CTJC Bulletin Pesach 5772/2012
• Judah and Joseph • Community vs the individual • Amazing chocolate mousse • Plus community news, religious calendar & all your CTJC favourites!
Welcome to the CTJC Pesach Bulletin Bulletin Number 104. Cover image: Close up of curly leaf parsley, by Steffen Prößdorf. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Petersilie_by_Stepro_01.jpg
Pesach is here again! After a damp and miserable Cambridge winter we’re looking forward to spring and summer and a bit of sunshine on the banks of the Cam. Hopefully Pesach will provide a good opportunity to get out and about and enjoy the local scenery with a delicious matza picnic! Shavuot falls in University term this year – details of dates and services are on page 4 and further details will be available on our website nearer the time. Rosh Hashana will roll around again before we know it, so if you would like to submit material for our Rosh Hashana issue, please email email@example.com You can read the bulletin online in full colour at http://issuu.com/ctjc/docs/pesach_2012 Wishing you a Pesach Kasher v’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.
In this issue… 1 Welcome to the CTJC Pesach Bulletin 2 Community news 3 Communal Information 4 Chairman’s message 5 Judah and Joseph – lessons in forgiveness, by Simon Goldhill 8 Community versus individuality – by Rabbi Reuven Leigh 9 What does the Hebrew word ‘ki’ mean? By Barry Landy 11 A quest for Huntingdon’s Synagogue, by Mark Harris 15 Pesach online 16 Like water for chocolate – recipe by Helen Goldrein 17 The four questions, Dr Seuss style 18 Matza dot-to-dot 18 Pesach numbers quiz Back cover Religious calendar
A man holding a matza Illustration from The Copenhagen Haggada. Calligraphy and illustration by Philip Isac Levy, Hamburg/Altona 1739.
COMMUNITY NEWS Mazeltov To Miryam and Gedalya Alexander on the birth of Gamliel. To Stefan Reif and family, on the marriage of his son Aryeh to Rinah Joseph in Israel on January 2. To Katya Apekisheva and Matthew Kirk, who were married in the shul on 19 February. To Julian Landy and Annette Landy on the engagement of their daughter Imogen. To Mrs Gertrude Landy, who celebrated her 100th birthday on 4 December 2011. Welcome To Iraj and Josephine Farhoumand. To Yohay and Milka Carmel and their children Inbar, Shaked, Ma'ayan and Tslil. Refuah Shlemah To Ros Landy, who is recovering from a knee operation. To Jonathan Goldman. Chaim Arukim To Shoshana Goldhill on the loss of her mother.
Answers to Pesach number quiz: 2 Seder nights, 3 matzot on the Seder table, 4 cups of wine, 4 questions, 4 sons, 6 items on the Seder plate, 10 plagues.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com Mikvah The Cambridge Mikvah is now open. 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. 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
Reuven Leigh Gedalya Alexander Jonathan Allin Mark Harris Barry Landy Rosalind Landy Sarah Shechter Helen Goldrein position vacant
Chairmanâ€™s message Dear Friends, I was thinking recently about the passage in the Haggadah describing the four sons: the wise son, the wicked son, the simple son and the one who doesn't know how (or what) to ask. The observation is often made that the questions of the wise and wicked sons appear to be remarkably similar; whereas the rasha asks, "what is this ritual to you?", the question of the chacham is phrased thus: "what are the testimonies, statutes and laws that the Lord our God has commanded you?" According to the Haggadah, the rasha excludes himself from the community by his use of the word "you" and we therefore blunt his teeth (perhaps metaphorically!). However, the chacham also uses the word "you", yet our response to him is more cordial. What is the real difference between the chacham and the rasha and why do we look upon them so differently? I would like to suggest that it is not only the Above: Page from the Venice Haggada (1609), showing the four sons â€“ from the Yale University Library. rasha who challenges his father, but the chacham too is involved in a debate with him, and challenges his practices. He is called after all the chacham, not the "tzadik". But there is a subtle difference between the two characters. If we look carefully, we see that we do not scold the rasha merely for disagreeing with the ritual. We scold him for excluding himself from the community, for denying his identity as a Jew. The chacham, on the other hand, takes a less aggressive stance and refers to a common God, "our God", suggesting that he considers himself very much part of the same nation as his father, although by asking what are these practices "that he has commanded you", makes clear that he does not agree with some of his father's practices or interpretations of Halacha. Further, his question, which distinguishes between different types of mitzvot (testimonies, statutes and laws), is more detailed than that of the rasha, and this suggests that he is genuinely trying to better understand his father's beliefs rather than undermine them. Accordingly, the passage instructs us to discuss matters of Halacha with the chacham; to do so with the rasha would be futile. The Haggadah teaches us that it is possible to agree to disagree. That we can sit down at the Seder to discuss the exodus with those whose views are different to our own. On a personal note, Myriam and I would like to thank you all for your kind wishes on the recent birth of our son, Gamliel. As yet, he does not know how to ask, but we are looking forward to his questions when he comes of age, which are likely to prove quite searching! I wish you all a very happy Pesach and an enjoyable Seder. Gedalya Alexander Chairman
Judah & Joseph – lessons in forgiveness Simon Goldhill shares his sermon given in Trinity Chapel
I was asked last term to deliver the sermon at evensong at Trinity. Amusingly, at dinner afterwards it became clear that the Dean who had made the invitation, had not realized I was Jewish. He did after the sermon…. For me, as I work more and more on nineteenth-century things, the opportunity to give a sermon is experiencing a little of what so many of my subjects of research spent their time listening to, writing and discussing. So I find it a fascinating exercise to stand in the pulpit before a full congregation and spout forth. And one which makes me very aware of the mutatis mutandis of being a Jew in the 21st century. So here it is: the lessons during the service were Joseph’s response to Judah’s great speech in Genesis, and the Gospel’s requirement of turning the other cheek in forgiveness. My favourite fellow of Trinity – in the 19th century – is Frederic Farrar. He is best known today as the author of Eric or Little by Little, one of the foundational boarding-school children’s books, which is full of good looking lads, quoting poetry, crying and being whipped: the hero ends up a moral and physical wreck, responsible for the death of his darling brother, all because of a single lie – little by little…. It will give you some sense of how tough the novel is to read today if I tell you that Rudyard Kipling, no stranger to sentiment and kids’ stories, used the verb “ericing”, taken from the lead character’s name, to mean “to be a totally pathetic drip”. Farrar went on to be a pioneering schoolmaster and eventually Dean of Canterbury Cathedral. He also wrote a best-selling Life of Christ, designed to counter the new historical criticism of the gospels. He was a radical liberal at one level, and a solidly conservative broad churchman at another. Farrar got into hot water, however, for some sermons he preached at Westminster Cathedral in 1877, and published the year after. In these sermons he suggested reasonably enough that the Greek word aeinaon, usually translated “everlasting” did not mean “without end”. So why were there protests in the street and counter-sermons preached across the land – though, as a classical scholar, I am always happy to go back to times when Greek translation could cause a riot? Farrar suggested that “everlasting punishment” might eventually be tempered by the forgiveness of God. This caused an evangelical and high church explosion. For sinners, they retorted, punishment means punishment for ever and ever and ever. Farrar’s nasty idea of God’s eventual forgiveness, they screamed, would let sinners off the hook and out of the flames. Just think of the social consequences… The readings from the service today underline that the question of forgiveness has not lost its purchase, especially in the current political climate where, as the death of Osama Bin Ladin showed, even to question the self-evident desirability of violent revenge was to open yourself
to charges of treasonable self-reflection. Today we read of Judah’s extraordinary speech to Joseph, as Joseph, in disguise and in a position of immense power, tests and manipulates the brothers who had sold him into slavery. Now, Judah is one of the most fascinating figures in the Bible, who has the misfortune to have his story intertwined throughout with Joseph, whose dreams and coat of many colours continue to dominate the imagination, not to mention all those Lloyd Webber-scripted school children performances of “red and green and blue and yellow and”…replaying again and again the jealousy that initially prompted the brothers’ hostility to Joseph. I want to start Judah’s story with his first intervention. When the brothers, the children of Jacob, have thrown Joseph into the pit, they sit down to eat a meal. This detail is typically precise and telling. The callousness of this distanced act is poignant: how much distance, how much engagement do you need for violence, for violence within a family or against your community? The commentators note that this meal anticipates the role of food in the narrative to come, where famine will motivate all the future journeys and politics. But as they eat, Reuven walks away, and Judah for the first time speaks up. “What do we gain”, he asks, “by killing our brother and covering up his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let us not do away with him ourselves. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh”. Judah’s interest here is not in Joseph’s pleas, but in his and his brothers’ profit. He is horrified by the thought of dipping his hands into what he calls strikingly “our own flesh”. He does not want to spill blood, but the reasoning is wholly based on its implications for himself. Judah here saves Joseph, but does so out of wholly selfish reasoning. The commentators are blunt: he is not to be praised for committing a lesser crime. The story of Joseph’s time in Egypt is interrupted by another story of Judah. Judah’s two elder children both die – a punishment, say the commentators, for his treatment of Joseph. Tamar was married to his oldest boy, and by the law should be married now to the surviving male child, but Judah refuses to recognize her and her needs. So she dresses as a prostitute by the side of the road, you will recall, and Judah sleeps with her, leaving his staff and cord with her as a pledge of future payment. When it becomes clear that Tamar is pregnant, Judah wishes to have her put to death for her sexual transgression. She declares that the father is the man whose staff and cord she now reveals. She does so with one of those moments of linguistic echo that make the bible so exciting to read. Haker nah, she declares publicly: “Recognize please” and Veyaker Yehudah, “and Judah recognized”. When Judah and the brothers brought back the bloodied coat of many colours to Jacob, they had said to him “Haker nah” “Recognize please”. The words Judah used to conceal his crime against Joseph come back to haunt him as he is publicly humiliated by his failure to have recognized Tamar’s rights. At both moments, the question is not just one of identification – whose coat? whose staff? – but one of “can you recognize what is at stake here? Can you recognize the ethical implications of the previous failures to recognize, to respect, to deal properly with family relations?” Judah’s recognition of Tamar is a first step in seeing what he has not seen before. It is in this light that we should understand the verb that describes Judah’s decision to address Joseph, vayigash, “he went up”. Joseph has engineered things so that Benjamin, Jacob’s youngest and dearest son, has been framed for stealing a cup, and will be imprisoned. Judah goes up to try and avert the calamity. But it is also an act of rising up into self-awareness, say the ancient commentators. The Pentateuch is divided into sections, parshot, one of which is read each week in full in synagogue. The division between parshot is made here so that the first word of the new week’s reading is this vayigash: not only is there the drama of a week’s pause between the crisis and Judah’s response, but also it puts huge emphasis on this first word, and his speech. So why did the commentators see his rising up to speak as a journey up into selfrecognition? Because for the first time, Judah’s speaks to put himself in the firing line out of concern for others. He offers himself to save his brother and his father’s grief – when before he had sold his brother and caused his father’s grief. His speech is deeply moving not least because it marks the end of a moral journey for Judah, to a position when he can recognize, analyze and regret his own past actions in a way which lets him behave as a morally mature adult for the first time. This is Judah’s story.
But it is Joseph’s too. For Joseph, here only, breaks down in tears, and – precisely – reveals himself. It is only after this speech of Judah and his own emotional collapse into tears that Joseph can show who he is. The verb is an odd one, hit’apek – and implies a loss of selfcontrol. From a position of power over the brothers as over Egypt, from the ring-master directing the show, Joseph loses control, and gives up his plan of punishment, and recognizes his brothers and allows himself to be recognized. This is an extraordinary scene that tells us a great deal about forgiveness. Joseph can forgive because of a moral journey that both he and his brother have made. Because they have learnt to recognize the needs of others. Because they have recognized their intertwining with other people and other people’s emotional requirements. Because the regret has been both sincere and led to an ability to act otherwise. But also because the sincerity of regret has prompted Joseph to give up his sense of righteous punishment and control. And we should not forget that the brothers are struck dumb and it takes a further long speech by Joseph to reach the point where he can actually embrace Benjamin in tears. It takes two for forgiveness to make sense. And as he sends them home, he still adds “Do not be quarrelsome on the road home” – because realism is also part of forgiveness. It is worth contrasting this intricate and dynamic narrative with the injunction from the Gospel, our other reading today, to turn the other cheek – the blanket requirement, as it were, to forgive an enemy. This idealism of emotional generosity has been tempered many times in Christian thinking, from Augustine’s notion of a just war to the less salutary Victorian demands for the punishment of sinners with which I began, but it remains a stirring ideal. What I wonder, however, is the degree to which the idealism of a requirement of forgiveness, without the intricate narrative of moral and psychological development that the Joseph story enshrines, actually prevents or hinders the work of emotional change that forgiveness requires. Perhaps the idealism is necessary to remind us constantly that forgiveness remains an ideal towards which we should travel, but in my work in the Middle East especially, I find that Joseph is a necessary recognition: a recognition Above: Joseph Converses With Judah, His Brother, c. 1896-1902, by James that for community violence Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902), gouache on board, 7 7/8 x 10 3/16 to end, acts of recognition, in. (19.9 x 25.9 cm), at the Jewish Museum, New York. sincere regret, giving up on feelings of righteous outrage as well as giving up on exercising power in revenge or jealousy, all need to be in play – along with the realism that says “Do not be quarrelsome on the road home”. The journey of Judah is deeply inscribed in both Judaism and Christianity in one final, paradoxical way. Judah’s thoughtless sexual encounter with his daughter-in-law Tamar not only led to his beginning of self-recognition. It also led, through the child of the encounter, to a genealogy – a genealogy that produces King David and the Davidic line. So perhaps the hope of Judah’s story for all of us is that selfishness, ethical obtuseness and the violence with which our lives are led can move on to another level, and that Judah’s story, painful but finally transcendent as it is, may be a hopeful model for our story. But, let us never forget, for Judah’s contrition and self-discovery to work, we also need the tears of Joseph.
Community versus individuality By Rabbi Reuven Leigh In the previous edition of the bulletin I tried to articulate an authentic Jewish attitude to brotherly love. Drawing from a variety of sources I intended to demonstrate the centrality of Ahavat Yisrael as a principal on a par if not higher than other aspects of Judaism. And as if on cue, a radical group of supposedly religious Jews in Israel decided to abuse a young girl for having the temerity to walk pass their institution. This incident caused uproar in Israel and around the world and was manipulated to the fullest extent by the anti-religious forces in Israel. The full on attack by the Israeli media on religious groups made them feel under siege and instead of reflecting on the incident they became defensive. I observed all these events from a somewhat bizarre vantage point. Many people (especially those who don’t know me) would associate me with the religious camp, whilst the religious people involved in this incident would regard me as an outsider to their narrow and dogmatic approach to Judaism. This hopefully affords me the opportunity to think and reflect on what happened, and point out some salient points. One dynamic of the furore was the response by the leader writers in the religious press. The narrative would go as follows, we oppose the action of a small minority of extremists, however, that is no excuse to tarnish a whole community, and anyway, the irreligious communities are guilty of far worse crimes. What was most disappointing about this response was the lack of any genuine outrage at the actions of these ‘extremists,’ and being more concerned at protecting themselves from attack. The reality is, that extremists are only able to flourish when they are tolerated within their groups, and this episode has demonstrated that this type of behaviour continues to be tolerated within the religious communities. Additionally, the fact that more murders and rapes are committed by irreligious people has no bearing on the issue at hand; a specific injustice does not become diminished in light of other injustices. This is an important point on the wider issue of criticism of Israel. Many defenders of the State of Israel claim it to be unfair that Israel is singled out for its injustices whereas bigger transgressors are left unopposed. I think that is a weak argument. It may be true that the motivation of the accusers is not entirely sincere; however, an unjust act remains unjust regardless of greater atrocities. More generally, the whole episode has made me reflect on the wider issue of community. One of the strongest mantras of modern day Judaism is the importance of community, how without strong communities we are at risk of assimilation and general decline. I don’t disagree that communities are important and essential, but I fear that the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of the group and away from the individual, and this applies not only to the religious communities. Instead of the community being a function of expressing and combining the unique individuality of its members, the modern Jewish community can often be a tool that suppresses creativity and responsibility. When confronted with a moral and ethical dilemma we should be asking ourselves whether this is the correct thing to do or not and take responsibility for our decisions. However, too often the question people are asking themselves is whether this is acceptable or not, and by that they mean whether this is acceptable to my community. And the chances are that there will always be a community that will tolerate immoral and unethical behaviour. The Baal Shem Tov taught, that when you see a fault in someone else it is because you contain that fault within yourself, and the other person is just like a mirror reflecting your imperfections. Many of the dysfunctional aspects of the religious communities in Israel can be levelled in a more general way on Israeli society as a whole, as well as to many Jewish communities around the world. It is incumbent upon us to seek to reduce those traits within our own community and strive for a better example of Jewish living. The authentic perspective of Ahavat Yisrael affirms the sanctity of every individual, and only when communities respect that individuality will we see respectable communities.
What does the Hebrew word KI mean? Barry Landy investigates
Â In most languages the most difficult words to translate are the short ones. Among these are the prepositions which are always very hard, especially in English. Here I consider the Hebrew preposition "ki"; I will type it in capitals in the verses quoted below. This article was inspired by a comment by Rabbi Leigh on the opening verse of Sedra Beshallach: "It happened that when God sent the people out of Egypt he did not send them by the coast road KI it was close." What does KI mean in that context? We normally translate KI as because, but that does not make sense in this sentence. If the verse said, "it happened that when God sent the people out of Egypt he did send them by the coast road, KI it was close" (my emphasis, both verses) then in that case we could interpret KI as "because" since then "it being close" is a good reason to "send them by the coast road." Since it cannot be understood that way, one is forced to translate it differently. I will come back to this difficult verse later. How many meanings does KI have? There is a Rashi (quoting Midrash) saying that there are four (primary) meanings and a further Rashi explaining that one of those has three submeanings, and most sources agree that there are as many as seven main meanings. What are they? The normal list is: Because, If, When, Rather, Question, That, Perhaps. Here are some examples of each, and then maybe we can see that there are possibly more. That: (I have picked this meaning first because it is the earliest use of KI in the Torah). Genesis 1:4 "And God saw the light KI TOV" which can only mean "that it was good." Bamidbar 20:29: The people saw "KI met Aharon" i.e. "KI Aaron had died" which must mean THAT as none of the other meanings make sense. Because: the most common meaning.
Bereshit 18:15 After Sarah laughed at the news that she was to have a child, she denied it "KI Yareah" "Because she was afraid." If: Devarim 22:13 "KI a man takes a wife and hates her" must mean if because there is no certainty it will happen. When: Bereshit 30:17 Jacob instructing his emissaries "KI yifgashecha" â€œWhen you meet my brother Esau" (or does it mean if since in English When and If can be close in meaning?) Devarim 11:1 "KI the Lord your God makes your borders wider" must mean when because it is an explicit promise from God. Rather: Devarim 15:7,8 don't be mean. "Don't close your hand against your poor brother; KI you shall surely open your hand to him." The previous meanings don't work, and the only thing that makes sense is the counter "rather" or "instead". Question: (both examples are "Ha-CHI") Genesis 27:36 "Ha-CHI karah shemo yaakov" "Is this why his name is DOUBLE CROSS? Because He DOUBLE CROSSED me twice?" Genesis 29:15 "Ha-CHI achi ata" Just because you are a relative would you work for no pay? Perhaps: Shemot 23:5 "KI you would see your friend's animal... and decline to help it? No, you would certainly help it" â€“ the construction renders all the previous meanings unlikely and we are forced to assume that the KI sets up a hypothesis which is then denied, so a full meaning might be "would we think that", which is cumbersome, and a pithy version is "perhaps". And then we come back to the verse quoted at the beginning. "It happened that when God sent the people out of Egypt he did NOT send them by the coast road KI it was close." None of the seven meanings above make sense, and so we are forced to assume that a further, eighth, meaning is needed. What makes sense here is "even though" or "despite the fact that". There may be even more; suggestions welcomed! From this we learn that Hebrew is a language whose logic is totally different to English and that the translator's art is fraught with pitfalls. Making the assumption (as it is hard to avoid, and as the 19th century grammarians did with a vengeance) that the basics of Hebrew (and indeed every other language) match the basics of English, is just plain wrong, and when translating Hebrew we have to be aware that common prepositions don't always mean what they appear to mean. In just the same way we ought to be aware that the understanding of tenses (past, present, future) in Classical Hebrew is fundamentally different to the way modern languages use tenses (but that could be the subject of a different article!). I hope this helps with the understanding of some difficult verses. Chag Sameach! Title image: Coastal path - Peddars Way, Norfolk: Holme-next-the-Sea, by Michael Perryman. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Peddars_Way_-_Holme.jpg
A Quest for Huntingdon’s Synagogue Mark Harris seeks the site of the medieval synagogue
Last summer, for the Essex Jewish News, I interviewed Jonathan Djanogly, MP for Huntingdon, Justice Minister in the coalition government, fellow lawyer and CTJC member. We talked over drinks in the comfortable bar of the ivy-clad, 18th century Bridge Hotel. The building stands handsomely beside the Great Ouse in the pleasant Cambridgeshire market town, birthplace of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell and the previously held (for 22 years) constituency of former Prime Minister John Major. During the course of our conversation Jonathan mentioned that, in the early Middle-Ages and before the expulsion of Jews from England by Edward I in 1290, Huntingdon was home to a thriving Jewish community and its synagogue. “We know that from the records,” he observed, adding, “The evidence includes a reference to a ‘Jew Tax’ for those crossing the [then wooden] bridge over the river, and also to the tallies retained as receipts for taxes paid.” Subsequently, I found in the Victoria County History (Vol. 2) the following passage: “Huntingdon had a small Jewry in the 12th and 13th centuries. Various references have been found in its chest of charters and in 1272 it was taxed at 3s [material documents are held at the National Archives in London]. A curious grant may be quoted here, made in 1279 to the bailiffs and good men of Huntingdon for three years, of 1d for every Jew or Jewess crossing Huntingdon Bridge on horseback or of 1/2d if on foot.” Jonathan had remarked, “I would like to know where the shul stood, so that we can put up a plaque.” Encouraged by the implicit challenge and a historic incentive, I resolved to attempt discovery of the precise, one-time site of the town’s medieval Jewish house of worship. Many of its congregants would likely have been descendants of Norman Jews who had migrated to East Anglia some time after the conquest in 1066. Initial research took me to my first port of call, Huntingdon Library and Archives, and to the knowledgeable Caroline Clifford, the Local Studies Librarian. Earlier I had strolled around an oval-shaped area in the older part of town (near the river), which had probably contained the “Jewry” enclave (not a “ghetto”) in medieval times. During my walk, I had noted especially two quiet thoroughfares, “Temple Close” and “Temple Place”, and I had speculated whether they might be modern reminders of a nearby ancient synagogue.
Having confirmed that there are no surviving and relevant charts of the town, that the exact location of the medieval synagogue is unknown and that there are no archaeological finds, Caroline disabused me of my somewhat fanciful “Temple” notion. “The street names,” she explained, “are more likely to refer to property formerly owned by the Knights Templar. There’s a reference to them owning land here, in the Cartulary of St Mary’s Church [originally built on the site of an earlier Priory].” Further consideration, prompted by Caroline, led me to Philip Nowlands’ Lament for the East: The story of the Jews and anti-Semitism in East Anglia (PTM Publications, 2000). Its author writes, “[The synagogue in Huntingdon] may have been situated not far from the [town] bridge, on the north side of Bridge Street, in an area which is today known as St Clement’s Passage, running up to Ingram Street.” Caroline had indicated that, “St Clement’s Passage was once named Mutton Lane or Mutton Alley.” Nowlands states that, prior to the 17th century, “St Clement’s Passage was known as Mutton Street, which may have been a derogatory back reference to the diet of its former Jewish inhabitants, who were often referred to as ‘mutton eaters’ because of their refusal to eat pork.” However, Caroline had commented that Philip Dickson, ex-Huntingdon Borough Archivist, believed the “Mutton” alleyway “was named for a local man.” In this connection, I had noticed that a compact block of flats fronting St Clement’s Passage (which runs alongside a boundary wall of St Mary’s churchyard) is called “Muttongate”. Although the location of the medieval synagogue was clearly somewhere within a comparatively tiny and circumscribed area, I had not identified with specificity the land on which it had stood, nor had I any idea of its external or internal appearance. But my ongoing though sporadic researches then revealed a dramatic link between the ancient shul and the Great Benedictine Abbey of Ramsey, which was founded in 969 and had been situated a short distance to the North-East of Huntingdon. The surprising revelation opened up for investigation a novel and intriguing portal. The Descriptions of the County of Huntingdon by E W Bradley informed me that, “many of the abbots and monks of Ramsey Abbey were men of considerable talents and learning.” I read in other texts about a famous library at the Abbey, which became celebrated for its collection of Hebrew books/manuscripts, and which, at that time, “was very unusual.” Apparently, a scholarly monk at the Abbey, who was known widely as “Gregory of Huntingdon”, had been studying Hebrew literature and language for quite some period, but his studies had been stymied through lack of new material. Nowlands relates that in the late 13th century (before the Expulsion) the Huntingdon synagogue was closed, possibly pursuant to an edict of 1277. In an article on “Huntingdonshire” for the Cambridge County Geographies (CUP, 1911), W M Noble noted that, “the closure happened in 1289” (though other sources reckon that it could have
occurred up to a few years earlier), and that the “town’s people burnt the building down, and chased the Jews out of the town.” But, interestingly, it is recorded that, “valuable Hebrew books from the synagogue were confiscated, many of them purchased by the monks at Ramsey Abbey.” Examining this aspect further, I learned that Gregory of Huntingdon had been dispatched, in all likelihood by John de Sawtry, the Abbot of Ramsey Abbey, to purchase and procure Hebrew books “at an auction held in the Huntingdon synagogue” (presumably before it was razed to the ground by a mob). It is understood that the erudite cleric obtained “for a song” from the “profaned” shul a considerable quantity of Hebrew books, which are said to have been listed with others in “The Catalogue of Ramsey Abbey” (Chron. Abbat. Rames.). As a result of these acquisitions, Stevens had opined, Gregory “gained a thorough knowledge of the Hebrew tongue, and expounded several difficult places in Scripture.” It occurred to me (maybe fancifully again) that if I could trace the whereabouts of (and perhaps even peruse) any of these Hebrew works, they just might disclose some contemporary internal scribbles, annotations, maps, plans or other possible clues relating to the exact location of medieval Huntingdon’s synagogue. So I endeavoured to discover and follow the routes of the Huntingdon synagogue’s Hebrew books after the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII – Abbot John Lawrence had surrendered Ramsey Abbey in 1539. (Incidentally, stone from the physically dissolving Abbey was used in the construction of Gonville & Caius, King’s and Trinity Colleges in Cambridge.) It then came to my attention that, during the 16th and 17th centuries, a substantial number of the Ramsey Abbey Hebrew works may have found their way variously into the collections of (1) Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, 1st Baronet of Connington, antiquarian and MP for Huntingdon from 1601, (2) Edward Pococke, a Regius Professor of Hebrew and Chaplain at Aleppo, and (3) Dr Robert Huntington, an oriental specialist whose library is said to have included the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides.
From further research, I gathered that in the year 1692 Pococke’s collection of “600 manuscripts of Huntingdon” was purchased for £700 by the Bodleian in Oxford, and that the renowned Library also bought (for £400) a large number of Hebrew books from Dr Huntington. Dr Piet van Boxel, former Curator of Hebraica and Judaica at the Bodleian Libraries, told me that, “the provenance of the Pococke and Huntington collections is mainly connected with their stays in Aleppo as Chaplains of the Levant Fleet.” He added, “They bought many manuscripts which later were partly donated to, partly acquired by, the Bodleian Library.” Nevertheless, Dr Boxel kindly offered to ask Joseph R Hacker, Professor Emeritus of Jewish History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, (who coincidentally during the last academic year had carried out extensive research into the provenance of the Pococke and Huntington collections) whether he had seen in the manuscripts any hints that would lead to Ramsey Abbey, and even to the Huntingdon shul. Professor Hacker has since responded,
disappointingly, that, “the Huntington collection of Hebrew manuscripts at the Bodleian Library has no relation to [the medieval Jewish community of Huntingdon]; and nor have the Pococke, Marshall or other 17th century Hebrew manuscript collections that are known to him.” I was grateful to Professor Ada Rapoport-Albert, Head of the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at UCL, for putting me in contact with Dr César Merchan-Hamann, the Hebrew and Judaica Librarian at Yarnton (as well as at the Bodleian). Again, the outcome was negative, at least for now. Dr Merchan-Hamann informed me that he often gets “to look at the provenance of manuscripts in the Pococke, Huntington and Laud collections” and “will keep the enquiry in mind.” In the meantime, information on the Internet had suggested that other pathways for the Huntingdon “treasures” may have led ultimately to the British Library and the Ashmolean Museum. However, Ilana Tahan M.Phil OBE, Curator of Hebrew and Christian Studies at the BL, advised me that, “the only items derived from the Cotton library held in the Hebrew collection are three 13th century charters which, unfortunately, bear no connection whatsoever to Huntingdon.” I am still pursuing the Ashmolean angle. I continue to be hopeful that some of the relevant Hebrew books/manuscripts have survived somewhere. The journey in search of them, as well as my hunt for medieval maps of Huntingdon, continues (though the data being gathered en route is itself proving of some interest). If I find any of Monk Gregory’s acquisitions for Ramsey Abbey from the Huntingdon synagogue (even if they fail to provide any clues to its precise location), the discovery of itself will be quite satisfying.
The neighbourhood in which the medieval shul would have been sited is a very small locale, and something might be said, subject to appropriate consents, for affixing a little (possibly interim) plaque somewhere convenient in the vicinity, perhaps on St Mary’s perimeter wall opposite “Muttongate.” Be that as it may, I would be delighted to hear if any reader is aware of any potentially relevant sources of information in this regard, or knows of someone who might be so aware.
Photographs courtesy of Mark Harris.
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 quick guide to Internet resources for Pesach You can do plenty of Pesach preparation online. Instead of schlepping to London why not do your order via the web for delivery on a convenient date. Titanics (www.titanics.co.uk) offer a wide range of kitniot free kosher for Pesach products, including meat, cheese, matza and groceries. Online supermarkets also offer a limited range of k-for-p products. Tired of always using the same old Haggadah? Why not create your own?! haggadot.com offers an online Haggadahbuilding toolkit. Once you’re happy with the contents, simply download and print. The Interactive Haggadah (www.interactivehaggadah.com) contains a wealth of stories, songs, poems, traditions and rituals that can be printed out and used to enrich your off-the-shelf volumes. Looking for cooking inspiration? Look no further. Cookery site Epicurious (www.epicurious.com) has hundreds of Pesach recipes, from tropical charoset and tricolor matzo ball soup, to matzo-almond brittle and honey-nut cake in soaking syrup. Yum! Forgotten to return your sale of chametz form to Rabbi Leigh? Never fear! You can sell your chametz online at https://www.mychabad.org/holidays/passover/sell_chometz.asp If it all seems like too much effort, you can always delegate the cleaning, cooking, sederorganisation and washing up to someone else, and go away for Pesach! Pesach-holidays.com provides links to dozens of kosher-for-Pesach getaways across Europe, America and Israel. You can even spend Pesach cruising the Caribbean! Finally, don’t forget that candle-lighting and service times are available on the CTJC website at www.ctjc.org.uk
Organic, Free Range, Corn-fed, Kosher le Pesach chickens For the first time in the UK, certified Organic, Free Range, Corn-fed, Kosher chickens will be available for Pesach. They will be kosher le pesach, pre-wrapped, with the Manchester Beth Din seal, and in stores on March 9. The chickens are reared on a certified Organic English farm and eat the finest Organic corn. Production is supervised by Manchester Beth Din, to the highest standards of Kashrut, at modern facilities in Manchester. If you want to enjoy genuine delicious certified Organic, free range Kosher produce, then please contact the following stores: Highlander, 14 Bittacy Hill, London, NW7 1LB, 020 8346 1055, firstname.lastname@example.org Nationwide delivery Kosher Paradise, 10 Ashbourne Parade, Finchley Road, Temple Fortune, London NW11 0AD, 020 8455 2454, KosherParadise10@gmail.com Kosher Cuisine, 4 Bittacy Hill, London, NW7 1LB, 020 8349 3199, email@example.com Flax’s Foods, 43 High Road, Bushey, Hertfordshire WD23 1EE, 020 8950 4749, firstname.lastname@example.org WOK, 25 Cockfosters Road, London EN4 0DW, 020 8441 3621
Like water for chocolate
Helen Goldrein makes an amazing Pesach dessert with just two ingredients
One Pesach some years ago, one of Manchester’s kosher delis nearly poisoned half the local community with their chocolate mousse – the raw eggs were certified blood-free but sadly not free of salmonella. Pathogens aside, Pesach can be a bit of an egg-stravaganza. No good for vegans or those with high cholesterol. Desserts in particular tend towards the egg-heavy – meringues in various guises, macaroons, mousses, whisked sponges… So here is a truly amazing egg-free (and pretty much everything else free) dessert: a chocolate mousse made from just chocolate and water. The recipe is from Heston Blumenthal, but don’t let that put you off! It’s super-easy and the results are spectacular. The mousse is rich yet light, intensely chocolatey, smooth, and creamy without being cloying. The instructions sound bizarre, but I promise if you follow them you will be rewarded with something fabulous. Of course, given that this mousse only has two ingredients, and one of them is water, the results will stand or fall on the quality of the chocolate you use. I suspect that if you use that horrible over-sweet Elite milk chocolate, you will be disappointed. At the very least, get some of that dark Swiss stuff. I would go for something with at least 70% cocoa solids and not too much sugar, but that’s just my preference. OK, enough of the preamble. Here is the recipe. I hope you get as egg-cited about this as I did!
Amazing chocolate mousse Serves 6-8
Ingredients: 200ml water 200g good quality dark chocolate
Equipment: Saucepan Spoon Two bowls, preferably metal, one larger than the other Electric whisk (or balloon whisk and good muscles)
Method: Put the chocolate and water in the saucepan and heat over a low-moderate flame. Stir well until the ingredients combine to form a dark brown goopy liquid. Remove from the heat. Put several ice-cubes and some cold water in the larger bowl, and stand the smaller one inside it (like a sort of cold bain marie). Pour the chocolate mixture into the smaller bowl and begin whisking. The mixture will begin to thicken and within a few minutes will achieve the consistency of whipped cream. Stop whisking. Be amazed. Spoon the mousse into small dishes or cups. Place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to the fridge and chill for 2 hours or until you are ready to serve.
(P.S. If you search on YouTube for ‘Heston Blumenthal chocolate mousse’ you’ll find a video of a very young-looking Mr B whipping up a bowl of this before your very eyes.)
The Four Questions – Dr Seuss style From Uncle Eli’s Haggada - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/Uncle_Eli/Eli.html
With anchovy sauce and some sticky molasses –
Why is it only on Passover night We never know how to do anything right? We don't eat our meals in the regular ways, The ways that we do on all other days.
But on Passover night you would never consider Eating an herb that wasn't all bitter.
`Cause on all other nights we may eat All kinds of wonderful good bready treats, Like big purple pizza that tastes like a pickle, Crumbly crackers and pink pumpernickel, Sassafras sandwich and tiger* on rye, Fifty felafels in pita, fresh-fried, With peanut-butter and tangerine sauce Spread onto each side up-and-down, then across, And toasted whole-wheat bread with liver and ducks, And crumpets and dumplings, and bagels and lox, And doughnuts with one hole and doughnuts with four, And cake with six layers and windows and doors.
And on all other nights you would probably flip If anyone asked you how often you dip. On some days I only dip one Bup-Bup egg In a teaspoon of vinegar mixed with nutmeg, But sometimes we take more than ten thousand tails Of the Yakkity-birds that are hunted in Wales, And dip them in vats full of Mumbegum juice. Then we feed them to Harold, our six-legged moose. Or we don't dip at all! We don't ask your advice. So why on this night do we have to dip twice?
Yes – On all other nights we eat all kinds of bread, But tonight of all nights we munch matzah instead.
And on all other nights we can sit as we please, On our heads, on our elbows, our backs or our knees, Or hang by our toes from the tail of a Glump, Or on top of a camel with one or two humps, With our foot on the table, our nose on the floor, With one ear in the window and one out the door, Doing somersaults over the greasy k'nishes Or dancing a jig without breaking the dishes.
And on all other nights we devour Vegetables, green things, and bushes and flowers, Lettuce that's leafy and candy-striped spinach, Fresh silly celery (Have more when you're finished!) Cabbage that's flown from the jungles of Glome By a polka-dot bird who can't find his way home, Daisies and roses and inside-out grass And artichoke hearts that are simply first class! Sixty asparagus tips served in glasses
Yes – On all other nights you sit nicely when dining So why on this night must it all be reclining?
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.
Join the numbered dots to make a Pesach picture, then colour it in!
Pesach numbers quiz
Fill in the blanks to complete the phrases about Pesach. For example, ‘o___ 1 k__’ is ‘only 1 kid’. Good luck!
2 S____ n_____ 3 m_____ on the S____ t____ 4 c___ of w___ 4 q________ 4 s____ 6 items on the S____ p____ 10 p_______ Answers on page 2.
Religious Calendar 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
You are invited to join Rabbi Reuven and Rochel Leigh for the first Seder night on Friday 6th April at 8:15pm. Please RSVP at www.cuchabad.org/seder 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
CTJC Bulletin Pesach 2012