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March 2014



the magazine of finchley progressive synagogue


From the Editor pat lehner It’s March, and nearly time for the fun and games of Purim. The normal, everyday rules are suspended, and we all try and look at the world ‘upside down’ and jump down the rabbit hole. Who knows? Maybe looking at life from a different perspective will have a lasting impact on the way we approach the many problems we face. Let me wish you all a Chag Sameach, and see you down the rabbit hole!

’message in a bottle’ emergency information scheme

What is it? A small green and white plastic bottle containing personal and medical information for the emergency services to use in the event of a call out when the owner has difficulty in communicating. What is in it? An A4 form filled in by the owner (if necessary helped by someone else) with full personal and medical details including medication taken, allergies and sight or hearing problems. Also included are contact details for doctor and next of kin. Where is it kept? In the fridge. Two green-cross self-adhesive stickers are provided, one to be stuck on the fridge door and the other on the inside of the front door (so not visible from outside).


These stickers will be seen by the emergency services who will gain immediate access to the vital information contained in the bottle. Who gets it? Initially the bottles are being made available to elderly people living on their own but anyone who is vulnerable can be included. What does it cost? The Rotary Club of Golders Green is supplying the bottles at no cost - but only within the Borough of Barnet at this time. Who is aware? Barnet emergency services. How do I get a bottle? Contact Pauline or Angela in FPS offices. Nevile Robinson. Community Service Chair, Rotary Club, Golders Green and FPS member

On the cover: Rikud performing at the Musical Havdalah service, photos by Eric Lehner Copy deadline is the 10th of each month. Please email all content to

From the Rabbi rabbi rebecca qassim birk


urim, which we’ll celebrate this year on March 15th, is a particularly unusual holiday because in a sense it’s profoundly secular. This may be why our early Liberal ancestors outlawed it. Purim is a time when we’re encouraged to cross dress...literally. We’re encouraged to lose our sensible selves and explore the boundaries of our perceptions until we can no longer tell the difference between Mordechai and Haman, or even between Esther and Mordechai! It raises the issue of gender for us all. No doubt, there is a conversation to be had about God’s gender especially when we talk about God to our kids, who ask all the time. In the topsy turvy world of faith someone once suggested to me that we liberals are more religious than any other denomination in terms of integrity and sensibility. But I often wonder if some of us live our lives feeling secular until we go into the synagogue? What space does that leave for us for the inevitable God conversation?

...there is a conversation to be had about God’s gender, especially when we talk about God to our kids... I was with a group of Bat Mitzvah girls last month discussing the possibility of God and God’s name: Yud Hey Vav Hey as are the letters told to Moses on asking. We’re told not to articulate the word, the name. Other faiths do, Jehovah’s Witnesses for example. One of our Bnot Mitzvah explained, ‘surely God is a He, I mean Jehovah sounds so masculine...’ We want to know and understand. We crave

certainty. When I was a student I was turned on to religion, and particularly Jewish feminism, by the understanding that God language mattered. How we discuss God affects us deeply. We need to be reminded of the reasons why Siddur Lev Chadash broke new ground with its language. At the time it was shocking. I was just beginning my rabbinic training, and not yet in the pews of a Liberal Synagogue. The pronoun was going to change everything. Mary Daly, the radical feminist theologian, observed: ‘If God is man, man is God.’ Now a new generation is growing up without the baggage of gender specific language but with new challenges. Where is God? What’s the point? Is talk of God still relevant in our synagogues? Our Siddur’s heavily theist language may be an anathema to some contemporary users. Rabbi John Rayner z’l imbued it with his take on the world and our place in it - with gratitude and sincerity. ‘God’s in his heaven and all is right with the world’, as Robert Browning wrote. Maybe it can engender the conversations that will enrich us.


A Plea to Hoarders! lionel lassman


urely as a labour of love I have spent some time cataloguing and indexing past copies of Shofar. You may or may not agree with the proposition that Shofar is an essential part of the synagogue archive – all our history is there! In fact not quite all for some editions are missing. I know that Leon Pilpel – editor for some ten years – kept all the copies of Shofar which he edited. I also know that when Jeffrey Segal went into care his children cleared his house and dumped thousands of copies of Shofar which he had laboriously retained year by year. When word got out about the task I had undertaken reactions varied from: “What on earth is the point?” to: “I have an old copy of Shofar which recorded my bar mitzvah in 1976 – will it be of any use to you?”. Well one point, at least, is that the effort kept my brain working. Although that fact alone is probably of little

interest. Now here is the point of this plea. Do any of you compulsive hoarders have a store of past editions of Shofar? I should like to be able to fill the gaps. I list below the missing editions in the archive. January 1969, April to June 1972, December 1972, May, July and November 1974, April 1975, May 1976 to December 1980, April 1985, February 1991, June 1992, September 1998, November 2000, January 2009, October and November 2010, March 2012. If you do have any of these missing editions and could let me know on 020 8445 3284 or email me I shall be pleased to borrow them and return if required. Alternatively if you do have your own precious archive, and cannot bear to part with it, then please do leave it to the synagogue in your will. I hope to be around to complete the work.

David & Daniel Dolan at the Musical Havdalah



6:30pm * Service round the table followed by supper


Friday 7 March 2014


Please bring a salad, main dish or a dessert to share. Email to let her know what dish and how many people you are bringing.

FRIDAY 7 MARCH NEW & ESTABLISHED MEMBER CHAVURAH SUPPER New or established member, young or old, with family or single, we would like to invite you to the next Community Chavurah supper at FPS. Please bring a fish or vegetarian dish or dessert.


Chavurah supper is a good way to meet other members. We are inviting new members to get to know established ones as well as find other people who have recently joined.

OPEN TO ALL AGES * or come when you can

Hope to see you then.


The Night Shelter andrea narcin

By the time you read this, the season will have finished, and the shelter will have moved on to its next circuit of venues. For those of you who don’t know, every Wednesday night for the last ten weeks FPS has been hosting 15 homeless people who arrived at about 7, ate a warm meal, slept over, and left by 8.30 the next morning. We are part of a collaboration of 21 synagogues and churches who work the rota. When we first volunteered 3 years ago, there was a certain amount of trepidation- Who were these people? What were we risking letting them through our portals? It didn’t take long for us to have our stereotypes challenged and realise that they were ordinary people going through a tough time. Why are they homeless? Lots of different reasons; scammed out of their rent deposit: divorce: long term illness: wages that don’t cover rent: coming out of the care system… So why do it? Because it needs someone to do it, because of an anger at the injustice of their situation, and, after a while, because they have become friends. I was unwell and stressed out the other day, and my son asked why I was going in - he said I should take a rest. “But I Hannah Andruisier & Rikud performing at the Musical Havdalah


want to” I replied, “It makes me feel useful, and anyway I value my social life!” One begins to realise that if you are homeless, priorities change. Your smart-phone or i-pad is not just a luxury but a necessity. How else can you get work, look for accommodation, or keep in touch with a child who has moved to the other end of the country? If you have work, when can you take a shower or look for a room? And of course, how do you keep healthy and safe? The group becomes an extended family, with people looking out for each other. Our role for this year has ended, but please sign up next year. Those on kitchen rota have been marvellous (as have the cake-baking teenagers!), but we need more people prepared to sleep over (my husband thinks that I’ve moved out permanently!), and those prepared to come in at 7, prepare breakfast and stay till 8.30. Some more drivers who can move on the bags to the next venue would also be helpful. Do get involved! We are one of our guest’s favourite locations! It is a great way to be useful, and enhance your social life at the same time!


Charity Reg No. 802559

Dorit recalls eating matzah as a child in Berlin years ago, but forgets the toast she ate moments ago. That’s because she has dementia. And why she’s a regular at Jewish Care’s Sam Beckman Dementia Day Centre in Hendon, where Dorit and others receive all the care, support and attention they need. Sadly, as numbers of those with dementia increase, outside funding for such valuable resources is shrinking, making donations more urgent than ever. So, as you celebrate Passover, think of Jewish Care as the purple thread that connects you to Dorit. And remember those who struggle to remember. Please remember to donate by calling 020 8922 2600 or visiting Charity Reg No. 802559


Beit Tefillah services at fps

services - march Friday 28 February

Erev Shabbat followed by BM Chavurah Supper

Saturday 1 March

Shabbat B’Yachad (10.15 Musical Shabbatots for 0-4yrs)

Friday 7 March

Resouled Unplugged followed by Chavurah Supper for all

Saturday 8 March

Shabbat Service

Friday 14 March

Erev Shabbat

Saturday 15 March

Shabbat Service celebrating Elijah Michael BM 5.15 Purim & Megillah reading

Friday 21 March Saturday 22 March

Shabbat Resouled

Friday 28 March

Erev Shabbat

Saturday 29 March

Shabbat Service 5.15 Musical Havdalah service

Shabbat Service

fps breakfast shiurim: february – march 2014 robert bud: salvation of the 20th century

Science as the link between past, present & future / Saturday 29 March 8.45am Robert Bud will talk about his research on British and European culture early in the 20th century, with a special reflection on the attraction of applied science to people of Jewish extraction who were drawn to new opportunities. From Fritz Haber, who armed Germany with poison gas, his British counterpart Chaim Weizmann, who developed a solvent essential for British explosives manufacture, to Isaac Shoenberg, the British 8

television pioneer. The discussion will lead to reflections on contemporary counterparts. rabbi jonathan wittenberg: the story of a family through the holocaust

as told by a remarkable collection of letters and documents Saturday 26 April – 8.30am (note earlier time) We are delighted that Rabbi Wittenberg is joining us again for his annual FPS Shiur and would you please note the earlier start time to enable him to join his congregation for the Shacharit Shabbat service.

Beit Knesset people congratulations & mazal tov

To Elijah Michael on his Bar Mitzvah we warmly welcome new members

Ethan Morris Masakazu Iwasawa, our youngest new member Marian Fixler & Katherine Klinger with Raphael (Raphy) aged 11 Many members are celebrating important life milestones by hosting and accepting a mitzvah at a Shabbat service. If you have a celebration you would like to share with the community please contact the office. our sincerest condolences

To the family of Rose Jacobi, the wife of Rabbi Harry Jacobi and the mother of Rabbi Richard Jacobi, Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi and David Jacobi. We wish all the families strength and comfort at this difficult time. yahrzeit list

There is an FPS Yahrzeit list from which we remind those who would like a Yahrzeit to be announced, that the date is coming up. If you do want to be reminded please provide the office with: Name of the Honoree, Date of Yahrzeit, Name of Observer/s.

To the family of Louis Burgess. Long-term FPS members will remember Louis and his late wife Pamela who joined the synagogue in 1966. We wish Michael, his wife Lois and their children James, William and Samantha strength and comfort at this difficult time.

50/50 club draws

To the family of Anita Lewis, wife of John Lewis. Those who have been FPS members for a considerable time will remember that John was Chair from 1972-1975 and he and the family were active in the community for a long time.

1st 2nd 3rd

january winners:

1st 2nd 3rd

Barbara Shulman Barbara Shulman Barbara Shulman


£15 1 in 10 £10 1 in 10 £5 1 in 10

february winners:

Andrew Hochhauser £25 1 in 3 Andrew Hochhauser £15 1 in 3 Albert Hydes £10 1 in 20


Beit Midrash learning at fps beit midrash

fifth in Rabbi Danny Rich’s series on Messianism

Our flagship adult learning experience Thursday evenings 6.30 - 9.30pm

cafe ivriah

6.30-7.15pm - Pilates Get fit in our small, friendly class, under the expert guidance of Tali Swart. Cost £60 for a series of six sessions. To arrange a trial session, contact 7.30-9.30pm Discussion, Debate & Culture with break for tea, coffee and cake. A voluntary donation of £5 is requested to cover costs. march & april

6 March | Two Creation Stories: The First Human Being vs. The First Things God Created (Talmud, Avoda Zara 8a vs. Midrash Genesis Rabbah 1:4). What does the Jewish creation story say about our world? Led by Rabbi Leah Jordan 13 March | A Last Story (chosen in discussion together as a class) What we’d like to look into further. Led by Rabbi Leah Jordan 20 March | False Messiahs: the fourth in Rabbi Danny Rich’s series on Messianism 27 March, 3 April, 10 April | Short series on Freedom, for Pesach. 24 April | Chassidism & the early Reformers:

Saturdays 9.30 – 11.00am Informal discussion over coffee and biscuits, between Ivriah drop-off and morning service. 1 March | What is spirituality? Led by Franklyn Gellnick 8 March | Led by Michael Lassman 15 March | Why does the language of God elude us? Led by Laura Lassman 22 March | Parashat Hashavuah: Sh’mini – We are what we eat? Led by Rabbi Danny Rich 29 March | Creationism: What the rabbis said Led by Adrian Lister 26 April | Led by Ann Rappaport delving into judaism

In-depth Jewish learning, Thursday evenings 7.30pm-9.30pm 7.30-8.30pm: Learning and discussion 8.30-9.30pm: Biblical Hebrew with Ofra Rosenwasswer. Everyone welcome so long as they can at least read Hebrew slowly. More advanced students will also find the teaching of grammar beneficial. The series will bring much to the reading of siddur and Tanakh. Franklyn Gelnik & Dylan Lehner at the Musical Havdalah


Beit Knesset what’s happening at fps the screen on the grove

book club

2 March | Born Yesterday A million-dollar tycoon hires a tutor to teach his uneducated girl-friend proper English and etiquette in this Garson Kanin comedy. The film was directed by George Cukor and won an Academy Award for its star, Judy Holliday. It also features William Holden and Broderick Crawford. The film will be introduced by the synagogue’s resident expert on the life of Judy Holliday.

The Book Club Meetings are held in people’s homes, 7.30pm on the second Wednesday of each month. Contact

6 April | Live and Become The epic story of an Ethiopian boy who is airlifted from a Sudanese refugee camp to Israel in 1984 during Operation Moses. Shlomo is plagued by two big secrets: He is neither a Jew nor an orphan, just an African boy who survived and wants, somehow, to fulfil his Ethiopian mother’s parting request that he “go, live, and become.” Buoyed by a profound and unfaltering motherly love – both in his memory and in the arms of his adoptive mother – he ultimately finds an identity and happiness. This moving and ambitious film covers a decade of turbulent Israeli history. Directed by Romanianborn Radu Mihaileanu, it won awards at Cannes, Berlin and Vancouver.

curtain up!

The Curtain Up! group will be attending a matinee performance at the Old Vic at 2.30 on Wednesday, 26 March. The play is Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz, directed by Lindsay Posner and starring Sinead Cusack, Peter Egan, and Clare Higgins. Dinner afterwards will be at the Baltic Restaurant. Another outing will take place on Wednesday, April 23, at 2.30 at the Young Vic: A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller, followed by dinner. All are welcome. Contact Elaine 020 8445 8159 for more information or to confirm that you are coming. rosh chodesh

Rosh Chodesh Adar II: Monday 3 March: ‘Esther - Barbie in disguise?’ (a modern midrash). Rosh Chodesh Nissan: Tuesday 1 April, ‘Jewish Women in modern literature’. Rosh Chodesh Iyyar: Thursday 1 May, ‘Women in healing’.

cafe thursday

Thursdays @ 12.45pm, £6, for details contact Nicky Marzell via the synagogue office yoga

Mondays@7.00pm, Tuesdays @ 7.30pm Contact Richard on 020 8349 9602 bridge group

Mondays @ 7.45pm £4, for details please contact Gunter Lawson on 020 8346 5208

Check out Finchley Progressive Synagogue Facebook Page! “Like” & become a “Friend” • Instant up to date news • Make your own comments • Support the Synagogue Need help? Call Stanley Volk 020 88832265


Musical Havdalah michael lassman


abbi Rebecca tells us that we, as Jews, are better at beginnings than endings – perhaps also a human condition. Accordingly, many of us celebrate Shabbat with the lighting of candles, but few, I suspect close the day with havdalah. In November last year we began to do so as a community on the last Saturday of each month. The idea of a monthly concert came initially from David and Abigail Dolan and it coincided with the loan, from the Lichtenstern family, of a beautiful Bechstein baby grand piano. Music, as we know, is an important part of FPS and having a regular concert adds to the cultural life of the Synagogue. Bringing this into a havdalah celebration makes the event even more special. Previous recitals have been the Dolans, both professional musicians, performing a piano and

Eliza King Lassman at the Musical Havdalah; Facing page, from left: Oscar Andrusier at the Musical Havdalah; Kathy Harrington and Neil Pike of Nottingham Progressive Jewish Congregation


flute recital, Franklyn and Dean in December and last month the seven young members of the synagogue produced astounding performances: violin, cellos, trumpet piano and voices. Those who went were really thrilled by the event. The evenings begin at 5.00 with havdalah, followed by the recital until about 6.00 and conclude with refreshments and social time. From February, we added a new feature – Jess Lichtenstern is running a choir for children over the age of eight. During the recital she will work with them to learn a song to perform later in the evening. This event is now a regular in the FPS calendar, so get it in your diary and keep an eye out for what will be on the programme each month.

Czech Scrolls Service kathy harrington


n Sunday 9th February, David and Ruth Hoffmann and I had the honour of representing FPS at the Czech Memorial Scrolls Commemorative Service at Westminster Synagogue. The service marked the 50th anniversary of the arrival in London of 1564 Torah scrolls that had been confiscated from synagogues across Czechoslovakia. Eightyeight percent of Czech Jews did not survive the Shoah, and fewer than 3,000 Jews live in the Czech Republic today. The story of the scrolls’ journey to London, the care and restoration they received once here, and the subsequent placement of 1400 scrolls with guardian communities across the world, is one of hope as much as of sadness, horror and remembrance. Rabbi Albert Friedlander (z’’l), who came to Westminster Synagogue in 1970, was quoted during the service: ‘as we turn to this dark period, we recognise that in confronting the worst, people have produced the best within themselves’.

FPS has given a home to three Czech scrolls, two of them from communities it has not been possible to trace, and one from Austerlitz, since renamed Slavkov. Over fifty scrolls from congregations in the UK and North America came together for the commemorative service, which opened with a procession of scrolls slowly carried into the sanctuary to the hauntingly beautiful adagietto of Mahler’s 5th symphony. We stood holding the scrolls for two minutes’ silence, and one by one named their original communities. The service was moving, passionate and reflective with addresses by several speakers, including Rabbi Thomas Salamon, the current rabbi of Westminster. By the end of the service, our arms were aching. The scrolls seemed to grow heavier and heavier, like the weight of small children being carried for hours. I felt the pain in my arms for days afterwards. In a film about the scrolls produced in the 1970s, Rabbi Friedlander explained why they matter so much: ‘we carry the Torah, and the Torah carries us.’


fathers & sons Rabbi Rene hosted a discussion group for boys with a chance for us all to share views on their upcoming Bar Mitzvah. It was fascinating that all the boys in attendance came from very different religious family backgrounds. Some lapsed and returned, some orthodox turned left and others converted. What struck me was that all families and boys had made a conscious choice to have their Bar Mitzvah in this shul. That speaks volumes for our community and rabbi. No boy or father said he was doing this out of obligation. Each one for very different reasons had made a choice. Be it because they respected their religion, or family. Each child had a unique background, and none identified as exclusively liberal. If we all had one defining common theme it was just this: a conscious choice to have our sons Bar Mitzvah in this shul in this branch of the religion. That in itself is what Liberal Judaism means to me, a view echoed, it seemed, by the rest of the group. Many thanks to Rabbi Rene and mazeltov to all those who took part. David Michael


mums & daughters bat mitzvah meeting A bit of what we did and learned We found out about how other girls around the world celebrate their coming of age turning twelve or thirteen like us and how they live their daily lives with school & family. We all found it extremely interesting and we felt very privileged to be having a proper education and live the lives that we do. There was also a delicious lunch of lasagne, sides and yummy cakes • prizes of hair accessories • certificates • making a bat mitzvah art sign • research using iPads It was nice to get together and everyone had a fun time!

Zara Woolf

kabbalat torah Being Jewish is important to me, as otherwise I would not have formed the friendships I have with other members of my Kabbalat Torah class. Kabbalat Torah is meaningful, in the sense that I have spent time studying Judaism and its history. For example, I particularly enjoyed our trip to Prague with student rabbi Hannah and other students from Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue. I made new friends, ate some nice food, and spent time reflecting on

Jewish history and the events surrounding the holocaust. We learned about Nazi propaganda and how Jewish people were portrayed in negative ways. I continue to experience people’s stereotypes of Jewish people. For example, that all Jews have big noses, and that all Jews are obsessed with money. My hope is that, in the future, and thanks to my Kabbalat Torah experience, I will be able to deal with prejudice by educating people about Judaism. James Colbey

my bar mitzvah My Bar Mitzvah is not just for me, but my whole family, something special. It means that I get to become a man and read an ancient language, passed on from generation to generation be like my forefathers, who indeed became Bar Mitzvah. Also I must remember is that it is the most important day in a Jewish boy’s life. I want to remember not just the party and celebration but also what this means to me and the responsibilities I am now taking on. This photo is me of as a baby, now I’m a boy, on March 15th I will become a man. Elijah Michael


Contacts fps who’s who finchley progressive synagogue

synagogue committees & groups:

54 Hutton Grove N12 8DR 020 8446 4063

Beit Midrash (Education): Adrian Lister & Louise Gellman. Working groups with responsibility for Ivriah; Young families; Adult Education; Youth Club Beit Tefillah (Rites & Practices): Josie Kinchin. Working groups with responsibility for Shabbat; Life Cycle; Festivals; High Holydays Beit Knesset (Community): Laura Lassman. Working groups with responsibility for Contact; Membership; New members; Events Operations: Joan Shopper. Working groups with responsibility for Premises; Finance; Security. If you would like to join any of these working groups, please contact the relevant co-ordinator

Charity Number: 1071040 Rabbi: Rebecca Qassim Birk / 07939 227480 Emeritus Rabbi: Dr Frank Hellner Synagogue Manager: Pauline Gusack Community Manager: Angela Wharton executive

Chair: Laura Lassman / 07957 545 569 Vice-Chair: Josie Kinchin Treasurer: Martin Silk Honorary Secretary: Joan Shopper Board of Deputies Reps: Stanley Volk & Janet Tresman Life Presidents: Clive Winston & Sheila King Lassman President: Alan Banes

Pat Lehner / Editorial assistant Sarah Aldridge

FPS is a constituent of Liberal Judaism 21 Maple Street W1T 4BE

020 7580 1663 LJY Netzer (youth dept) 020 7631 0584

ashley page

janet tresman

insurance brokers

mediator & collaborative family law solicitor consultant now at hoffman-bokaei

Commerce House 2a Litchfield Grove London N3 2TN Tel. 020 8349 5100


shofar editor

Suite 2, Exhibition House, Addison Bridge Place Kensington Olympia, London W14 8XP Tel. 020 7433 2380 /

Shofar March 2014  
Shofar March 2014  

Shofar March 2014