CTJC Bulletin Chanukah 5771/2010
INSIDE: • Simon Goldhill • Reuven Leigh
• Mark Harris interviews Stefan Reif • Children’s Chanukah Maze • And more…
Welcome to the CTJC Chanukah Bulletin Bulletin Number 100. Cover image: Munkkeja (Finnish for doughnuts) being deep fried. Credit: Muu-karhu, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Munkinpaisto.jpg
Welcome to the Chanukah issue of the CTJC Bulletin. We hope you enjoy it. The Bulletin is always happy to accept submissions – essays, opinion pieces, travel journals, book/film/music/theatre reviews, reminiscences, recipes, photographs, knitting patterns... To contribute, please email firstname.lastname@example.org You can read the bulletin online in full colour at http://issuu.com/ctjc/docs/chanukah_2010 Wishing you a Chanukah Sameach, from all at the Bulletin. Small print… Views expressed in the bulletin are the views of the individual authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors or of the committee of the CTJC.
CTJC email list CTJC has an email list. To join the list and receive regular updates about services, events, Shabbat times and other useful information, please email Barry Landy at email@example.com or Jonathan Allin at firstname.lastname@example.org CTJC Officers Rabbi
Committee 2010/2011 Chairman Treasurer Secretary Synagogue officer Education officer Welfare officer Bulletin/website officer Officer without portfolio Board of Deputies
Simon Goldhill Ben Blaukopf Jonathan Allin Gedalya Alexander Sarah Schechter Rosalind Landy Helen Goldrein Barry Landy position vacant
365680 316266 561190 329172 570417 426516
President Barak Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch as a child lights the Chanukah menorah at the 2009 White House Chanukah party.
In this issue… 1 2 2 3 4 6 8 9 12 19
Welcome to the CTJC Chanukah Bulletin Community news Communal Information Religious calendar Rejoicing the reading – by Ben Blaukopf Chanukah reflections on place and dedication – by Prof. Simon Goldhill Natural light – by Rabbi Reuven Leigh The Cambridge Ark and Sifrei Torah – by Barry Landy Exploring Cambridge’s “Cairo Genizah” – by Mark Harris Chanukah maze
COMMUNITY NEWS Mazeltov To Yoav and Ann Git on the birth of their son. To Helen and Tim Goldrein on the birth of their daughter, Laila Sarah. To Ron and Thelma Domb on becoming great-grandparents. To Jonathan and Lily Goldman on the engagement of their daughter, Lisa.. To Leon Mestel on celebrating his second Bar Mitzvah on Shabbat Ki Tetze. Condolences To David and Michael Tabor on the loss of their mother Hannah. Farewell To the Salmon family, who are returning to Israel. Welcome To Yitzchak, Michal and Yishai Grant.
COMMUNAL INFORMATION Shul services Friday evening In term: In vacations:
Winter, Ma’ariv at 6pm Summer, Minchah and Ma’ariv at 7:30pm Winter, Minchah and Ma’ariv just before Shabbat June-August, Minchah and Ma’ariv at 7:30pm September, Minchah and Ma’ariv just before Shabbat 9:30am 8:00am (most weeks)
Shabbat morning Sunday morning Learning Rabbi Reuven Leigh holds a Talmud Shiur at Chabad House, 37A Castle Street, Cambridge CB3 0AH, every Monday at 8pm. Parking is available in the Shire Hall car park. For more details email email@example.com A Talmud Shiur led by Prof. Stefan Reif is held on a convenient evening in those weeks when Prof. Reif is in Cambridge. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org Hospital Visiting Contact Sarah Schechter (329172), Helen Stone (357147), Tirzah Bleehen (354320) or Barry Landy (570417) if you need to organise visits, or would like to volunteer to help. Rabbi Reuven Leigh (354603) and Barry Landy can attend hospitals to read prayers. Due to concerns for personal privacy the hospital no longer informs us when Jewish patients are admitted, so if you or someone you know would like to be visited, please contact us. Chevra Kadisha Contact Barry Landy (570417), Brendel Lang (353301) or Trevor Marcuson (520045) in the first instance. Bar Mitzvahs, Weddings, Brit Milah and other religious services Contact Rabbi Reuven Leigh or Barry Landy to organise. Children’s activities For information about Cambridge Hebrew School, the After School Club, or Ganeinu Child Care Service, contact Rochel Leigh at email@example.com
Religious Calendar Chanukah 2010 First night is Wednesday 1 December Purim 2011 Thursday 17 March Fast of Esther, Fast ends 6:45pm Saturday 19 March Purim starts in the evening â€“ Shabbat ends 6:55pm Ma'ariv 7.15 pm, immediately followed by Megillah Reading Sunday 20 March Shacharit 8:00am, immediately followed by Megillah Reading Pesach 2011 Anyone who would like to attend a Seder, or who knows someone who would like to attend a Seder is invited to consult Mr Barry Landy (C. 570417) who will try to arrange a suitable host. Derby Stores (Cambridge 354931) will take Pesach orders. Monday 18 April Fast of the Firstborn, Shacharit 7:00am Finish all Chametz by 10:16am Burning of Chametz by 11:40am Festival starts 7:47pm, Minchah/Maariv 7:30pm Tuesday 19 April Shacharit 9:30am Minchah/Maariv 7:30 pm, first day ends 8:53pm Wednesday 20 April Shacharit 9:30am, festival ends 8:48pm Saturday 23 April Shacharit 9:30am, Shabbat ends 9:01pm Sunday 24 April Festival Starts 7:58pm, Minchah/Maariv 7:30pm Monday 25 April Shacharit 9:30am Minchah/Maariv 7:30pm, Seventh day ends 9:05pm Tuesday 26 April Shacharit 9:30am, festival ends 9:07pm Shavuot 2011 Shavuot is in University Term, so services are organised by the students. Tuesday 7 June Festival Starts 9:02pm, Minchah/Maariv times to be announced Wednesday 8 June Shacharit 9:30am, Minchah/Maariv to be announced Thursday 9 June Shacharit 9:30am, festival ends 10:24pm
Rejoicing in the readings
Thoughts from Simchat Torah by Ben Blaukopf Although there must have been an email about it, it had passed me by. I knew that food was planned for the evening of Simchat Torah, but had no idea that it was to be a full sit-down meal, reminiscent of similar events in years past. Thanks are definitely due to Reuven and Simon, and no doubt many others for organising this. It was well attended - every so often, more people would arrive, and we would pull out another table - and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, including Abigail who was way past her bed-time. Later on in the meal, both Mark and Reuven spoke at some length. I would comment on the content, but I was spending half my time entertaining Abi, so I have to confess that I cannot remember what was said. Once Mark, the Chatan Torah, stood up to speak, it dawned on me that Simon, as master of ceremonies - not to mention chef - might call upon me also to speak. The only thing that sprang to mind was Samuel Pepys's famous visit to a synagogue on Simchat Torah. I remarked on this, saying that I hoped we would have as much enthusiasm and energy for simcha as he observed on his visit, and, with my oratorical reserves exhausted, sat down! I do now have a little more to say, though I suspect this article will still be somewhat shorter than others in this edition. Since I first leyned, over two decades ago, I have read on Shabbat Bereshit nearly every year. I have also read on Simchat Torah on a couple of occasions - once for another chatan, and then this year, when I was honoured to be Chatan Bereshit. In my teens I learned each pasuk by rote, in a fashion familiar to countless twelve year-olds. When not if - I made a mistake, I would stumble from one word to the next, often with textual errors, until I picked up the flow again. Now my knowledge of Hebrew has improved to the point where I can meld the notes and the meaning of the words. When I make a mistake, I merely end up singing completely incorrect and occasionally implausible notes, but getting the phrasing more or less right, until I pick up the flow again. Perhaps this is an improvement, perhaps not! The real difference is that now there really is a flow, as opposed to just a set of memorised notes, revised last minute and forgotten by kiddush. I have more of an appreciation for the poetry of the text, and how the notes fit with the words. Left: The Yanov Torah rescued from the Holocaust as presented to seminary students at InterSem 2009 in Malibu, CA Credit: Valley2city http://commons.wik imedia.org/wiki/File: YanovTorah.JPG
Even at first, I never got much enjoyment from reading the staccato, short, repetitive sections that are easy to learn but somewhat tedious to read. It was more satisfying to try to perfect a more complex sequence of notes, and a section which covered more immediately interesting topics. As a rule, I preferred the narrative - the adventure of Vayetze and the power of Bo. I was also attracted by the poetry of Ha'azinu - and even the passion of the Tochacha. With that in mind, and given that Simchat Torah is, after all, about the Torah, I would like to present my choices of a poetic verse, a powerful verse, and a pure narrative verse. Vezot Haberacha 33:16 - Joseph is blessed "... with the bounty of the land its fullness, and the favour of the bush-dweller". There are many candidates for a poetic verse, but since this is supposed to be an article about Simchat Torah, I should really pick something from the festival leyning! I leyned this pasuk for the first time this year. In previous years, I had somehow managed to avoid leyning Vezot Haberacha - partly, it has to be said, because I rarely came on second day. I did once read rishon, but that was only because I was there, was called up, and Barry handed me the yad, and told me to read. There are easier sections with which to play that trick on someone! Since I actually did some prep this year - the evening before - I paid attention to the words, as it is impossible to leyn well without knowing what the text means, and it is similarly impossible (for me at least!) to translate poetic text on the fly. I was struck by the phrase "the bush-dweller"; the abstract reference to the burning bush appealed to me. If you had perfect Hebrew, but no knowledge of Shemot, then this verse would almost certainly mean nothing to you. This isn't the most erudite or obscure reference in the Torah - but one which jumped out of the page at me. However, Onkelos clearly didn't like the symbolism, as his Aramaic translation replaces the abstract "bush-dweller" with the rather more prosaic "He who dwells in heaven and was revealed to Moshe in the bush". Bo 12:29, as read on first day Pesach fits the bill for a powerful verse. This is a bit of an obvious choice, but nonetheless holds its own. "And it came to pass at midnight" is the introduction to the event, and we do not have to wait long to hear what happens. "And God smote every firstborn in all the land of Egypt" is read with two Zarqas, a note that serves to elevate the sense of drama. The notes simply match the text perfectly and convey the sense of the moment. Zarqa is even read with ten distinct syllables - one for each plague? Bereshit 1:1 - "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth". If narrative is the simple relating of events, then this packs the entire essence of the first chapter of Bereshit into one line. You could almost read it as a Mishna, followed by the Gemara â€“ the remainder of the first perek - elucidating exactly what was meant by this line. The notes are simple, because the text needs no decoration. Everyone knows the meaning of the words, and everyone understands them on at least some level, though this line of text attracts considerably more commentary than most other pasukim. It might seem, after over twenty public readings and countless more in private, that I would know and understand my barmitzva sedra pretty well. On the contrary, every time I read it, I notice something else about the way the text relates to the notes. Every time I read it, I try to improve my reading. Sometimes I repeat old mistakes, other times I make new, more complicated mistakes. This year, when I read the first verse of Bereshit, I leyned it slightly differently to last year and to every previous year. To my ear it was an improvement. If I ever get the whole sedra right to my satisfaction, it will probably be time to stop reading.
Chanukah Reflections on Place and Dedication By Simon Goldhill I am writing this chairman’s message from Jerusalem… I left a rainy, and cold and grey Cambridge with that damp, depressed, November grumpiness (why T.S. Eliot ever thought that April was the cruellest month is beyond me) and arrived to clear blue skies, 80 degrees, and the usual craziness of Israel. (No evil eye, please.) I am staying in Mishkenot Sha’ananim, and typing here on the terrace overlooking the walls of the Old City. Mishkenot, for those that don’t know, is that line of little houses and the windmill opposite Mount Zion, which were built in the 19th century by Moses Montefiore. They were designed to be the first houses outside the walls and to be used by Jewish workers. The hope was that living here in clean conditions the inhabitants of the Old City would leave their cramped, backwards, impoverished ways and start to lead a fuller, richer, healthier life. At first, the happy beneficiaries of Montefiore’s charity fled every night back into the safety of the city walls; after a bout of cholera in the city, they gradually realized the advantages of sanitation, and this row of cottages became the foundation of the new, modern Jerusalem. I love staying here in the little workers’ rooms – now each worth a fortune – because of their historic associations – and because it is now reserved for guests of the government – artists, academics, writers – and consequently there are no bar mitzvahs, no children, no loud families; no bling and big hair at breakfast; and everyone reads at meals, like I do, when I am on my own abroad. It is the opposite of the King David… And quiet in Jerusalem is at a premium. I am here for a conference – as ever – and this one is on cultural difference and government policy with regard to heritage, and here will be loads of machers from UNESCO, the architectural and planning communities, and government agencies – and me propping up the rear with whispy stuff about 19th-century Jerusalem, one of my current research interests. There are great things about coming to a conference like this: on Shabbat after early morning minyan a few of us will be having a private tour of the Temple Mount with the authorities there. It will be very strange and rather piquant to look down at the Kotel where every one else will still be dovening, from up top among the mosques. But the thing I find most fascinating is getting the gossip on the new meshugas that is vexing the planners of the city. I mentioned one of these horrors at Kiddush a couple of weeks ago. There is a very touching site in the Old City known as the Hurva. It was where a large, unattractive Victorian shul stood – the main Ashkenazi building in those days. It was destroyed more than once and razed to the ground in the fight for the Old City in 1948. After 1967, the site was left as a ruin with a rather beautiful arch over it. The word Hurva means Above: The Hurva Synagogue in the old city of Jerusalem as it stood before 1948. Photo from 1939 JNF photo archives destruction, and the site was a poignant memory of 6
the losses the city has experienced. A couple of years ago the government announced a competition to rebuild a synagogue here – even though there was no obvious community to use it. There was already a world-famous design for the site by Israel’s greatest architect Louis Kahn, a stunning modernist structure. They decided, however, to rebuild the Victorian building – based on a few old snaps, and a desire to have a dome to challenge the more famous domes in this city. Bombastic, silly, and aesthetically grotesque. Build it they did, however, and horrid it is. But what has happened? It is has been simply commandeered by a charedi group, who refuse to let men in if improperly dressed – by their standards, of course – charge them if they do let them in, and they bar women altogether. And the local government has done nothing. It is a scandal, shameful and unpleasant. And, I am afraid, typical of the aggressive land grabs that are further scarring personal relationships between Jew and Jew as well as between Jew and Arab. How nice some real leadership in this country would be! The second horror comes from the ultra-frum rabbi of the Kotel. One of the more interesting archaeological discoveries of recent years is the extension of the Cardo, the central Roman street of Jerusalem, to the Kotel. New shops, a tannery and other material have been discovered, and it has produced a new sense of the use of a site of some importance to Jewish thinking about Jerusalem. The rabbi has proposed building a large bar mitzvah hall over the archaeological site at the back of the Kotel plaza, with some rooms for his students to study in. How many things are horrible about this? How’s about turning what might have been a holy site into a Mecca for tourist parties? How’s about the aesthetic aggression of building over the past like that? How’s about forgetting the midrash that the Western Wall was built by the people out of generosity and love for the Temple and hence the shechina, the spirit of hashem will never leave this place? How’s about remembering that the site is a place of mourning for the loss of the Temple, not an excuse for more big hair and bling? But the worst thing of all to me? When challenged, the rabbi said in committee that he had a donor and it had to be done within three years or the money would be lost. Always good to know where real spirituality lies, eh? Can we guess which way the authorities will vote? In fact, UNESCO – despite what some of the Israeli press claim, and despite the American government’s demurral – is also completely right, in my view, not to allow Israel to include Rachael’s Tomb and the Tomb of Abraham on the list of Israeli World Heritage sites, as Israel requested. (This is this week’s dinner-party topic guaranteed to make every guest shout…) Not because they are not sites of immense significance for the Jewish imagination, not because of later and often tenuous Arab associations, and not because of some general political rectitude – but because they are not in Israel. It is unfortunately necessary to remind some people that basic property law applies even to zealots. Only Israeli sites can be on the Israeli list. Thompson’s Lane is safe. There are plenty of Bar Kochba graves scattered around Israel; the suicide bombers, as it were – the zealots – of Massada are celebrated by some (though not by Josephus who tells us about them). The true heroes of 1948 and 1967 and other wars for the survival of Israel are rightly remembered and honoured, even as some modern historians have looked with a cold eye at some of the myths of those eras, too. And at Chanukah remembering and celebrating such fights is one thing we are meant to be doing, no doubt. But it seems to me that the values of Judaism are especially worth fighting for, and that the fight to be a good Jew is partly knowing what we should be fighting for. So eat your doughnuts with joy, spin your dreydel with fervour – but spare a critical thought for why Chanukah is the festival of “dedication” – setting aside for holiness. Chag S’meach . Professor Simon Goldhill, Chairman, CTJC.
By Rabbi Reuven Leigh The Talmud relates regarding the miracle of the Chanukah lights that “they only found one jug of oil...that only contained enough oil to light the Menorah for one day, a miracle occurred and it lasted for eight days” (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat, 21b). The reason why the miracle needed to last eight days was in order for them to obtain new olives and produce pure oil. (Ran, Maharsha, Beit Yosef, Rambam). This well-known story begs a question; after they had lit the menorah with miracle oil for eight days why did they regress and start using natural oil? Why not keep using the miracle oil? The English word miracle fails to capture the Biblical concept of נס- nes. Miracle comes from the Latin miraculum – "object of wonder" – whereas nes connotes something raised as in “ ארים נסיI raise My standard” (Isaiah 49:22) and הגבעה על כנס “like a flagpole on a hill” (Isaiah 30:17). It describes something that enables people, even from far way, to be able to see it. The difference between the natural order and the so called miraculous is the extent to which we are able to perceive the Divine hand in the process. Whilst everything follows the course of nature it is possible to be oblivious to the Divine, whereas in the case of a miracle, even those who are ‘far away’ and distant from recognising the Divine, are made aware that there is a controlling force in the world. So the question remains and is reinforced; after experiencing the superior experience of kindling the Menorah with miracle oil why did they revert back to the natural order of things? It was surely possible for the miracle to continue indefinitely. The purpose of the Menorah and of existence as a whole is to live within the earthly natural realm and make it meaningful and holy. The miraculous gives us insight and inspiration, however, the objective is to translate that enthusiasm into a down to earth recognition that immanence transcends transcendence. Being a Jew is not about Chanukah, Purim or Pesach, it is about what we call in Yiddish ‘a proster mitvoch’ a plain Wednesday. Our holy days provide the perspective to enable us to transform that mundane Wednesday into something holy.
The Cambridge Ark and Sifrei Torah By Barry Landy The ark in Thompson's Lane is said to be very old, and to originate in Florence some 200 years ago. It was a gift to the shul when the shul was built in 1937 and I have no way of verifying its age or origin.
we should read it through for a year as the best way of checking it. Strangely, when we first read it (Sedrah Bereshit) the reader noticed that a word was missing, and over the year we found several similar mistakes. I can only surmise that it had never previously been systematically read from.
There are a surprisingly large number of Sefarim in the Ark. There are four large ones which we use regularly, and several small ones which are never used.
The silver was unfortunately stolen just after the 1990 refurbishment, and was the cause of the installation of the grill to protect the ark. In February 2006 a new crown was presented to the Shul in memory of Dr Charles Levene to replace the one stolen 15 years before.
I do not know the origin of the small Sifrei Torah; what follows are some of the histories of the remainder, oldest first. The very tall Sefer Torah is the most recent arrival in our Shul, and is the oldest. Several years ago Trinity College approached Professor Stefan Reif to ask him what he thought they should do with a Scroll of the Law which was occupying space in their library and which they wished to see put to proper use; should they perhaps send it to Israel? Stefan told them to send it somewhere where it would be regularly used, and suggested the students' Shul in Thompson's Lane. They readily agreed to this and arranged for the transfer. The scroll had been given to Trinity in about 1903 by a vicar, and we did not know what to expect. When it arrived it also came with some splendid silver (a crown, breastplate and a pointer) and a black Torah mantle. All these were inscribed, indicating that the scroll originated in Leeuwarden in the Netherlands in 1812. The remainder of the origin of the scroll we can only speculate. Presumably this scroll was owned by an individual, who fled the troubles in Europe and especially the low countries between 1812 and 1815, and went to England. As to how it left his ownership and became the property of a vicar we can only guess that the original owner became poor and sold the Torah to raise money with which to feed his family, as this is the only circumstance in which it is valid to sell a Torah outside the community.
A medium size scroll, which usually has a light blue cover, has been in the Shul longer than I have. It was written by the private Sofer of Montefiore. This Sofer wrote a lot of Sifrei Torah many of which Montefiore presented to various synagogues. The Sefer is written in a Sefardi script but with Askenazi traditions. It is still in excellent condition and is a pleasure to read from. The third scroll came from Llanelli. Llanelli Hebrew Congregation was founded early in the 20th century by refugees from Russia, among them the grandparents of Barry and Julian Landy, whose fathers were born and brought up there. This community flourished and produced many leaders of Anglo Jewry, but by 1980 the community was no longer viable as almost all the Jews had moved away. I approached my uncle who was then the President of the congregation and he gave us permission to take away "on permanent loan" anything of value to us. Stefan Reif and I drove to Llanelli and examined the Shul and its contents, and decided to take two scrolls, a number of Chumashim (many were affected by damp unfortunately) and a Sedrah board to inform the community of the portion of the week. We are still using this board. The two Llanelli scrolls were inducted with great ceremony in a service conducted by Rabbi Meir Berman (A'H) who was then minister of Wembley Synagogue and Rabbi Maurice Landy (A'H) retired minister of Walm Lane Shul. They had both been born and bred in Llanelli. The service was conducted by a student, and was attended by a large number of members of the Landy family, as well as many students and residents.
The scroll itself is written in excellent quality ink on the finest parchment, so despite its age it still reads extremely well. It is in a Sefardi script written with Sefardi traditions. Before reading it we took it to a scribe who told us he was grateful for the opportunity to examine such a beautiful scroll, and that he would not charge. He told us it appeared to be fine and that
Above: Detail from the Ark at Thompson’s Lane shul
We thus acquired two scrolls; one small one in fairly poor condition which we no longer use, and the other a large and heavy scroll in good condition. It had been originally commissioned by my grandfather (or possibly his father) and was written in Lithuania in classical Askenazi style. My father presented a new mantle in memory of his grandparents.
considering setting up a Kollel to revitalise the community. They asked if they could sleep in the Shul, and did so. After a number of days they left saying they realised that it would not be possible to set up the Kollel. Their purpose appears to have been to take sections of the scrolls. These are actually quite valuable. The large majority of scrolls are written in the same size and to the same pattern, so that sections of parchment are interchangeable, Thus when one third is stolen from each of three scrolls, one whole scroll can be made, and then sold. If no one ever tries to use the vandalised scrolls, no one will ever know. Luckily the large Llanelli scroll is not written to the standard pattern and so the stolen sections were useless to the thieves, which is presumably why we were able to get them back.
Above L-R: the Llanelli torah, the Montefiore sefer and the Dutch sefer.
After the induction we then proceeded to use this new, large, scroll. The first week we read it was Parshat Parah; it was read by Joshua Landy, making the 4th generation of Landy's to read from the scroll. The second week was Parshat HaChodesh. This required the winding the scroll back from the middle of Numbers to the middle of Exodus, passing the Song of the Sea just before finding the passage to be read for HaChodesh. The person winding the scroll failed to see the Song of the Sea (Shirat Ha Yam), which is odd since it is written in a very striking and unusual layout. He got to the beginning of Exodus, went back and realised that the section he was looking for was missing! That Shabbat they read from a different scroll! Closer examination showed that approximately a third of the scroll was missing. A Torah Scroll is made up of a number of parchment sections sewn together and a third of these had been removed. My father (Harry Landy A'H) proceeded to investigate. He enquired round Golder's Green and North London and got people to pass the word around. Out of the blue he received a phone call "Stop asking around and wait for another call,". The second call came and told him to look in the attic of a Golders Green Sofer who had recently passed away. The widow took him up to the attic and there they found sacks of scraps of Sifrei Torah. They opened the first sack and right at the top were the pieces my father was looking for. They had plainly been placed there for him to find (shades of the story of Benjamin and the cup!). What happened to remove those sections from the scroll? It transpired that some time previously a group of people who said they were Chassidim visited Llanelli. They said they were aware that the Jewish population was dwindling and they were
The scroll and its missing pieces were soon reunited and we have been delighted to be able to read from it ever since, though those who have been asked to perform Hagbah (the lifting of the scroll) have not been so delighted as it is extremely heavy! The story of the fourth and youngest sefer is also interesting. The family of the late Professor David Tabor decided to present the Cambridge Synagogue with a new Sefer Torah in his memory and asked me to organise it for them. The presentation itself took place on Sunday May 18 2007. A group of residents and students representing all aspects of Cambridge Jewish life gathered at the home of the student chaplain, Rabbi Yehudah Fishman, where the process of the completion of the writing of the Sefer took place. We had a Chazan for the day, Graeme Alexander, who not very long ago was himself a student at Cambridge, and who is now again resident in Cambridge. I brought the scribe (Chaim Lopian) to the Chaplain's house, where he started by filling in most of the remaining letters at the end of Devarim. In the writing process these letters are left as outlines and the completion process fills them in. Then one at a time, starting with Daniel Tabor, people were called by name to have the honour of having one of these letters written for them. Those who had that honour were Mr Lush (David Tabor's nephew), Professors Reif, Goldhill, Pepper, Bleehen, Rabbis Fishman and Leigh, Messrs Landy, Squires, Lang, Stone, and Blaukopf, Chazan Alexander and three students. At 11am the Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, arrived and was met by Barry Landy and escorted into the house, where he wrote the final letter. Once the Torah was completed, and the ink dry, all present, plus a considerable number of students and residents who had been waiting
outside the house for this moment, set off in procession from 6 Alpha road to the Synagogue. Our route took us down Chesterton lane, over the footbridge, along Jesus Green (a nice irony!) and then up Thompson's Lane to the shul. On the way the Sefer was held by various people, starting with the Chief Rabbi, and was all the time underneath a Chuppah (canopy) and all the while songs were being sung, led by Graeme and others. We had a police escort to make sure that the roads were clear and as can be imagined there were some very interested onlookers. Once at the shul we had a brief service conducted by Graeme Alexander during which a Hagbah (lifting up of the torah) was performed so that everyone could see the new scroll; after the service the Chief Rabbi addressed us, and following that there was a reception. This was a very happy and united occasion in which all the facets of Jewish life in Cambridge came together to honour the Torah and the memory of David Tabor. The back-story is not without interest! Daniel Tabor and I started the process off as early as January 2007. The Sefer had already been found by Chaim Lopian; it was being written in Israel and was almost completed. What we had to do was to order the Atzei Chaim (wooden poles on which the scroll is rolled), silver adornments and two mantles. We also had to write and agree an inscription for all these things in memory of Professor David Tabor. The Atzei Chaim have silver bands containing the inscription; the silver adornments are also inscribed and the mantles are embroidered. By March all was settled and ordered and we were assured by Jerusalem the Golden (the shop in Golders Green) that everything would be ready in good time. Then things started to fall apart. The Atzei Chaim which
arrived were the wrong length and had to be reordered. The other items showed no signs of arriving. Week after week went by when I phoned Jerusalem the Golden and the sofer only to receive negative answers. Finally, the Sunday before the ceremony the Sefer was complete, and the silver adornments ready, but still no sign of the mantles. I collected everything from London on Thursday 17 May, just 3 days before the ceremony, expecting that the mantles would finally have arrived only to be told by the shop that they had not. But "Dont worry!" they said (how could I not!!). We will have a replacement ready for Sunday and deliver it =to you in person. And that is indeed what happened. A seamstress embroidered the correct inscription on a new mantle and the boss himself drove up to Cambridge on the Sunday morning so that at 10am (phew!) I had an appropriate mantle (if not the correct one). Nobody noticed a thing, of course. It is so often the case that there is a major crisis at such events but there is an art in making everything appear smooth on the surface. The proper mantle arrived about a month later and is now on the Sefer in the ark in Thompson's Lane. The following year (2008/9) we read the new Sefer through from the beginning of Bereshit until the end of Devarim and every time it is read we remember David Tabor (Zichrono Livracha). It is wonderful to know something of the history of the sacred objects in use in the Thompson's Lane synagogue. There are some things there about which I would like to know more, especially the wooden ark. This is believed to be Italian and about 200 years old, but if anyone knows any more than that could they please let me know?
Left: Sofer Chaim Lopian finishes the final letters of the sefer torah in David Taborâ€™s memory. Clockwise from top left: Simon Goldhill, David Stone, Barry Landy, Chaim Lopian, Graeme Alexander.
Exploring Cambridge’s “Cairo Genizah” Mark Harris visits the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit at Cambridge University Library and interviews Professor Stefan Reif and Dr Ben Outhwaite. As a relatively new resident of Cambridge, and a newcomer to its literary treasures (like, for example, the fascinating Pepys Library at Magdalene College) often missed by or unknown to me, the erstwhile casual city visitor, I was enthusiastic to learn more about (and, if possible, inspect) the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection archived at Cambridge University Library (CUL). In my previous existence I’d certainly heard of the huge hoard of ancient manuscript fragments (Biblical, rabbinical and liturgical) taken from the genizah (store room) of the 9th century Ben Ezra Synagogue (the Rambam’s shul) in Old Cairo in the 1890s and brought to CUL by Rabbi Dr Solomon Schechter, Reader in Talmudic Studies at Cambridge, supported by the financial sponsorship of Dr Charles Taylor (Master of St John’s College). But little did I appreciate, before reading A Jewish Archive from Old Cairo, Professor Stefan Reif’s excellent and very readable introduction to the Genizah Collection’s history in Cambridge, how immensely this treasure trove of largely vellum items – including thousands of amazing everyday private letters, commercial agreements, legal documents (of special interest to me as a lawyer), medical and scientific notes – had transformed scholarly knowledge and study of Jewish communities in the Mediterranean area up to and beyond 1,000 years ago (especially in the early medieval period). So it was with scarcely concealed excitement that, just before Yom Kippur, I examined a number of the fascinating fragments and interviewed Professor Reif, founder-director of the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit at CUL (1974 to 2006) and now its project consultant, and his successor as head of the Unit, Dr Ben Outhwaite. Scene: Professor Stefan Reif’s room, sixth floor, main building, CUL. MH: It’s virtually impossible to know where to begin. There are so many aspects to the Cairo Genizah Collection, historical, religious, cultural, literary, linguistic and socio-economic. And what I’ve learned about the scholarly characters involved in its history is almost as intriguing as the manuscript fragments. But tell me, in the nearly eight decades that this astonishingly important material had been stored at CUL, why had nobody considered establishing such a research unit as you began organising in 1974? SR: The setting up of the Research Unit in 1974 was really an accident of history. In 1898, Schechter and Taylor presented the Cairo Genizah Collection to CUL. There was feverish activity on the fragments for some 10 years. In 1902, Schechter left for New York to become president of the Jewish Theological Society of America. An assistant at the Library looked after the material. Then the First World War began. Many of the great scholars lived in Germany. In the 1920s and 1930s, there was the Depression. The Second World War followed. So from around 1910 it was basically a holding operation for the collection. There had been early sorting of fragments, but the rest merely remained piled up in crates. Until, in the 1950s, the historian Shelomo Dov Goitein decided to write about the medieval Jewish history background in his Mediterranean Society from a scholarly viewpoint. On CUL’s part, nobody was conserving or preparing volumes on the manuscripts. But there were so many collections in the Library that the Genizah wasn’t given priority. There wasn’t any money for it anyway. MH: So you were confronted with quite a challenge in 1974? SR: My first thought was that something had to be set in motion quickly. We needed to have conservation and we required catalogues of the Genizah material, as well as microfilms of the fragments. And it needed to be made accessible to scholars and the public. Funding had to be sought for all this. Everyone thought the task practically impossible. And it dawned that I had to get the money, engage the researchers and make a team. So I sat down and began writing a project that would last for a number of years. And I worked on that project for well over three decades. MH: I’ve read that the Cairo Genizah was “emptied” by Solomon Schechter. I’ve also seen the word “spoils” used in relation to the fragments taken from Ben Ezra. This sounds a bit like plunder, though I understand that Schechter persuaded the Chief Rabbi of Cairo, Rabbi Aaron Raphael Ben Shim’on, to release them to him. In that case, were the synagogue authorities content with this arrangement, as the manuscripts were apparently of some commercial value on the antiquities market? Did any money change hands? And how was the export of this huge hoard of fragments handled? SR: The Chief Rabbi couldn’t have done anything without the support of the Ben Ezra community leaders in Fustat. They included some very distinguished families, such as the Cattawis and Mosseris, who got to know Schechter well. Their children came to Cambridge, Oxford and London Universities. It was a very cosmopolitan community which liked the idea of a Cambridge Genizah Collection that was to be preserved and studied. Schechter couldn’t ignore the Chief Rabbi, but it was the community to which the fragments belonged, and that was what counted in their release. Permission came from the prominent families, with whom Schechter retained good relations. Rebecca Jefferson, a former Unit colleague now in the USA, has done some recent research which shows that money is likely to have changed hands, doubtless quietly. Who
got it, I don’t know, but Dr Taylor probably supplied it. Schechter got to know Lord Cromer, governor of Egypt, and the genizah fragments were exported formally through him. MH: I understand that Ben Ezra’s genizah was not actually “emptied” by Schechter in 1897. Didn’t Jacques Mosseri, a few years later, discover thousands more fragments at the Fustat shul and its nearby Basatin cemetery? Hasn’t the Mosseri family recently made a 20-year loan to CUL of its collection, which was held for decades in a Paris bank vault? SR: Yes, Mosseri did take the remainder of the fragments from the genizah. And, as you say, they’re now here in Cambridge so that the items can be described, catalogued and digitised. They aren’t in a good state, having been stored in cardboard boxes, and they need conservation. In 20 years’ time it doesn’t matter where this collection goes because there will be digital images of it available on everyone’s computer. MH: I’ve seen various figures for the number of fragments in the Cairo Genizah Collection. I’ve read that 280,000 fragments were taken from Ben Ezra. But in an 1898 letter, I’ve noted Cambridge University thanked Charles Taylor for “about 40,000 fragments of manuscripts” presented to CUL.. I’ve also noticed the following statistics in this connection: 210,000, 193,000, and 140,000. What’s the correct number? SR: It really depends on how you count the fragments. This would give you different totals. Fragments may have one leaf or more than one. Some leaves may be double-sided. If you count leaves, the figure will be nearer 300,000. Originally, some manuscripts may have comprised 100 pages. Thus, when the word “fragment” is used, it could mean one leaf, two or three leaves or another number. I would say that there are some 140,000 fragments in the collection. MH: In much of the period covered by the collection, Jewish communities in the Mediterranean area lived side-by-side with Muslim neighbours. Do you think any beneficial lessons can be derived, especially from the fragments of the early medieval period, for Jewish/Muslim relations today? Or does the fact that Jews were regarded as second class citizens in the Islamic empire, under the principle of “dhimmah”, make any such lesson-seeking pointless? SR: The only lesson you can learn from history, someone once said, is that you can’t learn any lessons. If that’s accepted, then every generation must deal with its own circumstances in its own way. Because Jews were second-class citizens, as indeed in Christian Europe, it was for the local Muslim ruler to decide how he treated the Jews under his power and control. As in Europe, there were periods when the Jews were wanted and they prospered in a co-operative atmosphere. But even during the fairly tolerant Fatamid period, El Hakim went crazy and burned down all the synagogues and churches. He made life impossible for Jews and Christians. But other times were good. There’s no real consistency. When the situation was good, the Jewish communities thrived; when it wasn’t they suffered, sometimes terribly. It was taken for granted, until the modern era, that this would always be the case. What comes out is that Islam, like other religions, has two sides to it: the side of tolerance and the ethics and morals of a monotheistic faith, and the side of fanaticism. It’s the same today as it was then. MH: I know that a substantial proportion of the Genizah manuscripts were written in Judeo-Arabic [Arabic penned in Hebrew letters]. Have any Muslim scholars utilised the collection here, for example in studying the Koran or how the Arab language developed and was used during the period covered by the fragments? SR: There are some Muslim scholars in Egypt who are interested in the collection, but much less so than one would’ve hoped. They tend to be thin on the ground because the fragments demand such a great knowledge of Hebrew studies. However, they’re likely to grow in number. We’re beginning to witness an interest on the part of some young Egyptian scholars. Of course there are Muslim documents, Koranic material and many other areas of importance to Islamic history in the collection. I believe the study of it by Muslim scholars will happen eventually. MH: I’ve noted that the Cairo Genizah contains manuscripts written by the same sect which, 1,000 years earlier, had produced the so-called “Dead Sea Scrolls” discovered at Qumran in 1947. How would you compare the importance of the two discoveries? SR: These are two of the greatest collections of Jewish documents in the world. Without them we could neither reconstruct the history of the Jews 2,000 years ago in Eretz Yisrael nor recreate the history of the Jews 1,000 years back in the Mediterranean area, including Eretz Yisrael. Both sets of manuscripts have changed all our notions of what Jewish history and the Jewish faith were in those times. They’re also linked in the sense that there are some items in the Scrolls that vanished and then reappeared in the Genizah. So there must’ve been a line of continuity and tradition. I suspect that it existed amongst a group of Jews who’d virtually disappeared. They’d been inclined to pursue the way of the Scrolls and, therefore, not follow the rabbinic or Talmudic way. The group seems to have resurfaced in the Genizah material in the form of the Karaites and their non-Talmudic, Biblical Judaism in the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries. MH: In a lecture you gave in Manchester, I think last year, you alluded to “controversial thoughts” and “startling discoveries” in prayer fragments from the Cairo Genizah. What’s the most significant of these thoughts and discoveries? SR: The prayer book we use daily today, the siddur, and in whatever community, Ashkenazi, Sephardi or Yemenite, was fixed essentially by the great leaders of the Iraqi Jewish community in Mesopotamia in the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries. Before the siddur, nothing was written down. Whilst they were writing the siddur,
another version existed in Eretz Yisrael. This was known as the “Palestinian” or “Eretz Yisrael” Rite. Because many Jews from that community, destroyed effectively by the Crusaders, had fled to Syria and Egypt their traditions survived for another 150 years. Then they gradually disappeared. So everything in the siddur we know today was dictated by the original Iraqi or Babylonian authorities. We can now discover in the Genizah all the arguments between the Jews of Eretz Yisrael and of Iraq about the form of that prayer book. The Jews of Eretz Yisrael lost this battle! Actually, there’s a Rav in Israel now who wants to revive the old siddur format of Eretz Yisrael, based on material in the Genizah. I believe this would be very difficult to do with something that is basically academic. MH: After 32 years or so as head of the Genizah Research Unit, what did you think had been the most crucial contribution made by the collection to the study of Jewish history? SR: The Genizah has given us a much better comprehension of what Jewish life, in all its aspects, was like in the Mediterranean area of 1,000 years ago. Some 120 years back, we knew virtually nothing about this period in Jewish history. Now we know a great deal, and the great deal that we know helps us to understand where we’re all coming from. MH: If Solomon Schechter walked into this room right now what, apart from the obvious question, would you want to say to him? SR: I would just want to say to him that he did a great thing. To be able to see the significance of a room full of scraps of vellum, paper and parchment, and to know that they would revolutionise our understanding of Jewish history is a fantastic piece of scholarship on his part. Lots of scholars wouldn’t be capable of doing that. Schechter was able to see what the Genizah would be able to contribute to our knowledge of Jewish history. In fact, he said it was a great shame he wouldn’t see all the great work that would be done on the collection, which will continue for many generations. And that’s exactly what I feel. I’ve done well over three decades in the Unit here. It’s my great pleasure to see it continue, and to know that, in 100 years time, whatever little dot I am in its history, it will be said that the work continues. That’s a heritage which Solomon Schechter had and I hope I’ll have. Left: Part of a piyyut with musical notation of Ovadiah Ha-Ger (Obadiah the Proselyte): Egypt (?); early 12th century; Hebrew on paper. When Johannes of Oppido, an Italian priest, converted to Judaism in 1102, changing his name to Obadiah, he did not abandon his love of liturgical music. The Cairo Geniza contains several of his transcriptions. The best known are his neumatic notations to piyyutim, with formulas characteristic of the Gregorian chant. Ovadian has thus provided us with the first written musical setting to Jewish liturgical poetry. But scholars are at odds abou the degree to which he was responsible for their composition. (Photo reproduced by kind permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library.)
MH: Many scholars have studied the Genizah. What has been accomplished in making the Genizah collection known, more accessible and better understood by interested laymen? SR: Well, personally, I’ve given hundreds of lectures. I’ve written a book about the archive, which I hope is readable. I’ve given power point presentations all over the world, and there’ve been radio and television programmes about the collection. The Israel Museum had a major exhibition in 1997. One of the battles that I’ve fought over the years is to try to bring the results of Genizah research to the public. It’s a job which Dr Outhwaite and the Unit continue to do, and which we need to do more and more. The more the collection comes on line, the more people will have it available to them. MH: Could you say something about your own eponymous fund that was set up when you retired as director of the Unit in 2006? What are its main aims? SR: The fund in my name is concerned with everything to do with the fragment collection here. This includes promoting the popular understanding of the Cairo Genizah, media interest and volumes describing material in the archive. The idea behind the fund is continuity. All the things I’ve spent many years doing with the Genizah would continue. It’s very much concerned with knowing more about our Jewish history. Some people might ask: Why should we give money to things that are scholarly? The truth is that, in order to understand ourselves today – what we’re doing in Eretz Yisrael, what our background is there, where our culture and traditions, Biblical or otherwise, come from, how they developed and why – we need to study sources like the Genizah fragments, which shed light on what was happening in Jewish communities 1,000 years ago. The past isn’t dry and dusty; it lives on in each one of us. MH: What advice would you give to a Jewish student considering studying Jewish history of the Near East during the early medieval period, the primary era covered by the Genizah? SR: Whatever the student wants to do in the future, there’s enormous scope for using sources like the Genizah for becoming more self-aware. Jewish leaders and diplomats, for example, would be better able to make the case for Israel, Zionism, Jewish continuity and our place in the world. Many such people don’t know sufficient about our origins and history. Even if studying the sources isn’t for people’s professional purposes, the learning alone will assist them to know who they really are. MH: Can you say something about the contribution to Genizah work made by your wife Shulie, who, I understand, sadly passed away earlier this year? SR: Shulie came to work in the Research Unit about three years after I was appointed its director. She was a very orderly person and put order into so much chaos. Whenever there was a crisis, she would calm all of us down. Let’s find a logical way of sorting it out, she would say, and she did. My late wife edited people’s work, which was difficult when the writer’s first language wasn’t English. She not only assisted scholars in the Unit but also entertained them to Shabbat meals in our home. Shulie helped to organise the 1997 Genizah exhibition at the Israel Museum, which was visited by 75,000 people. Apart from editing the volumes, indexing, proof-reading and sub-editing, she also assisted me in editing the volumes that I edited. All in all, Shulie made a major contribution to the work carried out here. MH: My questions could go on and on, but of course there’s a time limit. So finally, in your retirement speech in 2006 you promised or maybe threatened as follows, “I’ll haunt the Library in retirement until I’m no longer able to distinguish the Manuscript Reading Room from the Tea Room!” You’re now project consultant to CUL. Tell me, how’s the haunting coming along? SR: [Laughs.] I’m still breathing down their necks here as project consultant. I endeavour to do a combination of things. I try to contribute as much as I can, but without treading on anyone’s toes. I think that Ben Outhwaite and his team are doing a great job. Current staff is all young. The future is for the young. But it’s very useful for the young to have some experience around. I’m contributing my experience and encouraging them to make a future for the Genizah that I always hoped would be there. Scene: Dr Ben Outhwaite’s office, Genizah Research Unit, CUL extension, ground floor. MH: What drew you to the Genizah collection in the first place? BO: I read for a degree in Hebrew at Cambridge University. I came here as an undergraduate to read Chinese, but I changed my mind. I went to Israel for a year and married an Israeli. In Cambridge, they teach Hebrew from the earliest times to the present day. So I was studying the earliest inscriptions from Biblical Hebrew, through Rabbinic Hebrew to the works of Grossman. In my second year or so Geoffrey Khan, now Professor of Philology at Cambridge, began teaching in the Faculty of Oriental Studies. Previously he’d worked for Professor Stefan Reif in the Genizah Research Unit researching and cataloguing material. Whilst teaching us, in the old-style textual way, the usual Cambridge curriculum of Biblical books starting with Daniel, he constantly referred to the need to look at original manuscripts and continually mentioned the Cairo Genizah. When I came to do a post-graduate degree, I decided to write on documents from that collection. And then, while I was finishing my PhD, I asked Professor Reif for a job. Fortunately, my request coincided with a period
of quite fruitful funding so I was hired. I’ve worked in the Unit ever since, for seven years as a research assistant and from 2006 as its director. MH: During your seven years as a research assistant, what were your main areas of work? BO: I came to work on Bible manuscripts. Non-Jewish scholars had been interested generally in the Bible area of the Genizah. There are 25,000 pieces of Bible material, covering the whole Tanach, in the collection. This area had been subject to the earliest cataloguing, in the 1970s. Malcolm Davis, the Librarian at that time, started this work. I was given the task of updating two of the four remaining volumes of catalogues and publishing them. Then I moved on to my particular area of interest, document studies. MH: I suspect that among the principal challenges facing you as director of the Unit is the matter of funding, so crucial for research work at universities. I believe you have an annual budget of some £150,000. How are you managing now? How will you cope with potential funding cutbacks, and maybe more reticent donors, in today’s economic climate? BO: We probably do have the budget you mention. There are 14 people working in the Unit, including five photographers and a conservator. My post, which had been created by the Faculty of Oriental Studies, is the only one here actually paid for by the university. Everyone else is on “soft money” that has to be fund-raised. Currently, we’ve got a large grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the second from them in recent years. It has paid for three researchers to catalogue the “Old Series”, the oldest part of the Cairo Genizah. Potentially, it contains the most exciting material. We’re also extremely grateful for the generous support of Dov Friedburg, from Canada, who over many years has backed Genizah research worldwide. Most recently, he gave us £1m to digitise the entire collection. He has a web portal for the Genizah, and wants every fragment reunited. We also receive generous support from a number of individuals and small charitable organisations in the UK and the USA. Most of these funding sources derive from Professor Reif’s efforts in the 1970s. It’s true that the budgets of research councils are being slashed drastically over the next few years. Successful applications were around one in three. Now it’s likely that figure will go right down. This means that we’re likely to shrink over the next few years. MH: You’ve referred to “exciting new initiatives” and “major projects” of the Unit that require funding. What’s the importance of this work? MH: As I’ve just mentioned, the Unit is digitising the whole Genizah collection. We’re shooting images of every single fragment. The entire material has always been available for any scholar to consult. But this isn’t always convenient for them if they live, say, in Israel or the USA. So this is the most important current project. The CUL has plans to create a Digital Library. They’ve recently received the funding for this. Next year we’ll have an amazing new Digital Management System integrated across the entire Library catalogue. This will enable images to be stored, searched and displayed on line. The Genizah manuscripts will be the centrepiece of that advanced digital collection. Aside from the Biblical and rabbinical material, it will be a massive source of information on the Jewish history of the Mediterranean area. For example, we have primary sources for the Crusader period. To many people the Genizah is still regarded as a “Jewish collection”, in the sense that you need to be able to read and understand Hebrew or Judeo-Arabic to access it. But there are documents here that are relevant to many different fields of study. So we want to make it easier for people to access all this material by transcribing and translating it then putting it on line. MH: I’ve read on the Unit’s website that there may be “naming” possibilities for generous benefactors. Could you expand on this? BO: Another institution in the UK that holds genizah fragments is running out of money to keep them and considers that CUL would be a better place for them. We’re in negotiations now to acquire this collection. It will require over £1m. Supported by the Librarian, we’re starting to put together an appeal for funds. If a generous individual were to make a substantial donation, the collection could possibly be named appropriately. Watch this space for a large public appeal. MH: Do you have a personal favourite amongst the Genizah fragments? BO: As a linguist, I’ve concentrated on philological aspects of the Hebrew language. The 11th century letters of Solomon Ben Judah greatly interest me. Very few people had heard of him before the Genizah was discovered. He was the Gaon and head of the yeshivah in Jerusalem, the most important man in the city. There are some 100 letters by him in our collection. Previously there were no known works by him. The Jerusalem Gaonim didn’t have the same high standing as the Babylonian Gaonim, such as HaLevi and Saadya. Ben Judah had wonderful handwriting. He wrote generally in pure Biblical Hebrew. This is unusual for a time when most Jews in the area wrote in Judeo-Arabic. In my view, he’s a man out of his time. And I think he’s a real star of the Genizah in a period of history we previously knew nothing about. MH: If Solomon Schechter walked into this room right now what, aside from the supernaturally obvious, would you be anxious to ask him? BO: I would ask him to tell me precisely what the genizah at the Ben Ezra Synagogue looked like. There are many different and conflicting reports. I’d also be interested to know how he could’ve departed Cambridge for America in 1902 leaving behind him one of the greatest discoveries of Hebrew manuscripts ever, in my opinion a find even more important than the Dead Sea Scrolls.
DISCOVER YOUR JEWISH ROOTS WITH LANGDON’S SPONSORED HERITAGE TREK TO LITHUANIA 15-22 MAY 2011 Langdon is hosting its first ever heritage trek to Lithuania. The fully escorted trek will give participants the chance to find out more about their family’s roots as well as enjoying the incredible sights on offer. Going from historic Riga to Vilnius, the tour will take in UNESCO World Heritage sights including the beautifully restored Peitav Synagogue, the Shtetl of Zagare, The Hill of Crosses and the island castle in Trakai. This promises to be an utterly fascinating and unforgettable experience for everyone taking part. More importantly this fantastic trip will raise money for Langdon’s young Jewish adults with mild to moderate learning disabilities. Participants will be trekking up to 15 km a day. The tour is suitable for most people, although training should be undertaken prior to travelling. Langdon enables independent living for young Jewish adults with mild to moderate learning disabilities. Operating in both Manchester and London, the charity is currently supporting 85 people. There will be an information evening on Thursday 9 December at 7:45pm in Radlett. For more information about Langdon’s services and the trek, contact Natalie Chevin on 020 8951 3942.
Follow in the footsteps of your ancestors... ...and find out who you really are. Langdon’s Heritage Trek from La tvia to Lithuania Sunday 15th - Sunday 22nd May 2011 ATOL
It’s back – Chanukah on Ice! Wednesday 1 December 6:00pm at Cambridge on Ice, Parker's Piece Come along to enjoy: • Giant menorah lighting • Singing • Doughnuts • Children's crafts • Reduced priced skating
Mitzvah Day Sunday 21 November was Mitzvah Day. Myriam Alexander coordinated the Cambridge collection of warm clothes for Eastern European communities. They were taken to the World Jewish Relief (WJR) collection centre in London, for sorting and sending to those in need. WJR is also collecting money to help ship the clothes. More information is available at: http://www.mywjr.org.uk/cambridge/ and you can also make a donation through this webpage.
Read the bulletin online in full colour! http://issuu.com/ctjc/docs/chanukah_2010 18
CTJC Bulletin Chanukah 2010