THE MAGAZINE OF PINNER SYNAGOGUE
ROSH HASHANAH 2020
CONTENTS FIRST THINGS FIRST 4
Renee Binstock: Celebrating 100 years
| Dear Friends Rabbi Kurzer | Dear Community Rebbetzen Abi Kurzer
| Chairman's Report Jonathan Mindell
| From The Editor Caron Dias
| Chief Rabbi’s RH Message Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
| BoD President’s Message Marie van der Zyl
| US President's RH Message
25 | 27
| Burial Society Melvyn Hartog
13 14 18
| Our N'Shot Chayil | We Remember | Care Corner Karen Kinsley
| From Pop Up Cafe to Chat & Share Leonie Lewis
20 | 9th Pinner Virtual Cub Camp Ian & Jackie Silverstone
| The Bar Mitzvah That Nearly Never Was
The Staffroom Ben Lewis
| Yom Hashoah 2020
Living With Uncertainty & Change Robyn Saffer & Rachel Rickayzen
| The Magic of Moriah Gill Grusd
28 | Found: A Model 1890 Turkish Mauser Sword Bayonet
50 | Coronavirus: The Medical Perspective
From Vienna To Shanghai: A Personal Story
29 | 30 | 32 | 34 |
56 | Jami Mental Health Shabbat Parsha Bo
Kids Corner Pinner Does Poetry
Pinner In Bloom
St Lukes Hospice Memory Garden
Culture In Quarantine Elizabeth Harris
Jewish Chaplaincy In The British Armed Forces
People’s Page Rosh Hashanah Greetings
HOME AND AWAY
61 | Farms Flowers & Fitness Leonie Lewis
The Beatles On The Roof
Bread Recipies Gill Stoller David Taylor Annick Simons
THOUGHTS & PERSPECTIVES 40 |
58 | 59 |
Top Five Lessons From Lockdown Rabbi Kurzer
Zooming In On Rosh Hashanah Rebetzen Abi Kurzer
Letter Chof Simon Hodes
| Jewish Dictionary: Mensch Margery Cohen
Editorial team: Caron Dias, Marion Siskin, Sonya Daniels, Elizabeth Harris, Margery Cohen Photos: Steve Gee and contributors
Front Cover: Pictures by Louis Leach & Charlotte Canter Magazine designed and printed by: Express Print Ltd Harrow Business Centre, 429-433 Pinner Road, North Harrow, HA1 4HN t: 020 8567 8727 e: email@example.com www.expressprint.co.uk
Pinner Synagogue www.pinnershul.org Office Hours: Monday to Thursday 08:30am – 12:00 noon Sunday 10:00am – 12:00 noon Administrator: Carolyn Abrahams Tel: 020 8868 7204 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: Pinner Synagogue does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the content of any articles in Community Magazine or the consequences of relying on it. Any views, beliefs, viewpoints or opinions expressed by the various contributors and participants are those of the contributor or participant at the time of submission, and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Pinner Synagogue, the Editor or any of its employees, agents or subcontractors. Pinner Synagogue shall have no responsibility for any action or omission taken by any person on the basis of reading information or contributions in Community magazine. Advertisers should pay close attention to the requirements of all applicable legislative requirements and advertising codes of conduct when advertising in Community magazine, particularly regarding the accurate descriptions of all goods and services offered to readers of Community magazine. Pinner Synagogue shall have no responsibility or liability in relation to the provision of goods or services offered by advertisers in Community magazine.
First Things First
Dear Friends Well that was definitely not what we expected our first year in Pinner to look like! בְל ֶב־אִיׁש וַעֲצ ַת ּ שׁבֹות ָ ח ֲ מ ַ ר ַּבֹות –ה' הִיא תָקּוםMany are the
thoughts in the heart of a person, but G-d’s plan will prevail (Proverbs 19:21) by Rabbi Kurzer
No matter how many options we considered, ideas we came up with or plans we discussed, none of them involved a global pandemic, closing the shul for three months or Zoom. But while many have lamented that this was the way our first year in the community turned out, we actually feel very privileged to have been here. The community has been fantastic. Rosh Hashanah is a time to reflect on what has happened over the past year and to consider where we hope to go in the year ahead. When I look back over 5780, both through a communal and an individual lens, while there were undoubtedly challenges, I am proud of the progress we made. From the moment we shut the doors of the Shul I feel that we, as a community, have grown stronger together. Education has expanded, communal events multiplied in every way, from Chat and Share to the ‘Staff Room’ for young parents, and, with much effort from Karen and many fantastic volunteers, we have supported people across the community. Now we think about what is next. The question of where we go from here is actually a question that faces us every Rosh Hashanah. In another year, we may have approached this time of year with a sense that we know what to expect – we know what the days in Shul will look like and we know what our year will look like. For the year 5781 that is definitely not the case and while that may worry us in some ways, this uncertainty can actually be a blessing. One of the keys to unlocking the power of Rosh Hashanah is embracing the recognition that we have so little control over life’s twists and turns. Our true power is over our own actions and our ability to affect meaningful change in who we are, regardless of circumstance. As we approach the special days ahead, I look forward to embracing the opportunity they afford to search deep within ourselves and consider what small, meaningful changes we have the ability to affect. I believe that, as a community, we have the ability to build on the success we have seen – making sure that we provide for everyone in our community and educating ourselves to deepen our appreciation for meaningful Jewish life. May it be a year of heath, blessing and happiness for all of us and a Shanah Tovah Umetukah – a sweet new year. Rabbi Kurzer and family
4 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
First Things First
Dear Community About a month ago we received the first bounty from our vegetable garden, which we planted near to the start of lockdown. My boys revelled in the muddy mess of pulling up carrots, digging out potatoes and picking the peas. I, on the other hand, with my hands over my eyes, remembered all the mud over the patio was for the greater good of children with no other education.
hat evening we had a feast of delicious by Abi Kurzer vegetables with our supper and we all sat there feeling very proud of ourselves. We sent the requisite pictures to grandparents and cousins of us tucking in to our garden-to-table dinner and laughed that the only thing missing from our garden are some chickens and a cow. Quickly, however, the conversation changed when we made a brachah on our food – ‘Thank you Hashem, our G-d, the King of the Universe who creates the fruit of the ground’.. We marvelled at how a tiny seed with the right conditions turns into a large and sustaining fruit. We spoke about all the elements that are required for it to grow and how with one fell swoop it could not have survived the season. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of believing ‘It’s all me!’ ‘kochi v’otzem yadi asah li et kol ha’chayil ha’zeh – It’s my doing; my strength and prowess has allowed me to accumulate all of this wealth…. (Devarim 9:17)’ and never giving a thought to the fact that without Hashem willing it to happen, no amount of effort would have made it happen. On the 9th February 2020 BCE (Before Coronavirus Era), I wrote the following words which appeared in the Pesach edition of this magazine: When I
‘I wonder whether the next six months will feel calmer, perhaps more settled…’ The last six months have been a raging sea – at times a tempest of difficult thoughts, feelings and events and other times strangely quiet and yes, perhaps even calm, but I would say the most frequent feeling I have had is that the house of cards is falling.
recognise that it’s not ‘my doing’ but rather Hashem who runs the show there is a new and different type of calm that I can attain.
For so long we have had the illusion of so many certainties – if I want to go to Israel I can jump on the plane, my children go to school and shul is always open. As one by one these certainties became undone, it left a sudden feeling of helplessness that no matter what I do, I can’t control this situation and for many of us that was unnerving.
When I recognise that it’s not ‘my doing’ but rather Hashem who runs the show there is a new and different type of calm that I can attain. Time will tell how we have changed from this experience but I believe there is something healthy about us seeing a bit more clearly the house of cards for what it is and that even when things return to a type of normal we can still see it and appreciate it for what it is.
My brachah to you is that this year should be one of health, parnassa, connections and relationships; a year of happiness, growth and rebuilding. Shana Tova, Rebbetzen Abi
However, at the same time it also exposed the fragility of our society and the world we live in and took us back to basics. To appreciating nature, to planting seeds, to spending time with our inner circles and alone, to making sure we all had food to eat and chats with our neighbours. 5 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
First Things First
Chairman’s Report When I was typing up my report for the Pesach edition in mid-March, we had just had to postpone the Induction Ceremony for Rabbi Kurzer and we were still a few days away from the country-wide ‘lockdown’……a phrase that sadly we are all too aware of, along with other Covid-19 vocabulary such as ‘self-isolation’, ‘shielding’, ‘sanitiser’ and ‘social-distancing’ which have taken on a whole new meaning and significance.
t the time I wrote that “it is hard to predict at this point by Jonathan how exactly it will impact on Mindell our community in the short to medium term”. Looking back in hindsight from early August, I now know the impact Covid-19 has had on life in general and our community in particular. However, I think I could just as well repeat my quote again right now, as it is hard to predict the direction in which we will be allowed to go, or be forced to take, between now and the Yamim Noraim. So, for this report I am going to focus on the recent past, rather than the near future. Before the lockdown our last Shabbat service was on 14th March and our first after the easing of restrictions was on 11th July and so we had endured a 16-week gap with no access to the Shul – for any reason or activity, be it religious, educational, social or even administrative. Whilst the Shul has been empty in that period, though, the community has not been silent…..far from it! As someone who has had a Zoom account for over three years, I have had to smile at the way Zoom has almost singlehandedly taken over our world of communication. Yet at the same time has been a real saviour and has facilitated so many people staying connected with each other and with our community. With Rabbi Kurzer taking the lead in streaming all weekday services via Zoom, as well as offering weekly shiurim and, along with Rebbetzen Abi, a novel ‘Staff Room’ for the parents of our school children on Sunday evenings, we have also had a variety of ‘virtual’ activities, previously run in the Shul. What has been quite noticeable is that the attendance on Zoom has, for the most part, exceeded the previous attendance in Shul. Whether it is the Thursday morning café, the Wednesday monthly education evening or even the Sunday evening communal L’Chaim over Zoom, these seem to have attracted significant numbers. As well as being entertaining and informing sessions, they have served a dual purpose in keeping members connected to each other. This is surely one clear benefit of organising the variety and number of activities in the virtual space of Zoom. Many thanks to everyone who has invested time and effort in making these events happen and keeping our members connected. This period under lockdown has given us the opportunity to ensure we provide support across our membership, where it has been needed most. Whether they have been shielding, self-isolating or just not having a support network of friends and family nearby, through Pinner Care, our Welfare Coordinator Karen Kinsley and the many voluntary team members, we have been able to reach out to a far larger number of members than usual….providing all manner of support and contact. We owe a debt of gratitude to 6 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
everyone who gave, and continues to give, of their time to provide support across the community – I always sensed that Pinner was one of the most caring and self-supporting communities, but the last few months have amply demonstrated this - not just in our neighbourhood, but wider afield too. Talking about reaching out beyond our community, Pinner featured not just once but for two consecutive weeks in the Jewish Chronicle as they looked to find out how communities were restarting services in Shul. We started on 5th July and I am pleased to say that since then we have run all the weekday and Shabbat services, with the complexity of registering all attendees for Track and Trace, as well as abiding by the many guidelines to ensure we operate the services as safely and securely as possible. These last few weeks have given us some experience of the logistics around running services in Shul…..good practice for the Yamim Noraim, although that will be at a totally different scale. Whilst we were in lockdown, our administrator Carolyn could work from home, but we had to furlough our caretakers. During this period, we also said goodbye to our senior caretaker Vas, who had been with us for nearly 10 years. After being furloughed from us, he transferred to South Hampstead Shul so he is still remaining ‘in the family’. Whilst we would have ideally wanted to celebrate his time with us in a more inclusive way, lockdown prevented us from doing so. Nevertheless, we thank him for all his efforts over his time with us and wish him well in South Hampstead. Meanwhile Florin and Anete are back and doing a fantastic job in keeping the building Covid-19 clean and secure now that it is back in use. It was very poignant on our first Shabbat back in Shul when Rabbi Kurzer recited a memorial prayer for all those members who passed away during lockdown. We, in common with many other communities, have suffered the loss of members who died “before their time” (as the Prime Minister put it in one of his early Covid-19 press conferences). This coming Yamim Noraim we should all spend a moment to reflect on these losses from our community, as we hope and pray for better times to come. By the time you read this you will have no doubt received a plethora of notifications about the services we will (and won’t) be running, as well as what we will be doing in the virtual world to allow everyone to remain connected with the community over this key time in the Jewish Calendar. So I will not dwell on that any further except, this year more than ever, to wish everyone a safe, secure, healthy and sweet New Year - Shana Tova U’metuka. Jonathan Mindell
First Things First
From the Editor Dear Community
t risk of stating the obvious, the past six months have been anything but ordinary. Since I penned my last message to you, when the world was on the brink of something totally unprecedented, none of us could have predicted quite by Caron Dias how things have unravelled. I was very touched – as we entered lockdown – to receive numerous communications from shul members thanking the committee for pulling together a magazine in spite of the earthquake beginning to rumble beneath our feet. For me though, never has the essence of what I wanted this magazine to be about been more important. When I took on the role as editor, I was clear that Community should have a dual purpose; a reflection of the moments passed and an interesting read in its own right. This edition, as we emerge from a strange, difficult and challenging time for many, is – I hope – also living up to that aim. While so many of the regular features we have come to know could not be written, in their place lies some very relevant and interesting reads. I must thank everyone who has contributed for sharing their thoughts, creativity and even
images of their garden oases. I believe that in years to come, if you flick back through this edition, you’ll be reminded of this (hopefully) unmatched time, but also smile at the insight, resilience and togetherness of this community. This magazine is also sadly my last as editor. It has been an honour and a privilege to be entrusted with this role and I have genuinely enjoyed every moment. The current team and those that have come and gone over the years, have all added enormous value and my heartfelt thanks go to each and every person for their time, efforts and unwavering support. But just as the world at large has been turned on its axis, my little world has changed too, and while – as is the theme of the moment – I could never have predicted that we would be where we are, it is time for my family to start anew. Thank you for everything – not just during my time as editor, but throughout the many decades my family have been a part of this beautifully special community. Be well and keep safe and here’s hoping that the new year brings stability, peace and happier times all round. With fondest wishes Caron
Note about our Editor Usually you see a Note from the Editor, but this note is about Caron Dias who has been editing Community Magazine for the last eight editions. In this time, she has brought an already well respected magazine up to another level again, editing with professionalism, care and a real passion that Caron has for both the magazine and our community. Sadly, for us, Caron, husband Matt and their three children have just moved to Radlett and so this is the last magazine that Caron has edited. Both Caron and Matt have made a significant contribution to community life in Pinner and we know that, for Caron in particular, given that she was brought up in Pinner by her much loved and fondly remembered parents Rhona and Roy Kemp, this move has come with mixed emotions. We wish Caron, Matt, Reuben, Georgia and Olivia much success and enjoyment in Radlett – they will always be welcome back to visit their spiritual home.
7 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
The Chief Rabbi’s Pesach Message 5778
First Things First
We have a fascinating family custom: at the Pesach Seder our family sings the words of the passage known as ‘Chasal Siddur Pesach’ to the tune of Chanukah’s Maoz Tzur. This has prompted me to consider what the festivals of Pesach and Chanukah have in common. Of course, both celebrate the miraculous intervention of the Almighty to save our people and both are eight days long in the Diaspora. Interestingly, if necessary, Jewish law requires one to sell one’s clothing or receive tzedakah in order to purchase candles for the Chanukiah. This is strikingly similar to Pesach, when one is required to sell one’s clothing or receive tzedakah in order to buy wine for the required four cups. There was also a fascinating and beautiful custom among the Jews of Izmir in Turkey to use their leftover oil from the previous Chanukah to light a small oil lamp, which they used for Bedikat Chametz, the search for chametz, on the night before Pesach.
The Chief Rabbi’s Rosh Hashanah Message 5781
Yet, the most substantive, thematic connection between Chanukah and Pesach is the centrality of education as a Jewish value. Both festivals lead us to appreciate the crucial importance of learning in our tradition; a lesson encapsulated by our Sages, who declared, Vetalmud Torah Keneged Kulam – the study of Torah supersedes all (Mishnah Pe’ah 1). The Hebrew word Chanukah (dedication) comes from the same root as chinuch (education).
education islives a key feature Chanukah narrative. survival As I reflect on an extraordinary year, my first thoughts areIndeed, withdedication thosetowhose wereof thetragically cut The short byof our spiritual legacy, despite the intentions of the Hellenists, was rooted in our commitment to teaching and its values. the Coronavirus. May their memories be for a blessing andTorahmay their families find comfort in their sad loss.
y heart goes out to the many whose health, whether physical or mental, has been affected and to those who are facing severe financial hardship or crises in their personal relationships. The restrictions on social interaction, abrupt changes to our routine and the grip of deep uncertainty have dramatically impacted the fabric of all of our lives in ways that we could never have imagined. In the years to come, while many will admiringly recall our resilience and forbearance during these most trying of times, ultimately the success of our response to this pandemic will be judged not by how we felt, but by how we acted. The Torah portion of Nitzavim, which is always read immediately prior to Rosh Hashanah, commences with these words: “You are all standing this day before the Lord your God; your heads, your tribes (shivtechem), your elders and your officers”. In this list of national leaders, ‘tribes’ appears to be out of place. Mindful of the fact that ‘shevet’ also means ‘staff’ or ‘sceptre’, our commentators explain that the leaders of our people are being referred to according to the item that they carried that symbolised their role. In the same way as ‘the Crown’ refers to the monarch and ‘First Violin’ refers to an orchestra’s lead musician, a person who leads is known by the instrument of that leadership. The message that emerges is extremely powerful. You are defined by what you do. The essence of a person is measured according to what they have achieved. For this reason, we call community leaders ‘machers’ (makers). ‘Macher’ is a role that conveys respect, because the people who change the world are not the dreamers and thinkers; the people who change the world are the ‘doers’. On Yom Kippur, we read the book of Jonah, in which the prophet informs the inhabitants of Nineveh of their impending doom. In response, they fast and repent for their evil ways. The text captures that epic event in just a few words: 'God saw their deeds'. Their words of apology and their fasting were merely steps towards a life-changing moment. What concerned God was not their protestations, but their actions. This year, without any preparation whatsoever, every one of our communities was plunged into a crisis of unprecedented proportions. Your response has been simply magnificent. With our Shuls closed, our communities redoubled their creativity and their 8 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
The primary purpose of the Pesach seder is education - “And you shall relate to your child on that day saying, “It is because of this that the Almighty performed these miracles for me when I left Egypt” (Shemot 13:8). But, more than that, the Pesach seder itself sets out the ideal framework for the most impactful education – an audio-visual, experiential encounter which utilises storytelling, questioning and a veritable assault on our senses to ensure that the experience is an unforgettable treat. It is no accident that of all our traditions, the seder night remains the most widely observed, even in families who would otherwise consider themselves entirely secular. Research has shown that more Jews attend a Pesach seder every year than those who fast on Yom Kippur. Pesach teaches us what the best teachers already know – that the most effective education must be experiential.
altruism. We have never known such an outpouring of compassion, such acts of selfless care for the vulnerable and such generosity in charitable giving. I have no doubt that such action will remain at the heart of our Covid-19 response for as long as it takes us to overcome the dangers it presents to all of humankind.
This lesson is of particular relevance to us today. British Jewry is blessed to have truly outstanding schools which, year on year, are heralded as being amongst the finest in the country. I am always personally moved by the dedication shown by trustees, governors and staff at our wonderful schools and they would be the first to say that there is nothing more impactful or foundational to a Jewish child’s identity, than a powerful Jewish experience.
As we commence 5781, may Hashem inscribe and seal each and every one of us in the Book of Life, good health, peace and fulfilment.
Whatever the setting; formal or informal, at school or at home, may this Pesach present an opportunity for us to refocus on a truism of Jewish life – the greatest key to a successful Jewish future is quality Jewish education. Valerie and I wish you a chag kasher ve sameach.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis March 2018 • Nisan 5778
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
First Things First
Message from the President This has been a year like no other. The global pandemic has affected life more in a short space of time than any other event in peace time.
f course, the effects have been experienced worldwide with hundreds of thousands dead and millions more badly affected by this virulent virus. We are a small community but we have been hit heavily. Sadly, our death rate has Marie van der Zyl been more than double that of the general community and we have lost some wonderful people since March, taken from us way before their time.
the racist murder of George Floyd. We in the Jewish community felt we needed to formulate our own initiative. The result is the Board of Deputies’ Commission on Racial Inclusivity in the Jewish Community which is being chaired by distinguished journalist Stephen Bush. We need to make sure that we are accepting of people of all backgrounds and I look forward to making progress on this most important of issues. Those who know the Board of Deputies will understand we work on a diverse set of issues – indeed so much that it is impossible to list everything in a short message. We exist to ensure that the UK’s Jewish community can live freely, happily and continue to practise our traditions.
It has been a time to mourn but also a time We are passionate about protecting our It has been a time to act. The Board of Deputies lobbied hard to religious freedoms, whether the right to to mourn but also ensure that local councils could not cremate circumcise our baby boys in accordance with a time to act. bodies without first consulting with the families our tradition or to ensure that employees are of the deceased. This was a fine example of able to take time off for Jewish festivals and collaboration between Jews and Muslims who follow their Jewish traditions within the law. shared the same concerns. We collaborated closely with other Our interfaith activities have certainly made the news – community organisations to ensure that UK Jews received all for example our support for the Chinese Uyghur Muslims the help and information possible in the emergency, using all currently suffering oppression in China, has raised awareness of our resources for the benefit of those affected. of the problems. We collated a document bringing together all of the special Through Pikuach, we supervise religious education in Jewish guidelines for Passover this year and devised a card for schools, and, pandemic permitting, we travel the country with members of the community to print off, fill out and post the Jewish Living Experience exhibition, educating non-Jewish through the letter box to neighbours, letting members of the children and adults about our way of life. local community know that people are available do a food shop or even just to speak to someone on the phone who is We engage with Government ministers, MPs, local self-isolating. No less importantly, our team has had the sad councillors, diplomats, faith leaders and with a huge variety but necessary duty of collating the deaths we have endured of public bodies on behalf of the community we represent. so that we have an accurate record. We can only do this work with the help of communities Last year, we were in the midst of Labour’s antisemitism crisis. across the UK, so I thank you for all the support that you all Twelve months on and Labour are, in the words of new leader give. Let’s hope the New Year truly does bring health and Sir Keir Starmer, 'under new management'. We set out our happiness to all of us. Ten Pledges on anti-Jewish racism in January and they were Shana Tovah. enthusiastically adopted by the new leadership team. The progress we have seen is very encouraging. The scourge of antisemitism has not disappeared from the Labour Party but the determination to address it and take action where it is needed, as in the case of the sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey, Marie van der Zyl gives all of us reason to be optimistic after a dark few years.
Even Coronavirus could not completely overshadow the worldwide movement which developed rapidly in response to 9 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
First Things First
President of the United Synagogue’s Rosh Hashanah message 5781 The most powerful event in our nation’s history is about to take place. The morning sun rises. The Children of Israel are camped at the foot of Mount Sinai, clothes washed, expectant. The scene is set. They are ready to hear from God Himself. Thunder and lightning fill the air. A thick cloud envelops the mountain. Shortly it will smoke and quake.
he people shudder. But a close reading of the text shows that it wasn’t the thunder, the lightning or the fire which cause them to tremble. Rather,וְקֹ֥ל ׁשֹפ ָ֖ר חָז ָ֣ק מאֹ֑ד ְ – it is ‘a very strong Shofar blast’ (Exodus 19:16). This is the first mention of the word ‘Shofar’ in the Torah. And it provides a clue, I think, Michael Goldstein to why the hearing of the Shofar has resonated with Jews of all backgrounds for centuries. Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the creation of the world. Mount Sinai is the anniversary of our covenant with God. The Shofar blasts of Rosh Hashanah echo the ones heard at the giving of the Torah. The Shofar focuses our minds and reminds us of our responsibilities as Jews to study, to pray and to make the world a better place. This Rosh Hashanah will be one like no other. Many of us will still not be comfortable heading to shul, perhaps spending our first Rosh Hashanah away from synagogue in decades. To help, do look out for our new publication – Shana Tova! – arriving in the post soon and to be used whether you are in shul or at home. We’ve also teamed up with the publishers Koren to offer you a discount on the Rabbi Sacks Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur machzors. But if I can urge you to do one thing – safely – this Rosh Hashanah, it is to hear the Shofar blasts. Our communities are organising Covid-secure blowings in shul, in youth and family programmes, in parallel services and in open spaces (this year on second day only as first day falls on Shabbat). This is not how we expected to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the United Synagogue. But Jews are the people of tikva, hope, and so even in times of crisis we look for the silver linings. I have never been more proud to be the President of the United Synagogue as I have this year. Our communities, led by dedicated Honorary Officers supported by many volunteers, have without fail, stepped up to combat the Coronavirus crisis. Our Rabbis and Rebbetzens have conducted pastoral visits and funerals at the most difficult of times. Through the United Synagogue Chesed department and our Community Care coordinators, 1,000 ‘Seder in a box’ kits were delivered to isolated members ahead of Pesach. The ‘Shabbat in a box’ initiative with three freshly-cooked meals has enabled those unable to put food on the table to celebrate Shabbat. 10 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
Our communities have re-imagined themselves virtually and I have been struck by the extraordinary range of programmes our shuls have provided, including inspirational Kabbalat Shabbat services online. The United Synagogue’s new video on-demand service, TheUS.tv, has attracted thousands of viewers and, more importantly, has kept people connected to their Judaism. These are our Shofar blasts: a call to our members that our communities are here for you. At this most unusual of Jewish New Years, my sincere good wishes to you and your families. Shana tova.
Michael Goldstein, President. United Synagogue
First Things First
11 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
First Things First
Burial Society Dear Members, I felt it was even more appropriate this year to give you an update as far as the United Synagogue Burial Society is concerned during this current pandemic.
ushey New has been up and running since 2017 and we are carrying out funerals and stone settings at both Bushey New and Old and Waltham Abbey; well that was until the middle of March when you could say the world changed. In the past I have been to government meetings regarding pandemics and have always felt comfortable that we would be ok but when it happens it is a totally different situation. The first thing is we have to be very grateful that the Burial Society has an amazing work ethic and all the staff from the cleaners, ground staff, Burial Staff, Cemetery Maintenance and the Burial Office gave 100% effort. Most of the Burial Office staff worked from home, Adam was the only person working fulltime in the office. Everything had to change very quickly, we had to make sure we had all the right equipment, our stock of coffins and shrouds had to be increased and thankfully we had a group of volunteers who came in to help the burial staff with pick-ups, help in manning the phones in the office and of course very importantly helping with Taharas (ritual washing) also to our exceptional Ladies Chevra, it would have been incredibly difficult to get through the pandemic without everyone going above and beyond. Our cemeteries were busier than we have ever seen. A huge thank you also goes to the local delis and restaurants in the Bushey area sending in food parcels for all the staff every single day. It was coordinated by a couple of very caring people. Registrars did not require a personal visit to collect the green burial form as everything was done on line which saved families going back and forth. After a Zoom meeting with the Beth Din it was agreed we could bury on the 2nd and 8th day of Pesach; never before have we done this but had we not, it would have given us a much bigger backlog. In a normal month we would carry out around 75 funerals, in March we did 107 and April 263. Out of these 162 were Covid deaths. The hardest thing for people working from home was not being able to physically work alongside their colleagues. Everyone who worked from home put the hours in and the phones and computers were on all day (and sometimes night) especially the helpline. Families were told very early on that we could only allow immediate mourners to the grounds and in the main most people adhered to this. Some people found it quite humbling to have so few people present. It was very quiet, no chatting, people concentrated on what they were there for. All stone settings were postponed or cancelled. Cemetery Maintenance have worked through a backlog of nearly 700 families with those that were postponed and families with
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recent burials that could not book. One thing that did happen was the introduction of Zoom, what a great addition for a lot of families and we hope to be able to continue to help with this in the future. We are now getting back to our normal figures but we are still taking all the precautions necessary that includes a maximum of 30 people per service. I would also add that if you are visiting loved ones before the Yamim Noraim please try and go midweek and remember at all times to adhere to social distancing. I take this opportunity of wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year. But my final word goes to thanking all the rabbonim, volunteers, men’s and women’s Chevra Kadisha and everyone connected to the burial society, may you all be blessed with a sweet and healthy new year. Melvyn Hartog
Head of Burial
Our N’shot Chayil Estelle Kaye Firstly, it was a pleasure sharing the Eishet Chayil honour with Ruth, and I would like to thank everyone involved in organising and attending the unusual but nevertheless successful and memorable virtual ceremony on Zoom. David and I came to Pinner from Bushey, David’s first home, after a brief sojourn back in Ealing where I was brought up, and where my family were well known in the Ealing Shul community. Our attempt to move back to the area brought us to Pinner, where we set down roots for the past 31 years. It has been a very happy home and our only ongoing disagreement is about the walk to shul. David insists it is 25 minutes and I say it is 40! Our children Simone and Andrew were only two years old and nine months old respectively when we moved in and a bit later Danielle arrived as a fully-fledged Pinnerite. Danielle attended Pinner Gan where we were involved in fundraising. All three went onto enjoy the then thriving cheder at Rooks Heath school and were expertly tutored by friends in the community, making us proud at their respective Bat and Bar Mitzvot. I also benefited from a different sort of Pinner Education. As the children grew older, I began to look for some child-friendly work as an Early Years teacher. Many people will remember Avelyn Hass. I was very fortunate to have Avelyn as my teacher at many child development courses at Jews’ College and she determinedly got me through my assessments, enabling me to work at Bushey Synagogue Nursery for many years. Since then, we have been fortunate enough to stand under a Pinner chuppah with Rabbi Grunewald, at the respective weddings of Simone and Danielle. Now we are proud grandparents of Ellie and Joel and I happily spend a lot of my days in retirement taking care of them. Pinner has been a wonderful community which we feel so much a part of and where we have made so many lovely friends. I have participated in communal activities wherever I can be of help. Most of my shul responsibilities have been in catering, helping with the kiddushim over many years. As a team leader I would like to take this opportunity to thank my team for continually supporting me. For many years, I have organised the Yom HaShoah reception, trying to make sure all the visiting dignitaries were well looked after. Whenever the need arises at various shul events and activities, you can always find me in the kitchen. I hope it will not be too long before we can resume the weekly Shabbat services and social events which are such an important part of a thriving community. But Pinner’s ability to withstand these very unusual circumstances is testimony to its strong foundations and communal spirit.
Ruth Freedman Myself and my sister Hilary had an idyllic childhood in Kenton with stable, tolerant and loving parents. They were from traditional orthodox homes and were founder members of Kenton Synagogue, then subsequently founder members of Middlesex New reform synagogue (ask me if you want to know why they left Kenton). My father’s background was unusual in that his mother had come from her home in Rishon Le Zion to marry his father who had a business in London. My father was a civil servant with the Indian government, since being the child of naturalised parents he could not serve in the British civil service. My mother trained as a social worker but subsequently became a teacher of special needs children. My connection to Israel began in 1963 when we visited there as a family which was quite unusual in those days. Most of my father’s relatives were there including his two sisters. Dad loved travel, so we had the most amazing holidays touring Yugoslavia, Italy and France. However, dad would not go to Spain because of Franco nor to Greece because of the Junta. My parents were Guardian readers, Labour party members, B’nai Brith presidents and in general, seekers of social justice. I was plump, shy and diligent at school so had very few friends. This changed when I went to ‘club’ at Middlesex New where I met a great crowd with whom I hung out at the weekends, mainly at coffee bars and country pubs once we could drive. By the sixth form I had learned to play bridge and tennis, which opened a few more doors socially. I had also learned to ignore what I now know was good advice from both parents and teachers. ‘No I won’t go to the Lycée for sixth Form, no I won’t do a French and secretarial degree with a year at Lille University.’ Having started learning Russian at school I went on to study it at Sheffield University. There I became involved in the Jewish society whose Chair was one Jonathan Freedman, I was the Deputy Chair. He was opinionated, frum and challenging - definitely not my type. Yes, dear reader, I married him. For those who missed my speech, my involvement with Pinner shul began when I ran Mothers and Toddlers. I organised a team of parents to help at the cheder with Hebrew reading. I was chair of the welfare committee when the bereavement support group started. For the past six years, I have been your Deputy at the Board of Deputies. In the first triennium I served on their Community and Education division, then in the current triennium on the Finance and Organisation Division. I also run the Board’s mentor scheme for new Deputies. 13 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
We Remember Memory plays a central role in the Torah - we are explicitly commanded to remember many of our most central episodes and values on a daily basis. When we lose a relative, shiva is a huge part of our ability to form the memories that help us carry our loved one with us forever more. During the past few months, many families were unable to sit shiva in the usual manner and we would like to dedicate this small memorial to them, some members of Pinner Shul and some relatives of our members. We hope that this tribute helps us all remember some very special people. Brian Ardel
(husband of Sheila Ardel) My wonderful husband Brian passed away in April. He was in a nursing home and contracted COVID-19. Thankfully we had 50 wonderful years together. He was a wonderful husband, dad and grandpa. Always in our hearts and sadly missed. Shalom RIP.
Tricia Brickman Mum (Tricia) loved Pinner, and was a front-row fixture in Pinner Shul, giving regular Divrei Torah. She had so many friends and had an active and constant social life, in spite of many health challenges. Mum probably taught someone in your family over the years, whether that was a language, Jewish Studies or Bat Mitzvah, and she loved doing it. She is much missed by her family and Pinner friends, who were also family.
(father of Graeme Canter) Maurice Canter's love of family was huge. His four children, 13 grandchildren and two great grandchildren bear testament to this. This year would have been the 60th anniversary of his marriage to my dear mum Elaine. He passed away on April Fool’s Day which was highly appropriate as he was always looking to have the last laugh.
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(husband of Pamela Cohen) David was a longstanding member of Pinner Shul, having joined in 1987. He was a regular attender of Shul services and in 2013, helped to establish the Maturian group for older members of the community. This group continues to thrive, due in no small part to his hard work and good ideas. He was a gentle and kind man, with never a bad word to say about anyone. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather and will be sadly missed.
(husband of Sally Ann Eisenberg) Brian was positive, enthusiastic, genuinely interested in everyone he met and always wanted to be of service to others. A special family man and friend.
(sister of Renee Sheinman) My lovely sister Diane passed away at the beginning of the Pandemic after years of suffering from Crohns and other painful illnesses. She was totally selfless and uncomplaining and adored her son and daughter-in-law and grandchildren for whom she lived. She is missed terribly by all who knew her.
(husband of Celia Gaya) Harry spent his working life as a medical microbiologist treating infections in hospital patients. He would have appreciated the irony of his own life being ended by Covid -19. He was a proud father and grandfather and will be missed by everyone who knew him.
Community Matters Lionel Grant
(father of Shereen Presky) My wonderful father passed away on 10th May 2020. Having become ill at the beginning of the year, he came home from hospital just a few weeks before we went into lockdown. That unfortunately was the last time that I was able to spend time with him. He adored his wife, daughters, grandchildren and was lucky enough to meet his new great granddaughter, born this year. He was, and is, loved so much and is greatly missed.
(father of Paul Harris) My father, a grandfather, a great grandfather and more importantly....a good man.
(mother of Jenny Itzcovitz) This is a picture of my dear mother, Kitty Jacobs who sadly passed away on 11th July 2020. The picture shows her playing her favourite card game, Kalookie. We have many fond memories of Kalookie tournaments. Kitty will be sadly missed by daughters Jenny and Shoshana, grandchildren, family and friends.
(mother of Ben Jacobs) Very sadly, my beloved mother, Myrna Jacobs, passed away in July. She was a truly wonderful mother to me and my sister, Jane, and an adored grandmother to her grandchildren. My mother was a distinguished, influential and highly admired teacher. She was the headmistress of Immanuel College from 1995 to 2000 and then a governor of Sinai School. She will be truly missed but leaves an enormous legacy.
Alan Karbaron Alan Karbaron was a devoted husband to his late wife Loretta, a wonderful father to his two children and fantastic grandfather to his six grandchildren and he is greatly missed by them all.
(father of Howard Lewis) Sadly, we lost our Dad in his 97th year. Resident in Choice House for the final year of his life, he is reunited with our Mum, Rita who left us in May 2012. He was always dedicated to his family as a son, husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather - and willing to help everyone. We will always remember him.
Hettie Mount My mother Hettie Mount, was a very early member of the shul and joined in the late 1940s when they held services at the Vagabond Hall. She was a lovely lady, always had a smile on her face and was known by all. In later life she regularly babysat for Rabbi Grunwald’s children. She lost her husband Maurice in 1976. She was 91 when she passed away following a stroke. She is survived by three of her four children, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Dr Stephen David Myers
(husband of Marion Myers and brother of Ralph Myers) Stephen was a loving and much loved husband, father and grandfather much missed by his wider family and many friends. He was a consulting civil engineer who was instrumental in bringing clean fresh water to many in third world countries. He researched, wrote and lectured on London’s ‘hidden’ rivers and frequently led groups in a wide variety of activities.
(mother of Susan Coleman) My mother passed away on 2 April 2020. Unfortunately and very tragically I was unable to see her for her final two weeks due to the nursing home being on lockdown due to the virus. She was a very special person and loved and missed by her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, family, and many friends.
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First Things First Gerald Paster
(husband of Hilda Paster and father of Howard Paster) A calm, patient, quiet kind man who always had a time for everyone. A real privilege be his wife and son.
(sister of Robin Woolf) Susan Simmons (nee Woolf) – four years younger than Robin was a gifted teacher, tennis player and a fulfilled wife, mother and grandmother. Her husband and two sons (both doctors) survive her. Unfortunately she spent her last five years in care but died peacefully and well-cared for.
(wife of David Rosten) Sara was a powerful character and an outstanding homebuilder. Born in 1944 in what was British Mandate Palestine, she and her family fled after her father was killed in 1945. She married David in 1962 and they lived in Kenton and Wembley, finally settling in Pinner in the mid '80s. Sadly, she was struck down with dementia in her late 50s and was cared for by her loving husband in a remarkable way for 15 years. She passed away on 9th May and is sorely missed by her two sons Joanthan and Jeremy and her devoted husband David.
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We also remember… Oskar Dover (father of Maxine Segalov) Anthony Ellis (brother of Judy Graham) Sister of Sidney Isaacs Rose Nathan Harvey Onnie Sheila Owen Ettie Skolnek (mother of Stuart Skolnek)
by Karen Kinsley Welfare Coordinator
s I sit and write this article in the middle of June, I look back on an unexpected, very sad and very hard few months. Many in our community are grieving, isolated or lonely. We have all had to adapt to new challenges, a new normal and a new daily reality. But I also look back on what we have achieved in Pinner Shul in the last few months with pride.
Despite the fact that our religion is based on communal worship and events, we have grown stronger and come together in new ways. Even though coronavirus interrupted our wonderful Passover celebrations, we found ways to still have a seder meal and share online with our families. The pandemic shone the spotlight on community and welfare work, and I hope, here at Pinner Shul, that we have met the challenge. One month after lockdown began, a report in the Lancet psychiatry journal called for urgent research into the population’s mental health, stating, ‘increased social isolation, loneliness, health anxiety, stress and an economic downturn are a perfect storm to harm people's mental health and wellbeing.’ Our physical distancing has been key in the decline of the virus - but at what cost? What have we been doing at Pinner Shul to try to help our community’s mental health and wellbeing? Our team of welfare volunteers has grown and we have been very busy supporting our community. ● Our volunteers have been making regular phone calls, delivering food parcels and shopping for those members who have no alternative way of getting food or prescriptions. My thanks must go to our wonderful volunteers who have worked tirelessly to keep people connected and supported. I hope they have found it rewarding and empowering. ● We have also used digital outreach by using our shul website to publish a list of phone numbers and websites for sources of further support and we are trying to ‘fill the gap’ for whatever needs members have. ● The power of technology has never been more essential and we are working hard to make sure that many people, who might not have accessed or used the internet before, are now having a go at it! Our online café is proving a lifeline to many members. ● We had a fascinating online talk on looking after our mental health by the excellent Jewish mental health charity, Jami. It was well attended and full of useful tips for the community. Many volunteers attended this talk and are now using these tips and advice when they make their phone calls.
It has been challenging and rewarding in equal measures. The key emphasis was to make sure people were safe and felt 18 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
part of their community even if we could not see each other face-to-face. The government knows that religious communities step in to fill and identify the gaps – we support our most vulnerable whether it is financially, spiritually or emotionally. Our incredible Rabbi and Rebbetzen are always on hand to provide support and have been a solid rock in times of need. I have to thank the United Synagogue Chesed team, who have passed on information, responded to my many emails, taken the initiative, and sent Pinner community Passover parcels, Shabbat meals, essential food boxes and much more. And as much as coronavirus has kept us all apart, friendships have formed. Some of my volunteers have been phoning people regularly and struck up friendships that I hope will continue when times return to ‘normal’. Necessity is the mother of invention and as time went on into the pandemic, we ably and speedily moved our popular pop up café on Thursday morning online with great success now rebranded as ‘Chat & Share’ on zoom. Reaching far greater audiences than ever before, our café has interesting talks from members and been able to share information about our community. We have convinced many an over 80-year-old to attempt to ‘zoom’ – the new verb of the decade – and have regular attendances of more than 70 households! We have around 180 over 70s in our community and they have hopefully felt looked after and supported by shul members in many ways. As we move forward, the future is uncertain. But what I do know is that myself, Pinner Shul Executive, our Rabbi and Rebbetzen and the shul’s wonderful volunteers will continue to ‘plug those gaps’. We will continue to innovate and share together. I am currently busy exploring ways to celebrate the New Year together as we may not be able to be in our beloved synagogue. Keep up the good work Pinner Synagogue! We are in this together! We are a community! ● Do you have new ideas to support our community’s welfare needs? ● Do you know anyone in the community who might need support or is poorly? ● Do you have an interest in volunteering to be a driver, befriender, organiser/supporter or phone caller? Contact Karen Kinsley: email@example.com | 07946 515 363 Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings
From Pop Up Café to Chat & Share
By Leonie Lewis
ne of the positive outcomes from lockdown has been the ability for many people to meet together in one place at the same time via zoom and although we only see each other as a square or rectangle head shot, the ability to communicate with individuals in this way has been a boon for young and old, families and friends, communities and businesses. Pinner Shul, like many others, certainly took advantage of zoom meetings and calls and perhaps the first group to do this was the Thursday pop up café, renamed during lockdown, Chat & Share. Before lockdown we had conceived an idea of having members of the café and others deliver a short talk followed by discussion in a desire to increase our attendances and provide another aspect of interest for those attending the weekly Thursday morning café sessions. Lockdown sadly put a stop to all shul activities, however our IT wizz and welfare coordinator Karen Kinsley suggested we try and run the café online. Same day and same time, but this time you bring your cuppa to the zoom meeting! We haven’t looked back and are regularly attracting between 50 -70 viewers and with many couples of course sharing screens, there’s more than 100 people joining most weeks.
Sessions began with a 45-minute session, but we soon realised that this was inadequate as everyone wanted to chat and ask questions, so an hour was booked! Pinner Shul community is fortunate in having so many people willing to volunteer for the chat and share slot and to date, everyone asked has agreed. Several of those who have spoken are regular pop up café participants, whilst others have popped into the cafe over the last six months. The subjects have ranged from Margery Cohen`s, engrossing Indian childhood, to Maurice Levitt’s challenging population issues. Topics are generally of human interest where speakers share personal and amusing reflections. Keith Simons discussed his work as a prison chaplain standing behind a grill tray from his oven, whilst Doreen introduced us to the world of cheesecakes! Plus, Eric Samuels took us behind the camera lens from his career as a BBC cameraman. I doubt if our numbers will reach these dizzy heights when we return to our new normal, but for now these chat and share sessions have provided a wonderful opportunity to meet and hear from members of our community and for so many of us to enjoy a cuppa together!
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9th Pinner Virtual Cub Camp May 2020
By Ian and Jackie Silverstone
Wednesday 11th March 2020. We did our Closing Howl ceremony at the end of the meeting, little knowing that this would be our last cub meeting for months to come. The world changed and so did cubs. Three weeks before the end of term, the planned meetings became irrelevant and impractical and so virtual Zoom meetings were born. No running around and so no team games, or could there be? Technology conquered, at least most of the time, meaning that breakout rooms with a leader in charge of a ‘team’ could be organised. Meetings were re-planned and our weekly schedule remained. But what about camp? As per usual, we had planned a camp over the second May Bank Holiday. Pitches and activities had been booked and we were bound for Phasels Wood campsite near Kings Langley. Surely we couldn’t run a camp over Zoom? Well, it turns out you can. There would be no wide games in the dark with excited cubs too hyped up to go to sleep, but then there wouldn’t be any cubs to wake the leaders up at 5am with their ‘quiet’ chatting either! No camp fires to build and toast marshmallows around? Think again! Things would have to be different and we’d have to rely on complete parental supervision. We knew the cubs would be up for it but, with weeks of home-schooling on the cards, would the parents? How can you give a group of young people a ‘flavour’ of a real camp without actually being there? We came up with a rough plan for a two day camp (instead of our normal four day adventure) and went out to our families. No they didn’t need to go out and buy tents. If they had one, great, but if not, their living rooms could be turned into a den…couldn’t they? Sleeping under a dining room table with sheets as curtains hung over the chairs can be just as much fun - can’t it? Sunday 24th May arrived and we had 13 cubs coming to camp - over half the pack. Sunday was jam packed; flapjacks made and cakes in a mug cooked in the microwave. Perhaps not traditional camp cooking but it 20 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
certainly saved on buying cakes for ‘snacks’. Family barbecues were a prerequisite with the obligatory chocolate bananas. All recipes and instructions provided - just not the actual food! Tents were pitched in gardens (including ours) and dens made. The cubs went out to collect sticks of varying sizes and we gave a Zoom tutorial on how to build a small fire in a foil roasting tray. Amazingly, everyone managed to get their fires going and marshmallows were toasted. Parents and siblings were equally as thrilled as the cubs. Campfire sketches, in ‘tent groups’ were prepared over Zoom and performed in-between songs - just as they are at a ‘real’ camp. The campfire was real enough as well. I’m not sure what our neighbours thought…. One of the leaders’ highlights was bedtime - no going round tents a dozen times trying to get them all to stop talking. Nice to hand that responsibility over to the parents. Monday brought more cooking for the cubs - everyone knows you have to have ‘eggy bread’ for breakfast at camp. It turned out that not everyone was aware of the delights of eggy bread - they are now. Tent/den inspection was carried out as normal and when everything was spic and span, the cubs were sent off (with parents, of course) on a nature hunt. Trees, leaves and even butterflies identified, the cubs returned home for lunch. We asked them to make their own sandwiches and said that points would be awarded for making them ‘interesting’. With photos of their creations flying over the camp WhatsApp group chat, we particularly liked the photos from one cub. His mother provided a photo to show a wide array of healthy options she had provided him with. The photo that he then shared with us was of a sandwich consisting of chips, hash browns and sweet chilli sauce. He got away with it as well!! It turns out that virtual camping may not be the whole experience, but it’s certainly a great starting point. The cubs seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves and their parents did too. Hopefully, next May they’ll all want to do it again but, this time, hopefully at Phasels Wood.
The Bar Mitzvah That Nearly Never Was Tina Benjamin, together with Suzanne and Ian Abrahams, celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of their mutual grandson, Zac.
he Bar Mitzvah boy was Zac Benjamin, son of Charlotte and Elliot, who had grown up in Pinner. The shul was Ner Yisrael in Hendon, and the dates were Thursday 2nd July and Shabbat 4th July, with a double Sedra Chukat and Balak.
As the date approached, it was unclear as to whether there would be any services in any shul. Charlotte and Elliot had no idea how they were going to celebrate, and the rules and regulations seemed to change constantly. Meanwhile Zac was determined to leyen the double sedra in full in shul, but even he had doubts as to whether this would be possible. Eventually it was decided to hold the Thursday morning service in the front garden of their home including neighbours on each side together with two families from across the road. This complied with the social distancing rules. Zac leyened this first section of Chukat and had all three aliyot. It was very emotional for Zac to be called up by Elliot’s brother, his uncle Grant. The service was watched on zoom by nearly 200 people. Zac delivered a dvar torah after the service and was addressed by Rabbi Zobin.
Elliot had also printed a booklet containing the leyening to celebrate the simcha. We arrived at shul at 8am as there was to be a second minyan later in the morning. Zac leyened the complete double sedra and the haftarah, enclosed in a perspex box. He was called up seven times and recited the brachot before and after each aliyah. We think he must have achieved a world record for someone to have ten aliyot within 50 hours. We were all very proud of Zac who had enjoyed it so much he actually said that he did not want it to end. This was despite the fact that when he had been practising his portion, he had said he that the quicker he could get through it, the better! In the absence of a Kiddush in shul, Charlotte and Elliot had arranged a rolling Kiddush in their front garden. Family and friends were invited, with each being given time slots. There were six people at a time spanning over four hours with the food served according to the current restrictions.
think he must ❝ We have achieved a
On Friday night we returned to the same format for Kabbalat Shabbat in the front garden, followed by a family meal in the back garden! No zoom this time!
world record for someone to have ten aliyot within 50 hours
Shabbat morning was to be held in the back garden with just the immediate family present. At the eleventh hour on Wednesday it was confirmed by Ner Yisrael that they would make the shul available for Shabbat morning, adhering to the two-metre distancing rule. We all wore masks which were personalised with Zac’s name and the Bar Mitzvah logo. We had new siddurim supplied by our hosts which were also personalised in honour of Zac.
After Shabbat we had a zoomed Havdalah for 150 guests. Each guest had received in advance a presentation gift which included a Havdalah set and nosh and drinks for the evening’s entertainment. The Havdalah was beautifully led by our Bar Mitzvah boy and followed by a live magic show directly from Tel Aviv. Some of the guests were able to participate in the tricks and illusions.
We had all enjoyed a most wonderful three days, starting at 7am on Thursday morning and ending at midnight after Shabbat. Mazal Tov Zac, from very proud Savta Tina, Grandma Suzy and Grampian (Grandpa Ian who had taught Zac to leyen).
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The Staffroom by Ben Lewis
If someone said to you ‘imagine having all of your family around all of the time’, some would smile wistfully at the idea. Others might cringe at the concept. Others still wouldn’t have been able to imagine it, considering the busy nature of our lives. Then lockdown happened. And we had all of our families around. All of the time.
or us, this involved having our two-year-old at home instead of nursery and our nine-year-old at home instead of school. It also involved Mum at home instead of the hospital (nurse, not patient) and Dad at home instead of school (teacher, not pupil). The first few weeks were fine. After all, that’s just a long holiday. But tempers frayed, daily schoolwork became the North face of Everest and pointless arguments were the norm. Have you ever argued with a stubborn two-year-old? Losing those arguments brings a new level of shame and confusion. On top of all that, we were both devastated that we weren’t seeing lockdown as the ‘amazing opportunity’ that the parents on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram were reporting it to be. Why were we not able to plan 47 activities each day tailored to our children’s exact needs? Why couldn’t we work from home and teach our nine-year-old about fractions and fronted adverbials (what?) and build a learning environment to move our two-year-old forward? What were we doing wrong? Enter the Staffroom (we’re all teachers now, right?) A place where parents in the local community could meet (via Zoom, of course) once a week and feel like they aren’t the only one struggling through this once-in-a-lifetime situation. Every week, we would hear from a professional in the mystical art of child-keeping and every week, the professional would give their take on a certain aspect of the lockdown, home-schooling, discipline, or just something happy that was a welcome change to the torrent of negativity we were receiving from the news at the time. They would make suggestions, offer advice, impart their experience, or just put words to feelings we were having about a given situation – but the thing we took from most sessions was that we weren’t doing badly. We were doing absolutely fine. We weren’t failing our children. And we shouldn’t be using social media as a benchmark. Which we know already, of course, it’s what we tell our kids. But it was nice to hear it from several experts. We really looked forward to our weekly meetings – and it was nice to have a thing to look forward to that wasn’t the weekly Tesco run. We were never disappointed with the session content, or the company. But it would be remiss of us to not mention the other thing we looked forward to. Every week, we would get a delivery of PPE. Not masks or hand-gel, but Parent Pampering Equipment! A small gift every week that was just for us, not the kids. Ranging from costume
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masks to wear during the session that week, to a beer (that one of us in particular thought was very ‘well deserved’), to some popcorn for a movie together without the kids. They were really lovely to receive. It felt like an acknowledgement that things are hard, and we’re doing okay. At this point, though we are sure they would prefer us not to, we need to offer our huge thank Rabbi and Rebbetzen Kurzer, who planned the Zoom meetings, invited the speakers, arranged and delivered the PPE and made sure the whole event ran smoothly. They not only gave us something to look forward to every week for a couple of months but were also instrumental in allowing us to cut ourselves a little slack during the lockdown. We can’t thank them enough. We would not have chosen to spend this long in lockdown – but the Staffroom made things that much more tolerable – and we’re extremely grateful for that.
Yom Hashoah 2020 80th Anniversary of the Occupation of The Netherlands By Gaby Glassman
Yom Hashoah 2020 was destined to be a very special event, not least because for the first time in the past 30 years of Yom Hashoah having been commemorated in Pinner Synagogue, we had as one of our keynote speakers a Jewish Holocaust survivor who was also a member of the Resistance. She travelled across the Netherlands to distribute documents and newsletters, and helped to forge identity cards and take people to their hiding addresses. However, in July 1944, she was arrested, interrogated and transported via Camp Vught in the Netherlands to Ravensbrück concentration camp where she survived slave labour. In spite of maltreatment, kindness from other inmates kept her going.
lthough Selma van de Perre, who is Dutch born but has lived in London since 1945, is largely unknown as a speaker on the Holocaust in the UK, she has addressed audiences in Holland and Germany. In January, her book describing her experiences during the war was published in Amsterdam to great acclaim, rising immediately to the top of the Dutch best-sellers’ list and by early July it was set to be translated into eight languages. Selma van de Perre was 17 when Germany invaded Holland in 1940. Until then, being Jewish had been of no consequence. When a cousin was sent to a labour camp early in 1942, the family knew that the situation was serious, although at that time, like most other people, they still thought that a labour camp involved work. Selma was also summoned but she escaped deportation by finding a job that provided exemption. A few months later her father was sent to a labour camp. Selma went into hiding with people who worked for the Resistance and gradually became involved. She started as a courier for the Dutch Resistance Group TD under the pseudonym Marga van der Kuit.
During the period 1942 – 1945 no one knew that she was Jewish, and no one knew her real name. Reflecting on her Resistance activities Selma told the Jerusalem Post: ‘I’m not sure how I made it. It was just a series of close escapes.’ Being in the Resistance ‘maybe sounds scary and dangerous, and it is, but it also gets mundane’. After liberation, she was sent to convalesce in Sweden. While there, in the hope that her brothers who had escaped to England might see her name on a list of returnees from Ravensbrück, she dared to say her real name again: ‘My name is Selma’ – the title of her book. Her parents and younger sister were murdered. Selma left the Netherlands, where the void was too large, and settled in London, married Belgian journalist Hugo van de Perre, had a son, and, in 1957, graduated from the London School of Economics. Selma worked for the BBC and later also as foreign correspondent for a Dutch television station. In 1983 she received the Dutch Resistance Commemorative Cross. She had intended never to talk to others about the terrible war period, but was invited in 1995 to the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Ravensbrück. Since then she has lectured and worked tirelessly to remind others of the atrocities during the Nazi period and the persecution of the Jews. At the annual Dutch national WWII
remembrance ceremony she lays a wreath immediately after King Willem Alexander. In her book she acknowledges belatedly the largely ignored contributions to the Resistance of Dutch Jews who are widely seen as having been hapless victims of the Nazis rather than vital partners in the fight against them. Now at 98, Selma remains a force of nature – full of hope and courage. Asked by the Jerusalem Post for a message to give to young people today, she said: ‘I’d like to recommend tolerance. … Try to be tolerant of people around you. … Avoid fights. Fights become conflicts and conflicts become wars. Try to be nice. Love is all that matters in the end.’ At the cancelled Yom Hashoah commemoration we would also have heard from the Dutch ambassador about how his grandparents sheltered a Jewish family, and from Oxford Professor Bart van Es how his grandparents hid a young Jewish girl. The evening would have highlighted the bravery of ordinary people and acknowledged stories that have remained untold until now.
‘My Name Is Selma’ by Selma van de Perre, to be published by Transworld/Bantam, London, September, 2020. ‘The Cut Out Girl’ by Bart van Es, Winner of the Costa Book of the Year 2018, was first published by Fig Tree.
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Renee Binstock celebrating 100 years. By Barbara Nicholls
Renee Binstock was born on the 11th July 1920, the fourth child of Elkan and Annie Hillel, living first in Shoreditch and then moving to Dalston at the age of six where they became next-door neighbours to the Binstock family. Little did Renee know that years later she would marry Joe Binstock and become sister-in-law to her best friend Dolly.
enee has never shirked responsibility and her love for all her family and friends has always been paramount in her life. In 1939, at 19, her father summoned her back from holiday and sent her to Torquay with her four-year-old brother, David, together with her sister-in-law and her baby to find a house for all the extended family. She has vivid memories of the railway station with thousands of children carrying gas masks and suitcases waving goodbye to their parents not knowing when they would see them again. Having rented a house in Babbacombe for the family (including a 17-year-old cousin, Hilda Wagner, (David Lawson’s mother) she remembers hearing the Declaration of War on 3rd September. This being the phony war, the adults gradually returned to London leaving Renee in charge of the family’s ration books and cash, and enrolling David at his first school. When thinking about her forthcoming 100th birthday, Renee compared it to her wedding. She and Joe were engaged in March 1945 but the wedding booked for 19th August nearly didn’t happen as their venue, the Wembley Town Hall, was requisitioned for a Thanksgiving Service. Joe refused to accept that the wedding wouldn’t take place ‘I’ve waited so long for you I’m not waiting any longer!’ He arranged for the factory workers to clear the Town Hall after the Thanksgiving Service, and after the chuppah arranged for a taxi to take the Rabbi to the BBC where he was speaking together
with other faith leaders. As a special concession, the wedding continued until 9pm instead of 6pm! Shortly after her 99th birthday, her family started cautiously planning her 100th birthday, but Covid-19 derailed their plans. In the end, thanks to zoom, she was able to celebrate with friends and family here and in Israel. Although never seeking attention, Renee has a strict sense of what is right, aptly illustrated by her and Joe attending a very frum Sheva Berachot, (men and women at separate tables) where the men proceeded to give blessings to the couple whilst the women listened dutifully. Suddenly she stood up, called for attention, and on behalf of the women gave an impromptu speech thanking everyone and wishing the young couple a good life, much to the embarrassment of Joe! Renee and Joe were happily married for 42 years and had two sons, Ian and Anthony. They worked together in their suede and leather factory in Watford, worked tirelessly on the Yavneh School committees and were the first ones to be called upon in family emergencies. Shortly after volunteering in the Six Day War, Ian made Aliyah, and although missing him tremendously Renee has never wavered in her full support for his decision. But time marches on and Ian (Shlomo) has now lived in Israel for 50 years, married to Ruth. Similarly, back in London Anthony married Janice. Renee is now an immensely proud grandmother and great-grandmother of seven grandchildren and eighteen greatgrandchildren.
Following Joe’s death in 1989, Renee began spending Shabbatot with us, and in 1998 she downsized and moved to Pinner. She says ‘I have loved living here with such a very warm community’. She is still a regular member of the Pinner Knitting group, enjoys Rummikub or Bridge at the Monday Games Afternoons, is an appreciative guest at the regular shul tea parties, and until quite recently was an active member of Tonic Choir. She is still an avid reader, and is currently reading Michael Rifkind’s biography, as her favourite TV programme is watching Parliament and keeping up to date on politics. The final words must come from Renee’s beloved grandchildren and great-grandchildren who wrote in their birthday card ‘We all wish you a wonderful day and many more years of health, happiness and joy – till 120!’
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The Magic of Moriah By Gill Grusd
I was very upset and shocked to hear that Moriah Jewish Day School is closing at the end of July 2020. I always thought that it was such a happy and special place, filled with happy faces, music and laughter. I have so many happy memories of working there.
was offered a job working in the nursery to begin in September 1999. It was a new school being built in Cannon Lane in Pinner. It was the first Jewish primary school in the borough of Harrow. I was so excited to be offered a job there; in fact I could not believe that I was so lucky. On the first day it was a bit like going to a building site with the builders still working there. There was no car park. The nursery classroom had a lot of equipment and furniture, books and toys, all of which needed to be unpacked, assembled and sorted. The staff were all really friendly. As time went by it felt like being part of a new family with Alan Shaw, the head teacher being like a father figure and Barbara Mazliah, the deputy head being like a mother figure. The building was modern, light, bright and airy with lots of windows and everything new. The hall had underfloor heating. There was a large food tech room, a computer room, a library and a science room. With the help of some volunteers we sorted and assembled equipment and distributed the equipment to where it was needed. When at last the children started coming to the school with their smiley, happy faces, it felt like a school at last. To start with there were to be three classes, year one, reception and nursery, and the school would grow as the children went up into the next class. The school must have seemed huge to the children as at that stage most of the classrooms were empty. The number of children in the nursery class was rather small to start with but in time it grew and by the second year we had 26 children. The school had a lovely atmosphere with caring staff who were excited to be there. I remember how
happy I felt going to work every day. I once thanked Alan Shaw for giving me the job and told him that I loved working there. At the start of a new term I remember not being able to sleep as I was so excited to be going back. After a few years I was asked by some parents to run an art club for the older children. I really enjoyed art club. I had 18 of the older children once a week after school until 5pm. We did drawing, painting and model making. The children brought a snack to eat before the class started. They often surprised me with their artistic talent, and I felt so proud of them. Walking down the corridor in the school we could hear children singing. The staff room was often rather noisy and friendly. Once a week each staff member brought a jacket potato and filling and one of the staff members would cook all the potatoes and have them ready for lunch time. At one stage we took turns to make soup for all the staff. This was great in the winter. I made so many good friends. I remember how the children all joined in with Shabbat and festival celebrations, the wonderful concerts, talent shows, outings to the local park, lots of baking and cooking with the children, celebrating birthdays, dressing up for Purim (I loved that). It is such a shame that the present year six pupils will not be able to have the leaving ceremony that previous pupils have had but am sure they will do well in their next schools. I left Moriah in about 2015 due to ill health and am now able to concentrate more on my painting. Moriah has always had a special place in my heart. I feel grateful and privileged to have been a small part of such a lovely school with wonderful children, supportive parents and caring staff. 27 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
Found: A Model 1890 Turkish Mauser Sword Bayonet By David Summers
Often watching the BBC Antiques Roadshow, the specialist asks ‘And where did you find this object? Can you tell me how you came to have it?’. Well yet again the hidden corners of the shul have revealed another long lost and interesting item.
n 2012, a clear out associated with the refurbishment revealed the WWII Memorial Board (now hanging in the shul) and the Consecration Stone of the first Pinner Shul on the current site. This time the relaxation of the Covid19 lockdown gave the opportunity to thoroughly sort through a number of storage spaces. One of them was the big shed near the Succah. The shul clean team took everything out under the direction of Nigel Presky. I then was asked what a number of items were in case they should not be taken away permanently. It was then that I spotted a metal sword. As I didn’t think it was a good idea for it to be put on a skip, I took it home with the intention of finding a safer disposal such as handing it to the local police sergeant! However, I became intrigued. It was too substantial to be a stage prop. It had a patina of rust. Closer examination revealed numerous indentations and markings. The weapon also felt very comfortable – well balanced and had an unusual hilt. A few days later our younger son Michael came round and within minutes using Google Lens had identified the weapon. It was a 23inch long steel Model 1890 Turkish Mauser Sword Bayonet. The Australian War Memorial in Canberra describes this bayonet as an example of one of the diverse range of combat equipment that was issued to and used by the Ottoman Turkish forces during the First World War. Turkish front-line troops who served against Australian, New Zealand, British and Indian (including Gurkhas) troops in Egypt, Palestine and the Gallipoli peninsula were armed with a range of weapons from antiquated pre-1900 rifles to modern German-made rifles and machine guns. This particular bayonet is for the Model 1890 Turkish Mauser rifle. An estimated 280,000 of these rifles were manufactured for their use during the First World War, with thousands of these falling into the hands of Australian and other British Commonwealth troops during the war. The hilt has plain wooden grips (for hand to hand fighting)
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held to the tang with two screw bolts. The crossguard is stamped with a serial number in Turkish Arabic, has a muzzle ring and a down-turned hooked quillion. The pommel is stamped with the sultan's crest under the locking bolt button. The straight single edged blade has a single fuller to each side and the ricasso has an Arabic inscription. The Pinner M1890 sword bayonet has these features and many more which are fully described in other sources. It also compares very well with Imperial War Museum exhibits, albeit the latter have been cleaned. Some of the inscriptions are currently difficult to discern in its current condition; however, its serial number translated from the Arabic is 185. As a sword bayonet, it is longer than a conventional bayonet. Has this weapon been used in anger? Are there still traces of blood and DNA? Was it acquired as a souvenir? How did this come to Pinner Shul? Who in the Community has lost or as I say, misplaced, such an item? Did they want to get rid of it and thought the shul could do this? (Very sorry, it’s not shaimot) And compliance with the Offensive Weapons Act, let’s not go there!! Can anyone please shed light on this? In the meantime and Covid19 permitting, I will get it authenticated at the Imperial war Museum. Needless to say it is also safely secured away from the grandchildren (and the CST).
Pinner does poetry Lockdown
Wordsworth in Lockdown
Lock down has changed most of our lives
I wandered lonely as a cloud Two meters from the madding crowd When all at once my name was called To enter Waitrose’s hallowed hall
Only allowed to go shopping for essential products Can't hug your friends or high five your neighbour Keep having to wash your hands
This was the pensioners special hour I’d gone to get a bag of flour But I forgot, when through the door What I had gone to Waitrose for
Don't risk getting infected Or giving it to the elderly When will it end? No one knows By Izzy Hyer – aged 9
The Waitrose staff are extra kind I told them it had slipped my mind They asked what else I had forgot They clearly thought I’d lost the plot
A Holocaust Story
I phoned my wife again to ask She reminded me of the special task ‘I need some flour to bake a cake With all that cream you made me take’.
Come with me, Feel silence engulf you, Walk with me, Into the palms of death.
‘Ah yes, I recall’ I had to lie I dared not ask what flour to buy But then I saw them, near the tills A bunch of golden daffodils!
Come With Me, Walk With Me
Come with me. Into this void of decaying memories, Walk with me, Into a world where no one comes back the same. Come with me, Feel escape from darkness fade, Walk with me, Into the ruins of my childhood.
Have you noticed? Have you noticed the serene silence as you indulge in a glorious hour of energising exercise? Have you noticed the sprightly spring renaissance, as flora and fauna wink at us in their regal regeneration?
Come with me, Relive my nightmarish past, Walk with me, Into the darkest chapter of my life.
Have you noticed the green verges with wild flowers abounding, reminding us of meadows long lost?
By Ellie Parkus – aged 11 For which Ellie was entered into her school’s Book of Excellence
Have you noticed the birds taking centre stage, singing lustily with their day-long concerts? Have you noticed quixotic spring, masquerading as Mediterranean summer? Have you noticed how lovely Pinner is, and how we do not always notice?
Corona Virus in Pinner Has made a few of us thinner So, go out to run And if that’s not your fun Try biking to work off your dinner
By Mike Stoller
By Stewart Dresner
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Chicken Soup and Sleep My Booba used to sit on a chair in the corner Flicking at a chicken with a thumb and a knife, Singeing the feathers Then turning the carcass, Making it dance though it hadn’t any life. When we were ill, she would tell us a story Sitting on the bed so it sank to the side, Scraping off an apple ‘twixt her thumb and a Swiss knife, If she had cause to laugh then her bed went for a ride. Of all the cures and all the potions I have had my health to keep, Only one came with a homily, Booba used to call it, “Chicken soup and sleep!” Sitting in the garden on a summer Sunday Sally Army playing at the corner of the street, Booba and her sister Singing to the music, Not the same words but keeping the beat. Friday afternoon when my mother made the Kreplach, My Booba made the chicken soup that perfumed every room, Each and every neighbor Came to beg a spoonful, We had to wait for supper Which never came too soon. Of all the cures and all the potions I have had my health to keep Only one came with a homily Booba used to call it, ‘Chicken soup and sleep!’ By Derek Reid (Part of the folk song cycle ‘Of Language and Life...Time and a Place’, with music by Pippa Reid. Dedicated to the memory of the Yiddish poet Abraham Nahum Stencl).
A thank you to modern technology We now have our meetings on Zoom Joining family and friends in our room It is making us lazy But stops us going crazy Three cheers for wonderful Zoom By Robin and Barbara Woolf
The Days Not Taken By March 2020 my diary Was in full retreat, pages blank, I’m free To spend time lightly while I follow dreams Even to next winter, eternity So it seems. This is the year that our voices will mime Through our prayer songs, though Kaddish will still rhyme With each other’s, yet we can only hear When we ourselves are silent. It is time Which we fear. Jews adapted, our cathedrals are thoughts Round our solemn days, festivals, wars fought And lost, or won; as children we all know That these dreams run parallel and were taught Long ago. Three Jewish weeks to remember and mourn, And I sit on my familiar lawn, The sun, the moon, my heart, the trees all grow, After Av follows Ellul and ram’s horns Always blow. This year time spent locked down in loneliness Feels both expanded and also much less I am deepened and opened while confined Our sorrows too deep, no joy to express Uncombined. New normality, the world will revive Our Jewish humanity still alive We are muted, quiet, still, protective Thinking of loss, some friends did not survive, Reflective
The River Pinn A river winds its way through our ‘town’ The water glistens as it wends its way down I often see ducks or even an egret Great pleasure and joy from the Pinn do I get! By Barbara Woolf
My telescope sees all the stars at night. Friends, let’s share our stories beyond plain sight Not blank pages, eternity to show Visions, plans, we could make the world right, As we go. By Merrill Dresner
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For many, our gardens have become our sanctuary and the great outdoors more medicinal than ever. We asked you to share some images of the open spaces that have provided some solace in these difficult times. © Brian Conway
© While shielding, Steven Freeman has been making fairy houses for his grandchildren
© Sally Ann Eisenberg
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Community Matters © Estelle and David Kaye
© Leonie Lewis
© Helen Levy
© Kim Parkus
© Elizabeth Harris
© Anita Freeman
© Marion Siskin
© Kim Kramer
© Jane and David Cohen
St Luke’s Hospice Memory Garden A new addition within the grounds of St Luke’s Hospice at Kenton Grange is literally growing and taking shape.
by Margaret Summers
esigned by Linda Scarr, a member of the volunteer gardening team, it is intended to provide a place for quiet reflection and remembrance of those who have passed away. This has been in response to a number of requests from the bereaved and will include planted roses in dedication to loved ones, memorial benches, and engraved bricks with messages for those no longer with us.
Due to the situation with Covid19, the construction was delayed but is nearing completion. The garden is fully accessible with block paved pathways and ample bench seating. One main feature is a newly planted rose garden with more than 60 shrub roses. At its centre, is a modern corten steel structure whose wave design is complemented by the motion of surrounding grasses and tall verbena bonariensis. An additional modern feature separate from
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the rose area is a large, raised, corten steel rectangular tank which will be filled with water dyed black and act as a mirror to capture the reflection of the adjacent trees and sky. When mature, the yew hedging around the garden will provide privacy. With additional planting of shrubs and perennials it is intended for there to be areas of interest for all seasons. The garden will not be open to the general public as the privacy of those for whom it is intended should be respected.
Culture in Quarantine By Elizabeth Harris
I have always said that I cannot imagine living anywhere else than London because I would miss the easy access to high quality concert halls, opera houses, theatres, art galleries and museums. Well, of course, during the lockdown none of us have been able to visit any of these. So how have we been able to enjoy culture during these challenging times?
ell, old fashioned as it may now seem, I have dug out my old collection of CDs collected over many years, and have worked my way through them, listening to music, mainly when I am ironing! I have listened my way through the works of J S Bach; I believe the greatest of all composers of all time and have reacquainted myself with the Brandenburg Concertos, the violin concertos, and many of the large choral works. As those of you who know me well are aware, I am a pianist, and lockdown has given me the opportunity to have more time to play the piano for pleasure and I have been looking at some of the pieces that I played when I was younger, soon realising that I do not practise nearly enough and deciding that if I want to be able to play some of these pieces again properly I will need to dedicate much more time to practice! I would like to be able to play Debussy’s ‘Reflets dans L’Eau’ which I played at the age of 18 as my audition piece for the Royal College of Music. I could play it then but sadly now will have to do much more work if I want to be able to perform this again. I love attending the theatre and during lockdown the National Theatre has put on a number of their productions for a week enabling everyone to view these free of charge. They were all of a high standard, but in particular I enjoyed Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, Treasure Island and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Unusual productions with some interesting effects, even though I have, over the years, seen numerous productions of these plays, they all brought something new to watch and think about. Most of us are familiar with the works of Andrew LloydWebber and early on in lockdown we had access to the 25th
anniversary performance of Phantom of the Opera, which was staged in 2011 at the Albert Hall. This was an exciting and vibrant production that I enjoyed watching very much. I have been a member of the Tate for a number of years now and very much enjoy visiting the London galleries and have also visited Tate St Ives and Tate Liverpool. Of course these are closed but I have enjoyed some of the virtual tours that the Tate send members from time to time. They have sent some virtual exhibitions, featuring some of the art that is currently on show at the closed galleries and I am looking forward to being able to view some of these when they are opened up again. Marquee TV has been streaming a large number of ballets, operas and other plays and so far I have watched The Barber of Seville and hope to find the time to watch some other productions. There certainly has been no shortage of access to cultural pursuits during the time of lockdown. In fact, we have been spoilt for choice. Although, in my opinion, watching anything on a screen is never quite the same as seeing it live, as it seems we will not be able to do this for some time to come, it is certainly better than not being able to watch at all. Also, we must remember that by subscribing to some of these organisations or by making a voluntary donation, we are helping the arts industry to survive during these unprecedented challenging times. I fear that many arts organisations will struggle in the present climate, and sadly some will go under. I believe that as lovers of the arts we must do all we can to help them survive. 35 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
Jewish Chaplaincy in the British Armed Forces Jonathan Lewis has recently completed a PhD at University College London on Jewish Chaplaincy in the British Armed Forces from the 1890s when it began until today. What first brought you to this subject? I am keen on British Jewish history, and for a long time had been thinking of trying to do a PhD on some aspect of it. Finding a subject suitable for a doctorate is not easy, as it has to meet a number of criteria – academic content, sufficient material, originality and a subject you will not tire of over several years work. A number of things brought me to chaplaincy, including the meeting which a number of us organised in the shul in 2012 to commemorate the ten Harrow servicemen, including the minister of the Harrow community, Rev. Solly Hooker, who lost their lives in the Second World War.
How long have you been working on this? I started in 2014, doing one day a week whilst I was still working at my job. Since retiring in 2016 I have been doing maybe two or three days a week. A PhD takes over, and I can really say that I have not had a dull moment.
Did you interview anybody?
Yes. When he was 98, a dental officer who acted for all practical purposes as a Jewish chaplain for three and a half years of Japanese captivity. In Jerusalem a man aged 92 who served as a chaplain for 18 months at Bergen Belsen and married a Rev. Leib Isaac Falk conducting a service for men of survivor. Quite a few the Jewish Legion in Egypt or Palestine between 1918 families of chaplains and 1921. and people who served in the Second World War or afterwards as national servicemen and who remembered Jewish chaplains.
Is there anything written about the subject already? Next to nothing. After the Second World War Rev. Isaac Levy published a book about his experiences as a chaplain in North Africa from 1941 to 1944 and he and Rev. Leslie Hardman published books about their traumatic experience in Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp after its liberation by the British Army in April 1945. There are short sections in the memoirs of a few ministers who served as chaplains and a few articles, and that’s all. In academic terms there is nothing, which makes it an ideal doctoral topic.
Where did you find your material? I came to think of the project as a jigsaw in which I had first to find the pieces. I started with sources which I knew. The London Metropolitan Archives hold the records of the United Synagogue (including its Visitation Committee which oversaw chaplaincy), the Office of the Chief Rabbi, the Board of 36 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
Deputies and other Jewish organisations. The material of the Victorian era is in beautiful but quite difficult to read copperplate in huge leather-bound volumes held together by a strap. The AJEX Museum within the Jewish Museum in Camden, the National Archives at Kew and the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth all have material. Some of this led me in numerous other directions.
Did you have any "WOW" moments? Yes. Amazingly in 1944 the Japanese allowed the Jewish POWs in Changi camp to build and use a synagogue. Invitations to the dedication service were individually hand-drawn and coloured. I had only seen a picture of one until in a file at the University of Southampton I found myself looking at an original invitation, the pencil colours still fresh.
How did Jewish chaplaincy get started? Rev. Francis Lyon Cohen grew up in Aldershot, which had a tiny Jewish community and a vast army camp. From his community in Borough in South London he went on his own initiative in 1892 to the commanding general at Aldershot to ask to come and conduct Jewish services for the handful of Jewish soldiers on Sunday mornings at the same time as the otherwise compulsory church parade. When he went to Sydney in Australia in 1905 he was succeeded by Rev. Michael Adler – not the same family as the
Community Matters successive father and son Chief Rabbis Nathan and Herman Adler – of the Central Synagogue in Great Portland Street.
Was there Jewish Chaplaincy in the First World War? Yes. In August 1914 Adler was the single Jewish chaplain in the Territorial Force of the British Army. At the age of 46 and a widower he pressed to be allowed to go to the Western Front. He served there for three and a half years and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. By the end of the war there were nineteen British Jewish chaplains and three Australian Jewish chaplains effectively serving under British Jewish chaplaincy command. They served on the Western, Italian and Salonika fronts, at the Dardanelles and in Egypt and Palestine. Rev. Leib Isaac Falk served for three years in the Middle East with the Jewish Legion, which was a virtually entirely Jewish unit.
What about the Second World War? There is not even a complete list of the British Jewish chaplains who served in the Second World War. I have discovered 56, including 12 who were locally recruited by the British authorities in Palestine. The chaplains served around the world – the Home Command, Europe in 1940 and again in 1944/45, North Africa, Italy, India, the Far East and with the RAF.
Dayan Marks Gollop and Rabbi Israel Brodie both served as chaplains in the First World War. Dayan Gollop was Senior Jewish Chaplain for much of the Second World War, and was succeeded in 1944 by Rabbi Brodie. In 1948 Brodie became Chief Rabbi in succession to Rabbi Joseph Hertz (of the Hertz Chumash) who, remarkably, served as Chief Rabbi from 1913 until his death in 1946.
Is there still Jewish Chaplaincy today? There were several chaplains for Jewish national servicemen until National Service ended in 1961. Today nobody knows the number of Jewish serving personnel, as they cannot be required to say, but there are believed to be several hundred. They form a virtual community and meet annually. Rev. Malcolm Weisman was the Jewish chaplain for many years, and the present chaplain is Rabbi Reuben Livingstone.
Do you have a sense of achievement? For sure. I am not the only person in the community with a PhD, but it is an achievement that I am proud of. But more important than the degree is the rare opportunity to enlarge British Jewish history, in a book which I hope to publish, on a topic on which next to nothing is known.
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The Beatles on the Roof
By Sidney Ruback
Thursday 30th January 1969 in London was just another winter’s day. But for me it was no ordinary day, but one on which I had the good fortune to be among those to witness The Beatles playing an impromptu gig on the roof of their Apple Corps headquarters at 3 Savile Row. This gig would turn out to be the very last time all four Beatles performed together in public.
t the time I was an 18-year-old trainee chartered accountant working for a firm whose offices were in the part of Regent Street directly behind Savile Row. As lunchtime arrived, I was having my sandwiches with some colleagues when suddenly we could hear the sound of very loud music coming from somewhere.
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From the window we could see people playing musical instruments on the roof opposite, but it was difficult at that distance to make out who they were. A few of us decided to see what was going on and so we exited via a window and found ourselves on our office roof from where we scampered over the rooftops going both down and then up fire escapes
and drainpipes to the building opposite. In the film ‘Let it Be’, which was made to capture the event, we can be seen scrambling down a drainpipe onto the roof between our office and the Apple building. Finally, we found ourselves on the roof of the building adjacent to the Apple building and furthermore were part of a small audience of about 30 people.
Community Matters There we were, standing alongside The Beatles as they performed some of their most well-known tracks including Get Back and Don’t Let Me Down.
our way over the rooftops and back to our office. It must have been hard for the police to balance their sense of duty with the fact that they were actually enjoying the event!
Meanwhile, people who happened to be in the area that Although the lunchtime found rooftop gig we... found ourselves on themselves in obviously made our office roof from where the right place the TV news we scampered over the at the right time. that evening, Fans began to fill it wasn’t until rooftops going both down the streets below, I opened my and then up fire escapes and and workers in parents’ copy drainpipes to the building nearby offices flung of The Daily opposite. open their windows Express during and leaned out of breakfast balconies when they heard the music. the following morning that I saw the Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the photograph of the rooftop scene music brought a large crowd to the area displayed which included me! The as a result of which traffic in Savile Row extensive commentary made me realise and neighbouring streets came to a the extent to which this event had standstill. The West End Central Police captured the public’s imagination, all Station became interested in finding out the more so because the breakup of this what exactly was going on and causing world-famous group, which had been the commotion. Consequently, after rumoured for some time, would soon some 40 minutes or so PC Plod arrived become a fact. on the roof and the gig was terminated I have on many occasions since that fateful and my colleagues and I sadly worked day been reminded of its significance to
those of us of a certain age, whether it be the BBC contacting me for interviews at various anniversary dates or attending a Blue Plaque ceremony in Savile Row on 28 April 2019 to commemorate the rooftop gig’s 50th anniversary. There have been numerous times over the years when a photograph of that rooftop scene has appeared in various newspapers and magazines, often including the few of us fortunate enough to be up there on the roof with them. Let It Be was the last album to be issued in May 1970, weeks after the group’s split made headlines around the world. As Get Back, the last track, draws to a close, John Lennon’s voice can be heard saying: ‘I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition.’ It was a self-effacing remark made at the end of the rooftop show, and a parting message from the foursome that defined the Sixties. Opposite page photo: Sidney Ruback, standing second from the right, with hair and sideburns, enjoying the Fab Four’.
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Top five lessons from lockdown by Rabbi Kurzer
Top five lessons from lockdown lingo
here are words and phrases that we have become so used to over the last few months that they are almost indispensable to life in 2020. Here are some different ideas for re-interpreting these phrases for some crucial life lessons.
1. Don’t forget to mute yourself! We’ve all been on a Zoom call in the past few weeks where we heard something not intended for our ears. Whether it’s the innocuous, “are you making the tea darling?” or something worse, it reminded me early on that there is always someone listening. The Rema, the cornerstone of Ashkenazic Jewish law, before discussing any legal details begins by quoting the verse in Psalms, “I have set the Lord before me at all times” (Psalms 16:8). To set the scene for a life of commitment to our values and commandments we begin by recognising that there is someone always watching 40 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
and listening to all that we’re doing. Everyone acts differently when someone is watching and part of Judaism’s lifelong mission is instilling in ourselves the appreciation that someone is always watching. The idea of muting is also a powerful one. How many meetings did we go to where we could not hear anything people were saying because too many people were talking at once?! Shimon, the son of Rabban Gamliel is quoted in the Mishna (Avot 1:17) as saying that there is nothing better for a person than silence. In a world where we may worry our voice is not heard if it is not shouting from the top of the social media rooftops, the "mute" button provided a nice reminder that silence is still “golden”.
2. Key worker One of the most uplifting moments of the early weeks of lockdown was joining our neighbours every Thursday evening to cheer for carers across the country. These lovely moments were part of a general increase in appreciation for carers and other key workers as well. Some of the people we perhaps took for granted had the spotlight shone on them and that is something we should hold on to for a long time. The government produced a long list of key workers – those who were “essential” to the running of the country and it got me thinking about the phrase from a different perspective. On Rosh Hashanah we stand before G-d in judgement and we often think of this as
Thoughts & Perspectives known that anyway but once it becomes critical to have that information to hand we take more significant steps to ensuring it is well noted. In Judaism, there are also things we must ‘track and trace’. Our development in Torah study, progression in character refinement and depth of connection to the Almighty are just some of the areas for us to be aware of how we are doing. While we may have a general sense, the more important these values are to us, the more attention we pay them and the more effort we put into ‘tracking and tracing’ our progress. In a busy, fast-paced life it is easy to run through weeks, months and years without taking notice of our spiritual development, the ultimate reason we were blessed with our remarkable soul.
4. Herd immunity This phrase had its moments of controversy as experts were divided on whether this was a good method of fighting the virus but it also reminded me of how much we are impacted by society around us. While individual free choice underpins Jewish belief, we are also taught how much others beliefs and actions can influence our thinking and behaviour, both positively and negatively.
a simple weighing of good and bad but it is actually much more than that. At the core of this time of year is the Almighty assessing whether we are ‘key workers’ in this world or not. It is quite a scary thought in some ways but as we look to a There are a number new year ahead, we sit of places our Sages down for a meeting When our contract exhort us to choose our with G-d to figure out is renewed for the friends and neighbours what essential services year ahead, G-d is wisely. This is not we will provide the world recognising us as ‘key simply a directive to in the coming year. Will workers’ in His complex keep away from the we be taking steps to achieve our individual world. Now, it is simply wrong type of people but an insight into the mission in this world? up to us to live up to puzzle that is human Will we be helping that assessment. relationships. Every others to achieve theirs? group, community or Are we contributing to a society that forms will develop in a way general atmosphere of kindness, honesty that means that they are very successful and integrity in the world? in certain areas but will struggle in others. When our contract is renewed for the The lesson we are being taught by the year ahead, G-d is recognising us as Torah is that the first stage is to be aware ‘key workers’ in His complex world. of this ‘herd immunity’, whether for good Now, it is simply up to us to live up to or bad. We may be part of a society that assessment. that is particularly giving of its time and that will influence us to do likewise. That 3. Track and trace positive energy may make it hard for As lockdown has begun to ease it has us to even imagine turning our back been critical for us to be aware of who on someone who needs our help. On we see, where we go, who else was there, the other hand, that same group may etc. We might think we would have
struggle to commit to Torah study and effectively become ‘immune’ to the need to invest in it. While we don’t usually think of ourselves as part of a ‘herd’, in some key ways it’s worth watching out for our ‘immunities’, for both the good and bad.
5. Uncertain times Although we all said “unprecedented times” an unprecedented number of times I think there is more to learn from its baby sibling, “uncertain times”. For me, one of the biggest lessons to try and carry away from here for life is that we always live in uncertain times, we just try our best to create systems which help us feel in control. Even when things are going well and we feel as though we are in charge it is liberating to try and live with the recognition that all our domination can evaporate in a moment. Uncertainty also helped us become more understanding. While we usually expect companies, employees and services to provide what they should at the exact moment it is needed, during these ‘uncertain times’ we were a little more flexible and empathetic. Particularly as we approach Rosh Hashanah and we look to the Almighty to lovingly guide us back onto the correct road through life, it is worth remembering how considerate and accepting we can be. Here are some honourable mentions which did not make the top five – feel free to come up with your own! 6. Zoom Before this became the way we all interacted, it made us think of focusing on things that are distant or moving quickly. 7. Furlough Who used this word before 2020? 8. Immunocompromised Not sure anyone used this more than once but it’s still memorable. 9. Social distancing The art of bringing ourselves closer while staying far away. 10. Super spreader Talking about jam on toast or our ability to impact others
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Zooming in on Rosh Hashanah By Rebbetzen Abi Kurzer
Many of us this year will find ourselves for the first time at home on the High Holy Days this year and it will feel very strange. Even if we could ‘zoom’ in – in the coronavirus era meaning of the term - it wouldn’t be the same as being there in person. It won’t be my first time and over the years of being at home on Rosh Hashanah I have learned a more nuanced way of zooming in and it doesn’t require an ID, password or even a camera.
ith very young children it is challenging to engage in meaningful tefillah in shul - with my husband ‘working’ from 8am till at least 2pm (yes, the Rabbi is fairly busy on Rosh Hashanah!) my Rosh Hashanah routine has been to attend the childrens’ service and listen to shofar. When I do try to stay in shul with my kids, it’s hard for me to actually focus on the davening when the baby is crawling away and the other two are poking the hat of the person in front. So, for the past seven years, I have davened Rosh Hashanah musaf at home after lunch (husband back on parenting duty). So perhaps for those of us, at the time of writing this article (in July!), staying at home over Rosh Hashanah due to coronavirus or other reasons, I can share some ideas from my years at home zooming in to the power of the day. Musaf is the first ‘zoom meeting’ to attend with just you and G-d dialling in. It is the highlight of the davening, can be said at any point in the afternoon – it can be found in the Artscroll Machzor on page 448 (Sacks Koren pg 515, Routledge pg
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131, Birnbaum, pg 327). Whilst it is ideal to pray in Hebrew, it can be said in any language – it’s important to understand what we are saying. Firstly, try to create a calm and quiet environment to pray, find a spot in your house, or if the weather allows, in the garden. Try to remove any potential distractions, whether that is other household members, pets or anything else that could interrupt. If you know which way is ‘mizrach’ – east facing towards Jerusalem, try to stand in that direction. If you don’t know follow your heart ‘Libi baMizrach’ - ‘my heart is in the East’. Oh, and wear comfortable shoes – it’s hard to concentrate on prayer when we have aches and pains. It may be tempting to just start saying the words, but unlike in shul where the environment and the tefilla ‘Here I am’ - Hineni’ of the chazzan sets the tone - at home we have to create that feeling ourselves. So pause for a moment, close your eyes and imagine. Imagine the creation of the world, the creation of a human, think about the awe of G-d and what that means. Think about the vastness of the oceans and the beauty of a
Thoughts & Perspectives flower, the complexity of humankind. Consider that everything we know and feel comes from one source – ‘Hashem Echad’ – the good and the bad and then lastly before diving in remember that on Rosh Hashanah we connect with G-d in a different and personal way. G-d is both our father and our king - ‘Aveenu Malkeinu’ and our prayers can create change and be the driving force of our year to come. Then pray – talk to G-d. Ideally say the words of the machzor first and then at the end, before taking three steps back for ‘Oseh shalom’ on page 468, add in a personal prayer. Really talk – like you would talk to a parent. Respectfully but with a touch of chutzpah too. If there is pain, share that pain and if there is joy share that too. Feel emboldened to ask for things you want or need in the year ahead – and not just health and happiness, things that are large and things that are small but with detail – now is the chance. This may take ten minutes but more often than not it will take much longer – the good news is, there is no time limit on this zoom account. Following this it is time to dial in to the second ‘zoom meeting’ which connects us to the power of the day - Unetaneh tokef (Artscroll pg 480, Koren pg 565, Routledge pg 146 and Birnbaum pg 361). The words speak for themselves:
קּה ָ ַ ממָה ד ָ ְ ּתקַע ו ְקֹול ד ָ ּ ִ ּובְׁשֹופ ָר ג ָּדֹול י חפֵזּון וְחִיל ּורְעָד ָה ָ ֵ אכִים י ָ ְ מל ַ שמַע ּו ָׁ ִ י הדִּין לִפְקֹד עַל ַ הנ ֵּה יֹום ִ יֹאחֵזּון וְיֹאמְרּו ב ַדִּין ּ ָ בְעֵינ ֶיך ּ ב ַדִּין כִּי לֹא י ִז ְּכּו ּ צְב ָא מָרֹום כִבְנ ֵי מָרֹון ּ ָ ב ָאֵי עֹול ָם יַעַבְרּון לְפָנ ֶיך ּ וְכ ָל תחַת ַ ּ מעֲבִיר צֹאנֹו ַ קר ַת רֹועֶה עֶד ְרֹו ָ ּ ַ כְב ּ תפְקֹד ִ ְ מנ ֶה ו ְ ת ִ ְ ספֹּר ו ְ ת ִ ְ תעֲבִיר ו ַ ּ שבְטֹו כֵּן ִׁ בְר ִי ָּה ּ קצְב ָה לְכ ָל ִ ְ תֹך ּ ח ְ ת ַ ְ נֶפֶׁש כָּל חָי ו תכְתֹּב אֶת ג ְּז ַר דִּינ ָם ִ ְו
And with a great shofar it is sounded, and a thin silent voice shall be heard. And the angels shall be alarmed, and dread and fear shall seize them as they proclaim: behold! The Day of Judgment on which the hosts of heaven shall be judged, for they too shall not be judged blameless by you, and all creatures shall parade before you as a herd of sheep. As a shepherd herds his flock, directing his sheep to pass under his staff, so too you shall pass, count, and record the souls of all living, and decree a limit to each person’s days, and inscribe their final judgment.
The prayer then continues to list all the different decisions that are made on Rosh Hashanah during this judgement time. Every year, when I read these words, I find myself nervous and trembling at the thought of all the possibilities that could face us in the year ahead and I am sure I am not alone in previous years of discounting ‘mi b’magefah’’who by plague’ as perhaps something that was unlikely in our era of modern medicine and yet here we are. It feels humbling as the truth is, we have no idea what’s round the corner. In this specific prayer there are also some clues as to how we should view ourselves as we stand before G-d on this awesome day – whether in shul or at home. The Gemara (Talmud bavli 97a) explores the words highlighted above as we are
compared to ‘bnei maron’ which the Artscroll homiletically translates as ‘members of the flock’ seemingly alluding to a flock of sheep. So, what or who are the ‘bnei maron’? Rashi (1040-1105) explains that on Rosh Hashanah we are counted like sheep passing through a narrow pathway. There are billions of people in the world and sometimes it feels that we are just one of many but here we see that each sheep is counted, and each one is valuable, worthy and important. The details are not important – who you are, what you have done, how big or small your perceived contribution to society is - you are counted – just like everyone else. The second explanation brought by Reish Lakish (200-275), is that it could refer to a specific place which had steep steps going up to the house of ‘maron’. It had a razor sharp cliff edge on each side so anyone traversing this place would have to walk single file. It can’t help but conjure up memories for me of my long ago ski trip as a teenager where there was certain part of the route that led us single file on a what felt like an icy cliff edge and as the group of novice skiers shuffled along we all held on to each other’s ski poles for security. Here, however, the only way to cross this narrow path is alone. When we stand in front of G-d on Rosh Hashanah there is no one else to hide behind, no social media profile to present our best side and no excuses. ‘Hakol Galuy v’yadua l’fanecha’ - ‘everything is revealed and known before You’ (Rosh Hashanah amida). We are up there alone and wind is whipping around us and we have to confront who we are deep down. This is in contrast to sheep who we think of as all the same, here we are looked at alone, as our own unique selves. The path is a climb of stairs going upwards - how much have we grown or fallen in the past year – not compared to anyone else, but rather compared to ourselves – it’s not how high we climb but rather how far we have come. Finally, Rabbi Yehuda (220-299) explains that it could also be comparing us to the soldiers of the house of David who were counted by the general before going out to war. The soldiers of David went out with strength and confidence in their ability to be victorious. Whilst each soldier has their own unique skill set and mission, ultimately they needed to perform as one unit to be effective. On Rosh Hashanah we are judged as a community and we should be strong and confident that we will receive a positive judgement. Even though we may falter as individuals we are carried on the strength of belonging to a group of people. Here, in our theoretical zoom meeting, we are joined not only by G-d but by our whole community, past and present, by our sides. The truth is that wherever we find ourselves on Rosh Hashanah 5781 – at shul or at home, there is an element of the sheep, the stairs and soldier in each of us as we stand in prayer – our conduit for a positive connection on Rosh Hashanah – valued no matter what, exposed and vulnerable to who we truly are and blended in as part of a greater whole whether we are physically together or not. Wishing everyone of the Pinner community a meaningful and engaging Rosh Hashanah and looking forward to a sweet new year ahead.
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Letter Chof Dear Pinner Welcome to the eleventh in a series on the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, in which we are exploring the meaning behind the Aleph-Bet letters including their names, shapes, sounds and numerical values. In addition, we have seen that the order, orientation and direction of the letters holds much significance.
he eleventh letter is Chof (or Kaf) and with this being the Rosh Hashanah edition let us also try to connect the Chof to our festival season….. by Simon Hodes
The word Chof itself means bent or ‘spoon’, and we all associate the idea of humility and submission with being ‘bent over’. In scriptures, the word Chof is used to describe various objects of a ‘bent’ shape: including the palm of a hand, the sole of a foot, palm branches and a hip socket (of Jacob in Genesis 32:26). The design of the letter Chof can perhaps be likened to a line bent in two places. The concept of bending oneself represents submission to a greater force and entity— to the ‘king of all kings’ as we talk about over Rosh Hashanah, HaShem. 44 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
( כתרKeter) is the Hebrew word for a crown. The idea of
crowns is important in Jewish traditions. A crown, of course, sits above our heads and is ‘above’ or ‘beyond’ our brains and reasoning. Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers) 4:17 ‘Rabbi Shimon said, there are three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of kingship. And the crown of a good name is superior to them all.’
The first letter of the word כתרKeter (crown) is Chof. The numerical value / Gematria of Keter is 620 (Chof=20, Tav=400, Reish=200). HaShem symbolically ‘crowned’ the Jewish nation by giving us the Torah. 620 represents the total of all the commandments – the 613 in the Torah and the seven Rabbinic laws. The letter Chof has two versions, the curved ‘standard’ version
Thoughts & Perspectives - and also the final Chof. The final Chof when appearing at the end of a word, becomes straight and long. The sages teach that this is symbolic of bending your basic impulses and becoming upright and growing to your potential. Interestingly enough, we observe that when you affix the straight Chof as the suffix to a word, it adds the word ‘you’ to the root. The final Chof thus ‘unfolds’ to include the person to whom you are speaking. The numerical value of the two versions of the letter Chof, which themselves make up the word ,is 100 (standard Chof is 20, final Chof is 80). This alludes to the total 100 Shofar blasts we are meant to hear over Rosh Hashanah. As we teach the children in the family services, a shofar can be made from any kosher animal – and they do come in various sizes and shapes. However, on researching this article I read that there is one tradition that the shofar for Rosh Hashana must be curved. This is symbolic that a person must ‘bend their evil spirit’ to become truly repentant. In contrast, the shofar blown for the Yovel (Jubilee) every 50 years would be long and straight (like a final Chof) as a symbol of freedom. So - wishing you and families Shana Tova U’metuka - a sweet and happy New Year. Please G-d a much happier, healthier, more prosperous and successful year ahead than the last.
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Mensch One of the highest compliments you could pay someone is to call them a mensch – though a true mensch may be too modest to acknowledge the compliment.
n Yiddish, mentsh roughly means ‘a person of integrity and honour’, similar to the German word Mensch, by Margery Cohen meaning ‘a human being‘. According to the Yiddish maven Leo Rosten, a mensch is someone to admire and emulate. The word has become part of the English lexicon in newspapers, books and conversations, where a mensch is a nice guy, a person with qualities one would hope for in a friend or trusted colleague. Mentshlekhkeyt (German Menschlichkeit) refers to the properties which make a person a mensch. There are fictional examples that come to mind. Jonathan Hadary who played Tevye in a 50th anniversary revival of Fiddler on the Roof in the United States a few years ago, thought that the world's most famous milkman was one kind of mensch. ‘He's a troubled, good humoured, sweet, loving, openminded man,’ all qualities to strive for. Another fictional example was Sam the Pickle Man in the romantic comedy Crossing Delancey — ‘one of the great Manhattan mensches of motion picture history’, whose qualities stood in contrast to those around him with more superficial allure.
him for an Elf on a Shelf. Hoffman reminded him that they were Jewish, and joked ‘but you can have a Mensch on a Bench‘. It was his eureka moment. He was able to draw on his creative background in toys, which led to the creation of a Chanukah themed book and doll set. The book tells the story of Moshe the Mensch who saves the Jews. Moshe, the toy doll is a bearded Jewish figure wearing a tallit. While teaching the importance of the Chanukah tradition, Moshe the Mensch and his family are on a mission to inspire others to be honourable people. It’s a great way to bring fun and laughter to families during the holiday season, while reminding us of why societies need we’re here and who we represent.
Our more individuals practising small acts of kindness on an everyday basis, working towards making the world a more accepting and welcoming place.
Schiller’s poem ‘Ode to Joy’ immortalised in Beethoven’s Choral Symphony expresses the hope ‘Alle Menschen werden Brüder’ (All men will emerge as brothers). We can take the translation literally, but my view is that it is a reminder to follow the universal message of menschlikeit. Beethoven's and Schiller's call for brotherhood and solidarity has been adopted as the anthem of the European Union and is more relevant now than ever. Our societies need more individuals practising small acts of kindness on an everyday basis, working towards making the world a more accepting and welcoming place.
Is there a feminine form of ‘mensch’ or is the word only used for men? The standard dictionaries define ‘mensch’ as an admirable or honourable human being, which of course could go either way. The Oxford English Dictionary has a more expansive explanation: ‘In Jewish usage: a person of integrity or rectitude; a person who is morally just, honest, or honourable.’ To me, this sounds like a unisex meaning. And yet most of the examples I came across refer to men. Only rarely do we hear of a woman referred to as a ‘mensch.’ But Leo Rosten notes: ‘The most withering criticism one can make of someone else’s conduct or character is to say, ‘He’s not a mensch’ or ‘She did not act like a mensch.’ So, it would seem that, at least according to Rosten, ‘mensch’ is an equalopportunity word. Which is good news, as I can’t imagine a woman wanting to be described as a ‘wensch.’
1. Help people who cannot help you. A mensch helps people who cannot ever return the favour.
The underlying concept has had an impact on popular culture. Some years ago, Neal Hoffman, an American graduate was shopping with his family when his son asked
If my thoughts have helped you, and if you are about to thank me, then you don’t need to. It’s been my pleasure, so don’t menschion it.
Here are some thoughts to set you on the path of achieving menschdom.
2. Help without the expectation of return. The payoff is the pure satisfaction of helping others. 3. Do the right thing the right way. A mensch always instinctively does the right thing. There is a clear line between right and wrong, and a mensch never crosses that line.
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Living with Uncertainty and Change By Robyn Saffer with Rachel Rickayzen
In May, I was asked to write this article on how we emerge from the strangest of situations with good mental health. The article needed to be submitted at the beginning of July for a magazine to be published in September. If I am honest I was apprehensive – how could I write something about the future, when it is hard to know how things will be? In the first part of the article I reflect on the different emotions each of us may have experienced and keeping ourselves emotionally healthy at a time of uncertainty and change. The second part offers guidance, from an occupational therapist, on how to manage any anxiety, using commuting as an example. Waves of different emotions People have felt different emotions at different times and will continue to do so. We have all lost something, for example precious time with loved ones or the opportunity to celebrate events in the way we planned. Some of you may have been devasted by the loss of someone close to you and may not have had the chance to say goodbye. I think it is appropriate to consider psychiatrist Kubler – Ross’s theory ‘Stages of Grief’. Denial – This stage is our response to shock. It can include avoiding our feelings about the seriousness of the 48 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
situation, feelings of confusion, fear or numbness. Some people may want to blame someone or something. Anger – This stage includes feelings of frustration, anxiety, irritation, shame and embarrassment. Depression and Detachment – During this stage people can experience feeling overwhelmed, helpless and a lack of energy. Bargaining – At this stage, people may struggle to find meaning, they might ask ‘what if..’ they may want to reach out to others and have a desire to tell their story.
Acceptance – Not in the sense that ‘it’s ok this terrible thing happened’, rather ‘this terrible thing happened, but I am going to be ok.’ People start to explore options and make a new plan in order to begin to returning to a more meaningful life. I am adding guilt to the range of feelings people may experience. People experiencing feelings of guilt, may say things like ‘it should have been me’ or ‘I feel bad that I am enjoying some things at this time.’ I want to stress this process is different for everyone. People may not experience all
Thoughts & Perspectives Rather I want you to take a moment and ask yourselves these questions:
of the strategies can be used in other situations too.
1. What am I feeling? Is it fear, anger, sadness or joy?
● Consider a ‘dry run’ journey prior to returning to work. Go off peak and for a shorter distance, just to re-orientate yourself.
2. What is my response to this feeling? Am I hiding away, attacking others, closing up or communicating with other people? 3. What do I need? Do I need help or reassurance, something to change, comfort, people who I can connect with? 4. Who can I ask for this support? Family, friends, someone in the community? 5. Who am I judging that I know is struggling? Think about where they maybe in the stages of grief. What can I offer them? 6. What can I congratulate myself for? What did I manage during lockdown that I never imagined I could? 7. Were there any wins for me during lockdown? Was there something I enjoyed about it? 8. Lastly, is there any positive change I will make to my life as a result of lockdown? the stages and we can oscillate between stages and experience the stages for different amounts of time.
Supporting ourselves and others emotionally Often, a big obstacle to good mental health is when we are judgmental. It is common to compare how other people ‘seem to be doing better than me’ or ‘I can’t complain, others have got it much worse’. Similarly, we can judge other people ‘what have they got to be upset about, they haven’t got it as bad as me.’ These types of thoughts are unhelpful, hurtful and mean. I want to invite you all to be kind to yourself and kind to others. We have all had a shock and it will take time to recover. Some people may feel anxious to start venturing out, others might be impatient and welcome the freedom. It is not helpful to compare who is coping best, who has it worse or to beat ourselves up for not moving forward quickly.
Tips for managing anxiety, using commuting as an example The Covid experience has changed our lives in many ways, with aspects we had previously taken for granted perhaps now seeming difficult or even scary. It is unsurprising that our more isolated living has potentially resulted in discomfort when re-engaging with the world outside our front doors. Children attending school, shopping and even travelling to work- these are all daily life activities which may require us to consider things in a different way than before. So, as you move towards life post lockdown and reconnect with your old routines, I invite you to remember that, whatever your concerns, you are not alone. Don’t suffer in silence; sharing how you feel with someone gives you an opportunity to articulate your concerns, which is the first step in dealing with them. The following tips are offered for the daily commute, as an example of a common daily routine, however many
● The noise of the journey might take time to get used to after months of relative quiet at home. If you are concerned about this, take some ear plugs or have access to your headphones. In advance, you might also want to create a relaxing playlist to listen to on your journey. ● Smiling has been found to increase our feelings of wellbeing and happiness, so try and make an effort to do this even if the recipient can’t see it from under their mask. Fellow passengers are likely to pick up on your expression from your general demeanour and you will benefit from the message that the smile sends to your brain. ● If you feel your anxiety rising, remember to take some slow, deep breaths: breathe in through your nose for three seconds, hold the breath for three seconds and then breathe out through your mouth for four seconds. Repeat the cycle up to four times, pausing in between. (Too many cycles might make you dizzy so practice this at home to check that you can do this without any light-headedness). ● A stress ball or another tactile object such as a smooth stone to feel and focus on in your pocket, can help distract you from feelings of anxiety. These things can be done without others noticing. ● If you feel panicky, sit or stand near the doors and get off at the next station, if it would help to break up your journey. ● Write any concerns or worries down. The process of writing can be very cathartic; transferring these thoughts from your head to paper can be viewed as a way of distancing them from yourself. Even if your new commuting routine feels stressful initially, feelings of anxiety are likely to pass as your new routine becomes familiar - keep going! Robyn Saffer, Adult Counsellor and Child/ Adolescent Psychotherapist firstname.lastname@example.org Rachel Rickayzen, Occupational Therapist and Wellness Coach - 07713 595005
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The Medical Perspective As COVID-19 continues its profound impact on our lives, we asked our own medical professionals to share their experiences thus far.
our friendly neighbours at Watford Football Club, who looked after us while we looked after our patients. In paediatrics, where I work, our usual 100 A&E attendances a day dwindled to 20 as everyone got the message to stay at home. We were worried about the children: Where were they? Were they safe? Were they ill? Were they suffering? We saw children with coronavirus and the multi system inflammatory condition seen in children’s departments across London, although far fewer than our adult colleagues. I spent my time in PPE covering the acute service. I got coronavirus, but only mildly and so did almost all of my colleagues, more likely from Tesco than from the ward. Some were more unwell and some were hospitalised, leaving great holes in the on-call cover. Because of this, I went back on call as soon as my week’s isolation ended.
By Dr Ashley Reece Consultant Paediatrician & Associate Medical Director for Medical Education West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (Watford General Hospital)
I’ve seen some interesting times in nearly 25 years as a doctor – the good (the 70th Birthday of the NHS), the bad (the Shipman case, the Mid Staffs affair) and the ugly (a measles epidemic due to low MMR uptake). But this has been something else. Our ‘normal’ way of life has changed inexorably but so has the way we work in the hospital. Being London-centric, Watford General, where I am a children’s doctor and Director of Medical Education, took an early ‘hit’ and was overwhelmed with adult Covid-19 cases early on in this pandemic. But the foresight and fortitude of what we call ‘Team West Herts’ enabled us to cope. Along with awesome support from
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I have not seen a child in clinic for more than 12 weeks now; usually I see 30-40 a week. We are doing telephone clinics which can work for some specialities but not for my allergy caseload. But I’m zoom-ing, teamsing in a way I never thought we would at the hospital, and like everybody else we are embracing working differently. I took on a new role during the pandemic as Director of Medical Education which has meant I have spent many hours supporting the doctors in training, and choreographing their moves across their specialty training programmes to support the hospital covid response, whilst ensuring they can meet the requirements to continue to progress to more senior doctors. I am grateful for the clapping, really grateful, as are my colleagues, both those working with patients and the many who support the work of the hospital more widely in nonpatient, or non-clinical roles. The support for NHS and key workers has been humbling. Many have done more heroic jobs than me. But the real heroes are the millions who, difficult as it was, protected us, and themselves, and who saved many lives by staying at home.
Thoughts & Perspectives
of other equipment. But the biggest need was for ITU nurses and doctors. We trained many nurses and doctors how to work in an ITU, over three hugely stressful weeks. Like many employers, we saw high levels of sickness (up to 15% of our staff were off at any one point). At one stage I anticipated that we would have to see who turned up in the morning each day and distribute them as best we could. Fortunately, it never came to that, but it was close. As the situation worsened it became clear there was a risk that London Hospitals would become over topped. As a result, the Nightingale Hospital was set up and we lost another tranche of staff to look after patients there. However, the Nightingale arrived just in time to save Northwick Park, Watford and Whipps Cross hospitals which all had to declare internal incidents as they either ran very low on oxygen or ran out of beds.
By Dr Simon Woldman Director Barts Heart Centre
Every community has lost members to covid and sadly Pinner was not exempt. As I write this piece, I am reminded of the friends that died from this disease and I wish all the relatives a long and happy life. Barts is the largest cardiothoracic centre in Europe. On a normal working day, we have up to seven theatres each doing two open heart operations a day and up to 50 a week. We have ten cardiac cath labs where angioplasties, stents, keyhole valve surgery and ablations are done. Covid was a bit of a shock! I have been Director of Barts Heart Centre since April 2019 and we began our preparation in February 2020. Just after half-term it became clear that covid was going to hit us hard. We were getting reports from Italy of hospitals and ITUs overrun with patients, with patients lying around in corridors and medical staff at the end of their capabilities, staff getting infected and some dying. So what was our response? Our first focus was to arrange to manage all the cardiac emergencies, taking cases from across London. Our other focus was to expand our ITU. We had 50 ITU beds at the start of the crisis but we couldn’t use many of them for covid because we needed to keep our covid patients and our cardiac surgical patients separated. Consequently, we started converting general ward beds to ITU beds. This was a huge task – we had to find ventilators, infusion pumps, cardiac monitors and all sorts
Eventually we got into a rhythm and lockdown began to take effect. One of my regular activities was to tour around the wards to chat to staff. On one visit to ITU I realised that almost every patient in the ITU was from a Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background. I counted the patients in ITU. Out of 30 beds, only three were filled by Caucasians. How dreadful that this disease should blight communities already so disadvantaged. On a lighter note, we were gradually expanding our ITU day on day and we were given targets by the Trust which we had to achieve. Every day the Acting Chief Executive would come in (our permanent Chief Exec having gone to the Nightingale) and exhort us to move faster, that the modelling was dire and we needed to do more. Suddenly we realised the models were wrong when we had huge numbers of beds available and no patients to put in them. The peak had passed and we hadn’t even noticed. In the end all the emergency cardiac pathways continued at Barts. We treated >70% of the emergency cardiac surgery in London (Harefield was the only other centre to be able to continue operating). No London hospital was unable to cope with their covid cases because the Nightingale arrived just in time. Our outcomes in Barts were excellent – our survival rates for patients requiring treatment with an artificial lung were amazing – 75% survival and our other ITU outcomes good. We anticipate that there will be another peak and it may be worse, but we are better prepared. At our sister hospital, The Royal London, two new floors have been prepared and 170 extra ITU beds created. We hope that the Nightingale will never have to be woken up, but it is there if needed. For Barts, our role will be to continue not just emergency surgery and cardiology, but some routine work too. In the meantime I need a holiday!
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Thoughts & Perspectives
‘hot’ and ‘cold’ areas - to try and ensure total separation for any patients with suspected covid. And we ensured that all clinical staff were split into ‘hot’, ‘cold’ and ‘WFH’ groups to protect both our staff and our patients. We assumed that the ‘Hot Docs’ (as our receptionists fondly called us) would fall ill - like cannon fodder - and then get replaced. And we assumed that once we had been ill, we would feel less concerned with assumed immunity. We purchased our own PPE as the very basic equipment given to us from NHS England did not feel safe enough. We have all come a long way since that time - and thank G-d the NHS was just about not overwhelmed. Like many, I have been reading endless articles, journals, websites and have tried to remain up to date as far as possible. With rapidly evolving information, and the volume of emails, WhatsApps and Zoom calls it has been a challenge to remain fully informed with local and national policies.
By Dr Simon Hodes The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world in many ways. It has felt like a science fiction film on some days, and a surreal apocalypse on others. Society has moved from what we now fondly remember as freedom, to a new way of living. We have new vocabulary including ‘lockdown’, ‘furlough’ and ‘social distancing’, and my personal favourite ‘covidiot’. We wash our hands frequently, discuss face coverings, and many of us have become armchair epidemiologists. The pandemic has caused a seismic shift in the way that primary care functions. With little central guidance (a recurring theme for the pandemic), over the weekend of 14th – 15th March 2020, general practices nationwide worked tirelessly to totally re-organise themselves in preparation for the unknown on Monday 16th. We are very fortunate where I work, as we are a cohesive and committed group of 15 GP partners, serving more than 30,000 patients and we have around 70 allied staff. We work from three sites, covering most of Watford, and all our premises have been purpose built or renovated. Following a ‘COBRA’ style meeting on 13th March, we decided to close our smallest site to keep as a ‘clean ops base’, and risk assessed all our staff to ensure that anyone at ‘high risk’ was immediately removed from front line care. We converted our two remaining sites into
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Fast forward to June 28th 2020 as I write this. Thank G-d, the covid cases are reducing greatly. Like most areas we have a shared ‘Hot Hub’ that sees all the unwell cases in the community, so our caseload is now ‘cold’ and mainly managed via phone calls, with photos sent of rashes etc, or conversion to a video call when required. We do see ‘face-to-face’ cases where necessary - but it is a very small proportion to the BC era. I am now working c50% from home, and the pace of technological change in general practice has been remarkable. Sad that it took a (viral) war to bring about such a tech revolution, but that is often the way of history, and the legacy of coronavirus will be long lasting in many ways. GP surgeries are usually busy places, but now our waiting room is very quiet, occupied by just a few patients, wearing face coverings and sitting slightly nervously on widely spaced chairs. In time. there will be much public enquiry about the handling of coronavirus, and I think the main themes we will reflect upon will include PPE provision, confusing communication from Government, behaviour of those in authority, the timing of lockdown and quarantine of travellers, testing capability and setup, accuracy of our death statistics, protection of the shielded patients and the lack of care home protection.. Behind each of the deaths in the UK so far is a personal tragedy is a set of bereaved family and friends. My thoughts and condolences go out to all those who have lost a loved one through the pandemic.
Thoughts & Perspectives
nothing before – COVID -19 was primarily a disease of the elderly, and adults with preexisting health issues, and the children were likely to be unaffected. With this is mind, we redefined our working roles. There are transferable core skills in medicine – compassion, communication, team working, hospital-based care, empathy, infection control. With previous experience in special care baby units managing infants with RDS (respiratory distress syndrome) I was redeployed to working in the intensive care environment (ICU), looking after adults with RDS (called ARDS). I relished my role as a runner and assistant in the ICU of Northwick Park Hospital; the busiest acute hospital for covid in the UK.
By Dr Warren Hyer Consultant Paediatrician & Consultant Paediatric Gastroenterologist Northwick Park and St Mark's Hospital, Middx Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London
In the run up to lockdown, paediatricians across the globe could breathe a sigh of relief. This pandemic would be like
My enduring and humbling memory is arriving at 8am outside ITU at Northwick Park Hospital one week into lockdown. At the entrance of ICU, an army of >50 nurses, were donning on their PPE to enter the febrile space housing dozens of critically unwell adults. They looked like they were preparing to do battle, soldiers preparing to enter the trenches. These were the brave faces of the NHS – risking themselves to save others. Within one week of witnessing that scene, nearly 40% of the staff were off sick, having likely contracted covid. This is the calibre and selfless behaviour and bravery of nurses, therapists and intensivists. We are so fortunate to have an outstanding local hospital with nurses who sacrifice all to lead the national fight against covid. We should be humbled by those who are protecting and caring for us all.
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From Vienna to Shanghai a personal story
by Karen Kinsley
India to China (taking 60 days). The Shanghai ghetto was small, poor and unsanitary and my family shared a room with a Chinese family with a simple curtain as a divider. There was already a wealthier Iraqi, Turkish and Russian Jewish community in Shanghai, many of whom had got rich on the back of the opium trade. But most European Jews arriving in the 1930s were extremely poor. Over 20,000 European Jews made their way to Shanghai in 1938 – 1939.
n May, I was asked by Chat & Share from Pinner Shul (formerly the pop up café) and the irrepressible Leonie Lewis to talk about a recent family discovery I had made. Chat & Share has been so popular, with audiences online regularly of more than 60 household so I was delighted to contribute with my discovery. I am a history graduate and I have always been interested in my family history. But with grandparents long since passed away and before the internet, I had always hit a brick wall in my search for more answers. In January of this year, I decided to explore family history again through my maternal line. I googled ‘Kornmehl’, my grandma’s maiden name and hit gold! I stumbled across a website all about the Kornmehls of Vienna! This website was created by another branch of the Kornmehl family tree and told me a great deal of information about what had happened to my grandma’s family. We previously knew very little. The Kornmehl’s were a well-to-do Viennese family who owned a very successful butchers shop in central Vienna. Sigmund Freud lived upstairs and often stopped for a natter – he even tried to treat my great aunt when she developed polio (but proved unsuccessful). My relatives had done well
and were happy and successful. Things were about to change. By 1938, my grandma had left Vienna to Palestine and then onto England with a work permit. She was one of the lucky ones. But what of the rest of the Kornmehls? It seemed my grandma either didn’t know or didn’t choose to share any details with us. The website told me that most of them were killed in the Holocaust. However, it was the story of Molly and Rudolph Kornmehl and their journey that gripped me. In 1938, the Nazis informed Molly and Rudolph that they had a week to get out of Vienna or they would be ‘relocated’. They were beaten up and some of their goods confiscated. As you can imagine, they ran from embassy to embassy begging for a visa. Chaim Weizmann wrote in 1936, ‘the world seemed to be divided into two parts — those places where the Jews could not live and those where they could not enter.’ Just when they felt all was lost, they heard a rumour - China was open to Jews! It was expensive but Molly and Rudolph sold everything they owned and bought tickets to Shanghai. They and their two daughters boarded The Athos 2 in September 1939 and left behind everything they knew and sailed via
The story of their eight years in Shanghai is fascinating. They faced hardship and repeated disease but were safe (even though the Japanese took over Shanghai in 1941, they refused to hand over their Jews to the Nazis). My family owned a café in Shanghai selling delightful Viennese pastries and cakes. The ghetto would be nicknamed ‘Little Vienna’ during this period. There was a synagogue and a growing Jewish cultural life. However, it was a very tough life. They had never felt Shanghai would be their permanent home, so like many Jews, when they war ended they looked to move on. They moved briefly to Palestine, then moved back to Vienna (but found this held too many bad memories for them), then on to Canada and then finally settling in the United States of America. Molly and Rudolph Kornmehl and their family had had five different homes in ten years. It's been fascinating to learn about the Jewish community who went to Shanghai and the hardships they faced and knowing that my not too distant family was part of this community. We should be eternally grateful to the Chinese for giving them a home when no one else would. I hope one day to travel to Shanghai myself and explore this rich history. It was great to share this story at Chat & Share, and hear from other community members who had visited the synagogue in Shanghai themselves. If you have a story to share or just want to join one of the regular interesting talks, do let me know. Email email@example.com for the link.
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Jami Mental Health Shabbat – Parsha Bo By Louise Aron
Have you ever stopped to think about where you are in life? All you’ve experienced? The simchas, the less joyful moments, the losses you’ve endured, times of hardship?
once read a quote that said ‘life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.’ This to me accurately sums up the experiences of the Jewish people throughout time. Often the victim of hardship and tragedies, somehow we retain a sense of hope and unity. This is something that always gives me peace. Deciding to do this Dvar Torah was a rather spontaneous decision, I must say.
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As a passionate advocate for mental health, I know what it’s like to suffer and I’ve seen many people around me suffer the challenges of poor mental health. I wanted to take the opportunity to share my thoughts on this stigmatised subject faced by the Jewish community and wider society. First and foremost, this Dvar Torah is dedicated to the memory of my dear Zaida Zichrona Livracha. He was a special part of my whole
family’s life and he is sorely missed. I would also just like to thank Judy Roth for her support and advice she shared with me whilst I was preparing for this. I’m very grateful. There is a central theme for me throughout Parshat Bo and that is suffering and the way in which we treat ourselves and those around us. We begin the sedra witnessing the effects of the last three plagues and the
Thoughts & Perspectives unravelling of Pharaoh’s tight fist over the Jewish people. It is interesting to see that no one including Pharaoh and the Egyptians is spared suffering. This really represents the blinding nature of mental health and the fact that it doesn’t discriminate between rich or poor, Jews or Non-Jews alike. It can affect anyone in any walk of life. In fact, we learn from the Kli Yakar that when the plague of locusts appeared, Pharaoh was the first to be struck. Pharaoh himself was not exempted from the pain and suffering. It would appear that Pharaoh has to endure such pain to let the Jews go. However, what Pharaoh suffers seems to be miniscule by comparison to the pain that the Jewish people suffered for hundreds of years as slaves. The last three plagues put into perspective the physical and emotional challenges that come with suffering with mental health issues. The locusts can be symbolic of the overwhelming and out of control thoughts. The darkness can be symbolic of the emptiness, the solitude that can come with depression. And finally death of the firstborn - resonates with the ultimate danger associated with poor mental health, suicide. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45. A subject often ignored, we must acknowledge, it is real. It is valid. In fact, every 40 seconds, someone around the world takes their own life, which means that by the end of this Dvar Torah, at least 15 will have taken their life. Suicide is a difficult topic to talk about, but it is so important to help prevent it.
If we just take a moment to unwrap the meaning of this darkness. We all know what it’s like to be in the dark- we often link it with bedtime and a chance to settle down after a long day. But can we fathom the extent of this darkness? Can you imagine three days of darkness, with a darkness so thick it is tangible and you are unable to physically get up from where you are sitting? With a darkness so all-consuming, we are unable to escape our thoughts.
errors and fallbacks are often a necessary stage for progression towards self-growth and greater selfesteem
When any of us are suffering, we often hope that the painful feelings pass as soon as possible. Being caught in an endless cycle of negative thoughts is overwhelming. Those suffering often wonder when it is they will recover, criticising themselves for not recovering quickly enough, when as human beings we should recognise it takes time to recover. Just as it takes a broken leg several weeks or months of recovery and physio to be able to walk again, we have to apply the same logic to the mind. Whether diagnosed with a condition or not, we all have mental health and it is as important as our physical health.
When any of us are suffering, we often hope that the painful feelings pass as soon as possible.
It is said: Vayeit Moshe et yado al hashamayim. Vay’hi choshekh-afeilah b’khol erets mitzrayim shloshet yamim. Lo ra’u ish et achiv, v’lo kamu ish mitachtav shloshet yamim’. ‘And Moses held his hand toward the sky and thick darkness descended upon all the land of Egypt for three days. People could not see one another, and for three days no one could get up from where he was....’ (Exod 10:22-23)
university to work, retiring, having kids, watching your kids move on in their lives etc. We see this same uncertainty when the Children of Israel have to leave Egypt, they barely have time to prepare the food for the journey let alone process the extent of the journey ahead of them.
The great rabbi and psychiatrist, Abraham Twersky explains about the regression of self-esteem and how it is during periods of uncertainty and difficulty that we become aware of our strength. When I am going through tough times, one quote that soothes me is ‘you only know you’re strong when strong is the only choice you have.’ Vulnerability is a sign of strength, not weakness. It’s okay to struggle, we all do. Rabbi Twersky compares this struggle to climbing a ladder. When we take a step towards the next rung, one of our legs is suspended in the air until we reach the next step. The instability of having our foot in the air can be uncomfortable and make us feel lost, but it is something we all experience especially during periods of transition. Whether moving from
It is interesting, however, that Rabbi Twerksy adds how errors and fallbacks are often a necessary stage for progression towards selfgrowth and greater self-esteem. I think we should reflect on our attitude towards failure. This is often seen negatively and we tend to shame ourselves for letting ourselves reach a low point, when most of the time, it is out of our control and a natural part of life. Understanding that we all suffer with poor mental health during at least one point in life, it is so important that we take the opportunity to actively listen to those around us. The Jewish Mussar movement, created in the 19th Century by Orthodox Lithuanian Jews, teaches us about Shmiat HaOzenattentive listening. This means listening beyond the words that people are saying, but furthermore a direct focus on what the person is saying. Asking oneself the question: Is there more to what meets the eye here? In a world where life is hectic and technology is taking over our lives, Shmiat HaOzen is as vital as ever. This is not just on a friend-to-friend or partner-to-partner basis, this is essential on an intergenerational level. Let’s all try and take a step back and be aware of the people around us. What is being unspoken here? What are we missing?
How can we as Jews, through our individual experiences and roots, bring a little bit more empathy, kindness and openness to the people around us? I’ll leave you to ponder that thought.
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People’s Page WELCOME TO NEW MEMBERS Elaine & Emily Black Linda & David Ross NEW TRIBE MEMBER Harry Frohlich MAZALTOV TO NEW PARENTS Emma & Aron Kleiman - Son MAZALTOV TO NEW GRANDPARENTS Stephanie & Arnold Bancroft - Granddaughter Tania & Jon Kalisch – Grandson Estelle & David Kaye – Grandson Joanna & Jonathan Mindell – Granddaughter Barbara & Stephen Nelken - Grandson Elaine & Stephen Sasto - Granddaughter Germaine & Raymond Sharon - Grandson MAZALTOV TO NEW GREAT GRANDPARENTS Hazel & Wally Gallick - Great Grandson Cynthia & David Messias - Great Grandson Ruth & Bertram Mindell – Great Granddaughter MAZALTOV ON THEIR ENGAGEMENT Robert Wigman to Ilana Grossmark MAZALTOV ON THEIR SPECIAL WEDDING ANNIVERSARY Reva & Philip Weinberg - 1st Hilary & Michael Frohlich - 25th Andrea & Jeremy Aron - 30th Janine & Paul Lazarus - 30th Lisa & Andrew Olins - 30th Ros & David Ordman - 35th Elaine & Steve Gee - 40th Sharon & Lewis Allen - 50th Susan & Allen Bergson - 50th
Susan & David Cfas - 50th Sarah & Leslie Goldstein – 50th Stella & Albert Levy - 50th Carol & David Pearlman - 50th Stuart & Wendy Reece - 50th Denise & Alan Silver - 50th Barbara & Keith Simons - 50th Judy & Malvern Barnett - 60th Cynthia & David Messias - 60th Shirley & Gerald Gold - 65th Barbara & Robin Woolf – 65th Kerry & Haydn Klein - Special Anniversary MAZALTOV ON THEIR SPECIAL BIRTHDAY Steve Davidson - 50th Karen Waterman – 50th Paul Goldstone - 60th Marcelle Muzlish - 60th Jeffrey Samuels - 65th Steve Gee - 65th Penny Grossman - 65th Nigel Salomon – 65th Suzanne Goodman - 70th Marcia Korman - 70th Dennis Krushner - 70th Stanley Levy - 70th Sidney Ruback – 70th Raymond Sharon – 70th Doreen Havardi - 75th David Pearlman - 75th Mike Redhouse - 75th Sue Levene - 75th Reva Weinberg – 75th Martin Bancroft - 80th Judith Barnett – 80th Dorothy Ostryn - 80th Jack Coleman - 85th Gerald Collis - 85th Shirley Gold - 85th
Jenny Stewart – 85th Barbara Woolf - 90th Ernest Simon - 90th Fay Sober - 90th Renee Binstock - 100th CONDOLENCE ON BEREAVEMENT Sheila Ardel - Husband Graeme Canter - Father Pamela Cohen - Husband Susan Coleman - Mother Sally Ann Eisenberg - Husband Ceila Gaya - Husband Judy Graham - Brother Paul Harris - Father Sidney Isaacs - Sister Jenny Itzcovitz - Mother Ben Jacobs - Mother Howard Lewis - Father Marion Myers - Husband Ralph Myers - Brother Hilda Paster - Husband Howard Paster - Father Shereen Presky - Father David Rosten - Wife Maxine Segalov - Father Renee Sheinman - Sister Stuart Skolneck - Mother Robin Woolf - Sister CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILY OF Tricia Brickman Alan Karbaron Hettie Mount Rose Nathan Harvey Onnie Sheila Owen
Mazaltov to Robyn & Clive Saffer on Charlie's Barmitzvah and Eva's Batmitzvah which we would have celebrated in Shul this year and which we look forward to celebrating at a later date. Mazaltov to the Debbie & Dan Kalms on Jack’s Barmitzvah which we would have celebrated in Shul this year and which we look forward to celebrating at a later date. as at 24th August 2020 58 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
Daniella Freeman & Jacob Moses
Rosh Hashanah Greetings ALBERT: Wishing Rabbi & Rabbetzen Kurzer and family, together with the Pinner Community a happy New Year and well over the Fast. Sue & Simon Albert. KLEINMAN: Bronia and Alan Kleinman wish their family, friends and Pinner community a Shanah Tova. LEVIN: Wishing all the Pinner community a very happy and healthy New Year and well over the Fast. Debra & Larry Levin and family. LEWIS: Leonie & Howard wish our family, friends and everyone in the Pinner community a happy and healthy 5781. Our thanks to the many friends who have helped us during the challenging year for us all. NEMKO: We wish everyone a safe and healthy New Year, full of happy times despite these uncertain days. Jenny & Terry Nemko.
NICHOLLS: With our heartfelt wishes and prayers for a healthy and peaceful New Year, to our beloved children, grandchildren and extended family and friends. Barbara & Anthony Nicholls. ROME: Roz & John Rome wish all the community a happy and healthy New Year. Stay safe! ROSEN: I would like to wish everyone in the Pinner community a happy and healthy New Year and well over the Fast. Sheila Rosen. TERRET: Edna & Norman Terret wish the community a happy and healthy year ahead. WEST: Hilary & Graham West together with the family wish Rabbi and Rebbetzen Kurzer, friends and the community Shana Tova and well over the Fast.
59 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
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Home & Away
Farms, Flowers and Fitness By Leonie Lewis
If you were looking for silver linings during lockdown, it would have been the weather and the glorious sunshine that greeted us almost daily. The greenery and flowering plants have been simply stunning, with an array of colours on show everywhere.
’m sure that like me, many of you would have been taking pictures on your phones to capture the moments. I found myself keeping a daily record of photos taken on my walks, reflecting the ironic situation of the beauty of nature during lockdown.
For a touch of variety, I also took photos of the gorgeous cows and calves sitting in the fields belonging to the farm on George V Avenue.
As it was such a pleasant walk, and very much on our doorstep, I am suggesting a couple of routes which make a change to the familiar circuit we might be doing: Start at Wakeham’s Hill and take the pathway on your left. This will take you across the fields and into George V Avenue. Across the road, you will see the signs leading to Pinner Park Farm. Follow the bridle way which is nice and wide and very countrified. Enjoy the views looking towards the Uxbridge Road on your left, and Headstone Lane on your right. If you turn right at the end, Wyevale will be on your left. Walk back through Hatch End.
If you are adventurous, here’s a variation you could do: As you approach George V Avenue, don’t cross into the farm, but turn left and walk along the road. On your left is another pathway, slightly narrow and signposted Public Footpath to Moss Close. You will also see the two Eruv posts. Walk through the posts, go over the stile, through the double gates and over a second stile. The path goes over a small bridge over a stream, and is quite narrow, with an open meadow on your left and woods to your right. This brings you into Moss Close and then into Moss Lane. All this makes me so appreciative of the natural environment and life in leafy Pinner.
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Home & Away
BREAD RECIPES As lockdown loomed, supermarket shelves were being stripped of flour, with people of all ages rolling up their sleeves ready to go back to basics and try their hand at bread making. To test your skills further, we asked three seasoned bakers to share their recipes for some alterative loaves.
4. Grease the long sides of a loaf tin and line the bottom and short sides with baking parchment. 5. Shape the dough into a loaf and put it into the lined tin, seam side down. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave at room temperature for 35 - 45 mins until puffed and it springs back slowly when poked. 6. Heat the oven to 210C/190 fan/gas 6.
Fruit Bread By Gill Stoller
Ingredients: » » » » » » » »
180 g mixed dried fruit 180 g strong white flour 120 g plain flour 20 g caster sugar 1 sachet (7g) fast action dried yeast 1 teaspoon salt 1 large egg beaten 80 ml tepid whole milk
7. Bake in the middle shelf for 15 mins, then without opening the door reduce to 190C/170 fan/gas 5. And bake for a further 25 mins. It should be puffed up and golden. Remove from the tin and tap the bottom. It should sound hollow when tapped on the base. 8. Allow to cool completely before serving.
Method: 1. Put the fruit in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over it. Leave for 20 mins the drain well. 2. Combine all the ingredients including the fruit in a mixing bowl. Add 50 ml tepid water. Mix to form a dough then knead by hand for 5 - 10 mins until smooth and elastic and the fruit is well distributed. 3. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave at room temperature for two hours giving it a quick knead after an hour. 62 | Rosh Hashanah 2020
French Baguettes By David Taylor (with a little bit of help from your bread making machine)
If you don’t yet have a bread making machine, buy one! I recommend the Panasonic range. You will love these delicious fresh baguettes and all the other breads (including challot) that are so easy to make.
Home & Away
This recipe makes two medium size loaves.
Ingredients: » » » »
1 ½ teaspoons of dried yeast 450g strong white bread flour 1 ½ teaspoons salt 315ml water
Method: 1. Add the ingredients to your bread machine in the above order. Note that if your make of machine advises liquids first, just add them in the reverse order. Use the French bread dough setting (or, if none, any quick dough setting) and press start. 2. When the dough cycle ends, turn out the dough onto a floured surface and lightly knock back the air with your hands. Divide in half and shape each into a ball. 3. Roll out each ball into a rectangle. Fold up a third lengthways and a third down and press firmly. Repeat this twice, resting a few seconds between foldings. Do this to each ball of dough. 4. Next, use your hands to roll and stretch each piece to about 11” or 12” long. Place each loaf between the folds of a floured dishcloth to retain the right shape. Cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for 30-40 minutes. (If your oven has one, you can use the plate warming setting at 33°) 5. Roll the loaves onto a baking sheet and score the tops with a sharp knife for the ‘French look’. Bake in a hot oven 230° (210° fan) for 15 minutes or so until golden brown. For a good crisp crust, spray the oven with water as you put in the loaves. 6. Allow to cool – not too long – before cutting a slice and applying lashings of butter and strawberry jam. Enjoy!
Olive and Rosemary Bread Rolls By Annick Simons
Ingredients: » » » » » » » »
* 250g bread flour * 1 teaspoon salt * 1/2 teaspoon sugar * 1 level teaspoon yeast * 150ml warm water * 1 tbsp olive oil (and some for greasing) * 6-10 olives (or more if you prefer) * Sprig or two rosemary
Method: 1. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast together in a mixing bowl. Mix well. 2. Tear or chop olives and add to the dough and mix well. Using your finger make a dip in the dough and pour in the water and oil. 3. Mix with a fork until the mixture is sticky. Lightly sieve the worktop with flour and knead the dough on the table. Return to the bowl, cover with a towel and leave in a warm place for 45-60 mins. 4. Preheat oven to 210C fan / 230C / Gas mark 8 5. Tear the dough into 8 small balls, arrange in a lined baking tray and grease lightly. Bake for 10 mins until nicely risen and ready. 63 | Rosh Hashanah 2020