, the mind, and the body. The nicest part of this job is being able to give heartfelt thanks to all those who've been involved with the committee or who have otherwise contributed to this community. We've had some fantastic gabbaiing over the last year or so thanks to Ben and Yoav, and it's been a delight to hear new voices in shul. Jo as Treasurer, has perhaps the most difficult job. it's certainly the most technically complex committee position. Robert, as our Board of Deputies representative, is a regular attendee at BoD meetings and provides us with an insightful commentary on their activities. Meanwhile Barry maintains a steady hand on the secretarial tiller. Taking action on health and safety in shul was rather forced upon us, however Tim has been unstinting in addressing the issues. You can see some of the results around us, and over the summer we'll see more changes, with improved lighting, possibly even hot water in the kitchen. Having Reuven on board is adding a dynamism to to the community and a livelier atmosphere shul. With all this hard work it feels like we've finally built a car that's roadworthy, and we may even have engaged first gear. It's my hope, in this coming year, that we can now start to motor. However there is much to do if we are to achieve this. Small examples: We should plan an interesting away weekend, and importantly work out how this can be subsidised to make it accessible to all members.
For newcomers and visitors, the website is the gateway into the community. Thanks to the wide range of contributions, our CTJC website contains interesting material on the community and it's genuinely worth browsing through. But it's pretty obvious it's been built by mildly autistic engineers: it desperately needs some creative input and general TLC. The CTJC part of the wider Cambridge Jewish community, and it's important we reach out into this community. As a small step the events page on our web site includes events from other Jewish organisations, and we now have a communal calendar with contributions from MDA, Beth Shalom, and others. The overarching purpose of the CTJC must be to provide a home for traditional/modern orthodox Jews in Cambridge. We want more people to be involved in our community, we want the community to grow, we want to make shul a more attractive experience. In the next year, if Thompson's Lane is rebuilt, we will have to consider how to adapt. Together with Lauren and our family, may I wish you a שנה טובה ומתוקה.
Who does what Chair Treasurer Secretary CTJC community rabbi Magazine CUJS liaison Kiddushim Board of Deputies Gabbai and synagogue Building
Jonathan Allin Jo Landy Barry Landy Rabbi Reuven Leigh Jane Liddell-King Jo Landy Jonathan Harris Robert Marks Yoav Git Tim Goldrein
Subscriptions and donations Members who have not yet paid their subscription for this year (201718) should now do so, together with the Board of Deputies levy (£30), the levy to the Chief Rabbi's Office (£8 which should be paid by each male member), and any donations to the UJIA, the CTJC or the Cambridge Chaplaincy that you wish to make. Donations to the Community Rabbi Fund will be used to support our promise to contribute to our Rabbi's activities. The subscription fees for 2018/2019, as agreed at the AGM, are: Full family £205.00 Associate family £138.00 Full single £142.00 Associate single £91.00 These fees may be varied to suit individual circumstances. The Treasurer will be pleased to be consulted confidentially. The subscription may be paid by direct bank transfer to sort code 2017-19 account 20199192, in which case please send an explanatory email to the treasurer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively send a cheque, payable to CTJC, together with this slip indicating how much is being paid in each category, to Jo Landy, 52 Maids Causeway Cambridge CB5 8DD Name: Address:
Subscription: Community Rabbi Fund donation: CTJC donation: Board of Deputies: Chief Rabbi's Office: UJIA donation: Chaplaincy donation: Total: 6
Visitors for whom membership is not appropriate are invited to make a donation. CTJC is a registered Charity, number 282849. Payment from tax-paid income can be made by Gift Aid, which will enable the CTJC to recover the tax paid. A suitable declaration is available from the Secretary at email@example.com. To join the CTJC email list please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. If you would like to sponsor a kiddush, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to learn to lein, take a service, or read a haftarah, please contact Yoav or Ben. For up to date information please visit the CTJC web site: www.ctjc.org.uk
Community news מזל טוב • • •
On the marriage of Rebecca Winer & Shai Schechter On the marriage of Benjamin Allin & Jess Longley On the Bar-Mitzvah of Levi & Tzemach Leigh
Condolences To Sharon, Alex, Helen, and families on the passing of Jacob Hassan
Communal events For communal events please see the CTJC web site, www.ctjc.org.uk. There is also a communal calendar for Cambridge Jewish communities, which can be reached from www.ctjc.org.uk/events. If you want to add an event to the calendar please email email@example.com. Also email if you want to post events regularly.
Communal information Services in the Synagogue Friday evening
Shabbat morning Sunday morning
In Term: Winter Ma'ariv 6.00 pm Summer Minchah and Ma'ariv 7.30pm In Vacation: Check the website, www.ctjc.org.uk 9.30 am in the Synagogue 8.00 am in the Synagogue (most weeks)
Learning, Talmud Shiur Usually 8.00 pm at 23 Parsonage Street, led by Prof. Stefan Reif. The group is currently studying (Masechet Betza). The shiur is held on a convenient evening in those weeks when Prof Reif is in Cambridge. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kosher meat and groceries Derby Stores (26 Derby St, Newnham, 354391) stock prepacked Kosher groceries and meat, and will buy to order. They get fresh from London midday Thursday, and stay open till 8pm. Sainsbury's in Coldham's Lane also stocks a range of Kosher Goods including frozen chicken legs. Ocado has some Kosher foods in its delivery list.
Hospital visiting Contact Sarah Schechter (329172), Tirzah Bleehen (354320) for coordination if you wish to volunteer to help, or need to organise some visits. Rabbi Reuven Leigh (354603), Barry Landy (570417), and others are prepared to attend hospitals to read prayers. Due to personal privacy concerns the hospital no longer informs us when Jewish patients are admitted. If you wish to be visited, please let one of the above know when you are about to enter hospital.
Chevra Kadisha The Cambridge Jewish Residents' Association (CJRA) Chevra Kadisha, which follows orthodox rites, is available to members of the CTJC. Contact Brendel Lang, secretary (353301), Robert Marks, treasurer (07791 788 584), or Barry Landy (570417).
Religious events For services, bar mitzvahs, weddings, brit milah etc, contact Rabbi Leigh (354603) or Barry Landy (570417).
Shavuot in the Wren library Theo DunkelgrĂźn Traditionally speaking, a procession from shul to a library is not part of Cambridge Shavuot minhagim. Yet thanks to the initiative of the Chaplain, Mordechai Zeller, and the hospitality and kindness of the librarian of Trinity College, Nicolas Bell, that is exactly what happened this year. After the first part of the service on the first day of Shavuot (Sunday 20 May), a large group of local residents and students made their way from Thompson's Lane, past the site of Cambridge's medieval Jewry, to the Wren Library. There we joined members of Beth Shalom, other residents, Cambridge Israelis, holiday visitors, several other fellows of Trinity, and the temporary College chaplain, Dana English. Up the grand staircase we climbed, past the imposing portrait of Lord Arthur James Balfour, and our joyful and colourful company was kindly welcomed by the librarian. On a table midway through the library, one of the oldest complete Torah scrolls in Cambridge lay carefully rolled to the appropriate place. As the midday light filled Sir Christopher Wren's magnificent library, all present rose with emotion to hear the Ten Commandments chanted from that venerable Sefer Torah. After the reading, there was time for some reflections (by yours truly) on the remarkable history of Hebrew study at Trinity College, an integral part of college life since its founding by Henry VIII in the midsixteenth century. Some of the supporters of "the King's Great Matter" had turned to the halakhic question of Levirate Marriage (yibbum) to justify his divorce from Katherine of Aragon. This lent a surprising urgency to the Christian study of Rabbinics and an impetus to the founding of the Regius chairs in Hebrew in Cambridge and Oxford. Foremost among Hebrew scholars in Renaissance England supporting the King was Robert Wakefield, a Cambridge graduate, who would become the first Regius lecturer of Hebrew at Oxford. Robert's younger brother Thomas became the first Regius Professor of Hebrew at Cambridge, a position which is associated with Trinity to this day (the current holder of the position is Professor Geoffrey Khan). Trinity's collections of Hebraica and Judaica are exceptionally strong, as well, 10
but most of them only came to the college relatively recently. While Trinity has managed to acquire Hebrew books that belonged to one of its most famous sons, Sir Isaac Newton, the vast majority of its Hebrew manuscripts and a substantial part of its early printed Hebrew books only became part of the College library with the bequest of William Aldis Wright in 1914. Aldis Wright (1831-1914) served as college librarian, senior bursar and eventually Vice-Master (1888-1914). Best known as an editor of English texts (Shakespeare and Francis Bacon, the Revised Authorised Version of the Old Testament, among many others), Aldis Wright was an accomplished Hebraist in his own right. At Cambridge, he studied with Solomon Marcus Schiller-Szinessy (1820-1890), the first non-converted Jewish professor to hold an academic appointment in the University. Aldis Wright assembled a truly impressive library of Hebraica and Judaica, much of which he put at the disposal of scholars, including CD Ginsburg. His manuscripts were described by Herbert Loewe in a catalogue published in 1926, while his particularly fine collection of incunabula (books printed in the fifteenth century) includes the very first edition of the Hebrew Pentateuch (Bologna, 1482). The scroll from which we read the Ten Commandments is the final item in Loewe's catalogue, and because it was acquired after the catalogue was formally completed, Loewe only described it in the most succinct terms. This peaked the curiosity of the former chaplain Yisrael Malkiel. While working on his MPhil at FAMES and shortly before leaving Cambridge two years ago, Yisrael visited the Wren to see it. At first it could not be found, but after a lengthy search through the library's basement storerooms, the scroll was located. It seems no one had consulted it since the bequest, over a century before. Upon inspection, the scroll's anonymous scribe turned out to have added particularly creative 'tagin', or decorative crowns, on certain letters. We learned that the scroll had been acquired at Aden. After determining that the scroll was kosher for liturgical recitation, Yisrael organised a gathering in the Wren in the Spring of 2016, to read from the scroll. By beautiful symmetry, one of the students at the time, Oren Yefet, had grown up in the Adani Jewish community in London, and it was moving indeed to hear and see a scroll from Aden read with the nusach of that very 11
place, still alive, transmitted and practiced two generations after that community's exile. It also happened to be the week when our current chaplains, Mordechai and Lea, were visiting Cambridge with their children. And that occasion planted the seed from which this year's Shavuot celebration in the Wren Library sprouted. It was a happy day indeed, for which we are grateful to Mordechai for the idea and his characteristic enthusiasm, and to Nicolas Bell and the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, for their kind hospitality.
"To see oorsels as ithers see us" Questions on Gaza Rosalind Landy Oh wad the gift the giftie gie us, To see oorsels as ithers see us. Robert Burns Translation: Would that the Almighty would give us The gift of seeing ourselves as others see us. Some of you will know this already. I have been telling you that the world has a skewed view of the Palestine-Israel situation. Some time back there was a wonderful reunion of Barry's old school, the City of London School, in the old listed building, on the Thames. The format for the evening was standard: cocktails and then dinner. The options for diet included kosher and that is what we chose. The table to which we were assigned had seating for about ten people. When the dinner was served, our food was spectacularly different because of the mountain of cling film and plastic that enclosed it. Clearly this was of interest to all at table but most were too far away to make themselves heard. The person next to me was a man of 82, not a contemporary of Barryâ€™s and therefore unknown to Barry. He was seated next to me and asked about the food. I explained, kosher, 12
Jewish etc. He then asked me whether I had visited Israel. I answered that indeed I had; many times. It occurred to me to ask him the same question. Questions are a good form of communication. They raise new ideas and interesting issues. On this occasion my neighbour, Richard, had indeed been to Israel. He told me that he was a Christian and had gone to Israel with a Christian group. When I asked what he had seen, he jumped immediately to the topic of Gaza. Did I know there were people in camps there and that sewage was running in the camps? Poor Richard! He had tackled the wrong person. I explained that I am a UK tax payer and that my taxation goes first to London, then to the EU who in turn send on billions to the Gazans. I asked this nice Christian man what had happened to my taxation. He had to admit that he did not know. I then informed him that a lot of the money sent to Gaza to help the people there was regularly creamed off by the top people in the Gazan government and that the remainder was used for tunnels and weaponry. Then I turned my attention to the situation of the refugees. I asked Richard what had happened to the European Jews who had made it to Palestine after the Second World War when they were stateless, had no passports, no money, no family, nothing. Richard paused for a moment and then suggested that these Holocaust survivors had 'gone to the territories'. This was a staggering piece of ignorance. I explained that there had been no territories then and that all refugees had been first in Maâ€™aborot, in tents, then housed and had started to find work. Most, if not all, started their lives again. This could well have been done by Hamas for their refugees but, instead, they have deliberately kept five generations in the camps, which of course fires up the UN and the media against Israel. Richard is a real person. This is his real name. He is also a symbol of how the propaganda machine of the Gazans works. All of Richardâ€™s Christian group will have gone home to the UK without a balanced picture of the activities of the Gazans. 13
Richard, however, now gets emails from me on a fairly regular basis and is shown the other side of the picture. I just hope he passes it on to his fellow Christians.
Zelda Rabbi Reuven Leigh For those still uninitiated, please let me introduce you to a remarkable Hebrew poet by the name of Zelda. I am hoping to include a modern poetry reading group as part of the classes and courses in The Lehrhaus for the upcoming year, and while it was common place in the Middle Ages for great rabbinic figures to pen religiously inspired poetry, in modern times poets who are well versed in, and remain inspired by, the Tanakh and the Talmud are few and far between. Zelda, as she became known, was born Shaina Zelda Schneerson in 1914 in the city of Yekatrinoslav, Russia and was a first cousin of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. She grew up in the home of her maternal grandfather, Rabbi Dovid Zvi Chein, who had a profound influence on her and is recalled many times in her poetry. Together with her parents and grandfather she moved to Israel in 1926, where tragedy struck, and both her father and grandfather died within a year. Zeldaâ€™s dream was to become an artist and study at the Bezalel Academy, but for practical reasons she trained to become a schoolteacher. Among her first students was the novelist Amoz Oz who recounts: "Teacher Zelda also revealed a Hebrew language to me that I had never encountered before ... a strange, anarchic Hebrew, the Hebrew of stories of saints, Hasidic tales, folk sayings, Hebrew leavened with Yiddish . . . But what vitality those tales had! ... As though the writer had dipped the pen in wine: the words reeled and staggered in your mouth." Zelda married in 1950 and lived for most of her life in the Kerem Avraham neighbourhood of Jerusalem. During her lifetime she published six collections of poetry for which she received the Bialik and Brenner Prizes in literature.
You can find examples of her poems in Hebrew in Zelda (1985), Shirei Zelda (Hotsa’at ha-Kibuts ha-Meuhad: Tel-Aviv, Israel). And with English translation in Zelda & Falk, M. (trans.) (2004), The Spectacular Difference: selected poems (Hebrew Union College Press: Cincinnati, OH) In anticipation of the new year here is one of Zelda’s poems inspired by the High Holiday liturgy.
אל תשליכני מלפניך
Cast Me Not Away
היא גחנה אל נפשיShe leaned toward my soul , לנגוע בבכי שבגרוניto touch the cry in my throat, - שוכן עדever-dwelling – נגיעתה עושה בי .קרעים קרעים קשה ללב אובד עם חשכות - ועם מילים אל תשליכני מלפניך וכאשר אקיץ מחלומי וחושך יהיה סביבי ורהיטי הישנים ישמיעו - קולות נפץ דקים
Her touch tears me to pieces. Darkness and words are difficult for the heart that is lost – Cast me not away from Your presence. And when I wake from my dream, surrounded by darkness, the old furniture making its thin creaking sounds –
. אל תסתיר פניך ממניDo not hide Your face from me. כאשר אקיץ להרהר המתקו כל כך הסיפורים שמספרים החושים - לנשמתי )?(האם סיפורים מבצרי
When I wake, wondering if the stories of my senses are really so sweet to my soul – (Are stories my fortress?)
הלא בשעה אבלה עשנהOh, at a mournful, smouldering בי נגע בקשיחות של מליצהhour, . אף יופיו הרך של פרחeven the tender beauty of a flower has touched me with the harshness of flattery. כאשר אקיץ בוכיה לו אדע לאן מובילים את חיי .השמיים
When I wake, weeping – if only I might know where heaven is leading my life.
A note from the AGM on the CTJC deed of trust Julian Landy and Jonathan Allin By now, hopefully, you will have read the minutes from June's AGM, and so be aware that there were interesting discussions on the community's deed of trust. There were two proposals that might have modified the deed. However the meeting decided that the next step should be further discussion and proposals. Why is this important? The deed of trust must ensure that the core values and purposes of the community are protected; in particular to ensure that the CTJC provides a home in Cambridge for an orthodox, traditional, kehilla. But it must also allow for change and succession. The AGM reflected a strong desire amongst members to see a change of Trustees, and in particular to allow current Trustees to step down, and new Trustees to replace them. The community needs to adapt if it is to grow and thrive. But there can be no change in the community without change to the Trustees. 16
Should new Trustees be appointed by the current Trustees, or should there be an opportunity for the CTJC members to elect new Trustees? The consensus was for the latter. In acknowledgement of the views expressed at the AGM, the Trustees have undertaken to provide a response following the next Trustees' meeting.
The Call of the Shofar Mordechai Zeller I was once asked by a student, what should they be thinking about during the sounding of the Shofar? What should be their Kavanna, intention? I can share only what my kavanna is, what I think about, during the sound of the Shofar. In this short piece, I will try to answer the student's question. What does a Shofar sound like? As a Rabbi here in Cambridge, I am sometimes asked to meet school children at the synagogue, allowing them to explore and discover a different and unknown religious space. At the end of the visit, I like blowing the shofar, asking the children what it sounds like to them. Throughout the years, I’ve heard a lot of great answers. Some say it sounds like a royal trumpet, others feel it reminds them of a baby’s cry. I’ve even heard that it sounds like an elephant. In the Babylonian Talmud, the sound of the Shofar is learned from an unexpected Biblical character, the mother of Sisera. In the book of Judges, Sisera is one of the bad guys. He is the general of the Caananite army, who wages a war with horses and chariots against the Israelites. As the battle goes on, it rains heavily and, seeing his chariots stuck and his entire army defeated, Sisera proceeds by foot and seeks refuge with Yael. She invites him into her tent and ends up killing him by hammering a tent peg into his head. One of the descriptions in Deborah’s song of praise, sung after their victory, is of Sisera’s mother, sitting at the window, waiting for her son to return from battle. Through a creative interpretation, the Talmud learns the sounds of the 17
Shofar from the different cries of Sisera, as she realizes her son won’t be coming back from the battle. Why is this? Why do we learn the most important mitzvah, the commandment opening up the series of the high holidays, from the mother of one of our enemies? What can we learn from Sisera’s mother, that can perhaps help us understand more deeply the meaning of the Shofar, as we gather this year to fulfil the commandment? In order to understand this Talmudic teaching, we must try to understand who is the mother of Sisera. What do we know about her? What is her name? What was she like? We don’t know. The truth is we don’t know anything about her, besides the fact that she is Sisera’s mother. All we really have is a depiction of the moment when she discovers her son Sisera is dead. What a heart-breaking moment. In my understanding, the most terrible thing has happened to Sisera’s mother. She spent her whole life being the mother of Sisera. He was an amazing and successful son. And now, she is waiting at the window, crying bitterly. Not only for her son who has died, but also for her complete and total loss of identity. If she is Sisera’s mother, and Sisera is dead, then who is she? What is left of her that is not dependant on others? What is really hers? If we are truly honest with ourselves, don’t we all do this, identifying ourselves not by who we are, but through our relationships, our external ties, our social belonging? 18
Who are you? I am the son of X. The wife of Y, the father of Z. I’m from this or that distinguished family. Yes, but who are you? I am my profession, my title, my university degree. Yes, but who are you? I am a Tory, I voted against Brexit. Yes, but who are you? I’m a distinguished member of the Jewish community. Yes, but who are you? I play tennis, I’m a football fan. Yes. But who are you?
I’m a lifelong member of the National Trust and English Heritage, I even have a Nectar card. Yes. But who are you? ... I don’t know. I really don’t know.
There is a strange custom at the end of Jewish funerals when the Chevra Kadisha turn to the deceased and say "We now free you from belonging to any society or organisation. Go in peace, rest in peace." Perhaps that is a Shofar moment as well. Our societies and memberships add much meaning to our life. But they can also stop us from true realization and hold us back, so we can’t always see past them and we lose sight of our authentic call. When we hear the call of the Shofar, everything dissipates, melts away, disappears. What is left? Who is left? What is truly ours? This revelation is a true beginning, a fresh start. That is the sound of the Shofar.
Tzemach and Levi Leigh's Bnei Mitzvah Shabbat Hazon, 9 Av 5778 Jane Liddel-King Rochel Leigh kindly agreed to talk to me following the bnei Mitzvah of her sons, Levi and Tzemach, both of whom subsequently joined us. For Rochel Leigh, the bnei Mitzvah of her twin sons, Tzemach and Levi, was simply part of their Jewish lives: "The boys' bnei Mitzvah has given me time to pause and reflect, to acknowledge the challenges and the joys of raising children, of educating them in Jewish knowledge and skills and in giving them confidence.
"The twins were born when Hannah was only 11 months old. Sleep management was my preoccupation. I was lucky to have 4 hours a night. From the beginning I learned to be alert to each boy's very different needs. One wanted constant reassurance, the other was content and self-contained; I had to make a conscious effort to interact with both. At 11 months, Tzemach was the first to walk. He'd walk with his hands in the air and we'd applaud. Still sitting, Levi used to raise his hands and wait for us to clap. He was on his feet at 12 months. They both had beautiful long hair. When I took the three children out, people always commented on my three lovely little girls! "The hardest thing during those early years was maintaining a sense of perspective despite the exhaustion. The nurturing cycle dominated my experience. Three years old was the glass ceiling back then, the age traditionally associated with learning aleph bet. Then the fun began. "What I want to say now about their bnei Mitzvah is that it was far from a sudden climax: it didn't determine either boy's stride so much as simply slotted into it. Hebrew was the language I taught them to read first and they read fluently by the time they were 4, a year before they could read English. And so when we sat down to look at their parashat, we handed them the Tanakh and the trope and they were able to put the two together. We didn't want them to leyn for too long so we divided the parashat into three to include Reuven. Of course, both boys wanted the Ten Commandments. Now, Levi often takes the lead and negotiates for what he wants while Tzemach assents. So I stepped into the negotiations, and Tzemach was to leyn the Ten Commandments, Levi to give the speech. The Haftorah was initially undecided. However, as the day drew near, Levi's appetite for reading the Haftorah waned and Tzemach was appointed Haftorah reader. Two 20
days before, we realized that Tzemach was ready to lead Musaf too, which he did, so perhaps I could have left the boys to their own negotiations, a lesson to me. The readings all felt quite natural on the day." "Natural" was exactly the word to describe the family's Jewish life. "Cohesive" might be another. When the boys joined Rochel and me, I congratulated Levi on his very thoughtful and clearly presented address. "Once I'd leyned, I wasn't at all nervous about the speech." he said. Rochel added: "When the boys were home schooled we were careful to ask them to work on Geography projects and then to give presentations to the rest of the family so they would get used to public speaking. This meant we did not need to prepare Levi to give the speech. Once written, he read it to us and we were delighted with his delivery." Rochel went on to talk about her sons' individual gifts. "The boys' differing talents determine their individual interests." she said. "Levi has a passion for History and Geography." He proved very keen to tell me about the languages spoken in Antwerp where he and Tzemach will study for the next 3 years. I quickly learned that Tzemach is a keen sportsman and loves football, table tennis, and chess. They explained that as well as preparing separate wardrobes for the first time, they are looking forward to meeting the 15 boys from across the world including Japan, with whom they will be studying Gemara and Tanya and much else. We wish Tzemach and Levi happy years of study and look forward to welcoming them whenever they return to Cambridge.
On being 13: my Bar Mitzvah d'rash Levi Leigh Good Shabbos, and welcome everyone to my brotherâ€™s Bar Mitzvah. Tzemach and I are extremely grateful to all of our family who have travelled to celebrate with us today. We are also very excited to celebrate our Bar Mitzvah in Cambridge in the community we have grown up in. One of the customs of a Bar Mitzvah is for the Bar Mitzvah boy to deliver a dvar torah. I would like to focus on the very question of why is it so important that I am celebrating my thirteenth birthday. The Mishna in Pirkei Ovos says very clearly, that when a boy reaches thirteen, he becomes obligated and responsible to fulfil all the mitzvos. Rashi, in his commentary on the mishnah, explains why specifically a thirteen year old, is obligated to fulfil the mitzvos. He explains, how in parshas vayishlach, where it describes the actions of Shimon and Levi, who wanted to take revenge against Shechem, who had abused their sister, the verse says: "vayikchu shnei bnei yaakov shimon ve-levi achei dinah ish charboy â€Ś " "Two of Jacobs sons, Shimon and Levi, Dinah's brothers, they each took up their swords." The midrash on this verse tells us that they were thirteen years old. Since the verse uses the term ish, referring to them as adult men, we infer that a thirteen year old is considered an adult and is responsible to fulfil all the mitzvos. And so, in a slightly roundabout way, Rashi is explaining that a) Shimon tand Levi were thirteen when they took revenge against Shechem, b) the verse refers to them as ish - an adult, so c) that only once a boy is thirteen years old does he have the intellectual and emotional maturity to appreciate the preciousness of fulfilling the mitzvos and the seriousness of not fulfilling them. 22
However, there is another opinion as to why a thirteen year old boy should become a Bar Mitzvah. Rabeinu Asher, known as the Rosh, who lived 300 years after Rashi, disagrees and says that it has nothing to do with the natural growth and maturity of a young man but rather it is a Halacha le-Moshe mi-Sinai. A Halacha le-Moshe mi-Sinai is one of those laws the has been passed down through the generations from Moshe Rabeinu that is not included or hinted at in the Torah and which we follow and accept for no other reason than that we have been told to do so. These two opinions of Rashi and the Rosh provide two different perspectives on a Bar-mitzvah. According to Rash, the main requirement for a boy to become responsible for fulfilling the mitzvos is his intellectual and emotional development which would, in turn, suggest that the most important way to fulfil the mitzvos is by using our tools of understanding and our feelings. By contrast, according to the Rosh, the reason I am having a Bar Mitzvah is because Hashem decided so for no obvious reason. This perspective would suggest that the most important way to fulfil the mitzvos is with obedience and complete devotion whether or not it makes sense to me. Of course, a healthy approach would be, to take advantage of each of these perspectives. Both constantly to strive to understand and to experience in a sincere way all the mitzvos of the Torah, whilst at the same time, maintaining complete devotion to doing what Hashem wants from me, whether I understand it or not. As we just read in the parshah, what is maybe the most famous verse of the Torah: Shema Yisroel, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echod Shema is the command to listen and obey, and faithfully to accept Hashem, as king and master of the world. And at the same time, Shema is the instruction to hear, and to understand to the best of our ability the oneness of Hashem. The two translations of the word Shema incorporate both the opinion of Rashi and the Rosh. 23
Tzemach and I are extremely grateful to our parents for preparing us for this day, and for the rest of our lives. We hope that we will continue to bring you nachas and live up to the brochoh that the Rebbe would give to bar mitzva boys: to become chassidim, yerei shamayim (G-d fearing), vâ€™lamdonim (and scholars). Good shabbos and I hope you enjoy the rest of the service and I look forward to saying lchayim with you soon at the kiddush.
Conversion and its history Simon Goldhill Conversion is a hot topic in contemporary Judaism. When Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks visited Cambridge towards the end of his time in office, he confessed that conversion was the one issue he really felt he had not managed to be able to sort out, by which he meant get a consensus for a reasonable communal policy. But few people, especially those who have the most shrill views on the topic, have spent much time looking at the deep history of the issue, which turns out to be fascinating as I have been learning in my most recent research. Some background remarks first. â€˘
It is generally recognized by historians who have sifted the evidence that there were no established or agreed rituals or public practices of conversion among Jews until the time of the Talmud in the 6th century CE. There we can see the process of conversion still being debated, different models being proposed, and different commitments demanded. It is quite likely that one pressure to organize and regulate conversion for Jews was the emphasis that the newly powerful religion of Christianity placed on it. It is debated by scholars whether you could even become Jewish in antiquity, or whether "being Jewish" was more of an ethnic category. The requirements discussed in the Talmud are rarely extreme, and often pointedly lenient, although circumcision for a man, and the mikveh for all, are expected.
In the earliest texts, however, including the Pentateuch and the Prophets, there are no examples of conversion, no language of conversion, and no discussion of conversion as an idea or a ritual practice. Moses marries a Cushite woman, and there is no comment on this, although later commentaries work hard to smooth out its difficulties. So too Joseph marries Aseneth, the daughter of an Egyptian priest, and from this marriage come a tribe of Israel. Again there is no question raised of conversion. The sons of Jacob trick the sons of Hamor, after Dinah has been raped, by saying she can marry Shechem only if they agree to follow the customs of the Israelites and in particular to get circumcised. Interestingly when this story is retold in the book of Chronicles and then by the historian Josephus, the detail of circumcision is completely left out: the sons just murder their enemies. Circumcision just doesn't seem to matter to them. Ruth says no more than "I will go where you go and your God will be my God": no mention of conversion, and certainly not of any rules or rituals. Josephus, writing in the first century CE, tells us how a whole tribe was offered the choice of being circumcised and following the customs of the Jews or to leave their ancestral homes: they choose the route of circumcision. There is no word here for conversion and no interest in what any member of the tribe believed or felt. Repentance and a return to the ways of the Lord are a common demand in the Prophets – but this is not conversion, but a recalibration of a moral life back to where it should be.
In short, for at least a thousand years of our history, including all the time that the Temple stood, there is precious little evidence of any ritual, any practice or any concern for conversion, and plenty of cases where later writers were deeply embarrassed by this fact. There is one remarkable text that has barely entered the arguments over conversion, but should do so. This text is a novella, written in Greek, probably around the year 0, and probably in the Jewish community of Alexandria. It's called Joseph and Aseneth. It retells the story of Joseph's marriage but in a way that is very different from the 25
Torah. The Torah, you will remember, says no more than "Joseph married Aseneth, daughter of the [Egyptian] priest Poti-phar-on". The novella, like a midrash, tries to answer the silent gaps in this single sentence. First, it deals with how could Joseph marry such a foreigner; and second, how could a Jew be so powerful in Egypt. The first half of the novella depicts how Aseneth converts; the second half tells the adventure and war story of how Joseph acts as regent but finally gives back power to the Pharaoh. In this novella, Aseneth is a beautiful woman who hates men and wishes to remain a virgin all her life. When Joseph appears in her father's house, dressed in gleaming white, beautiful, and himself sexually pure, she falls for him. He places his hand on her breast and declares he could never marry anyone who does not worship God. Aseneth is distraught. She fasts for seven days, and she throws off her rich clothes. She throws away the idols from her house and throws the sacrificial food out of the window to strange dogs. She prays a long and beautiful prayer to God to help her change, a hymn to repentance or change: metanoia in Greek. In response to her prayer, an angel comes from heaven and endorses her conversion, and explains that Metanoia is an angel that sits by the right hand of God. When Joseph returns, he marries Aseneth. This is an extraordinary depiction of conversion. It is, first of all, the story of a woman converting. Unlike Tsiporah, Moses' wife, unlike Ruth, unlike Aseneth in Exodus, here there are rituals of conversion: a seven day fast, destruction of idols, a long liturgy of prayer. What is more, the practice of conversion is private, the act of an individual, and is endorsed by divine authority. Indeed, just because it is an individual, female prayer, based on an inner conviction and desire to change, some scholars have argued that the text must be really an early Christian text (and consequently date it to the 4th century). But the Greek is full of echoes of the Jewish bible (Septuagint) and is unlike any other Christian ritual or story of conversion.
Joseph and Aseneth is a unique text, and testimony of a route not taken in the history of Judaism. It shows how fluid thinking about conversion could be in these early centuries. It imagines a strange mystical scene, one of lonely and intense prayer, fasting and ritual purity, and for a woman. This would not become the route of conversion for Jews. But it also shows how complicated the history of conversion is and how different Hellenistic and earlier Judaism is from the image offered by those who claim to speak for tradition.
Jacob Hassan 7 March 1956 to 1 May 2018 Jane Liddell-King Jacob Hassan was the youngest of 3 children. He leaves a sister, Magny and brother, Isaac. Born in Gibraltar weighing in at 11lbs, he grew to be a man overflowing with kindness. Educated at the Hebrew School, by the age of 9 he was in the top class studying Mishna and Gemara. For a year he attended the Christian Brothers' Grammar School before going as a 12-year-old to Carmel College. A Gibraltar Government Scholarship enabled Jacob to read Medicine at King's College, Cambridge. Unusually, he stayed on at Addenbrooke's Hospital for his clinical studies. He relates how, when his viva had been scheduled for Yom Kippur, Sir Roy Calne arranged for a change of date. Jacob's House jobs were local. He relished an event that happened when he was working in Obstetrics at Harlow's Princess Alexandra Hospital. The department had two postnatal wards which came in particularly useful when one man proved to have fathered a baby by 27
both his wife and girl friend. When the babies arrived within hours of each other, the staff spared no effort in keeping the mothers apart. Jacob became a GP soon after qualifying and whenever he and Sharon were out, patients would approach him in the street for advice. Characteristically, were a patient in need of urgent hospitalisation, reluctant to leave children early in the morning, he would unhesitatingly undertake personally to see that the children arrived at school on time. For him, medicine was a matter of answering need as it arose and to the fullest of his abilities. Until Tesco was given permission to open a dispensary, he ran a pharmacy attached to the Bar Hill practice. He took early retirement at 54 but continued to work in other fields as well as to pursue his passion for cycling and and to make frequent visits to his family in Australia and Indonesia. Sharon and Jacob met at school when she was 16 and he 17. They married in 1978. Helen was born in November 1983 and Alex in March 1986. Jacob was unfalteringly generous to the Cambridge Jewish communities. He taught tirelessly and willingly officiated at bnei Mitzvah and funerals, taking the greatest care to respond thoughtfully to the needs of each individual family. In her brave and moving eulogy, Helen spoke of her father as someone who was always there. Personally, I remember him as someone always coming towards you, and in particular towards children. In a d'rash at Thompson's Lane, Mordechai Zeller challenged those who kwetch at the noise made by children during the service, "where there is noise there are children, and where there are children there is life". Jacob deliberately chose to attend the children's service every week. I remember Jacob coming towards my own children at Beth Shalom and welcoming them. My daughter thinks of him as a rare person with whom she would entrust her own children, and together we have witnessed the sheer joy he brought as our grandchildren played together in the Hassan family garden squirting water and sharing lunch. Jacob's four grand children, Evie, Clara, Layla, and Michael brought him joy and it is a great consolation that he was able to meet Michael who was born last February. He played naturally with his grandchildren, and Evie in particular, spoke of what a wonderful grandfather he had been 28
to her. He was always delighted to share pictures of them as soon as they reached his mobile. In preparing countless children for bnei Mitzvah, Jacob gave unsparingly of his time, sharing Jewish knowledge which was his core being: never to be used to show off, never to be used to judge others, but as the source of genuine wisdom which impelled him to reach out to others. Inclusiveness came naturally to him. I will never forget how he welcomed a member of the community in process of transitioning. Where one day he and Jacob had met with a handshake, when, in transition, 'she' arrived at the door, taking her first tentative feminine step into the world, Jacob spontaneously proffered a kiss on each cheek: his customary greeting for women. Jacob was generosity itself. Following the death of my husband, he and Sharon included me on many outings to London and Newmarket and invited me to share countless Shabbat meals. Invariably, he would turn to Sharon and say: "Very nice, very tasty, my dear." quoting from the much-loved film, '84 Charing Cross Road'. We grieve for Jacob and share in the huge loss suffered acutely by his family. But, looking at his children and his beautiful grandchildren, we see him still and know he will remain unforgettable.
Some memories of Leon Mestel 1927-2017 Jonathan Mestel Leon was born in Australia in 1927. His father, Solomon Mestel, was an orthodox Rabbi and was then minister of the Melbourne synagogue. Leon hardly remembered those years as he was 3 when the family returned to England. Nevertheless, he took pride in his antipodean roots and later in his East London heritage. His mother Rachel was the sister of Selig Brodetsky. She was a forceful character who bore grudges and could make life hard for those around her if she did not get her own way. Yet she worked tirelessly to support 29
the family. They were not well off, but neither did they suffer too greatly in the Depression. Leon's academic talents became very clear at school. He was partly supported by a biblical scholarship he won, slightly to the consternation of the Christian charity funding it. He shrugged off this achievement: the Old Testament was easy for him and he just studied the New Testament as he would any textbook for an exam. Then came the war, and he was evacuated to Cornwall with two of his three sisters. In later life he often referred to these formative years. He had missed his Barmitzvah as a result but was delighted to celebrate it second time round in 2010, having returned to Cambridge. He came up to Trinity College in 1945. He was a pillar of Thompson's Lane, then a fairly small community, where he met our mother Louise. After a CUJS talk there one evening, she asked him "Who was that man in the shabby raincoat who asked that rather stupid question?" Leon replied amusedly "You mean Prof Wittgenstein?" and they never looked back. Louise was not Jewish by birth, but determinedly underwent the lengthy and arduous conversion process. None of our grandparents was very pleased by the match, but our parents were adamant and patient. They married in 1951 and Leo, Jonathan, Rosie, and Ben followed. Leon was always proud as having acted as midwife at Ben's birth. Leon obtained his PhD under the scientific colossus Fred Hoyle. After spells in Princeton and Leeds he became a lecturer at Cambridge in 1954. Following a Sabbatical at the Weizmann Institute in 1966, he took up a chair at Manchester, moving to Sussex in 1973. He became eminent in Astrophysics, obtaining the Eddington Medal and a Gold Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society. He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and was an authority on the role of magnetic fields in astronomy. Asked whether he had any scientific regrets, he felt that he should have predicted the influence of the Solar Wind on the Earth, but he rarely concerned himself with things as boring as planets. His tome "Stellar Magnetism" will long be a classic in the (highly specialised) field. He once told us that he hoped to use the royalties 30
from it to help his four grandchildren Renee, David, Ellie and Ruth, through university. This was so sweet and unworldly, astronomers are usually good at order-of-magnitude calculations. We told him in that case he should have called it "Harry Potter and the Solar Corona". Leon read widely, and loved music, history and philosophy. Politically he was centre-left, despairing of the Israeli right-wing and of religious intolerance in general. He could get irritated when he felt Halachah descended to nit-picking: "This is not what it's about." In contrast, our mother could choose to view it with anthropological detachment. Leon and Louise returned to Cambridge in 2008. Louise's back was now giving her severe problems and she soon became housebound. Leon looked after her until her death in 2014. His health began to wane too. Despite suffering from polio since an early age, he was otherwise fairly resilient. The end when it came was mercifully swift, with a suddenly diagnosed cancer requiring urgent surgery. The operation went well, but his kidneys were unable to cope. He was in good spirits and compos mentis right until the end, singing and making multilingual puns a few days before he died. We miss them both. The stone-setting for Leon Mestel will take place at 11:30 on Sunday September 16th at the Newmarket Road cemetery, and afterwards at 41 Glisson Rd CB1 2HA. All are very welcome.
Grandpa Eric's 97th birthday Laila Goldrein On Grandpa's 97th birthday he was presented with the medal of Legion D'Honneur by the French Government. This was because he helped liberate France at the end of the 2nd World War.
Grandpa was shot and captured by German soldiers. He pretended he couldn't speak German but he could, so he was able to trick them into surrendering to him. At the medal ceremony there were flag bearers and a bagpiper. There were speeches about how brave Grandpa was and they made me feel proud of him. After the speeches there was a party and lunch. I was really happy and so was Grandpa!
The late great Philip Roth Julian Landy Hoboken, New Jersey, is a real town across the river from Manhatten that New Yorkers ascribe as the residence of the people with the worst and most demeaning characteristics, the non-intellectual rump that did not vote for Hillary. Just close by is Newark, not now a very nice place to live. However, go back just a few years and it was a bulwark of the Jewish community and the home town of the late Philip Roth. Like him or loath him, he was in my view the greatest Jewish fiction writer of my lifetime, the only one whose latest book I always awaited with probably over-eager anticipation. Moreover, the only writer about whom a ready argument was always readily available. He provoked and kicked the reader. No nudges or hints with Roth. He appeared to want to take issue. And take issue he did, repeatedly. Some people regarded him as a misogynist. Not me, but some, especially those feminists preoccupied by literary analysis. In an academic town like Cambridge it is perhaps foolish to pose a nonintellectual argument. But I enjoyed Roth first and analysed second. And his writing almost invariably gave me, and thousands of other readers, huge pleasure. Roth was the master story teller, and reading his latest offering was akin to very slowly unwrapping a precious gift from your nearest and dearest. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble to the writer in the way he carefully and gradually engaged the reader, enveloping one in another skilfully woven plot. Roth wrote with rancour and with huge and unparalleled honesty about sex, death, antisemitism, and other racial prejudice. Nothing escaped his gaze, yet few other writers were so lavishly excoriated for their fiction. Virtually every literary critic had a go at Roth. None seemed to dent his sales. From Goodbye Columbus onwards, Roth became a huge commercial success, whatever the critics might have said. He was not a Jew-hater. His work is substantially about the Jewish experience. Yet he many times admitted to an absolute loathing of all religion and practice. It is certain that being a Jew helps the reader 33
understand and get to love Roth. For though he may have hated all faiths, Judaism colours every word of his work. The ferocity and repetition of this antipathy might lead you to ignore his work. Yet fireworks lie in wait. I hesitate to confess that this is how I regard Dickens. To be read gradually through life, one or two a year, as each of his big books is a treat. Just try American Pastoral, I Married a Communist, or my favourite, The Human Stain. Thereafter you will find you have to read him more and more. Yes, the best Jewish writer of fiction of my lifetime.
Book review: "Rising Sparks" Ariel Kahn, published by Blue Moose, ÂŁ8.99 Helen Goldrein It's been a long time since I have anticipated the publication of a book as much as Raising Sparks by Ariel Kahn. I've known Ariel for almost 20 years, but I didn't realise until recently that he's been working on this book the entire time. I'm delighted to say that all those years of hard work have paid off, as this is one of the best novels I've read for ages. The story revolves around Malka, a young ultra-orthodox woman from the Old City of Jerusalem, who embarks on both a spiritual and a physical journey, set entirely in modern-day Israel. Ariel's writing is fluid and beautiful, his characters engaging and three-dimensional, and the story gripping, twisting, and thought-provoking. I found myself carving out time to read it during the day when I should really have been doing something else. Ariel's background gives him a unique perspective that enables him to write his characters - Jews, Arabs, Israelis, immigrants - with remarkable clarity. He attended Yeshiva in the Old City for three years after finishing high school in London, and then came to Cambridge to get his degree in English Literature. He followed this with an MA from SOAS, and a PhD in Creative Writing from Roehampton University, where he is now a Senior Lecturer. Ariel
was also instrumental in the foundation of the Arab Israeli Book Club, which he set up with Palestinian novelist Samir El Youssef. All of these influences, plus many more, are brought to bear on the characters and events of the book. I particularly enjoyed all the references to food in Raising Sparks. The opening scene happens in Malka's family kitchen, but as the tale progresses she passes through restaurants, bakeries, and professional kitchens. There are many references to food and I chatted to Ariel about the book, and some of the influences that made their way into the story. "Food doesn't have to be fancy to be important," he said. "We make emotional associations with food, that are part of our personal memories. Even simple food can provide a bridge to the wider world. "In the book Malka goes to a pizza restaurant. It's very modest, but it has very important associations for her. Food becomes a way for her to find her inner self, and a way to reach out to the community. Other people also connect to her through food, because it resonates with them. "For another character in the book, food is a way for him to heal the past and reconnect with people. It enables the characters to build bridges and create hyphenated identities. In all of these characters and stories, there is a synthesis between the self and wider cultural history." I asked Ariel about some of the locations featured in the book. I recognised several myself from travels in Israel, but others were clearly works of his imagination. "I revisited all the locations in the book as I was writing; I wanted to see them as the characters saw them. Some of the things I came across on that journey, like certain graffiti and street art, made their way into the story too. I ended up having dreams about those places, as if I were the characters. It was a very immersive experience! 35
"Some things in the novel are fantastical, but I wanted it to be grounded in the real world." Ariel and his family are passionate about tackling social issues like homelessness, and his experiences of this, including hosting vulnerable young people with the NightStop organisation, have also influenced some of the characters and events in the story. "A few years ago I was working as a waiter at Villandry in London. They also had a deli, and at the end of the day lots of food was getting chucked out. But there was a homeless community at the end of the road, so me and a few others asked if we could give the leftover food to them instead. "At first there was resistance from the restaurant but we persuaded them to do a trial and it worked brilliantly! It had such a positive impact on this group of homeless people. They became real food connoisseurs! The food helped them to feel empowered because someone was taking them seriously. "Some of that experience was translated into the book, when the main character works in a bakery in Safed and gives the broken biscuits to a group of Chasidic children at the end of the day. Like my experience in London, it helped to create a connection, a community." I thoroughly enjoyed reading Raising Sparks. It transported me back to places in Israel that I haven't visited for years, and I was swept along on Malka's journey and found myself itching to find out what happens to her. I'm now hotly anticipating Ariel's next book, and hoping it doesn't take another 20 years for him to write.
Book review: "The Alphabet" David Sacks, published by Arrow Books Jonathan Allin The Alphabet, by David Sacks, is a fascinating book. It traces the alphabet from Egyptian hieroglyphics (hieratic) to the early Semitic alphabet, thence to Phoenician, Hebrew, Aramaic, modern Arabic and other languages. Confusingly this book is also called Language visible or Letter perfect, depending on where or when it was published. There are a couple of annoyances. The layout of the book is troublesome. There are frequently three narratives going on in parallel so keeping up is a bit like having long footnotes that go across several pages. Some of the callouts use typefaces used are hard to read, which is an irony given the interesting discussions around typefaces. The book provides a chapter for each of the 26 letters of our alphabet. This generally isn't a problem as each chapter provides its own fascinating historical insights. However Sacks often repeats paragraphs or sentences, word for word, from a previous chapter, perhaps so that each chapter is self-contained. For instance every chapter mentions the inscriptions carved by Semitic workers or soldiers in Wadi el-Hol around 1800 BC, from which much of our knowledge of the early Semitic alphabet derives. As well as describing how the marvellous original alphabet was able to morph and adapt to almost every language, the book provides a fascinating insight into the evolution of languages, pronunciation, and letter shapes. All of the world's alphabets have derived from this origin, with one major and one partial exception: â€˘ â€˘
The Korean Hangul alphabet is artificial. It was invented in the 15th century by King Sejong Indian languages add syllabaries. However the base alphabets can be traced back to the Semitic alphabet
house throwing stick door exclamation "hah!" peg
F, U, Y
"z" guttural "kh" emphatic "t" "y"
arm and hand
palm of hand
"s" guttural sound "p"
taw mark â€Ť×Şâ€Ź â€Ť×Şâ€Ź The alphabet from Sumerian to Latin (various sources, including "The Alphabet")
breathing stop "b"
đ?¤… đ? ł, đ?¤†
đ?¤‡ đ?¤ˆ đ?¤‰ đ?¤Š đ?¤‹ đ?¤Œ đ?¤? đ?¤Ž đ?¤? đ?¤? đ?¤‘ đ?¤’ đ?¤“ đ?¤” đ?¤˛, đ?¤•
The Hebrew alphabet is (according to Sacks) identical to the original Semitic alphabet, down to the number of letters and their names and meanings. It's perhaps a shame that the book barely touches on Hebrew script because it's through these letter shapes that we can glimpse the early Semitic writing. This connection is all but lost in the block Hebrew lettering. The book provides a fascinating insight into how aleph, beth, gimmel, dalet, hay, vav, zayin, chet, yud (for instance) morphed into A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I (tet was lost in transit). Tav meant "mark", with the original letter shape of a simple cross. Perhaps this is why a cross was used in place of a signature? Was this also the mark of Cain? As each language adopted the alphabet, letters were adapted to meet the sounds of the language. The Roman alphabet was derived from the Etruscan alphabet, which apparently had no hard consonants (B, D, etc) but three different "k" like sounds. Early Semitic writing could be written in any direction: up, down, leftward, rightward. Phoenician's wrote consistently right to left, as did Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic. Early Greeks also wrote right to left, but then changed to "ox-bow" (or boustrophedon), where successive lines change direction. Around 500 BC the Greeks settled on left to right, and around 200 BC the Romans in turn settled on left to right. By what right was the rite of writing from left to right established? Perhaps by a Roman ship wright. It was certainly well established in the time of our English play-wright. Letters were generally turned around to match the direction of writing, with the letter's open face pointing in the direction of writing. So Rho was written Ρ when writing left to right, but ꟼ when writing right to left. Hence ( רraish) turned into "r".
The evolution of the world's alphabets (redrawn from "The Alphabet") 40
Our modern capital letters are closely based on the beautifully engraved Roman letters, used for example in the Trajan Inscription, 113 CE.
Senatus Populusque Romanus (SPQR): The Senate and the People of Rome. Lower case letters came from the "semi-uncial" handwriting style of the Middle Ages. The use of mixed case lettering started around 1470 with early Italian printers, who used letters based on the humanist handwriting school for lower case letters. "The Alphabet" is an excellent and straightforward read. It neatly complements Guy Deutscher's "Unfolding of Language". Both books provide an insight into the history and the role of the Hebrew alphabet and language. Alphabet אלפבית Αλφάβητο Алфавит األبجدية
Jweb: A resource for our time Learning disabilities in the Jewish Community Anna Perceval Recent research tells us that the lives of one in ten people in the UK are touched by learning disabilities. If you ask the people around you, you would hear about a whole community of people living or working with learning disabilities. Jewish services and professionals are there to support them, but up until now it has been time consuming and difficult to find out what's going on and to connect with other parents, carers or professionals. JWeb was created to be a space where parents and carers could find recommendations for things to do or highly rated services and professionals that could make their family's lives easier. Somewhere to ask questions or share good ideas, or simply to connect with other people who understand. The website www.jweb.org.uk is a vital resource that connects families and carers with news, event listings, services and information. All of the resources come from peer-topeer recommendations, making it the only place for the Jewish community to come together to share great ideas and ask for advice. It is a friendly place where website users respond to requests for help. A recent post from a woman asking for advice and recommendations for dental treatment for her adult learning-disabled sister provoked a deluge of information, with many other carers writing in to say that they too benefitted from the advice. 42
With smart signposting, Jweb brings together all kinds of events and services from across the UK and makes it easy to find interesting and useful activities all-year round, from relaxed theatre performances to sporting events and social groups. There is a noticeboard for passing on information or making a request. People can advertise and look for useful equipment, or simply share good ideas. Users will find a comprehensive directory of services, fascinating blogs and support targeted at all ages, from the painful first diagnosis of a disability through the months and years ahead. It is a place where people can look for work and employers can offer opportunities that make a huge difference to the self-esteem and personal fulfilment of people with learning disabilities. To find out more please contact email@example.com or visit us at www.jweb.org.uk. There is also a JWeb helpline for anyone who prefers to talk - just call 0300 2225949. We are all about sharing, so please pass us on.
"Head of a fish" shortbread cookies for Rosh HaShanah Helen Goldrein One of the more "out there" symbolic foods for Rosh HaShanah has to be the head of a fish. Placed on the festive table (although rarely eaten!) it symbolises our desire to be "the head and not the tail", that is leaders rather than followers, or maybe thoughtful and considered rather than blindly thrashing about. In previous years, we've bought (kosher) Haribo clown fish and snipped the tails off with scissors. It's a fun treat for everyone. This year, I decided to up our game. Our fish heads are still a sweet treat, but it's a homemade one, and one that not only lends itself to teatime snacking, but would also make a fun Rosh HaShanah gift. Enter the "head of a fish" shortbread cookie. Made from the most basic three-ingredient shortbread (four if you count the vanilla) these cookies are crisp, flaky, buttery and delicious. The shape is simply a heart, turned sideways. I used a fluted round cutter and the wide end of a piping tip to impress patterns on the cookies before baking, then dusted with edible metallic lustre to highlight their scales after baking. A dab of chocolate for the eyes and the fishes were ready to go. 44
The recipe makes 12 to 14 cookies.
Ingredients 100g butter or margarine (scant 1/2 cup) 50g light muscovado sugar (1/4 cup) 4-5 drops vanilla extract 150g plain flour (1 cup) Melted chocolate and edible metallic lustre dust to decorate (optional)
Instructions 1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla 2. Add the flour and continue to beat well. The mixture will start to clump together into crumbs - at this stage, use your hands to press it into a ball of dough. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes 3. Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper 4. Remove the dough from the fridge and unwrap it. Roll out the dough between two sheets of greaseproof paper to a thickness of 4mm. Use a 10cm heart shaped cutter to shape the cookies. Impress scale patterns using a fluted cutter or the wide end of a piping tip 5. Transfer the cookies to the prepared tray and bake at 170C for 10 minutes or until just starting to turn a pale golden colour. Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks 6. Once cool, add a dot of melted chocolate for an eye, and brush lightly with edible lustre dust to highlight the scaly patterns (optional)
Recipe notes You can use either butter or margarine. Butter gives a superior flavour while margarine has the advantage of being parve. I use muscovado sugar for the flavour, but the recipe will work just as well with regular white caster (superfine) sugar.
Festival calendar 2018, 5779 Erev Rosh HaShanah Festival commences Evening services
Rosh Hashanah 1st day Morning service Afternoon service, shiur and maariv Candles for 2nd day are lit
Rosh HaShanah 2nd day Morning service Afternoon and evening services Festival ends
Shabbat Shuvah Shabbat commences Morning service Shabbat ends
Erev Yom Kippur Afternoon service Fast commences Kol Nidrei
Yom Kippur Morning service Reading of the Law Yizkor (approx) Afternoon service Neilah Fast terminates
Sunday 9 September 7.14 pm 7:15 pm Monday 10 September 9.30 am TBA 8.10 pm Tuesday 11 September 9.30 am TBA 8.10 pm Saturday 15 September 7.00 pm 9.30 am 7.58 pm Tuesday 18 September 1.30 pm 6.53 pm 7.25 pm Wednesday 19 September 9.30 am 11.30 am 12.15 pm 5.30 pm 6.40 pm 7.51 pm
Erev Succot Festival commences Afternoon and evening services
Succot 1st day Morning service Afternoon and evening services Candles for 2nd day are lit
Succot 2nd day
Sunday 23 September 6.41 pm TBA Monday 24 September 9.30 am TBA 7.36 pm Tuesday 25 September
Morning service Afternoon and evening services Festival ends
9.30 am TBA 7.36 pm
Shabbat Chol HaMoed
Saturday 29 September
Shabbat commences Morning service Shabbat ends
Hoshanah Rabbah Morning service Festival commences Afternoon and evening services
Shemini Atzeret Morning service (& yizkor) Afternoon services Evening service Candles for 2nd day are lit
Simchat Torah Morning service Afternoon and evening service Festival ends
6.29 pm 9.30 am 7.37 pm Sunday 30 September 8.00 am 6.25 pm 6.00 pm Monday 1 October 9.30 am 6.00 pm 6.30 pm 7.19 pm Tuesday 2 October 9.30 am 6.30 pm 7.20 pm
CTJC Bulletin Rosh Hashanah 2018