CTJC Bulletin Chanukah 5772/2011
Inside: • Chief Rabbi opens Cambridge mikvah • Simon Goldhill reviews Cambridge Limmud • Chanukah cookies recipe … and much more! 0
Welcome to the CTJC Chanukah Bulletin Bulletin Number 103. Cover image: Chocolate coins for Chanukah http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chanukah_gelt.jpg This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
A lot has happened since we prepared the Rosh Hashana issue, not least the High Holydays themselves. We were delighted to have our services ably lead by CTJC Chair and accomplished chazzan Gedalya Alexander, and Rosh Hashana was enhanced still further by the wonderful lunch organised (and cooked!) by Rabbi Reuven Leigh. Around 70 guests enjoyed a delicious meal of apples & honey, pomegranates, salmon, salads and kugel, followed by apple pie and honey cake. A delightful start to the communal year. September also saw the Chief Rabbi visit Cambridge to open our new mikvah. A full report is provided by Mark Harris, on pages 10-12. We are looking forward to the Chanukah celebrations, and as the calendar on page 4 shows, Purim and Pesach will be here again before we know it! If you would like to submit material for our Pesach issue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org You can read the bulletin online in full colour at http://issuu.com/ctjc/docs/chanukah_2011 Wishing you a Chanukah Sameach, from all at the Bulletin.
Above: Chanukah cookies – see recipe on page18. 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.
In this issue… 1 2 2 3 4 5 8 10 13
Welcome to the CTJC Chanukah Bulletin Community news Communal Information Religious calendar Questions, questions… by Gedalya Alexander Love your fellow as yourself, by Rabbi Reuven Leigh A problem in the Bereshit story, by Barry Landy Chief Rabbi opens Cambridge mikvah, report by Mark Harris To Tel Aviv taxi drivers, by Julian Landy Education, Education, Education, by Simon Goldhill Chanukah Cookies, by Helen Goldrein Recycled Dreidel Paper Dolls
COMMUNITY NEWS Mazeltov To Ben, Claire and Abigail Blaukopf on the birth of Eden Hazel. To Mrs Gertrude Landy on her 100th birthday. To David and Helen Stone on the birth of their second grandchild Dora Olive, daughter of Ian and Kay. To Stefan Reif and family on the engagement and forthcoming marriage of Aryeh Reif to Rina. To Robert and Toni Marcus on the wedding of their daughter Rachel. To Julian Landy and Annette Landy on the engagement of Imogen to Alon. Refuah Shlemah To Jonathan Goldman.
COMMUNAL INFORMATION Shul services Friday evening In term:
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
8:00am (most weeks)
You can also consult our online calendar at www.ctjc.org.uk/calendar 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or Jonathan Allin at email@example.com CTJC Officers Rabbi
Committee 2011/2012 Chairman Treasurer Secretary Synagogue officer Education officer Welfare officer Bulletin/website officer Board of Deputies
Gedalya Alexander Jonathan Allin Mark Harris Barry Landy Rosalind Landy Sarah Shechter Helen Goldrein position vacant
Religious Calendar Chanukah 2011 The first night of Chanukah is Tuesday 20 December. Purim 2012 Wednesday 7 March 2012, Fast of Esther Fast ends 6:29pm Ma'ariv at 6:30pm, immediately followed by Megillah Reading, Thursday 8 March 2012 Shacharit at 7:00am, immediately followed by Megillah Reading. Pesach 2012 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. Friday April 6, Fast of the Firstborn Shacharit 7:00am Finish all Chametz by 10:28am; Burning of Chametz by 11:48am Festival starts 7:28pm; Minchah/Ma’ariv 7:15pm Saturday April 7 Shacharit 9:30am Minchah/Ma’ariv 7:30pm Shabbat ends 8:32pm Sunday April 8 Shacharit 9:30am Festival ends 8:33pm Thursday April 12 Festival starts 7:38pm; Minchah/Ma’ariv 7:30pm Friday April 13 Shacharit 9:30am Shabbat starts 7:40pm; Minchah/Ma’ariv 7:30pm Saturday April 14 Shacharit 9:30am Festival ends 8:45pm Shavuot 2011 Shavuot is in University Term, so services are organised by the students. Saturday May 26 Shabbat ends and festival starts 10:06pm Sunday May 27 Shacharit 9:30am Minchah/Ma’ariv to be announced Monday May 28 Shacharit 9:30am; Festival Ends 10:10pm
Questions, questions… Jews are known for answering a question with question. However, there is one question in the literature for which an overwhelming number of answers have been given. The question I refer to is that posed by Rabbi Joseph Cairo, author of the Shulchan Aruch and also known as the Bet Yosef: granted that the jug of oil found by the Hasmoneans miraculously burned for eight days, we know that there was sufficient oil to last for one day, so the miracle can only be said to have lasted for seven days. Surely then, we should celebrate seven, rather than eight days of Chanukah. The Bet Yosef himself wrote a book providing 100 answers to this question and many more answers have been suggested over the following centuries! One answer given by the Bet Yosef is that the priests in the temple divided the jug of oil into eight measures, but poured just one measure into the Menorah on each night; so as each measure of oil would normally be sufficient to last just one eight of a day, that it was found to burn through an entire day means that a miracle occurred on each of the eight days of Chanukah. Rabbi Shmuel Eliezer Halevi Edeles, known as the Maharsha (16th Century, Posen) uses this to explain an argument in the Talmud between Beit Hilel and Beit Shamai. Whereas the former instructs us to light one candle on the first night of Chanukah, two on the second, and so on, strangely, Beit Shamai would do the reverse - lighting eight on the first night, seven on the second and so on. The Talmud explains the reason for Beit Hilel is that in matters of holiness we always look to ascend rather than descend – the well known rule of “Maalin Bakodesh”. Beit Shamai on the other hand, point to the sacrifices brought on the festival of Succot: thirteen bulls were offered up on the first day of the festival, twelve on the second and so on. Above: The last night of Chanukah; Menorah with all 8 candles burning. Photo by It must be said that the opinion of Dov Harrington. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_8th_Night.jpg This Beit Hilel, supported by the well file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. known rule of maalin bakodesh, appears to make more sense – and that is indeed why we follow it! But it is hard to make any sense of Beit Shamai: what do the sacrifices offered up on Succot have to do with Chanukah lights? Well, perhaps not a lot! But according to the Maharsha they do prove that Beit Hilel’s rule of ascending in matters of holiness is not always applied, and particularly when there is a logical reason for doing otherwise. And the logical reason for reducing the lights of Chanukah on each night is, according to the Maharsha, to mark what actually happened in the original story – as explained by the Beit Yosef, they began with eight measures of oil but the available resources reduced by one measure on each subsequent day of Chanukah. So whereas Beit Shamai emphasise the declining resources available for performing the Mitzvah of lighting the Menorah in the temple, Beit Hilel emphasise the importance of looking beyond what we have and aspiring always to “ascend in matters of holiness”. I am very happy to be part of such a dynamic Jewish community as Cambridge and to be able to take part in our many activities. I would like to say how much I enjoyed the recent day Limmud which was attended by a crowd of more than 700 people and would like to congratulate Shoshana and Simon Goldhill for their tireless efforts in making this happen and also their supporting team, which also included members of CTJC. There is more good news regarding the Mikveh, which I am pleased to say has now filled with rain and is available for use. Hopefully we will see our community continue to increase in holiness over the coming year as Beit Hilel recommended – on that note please watch out for details of our Purim celebration which is coming soon! Wishing you all a very happy Chanukah, Gedalya Alexander, Chairman
Love Your Fellow As Yourself Thoughts from Yom Kippur, by Rabbi Reuven Leigh Jewish law allows for a community to expel its members. For actions that are deemed beyond the pale a person can be excommunicated and forbidden to participate in any communal activities – even prayer services. Thankfully it is an action that is rarely used today, however, on an informal basis there are many who are made to feel as outsiders and are yet to feel the warmth and concern a community can give. We begin the Kol Nidrei service with a request that we be allowed to pray together with those that have transgressed and have been expelled from the community. For Yom Kippur is not a time for exclusion. On the day that we request G-d’s compassion we have to demonstrate our own ability for compassion. Compassion and concern for another is not just another facet of being Jewish – it is the answer to the question of what it means to be a Jew. And throughout the services of Yom Kippur we are reminded of this. Rabbi Akiva, one of the martyrs that we read about in the account of the brutal murder of ten great sages of the Jewish people, told us that “love your fellow as yourself” is a great rule of the Torah. It is the principle that illuminates every aspect of Jewish life and if we are going to allow Yom Kippur to make a substantial effect on our lives we need to reflect and consider what it is saying.
Above: Ahava ('love' in Hebrew), Cor-ten steel sculpture by Robert Indiana (American), 1977, Israel Museum Art Garden, Jerusalem, Israel. Photo by Yair Talmor. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ahava.jpg File licensed under the Creative Commons AttributionShare Alike 3.0 Unported license.
The Talmud tells us the story of a Yom Kippur experience of the once great sage Rabbi Elisha ben Avuya. I say once since he ultimately rebelled and became a heretic. In rabbinic literature he will be forever known as ‘acher’ – the other, the person we dare not call by name. On the whole he was shunned by the community. However his disciple, who was also a prominent sage, Reb Meir, continued to respect his teacher and would still learn from him. The Talmud relates that one Yom Kippur, acher was riding his donkey in the vicinity of the holy of holies. Not only was he transgressing by riding his donkey, he showed no shame and flaunted it. Whilst there he heard a heavenly voice cry out that
everyone should do teshuva, except for Elisha whose teshuva would not be accepted. This was acher’s excuse for not repenting whenever his disciple Reb Meir would ask why he doesn’t return. However, we are told that Reb Meir’s belief in his master ultimately paid off and on his death bed Elisha repented. There are a number of fascinating aspects to this story. We should be taken by the commitment of Reb Meir, who notwithstanding the widespread condemnation of Elisha, continued to honour him and respect him. He demonstrated the meaning of Love your fellow as yourself: That even when someone is so fundamentally other to the extent that he is called ‘other’, he still requires from us the call to Love your fellow as yourself. Reb Meir wasn’t some fringe figure of the Jewish establishment, he was the embodiment of the oral law and one of its greatest exponents. It is not alternative to be open, welcoming and compassionate but rather an expression of mainstream authentic Judaism. That which we awkwardly call outreach today should not be seen as some fringe activity but rather as the very embodiment of what Judaism is essentially about. Another striking aspect of this story is how even after a Divine intervention to say that Elisha’s teshuva would not be accepted, ultimately it is. Regardless of heavenly voices there is one principle that is inviolable, the principle that a person is never forsaken, they always retain the dignity and capacity to change and improve and that just as from heaven no one is ever written off, we similarly have no right to dismiss or negate anyone. In fact there are a number of commentaries who say that Elisha was mistaken to be disheartened when he heard the heavenly voice rejecting his teshuva, for he should have known that no one is ever rejected. In one of the most moving of the Yom Kippur prayers, Unesane Tokef, we make ourselves aware that on this day it will be decided from on high our futures, who will live and who will die. We pray that through our heartfelt prayers we will be able to avert any unpleasant decrees. This judgment is a heavenly judgment, and when someone does die we declare that G-d is Dayan Haemet, the true judge. However, when the question of life and death has to be decided by human beings, the earthly court, the considerations change, we are not so confident that we are able to make a true judgement. There is a fascinating Mishna which boils down to a witness intimidation programme. It discusses the way the courts should handle witnesses to a capital crime, on their testimony a person would lose their life, so the Mishna asks: how do we scare the witnesses? What a justice system, attempting to frighten the witnesses from testifying! Instead of a quest for the truth we try everything possible to avoid having to take the life of a person away from them. What is equally fascinating are the tactics used: we are to tell them ‘that for this reason man was created alone’ to let us know that the whole of creation would be worthwhile and can reach its completion through one person. It is not, as we are sometimes led to believe, that through our coming together as a community we reach perfection, quite the opposite, we must realise that ‘for my sake the world was created’ and as such by causing the death of your fellow it is as if you have destroyed the whole world. Therefore, ‘Do not kill’ and extinguish the unique individual who was created in G-d’s image, and ‘Love your fellow as yourself’, for it would be worth the whole creation of the world just for them. In another passage in the Talmud a man approaches a sage with a question; he has been threatened with death unless he hands over someone else to the authorities to suffer the same fate. He receives the most clear of answers: let yourself be killed, who says your blood is redder than the blood of your fellow? Our tradition teaches us that everyone is important, significant and relevant. Under no circumstances do we evaluate the value of one person over another. Be they righteous or wicked, rich or poor, educated or ignorant, we have no way of determining the worth of one person over another. Even more than this, were the equation to be to hand over an individual to the murderous authorities instead of them killing a multitude, we are forbidden to do so, we must never reduce the individual to a number, a mere quantity that can be traded. The quality of each individual is immeasurable, it is worth the 7
creation of the entire world for that one individual. Therefore, as Rabbi Akiva said, Love your fellow as yourself is the great rule of the Torah. Each Kol Nidrei I am reminded of a story of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, one of the leading rabbinic authorities of the 18th century and founder of the Chabad movement. One Kol Nidrei night at the synagogue of Rabbi Shneur Zalman a large congregation had gathered to pray together with their revered leader. Shortly before the prayers began, Rabbi Shneur Zalman removed his tallit and walked out of the shul. Everyone was surprised but assumed that the Rabbi wished to spend some time in seclusion to meditate before the prayers, so they waited, and only after a few hours did he return and prayers continued. Later the congregation discovered that the Rabbi had walked to a small house on the outskirts of the city where a woman had just given birth. Her husband had gone to the synagogue to pray and there was no one in the house to help her. The Rabbi was aware that if she was not taken care of her life would be endangered. Rabbi Shneur Zalman chopped wood, lit a fire and cooked some soup for the mother to eat – actions that are forbidden on Above: Rabbi Shneur Zalman Yom Kippur except in a case of saving a life. Rabbi Shneur Zalman return to the Only when he was satisfied that she would be ok did Kol Nidrei service. The essence of Yom Kippur is to reach a deep understanding of what it means to be a Jew and what Judaism means. Rabbi Shneur Zalman understood that Yom Kippur, if it is anything, is the sensitivity to be aware of other people’s needs and to have the compassion to help them. As we said in the Yom Kippur haftora, from Isaiah: “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and moaning poor you shall bring home; when you see a naked one, you shall clothe him, and from your flesh you shall not hide.” Leading us hopefully to the fulfilment of the next verse: “Then your light shall break forth as the dawn, and your healing shall quickly sprout, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall gather you in.”
Did you know? As well as reading the bulletin online you can also use our website to find out candle lighting and service times, sponsor a Kiddush, read about the history of Jews in Cambridge, and much more! Have a look at www.ctjc.org.uk
A Problem in the Bereshit Story By Barry Landy
I think it is for good reason that Chazal cautioned against asking too many questions about the Bereshit story. I was innocently asked, "Why did God not kill Adam?" – referring to the injunction is Bereshit 2:17 "You can eat of the fruit of any tree in the garden except the tree of knowledge ... for on the day you do so you will surely die." In Bereshit 3 we have the story of the temptation of Eve and how eventually both Eve and Adam eat of the forbidden fruit. Surely then they should have been immediately killed. This is indeed a perplexing question. Before getting to that I want to deal with one or two other matters that are perplexing. In Chapter 1 God creates Adam and tells him "Peru U-Revu" – "Be fruitful and multiply" and then (chapter 2) puts him into the Garden of Eden with Eve where evidently (from the text) they were not fruitful and did not multiply, which seems contradictory. I would deal with that one by invoking the principle of "Ein Mukdam U'm'uchar Ba'Torah" – "The Torah is not written in chronological order". I would suggest that the commandment to be fruitful came after the expulsion from the Garden (and was immediately obeyed). Then there is the question of the animals. God creates the animals and parades them in front of Adam who gives them names but will not choose any one for companionship (not even a dog or cat..!). Then God creates Eve and puts the couple into the Garden "to look after it". Where were the animals, inside or outside? If inside what did they eat? Were they also immortal? It seems to me that (from the plain meaning and common sense) that Adam and Eve only had each other; they were alone in Paradise.
Above: Adam & Eve – one of 12 panels in the ceiling of the nave of Ely Cathedral. Photo by Hans A Rosbach. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ely_Cathedral_ceiling_20080722-02.jpg File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
In which case the "snake" must have been a special creation and no snake at all (which matches the Midrash which suggests it was Satan). In which case why were all snakes punished? (Questions, questions, and many unanswerable!). Back to the original question – why did God not kill Adam? 9
Ramban (Nachmanides) says that what God meant was that he would sentence Adam to death, which he did in fact do by expelling him from the Garden of Eden and making him subject to mortality; so the death penalty was treated as "Karet" – i.e. dying at God's pleasure. This answer poses even more problems: should it be supposed that if Eve had NOT eaten the fruit then Adam and Eve would have been immortal? We should also suppose that there were no children as there would have been no room for the whole of mankind in the Garden, and in any case we see that the children are only born after the expulsion. If there were no children there would be no mankind; was that really God's plan and the reason for creating Adam? A further objection to this answer is that if Adam was immortal in the garden why was God afraid of his eating the fruit of the Tree of Life? There are two possible answers that seem to me to make sense. One possibility is that God simply forgave Adam. So the concept of Original Sin so beloved of Christians was immediately negated by the All-merciful God, who said in effect, "Well, plan A did not work, so let's embark on plan B." Mind you, if that was His intention His words to Adam and Eve seem pretty harsh, although that may simply be God telling them as simply as possible what their new life would consist of. The second possible explanation is that this is what was intended all along; plan A and there is no plan B. Could we really believe that God intended life on earth to consist simply of a non procreating pair of humans living in Paradise for ever and ever? Surely the whole point of God creating man in His Own Image (i.e. as a thinking being) was to have him think, and not just wander around plucking fruit? In which case it was all designed by God to start mankind off on its path to populate the world. So why then this elaborate story? I suspect we get back to where we came in; we are advised not to examine these stories too closely; indeed Ibn Ezra and Rambam (Maimonides) state that they are not to be taken as factual truth but stories that ordinary mortals can accept as explaining where we come from, and that history starts from Chapter Five. Indeed, Rambam says, "The account of Adam in Eden is not a historical account of a particular person who failed a test (which would make it a private experience of Adam's and not relevant to us) but rather a description of every person. We were created as a being that is outside the Garden of Eden."
Read the bulletin online in full colour! http://issuu.com/ctjc/docs/chanukah_2011 Children – do you like to sing? Then join the CTJC Children’s Choir! We rehearse every Sunday during term time in the shul from 9.30 till 10:00am and we sing in services on various shabbatot throughout the year.
Chief Rabbi opens Cambridge mikvah By Mark Harris
Sunday 11th September 2011 proved to be a particularly eventful day for the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks. The morning saw him presenting a keynote speech at a symposium in London, after which he hastened up the M11 to Cambridge for three eclectic afternoon engagements. The first, a talk at a conference in Selwyn College organised by the Woolf Institute on “Intertwined Worlds: The Judaeo-Islamic Tradition”, was followed by the Chief’s attendance at the Cambridge Jewish Residents Association’s 70th anniversary celebrations at Girton College, where Cantor Gedalya Alexander, chairman of the Cambridge Traditional Jewish Congregation, led the entertainment programme. Lord Sacks’ final commitment was the historic inauguration of the Cambridge mikvah at “The Rohr” Chabad House. Above: The Chief strolls into the shul on Thompson’s Lane A mikvah had been in the “hopeful” development stage for many years. In 2010, after a twoyear haul, Cambridge Chabad eventually won an appeal for planning permission to construct the Jewish ritual bath-house by the conversion of a garage at the rear of its Castle Street premises. The long road to obtaining building consent from the City council had been strewn with obstacles. Last year, the stumbling blocks were surmounted and the way lay open for the construction of Cambridge’s first mikvah (since, possibly, the days of the town’s medieval, preexpulsion Jewish community). The appeal authority declined to accept objections from neighbouring landowners that the mikvah would lead to noise, parking, traffic and drainage problems, pointing out that, although the area is residential, there are public houses and restaurants in the vicinity. Rabbi Reuven Leigh, Director of Cambridge Chabad and the principal moving spirit behind the project’s progress in recent years, was reported as saying that he was “ecstatic” on hearing the news of his successful appeal against the original “bizarre” refusal of permission. After officially opening and affixing a mezuzah to the “poetically beautiful” new mikvah, which is dedicated in memory of Harry Landy by his wife Gertrude, the Chief Rabbi walked the short distance to the Cambridge Synagogue in Thompson’s Lane, home to the CTJC. Lord Sacks was in familiar territory, having studied as an undergraduate and postgraduate at the nearby Gonville and Caius College in the 1960s and where he met his wife Elaine. At the earlier CJRA event at Girton, the Chief had remarked amusingly, “I’ll never forget the time I spent as a student in Cambridge. And the smell of newly mown grass to this day sends a shiver down my spine. Because it doesn’t mean spring is springing, but Tripos in three weeks!” Around 100 people, including a number of Rabbonim, CTJC members and other permanent residents, gathered in the synagogue to hear Lord Sacks open his speech by remarking how “very moved” he had been by the mikvah project, and that, “The Landys have given Cambridge and the Jewish world so very much.” He continued, “For us, Elaine and me here in Cambridge, Barry and Ros were a constant source of parnossos…so I must say how thrilled and delighted we were to see such a project honouring the Landy name.” Earlier, Rebbetzen Rochel Leigh, who emceed the proceedings, had referred to the Landys as being, “integral to our community in so many ways,” and presented Barry Landy with a “practical” gift – a bottle of malt whisky – as a token of appreciation. In a short speech, Barry mentioned the two ‘good causes’ that his mother had wished to support to honour her late husband’s name. One is a project in Israel, which provides a safe home for disturbed Orthodox children who have been beaten, abandoned and otherwise
abused. The other is the Cambridge mikvah. He commented, “Both have the primary task of saving life…Jewish life. Without a mikvah, there’s no Jewish life…and without children, there’s no Jewish life…so the two go together.” With the Yomim Noraim approaching, the Chief Rabbi quoted a question posed by Rabbi Akiva: “Who purifies you on Yom Kippur if you don’t have a mikvah?” And his answer, “Hashem does.” The Chief went on, “Hashem is Mikvah Yisroel. G-d is the hope of Israel. And, if I may say so, this mikvah is a triumph of hope over reality. A mikvah is absolutely essential for a Jewish community. And I can’t think of a more beautiful way of enhancing Jewish life.” He added that Jewish life had
Above: (L-R) The Chief Rabbi, Barry Landy, and Rabbi Reuven Leigh.
always been strong in the city, and noted whimsically, “One wag in my time here [as a student] said that G-d doesn’t daven at Thompson’s Lane because it’s too frum for him!” In alluding to the hurdles that the mikvah project had needed to vault, Lord Sacks spoke of Mizmor Shir Chanucas Habayis. “This is the song David sang in his house,” he explained. “If you look at the content of the psalm, it seems to have nothing to do with the creation of a house but everything to do with escape from danger…and all sorts of troubles. I once heard the following explanation: When you finish a building project, not only do you have the joy of completing it but also you remember all the obstacles you had to overcome. And so David, when he sang that psalm, remembered the difficult times.” In that connection, the Chief praised, “Rabbi and Rebbetzen Leigh, who had stuck through it and had conferred merit on the whole community. And very simply, that’s Jewish life…thinking of possible things to do.” After examining, philosophically, the notion of “probability” (having once seen a British Humanist Association advert, on the side of a bus, that stated “G-d probably doesn’t exist”) Lord Sacks defined Judaism as, “the defeat of probability by the power of possibility.” He pointed out, “That’s what marks every great Jewish achievement. The Cambridge mikvah is one of those.” He went on to analyse its fundamental importance. “I find an answer in Sefer Bereshis, the beginning of our beginnings. If you read the story of Abraham, Sarah and their family, how many mitzvahs do you find them fulfilling? It’s very few. Why’s that? Do you see them proclaiming Above: The Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks addresses the congregation
their faith in the One G-d, or waging war against idolatry? No, you don’t see that. So what’s the religious message?” The Chief described a “fascinating theme” running through the first book of the Torah. “When Abraham and Isaac went down to Egypt because of famine, both feared they would be killed for their wives. Joseph is working in Potiphar’s house. His wife attempts to commit adultery with him and when she fails, falsely accuses him of rape. It’s telling us that religious fidelity is strongly tied to sexual fidelity, and that the relationship between husband and wife is not unlike the faithfulness between us and G-d. It’s the message of Hoshea. It’s the meaning of the words we say every time we lay tephilin. That’s why Shir HaShirim, the Song of Songs, is the holy of holies. If you believe in One G-d and faithfulness to One G-d, then you believe in faithfulness to one partner.” Lord Sacks emphasised that, “All the prophets compared the love of a husband and wife to the love of G-d for Israel.” He added, “It’s why we believe that from the love and purity between a husband and wife all else will follow.” Referring back to the permissive Sixties, the era of Lady Chatterly and The Beatles, the Chief observed, “When sexual ethics begin to disintegrate, 50 years later everything else will disintegrate. Today we’re counting the cost and witnessing the results…riots in our cities and children who’ve never known a family life. So the fundamental truth in Judaism is that there are two basic cultural configurations…we sanctify the family, and we sanctify marriage. That spreads to the whole of life. And it’s why the mikvah keeps Jewish life alive and strong.” Before inviting guests to enjoy the splendid reception in the shul hall, and later to partake of dessert and inspect the mikvah at Chabad House, Rebbetzen Leigh thanked her husband, “for continuing his vision” whilst bearing in mind, “our Rebbe’s saying that the needs of small communities should be met.” Rochel also mentioned her late sister-in-law, “in whose memory her many friends contributed towards the mikvah funds, especially in the early planning stages.”
Above: The new mikvah (right) and the preparation room for users (left).
To book an appointment please call Mrs. Rochel Leigh on 07825 126724 at least 48 hours in advance. For more information about the Mikvah please call Rochel or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Education, education, education Simon Goldhill looks back at Cambridge Limmud So Cambridge Limmud was an amazing success. It was quite extraordinary to have 700 people in Cambridge doing Jewish Studies. This was the biggest event for many a year in Cambridge and – actually – one of the biggest events for Jewish Studies in England (and how surprising and gratifying that it should be in Cambridge!). Almost every member of the Thompson’s Lane community was actively involved, from the youngest kids to the most august rabbis (and I feel sorry for those who missed it). We had speakers from so many different intellectual and social perspectives. I knew beforehand that there were at least six speakers from a really frum background on Talmud and biblical studies; I knew there were six speakers on the arts; six on politics and Israel – and so forth. What I found fascinating was that I did not go to the same six sessions as anyone I knew, and that the reactions were so varied. Part of the delight of Limmud was comparing notes excitedly about the sessions one had seen or missed. It seemed that half the audience was outraged by Naomi Wolf, half thrilled to hear her speak. My view? A perfect session in that those who were outraged were right to be annoyed by her lack of evidence, wild assertions and political paranoia; and those who loved her presentation were right to be delighted by her flamboyance, gripping personal narrative and political paranoia. We were all of us right to argue about it afterwards. A piece of work, and rather a coup for Cambridge, that she came straight from Newsnight to us… There were plenty of other polemical sessions – but most had a fine mix of the funny and sharp, the scholarly, and the politically savvy. I heard great things about Jonathan Freedland, Emmanuele Ottolenghi and Anthony Julius, three of the British community’s most influential political commentators. Daniel Boyarin gave a totally engaging paper on why Jesus kept kosher. Stefan Reif and Chayim Milakovsky were on one side of the Talmudic fence, while Katie Green and Nathan Abrams looked at Jewish films with kosher lenses. And there were six papers on sex and family life: just exhausting… As the movie says, “I’ll have what she’s having.” This was the first Limmud to take on board the idea that the children of today are the Limmudniks of tomorrow. More than a hundred children came to study Jewish subjects, including Jewish rap music. It was rather wonderful to see so many kids from such different backgrounds with such inspiring teachers just doing Jewish stuff. One tired kid said loudly to his mum that this had been the best day of his life. The kids’ Limmud team were remarkable – and I think they were all still exhausted the next Shabbat. But it showed the central authorities how much could be achieved by committed children’s educators with real energy and verve and imagination. The only complaint we received in the whole day and its aftermath – and this is from 700 Jews – is that there wasn’t enough time to schmooze. We pointed out that it was an educational event, not a wedding, and most shrugged in recognition. But I do wish I had a pound for every hug in passing I received or gave… Every bagel was eaten, every session had at least 30 people in it, and there was a brilliant buzz about so many parts of the day. Imagine people being turned away from sessions on Talmud because the
rooms are full. Or the sight of thirty kippa-wearing Jews with another sixty Jews of all types earnestly discussing how halachic Jesus was… Everyone who was there will have their own rather bleary-eyed top moments. As a community we should have spotted Ben Blaukopf, only a few days after Eden’s birth, rushing around sorting electrical problems; Tim Goldrein, with Laila in tow, organizing the walkie-talkies and the team as a whole; Lauren Allin calmly noting that the electricity had short-circuited for the tea urns; Nick de Lange interviewing A.B. Yehoshua; Yoav not asleep in any talk; Reuven disagreeing and agreeing vociferously with this and that presentation… and so many others. But for me there are two private moments that will live with me for ever. First, of course, was Shoshana, my wife, doing a rap song at the end to thank everyone. Who ever said white girls don’t have rhythm? I was flabbergasted and amazed and impressed not just by the fact that she could organize the whole shebang, but that she could somehow drag a last bit of energy at the end to sing us home. But the weirdest moment of all for me – and one I cherish – was at Friday night dinner. We had sixteen for dinner – a mix of speakers and family and general Limmudniks, a varied crew of the very religious and the less religious, the very educated and the less educated, the older and younger, and so forth. But we did have the group Bible Raps (below), and after we had benched, as a first shir for the shabbas table, the rappers performed the rap “I’m not white I’m Jewish” – stimulated by the lead singer’s experience of being so often the only white person in a bar after a gig and being asked, “What’s the white boy doing here?” The rap was amusing enough – but the sight of the whole table – from frummers to casuals, from distinguished professors to children – all belting out the chorus “I’m not white, I’m Jewish” will live with me for many a year. It sums up the Limmud spirit: putting on hold some more pompous feelings to get on with some fun and some Jewish learning.
Above: Bible Raps
Let’s hope that in a couple of years, some more people in our community will be equally willing to give their enthusiasm and energy to make such a splendid occasion become real. It really helps put Cambridge on the Jewish map, and gives us something on which we can continue to build our community.
Chanukah sameach from everyone at the CTJC Bulletin 'Twas the night before Chanukah, boichiks and maidels Not a sound could be heard, not even the dreidels The menorah was set by the chimney alight In the kitchen, the Bubbie was hopping a bite Salami, Pastrami, a glaisele tay And zoyere pickles mit bagels â€“ Oy vay! Gezint and geschmock the kinderlach felt While dreaming of taiglach and Chanukah gelt The alarm clock was sitting, a kloppin' and tickin' And Bubbie was carving a shtickele chicken A tummel arose, like the wildest k'duchas Santa had fallen right on his tuchas! I put on my slippers, ains, tzvay, drei While Bubbie was eating herring on rye I grabbed for my bathrobe and buttoned my gottkes And Bubbie was just devouring the latkes To the window I ran, and to my surprise A little red yarmulka greeted my eyes. When he got to the door and saw the menorah "Yiddishe kinder," he cried, "Kenahorah!" I thought I was in a Goyishe hoise! As long as I'm here, I'll leave a few toys." "Come into the kitchen, I'll get you a dish Mit a gupel, a leffel, and a shtickele fish." With smacks of delight he started his fressen Chopped liver, knaidlach, and kreplach gegessen Along with his meal he had a few schnapps When it came to eating, this boy sure was tops He asked for some knishes with pepper and salt But they were so hot he yelled out "Gevalt!" He loosened his hoysen and ran from the tish "Your koshereh meals are simply delish!" As he went through the door he said "See y'all later I'll be back next Pesach in time for the seder!" So, hutzmir and zeitzmir and "Bleibtz mir gezint" he called out cheerily into the wind. More rapid than eagles, his prancers they came As he whistled and shouted and called them by name "Come, Izzie, now Moishe, now Yossel and Sammy! On Oyving, and Maxie, and Hymie and Manny!" He gave a geshrai, as he drove out of sight "A gut yontiff to all, and to all a good night!"
To Tel Aviv taxi-drivers By Julian Landy It is a virtue and cannot be criticized. Keeping in touch with your parents and being polite to them at all times. Your mother calls while you are working. It is imperative that you listen to her. Mumble “ken” or “ lo” appropriately. Answer her questions. Honestly. Even if she gives you no time to do so. Even if she asks you the same questions daily. “Are you eating properly?” “That wife of yours can’t cook.” “Come by and I’ll give some soup.” “Your father is complaining you never come and see us.” Do not lose patience. That is what passengers are for. Just listen and learn. Mother knows best. If you know what is good for you. It is in the Ten Commandments. “Honour your father and mother” even if they are meshugga. Call while you are eating. Which you always are……… Food. A man must sustain himself. With all types of carbohydrates. Pitta is OK but a bit passé. Wraps, sandwiches, ice-cream, pasta will do. Nothing too healthy or you won’t want to eat when you get home. And make it messy, better still, sticky. Something tasty to transfer to the seats of the car, to the fare’s baggage and to your small change should the passengers dare to demand it. Your loving wife. You must keep her content. Clearly she will call every five minutes. To see what you are doing. This is part of her wifely duty. You would think her a slattern if she didn’t check up on you all the time. It shows she cares. And isn’t up to no good herself. She’ll keep you amused between calls from your mother. And hopefully relieve you of some of that cash weighing heavily in your pockets. After all what were you going to spend it on? How many smart-phones can a man have? Two maximum. One for each ear. Your kids. Bound to call you. Wanting a lift. To football, the café, cinema, to the girlfriend’s best friend’s cousin. And you love them so. They cost less than your wife or your mother. (Well, Sunday to Thursday anyway.) They give you joy. Eventually. You hope. So don’t take them to Yaffo or Ramala. But into the city, OK. Your boss. The controller. The voice on the intercom. Don’t tell your wife he is a she. She sends you schlepping to the rail-station (“Which one?” “How should I know!”) To go to the crummiest mall or for a 200 metre job. Never to Ben-Gurion or to Jerusalem. Yet always finds you dozens of calls on Friday lunchtime. The passengers. Yes me. Us! Always good listeners, desperate to learn about all your ailments and those of the family. Of the ineptitude of the health service. How you had to go private. And pay cash. In advance! And the doctor was rude. And as you talk passengers can admire your fair distribution of bits of your lunch from your mouth to all parts of the cabin. Altogether an unmissable experience. Nowhere else can you have the thrill of being driven at 50mph towards a red light with the car being steered by one knee. Obvious really. The other knee is occupied by the spare phone and a can of drink. The hands hold the phone in use and the rest of the current meal. Arrive. Reluctantly resume breathing. Now almost relax and relish the driver’s expression as I fail to offer a tip. Except, perhaps, Gaviscon. 17
Chanukah Cookies By Helen Goldrein Some years ago, I was given a dreidel cookie cutter. Every year at Chanukah I would make dreidel-shaped cookies, which helped to alleviate the inevitable doughnut fatigue and added another element of deliciousness to the festival. They were fun to make, especially decorating them with icing, and yummy to eat. However, at some point I moved house, and the dreidel cutter became one of those mysterious items that definitely left the old place, but somehow never arrived at the new one. For several years now, Chanukah has been cookie-less. This year, I was determined to reinstate the tradition. The Internet is a wonderful resource, and I soon found a Judaica shop in Edgware (Divrei Kodesh, if you’re interested) that stocked not only a dreidel cutter, but a whole SET of Chanukah cookie cutters! Some of the shapes, I admit, are more tenuous than others. The ‘maccabee’ in particular, looks to the untrained eye exactly like a gingerbread man. But I do now have a new dreidel, a menorah, and a magen david. Hurrah! In order to bring you the photographs that accompany the recipe below, I made an early batch of Chanukah cookies. I hope you appreciate the personal sacrifice involved. Nom nom nom. These cookies are pretty easy to make and decorate, and are light, crisp and buttery. Unlike most of my baking, these are not parev. Don’t try and make them with margarine – they will be horrible. If you decide to ice them, use small icing bags or tubes, with the narrowest nozzles you can get. Ingredients: 55g butter 110g caster sugar 110g plain flour 55g rice flour Splash of milk Method: Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Combine butter, sugar and flours in a food processor until very well combined. You may find it comes together to a dough at this stage. If not, add a splash of milk through the top with the motor running until a dough is formed. Knead briefly and roll out on a floured surface to 5-6mm thick. Use your Chanukah cookie cutters to cut out shapes and place on a non-stick baking sheet. Re-roll the offcuts until all the dough is used up. Bake for approximately 10 minutes until pale golden in colour. Cool on wire racks. Get busy with the icing! Eat and enjoy!
Recycled Dreidel ‘Paper Dolls’ Make these cute Chanukah decorations from recycled paper bags. Instructions and photos courtesy of Beth at www.upperwestsidemom.com What you'll need • Brown paper bags • Scissors • Pencil and optional ruler to draw the dreidel on the paper (the ruler does help the dreidel look neat) • Art supplies to decorate the dreidels with (we used letter stickers, Sharpies, glitter glue, glue, googly eyes, yarn and cut outs from google images) 1. Cut the bottom off of the paper bag. 2. Cut off the very top of the bag where the "half moon" tab is. 3. Fold in half and cut the bag into two equal parts. 4. Cut each of the two pieces on the side, on a fold, so that you are opening up each "looped" piece into a long piece of paper. 5. Iron the paper on the lowest setting with steam but be very careful. All ironing should be done by an adult! 6. Fold the long piece in equal halves 3 times in a row so that when it's unfolded you will have eight "sections". 7. Using the creases as a guide refold the paper accordion style, like you would if you were making paper dolls. 8. Draw a dreidel on the top section of the paper and add two "arms" so the dreidels will be connected when they are cut out. 9. Cut out the dreidel along the lines including the arms so that they will all be connected. 10. Unfold and decorate.