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“Raymond’s stroke had a devastating effect on his and Pamela’s life until they moved in to their Jewish Blind & Disabled apartment. Now they enjoy the best of both worlds – independence with a social life on their doorstep” Raymond & Pamela moved into their state-of-the-art mobility apartment in 2019.

ENABLED To make a donation or to apply for an apartment visit or call 020 8371 6611 Registered Charity No. 259480


| Chairman's Report Jonathan Mindell


| Dear Friends Rabbi Kurzer | A Song Not Yet Sung Rebbetzen Abi Kurzer


| Community Directors Marion Siskin | From The Editorial Team Margery Cohen, Elizabeth Harris, Marion Siskin


| Chief Rabbi’s Pesach Message Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis


| BoD President’s Message Marie van der Zyl


| US President's RH Message Michael Goldstein

| Care Corner Karen Kinsley


| Mitzvah Day Goes Virtual Debra Levin


| Pesach Down The Rabbit Hole Rebbetzen Abi Kurzer


| Our Chatanim

50 |

26 | Jack Kalms' Barmitzvah

Talk Matters Jenny Nemko

28 | When I Grow Up I Want to Be


| Celebrating Chanukah Karen Kinsley

Jane Cohen

30 | 32 |

A Yamim Noraim Retrospective


Jonathan Mindell

52 53 53

GardensRus Helen Levy


| What is Ora About? Judy Roth & Lindi Wigman


| A Poem For Spring | 100 - And Still Counting


| Gesher


Phil Gershuny


| People’s Page

| Lawrence's Walks Lawrence Brown

| Interfaith Week


Jonathan Freedman


| Gaby Glassman Bringing Yom Hashoah To All Ruth Stuber

| A Cryptic Crossword Avid Old Swan


| What Have you Been Reading? Merrill Dresner

60 |

The Joys Of Walking In The Chilterns


Mike Stoller

40 |

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, zt''l Pinner Remembers

62 |

Recipes Gail Weinstein

Members of Pinner Community

44 |

Letter Lamed Simon Hodes

Marion Siskin

20 | Pinner Israel Committee (PIC) Mike Stoller

22 |

Pandemics Past And Present Dr Michael Denman

Eric Samuel


48 |

| My Thursday Date with Chat & Share

Dan Kalms




Holocaust Memorial Day Trust


| Jewish Dictionary Margery Cohen

46 |

Tikkun Olam Robin Woolf

Marion Siskin

Pinner Synagogue - Editorial team: Margery Cohen, Elizabeth Harris, Marion Siskin Photos: Contributors

Magazine designed and printed by: Express Print Ltd Harrow Business Centre, 429-433 Pinner Road, North Harrow, HA1 4HN t: 020 8567 8727 e: 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.

Due to Covid-19 the Synagogue office is now temporarily closed, and our staff will be working remotely. They can be contacted on: Carolyn Abrahams, Administrator 020 8868 7204 (option 1) / Karen Kinsley Welfare Co-ordinator 020 8868 7204 (option 2) / Covid-19 Helpline - Ask for Help 020 8868 7204 (option 5) / Rabbi Ben Kurzer 07593 034381 / Rebbetzen Abi Kurzer

07912 650074 /

First Things First

Chairman’s Report


by Jonathan Mindell

fter four years in the chair, this will be my last Chairman’s report for Community Magazine. I will save my ‘retrospective’ for the AGM, which this year will take place on Tuesday evening 4th May, via Zoom, so here I will focus on the second half of this ‘pandemic year’.

The Yamim Noraim seem a long time ago but, across this strangest of years, it was a time when Shul was at its busiest as we ran up to four services at a time in a Covid-secure way. We had nearly 1,200 ‘bookings’ over Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, fulfilling our objective of ensuring that everyone who wanted to come to Shul was able to. You can read more about the Yamim Noraim on page 30. In October, the government introduced the local tiering system, although the Shul remained open until 4th November when the second full lockdown required us to shut down once again. We reopened five weeks later on 5th December, happily in time that we could celebrate the bar mitzvah of Jack Kalms the following week. Although limited in the numbers we could have in Shul, it was lovely to be able to celebrate a joyous event, when so many bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings and other celebrations have had to be postponed over the course of the year. On 5th January we closed down again. However, with the government’s roadmap for reopening out of lockdown announced last month, we have thankfully been able to reopen in early March. Even with services restarted, we continue to run a multitude of events and activities online, for which I would like to thank everyone who organised the events, as well as those who attended them. I want to thank our caretaker team of Simon, Florian and Anete, who, over the last few months, have experienced being furloughed, have had to react to quick decisions about opening and closing and, whilst we have been closed, have gone through every nook and cranny of the building repairing, cleaning and polishing. When you first go back into the building you will hardly recognise the place. Thanks also goes to Carolyn our administrator for ‘keeping the lights on’ whilst working from home and Karen, our Welfare Coordinator, who has done a fantastic job ensuring that we remain engaged and connected, particularly with the more vulnerable members of our community. And of course, our thanks go to Rabbi and Rebbetzen Kurzer who keep engaging with all of us in person and over Zoom and continue to lead and inspire us during these challenging times. In early December we welcomed Sarah and Yonatan Levin, our new Community Directors to Pinner. Despite the lockdown severely restricting what they can do within the community, Yonatan made an almost immediate impact as ‘Doughnut Man’, on a number of doorsteps and on You Tube at Chanukah. I am sure as we move out of lockdown we will hear more from Yonatan and Sarah as they engage with the 4 | Pesach 2021

younger families across the community. During the pandemic we sadly lost many members, not just to the virus. In all cases it has been tragic that the rituals of mourning have been so restricted. Last November British Jewry as a whole suffered the loss of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Elsewhere in the magazine there are tributes to one of the true greats of our era. In Pinner, we have been lucky enough to experience possibly more than our ‘fair share’ of visits from Lord Sacks over the years, on the basis of his marriage to Elaine, David Taylor’s sister – a reminder that amongst all his greatness, in so many aspects of life, the bond of family remains a key element to Jewish life. It was just after Purim last year that we suffered the first lockdown. Purim this year was much different, but at least we were able to read the megillah and let people experience it in person and on Zoom. One event that will not go ahead, for the second year running, is our Yom Hashoah evening. Over the years we have been honoured by the presence of many Holocaust survivors able to tell their stories, as well as dignitaries from across the wider community and ambassadors from countries where many of the atrocities took place. That our Yom Hashoah evening has become such an important date in our calendar is in no small part thanks to Gaby Glassman who, over the last 30 years has led the team that has planned and organised our commemoration. Gaby has chosen this enforced break as a good time to step back from leading the Yom Hashoah committee and you can read more on page 38. I would like to put on record the community’s thanks to Gaby for her dedication to ensuring that we will never forget the reasons why we commemorate Yom Hashoah every year. Another article in the magazine focuses on Gesher, the new Jewish school which will move from its current location to the site in Pinner previously occupied by Moriah. We look forward to working closely with the team at Gesher as they plan the move to Pinner in September. I am sure that future issues of our magazine will contain contributions from Gesher, its staff and students. And so to Pesach! As we did last year, we will adapt to the lockdown circumstances and ensure that we mark our ancestors’ departure from Egypt as fully and with as much fervour and enthusiasm as we do every year. You may recall that at Yom Kippur we only made one appeal, postponing our local appeal to Pesach. We often use the proceeds from the local appeal to help upgrade our physical space (air conditioning and new seat upholstery come to mind). With the ongoing need for virtual connections across the community, we have decided to channel the proceeds from our Pesach appeal into improving our digital infrastructure, including our website, our social media outputs and the way we communicate across the community on a regular basis. Even in these challenging times, I hope you will be able to donate to this very necessary requirement to invest in digital infrastructure, so that we can serve the community across all its diverse needs in the future. I wish everyone a chag kasher v’sameach. Jonathan Mindell


First Things First

Dear Friends What a year it has been for us all. As we prepared for Pesach last year, thrown suddenly into the most unexpected Pesach experience we could have imagined, most of us probably thought, 'at least next year we will be back to normal'. Yet here we are again, Pandemic Pesach II, and while we can see light at the end of the tunnel, in all honesty, I have no idea what the coming year will bring either.


his past year has had immense challenges, for us as individuals by Rabbi Kurzer and as a community, but as I look back I also do so with pride and think that we have sown seeds for some hopeful and promising times ahead. By far the most common image I see at the moment is of people in masks with a bare left arm. These vaccine-selfies have made me think of 2021 as 'the year of outstretched arm' which is, of course, a major theme of Pesach. The Torah describes the salvation of the Jewish people by the Almighty as being done with an 'outstretched arm' (e.g. Shemot 6:6). Yet while the outstretched arm of the Almighty gets much press, there is another outstretched arm that is crucial to the Pesach story and lays the foundation for our redemption. Moshe, ultimately appointed as G-d’s emissary to save the people, was in danger from the moment he was born. His mother famously hid him in a basket which floated down the Nile – but how did he get out? In Chapter 2 of Shemot the Torah describes how the daughter of Pharaoh goes down to the Nile to wash. When she spots the basket she 'sends out her arm' (2:5) to bring it towards her. This unusual phraseology is noted by the Midrash as a reference to a miracle that occurred – although Moshe’s basket was very far away, Pharaoh’s daughter stretched out her arm, it miraculously elongated, enabling her to reach the basket: another outstretched arm. While we talk a lot about G-d’s outstretched arm, it is the outstretched arm of Pharaoh’s daughter that I look to for inspiration this Pesach. The Kedushat Levi notes that there was no reason for her to extend her arm at all – the basket was clearly too far away for her to reach. Yet she did, and G-d did the rest by turning her momentarily into Inspector Gadget, and through this Moshe was saved, which began the redemption of an entire nation. So many times in life, we see something that needs taking care of but we feel it is out of our reach so we don’t even try to stretch for it. Yet if we were to simply try and do what we can and make an attempt, who knows what will fall into place around us and what the result could be. As I think back over this past year, when we faced something we have never experienced before, there were so many reasons for us to think we could not manage. As we have passed each festival, there was the possibility for us to say, 'This is not possible – it’s unattainable at the moment.' Yet we tried. We stretched out our arm and saw how far it could extend. Through last Pesach, Rosh Hashanah, Chanukah and everything before, after and in between,

we, as a community have stretched ourselves to what did not seem possible and I look back with immense pride. We have connected with people across the broad range of our membership, seen amazing volunteering for so many different things and maintained strong (albeit very different) services in Shul when appropriate. Through all the difficulties we have tried our hardest, and that is all that the Almighty ever asks from us. May the coming year bring health and healing to us and to the world. May we be able to share happy times together (in person!) and celebrate with family and community. May we all be blessed with the strength to continue putting maximum effort into all our endeavours. Wishing each and every one of you a joyous and kosher Pesach. Rabbi Kurzer and family

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First Things First

A Song Not Yet Sung Dear Friends, It is January and I have no idea what the world will look like by the time you read this just before Pesach. This time last year we also had no idea what Pesach would look like. We were still blissfully unbothered by rumours from Wuhan, and I had just gone to see Hamilton in a packed theatre with my mum. Fast forward a few months and we experienced a Pesach like none other before.


have a small tradition that every motzei Pesach I open a new folder on my computer and label it with next year's date. In it, I write myself a short by Rebbetzen note – normally Abi Kurzer consisting of things I need to purchase for next year or successful recipes. I would like to share with you what I wrote to myself after Pesach 2020 with the intention to read it a year later: “Dear Me, So, last year was another strange Pesach – do you remember? It was the year of Covid. I am praying that by the time I read this next year it is ancient history but it was a difficult year. We were on lockdown, people had Seder night on their own. We all appreciated everything we used to take for granted like family and guests. We couldn’t get all the items we usually have and we made do. We also made friends with our neighbours and learnt to rely more on each other. As a family we spent every moment together. We completed a 1000 piece puzzle, went for ‘walks’ every day and fed the ducks a lot. We spent time on Zoom to friends and family and all learnt new skills. The sun was shining so we planted lots of vegetables and fed the birds. We found the silver linings. I promised myself to more patient with myself and with others during this time as too much family time was sometimes very intense. We learned to appreciate medics and teachers who continued to care about our children even though they weren’t there. Every Thursday night we stood on the street and clapped and felt part of something bigger. We were humbled and put in our places. We spent hours talking about how the house of cards is so delicately built and it only took one bug to topple the lot. We recognised Hashem is constantly involved in keeping things together and pondered over what this could all mean.

6 | Pesach 2021

We also lost people, too many people, young and old to this virus. We couldn’t mourn them properly, we couldn’t give hugs or just be there. We couldn’t talk to each other in Shul and ask how they were or sense when something was wrong. Perhaps we should mourn people around Pesach time this year? It was tough, it was different and it was.”

So here we are Pesach 2021 – Will it be another Covid Pesach? I still don’t know. Let me therefore consider the things that I do know. In one year we have created a vaccine to topple this virus, we have delivered millions of doses with Israel leading the way. We have managed to stay together as a community in ways we never thought were possible and we have saved lots of money on babysitting. On a personal level I finally managed to run 5k, something I never thought I would be able to do and readjusted my expectations on every level - of myself, of others and of our world. I worked harder than ever before in bringing Hashem into our home, making Shabbat and Chagim special, even though we missed having guests and rediscovered that these moments in time are so precious and frame our whole week. One thing I am looking forward to though is being able to sing together again as a community, whether in a regular shul service, at an oneg in our house, or at Azamrah, the Friday night women’s service that could not happen this year. Pesach has lots of references to singing. Shir Hashirim, the ‘song of songs’ is the Megilla we read on the Shabbat of Pesach, and illustrates through an allegory of love between a man and a woman, the love between the Jewish nation and Hashem. We also recall the song at the sea, ‘Az Yashir’ said every day in Shacharit and the song of Miriam in the Torah reading on 7th day Pesach. Interestingly, this is the first time Miriam,

who must have been around 80 years old at the time, is identified by name and also as a prophetess even though she prophesised as a very young girl and she has been a prominent feature in the story throughout. This remarkable woman, grew up in an incredibly challenging environment and yet always believed that there would be a time when they would come out on the other side. She was not embittered by her circumstances but looked to a more positive future and bringing others along with her. As a young girl she was instrumental in encouraging Jewish families to remain together when they wanted to separate to avoid facing Pharoah’s harsh decrees, and later by invigorating the women around her to bring along their tambourines as they were leaving Egypt, even though at that point the future was still opaque. One possible meaning of her name is rebellion from the root ‘meri’. Miriam rebelled against Egypt’s decrees, stealthily delivering babies of those families she had convinced to remain together and she also rebelled against despair. Her song was a joyous expression of fulfilment and clarity of finally understanding Hashem’s plan. It was a moment of understanding the purpose and meaning in everything she and others had experienced. There are only nine songs of this nature in the whole Tanach, with a tenth reserved for a time still in unknown to us in our future. These songs of total clarity and joy are a precious commodity but when we experience something like this, we know. I am not a prophetess, as my letter to myself clearly demonstrated. However, I do believe that we will all one day sing with gusto, joy and perhaps a few tears together again. I have my tambourine ready – do you?

First Things First

7 | Pesach 2021

First Things First

Community Directors by Marion Siskin

It is now at least two years since Pinner shul had permanent dedicated youth workers. On 10th December we were introduced to our new Community Directors, Yonatan and Sara Levin, along with their six-month-old daughter Naomi.


he Board of Management decided that their brief should extend beyond ‘youth’ to include young families and the community at large. During the current pandemic, the Rabbi and Rebbetzen, along with the officers of the shul and volunteers have devised a whole range of extra activities to keep the members engaged with the shul when meeting and socialising are fast becoming a distant dream. They are now joined by the Community Directors to bring fresh ideas to members of the shul. Yonatan and Sara are very clear that it is their aim to enhance the sense of community that already exists and to bring people in, no matter what their level of observance and are looking to plan for this. They realise that they have a wide range of people to embrace and that traditional ‘shul-going’ is not for everyone; there are many ways in which to be involved with the synagogue and Judaism. One of the first steps that Yonatan and Sara took was to actually go out, knock on doors, socially distanced, of course, and introduce themselves to families with young children. They said that they had a very positive response, but at the time of writing, they can no longer do this. They have been running ‘meet and greets’ online as a way of putting names to faces. Many activities for younger children have been centred round festivals, and they want to expand this with more frequent weekend activities, especially for the younger members of the community. Sara has worked in a range of early years settings and particularly enjoys creating programmes and activities for children. It is a challenge she is very much looking forward to. Many young people are far more tech-savvy than some of the older generation and this is something that they can take advantage of; they realise that while zoom is a very useful tool, some people are looking for new ways to connect. One of the groups that that hasn’t received a lot of attention are the young people of university/college age. Yonatan and Sara plan to change this. It can be a time when some young people drift away from shul life after their bar/bat mitzvah and the Community Directors are planning ways to rekindle their interest. Other families facing a different kind of challenge are those that were planning bar and bat mitzvah over the past year. Some have decided to go ahead and have a service that adhere to government guidelines , while others will postpone. Engagement with the synagogue is vital for them at this time. Throughout the pandemic, new friendships have been forged within the community. Hopefully Yonatan and Sara can build on this and create new links of their own. Yonatan’s experience as a business development director and Sara’s as an early years practitioner will bring a new perspective to the 8 | Pesach 2021

table. Surely something good can come out of this time of adversity and Pinner Synagogue can grow and consolidate its own sense of community.

First Things First

From the Editorial Team expertise, thank you. To the new friendships forged online and in person, may they grow and flourish. A couple of particularly moving comments can be found in Care Corner (p 14).

by Margery Cohen

Elizabeth Harris

Marion Siskin

Even in these times of uncertainty, there are some things that cannot be abandoned and one of those is Community magazine.


espite our editor having moved to the Radlett community we decided that, especially in the current climate, we needed something that celebrated the achievements of Pinner Shul and the Editorial Team was born. However, we could not have produced the magazine without the help of Shereen Presky and Merrill Dresner. There are many people to thank for the range of activities now on offer to members of the Shul. We cannot name them individually as we would be sure to omit somebody, but to the Rabbi and Rebbetzen, the Executive, the Welfare Team and all the other volunteers that have, as ever, given their time and

We have reports from two new groups that have already developed a respectable following; GardensRus and Ora and there is news about the arrival of Gesher School, which will take over the site of Moriah. We have not neglected our usual features, such as the Jewish Alphabet and the Jewish Dictionary and hopefully there is something for everyone. We would like to think that we have fully represented what has been happening in the Shul – and in the outside world. With the vaccines giving us hope for the future and the possibility of a return to ‘normal’, whatever that is, let us hope that lessons we have learned from lockdown and the sense of community that it has enhanced for many can continue. Pinner was always good at looking after people; Covid-19 has enhanced it. Hopefully it will help us to overcome the losses and difficulties many of us have suffered. At the time of writing, we are unsure whether we will celebrate Pesach with friends and family. Even if we can’t, we know that sederarim can still go ahead and we can look forward to celebrating in style next year. Chag sameach.

9 | Pesach 2021

First Things First

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 Pesach 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). Indeed, dedication to education is a key feature of the Chanukah narrative. The survival of our spiritual legacy, despite the intentions of the Hellenists, was rooted in our commitment to teaching Torah and its values.

‘You will see, you will see, how good it will be next year’

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.

Why, at every Seder, do we enthusiastically sing, “leshana haba’ah biyrushalayim” – next year in Jerusalem? Although we have made the same declaration every year, it has never come true – at least not in the messianic sense in which it is intended – so why notThissimply say “In the future, we will be in Jerusalem”? lesson is of particular relevance to us today. British Jewry is blessed to have truly outstanding


ny study of Jewish history is a study of hope, often despite apparently impossible odds. It is therefore fitting that the epic story of the inception of the Israelites as a nation, the Exodus from Egypt, stands among the greatest illustrations of optimism and forbearance of all time.

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.

– ‘You will see, you will see, how good it will be next year!’

Valerie and I extend to you all our warmest and best wishes for a healthy, fulfilling and kosher Pesach.

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.

It was a truly extraordinary miracle. The chasm in status Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis March 2018 • Nisan 5778 between the Egyptian overlords and the Hebrew slaves could hardly have been greater. The most sophisticated and Despite everything, they chose powerful civilisation on the planet hope over despair. They chose controlled and persecuted a tiny to believe that salvation would nation of slaves, who were denied every basic human dignity and eventually come. any capacity for resistance. What hope was there for salvation? On what basis could the people summon the strength to go on despite everything? The answer is that they knew of the promise that Hashem had made to their ancestor, Abraham, that they would be strangers in a land where they would be oppressed and enslaved, but He would ultimately redeem them and they would return home to the Promised Land. Despite everything, they chose hope over despair. They chose to believe that salvation would eventually come. This places Pesach 5781 into valuable context for us. This time last year, we were coming to terms with the fact that we could not celebrate Pesach with extended friends and family as we usually do. It was agonising for so many, particularly those who were vulnerable or lonely. We took comfort in our belief that this was a ‘one-off’ and next year would be different. How then should we respond in the face of yet another Pesach when so many are separated from their loved ones, having not yet banished Coronavirus from our midst? Let us approach this Pesach with the same degree of hope and optimism as ever. Real progress is being made and we are blessed by the extraordinary miracle that is the vaccine. Britain and Israel have led the world in administering its roll out and, Be’ezrat Hashem, we will soon return to a more regular rhythm of life. I am inspired by the beautiful words of Ehud Manor, the Israeli songwriter, who wrote his famous song ‘Bashana Haba’a’, at a time when the State of Israel seemed to be surviving from one war to the next: ‘Od tireh, od tireh, kama tov yihye, bashana, bashana haba'a’ 10 | Pesach 2021

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First Things First


Message from the President This time last year I wrote in my Pesach message about the pandemic which had suddenly overtaken all of us and which was already taking a heavy toll on the Jewish community. I am very sad that one year later this terrible virus is still claiming lives in our community and affecting the way we live.


nce again, Seder Night will not be the packed, joyous family event we all love. We will, for Marie van der Zyl the second time, be holding intimate events with our closest family and then only if we are lucky enough to live in the same house or bubble. My thoughts are with all of you who are alone at this time or unable to see your nearest and dearest. This past year has taken a toll on all of us but I have seen great acts of generosity and kindness. In some ways, this terrible situation has brought out the best in people – from the small things, like a grandchild baking for her grandparents who are shielding, to those such as Captain Tom, whose fundraising made millions for the NHS, before his sad passing earlier this year. Now, with millions already vaccinated and infection rates falling, we have a sacred duty to ensure that lives are saved. Every death in our community has been a tragedy for someone’s family. We must ensure that we do everything to save lives. This is the most fundamental imperative of Judaism. Over this year, the way the Board of Deputies operates has changed, with home working for our staff and Zoom for our plenary meetings. Our online BoDCast events have engaged thousands of people from across the country and across the world and our achievements have continued to grow. We continue to work with all parts of the Jewish community to ensure that they have access to the best available information about the Coronavirus pandemic and make decisions about when to open and when to close facilities. This has included working with the Cabinet Office to get guidance translated into Yiddish for sections of the Charedi community who do not have English as a first language. We have been working tirelessly to ensure that the Labour Party, under its new leader Sir Keir Starmer, acts firmly and decisively to excise the antisemitism which had flourished under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. On this, good progress has been made but we need to see even more. We have also worked hard this year on ensuring that Jews do not face hatred online, by coming up with proposals to ensure that new Online Harms legislation protects us all from abuse social media platforms. Online is the new frontline in the fight against antisemitism – and not just antisemitism, but misogyny, anti-Muslim hatred, homophobia and racism and bigotry against other religions, ethnicities and minority groups. 12 | Pesach 2021

We are working hard to ensure we are better protected. In the meantime, we have acted to stop antisemites selling their poison online by working with Amazon to ensure Holocaust denial works are removed from its platform. We may be the Board of Deputies of British Jews but some of our most important and successful work has been in support of a group which are neither British nor Jewish. The Chinese Uyghur Muslims are subject to terrible persecution, and I was not the only one to see echoes of the Holocaust in their treatment by the Chinese authorities. I wrote to the Chinese Ambassador following a harrowing interview on the Andrew Marr Show and as an organisation we worked tirelessly to persuade MPs to support the Genocide Amendment to the Trade Bill, which would allow Uyghurs to get around the broken UN system and be able to take their call for justice in a British court. In a year in which the world mourned the racist murder of George Floyd in the USA, we felt a responsibility to ensure that our community was one in which Black Jews and Jews of Colour do not feel alienated. To this end we set up the Commission on Racial Inclusivity in the Jewish Community with Stephen Bush as Chair. We hope that the recommendations that the Commission makes will make our community a model of inclusivity in the coming years. Despite the tragedy in the world there have been some beacons of light in the past 12 months. I have seen our community come together like never before. Despite the physical distance, we have been looking after each other and this is has been so necessary and heartwarming. We have also seen remarkable progress in Israel’s relations with its Middle East neighbours. The Abraham Accords were signed between Israel the UAE and Bahrain. We also saw an agreement with Morocco. One of the highlights of my years was lighting the Chanukah candles in an online event with the ambssadors of the UAE and Bahrain – something I never thought I would see. We have been enduring difficult times. It is my earnest wish that we all stay safe and look forward, as we always do at this time, to better days ahead. Pesach Sameach to you and your families from everyone at the Board of Deputies

Marie van der Zyl - President

First Things First


Message from the President of the United Synagogue At my Seder table I like to read this stirring passage from Rabbi Sacks’ Haggadah (pp 2-3). His recent passing makes it even more poignant:


n the 28th November 1947, member countries voted on the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. The plan proposed creating two states, a Jewish and Arab state side by side. If the plan gained Michael Goldstein two-thirds of the votes, it would herald the creation of the first Jewish State since biblical times and with it, the realisation of the Zionist dream. But this was by no means a sure verdict. It took much lobbying and convincing on the part of the Zionist movement to persuade other nations to vote for the plan. In his speech to the United Nations, David Ben-Gurion argued the case for the creation of the State of Israel by referring to Pesach and the story told in the Haggadah: “Three hundred years ago a ship called the Mayflower set sail to the New World. This was a great event in the history of England. Yet I wonder if there is one Englishman who knows at what time the ship set sail? Do the English know how many people embarked on this voyage? What quality of bread did they eat? Yet more than three thousand three hundred years ago, before the Mayflower set sail, the Jews left Egypt.

remain a lived experience. But unlike a regular trip to the theatre, our dining room stages take on cosmic significance: every seder night we participate in establishes another indelible link in the long unbroken chain of Jewish tradition. Seder night forges collective memory. Seder night creates history. That is what we will be doing this year, even if the pandemic means once again that we are facing another highly disrupted Pesach. We may not be able to spend it with our loved ones. We may not be able to enjoy it as we are used to. But by having our two seder nights, even in these difficult circumstances, we can still create history. Chag kasher v’sameach.

Michael Goldstein, President. United Synagogue

Every Jew in the world, even in America or Soviet Russia, knows on exactly what date they left – the fifteenth of the month of Nissan. Everyone knows what kind of bread they ate. Even today the Jews worldwide eat matzah on the fifteenth of Nissan. They retell the story of the Exodus and all the troubles Jews have endured since being exiled. They conclude this evening with two statements: This year, slaves. Next year, free people. This year here. Next year in Jerusalem, in Zion, in Eretz Yisrael. That is the nature of the Jews.”” Why is seder night the most observed of all Jewish traditions? Ordinarily, it ticks many of the boxes we Jews want from a good evening: time with our family and friends, great food and drink and wonderful songs and stories. But this isn’t the secret of seder night’s success. The answer is this. On seder night we don’t just tell a story from long ago: we act it out as though it’s happening right now. On seder night we don’t just enjoy hors d’oeuvres: we eat foods which remind us of the bitterness of slavery and the sweetness of freedom. On seder night we don’t just sing songs: we chant the same words that our ancestors have said for centuries. Seder night is, in modern parlance, an immersive theatrical experience. The Exodus from Egypt and the yearning for Israel, for a country we could call our own, was and must 13 | Pesach 2021

Community Matters

CARE CORNER As I sit and write this article in the middle of December, I look back on a very hard few months and probably more to come. Many in our community are grieving, isolated or lonely but I also see that we have learnt to adapt somehow and we can see that there is some light at the end of the tunnel with medical advances through better by Karen Kinsley therapeutic treatments and the miracle Welfare Coordinator of the vaccine. At shul, we have learnt to adapt too and we have just launched our Winter Support programme for our older members. The shul volunteers are here in case people are struggling to get provisions and help is just a phone call away. Winter can always be tough (but this year is, of course, unprecedented) so I’m hoping we are offering some valuable support. Thanks must go to not only to our wonderful welfare volunteers but to our Executive, Rabbi and Rebbetzin and the United Synagogue Chesed team, who are always on hand to provide support. Rosh Hashanah Just as Coronavirus interrupted our Passover celebrations, it also stopped many of our Rosh Hashanah observances. Our community and welfare team of volunteers tried to make sure no one was without contact from Pinner shul and no one went without the basic essentials to mark the special Yom Tovim. We delivered many Rosh Hashanah meals and goodie bags with dried fruit and apple, honey, honey cake and grape juice to all our over 80s which was gladly received. Chanukah Chanukah also saw our volunteers out in force delivering Chanukah goodie bags (chocolate coins, doughnuts, candles, a card). The feedback has been very positive and we have received so many lovely phone calls and emails to say thank you. People love the gifts but, more than that, they love the doorstep chats and contact. Befriending Our volunteers have also been continuing to make regular phone calls to all over 70s. Many of these calls have developed into friendships, doorstep chats and short walks (socially distanced, of course) and I’m sure many of these relationships will continue well into the future and beyond Covid-19. One member who receives such calls emailed me: ‘I have been receiving calls from a member of the Welfare Team for some time now and it has been a real help to me through a very difficult time in my life. The person who calls me is kind and understanding, and makes me feel not only supported but that I have found a new friend. We talk not only about my situation but cover everything from bad hair 14 | Pesach 2021

days to politics, and I really appreciate the time given to me.‘ One volunteer also emailed me with this reflection: ‘As a telephone befriender, I found people were pleased to hear another voice and that the community cared how they were. Sometimes people were upbeat and other times down and being able to share how they felt seemed to help. One example is where the lady had to cope with her husband’s illness and then his passing. She was able to talk through and sort out her thoughts, feelings and concerns with me. We now talk about many topics. This lovely lady rewarded me with a virtual hug - there can be no better present and we look forward to being able to meet up in person for a real hug.’ Cooked meals We also deliver cooked meals (made by United Synagogue volunteers at Head Office) occasionally to those in real need and these have been gratefully received when people are struggling to get out or look after themselves, no matter what age. Café and technology The power of technology continues to be essential and many more people are discovering the delights of the online world! Our online café is providing a lifeline to many members with regular Thursday morning talks, informal chats and community updates. It keeps people feeling linked to their community and we are regularly joined by over 60 members. We’ve had singalongs, quizzes and talks and are always looking for people who would like to share something about their life or their hobbies. The future Coronavirus has affected the way we grieve, experience life cycle events and celebrate birthdays. We won’t get back that time, but we will continue to innovate and share together. We will continue to be positive that great changes are ahead and the summer is around the corner! I often think of the verse from Isaiah ‘asim machshach lifneihem la’or’ ‘I will turn darkness before them to light’. Our task as a community is to make this verse a reality over the weeks and months ahead – not only for our older members but for anyone in our community who needs the support and care that we can offer. We need to build support and resilience into the everyday life of our communities around us. A report by Every Mind Matters recently found that ‘during period of crises, local community groups promoting social connectedness seem particularly important. Social interactions provide people with actual assistance, but also embed them in a web of relationships that they perceive to be caring and readily available in times of need.’ Keep up the good work Pinner Synagogue! We are in this together. We are a community. There IS light at the end of the tunnel.

Community Matters

Mitzvah Day goes virtual

Every year Pinner Synagogue members have enthusiastically supported Mitzvah Day, so we were determined that this year should be no different. We just needed to be a bit more inventive.


n 2020 Mitzvah Day was held on 15th November with over 40,000 people around the world, coming together to give time to make a difference to the community around us. In previous years it had been a social affair where members gathered together for various events. Obviously this was by Debra Levin out of the question. And with guidelines changing daily, we needed some ideas that to accommodate moving goalposts. It was also decided that Mitzvah Day would stretch to Mitzvah Month.

Together with Penny and Martin Grossman we formed a team and after a few Zoom meetings settled on a variety of activities that supported some wonderful charities and offered something for each age group to participate in. We decided to prepare meals for those in need and our Mitzvah Day liaison, Debbie Drapkin, suggested we contact Hillingdon Crisis Support. This venture only was set up during lockdown in March 2020 to support families in crisis in the Hillingdon and Pinner area. Kim and her team were thrilled we were supporting them but had very specific conditions around labelling of the food and containers. We overcame this by emailing the ingredients to members in advance and supplying the packaging and labels for the meals. Gail Weinstein, who is a teacher and runs Gail’s Cookery Classes at home, kindly agreed to do a Zoom cookery demonstration. A menu was planned of Courgette Soup and Vegetarian Lasagne. As always Pinner members rose to the occasion with over 50 cooks following Gail’s engaging online demonstration. We were also treated to a surprise addition on making and presenting ice cream. In total we made an amazing 350 tasty individual meals. Recipes for the Courgette Soup and ice-cream can be found on pp 62-63.

We delivered the frozen meals to the Hillingdon centre and met the appreciative volunteers. The hall had been turned into a food bank and our food went straight into the freezers to be distributed as required. We had also sent out appeals to members to collect toiletry items and school stationery on behalf of the Goods for Good charity. This Watford-based organisation asked us for these items so that they could be distributed to asylum seekers, refugees and their children. Again, we had terrific support from members with large quantities of items brought to our Covid-19 secure collection point in the shul car park on Sunday afternoon. We were then able to deliver hundreds of items to Goods for Good which were sorted and sent out the following day. The Pop-up Café (now Chat & Share) Zoomed a very special Mitzvah Day entertainment show, featuring the Rabbi, Elaine and Michael Gee and a fun quiz straight to Jliving residents. It was a wonderful community feeling and members of Jliving sheltered housing really appreciated it. The knitting club were busy supporting Mitzvah Day by producing tags for NHS workers to make the wearing of face masks more comfortable. Members also supported Camp Simcha and US Chesed by buying goods from their Amazon shopping wishlists. The JC and Jewish Weekly both published photos of our endeavours and there was an article published in a German Jewish newspaper. It felt extra special this year to help the local community and we know how grateful they were. It was wonderful to see the various events supported by all age groups and how it connected many members in this time of separation. Thank you so much to everyone involved. Pinner once again showed its ability to rise to any occasion. 15 | Pesach 2021

Community Matters

Pesach Down The Rabbit Hole A story to read with your children

'Jodie?! Where are you?' That was the last thing I heard before I fell through the hole in the floor under my bed.


ou see, it all started off fairly normally. As the youngest in by Rebbetzen my family it has Abi Kurzer always been my job to hide the 10 pieces of chametz around the house, the evening before Pesach as part of ‘bedikat chametz’. The house is always sparkling clean, except for the kitchen where Dad has already started cooking up a Pesach storm and created an avalanche of ground almonds and shredded coconut where once existed kitchen counters. Sam, who's already 16, led the way with the candle and the feather, but mum was cross with him as he refused point blank to take his airpods out. Lily, back from university skulked in the background, annoyed that she was pulled away from the really important thing she was doing (she is always doing something extremely important) and I just got the pleasure of watching them hunt around the house for everything I’d hidden. It was fun to be in charge for once. At least it was… until we lost one piece of bread. After tense negotiations I agreed that I would 16 | Pesach 2021

search for it myself and add it to the pile. I was quite confident I’d find it. Just a little brain fog I thought. I looked and I looked, EVERYWHERE. I felt myself getting hotter and clammier. My heart was beating and my head was pounding as I worried about it being lost and then…I climbed down under my bed to take a look. I thought I saw something wrapped in paper but then it was gone. I squeezed my whole body underneath and before I knew it I was tumbling like Alice in Wonderland down a rabbit hole. I landed next to my piece of bread wrapped in paper. I looked at it with eyebrows arched. 'aren’t you a troublemaker?' I said to the little bundle before looking around. Where was I? My eyes grew bigger as I took in my unfamiliar surroundings. I seemed to have landed in some parallel universe. The sky was blue with a powerful orange sun, the ground beneath me was hot sand which ran through my fingers as I lifted my hand to my shield my eyes from the sun. What I saw next made my heart jump through my skin – I saw hundreds and thousands of people walking towards the exit of what seemed like the most fortified city in the world. People kept coming and

coming, all huddled close to each other. This was enough of a shock, coming from a world with coronavirus, it made me feel so strange. Was this even legal?! I decided there were bigger things to worry about and it didn’t look like coronavirus existed here as no one was wearing masks. Wait! No one was wearing anything modern at all! Then it dawned on me, there were pyramids in the background and a bunch of left over hints of really ancient plagues – like I had learned about at cheder. There was an old frog, and a poor old dead sheep, a puddle of blood and some locusts munching on a stick of corn. I was in Egypt and all these people marching must be the Jewish people. Gosh I am glad I listened in Cheder. I still sat on the floor dazed just watching everything go past when all of a sudden I felt a tap on my shoulder 'hey, little girl' said a kindly voice in Hebrew 'you're Jewish right? What’s your name?' I was always told not to tell strangers my name but I got the feeling that I needed to in this situation 'ummm Jodie' 'Jodie? That’s an unusual name. I can see you speak Hebrew though, so you must be one of us'

Community Matters 'What do you mean ‘one of us’? 'Jewish, of course. We have been slaves in Egypt for 210 years but you can tell which of us are Jewish as we never changed our language, our Jewish names or the way we dress.' 'Oh right! Yes, I am definitely Jewish, my Jewish name is Shoshana, after my great grandmother, it means a rose you know and yes we speak Hebrew at home, I wouldn’t have known Egyptian that’s for sure but…' 'Ok, so now we have made sure you are one of us. we don’t have time to stop to talk. My name is Miriam and I am one of the organisers here, You can walk with us Shoshana. We have to be quick though because it’s time to leave!' She said this with such joy in her voice and a sparkle in her eye and I just knew that for some reason this was an adventure I didn’t want to miss. The next thing I knew I was swept along in the huddle of people packing their bags and moving along with the crowd. I watched as Miriam tried to finish baking bread but with a sigh, stopped in the middle and just shoved the whole lot in a bag tied to her donkey. Children ran along, mothers carried their babies on their backs, men supported their elderly parents and there were loads of noisy animals. A man came over to Miriam and showed her sacks of jewels and gold – they locked eyes with each other and nodded meaningfully to each other. These were then added to the bundle on the donkey along with some ancient musical instruments. Miriam held on to my hand and pulled me along in the pulsing crowd of people. Some were singing, some were chatting and others were staring ahead lost in thought. We walked like this for what felt like days. Stopping to camp here and there eating matzah, lots and lots of matzah (without any chocolate spread – can you imagine?!). The atmosphere was relaxed and comfortable until we reached the sea. Now, I knew what happened next so I wasn’t feeling scared. I remember learning that the sea split and the Jews went through to the other side, simple right? But for some reason that wasn’t happening at all. After waiting for hours people began to get nervous. What was going on? For some reason I couldn’t say what would happen

so I just waited with everyone but then in the distance we heard the hammering of horse hooves and the jeering of Egyptian soldiers. People began to quietly panic. I could sense the change in the atmosphere, no one was shouting or crying, there was a quiet strength and resilience to these people, but I could see that there was fear. We still had the pillar of fire which Hashem had sent to protect us and the cloud leading in front of us, but just the thought that our captors were so near was enough to make everyone worried. The thing is I knew something that they didn’t, I knew that it would all work out in the end. So I squeezed my way out to the front, like how I used to squeeze through people at a shul kiddush back in the pre-Covid days when I wanted to reach the chocolates, and made my way right to the sea front. Why wasn’t it splitting? Then it clicked, I remembered! We had to show we believed in Hashem. Out the corner of my eye I saw a small, unimpressive looking man but his eyes had a steely look of determination. He walked straight towards the sea. One foot in front of the other staring straight ahead. He put his feet in the water and…. nothing happened. I ran towards him and stood next to him. Both of us walking together getting wetter and wetter. The water came up to my middle and then to my shoulders. Everyone at this point was watching us both. I kept on walking and the water came up to my mouth and then just as it was about to go up my nose I took a deep breath and everything went black. 'Jodie? Are you ok? – It’s literally been hours we are about to start the biyur chametz bonfire in the garden.' I opened my eyes and gasped for air. 'What?!' I sat up in bed and groaned. I felt awful. I was drenched in sweat I must have had a fever…oh no! I better not have coronavirus…oh wait I felt something in my hand - a bundle wrapped in paper. 'Take it mum.' I held out my arm with the chametz towards her, 'I found it, the 10th piece of chametz. It was under my bed. I found ….a lot of other things down there too' Mum sensed something I was out of sorts and gave me a quick hug.

Was it all a dream? It must have been, but then why were my shoes full of sand?

Questions: 1. How many plagues are named in this story? What are they? 2. Can you describe what Bedikat chametz is? 3. Who was Miriam? 4. What were the three things that allowed the Jews to keep their Jewish identity in Egypt? 5. Where were the jewels and diamonds from? 6. They didn’t have enough time to make bread – what did they make instead to eat? 7. Why were there musical instruments on the donkey? 8. What did Hashem send to protect the Jewish people in the desert? 9. What was the name of the man who walked into the sea? 10. Why was Jodie not afraid to go under the water? 11. Can you describe what Biyur chametz is?

Discussion questions: Jodie fell down a whole in one part of the Pesach story – if you could fall into a different part of the story to experience it for yourself which part would it be? Jodie thought a lot about the coronavirus during her adventure, she found it strange to be in a place where people didn’t worry about it and could be near to each other. What are you most looking forward to doing once the restrictions are lifted? Jodie mentioned squeezing through to the front at a shul kiddush, it’s been a long time since we had a shul kiddush- what do you miss about shul? The people were free after being slaves for so long. Being slaves means being trapped in doing something they didn’t want to do for a long time with no way of getting out. Have you ever felt ‘enslaved’ to something? What happened? How did you get out? Jodie knew how the story ended but the people at the time didn’t know. How do you think they must have felt when they had the sea in front of them and the army behind them? Jodie did something very brave and joined Nachshon Ben Amiadav as he walked into the sea. What is the bravest thing you have ever done? Miriam explains how the Jewish people kept their Jewish identity in Egypt, can you think of three things that you do or think about that keep your Jewish identity strong living in the UK in 2021? Answers on page 59.

17 | Pesach 2021

Community Matters

Our Chatanim 2020 by Marion Siskin

The shul has overcome multiple obstacles to celebrate the festivals, but still had many barriers to it being a ‘normal’ year. Numbers were limited, masks were mandatory and singing was forbidden. How then to celebrate one of the noisiest and most joyous of our festivals – Simchat Torah?


ur Chatan Torah and Chatan Bereshit were chosen with extra special care. Usually it is an honour bestowed on two men who have made an outstanding contribution to shul life, and this year was no exception. What made it different was that both had been chatanim before, though a good few years back. David Taylor and Tony Glass are both well-known for their involvement in Pinner Synagogue, and took on the challenge of the role with enthusiasm.

‘Anglo-Jewry’s own CAB’. This small charity helps people in London and Manchester in legal and financial matters. David wrote about it in the Pesach 2020 edition of Community. He also continues his association with the Freemasons, is an accomplished baker of bread and has taken up golf.

Tony Glass

David Taylor

David moved to Pinner in 1974, where he and his wife Angela raised their three children. He immediately started to play an active role in the shul. His father was a warden at Chevening Road Shul in Willesden and David followed in his footsteps. Over the years his name has appeared on the rota many times for taking services. He served on the Board of Management for 20 years and was a warden for six years. Although he retired as a solicitor several years ago, David is still very involved in the community at large – he has been a long-standing member of the Shabbaton Choir and became involved in Paperweight 18 | Pesach 2021

Tony arrived in Pinner in the 1970s with his wife Susan and raised his sons here. Boys seem to run in the family as they now have seven grandsons. Like David he practised law. His name also appears frequently on the rota for taking the service. Tony was the coordinator for the SEED education programme at Pinner for about 15 years and is currently the organiser for the weekly D’var Torah (suspended at present, of course), a post he has held for the last dozen years or so. He has a pool of 40-50 members who deliver their thoughts on the weekly sedra after kiddush on Shabbat. He spent a few years as Chairman of the Education Committee at a time when the shul had a substantial cheder, was on the Board of Management, and was involved with the Soviet Jewry campaign, when his wife Susan was chairman of the society at Pinner. While at Cambridge,

he remembers an occasion when there was an upcoming visit from Oswald Mosley, who always denied he was a fascist. Tony and his fellow students were very proud of having done their research and so were able to challenge him. He was also involved in the very early stages of establishing the Jewish Chaplaincy. The last year has been taken up downsizing from the house they have lived in for 40 years. Not an easy task in the current times. Their theme was one of thanks and appreciation to the people who had enabled the shul to continue to serve the community through the pandemic. They composed a poem sung to the tune of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, with a rousing chorus that the congregation joined in with gusto. There were a number of verses that paid tribute to people including Jonathan Mindell, the Rabbi and the Rebbetzen. Much as we would have liked to reproduce their work here, the chatanim felt that it could only be done justice if heard ‘live’. David acknowledged that his wife Angela should take credit for most of the lyrics. David and Tony performed at the evening and morning services for Simchat Torah. The service, was of necessity much shorter than usual. The scrolls could be carried round the shul seven times, but without the customary singing and dancing in between and no food could be provided. Small bags of treats were sent home for those with children who could not attend. The chatanim also visited the home of some members who were unable to attend shul for a private performance, which was much appreciated. Once again, the resourcefulness and creativity of Pinner shul members managed to overcome the restrictions laid upon us and enabled us to celebrate our festivals.

Community Matters

Pinner Israel Committee (PIC) by Mike Stoller, Chairman

Late in 2019, I informed my committee that after seven years in the chair, I felt it was the right time to hand over the reins to someone else and that I would like to do this around Pesach of last year.


f course, the world then changed somewhat and it has been quite difficult to arrange our usual events and talks and raise funds for our charity. In addition after the sad passing of our dear friend Tricia Brickman z’’l, who was so committed and was treasurer from the very outset of PIC, I have been communicating with the Brickman family. Quite understandably they wanted to use The Ronny Brickman Trust (the vehicle we used for all our transactions) for their charitable giving going forward. As a result, the Trust was closed for PIC purposes at the end of 2020, and all remaining monies were passed to our current charity, HaBayit shel Benji. As we consider how best PIC should move forward, I thought it would 20 | Pesach 2021

be appropriate to reflect on the achievements of PIC (formerly Pinner Israel Action Group) since its inception some 18 years ago.

A committee was formed with Nigel Salomon as chair, and the decision taken to support Anna, the mother of one of the teenagers who was murdered in the attack.

First, I must mention the incredible connection the Pinner Community has forged with the various charities we have raised funds for over the years. This has been very evident in the support given to all the events held and to members’ wonderful generosity time and again.

After a number of years the group decided to move to another deserving cause, the Israel Guide Dog Centre for the Blind near Rehovot. Not surprisingly, Gill became involved at this time, as we were very familiar with the Guide Dog Centre from an early stage. Gill puppy-walked four dogs for Israel, each for about a year before they were flown to the centre to be used either as guide dogs or for breeding purposes. Although we have since moved to supporting other charities, there remains a strong connection of our members to the Centre through visits and donations. The links were also strengthened through the creation of

How it all started The committee started after the tragic suicide attack at the Dolphinarium disco in Tel Aviv in 2001. A group of members driven by Sidney and Avelyn Hass and others decided that Pinner must do something to help Israel as it suffered a horrendous spate of terrorist atrocities.

Community Matters 2001 and provides an invaluable source of support to families who choose to care for their special-needs children at home. The charity offers support in every sector of society, regardless of race, religion or political viewpoint. As well as providing essential paramedical equipment on a long-term basis, the charity subsidises the expense of appropriate therapeutic care selected by the child’s family. The founder of the charity is Arnold Roth whose daughter Malki was murdered in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem when she was fifteen. A few of us were privileged to meet Arnold when he and his Chief Executive visited the UK a number of years ago. He was most appreciative of the efforts of our community. Our most recent fundraising has been for HaBayit shel Benji, a home for lone soldiers, based in Ra’anana. The Habayit was established to provide a warm home to replace the family care and support denied to lone combat soldiers, some new immigrants, some who have lost their families, and some from dysfunctional or difficult socioeconomic backgrounds. the peaceful koi carp pond and sensory garden, (which are such a source of joy to the blind/partially sighted people undertaking training at the centre), in commemoration by the Rosen and Wolfin families of the sad passing of Michael z’’l and Howard z’’l. In recent years I have continued my involvement by becoming a trustee and treasurer of the British Friends of the Centre.

Objectives and recent charities I took over the chair from Nigel some eight years ago and in that time we have supported two excellent charities.

Our objectives have been: 1. To raise funds for lesser high-profile charities in Israel for a specific period, and when appropriate to move on to supporting another deserving cause. 2. To try to increase awareness in the community about current issues Israel is facing and different aspects about its society, not confined to the political front. The first charity was the Malki Foundation. Keren Malki was founded in

The centre functions as a real home. The soldiers receive home-cooked meals. They can relax in the library, at the pool table, on the fitness equipment or in the gardens. A caring team of volunteers cook and clean and most importantly provide the love and care to the soldiers who frequently need a sympathetic ear and support. At the end of their service the Guidance Centre tries to ensure a smooth transition from army to civilian life. The centre has expanded over the years and the funds we have raised have been used to equip some of the new bedrooms. Currently the centre is working hard to raise the rest of the money needed for the new Habayit which will be built next door to the current home. Covid-19 has made the life of a soldier even harder. When their soldiers could not get 'home' over the past year, the centre provided care packages wherever they were scattered around the country. I am delighted to say that as a community we have passed over £10,000 to Keren Malki and just under £13,000 to Habayit in this period, which is a great testament to the efforts of my small but hard-working committee and

to your continued amazing support. Thank you, Tina Benjamin, Graham West, George White, Gill, our auditor David Cohen, together with many previous members.

Memorable Events I would like to highlight just a few of the memorable events we have held: ●

A packed house for a couple of authentic Burns Evenings with the traditional addresses, the skirl of the pipes, kosher haggis and much imbibing of whisky.

And talking about whisky the various whisky tasting evenings where we were guided with wit and wisdom by Maish Weinstein into the world of malt whisky, and where we managed to raise impressive sums through the auction at the end.

Regular talks on the political situation in Israel and other aspects of Israeli society from the likes of BICOM, the Israeli Embassy and UJIA.

A fascinating talk on how Jews are portrayed in literature by Angela Gluck from JW3.

Various high-profile speakers such as Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Foreign Secretary, his son Hugo Rifkind, one of the Times’ top journalists and the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey.

A most successful and innovative quiz evening in conjunction with the shul.

A very different evening of Scottish Country Dancing which proved an absolute hit.

Various joint events with the shul, B’nai Brith, and the Three Faiths Dialogue.

In conclusion I would like someone to take over the mantle and keep this valuable group going either in its current form or perhaps a bit differently. I feel strongly that as a community we should maintain a specific link to Israel, irrespective of the individual involvement and connections to charities many of us have. I would really appreciate it if anyone interested in being involved in this important objective would contact me at mikestoller@

21 | Pesach 2021

Community Matters

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust

Reaching out It is now eight years since Olivia Marks-Woldman took over as CEO of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) and in that time its profile and reach has grown exponentially. When the Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attended the HMDT ceremony in 2015 that commemorated the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz under the theme ‘Keep the Memory Alive’, Olivia began to feel that the organisation, and all that it represented, was receiving the attention it deserved.


MDT has come a long way since it was formed in 2000. Holocaust Memorial Day was created on 27 January 2000, when representatives from 46 governments around the world met in Stockholm to discuss Holocaust education, remembrance and research. At the end of this meeting, all attendees signed a declaration committing to preserving the memory of those who were murdered in the Holocaust. In subsequent years in the UK, it came to include the genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

22 | Pesach 2021

It is held on that day every year and has now become embedded in the UK civic calendar. HMDT is an independent charity, established and funded by the government. Currently at least 25 countries commemorate HMD on 27 January. It is not a ‘Jewish’ organisation; it seeks to engage people of all backgrounds, and a look through the staff and trustees of the HDMT in the UK includes people from a range of backgrounds, religions and beliefs, united by a belief in the aims of the Trust. In these dark and difficult times, the relevance of HMDT is even more important. We are increasingly

Olivia Marks-Woldman


by Marion Siskin

experiencing the toxic mix of fake news, misinformation, conspiracy theories, all of which contribute to belittling and denying the Holocaust. As Jews it is part of our heritage and we are aware of it, in varying degrees, as we grow up. But to many people in the UK and beyond, old and young, this recent shameful episode in world history is unknown. The theme for the 2021 ceremony is ‘Be the Light in the Darkness’ and at the time of writing is to be live streamed. It has the twin themes of ‘remembering those who were murdered for who they were’ and to ‘stand against prejudice and hatred

Community Matters today’. As well as the main ceremony, where people will be encouraged to light a candle and put it in a window, there are many other activities people can partake in. All the usual resources will be available for groups to access, and this year sees a photographic exhibition for young people aged from 14-25 on the theme of ‘bringing light to those in darkness’. Six winning photos will be chosen to feature in an online exhibition of 30 images, called ‘Light up the darkness’. Judges for the competition include the renowned photographer Rankin. The competition received over 400 entries from around the UK.



Under the stewardship of Olivia and her team, involvement and engagement Ernest Simon in wider society and the public consciousness of HMD has flourished. From the early days of civic ceremonies used art therapy to explore the themes do its funding needs. Previously funded with local authorities and other faith of the Holocaust and other genocides. entirely by a government grant, the groups, HMD is now marked in many They were keen to extend this work so Trust has recently employed its first parts of society. In 2020 in the UK invited local schools in; prisoners then led fundraiser so that it can reach even more there were more than 17,000 individual workshops and shared the art display with schools than the 25% it currently has a activities to mark HMD, delivered by the students . One previous inmate even presence in. Olivia feels that education 4,500 organisations. Venues included came back as a volunteer in later years to is paramount in the role of the Trust schools, places of worship, libraries, work on subsequent projects. and as time goes on, we lose those who prisons, museums lived through and groups where and experienced those who may that terrible time, be regarded and can bear by others as witness, so their ‘outsiders’ or testimonies will be ‘different’ are replaced by stories supported, and and memories. support groups The Trust has such as Belfast to play its part LGBT Centre in challenging and Raised Roof, the conspiracy in Essex which theories, denial includes people and distortion of with learning historical facts difficulties and – phenomena disabilities. It that seem to be Staff at Haematology Day Unit, NHS Guy's Hospital, London joined the Ceremony should not be growing. forgotten that the This year in latter two groups were targeted by the Olivia feels that this is a remarkable the HDMT stream, there may well be Nazis, along with Communists, Gypsies achievement, recognising the low levels mention of the plight of the Rohingya and many other groups that did not fit of literacy that are present in prisoners. Muslims and Uighurs. Both groups are the ideology of the ‘master race’. She also realises that many inmates are experiencing persecution based on One of the areas where marking HMD no strangers to faith-based conflict, and their faith and culture, while the world has a real impact is in prisons. Every prison that HMD resonates with them. She feels watches. Recognition that this sort of in Scotland engages in an HMD activity it is a great privilege to bring light and oppression has not gone away is vital and there is a link on the HMDT website education to a group of people who are and one can only hope that it makes specifically for prisons. Activities range often marginalised themselves. people feel empathy and empowered to from football matches to art projects. act to stop this. As the influence of the Trust grows, so HMP Magilligan, in Northern Ireland 23 | Pesach 2021

Community Matters In the meantime, it is the wish of Olivia and the team at the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust that they continue to honour the memory of all who were murdered in the Holocaust, regardless of race, religion or belief; to share the testimonies of both those who lived through those times and of those who did not survive and to educate society – to learn from genocide for a better future.

Olivia Marks-Woldman speaking

2021 ceremony As predicted, the HMDT ceremony moved online but still managed to deliver a powerful and moving tribute to those who were murdered in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. The proceedings commenced with a heartfelt welcome from HRH The Prince of Wales, which demonstrated his empathy with this year’s theme. There were contributions from other famous faces, but the words of the survivors of the genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur were some of the most eloquent. Like Holocaust survivors before them, they had managed to come to the UK and start to rebuild their lives. Music played a significant part in the ceremony, with four pieces played by the Chineke! Chamber Ensemble and a haunting song ‘Nemoj Zalit Suzama’, beautifully sung in Bosnian by Hafsa Jalisi. The film of Pre-war Life, narrated by Bear Grylls reminded us that the Jews of Europe came from all walks of life – rich, poor, from farmers to professors, observant and secular. The fact that they were Jews was enough to condemn them. The persecution of modern-day minorities, the Rohingya and Uighur Muslims was highlighted, and we were implored not to ignore their plight. Rosie Jones delivered an emotional and reflective piece on how the pandemic has affected us all and while it has led to a rise in hate crimes, it has also shown individuals to be capable of ‘countless acts of kindness and humanity’ – our ‘Light in the Darkness’, the theme of the 2021 Holocaust Memorial Day. The ceremony concluded by asking people to place a lit candle in their window. Olivia Marks-Woldman grew up in Ealing in a family that was active in the Jewish and wider community, so it came as second nature to her to end 24 | Pesach 2021

up working in the voluntary sector, after completing an MSc in Equal Opportunities, specialising in Disability, followed by an MPhil in Social Science. She worked for a small healthcare charity before moving on to Breast Cancer Care, where she was head of Policy and Campaigns. Whilst there, she saw the post at the HMDT advertised, applied and has been there ever since. Her family has a link with the Holocaust as her grandfather Leon Blumenkehl came to England from Poland in the early 20th century. Many members of his family were murdered by the Nazis. The remarkable achievements that Olivia and her team have accomplished in raising the profile of the Holocaust and embedding it in the consciousness of the nation have been recognised by her being awarded OBE in the Queens’s Birthday Honours. Social media is often said to be one of the curses of the present day, but the Trust has used it as a power to spread the powerful message of learning from genocide – for a better future .

'Olivia is hugely deserving of the recognition of an OBE. She is a shining example of dedication, creativity and diligence and I'm thrilled that she has received this very special honour.’ To see the impact and wide reach of HMD go to com/watch?v=KE8rsMW5anI The HMD website has a wealth of information that we can all learn from

Olivia described herself as being ‘thrilled and overwhelmed’ by the award, but rejoiced in the fact it was recognition for the work of the Trust. Her family are delighted too, none more so than her mother. Her husband Simon and children Ariela, Asher and Leah can also share in her pleasure. As the parent of a child with learning disabilities, Olivia is determined to highlight the Nazi treatment of disabled people. Let us leave the last words to HMDT Chair Laura Marks

HMD Flag

Community Matters

My Thursday date with

Chat & Share by Eric Samuel

The Pop-Up Cafe was a brilliant concept, offering community support by a team of volunteers that was so engaging, I could not but ‘fall’ for them.


had started ‘Popping In’ as I jokingly called it when I visited the shul office. I enjoyed the tea and chat, meeting familiar faces, occasionally meeting a new person, and browsing the book selection. My visits were infrequent, due to the ongoing care for Sheila, and my involvement with a group of carers, particularly the Multiple Sclerosis teams. Sheila’s passing in January was naturally a great shock. Equally hard was Lockout, rather than Lockdown. But all credit goes to the Pinner volunteers in adapting the Pop-Up Cafe to Chat & Share, using today’s Zoom technology, and Karen Kinsley’s expert help with the pictures. I was both taken aback and somewhat apprehensive when I was asked by Leonie if I would be a ‘Chat & Share Person’. I emailed back: ‘I could do a light version on caring – perhaps ‘Was Esther the original carer’. I thought this appropriate, because my talk would be sometime after Purim - but how this would change! Although it started off Initially as a hobby, photography was my interest, technically and artistically. So eventually my talk was titled ‘A view from behind the lens … stories from a BBC cameraman’. I prepared the pictures for Karen, and all I had to do was just talk about them. The phrase ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ springs to mind, but even with my prepared notes, a few books to wave at the audience, a few cameras and memorabilia to show, it was a daunting task. I was out of my comfort zone. But knowing that I had a supportive team behind me, I launched into my talk. I illustrated what it was like working in different circumstances - at height, down mines, in hot or freezing climates, with children, animals and stunt work, and in conditions that affect the individual and the equipment. Comedy is definitely not funny if the timing is wrong. Issues with production personalities or celebrities have to be handled with care, as do political issues and politicians. Often, it’s the very sensitive and emotive subjects that are the most challenging.

Over my twenty plus years, I worked in areas covering medical documentaries, children’s programmes (Blue Peter was one), and Talking Pictures. My background in television and broadcasting was a natural follow-on to features and international events, and I continued to work in vision mixing in addition to cameras. I enjoyed getting through ‘Telling a Story’, which was my challenge in capturing and building a sequence for the material, to be subsequently completed in editing. I had the opportunity of viewing the recording of my presentation and pleased enough to gain confidence when asked to do it for another community. Anecdotes from location would have brought a smile to many, but tend to be relevant to the particular time and place. My colleagues were my ‘family’ when away from home, particularly when communication was difficult, unlike today. It was good, however, to be approached by the hotel service in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Lifting the lid to the silver salver was a note from the Consul, asking me to contact them about a call from home, as Sheila had not heard from me for over a week! So why do I enjoy Chat & Share? Because it is exactly that. I was among the first few to give a presentation, following on from Margery Cohen and Keith Simons, both of whom gave talks that gave a flavour of what was to come. That impressed me, and inspired me to continue. I have missed some exotic and intriguing titles, but I try to make a regular date for 10.30am each Thursday. It would be difficult to choose my favourite from the numerous topics we have covered. Just look at the variety - Jewish East End, Consultants, Reflections, Diplomatic Encounters, Everything in Moderation, Tales from a London Taxi Driver, Remembrance Memories, Jewish Chaplaincy, and now GardensRus. What a wonderful range of members we have, able to deliver on a variety of subjects. They all need to be encouraged in sharing such experiences. The routine fix for up to an hour, the chat, cup of tea or coffee (albeit made at home in the designated mug) must be the closest we all get to shaking hands - or in this case waving! 25 | Pesach 2021

Community Matters

Jack Kalms’ Bar Mitzvah 13th June 2020 The Kalms household. Sometime in January 2020.

by Dan Kalms

Venue booked. Shul notified. Guest list, DJ, menu, photographer… all sorted. Hotel rooms booked for both grandmas. There’s even going to be flashy Fussball tables at the venue so that Jack and his friends don’t have to do too much dancing - and maybe they won’t spend all evening on their phones.

Bar Mitzvah lessons… proceeding nicely. Jack isn’t practising too hard, but he seems to be picking up what he needs to. Ray Green must be a very patient fellow. And a minor miracle worker. If I believe Jack, they must spend more time discussing football than learning Maftir and Haftorah. We’ve done this before. Amelie had her Bat Mitzvah in 2017 and we still have Marina’s to come in a couple of years. But this will still be special, because Jack’s the boy – and whatever you think about the rights and wrongs of that, learning the Maftir and Haftorah isn’t something our girls are going to be doing. Grandmas will be kvelling in Shul. Anyone who has stood on the Bimah to leyen for the first time is going to remember it for the rest of their lives. Never mind the party, this is the real rite of passage. I don’t think many 13-year-olds really care for the party anyway. Still, it is going to be a very good party. A lot of fun to be 26 | Pesach 2021

12th December 2020 had and a lot of memories to make. Debbie is outdoing herself, thinking of the smallest detail. She’s bought a beautiful dress. As have the two grandmas, who will both look resplendent. Listening to them, anyone would think that choosing the right dress was a tougher assignment than Jack’s leyening. Kippot? Don’t forget to order them. Colour scheme? Let’s go green. Wording? Keep it simple. The Bar Mitzvah of Jack Kalms 13th June 2020

The Kalms household. Sometime in April 2020. The absence of cars is so peaceful. The spring air is clean, and the sun is warm. There is birdsong in the quiet streets. People are smiling and waving to each other as they pass each other at a respectful distance on their daily half-hour walk. The street is coming out every Thursday evening to clap and bang on pans in support of the NHS. Lockdown is not so bad. And surely this will be over by June. It can’t go on for four months. Or can it?

The Kalms household. Sometime in May 2020. The kids are watching too much TV. Playing too many video games. Or screaming at each other. We can’t see our friends or family. Jack can’t let off steam playing football. Working from home isn’t fun anymore. It is a nightmare. And I can’t help but think that

Community Matters in our nice leafy suburb we have it easy. A summer holiday is looking very unlikely. And what about Jack’s Bar Mitzvah? Should we cancel the venue? The DJ? Are we going to get our money back? How is Jack going to learn the rest of his piece if he can’t go to see Ray? Are we going to be able to go ahead with a small number of guests? So many questions! What about a ‘Zoom-mitzvah’? Debbie thinks this is a very good idea. I don’t like this concept at all. It isn’t the same. Some traditions transcend religion - hatched, matched, dispatched… and Bar Mitzvah’d. I want Jack to have his Bar Mitzvah in Shul like I did, and like my dad did before me. Rabbi Kurzer has had an interesting idea. He did Jack’s Haftorah for his Bar Mitzvah, and he knows that it is one of the very few that is repeated later in the year – at Chanukah. Why don’t we just delay until then? Surely, we will be back to normal by then? Jack will just have to learn a new Maftir. And here’s the thing. 12th December is a special date. That’s my mum’s birthday. And it would have been Frances and Maurice’s wedding anniversary. Could it be lucky?

Jack’s Bar Mitzvah. 12th December 2020. Finally, we got there. There was a short window between restrictions being relaxed in November and December. Jack could recite his Maftir and Haftorah in Shul on Shabbat Chanukah in front of a small congregation. Ray and Jack had come through. With all of the uncertainty, with all the ups and downs, Jack was ready.

There wouldn’t be a party to celebrate, just a takeaway from Eat Me kosher caterers. There would be tough restrictions on who could be in Shul with us. Masks of course. No kiddush, handshaking, or hugs. But the grandmas were there. Jack’s mum and sisters could watch his call-up with some of our closest family and friends. And I could sit with my son as my dad would have done for me, and my grandpa with my dad. I knew I would be proud, but it was even more emotional than I expected. And closest to all our thoughts were our family who should have been there, who would have been most proud of Jack; Grandpa Maurice and Grandpa Ashley, Great-Grandma Lettie. It was incredible what the Shul did in order for us to have a safe occasion. The attention to detail was very evident. Everything was smoothly choreographed. We will always be grateful. Rabbi Kurzer gave a particularly poignant sermon about how we never stop growing and learning. The Bar Mitzvah isn’t an end - it’s just a beginning. The start of learning from our experiences, and of slowly becoming a slightly more complete adult. Maybe there’s nothing new under the sun. There have been pandemics before - but it seems we only really learn from personal experience. And this year has been quite the experience for all of us. The Kalms family is just very thankful that for us 2020 finished with a very special, very memorable Bar Mitzvah that we will cherish for ever.

27 | Pesach 2021

Community Matters


A Dispensing Optician We are delighted to offer a hearty Mazal Tov to Jane Cohen, who received the British Dispensing Optician of the Year 2020 award. The ceremony, deferred from April, was streamed online in December. Jane believes that being a Dispensing Optician is a vocation and a service, so we asked her to share her story with us. When I was a younger, I really wanted to study anthropology, but my dad saw no point in this, as he had set his mind on my joining him in optics. And, as a nice Jewish girl, I did as I was told. When I was a teenager, I worked in my dad’s various practices, both at our house in Wembley Park and also in West London. He taught me the importance of attention to detail in every single dispense, and that accuracy is the key to excellence. He was probably right, and that training stood me in good stead. The result? I was chuffed to pieces when I learned that I had won this award, as were my colleagues at G&G Optometrists. I qualified as a Dispensing Optician in 1979. (Eek!) I finished my pre-registration year and worked in various practices. In 1988, I joined Audrey Michaels with whom I worked for 25 years until her untimely death in 2013. Audrey and I built up her practice, which was already popular, into a busy and successful business. This operated from two rooms in her home on Marsh Road. It was a wonderful time and the two of us became close friends. Whilst working with Audrey, I was offered a part time role at the Western Eye Hospital and at St Mary’s paediatric outpatients, where I worked for 12 years. Both settings helped me build upon my skills. I learned to use them creatively when dealing with patients with low visual problems, babies from as young as three weeks, and children with congenital problems and other disorders. There are no template answers when it comes to patients with, amongst other things, autism, or those unlucky tots born with no nose, or ears, or with deformed heads. Once I got past the initial shock and sadness, I found

this work stimulating. Quickly these emotions were swept aside and a more detached professionalism took their place. I learned that care was required when communicating with these patients with special needs and with their parents and carers. Particular qualities are required in attending to their dispensing needs, and in gaining their trust and that of their carers, so much so that some families have now decided to visit me in Pinner for their glasses. Out of interest, the local population around St Mary’s (Edgware Road) is largely Muslim. I never hid the fact that I am Jewish. This certainly led to ‘healthy’ discussions with patients and colleagues when Israel was mentioned in the news, in particular, during times of conflict. It was often suggested that as I was ‘Israeli’, I should go home! My patients ranged across the social spectrum - from the well-todo who were sometimes accompanied by their personal protection teams, to short-term visitors from overseas demanding free NHS services, through to those living on our streets. Since 2013, I have been back working in Pinner. With the viral craziness from the pandemic, the way in which I, like other health workers, must work has changed. We now face a host of regulations and precautions. You’ve seen it all wearing scrubs, visors, gloves, masks, cleaning down furniture and equipment on a regular basis throughout the day, and sanitising frames tried on by patients. When asked how I felt when I found out that I had won the Award, my answer was ‘Oh, that’s difficult. I love my job! I love the thought that I can help people who have challenging visual problems so that they feel confident, and so that their self-esteem is boosted when they walk out with a new pair of glasses.’ Saying that, I enjoy meeting CAREER people on a daily basis who, just STORIES like you and me, need a pair of glasses that they can see out of, that is comfortable to wear and, as an added bonus, even flattering!

If you would like to feature in a future edition of Career Stories email 28 | Pesach 2021

Community Matters

29 | Pesach 2021

Community Matters

A Yamim Noraim Retrospective by Jonathan Mindell

In future years people will look back to last year (and sadly at least the first part of this year) and wonder how we managed to deal with the impacts of Covid-19. There are so many walks of life that have been affected by Covid-19, apart from the very tragic loss of life. But for our community, one of the most significant impacts was on our organisation of services and activities for the Yamim Noraim.


ollowing after the complete closure of shuls for 16 weeks, we had to plan for and then deliver services over what is always the busiest of months, from Rosh Hashanah, through to Simchat Torah. Social distancing, shielding, quarantine, selfisolating, no singing, no eating or drinking, no talking, no Harrow Arts Centre! Just how were we going to put on services and, as important, would anyone turn up? So, the following is the ‘story’ of what we planned, thought we could do and, eventually, were able to deliver over the last few months:

How eager were members to return to Shul? When we knew we would be able to re-open the Shul for services from 5th July, we sent out a survey so we could understand the community’s appetite for attending on weekdays, on Shabbat, and then for the Yamim Noraim. Our first surprise was the level of response…..nearly half those who had been sent a survey replied. Of those, 55% said they would attend services and a further 30% said they were unsure. Comparatively few said straight out that they would not attend. So even if the response was an over-estimation, we knew there would be demand! What services did the community want to attend over the Yamim Noraim? 30 | Pesach 2021

In late July, with a few weeks of running services under our belt, we went out to the community again. This time we suggested the variety of services that we could run (full services, shortened services, explanatory services and family friendly) and asked what services members would be interested in attending. At this point in time we also knew that we would not be able to use the Harrow Arts Centre for parallel services, so whatever we were going to do could only be done on the Shul campus. This second survey was critical in allowing us to get a better steer on the type of services to offer. This allowed us, for example, to reduce capacity for full length services, but significantly increase the opportunity for members to experience a shorter service (Leining and Musaph, for example), with three services each day on Rosh Hashanah.

Planning for the services We then had to ensure we had the resources to run all the services – daveners, leiners, wardens, stewards for each service – and full cleaning between services, including moving mechitzas and seating for some services. We needed to give consideration to start and finish times, in order not to compromise the social distancing rules. All this before we emailed out the links to the booking service to allow members

Community Matters to register. We gave members a week to register their preferences, before we could then send out confirmations.

The week before Rosh Hashanah Right up until Rosh Hashanah itself we were running our regular Covid-safe daily minyanim as well as selichot services. Every day we had a pre-Yamim Noraim Zoom activity as part of the preparation, given mostly by Rabbi and Rebbetzen Kurzer, who were energetically involved in most activities as we prepared for our busiest time of year. This allowed us to reach out in particular to our children (for whom there were no organised services provided in Shul) and to those adults who would not be coming to Shul. We sent out the Rosh Hashanah issue of our Community magazine to all households, a gift pack to all our members over 80, (most of whom were not going to be attending Shul services), as well as to every child under 12.

Shul Services Over the Rosh Hashanah weekend we ran 15 services in four venues within the Shul campus, as well as a socially-distanced shofar blowing session in the Shul car park on Sunday afternoon. On second day Rosh Hashanah each of our shofar blowers blew 260 notes across the day across multiple services. We decided that on second day Rosh Hashanah we would give all attendees a special individual honey cake to take home from Shul. Including shofar blowing in the car park, we offered over 600 seating or space allocations. Over Yom Kippur we ran 14 services, including a ‘late night’ Kol Nidre and four parallel Neilah services, two explanatory services as well as a session for Youth & Parents, allocating 550 seats in all.

and a 4-man choir. This was broadcast on the new United Synagogue TV channel, seen by nearly 600 people on Sunday afternoon shortly before the actual Kol Nidre service at the start of the Fast. It was also available on YouTube – it received 14,000 hits from across the UK as well as Israel, the USA, Canada…..and New Zealand!

A job well done? As Chairman, in my fourth year, I have become used to numerous complaints - I mean feedback - about all sorts of things. As we said in one of the many communications to members, we knew that over the Yamim Noraim people would find the Shul both too hot and too cold at exactly the same time! However, it was hugely gratifying to receive so many direct and indirect examples of really positive feedback from across the community. I think our community recognised the huge logistical undertaking that we took on to ‘deliver’ the Yamim Noraim in Pinner. They responded not just with, at times, embarrassing praise, but also some flexibility as they accepted that Covid-19 imposed many restrictions on what we were able to do. Summing up the response is this quote from Joshua Brickman, one of our regular Yamim Noraim daveners, living in Borehamwood, who emailed me with the following message: ‘I just wanted to wish you a massive shkoyech for all your hard work over the Yamim Noraim. The attention to detail was phenomenal. I’m not aware of another Shul in NW London that was as well prepared and created service opportunities for the entire community like Pinner did. Whilst it was a very different year, you created a powerful experience for your community which (from what I saw and heard) was very well received. It felt Covid secure and felt as close to a Yamim Noraim experience as we could’ve had, and that’s really all thanks to the time, effort and care you and the team put into it.’

As a finale, we also ran two parallel services on 1st day Succot and Shemini Atzeret. Over the month we sent out nearly 1,500 seating allocations, for one, two or three family members each sitting in a single seating ‘bubble’. We also dealt with 150 subsequent change requests as members changed requirements for one reason or another. However, the effort was worth it, for over the whole month anyone who wanted to attend a Shul service actually got to attend – so our initial objective was achieved and we did not have to turn anyone away.

Virtual programme For those unable to attend Shul in person we ran our regular series of online shiurim, educational and cultural programmes in the run up to Rosh Hashanah and also between that weekend and Yom Kippur, together with two live Virtual Yizkor services. We are particularly proud of the Kol Nidre service video we produced (thanks to our member David Roth), which featured an address by Rabbi Kurzer, the Kol Nidre appeal by the Chief Rabbi and chazanut from our own Sam Freeman

Final thoughts Whilst I wouldn’t really want to repeat the exercise, I think we came through it pretty well unscathed! Above all we achieved our core objective of ensuring that everyone who wanted to come to Shul over the Yamim Noraim was able to do so. Additionally, it is good to report that no-one who came to Shul came down with the virus, which is some vindication of the stringent controls we put in place across the Shul campus and the members who entered it. These controls have been in force ever since. We also learned that across the Pinner Community we have significant and deep organisational capabilities, which certainly helped us as we dealt with both Lockdowns Two and Three. Whilst I do not think we will ever be able to return to the pre-Covid ‘normal’, I think we all sincerely hope that come this year’s Yamim Noraim we will be able to allow many more members and their families to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur together as a community. 31 | Pesach 2021

Community Matters

GardensRus bringing the outside in by Helen Levy

The last year has imposed change on everyone’s life is led. With my horizons more or less restricted to my garden and the areas in and around Pinner, I have come to appreciate the joys of living in one of the greenest suburbs in London. We are fortunate to have local woods, open fields parks and of course a river. Most of our roads have street trees and most homes have a garden or access to a shared space.


n the March 2020 lockdown, Rabbi Kurzer and Rebbetzen Abi initiated a Gratitude Journal for Pinner shul members to contribute appropriate items. I enjoyed wandering round the garden and I started to look more carefully at my surroundings. I started to share my garden, by submitting photos to people who not only couldn’t visit but who perhaps could not get out at all. At the same time the Pop-up Café team took their Thursday offerings online and I and three other keen gardeners were asked to do an online gardening session. This was successful and grew into GardensRus, the new gardening and nature club of Pinner Shul. The team decided to broaden the scope to offer 32 | Pesach 2021

to non-gardeners items of interest; from compost making to cooking garden produce; from nature in general to indoor plants not forgetting ecology and climate change. GardensRus is currently online with a WhatsApp chat room and Zoom meetings over lunch on the last Wednesday or Thursday of each month. We offer a mix of short presentations and a Q&A session. Whilst it has been set up by a group of both experienced and novice gardeners, we hope that we offer something for everyone. Many people think gardeners are crazy to be outside in the cold and damp and whilst there are some fair-weather members

of the team we all do really enjoy being outside. We want to encourage people to reconnect with the environment and especially local nature. In a year in which we have probably endured more

Community Matters stress than ever and when keeping healthy has been vital, gardens and nature have provided sanctuary and helped us gain a sense of equilibrium, focus on the now and plan for future enjoyment. Well-being, mental as well as physical, is central to gardening and just being surrounded by nature calms and heals.

People garden for all sorts of reasons including the joy of watching plants grow; making beautiful spaces and producing fresh food. It is relaxing even if sometimes hard work; a time to think; to get fresh air and sun and feel better; to get away from others and to be immersed in nature. The WhatsApp chat room allows anyone to show photos and offer spare plants. People can ask questions and get a quick response from someone who lives locally, which can be relevant concerning planting and general care. There is usually a plant of the week and relevant tips for the time of year are also posted.

For the non-gardeners and flat-dwellers we want to encourage reconnecting with the nature; to walk our streets or look outside at the trees, neighbours’ gardens and birdlife. In Pinner we have easy

access to parks and other open spaces. We can even garden in some and we will be looking for volunteers to help with the newly-established Gesher School Garden in Cannon Lane. GardensRus wants to encourage members to explore the locality, but more importantly to appreciate what they see and reconnect with nature. Even in winter you can still admire the shape of the trees against the sky and it is easy to see what the birds are doing. Our Zoom sessions have included ideas on how to feed the birds and support other wildlife. Don’t look at just the obvious trees and bushes, see small sparkling emerald-green mounds of moss on the top of front garden walls. Even in the dark winter months spring bulbs were pushing through the earth to give a sense of hope. We have and will further explore ecology, climate change and how we affect our environment. When out walking contemplate your surroundings and use your senses to absorb your surroundings. Look at local gardens and think about how the use of hardstanding and decking affects flooding, wildlife and the use of non-renewable resources. Concrete manufacture leaves a massive carbon footprint and many front gardens are covered in it. The increased use of decking reduces the area of gardens being cultivated, uses slow-growing imported tropical hardwoods but can lead more rats as it provides easy refuge for litters!

leaf piles provide habitats and shelter for insects such as rare stag beetles and small mammals like voles. Outdoor gardening helps the environment and our health and mental wellbeing but research shows that indoor plants also bring health benefits. They absorb toxins from the air, look good and help lift your mood. You can also grow food indoors from tomatoes to radishes and herbs. My grandchildren enjoy sowing seeds and watching their efforts flourish into healthy plants. Everyone can gain a sense of satisfaction and achievement by indulging in gardening even on the smallest scale.

It is an enjoyable privilege to have a garden but even better is to share it with others. GardensRus has provided a means for members to exchange knowledge and photos of their own gardens as well as scenes around Pinner. In a year that has meant hardship, ill-health and the loss of loved ones for many, the team hope that this has helped lift the spirits of those joining GardensRus. We hope that in the future we can move ‘offline’ and garden visits can be arranged. Meanwhile please do join our monthly Zoom meetings and the WhatsApp chat room DW8NMxL6PDX5B2tHDCbdUJ

Is your garden immaculate? If so, think about a more relaxed gardening technique. A casual look at my garden shows it to be neat and tidy but tucked away there are areas left unkempt. Piles of bricks, stone slabs, cut branches or 33 | Pesach 2021

Community Matters

What is Ora about? Ora - Pinner’s new programme for women. by Judy Roth and Lindi Wigman

An introduction to Ora Ora, meaning light, evolved as a social and interest group for women, to address the responses from a survey circulated to women members by the Pinner Synagogue Council. The feedback identified a gap for some members, not connected through synagogue services or not taking part in other events. A programme was envisaged to enable members to equally feel connected to our special community, but at the same time give everyone the opportunity to get together in a relaxed setting. But then Covid-19 came along! We swapped to Zoom and hope that we will be able to meet together in person once things settle down.

The Ora message is to recognise the strength of women and to understand some of our contributors’ challenges and journeys. Our meetings start with a different host each month welcoming everyone. This is followed by a few words of inspiration for the month from Rebbetzen Abi, always leaving us with a very upbeat message. Before we introduce our guest speaker, we have our ‘Pinner member on the spot slot’, where a member of the community tells us a little about themself and how they found 34 | Pesach 2021

their way to Pinner. Seeing faces across shul is one thing, now knowing them a little more has been fun. On average we have had about forty attendees each meeting and not always the same faces each time, so do please register and join us. We offer a varied selection of topics, and by the time you read this, we will have had six of our 12 events. We have enjoyed a talk by Naomi Lerer about Noa Girls, the organisation supporting girls from religious backgrounds, experiencing self-esteem, behaviour and identity issues. We followed with Rachel Kolsky talking about Jewish and non-Jewish women who have had an impact on the Jewish community. A presentation by Karen Taylor, a midwife, on aromatherapy and boosting the immune system. Our very own Angela Taylor and Natasha Icyk-Freeman presenting a debate on Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a break out session to discuss the many issues raised during their talk. With a Purim theme we invited Adele Brandman from the National Theatre to talk to us about wigs, hair and make-up for theatre. In March Ilana Epstein inspired us with a talk on Pesach in the Shtetl.

Community Matters We invite all women to join us on the 11th April (6pm) UK time for a tour of the home of the Ben Gurions at Sde Boker, our guide Esther will be sharing some stories with us. The Ora programme will continue with an individual’s account of her conversion journey; a yoga session on self reflection and inner peace; a vegan cookery demonstration; a bee-keeping evening just before Rosh Hashanah and a l’chaim to close the programme. We would like to thank both Pinner Synagogue Council and the Chief Rabbi’s CCE (Centre for Community Excellence) for their support and funding for this new programme. The Ora programme is promoted through the synagogue event email and on the shul website but you can book directly by emailing orapinnershul@, The response you will receive will provide the details for the next meeting (for security and statistics we will ask you to identify yourself if we do not recognise your name). We would like to thank Rebbetzen Abi and Lisa Olins for all their support and encouragement in creating Ora. We very much

look forward to welcoming women to the remaining programme and feel free to email the above email address to register. Some of the feedback so far:

‘What a fabulous evening. Really inspiring, thank you’ ‘Very interesting and enjoyable presentation.’ ‘The oil is just gorgeous, amazing smell.' Next dates for your diary: 11th April (6pm UK time): Ester Suisse: Tour of the home of the Ben Gurions at Sde Boker 11th May: An individual's account of her conversion journey 15th June: Talya Rose: Yoga, self reflection and inner peace 8th July: Janet Lipton: Vegan cookery demonstration 11th August: Beekeeping 1st September: L’chaim social

35 | Pesach 2021

Community Matters


Gesher is an independent Jewish primary school for children with special educational needs. It was created in 2017 by Sarah Sultman and Ali Durban, with a little help from their friends, to fit the education to the child, rather than bend the child to fit the education on offer.


ow it has outgrown its current premises in Willesden and is moving to Pinner where it will open its doors at the former Moriah site on Cannon Lane in September 2021. The combination of Moriah School with HJPS in Radlett freed up the Cannon Lane site which is owned by the Harrow Jewish Day by Phil Gershuny School Trust. The Trust spent much of 2019 and a good part of 2020 through the lockdowns exploring alternative uses and users for the site. Gesher had decided to expand its provision from primary, to include secondary education up to age 16. This would enable children who joined the school when it started to stay on with the school for their secondary education. It was a school in search of new buildings and we were a Trust with an empty school building in search of a school. The shidduch was made in heaven. We held meetings with Sarah, Ali and their trustees over the socially distanced summer months. We got to know each other and got a better understanding of our mutual objectives. Our discussions continued until just after Rosh Hashana, when we agreed terms for an initial 10 year lease of the Cannon Lane site. The education of any child involves a compromise. There is still more than a touch of the Thomas Gradgrind of Dickens’ Hard Times about our education system in this country. Isn’t it ironic for a nation that almost makes a celebrity out of eccentricity that our education system is still to a large extent a one size fits all universe? We are all splendidly different and we learn in different ways and yet the classroom and curriculum assumes the contrary. Perhaps this is to a large extent dictated by economics, but cost doesn’t explain why at school we teach maths but not how to operate a bank account or that the flowering patterns of bamboo plants can all be factored down into small prime numbers. It doesn’t explain why most of our teaching is indoors, where concentration can quickly fail and not outdoors, where there is a constantly changing canvass which engages and enthrals. Sarah and Ali couldn’t find what they were looking for in a school and rather than moan about the lack of provision they set about creating a school that fitted their vision of what was needed. They consulted with experts, gave up their jobs and committed themselves to the creation of a school for neuro diverse children with mild to moderate learning disabilities. The name Gesher channels the famous song by Rav Nachman of Breslov, “Kol haolum gesher tzar meod, vehaikar lo lefached la”, The whole world is a very narrow bridge and the main thing is to have no fear at all. Sarah explained that the school is a bridge for its pupils in that it narrows the gap between those who are perceived to be different and the 36 | Pesach 2021

mainstream community. It aims to break down barriers and to teach and promote tolerance, inclusion, friendship, respect and understanding; to inspire confidence in its pupils who are often only too aware of their differences and their struggle to fit in; to teach its pupils not to fear the wider world; and to provide the emotional resilience and life skills to enable them to embrace all the opportunities the world has to offer. All the children at Gesher are funded by their local authority. The catchment area is quite broad. The process to go through before a local authority will agree to pay the fees at a school where the teacher/assistant : pupil ratio is 1 : 3 is neither quick nor easy. Parents consult with Gesher long before their child starts at the school on how to persuade a local authority to provide what they are legally obliged to. The parents and the School have to demonstrate that Gesher is the best and only place which will meet the particular needs of the child. Gesher was awarded an outstanding assessment by Ofsted within a year of starting up. We feel sure that in its new home from September 2021, both the school and its pupils will have the best possible location in which to grow and thrive.

Community Matters

Friends of Pinner Village Gardens


Interfaith Week marked by Tree planting in Pinner Village Gardens by Jonathan Freedman

Interfaith Week was marked in Pinner on Tuesday 17 November 2020 by a very special tree planting ceremony in Pinner Village Gardens (PVG). As an aside, PVG is the park with entrances on the corner of Marsh Road and Rayners Lane, Compton Rise, Whittington Way and Hereford Gardens and well worth a visit if you have not been there recently.


he restrictions imposed by Covid-19 meant that there were just two representatives of the Faiths Forum for London present, one at each tree; our own Leonie Lewis, who is a Vice Chair and Ali Madani, Project Manager & Regional Coordinator. Volunteers from the Friends of PVG dug the tree holes and planted the two beautiful cherry trees. They are the ones in tree cages either side of the path near the adult gym if you want to pay them a visit! We hope to hold a dedication ceremony once we can gather more freely in the park.

Interfaith Week highlights, and the Forum consistently aims, to encourage and facilitate: ● Advancing understanding among nine major faiths and changing attitudes by providing information and facilitating discussion. ● Strengthening good inter faith relations at all levels ● Increasing awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, in particular celebrating and building on the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society. In part this is by creating networks and project delivery between different faith communities and wider society.

Tree planting is seen as an affirmation of the common roots of humanity, the ability for growth and development when something is nurtured, as well as an affirmation of the future by planting something which may benefit future generations even more than those who planted. Ironically, or perhaps appropriately, the planting date coincided with the first anniversary of the first known case of Covid-19 being traced to a man who had visited a market in Wuhan, China. Video messages were sent by the Julie Waller, Chair of the Pinner Association, Ervad Yazad T Bhadha of the Zoroastrian Centre, and our own Rebbetzen Abi Kurzer. There is a short YouTube video of the messages and planting at https://youtube/lA--LuZrLZQ As Leonie said: “Although socially distanced, we want to showcase our diversity as faith communities and our grateful thanks for living in a wonderful and green community. Pinner Village Gardens, is a very special green park space, looked after by a great team of volunteers, so what better way than planting trees for us literally to grow together!”

● Increasing understanding between people of differing religious and non-religious beliefs. In 2017 Faiths Forum for London launched its Interfaith Tree Planting project which aims to promote community spirit, develop interfaith relations, and make London greener. It is funded by the Mayor of London, and has been one of their most successful collaborations, with over 250 trees already planted. This has made London Greener, helped tackle the climate crisis and brought people of different faiths and backgrounds together. 37 | Pesach 2021

Community Matters

Gaby Glassman

Bringing Yom Hashoah to All by Ruth Stuber

As Gaby stands down after 30 years at the helm of Pinner’s Yom Hashoah, we take this opportunity to thank her and acknowledge her outstanding contribution.


aby’s name is synonymous with Pinner’s Yom Hashoah. Under her inspirational guidance this annual event, originally for Pinner members, mushroomed into an evening which drew in people of all ages from across the wider Jewish community and beyond. Attending this event has always been an emotional experience – the personal unique accounts by the survivors unforgettable. It was transformed by the imagination, vision and insight of Gaby and her committee. Gaby is the daughter of Holocaust survivors and a psychologist and psychotherapist. She has a special interest in the transgenerational effects of parents’ Holocaust experiences on their children. She was convinced that hearing the personal stories of the survivors would reinforce the pride that young people would feel for their heritage and strengthen their Jewish identity. She ensured that third generation Pinner youth played a pivotal role in the solemn Yom Hashoah proceedings, with former participants inspired to organise their own Yom Hashoah evenings at universities. Displays of Holocaust artwork by Moriah and Sinai pupils brought in an even younger generation and their families. Gaby’s hope was that this link through the generations would also connect with the wider community to help to combat prejudice and anti-Jewish racism. Long before 2001, when Holocaust Memorial Day became a secular national event, Gaby and her committee realised the importance of educating young people. Invitations were sent to senior pupils of local schools and their teachers. One teacher was so moved by the evening that she devoted the whole assembly the following day to what she had heard. Since Nicholas Winton’s visit in 2002, there have been special guest attendances by the Mayor of Harrow, ambassadors and other senior diplomats from European embassies, dignitaries from central and local government and intra and inter-faith representatives. For Gaby it has been a privilege to meet the diplomats and to learn about the war-time experience and attitudes of their countries and families. 38 | Pesach 2021

It was Gaby’s personal friendship and empathy with the survivors who were invited to speak and take part in the ceremony, her rapport with the invited special guests, together with the hospitality and warm welcome by members of our shul that made it such an outstanding event. Many survivors chose to come to Pinner on Yom Hashoah because that was where they felt most at ease on that night. Poignant memories of Yom Hashoah for Gaby included a Shul member’s mother who was a Holocaust survivor spontaneously recounting her own story of survival for the very first time, and a son’s first meeting with Nicholas Winton, his mother’s rescuer. She also recalls the consistently high standard achieved with the help of former teenage participants returning to train the young speakers in public speaking, and also the assistance of others on more practical issues like the lighting and IT. The cancelled Yom Hashoah event in 2020 would have been the perfect, fitting and moving finale to Dutch born Gaby’s last Pinner Yom Hashoah evening. We would have heard from the keynote speaker, 97-year old Selma van de Perre, a Holocaust survivor and member of the Dutch Resistance. We would have heard from the Dutch ambassador and Professor Bart van Es, both of whose grandparents had hidden Jews during the war. Gaby believes that in the future Yom Hashoah will be commemorated by digitally connecting with well-known centres of remembrance and locally the second generation will be sharing their parents’ stories of survival, interspersed with archive footage. For Gaby it was only through and thanks to the invaluable input and selfless support of her dedicated committee members over the years that it had been possible for her vision to have become a reality. We can all agree that the event has ‘honoured the lives of those who did not survive and has paid tribute to the resilience of those who did’. It is impossible to underestimate the lasting positive impact on all who have participated in Pinner’s Yom Hashoah. Thank you, Gaby, for creating a Yom Hashoah event which gave us the privilege of listening to the moving testimonies of so many remarkable survivors, became the template for other synagogues, and brought kudos to Pinner.

Thoughts & Perspectives

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, zt”l

Pinner Remembers

Members of the Pinner Community – past and present, young and old – share memories of the enormous impact Rabbi Lord Sacks had on their lives. Personal Memories of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks by Rabbi Grunewald, Emeritus Rabbi of Pinner Synagogue

had come to see the Principal, Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch, just at the same time as I was discussing my future studies with the Principal at his office.

The passing of our beloved former Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, has caused me very deep sadness and a distressing sense of personal loss. He accompanied me from the very beginning of my rabbinical career to the very end. He was my friend, my mentor and my hero. I have special and unusual memories. I remember the day I first met him, by coincidence, at Jews’ College, at 11 Montague Place. He

Shortly afterwards, I had the privilege of becoming his Chavruta and friend. We learnt together at his home in Hampstead Garden Suburb and he would come to my home in Maida Vale. My recollection is that he was very kind to me. He was very hospitable. He introduced me to Lady Sacks and to his young children and made special cups of coffee for me, which he seemed to

40 | Pesach 2021

enjoy making. He also took an interest in my young children, whom he saw at my home. He encouraged and stimulated me in every way. He showed me one of his early books, which contained the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on the weekly Parasha. Somewhat later, he made a point of showing me one of his early essays on the Torah. It was about Yitzchak and the concept of laughter. At the same time, Rabbi Sacks began his activities as the future rabbinical leader of Anglo Jewry. He established a small organisation which he called

Thoughts & Perspectives community. I served Pinner Synagogue for 35 years until my retirement in 2010.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks - a family perspective

In the Summer of 1976, both of us received our Semichah together from the then Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovitz and Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch, of blessed memory. The ceremony, named Chag Has’michah, took place at Golders Green Synagogue. Both of us delivered an address to a large congregation. It was an exceptional event in the history of the College. Older members of Pinner Synagogue frequently remind me how much they enjoyed it. During the 1980s I taught Bible Commentaries at Jews’ College. Again, Rabbi Sacks, who had become the Principal, took an interest in my work.

By David Taylor

Rabbi Sacks visited Pinner Synagogue often, together with Lady Sacks. He felt connected with my shul and he became an inspiration not only to me but to the entire community. I recall very vividly his first visit to the community. The occasion was our annual Melava Malka. He was the guest speaker. His talk about Superstition in Judaism astonished everybody with its originality and brilliance. In the Winter of 2005, he and Lady Sacks spent Shabbat Parashat Vayetze, at Pinner Shul with me and my family. The occasion was a joint celebration of my 30 years as rabbi of Pinner Shul and also my 60th birthday. It was an extraordinary event in the life of the community and in my own life, which many people still remember. I still remember very fondly the warm words which he said about me. Yamin. He intended that it should be for the benefit of the few rabbinical students of Jews’ College and that it should unite them. I was one of its very first members. I remember our first meetings in the beautiful council rooms of the college. Together, the group published a booklet of essays on the Haggadah. In it, Rabbi Sacks published his insightful essay on the four types of children in contemporary society. In April 1976, I became the rabbi of Pinner Synagogue. Rabbi Sacks had influence in that community and helped me to secure the position by praising my learning. I shall always be grateful to him for encouraging me to take on that position and stay in the Pinner

In times of need, Rabbi Sacks always proved to be a tower of strength to me. He was always accessible and supportive. He was kind and warm. For my retirement, he composed a special prayer in my honour. I have it hanging on the wall of my office and I shall always cherish it. I shall also cherish the two machzorim, which he gifted to me and in which he inscribed beautiful and personal messages. From a philosophical perspective, Rabbi Sacks was for me 'the Maimonides of our times’. He will remain forever a blessing to millions of people all over the world. He will remain alive in my heart for the rest of my life.

I might say that I played a small part in my sister Elaine meeting Jonathan in Cambridge at the end of 1968. She had just returned from her gap year at the Hebrew University. She had told our parents that she wanted to stay and make Aliyah. So, I had been sent to Jerusalem to see her in December 1967 to tell her that Angela and I were getting engaged and to persuade her to come home! Those were heady times in Israel – just months after the Six Day War. They were married in July 1970, six months after our own wedding, and their Golden Wedding was celebrated – minimally in view of lockdown – only a few months before his untimely death. Even in his student days Jonathan was known as a leader of his generation. He was already a public figure in Jewish student life. I don’t think he had then decided finally to become a Rabbi. My father had many discussions with him suggesting he pursue a career at the Bar or in accountancy. Perhaps his brilliant sonin-law could do better than ‘just’ become a Rabbi. Happily, for our community he chose his career path wisely. Jonathan and Rabbi Grunewald were students together at Jews’ College and became firm friends. When Pinner Shul was looking for its new Rabbi in 1975, it was Jonathan who urged me to recommend the then Rev Grunewald to our selection committee – he is a greater Talmud scholar than me, he told me - and I am sure it was Jonathan’s known reputation that carried considerable weight with the committee. How right he was. In the early years Jonathan and Elaine were quite regular visitors to Pinner Shul. They had good friends here. Leslie Wagner became one of his closest confidants throughout his Chief Rabbinate. He was our guest of honour at more than one Pinner Melava Malka both in the old shul and the present building. He and Elaine and their children even joined us in 1982 at the Pinner Shul Pesach matza ramble – I have the photos of him playing football to prove it. He was a great supporter of the Shabbaton Choir. He led us in all our ten 41 | Pesach 2021

Thoughts & Perspectives missions to Israel and for over 20 years was the keynote speaker at the Choir’s midnight Selichot service. Music meant so much to him. But I never saw him happier or more relaxed than when he was out of the limelight and able to enjoy his grandchildren climbing over him. He and Elaine were totally devoted to each other from almost the day they met. Although they came to know many of the world’s great leaders and even spent an overnight stay at Windsor with the Queen and Prince Philip (who gave them a private tour of ‘our home’ after dinner), he was at heart the warm family man we were privileged to know. We will miss him more than words can say.

Rabbi Sacks valued the small acts that build Jewish identity and strengthen communities.

he should meet as well as any other information that might be required.

Later Sidney (like David Taylor) joined the Shabbaton choir and participated in their visits to Israel. Rabbi Lord Sacks facilitated those visits and participated in them with verve and joy, wholeheartedly entertaining hospital patients or schoolchildren and helping to lift everyone’s spirits, often in tragic circumstances. He had no ‘pride of office’ and was completely focused on realising the potential of the here and now.

Although I worked regularly with him for over ten years, I was constantly awestruck and speechless in his presence - a feeling that never left me. The awe was because I knew I was in the presence of genius. He was an exhilarating and truly inspirational man and although in awe, I relished the opportunity given to me.

On a different level, we are still the recipients of his inspiring writings. Every week in Israel we receive a magazine, published by the Orthodox Union, called Torah Tidbits, and we are privileged to still read his words in every issue.

Rabbi and Elaine Sacks at David and Angela's wedding

Thinking out of the box was a favourite idiom of his. He loved all things related to strategic, management and how they affected people. He read voraciously books of this ilk and applied their ideas in much of his writing. He cited Stephen Covey's ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ almost as much as he quoted from great Jewish thinkers!

Former Pinner members, Sidney and Avelyn Hass, share these personal memories

Rabbi Lord Sacks – more than just a work colleague

Rabbi Lord Sacks had immense drive to use every God given moment to share Judaism’s treasures with everyone he met. Two personal examples follow.

I had the privilege of working for Rabbi Sacks as his Project Director, with specific focus on interfaith and large events, including managing his contribution to Israel's 60th Anniversary - how could I say no...

The Chief Rabbinate Awards for Excellence of the 1990s encouraged communal volunteering. Sidney received an award in 1995. One of his communal activities was a weekly davening class for teenagers who attended the Shabbat Youth Services, to enable them to lead services. The public recognition was a surprise. Today, all of those young men are leaders in their own communities. 42 | Pesach 2021

He was indefatigable too, often calling me at home around 10.30pm and asking me to do something for the following day. On coming into the office Rabbi Sacks informed me that he had worked through the night and resolved the matter! He also managed on very little sleep and even with little sleep he had ideas in abundance, sharing these with our office team and encouraging me to be as creative as possible.

by Leonie Lewis

As we know, he influenced thousands of people, myself included. He would ring me before every Yom Tov, spoke at Adam and Bassie’s engagement, and invited Ben and Ruth for tea before their wedding and always consulted me before he visited any community, asking me to provide the names of key people

He would only lend his name to something that was perfect. I remember collating his first little book given to all communities for the Yamin Noraim -‘Ten Days Ten Ways’, - and he just didn't like the font I’d used. So, although near production, he made me change it. He was a perfectionist and I learned so much from his thorough approach. He would say to me, ‘Leonie, you can do so much better than this’, encouraging me to always aim higher. I remember many meetings in his home where I hung on every word. Perhaps my greatest moment working for him was putting together Israel’s 60th Anniversary CD ‘Home of Hope’. Rabbi Sacks loved music and had very eclectic tastes from modern rock, to classical, to relatively unknown Israeli artists, and I was introduced to some amazing musicians and scores. I was challenged by so much of it, seeking copyright and other permission, the production, the recordings and managing the entire day at Trevor Horn`s studios, including organising our own Moriah School’s

Thoughts & Perspectives contribution. BUT it was magical. For me this CD, and the Oseh Shalom recording, was Rabbi Sacks at his best; teacher, educator, orator, leader! One just has to watch it to see the smile on his face as he sings with his friend Rabbi Chazzan Lionel Rosenfeld, the chazzanim Jonny Turgel and Shimon Craimer and the children from Moriah. What an incredible legacy, I can honestly say that more than anyone, he shaped my contribution to our own community, and to the wider Jewish and non-Jewish community, and I will truly miss him.

took exactly the same time as Jonathan’s. No ortho-mumble on that occasion!

A former pupil of Moriah Jewish Day School remembers….. A special new tune of ‘Oseh Shalom’ was recorded on 30th April 2008, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel. I was ten at the time, and it was thrilling to be in a real recording studio, along with my friends. I remember Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks singing with us, as we swayed and waved along with the music. It has had over 3.2 million hits on YouTube – and will have more!

One personal memory I treasure is from when I was working in the Community Development Department at the United Synagogue and he would sometimes emerge from his adjoining office. His mischievous delight in giving his gatekeepers the slip was endearing, and he always managed, in a few words, to lighten the atmosphere and give us a renewed sense of purpose to our hard work.

by Merrill and Stewart Dresner

Other highlights are watching the DVD with Moriah School, and seeing his sheer happiness in being alive and bringing together music and children. I also loved watching him simply listening to Lionel Rosenfeld daven. I very much appreciated his close relationship to the Shabbaton Choir, which gave so much spirituality to shul services and to hospital patients in Israel.

Somehow, Jonathan Sacks managed to convey both intimacy and humanity to even people like us who he would meet only very occasionally and briefly.

The Chief Rabbi’s Children’s Siddur – investing in future generations

Sharing our special memories of Jonathan Sacks

Stewart’s best memory is of the time when Jonathan visited Pinner shul, and Stewart told him that the Artscroll used italics for its English translation rather than for specific word emphasis, thus making it deliberately difficult to read. Immediately Jonathan remarked that he had not noticed this point, so he went to the bookshelf to ascertain that Stewart was correct. Both were pleased at this affirmation that Artscroll prefers obscurity to clarity. Stewart was also pleased to discover that his own slow reading of the silent Shema

own to take home and keep when they left the school. I envisaged them being put on a high shelf and never used again. Keen to produce a siddur that the children would really love using and which would make prayers and blessings come alive for them, I sought help from the Shaliach at the Agency for Jewish Education. We formed a committee, but nothing was achieved – and he returned to Israel. Frustrated, I then approached two colleagues from the world of Jewish Education, Simon Goulden and Jeffrey Leader. The three of us made a great team, and we mocked up a facsimile of what we intended to produce. The most important factor in its future success was that we needed the wholehearted approval of the (then) Chief Rabbi, or it would not be used in any United Synagogue schools or shuls. Very soon, Rabbi Sacks agreed to see us. He was delighted with the project and gave it his blessing, with one proviso: ‘Make it good!’ and he beamed at us as we left his office. I hope we did!

by Doreen Samuels

I was very fortunate to have known and worked with Rabbi Sacks on many projects for many years. One such, which was very special to me, was The Chief Rabbi’s Children’s Siddur. When I was a teacher at Sinai School, the whole school used the Shiloh Siddur, a siddur with large Hebrew print, line numbers, and almost no English. The children had no feeling of connection with this siddur, though they were given their 43 | Pesach 2021

Thoughts & Perspectives

Letter Lamed Dear Pinner Welcome to the twelfth 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 hold much significance.


he twelfth letter is Lamed, and with this being the Pesach edition let us also try to connect the Lamed to our festival season.

The gematria of lamed is 30. It states in Ethics of Our Fathers 5:23; ‘When one reaches the age of 30, by Simon Hodes he reaches the age of full strength.’ When the Jewish people were in the desert, the Levites who carried the heavy vessels had to be between the ages of thirty to fifty, for these are the mightiest years of man. The Midrash Shmuel states that one has the ability to guide and influence others for good at the age of thirty. Until then, we are simply laying our foundations. Lamed is the last letter written in the entire Torah. And Bet is the first letter. As we (Ashley Reece and I) loved to teach the children on Simchat Torah, this makes the word Lev (Heart)

‫ל ֵב‬

This hints that the Torah should be on our ‘hearts’ as we say in the Shema twice daily. The Jewish ideal of life is to learn, to ‘raise’ ourselves up – like the Lamed - to follow the Torah with all our hearts. The Shema tells us to ‘teach these words (Torah) carefully to your children’. Clearly we cannot teach anything if we do not understand it ourselves. And we can never reach a point where we ‘know it all’, and hence in some ways we are all like children, and need to learn – and teach – throughout our lives. We can never know enough, and have to continually learn and grow. In Gematria, the Lamed is 30 and the Bet is 2 – making

‫ל ֵב‬

32. This is the same as the number of threads on the Tzitzit which are said to remind us of all the commandments in the Torah. The word Lamed itself refers to the word Lamad which means both teaching and learning. Lamad is said to be an acronym for ‘a heart that understands wisdom’ Lev Mebin Da’at. This reminds me of the lovely Benjamin Franklin quote ‘Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn’. In the centre of the 22 letters of the Aleph Bet, what is striking about the Lamed is the height. It soars above the other letters, reaching up towards heaven. In the 44 | Pesach 2021

order of the Aleph Bet it is flanked by a Mem and Chof, which form the word Melech – King


The shape of the Lamed is said to be comprised of two letters – a Chof and a Vav. The value of Chof (20) and Vav (6) makes 26, the numerical value of the four-letter name for HaShem Yud-Hei-Vav-Hei. The Zohar calls the lamed a tower flying in the air. The vav of the lamed represents divine spirituality, found high up ‘in the air.’ The vav, which is a chute, draws this divine wisdom down from the spiritual realms into the physical world, until it is internalised into the kaf, the human being. This merging of spiritual and physical imbues the lamed with the ability to teach very lofty concepts in a practical way. So how to link the Lamed to our festival of Pesach? We said above that the work Lamad means teaching or learning. Pesach is about teaching, sharing our knowledge of redemption, through the Seder story. We are all links is a chain of Jewish history, and it is our duty to transmit this from generation to generation on Seder night, which of course is famously designed around the children. At the time of writing, we are into our third national lockdown with Covid-19 cases surging once again. Our very idea of ‘freedom’ is being challenged. However we celebrate Pesach this year, I wish you and families a Happy and Kosher Pesach – Chag Kasher Sameach. It seems appropriate to end with some words from Rabbi Sacks z”l. ‘Pesach is the oldest continuously observed religious ritual in the world. Across the centuries, Passover has never lost its power to inspire the imagination of successive generations of Jews with its annually re-enacted drama of slavery and liberation…The message of Passover remains as powerful as ever. Freedom is won not on the battlefield but in the classroom and the home. Teach your children the history of freedom if you want them never to lose it.’

Thoughts & Perspectives

Jewish Dictionary

Megillah - the story unfolds Purim brings with it a whirlwind of Megillah readings, skits, costumes, mishloach manot, the festive seudah, and general activity bordering on the frivolous. But where does the word megillah come from?


he origin is from the Hebrew root ‫ גלל‬- galal - to roll or unfold. From this same root we have the words gal ‫ גל‬- wave, galgal ‫ גלגל‬- wheel, and ‫ גליל‬galil district, what we now know as the large area in the north of Israel. English has a similar connection with regard to the source of words. The Latin word volume, meaning a roll or a book, is the source of the word ‘volume’. It derives from volvere, meaning ‘to roll’ and is the source of our word ‘revolve’. Volume meaning bulk derives from the size of a book. by Margery Cohen

The concept that a book or scroll is noted for its size is the source of the expression in English ‘the whole megillah’. Originating from the Yiddish phrase gantse megillah, it meant a large complicated story. In English it has also come to mean ‘the whole works.’ In particular, the word refers to one of five megillot - namely Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther, which are read on certain notable Jewish festival days. The most common reference, though, is to the Book of Esther, which is read aloud and in its entirety at the feast of Purim, and, incidentally, is the only one that is read from a scroll. Though the feast day is a joyous one, the story wanders at great length through vast amounts of detail. So, it isn’t surprising that the whole megillah (the gantse megillah in the Yiddish form) came to be a wry term for an overly extended explanation or story, or for something tediously complicated, or an involved situation or state of affairs. The English translation of the Yiddish phrase gantse megillah started to be heard and written about during the mid-1950s, principally by American television performers and others in the entertainment business, mostly in big cities such as New York. Frank Sinatra sang it in Come Blow Your Horn in 1963: ‘The taller the tree is, the sweeter the peach / I’ll give you the whole megillah in a one-word speech — reach’. What the lyrics are saying is that he will condense a long and boring explanation into a single word.

On Purim, a special megillah would come out of hiding in our home. My grandfather, Hâkhâm Abraham Moses Tahan (c.1859–1939), was brought over from Baghdad to Bombay around 1889, as a tutor to children of well-established families who had also moved east during the 19th century. My grandfather was also skilled as a sofér (scribe) and while in Bombay, completed a Méghillat Esther, handwritten on parchment, and rolled into a scroll. But it has a unique feature in its layout – the first word of sections two to five are arranged as an acrostic of my grandfather’s name (Abraham) in Hebrew. So, there were no doubts as to who the scribe was! The meghilla now rests in the safe hands of my daughter in Israel. However, the age of the parchment, and the risk of damage, precludes its use at the megillah reading. It’s much safer to stick to a book! If we go to the heart of what Purim is all about, it is about revealing the hidden miracle. As we read the megillah we uncover, unwrap, unroll – we megaleh and see all the events leading up to Purim in context. We connect the dots and reveal the story, as a miracle of cosmic proportions. But why did it need to be revealed? Unlike other miracles, why was it hidden? The Talmud asks a puzzling question: How do we know about Esther? She is not mentioned in the Torah, and was born centuries later. The sages give an even more enigmatic answer. They quote the verse from Devarim 31:18: ‘v’Anochi hastir astir Panai bayom hahu — And I will surely hide My Face on that day’. So hastir astir sounds like Esther. But is this purely a pun for the sake of it? The name Esther means to conceal, and symbolises her crucial role – going undercover in the court of Ahashverosh to save her nation. The sages answer that ‘I shall surely hide My Face’ tells us that not every miracle is revealed and that G-d may conceal a miracle within the forces of nature. On Purim, our task is to uncover the scroll to reveal the miracle …. and we get the whole Megillah!

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Thoughts & Perspectives

Tikkun Olam the sustainable development needed to make Planet Earth inhabitable for the foreseeable future by Robin Woolf

The United Nations defines ‘Sustainable development’ as ‘acting to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ Much of my nine months selfisolation has been spent exploring this. We cannot continue to exploit planet Earth as we have been doing.


etween 1900 and 2019 the planet’s population grew from 1.6 billion to 7.79 billion and worldwide manmade greenhouse gas emissions (which are a major cause of climate warming) from about 0.5 to 9.8 million metric tonnes per year. The majority of us worldwide now live in towns and cities and we are not respecting rainforests or peat bogs (which act as a carbon-dioxide absorber), oceans, wild life habitats, the soil we grow things in or the air around us. We need internationally agreed development targets, priorities and supported funding. In Prospect magazine (July 2020) Tom Clark’s editorial stated ‘If the first duty of the state is the safety of its citizens, then something that puts in jeopardy the safety of citizens everywhere is bound to have a bearing on the standing of states around the world.’ He wrote this about Covid-19! It applies equally to restoring sustainability! The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted our ability to find money when we are directly threatened. The pandemic’s adverse impact on the world’s economies makes it even more essential now to use available funds effectively. It is crucial to explain policies clearly, simply and positively to get majority support. This is not easy as the science, economics and politics involved are complex. The UN is probably the only organisation which can set and get national agreements to sustainable development goals. In September 2020 the UN released a YouTube ‘Urgent Solutions for Urgent Times.’ It highlights six development goals. ● Climate and the Planet ● Poverty and Inequality ● Health and Education ● Tax Avoidance and Corruption ● Social Justice and Human Rights ● Gender Equality In 2009, Copenhagen University initiated a Consensus summarising ten economists’ views of what sustainable developments would give the best ‘value for money.’ It concluded that achieving free trade, improving health, and 46 | Pesach 2021

attaining gender equality give the best outcomes. Going ‘carbon neutral’ (replacing hydro-carbon fuels by sustainables such as wind, solar and hydrogen - so zero net carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere) give relatively poor value. The Consensus’ findings even if not universally accepted, highlight the need to pursue other goals as well as ‘going carbon neutral’. The UK is the only country so far to legislate to achieve ‘carbon neutral’ by 2050. As well as enlarging existing wind and solar sources, hydrogen is being actively explored. It is easy to store and the technology using it already exists. It is likely to prove more economical for powering transport than electricity. Converting completely to sustainable sources is a big challenge and will be costly. Currently the UK generates about 10 Gigawatts of power from wind power annually. About 30 times that amount would be needed to fully replace fossil-fuelled power with hydrogen! In 2020, solar and wind sourced electricity use just exceeded that produced from fossil fuels. These sources are planned to produce between three and four times more by 2030. The UK will not however meet its 2050 carbon neutral goal unless heating and transport substantially reduce their electricity demand. Many poorer countries - often in tropical or subtropical areas – still do not have electricity. Solar and wind power will not provide the 24 hour-a-day supply needed. Some power from fossil fuels or hydrogen may also be needed. The two UN’s sustainable development goals which rank highly on the Copenhagen Consensus list are ‘Poverty and Inequality’ and ‘Gender Equality’. Improving living standards incidentally reduces birth rate and makes it more likely local help will be given to protecting endangered habitats. Free Trade Agreements are one obvious way to improve living standards. The agreement between China and 14 other Asian states covering nearly 30% of world trade was announced in October 2020, and took eight years to negotiate. India may also join in the next few years. Worldwide Free Trade negotiations were started in 2001 but collapsed in 2006 because the USA and EU refused to re-consider internal agricultural subsidies.

Thoughts & Perspectives Gender equality is already being addressed effectively by many NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) at local level. Achieving Gender Equality usually involves sensitively changing traditionally male-dominated cultures. Empowering women and ensuring access to appropriate contraception challenges long-standing customs. Getting results inevitably takes time. NGOs are funded by donations, grants from corporations, charitable foundations, the UN and national governments. One active UK NGO is the charity Practical Action, based on Fritz Schumacher’s book ‘Small is Beautiful’. The UK government recently moved responsibility for Overseas Development Fund allocation to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and also reduced overall funding from 0.7 to 0.5% of GDP. This has reduced funding for some UK NGOs. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation concentrates on sustainability. It is particularly influential and made grants totalling $46 billion in 2018. Sustainable developments which offer a good financial return already attract commercial investment. Dr Mark Carney’s last 2020 Reith lecture stressed that an organisation’s climate change actions should be taken into account before investing. It may be surprising how effectively Nature can repair manmade damage. The real-life evolution of the Knepp Estate in West Sussex after it abandoned intensive farming in 2000 is a small-scale example of these benefits. The ocean’s depleted fish stocks do recover rapidly when ‘no fishing zones’ are set up and enforced. Enforcing national laws which protect the environment is vital. Governments can be dissuaded from doing so by powerful commercial interests.

‘Wilding’ - Isabella Tree 2018 A very readable account of what happened in the almost twenty years after her family’s estate in West Sussex abandoned intensive farming in 2000. It raises questions about the reliability of some conventional wisdoms, the impact of bureaucracy and intensive cattle-rearing. A good lock-down read too as it takes you into areas you would not normally visit! ‘False Alarm’ - Bjorn Lomborg 2020 A very misleading title in my opinion! Professor Lomborg is visiting professor at Copenhagen and Stanford Universities. He used to be involved with Greenpeace and in 2009 initiated the Copenhagen Consensus to explore how renowned economists rated the return per $ spent on various goals to be met to attain sustainability. He challenges the present over-riding priority given to tackling Climate Change. The Consensus makes a case for Free Trade, Health improvements and Gender equality to be prioritised. ‘Client Earth’ - James Thornton and Martin Goodman 2017 The authors describe the origin and early history of the organisation and subsequent successes. Up-to-date information on the web-site. ‘How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need’ - Bill Gates Published on 16 February 2021

‘Client Earth’ is a charity using legal courts to make governments enforce enacted laws. One success made the UK Government enforce Clean Air legislation. Legal action to enforce UK’s Maritime Protection Areas is currently under consideration! Until natural disasters impact directly governments are reluctant to impose the necessary changes. Nations must work together worldwide to ensure the planet regains the sustainability it needs. The necessary technology already exists. Leadership with the will to make progress is what is urgently needed. Each of us should do anything we can to make this happen! Any ideas? [References available on request from]

A ‘Green’ Reading list Here are a few recent books which are really worth reading ‘The Moment of Lift’ - Melinda Gates 2019 Describes field work for gender equality and how the Bill and Melinda Gates Charitable Foundation operates. A first-class read ‘Factfulness’ - Hans Rosling 2018 Test your knowledge about what is REALLY happening in developing countries and elsewhere around the world. You will be surprised how little of what you think you know is actually correct. It is a ‘must read’.

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Thoughts & Perspectives


Plagues have figured in Jewish history since earliest biblical times so our involvement in the current pandemic is unwelcome continuity. In 1972 in the preface to his book ‘America’s Forgotten Pandemic. The Influenza of 1918’ Alfred Crosby reminded readers that in 1969 the Surgeon General of the United States, William H Stewart, assured us that ‘we had left infectious disease behind us in our dust’. Three years later, in the final edition of the classic ‘Natural History of Infectious Disease’, the Nobel Laureate Macfarlane Burnet concluded that ‘the most likely forecast about the future of infectious disease is that it will be very dull’. In most fields of human affairs complacent belief that problems of the past will never recur is almost invariably belied by later events.


ver the past hundred years world population has increased fourfold especially in sprawling urban areas. This growth in itself is a good reason for remaining alert to the possibility that recurrent and novel infections may arise as massive epidemics despite the huge progress in preventive medicine. Furthermore the risk of by Dr Michael widespread epidemics has risen with Denman the concomitant increase in travel in general and especially of rapid transport by air or in ships with once unimaginably large passenger numbers. Travellers can reach most inhabited destinations within 24 hours as can of course the already active or latent infectious agents which accompany them. Furthermore infectious agents and especially viruses are adept as ever at finding accommodating hosts. It is now almost generally accepted that the current Covid-19 pandemic infection was initiated in 2019 in one Chinese city Wuhan, from which it has spread universally and rapidly. The main strategies for reducing or, better still, eliminating 48 | Pesach 2021

the risk of viral infection are limiting exposure to the virus and vaccination. However very few even in Burnet’s era could have foreseen the strategies which viruses employ to ensure their survival despite the ingenuity of natural defences and increasingly sophisticated medical science. Eliminating established viral infections has proved especially difficult. Patient information is now an integral part of disease management. The era is mercifully long past when children and even adults were commonly enjoined not to trouble busy doctors with too many questions. As with other diseases there are excellent collaborative groups incorporating doctors, other health workers, patients and relatives thereby ensuring that everyone concerned with patient care understands the measures needed to avoid or at least reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19 infection. Medical science has rapidly devised a strategy for preventing, containing and eventually eliminating Covid-19 infections. Sick infected patients should be treated, infected individuals with no evidence of disease should be isolated, and everyone else should take appropriate measures to avoid contracting or transmitting infection. However, given the scale of the epidemic and the cultural diversity of patients, relatives, medical scientists and politicians it would be unrealistic to expect conformity of

Thoughts & Perspectives ideas. Hardly surprisingly the debate on these issues has been markedly vigorous in Israel and Jewish communities. In principle isolation is a logical way of preventing transmission but the problems are well known. Individuals may be infected and able to transmit the infection even though they remain well and have not yet developed antiviral antibodies or these are no longer detectable. Isolating or limiting the movement of seemingly healthy individuals in areas with a high incidence of overt infection or positive antibody tests is a reasonable compromise provided that everyone concerned agrees on reasonable rules for preventing transmission. This strategy is practicable given general compliance. So are speed limits for motorists. We don’t ban driving because some drivers exceed the legal limit. Understanding the principles of avoiding virus transmission is also more conducive to inducing compliance than inflexible proscriptions. There is ample evidence that intelligent distance keeping indoors and outdoors, wearing face masks or face protection devices are efficient ways of preventing infection in most circumstances. Indeed the importance of face masks was appreciated long before the discovery of most infectious agents and their role in epidemics. These precautions have assumed increasing importance with the realisation that Covid-19 is mutating differently leading to the dissemination of many variant strains. The ability of mutated strains to transmit infection is currently unknown. Nor do we fully understand the factors which determine whether infection in a given individual induces illness or no symptoms at all. Injunctions to avoid infection have to be sufficiently draconian. At least complete decorum improves attentiveness in shul congregations. Attention to other health issues is also important, notably being overweight, smoking and alcohol intake. Co-existing, usually age-related problems have also to be taken into account.

bringing Covid-19 infection under control and of eliminating this agent as a significant threat to health in all age groups. Indeed the initial evidence for its success is already encouraging. For example a recent test of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine showed that it is 95% effective a week after the second dose. However the decision to accept or reject vaccination is as much a cultural as a medical issue as Heidi Larson’s monograph (‘Stuck’) on the subject emphasises. There is considerable, ill-informed, indeed fanatical opposition to vaccination. Indeed some medical issues are not yet resolved, not least the necessary schedule of repeat immunisation. Nevertheless there is good evidence that wariness about vaccination is receding as evidence for its safety and promise increases. The requisite basic and clinical research has also been instituted with extraordinary speed and resolution. A more difficult issue concerns the possibility that Covid-19 mutation which is undoubtedly occurring will eventually render the virus resistant to current and indeed novel anti-viral approaches. Currently circulating strains of Covid-19 virus have acquired mutations which might facilitate persistence and eventually circumvent the host’s immune and other defense but this remains supposition. Preceding generations were imaginative and resourceful in the face of epidemics whose causes and nature they had no prospect of understanding given the limited knowledge of infectious diseases in those eras. Many issues are not yet resolved but we should stay confident. Faith and reason are not mutually exclusive.

There are other more intractable issues. Given the huge range of religious and cultural beliefs of patients and their families in different parts of the world there is inevitable and continuing disagreement in some countries and regions over measures that can be legitimately be taken to prevent infection. Of special Jewish interest some, but not all, synagogues restrict the right of assembly for prayer. It is reassuring that most Jewish communities in the UK and elsewhere have recognised the need to comply with scientific and medical advice on this issue. The support of Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis on this point will do much to reassure the Jewish community that Judaic practice and scientific knowledge are not necessarily mutually exclusive. There is welcome evidence that strictly orthodox Jewish communities can follow the knowledge and sprit of the times and that compromise is possible. The practical yet continuing reverent attitude of orthodox and other communities to the infection problem has proved that practical measures can satisfy the needs of both quarantine and continuing religious observance. Unfortunately however many ultra-orthodox Israeli Jews are unwilling to accept advice from secular sources. Vaccination is a related and crucially important issue which demands separate attention because it is the best hope of 49 | Pesach 2021

Thoughts & Perspectives

TalkMatters by Jenny Nemko

In my BBC radio broadcasting days, I was always looking for positive stories about Israel. That is how I came across Neve Shalom~Wahat al Salam – the unique village in Israel where Jews and Arabs live in a shared, equal society.


he place impressed me, and I have supported them ever since. But over the last few years, I have realised that this is not enough. Still so few Jewish people in Israel and in the diaspora meet a Palestinian and have the chance to understand the Palestinian point of view and viceversa. The social and cultural divides in Israel are great and growing. Arabs and Jews interact infrequently. Most people live in their own neighbourhoods, and people speak different languages. Yes, you are right in thinking that there are sound reasons for this absence of meeting and subsequent understanding. Let us consider the deepest concerns and perceptions from both communities’ perspective. 'We Jews need to protect ourselves; we are always at war even when not at war, terrorists are all around us, we have to let our children go to the army when they are still kids, our homes have to have shelters. There is no point in talking peace because the Arabs have had too many chances and thrown them away, in their heart of hearts, they really hate us and want to kill us.' 'We West Bank Palestinian-Arabs are humiliated and oppressed, we are turned away at check-points, stopped from going to work, our olive fields are destroyed, our homes demolished, we cannot travel, we cannot buy property in any area we choose. We Palestinian-Arabs living in Israel face discrimination, the rules of law are more stringent for us than for Israelis. They have all the power.' Essentially what we hear is ‘Palestinians are under occupation and have the right to resist’ versus ‘Israelis are under existential threat and have the right to secure themselves’. A lose-lose situation unable to become a win-win because it ignores the specificity of both narratives. Yet the political challenge is there. It is there in black and white in Israel’s Declaration of Independence – promising social and political equality for all Israel’s citizens. I know from people I meet in Israel and in the West Bank that there is a burning desire to move forward to a better future. I know that there are many co-operative projects that bring people together. People in the UK need to know about them. Together with policy changes at Israeli governmental and Palestinian authority level, long-term grassroots projects are essential to build the foundation for future cooperation. But much more than that,

50 | Pesach 2021

I fervently believe that we are all human beings made in the image of G-d and that I, as a proud Jew and Zionist, have a moral duty to ‘know the heart of a stranger, seeing you were strangers in the land of Egypt ‘(Exodus: 23:9) Fine words but how to fill the gap that speaks to both sides? I thought of podcasting, writing a blog or a book but had my doubts as to how far-reaching that could be. And then the idea struck of producing a website with live webinars thrown in. And so TalkMatters was launched with a virtual party at the end of June 2020. Its purpose not grand - I hardly mention the word ‘peace’ but it is a beginning. The aim is two-fold: to inform the UK public of the many initiatives that encourage direct communication between Jewish and Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, as well as Jewish and Arab-Palestinian residents in the Palestinian Territories; and to provide a safe space where the organisers of the initiatives can share the challenges of working on Israeli/Palestinian projects. TalkMatters now promotes over 30 co-operative initiatives covering music, sport, ecology, religion, education and technology. Our database is growing and we have already held a number of webinars on behalf of the Interfaith Encounter Association, the Abrahamic Reunion and the Bereaved Parents Circle all based in Jerusalem; Roots in the West Bank and Solutions Not Sides based in London. At each webinar we meet Palestinians and Israelis and talk to them in small break-out groups. TalkMatters also publishes the latest positive news stories, articles, interviews, video clips and letters that enable our audience to continue the conversation. As to the future, more Jews to meet and talk to a Palestinian and more Palestinians to meet and talk to a Jew. More co-operative initiatives in Israel-Palestine. More UK support for these initiatives. All helping to have the right people and institutions in place when the new day dawns. A day that celebrates Palestinian freedom and independence alongside a secure Jewish homeland in Israel. Rabbi Tarfon said ‘It is not for you to complete the task, but neither are you free to stand aside from it’ (Ethics of the Fathers, 2:21). I say, look at the website join the mailing list so you too can learn both narratives, so you too can support the vital work that is going on. After all, Talk Matters!

Thoughts & Perspectives

Celebrating Chanukah

This year, more than ever, we needed our Festival of Light and Maccabi miracles to remind us of the glimmer of hope at the end of a hard year. Karen Kinsley shares some little-known facts about Chanukah.

Before There Were Potatoes, There Was … Cheese! Potatoes only reached Europe in the 16th century – following the ‘discovery’ of the Americas. Hey, so what about Latkes? Before there were potato Latkes the tradition was to eat cheese pancakes.

Holiday calories Israelis consume 24 million doughnuts during the eight-day holiday. With the average doughnut containing 400-600 calories, that is about 10.8 billion calories. Potato latkes are a bit less taxing on your calorie count – only 150 calories. So, join your local gym after Chanukah.

Marilyn Monroe and a Menorah! When the famous Hollywood star converted to Judaism before marrying Jewish playwright, Arthur Miller, she received a menorah as a conversion gift from her future mother-in-law. Monroe received the Menorah from Augusta and Isidore, who were of Polish-Jewish descent, and formed a close bond with them during her marriage. It sold for $100,000 at auction in 2019.

New Generation – Chanukah Party by Elizabeth Singer Our last event pre-Covid was a fabulous Purim party in March 2020. Little did we know that this was to be our last event for many months. Shortly after that, the first Covid-19

lockdown came along and New Generation went into hibernation while our committee members juggled working from home, having our children off school and nursery, and all the other challenges with which we are now all too familiar. As Chanukah 2020 approached, thanks to some encouragement from Rabbi Kurzer, we decided to take the plunge and plan an online Chanukah party for Pinner’s children, although we were unsure how popular this format would be with young children. We had an amazing response with around 30 children joining in via Zoom from their own homes on the afternoon of Sunday 13th December. It was a hilarious afternoon with Adam Ants Parties who entertained the children with magic, silliness and lots of giggles. It was wonderful to see the children falling about laughing. This was followed by Rabbi Kurzer and his oldest son Ahron lighting their Chanukiah for all the children to see. The New Generation committee put together party bags which we delivered beforehand to the door of every child who had registered. The party bags contained a lovely selection of Chanukah gifts, including amazing enormous dreidel biscuits – definitely the most popular item! It was fantastic for the New Generation families to see each other again and celebrate Chanukah together, and everyone enjoyed a great party atmosphere.

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People's Pages

People’s Page WELCOME TO NEW MEMBERS Alison, Sophie & Jessica Riley Gisele, Mark, Zara & Zac Waterman WELCOME TO NEW TRIBE MEMBER Gemma Abrahams MAZALTOV TO NEW GRANDPARENTS Anne & Charlie Fenton - Grandson Julia and Paul Fraser - Grandson Rebekah & Phil Gershuny - Granddaughter Suzanne & Geoffrey Goodman - Grandson Shelley & Paul Harris - Grandson Liz & Laurence Harris - Grandson Estelle & David Kaye - Grandson Erica & Michael Moss - Grandson Barbara & Stephen Nelken - Grandson Melanie & Stewart Sacks - Grandson Doreen Samuels & Uncle Jeffrey - Granddaughter Ruth & John Singer - Granddaughter Lindi & Andy Wigman - Grandson MAZALTOV TO NEW GREAT GRANDPARENTS Elaine Charlton - Great Granddaughter Cynthia Zneimer - Great Granddaughters MAZALTOV ON THEIR SPECIAL WEDDING ANNIVERSARY Emma & Robert Pepper - 25th Polly & Peter Angel - 30th Joanna & Jonathan Mindell - 35th Shereen & Nigel Presky - 35th Carole & Jeffrey Cohen - 40th Leonie & Howard Lewis - 40th Edna & Norman Terret - 40th Susan & David Cfas - 50th Judy & Neville Nagler - 50th Phyllis & Stan Conway - 65th AWARDS OBE Olivia Marks Woldman MAZELTOV ON 2ND BAR MITZVAH Michael Boekman MAZELTOV ON THEIR BAR MITZVAH Joel Gaya Jack Kalms MAZELTOV ON THEIR SPECIAL BIRTHDAY Tanya Mail - 40th Julie Freedman - 50th Michael Gerrard - 50th Gisele Waterman - 50th Howard Erdunast - 60th Clive Freedman - 60th 52 | Pesach 2021

Lisa Olins - 60th Shereen Presky - 60th Leonie Lewis - 65th Zippy Auerbach - 70th Neil Auerbach - 70th Mervyn Beth - 70th Maisie Holland - 70th Lesley Lass - 70th Brenda Rechtman - 70th Lilian Redhouse - 70th Philip Shama - 70th Irwin Spilka - 70th Norman Terret - 70th Lewis Allen - 75th Sue Cfas - 75th Jeffrey Cohen - 75th Dennish De Rose - 75th Judy Goodman - 75th Barbara Nicholls - 75th Tony Glass - 80th Jeffrey Kozack - 80th Malvern Barnett - 85th Sarra Black - 85th Rachel Needle - 100th CONDOLENCE ON BEREAVEMENT Michael Adams - Brother Lauren Ashleigh - Mother Helen Barnes - Mother Jackie Black - Brother Sue Busch - Mother Alan Capper - Father Margery Cohen - Mother Brenda Coleman - Mother Joshua Daniels - Mother Steven Daniels - Wife Zoe Daniels - Mother Michael Frohlich - Father Michael Gerrard - Mother Irving Goldin - Mother Dawn Goulde - Grandmother Martin Grossman - Brother Phileshia Hersch - Husband Pamela Horowitz - Husband Maxine Segalov - Father Philip Shama - Mother Janet Shaoul - Husband Joan Stalbow - Husband Anthony Sultan - Father CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILY OF Rose Gilbey Muriel Milgrom Freda Jaffa as at 28th February 2021

People's Pages

A Poem for Spring Pesach coincides with spring – a time for renewal and rejoicing. One of the quotes by Rabbi Noah Weinberg, zt”l, was ‘Seek the small ‘wows’ – they are always here’. We share a poem written by Nicola, daughter of Barbara and Robin Woolf, which we hope will help to get you through this difficult time. Seek the small ‘wows’ and notice in awe Details around us – look and explore. To heed the beauty in things that are small, The ‘nothings’ around us, they too can enthral.

Feeling a part of the universe whole These moments reach deeply enriching our soul. Perhaps not always easy to do But there’s magnificence here when things seen anew.

Nature a wonder, abundant in gifts Open your eyes, let your energy lift. Or even indoors a shadow or mote Registers differently when we choose to take note.

100 – and still counting We wish a hearty MAZAL TOV to

�Rachel Needle� on her 100th birthday. With twin sons, four grandchildren and six greatgrandchildren, she has a full and active life. She belongs to the U3A, plays bridge and uses the internet. She sees the internet as a window to the world, and believes it has enabled her to keep her independence. We wish her many more happy and healthy years.

53 | Pesach 2021

Home & Away

Lawrence’s Walks Volume 1: Pinner

by Lawrence Brown

You probably would recognise me - I am the meshuganer you see daily walking around Pinner and the surrounds, come rain or shine. FYI I did this initially for heath reasons and I do it now because a) I discovered I really liked to and b) if I didn’t I fear bits of me would start to drop off… Anyway, the editors of Community, knowing that I have walked the length and breadth of the area, particularly in this year of plague, asked me to share with you a few local walks I enjoy.

The walks have the following in common: ● They start and can end in Pinner so there is no need to take public transport (I am assuming that there will still be travel restrictions in place at the time of reading this) ● They take no more than a morning or afternoon ● I apologise if you already know these (Pinner isn’t that big) but even so I will try and share with you something about them you may not know. I don’t just walk locally, before Covid, I and a number of friends (think Last of the Summer Wine with more beer and you wouldn’t be far wrong), have walked high and low around London and the South East - some I will share with you in future articles should you ask me to. So here they are in order of difficulty and muddiness:

Walk 1: The very easy gossip one - particularly on a Shabbat afternoon

in the London area you can see this) which means that this land has been an open space for nigh on 1000 years.

Walk 2: The hot chocolate one This is part of the 19km Celandine Route which starts in Pinner and eventually ends up in Cowley, following the River Pinn as far as possible. For us you should start at the entrance to the allotments in Cranbourne Drive and walk down the delightful path next to the Pinn. Just keep following the Pinn, Entrance to Celendine Path crossing Chenies Street into the from High Road Eastcote water meadow. On the left, you will pass the bridge leading to the side entrance to Eastcote House Gardens. My wife recommends the hot chocolate at the cafe there and the walled garden to drink it in. Walking on, crossing what is now the High Road Eastcote into the grounds of what is now the cricket club, but once was those of Haydon House. As you enter, on the left, if you look closely you will see what looks like a moat - it is. Apparently this is the site of a medieval fortified manor house.

Pinner Village Gardens

This is around Pinner Village Gardens (main entrance is on the corner of Marsh Road and Rayners Lane). These Gardens, under the watchful eye of the Friends of the Village Gardens, are now a delight - especially in comparison to the worn out, crowded and downright dirty Memorial Park. There is a 1km path around the outside, where you will meet various people from the Shul, doing exactly the same thing, with plenty of benches and spaces for socially distanced sharing of the latest news. What you may not realise is how old the space is. If you look over the grass at the Compton Rise end, you will see the ground undulates in a series of ridges and furrows. This is evidence of medieval farming practices (one of the few places 54 | Pesach 2021

Cross Joel Street and walk up to the roundabout, and then past the tennis club. You will see a sign for the Celandine Route which you can now follow to Ruislip and beyond, but to be honest once you get past Ickenham, with the exception of the WW2 bunker, it's pretty boring so I suggest going no further than Ruislip, where you can go off in to the woods there and the Lido.

Walk 3: The walk in the woods on a muddy day This is the 4km circular walk in the delightful Oxhey Woods with the advantage that the path is mostly gravelled, making it walkable most of the year. There is also a shorter circular walk as well if you are that way inclined. To get to the woods, you can do what I do - schlep up Pinner Hill, walk along South View Road, past the Golf Club, and

Home & Away keep going for around 100 meters. You will see the entrance to the woods on the right and the circular path, marked with blue identifies just beyond. Simply go to the path and walk, remembering where you started from! Please note that the walk does involve crossing a number of roads. Incidentally this is almost opposite the house Sans Souci that was built for von Ribbentrop and latterly had Jewish owners…

Entrance to Oxhey Woods from Pinner Hill

If you prefer not to walk up the hill, there is a car park in the southern part of the woods at the junction of Prestwick Road and Oxhey Drive which is also near the sculpture park - which is fun.

Walk 4: Let's go and annoy the golfers - The steeper and can be muddy one Again this involves the schlep up the Hill, but instead of following the road round to the left at the top towards the Golf clubhouse, you continue straight along Pinner Hill Road to the end. Keep walking on, into the wooded area. The path, which will become steep and can be muddy, bisects the golf course and provides fine views over the countryside - particularly from the golf course when there are no golfers around. Carefully walking down the hill you will see a narrow road in

front of you going straight on and also to the right (towards Albury Drive). Go straight on past a couple of delightful old houses. To the right you will see a narrow path leading to a busy horse stables.

View over Golf Course

To the left of the barn is a gate, go through it (remember to shut it!) and walk up the hill. At the top turn right and follow the path (be warned there is a stile to cross) and you will be able to walk back to Hatch End by bearing right across the field and leaving it at the far corner. This, by the way, is a short part of the London Loop so if you follow the signs you will be back here again…. in around 160 miles. Notes: 1. I do recommend proper walking shoes or boots 2. For more local Pinner walks of interest I recommend the book Ten Walks in Pinner 3. This web site is also good places/gb/pinner-walks Happy walking!

55 | Pesach 2021

Home & Away

A Cryptic Crossword Avid Old Swan 1 6

2 7























6 6 Master Master spy master (6) (6) spyand andspyspy master 8 Worship religious work (6) 9


m om A r f e l ilab

8 Worship religious work (6)

An educational cookbook for aspiring home cooks to take control of the kitchen. Full of many mouthwatering recipes for a range of abilities Created by mother and son Gail and David Weinstein

Lady drops first man; now he’s back again! (4)

drops first man; he's back again! (4) 10 9 Lady Lick him into shape meat now free (7) him into shape meat (7) 1110 Lick International body loosely tiedfree to synagogue (6)

1211 International Admire rebuilt Paris (6)tied to synagogue (6) bodyquarter loosely 14 Russia in fits over produce for temple (6)

12 Admire rebuilt Paris quarter (6)


A dalek united, with five hundred doubled instead, is to

14 Russia in fits over be exterminated! (6) produce for temple (6)

dalek united, doubled instead, is to be exterminated! (6) 1917 A Eighth woman withwith smallfive car hundred (7) 2119 Eighth Letter saying topped tailed (4)(7) woman withand small car 22 Governor adopts awkward pose in jewish history (6)

21 Letter saying topped and tailed (4)


Fifty in pain talk first of confession (2,4)

22 Governor adopts awkward pose in jewish history (6)

Down 23 Fifty in pain talk first of confession (2,4) 1

Jack takes winding road north to river (6)

2 Re-employ adult around first of month teaching the law (6) Down 3 1 Jack Draft takes to the winding law? (4,2)road north to river (6) 4 Reformulated sodium hydroxide floated on water (4) 5

2 Re-employ adult around first of month teaching the law (6) Learner frying steak pancakes (6)

law? sounding (4,2) blessing (7) 7 3 Draft Safetyto testthe in misty hydroxide floated on water 13 4 Reformulated Church ousted bysodium radio broadcast in archaic language (7) (4) 15 5 Learner Is horn blown first? (6) pancakes (6) frying steak 16 Sixth repeat; his turn (6) 17

French pal had setback when praying (6)


Former spouse lies about those cast out (6)


Before five, yet heralds a new day (4)

Answers on p 59 57 | Pesach 2021

Home & Away

What Have You Been Reading?

One of the few pleasures about lockdown has been the ability to curl up and read a good book – for hours and hours. We asked community members what had taken their fancy recently, and what they would recommend to others.

by Merrill Dresner

Here is a response from Vera Bernstein, who read The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende As the title suggests this is not a traditional Jewish novel. The story revolves round the 85-year old Alma Belasco, a Polish Jewish refugee whose parents sent her to an uncle in California only months ahead of the Nazi invasion. There she lives a privileged and interesting life, including her decade-long secret affair with Ichimei Fukuda, youngest son of her uncle’s Japanese gardener.

She reveals her story to Irina, an ‘economic migrant’ from Moldova who goes to work at a posh care home in San Francisco. Alma talks of her family left in Poland, of her marriage, her child and the family that gave her home. There are numerous other threads. I have not read any other novels that deal with the US internment of Japanese during WW2 and I was shocked at the picture given of the camp. This is an easy read, not great literature, without the usual Holocaust horrors and an improbable romance thrown into it. Just right for these troubled times.

Richard Breger read House of Glass – The Story and Secrets of a twentiethcentury Jewish family: by Guardian writer Hadley Freeman House of Glass was published during 2020. After the death of her grandmother Hadley Freeman found a shoebox full of her ‘treasures’ including photos, documents and letters. The book is the outcome of her meticulous decade-long quest to unravel the secrets of her family, led by the contents of the shoebox as her start point. An unexpected tale that takes the reader from Chrzanow (now 58 | Pesach 2021

in Poland) to Paris, Long Island, and Auschwitz as she traces the lives of her grandmother Sala and great uncles Alex, Jacques and Henri. Stories of courage, survival, success, self-sacrifice and loss – with some extraordinary and surprising events along the way. This is a very engaging and moving family story that unravels their ‘silence’ from that most painful period in our Jewish history.

Warren Silverman has written a review of three travel books by Simon Winder Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe Lotharingia: A Personal History of Europe’s Lost Country These three travel books were published by Picador, at intervals over the last few years. Whereas conventional travel books take the reader on a tour of locations in the world we are part of, Winder has combed Europe, visiting places associated with often minor, possibly long forgotten historical events, many of which today’s generation know little or nothing about. He leavens his discoveries with frequently amusing tit-bits delivered in his smile-inducing style. His books are for the casual reader rather than the academic historian and provide hours of reading. Germany had about 360 independent states in the 18th century. Winder tells how this came about and how, in stages, they eventually merged into a single entity, the German Empire created in 1871, the second German Reich. The books generally start with the early days of the first German Reich, the empire of Charlemagne which was divided into three entities by his grandsons. The western territories became the forerunners of the eventual French state, the eastern territories became the Holy Roman Empire which was disbanded by Napoleon in 1806. By this time, in Napoleon’s words, it was neither holy, nor Roman nor an empire. It was a largely German entity, hence the book title Germania, whose elected emperor had been for almost 400 years the head of the Habsburg family most of whose territories were not German but were linked by the

Home & Away Down: 1 Jordan, 2 Talmud, 3 Call up, 4 Noah, 5 Latkes, 7 Hamotzi, 13 Aramaic, 15 Rishon, 16 Shishi, 17 Amidah, 18 Exiles, 20 Erev.

Danube, hence the title Danubia. In addition, there was a third successor state to Charlemagne’s empire, the shortlived Lotharingia, named after the third grandson, Lothar. Over the centuries, Lothar’s kingdom’s boundaries expanded and contracted. Wars and strategic marriages led to major redrawing of maps. And now Lotharingia still lives on in the Benelux countries and chunks of France, Germany and Italy.

Across: 6 Joshua, 8 Avodah, 9 Adam, 10 Milchik, 11 United, 12 Praise, 14 Fruits, 17 Amalek, 19 Shemini, 21 Ayin, 22 Joseph, 23 Al chet.

p 57 Crossword Answers:


Did someone say the original countries of the European Union are a coming together again of the original elements of Charlemagne’s empire?

My choice is The SS Officer’s Armchair by Daniel Lee The book that impressed me greatly was by Daniel Lee (and there is a Pinner connection here to the Kasin family who are very proud of their nephew). I also happen to know that he is a good friend of the above-mentioned Hadley Freeman, but there you go – that’s the Jewish world for you! This is a historical detective story of the finest sort, and will have you in its grip from beginning to end. The story began for Daniel in reality when he was completing his PhD on the history of Jews in Vichy France, and a chance meeting led to the story of the chair. His friend’s mother lived in Amsterdam, and had taken an old armchair for reupholstering. The workman refused to ‘work for Nazis’ and showed her what he had found in the upholstery – a bundle of Nazi-era documents. The friend wondered whether Daniel would help them to trace the owners, as she had no idea of how the documents had come to be there, and who was the Robert Griesinger whose identity papers were among the documents. Daniel painstakingly uncovered the Nazi past of the family. Documents led to meetings with Dr Griesinger’s surviving daughters and other family members. The investigation raises powerful questions of how, in present-day Germany, descendants of perpetrators understood the war, and their discovery through Daniel’s revelations, that their family story may not be as innocent as they had been led to believe. It is a story of how ordinary people were caught up in the Nazi machine, what they knew, what they said they knew, and what their descendants believed happened. Without the participation of millions of ‘ordinary’ men and women, the regime could not have succeeded and Griesinger was one of these ordinary men. The story will shock and surprise you.

Answers from 'A Story for Pesach' pp 16-17 1.

Frogs, locusts, blood and cattle disease (and coronavirus!)

2. Searching for Chametz the night before Pesach. This year it will be on Thursday night before Pesach as Pesach is on a Saturday night. It is customary to hide 10 pieces of chametz around the house and search for it with a candle, feather and a bag. However, we should also be looking for actual chametz we forgot to clean. We also search our cars and offices. 3. Miriam is the sister of Mosher and Ahron. She led the women out of Egypt and danced and sang with them after they crossed the sea. Miriam was also a midwife, helping to deliver the Jewish babies despite Pharoahs evil decrees that all the babies should be thrown into the river. 4. Their language, their names and the way they dressed. 5. During the plague of darkness the Jewish people searched in the Egyptian peoples hiding places and made a note of how much money and treasures they had. When the Jews left Egypt they asked to be paid for all the years they had worked for free. The Egyptians tried to lie and say they didn’t have anything to pay them with. The Jewish people then pulled out the notes to prove that they did. The Jewish people therefore left Egypt with great wealth. 6. Matzah! 7.

Miriam believed that there would come a time when they would sing a song to thank Hashem for all the wonders they had been sent. She carried her musical instruments with her out of Egypt.

8. A pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud. 9. Nachshon Ben Aminadav 10. Because she remembered learning that at the point she would go under that’s when the sea split. 11. The morning after bedikat chametz, we destroy all the left over chametz. Usually through a small bonfire in the garden.

59 | Pesach 2021

Home & Away

The Joys of Walking in the Chilterns by Mike Stoller


Early days have always been a keen rambler (the walking variety that is). I suppose my passion for walking started in my home town of Edinburgh and somewhat unconsciously. We did not own a car and Edinburgh is quite a compact city, so walking just became a natural way to get to places. The city is surrounded by hills so within a short bus trip you could enjoy fantastic scenery, the peacefulness of nature and the piercing winds coming in from the Firth of Forth. The Shul nestled at the foot of Arthur’s Seat, the extinct volcano towering over the city, so even on Yom Kippur a short stroll to clear one’s head led to quite stunning scenery - a cut above Cecil Park and Marsh Road! Many people have said that the one positive thing coming out of the pandemic has been the chance to appreciate nature and the beauty around us. On local walks we have noticed the joys of nature and discovered areas within a few miles of Pinner that have surprised and at the same time uplifted us. I’d like to tell you how much walking has meant to me, and to take you a little further from Pinner into the Chilterns, not that far from our homes. When I first came to London, I felt somewhat hemmed in by the city despite its many fine parks, and I needed to discover its lungs. Eventually I joined a Jewish rambling group, the Overlanders (later Derech) which met each Sunday for walks in the country. By then I had met Gill at FZY and she was one of the founder members of the Overlanders. I was delighted she had a common interest in walking although perhaps I was slow to realise that her other passion was dogs! Our 60 | Pesach 2021

Pinner friends will remember the many Matzah rambles we led, which were most successful despite the variable weather that April usually throws at us!

Why walking? So, what is it about walking that we find so wonderful: 1. It is just great exercise in the fresh air. 2. A chance to enjoy the incredible beauty and variety of our countryside. 3. The feeling of glorious space and an instant remedy to stress and tension. 4. A spiritually uplifting experience watching the birds, seeing the seasons change, discovering new views, and observing the incredible transformation of the countryside. 5. So much to learn whether it is the type of tree or crop, the styles (pun intended!) of buildings, the history and the monuments, the wild flowers and the wildlife. 6. The opportunity to get lost, get drenched, become caked in mud, but at the same time to have a great conversation, and enjoy a drink at a welcoming pub. 7. A pastime Gill and I have enjoyed throughout our married life.

The Chilterns Let me encourage you to enjoy this beautiful area which is rightly classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and possibly will acquire National Park status in the future.

Home & Away cutting across the entrance to Chequers (tea with Boris if you are lucky!) Alternatively, Wendover Woods is the place for a hot summer day and you can Go Ape with your children. ● Henley and Marlow- these are classy towns on the Thames superb for strolling around, then walk along the river in either direction. Anywhere along the Thames is worth a visit- try Cookham or Hurley. ● Chesham Ridges- not far from Chesham is Cholesbury Common. You can go in various directions through an impressive prehistoric settlement towards Tring or across the undulating valleys and ridges with their hilltop villages. ● Hambleden- another great starting point for walks. Hambleden is one of the prettiest villages in the Chilterns, with cobbled pavements and the grave of WH Smith, who became Lord Hambleden. The Chilterns stretch from Henley and Goring in the south to near Hitchin in the north and provide a varied landscape ranging from rolling open farmland interspersed with copses and hedgerows, to hilly chalk downland, to quite dense mainly beech woodland. The chalk grassland provides the most important wildlife habitat rich in flowers and butterflies. Birdlife is diverse with buzzards, lapwings and skylarks a common sight. Red kite can now be seen all over the area and have been an enormous success story in the Chilterns. The Chilterns are crossed by a number of ancient routes such as the Icknield Way (going back to Neolithic times and it seems stretching from Dorset to Norfolk) and the Ridgeway. At various sites you can see burial mounds from that era and hillforts from the later Iron Age. You will discover ancient churches clad in beautiful flint which was used back in the Stone Age to make tools and arrowheads. The Chilterns provided a major training base during World War II. The area is dotted with very attractive villages and welcoming pubs (although fewer today than before).

Some walking ideas Let me just suggest a few of my favourite places to start circular walks in the Chilterns. ● Chess Valley- start from Chorleywood Common and walk down to the Chess. There are beautiful routes on either side of the river, leading to the pretty villages of Chenies (with its Tudor manor house and attractive gardens and 22 individually cut brick chimneys) and Latimer (Rudolf Hess was interrogated there during World War 11) and the attractive watercress beds. ● Wendover- a great starting point for walks. Climb up to the summit of Coombe Hill where the effort is rewarded by an exhilarating view of the Vale of Aylesbury, the highest viewpoint in the Chilterns. Then take a glorious circuit

● Ashridge and Ivinghoe- Park at the Bridgewater Monument, in memory of the ‘father of the English canal system’. A classic walk takes in the beautiful Ashridge estate, the stunning climb to Ivinghoe Beacon and the peaceful village of Aldbury. ● Turville- perhaps the most quintessentially English walk takes in the lovely villages of Turville, Fingest and Skirmett. Turville goes back to the 8th century and is well known as the location for many TV and film productions including the Vicar of Dibley and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Beware though of the stocks! If you feel energetic climb to the windmill overlooking Turville. ● West Wycombe- another superb starting point for various walks. Go past the infamous Hell Fire caves, pass the Dashwood Mausoleum and stride to the lovely village of Bradenham which is owned by the National Trust.

In conclusion I hope I have whetted your appetite. Don’t forget some superb spots nearer to home on the edge of the Chilterns such as Cassiobury Park, the Black Park and Burnham Beeches, where for a matzah ramble you can even set out from the village of Egypt! Many books are available to help with circular routes, but I would always recommend taking a map and a compass – it helps to know your direction of travel! I remember one fine summer day when we followed a nine mile walk near Hambleden and I did not check the map as we sauntered through glorious woodland. Somehow, we travelled in completely the wrong direction and added an exhausting eight miles to our ramble. Never to be repeated! I hope by the time you read this article we will all able to enjoy the wonders of walking in the countryside. 61 | Pesach 2021

Home & Away

Roasted Courgette Soup by Gail Weinstein This is a thick and wholesome soup with a nutty flavour, perfect for a winter’s day. It is quick to make and so ideal for that last minute dinner party. Roasting the courgettes is an added step, but it helps to add depth of flavour to the dish. Be careful not to add too much liquid as it is meant to be a thick soup. The croutons are easy to make and you can choose the herbs you like best. They are a great addition to a salad. Obviously, for pesach omit the croutons!

Ingredients: » 6 large fat courgettes, sliced

» Coarse sea salt and black pepper

» 1- 2 Tbsp vegetable stock powder

» Olive oil

Prep time: 10 mins

» 500ml water

For the Garnish » Small container of crème fraiche (optional)

Cook time: 30 – 40 mins

» 1 medium sized onion diced » 2 Garlic cloves chopped

Yield: 6 people

» Croutons, seeds or nuts (optional)

Method: 1. 2. 3.






Place the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 200°C / 180°C fan. Wash the courgettes and cut them into thick slices. Put them into a roasting dish, making sure they are evenly spread out and not on top of each other. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt and olive oil and bake for 30 mins. The courgettes should develop some brown colour, but not burn. Dice the onions. Place into a large pot and fry on a medium heat for 10 minutes until they are translucent. In the last few minutes, add a peeled and chopped garlic clove (add more if you like garlic) and fry for a few more minutes or until fragrant. Add the roasted courgettes to the onions. Mix the boiled water with the vegetable stock in a jug and add to the mixture. Cook together for about 5 – 10 minutes. The courgettes are already soft, so this just helps to mix the flavours together. Using a hand blender, blend the courgettes until completely pureed, with no lumps. Your mixture should be thick and creamy. You can do it in a free-standing blender if you want an even finer, smoother mixture. At this stage, you need to taste the soup and check if it needs more seasoning. Add salt

62 | Pesach 2021

and pepper to your taste. 9. If your soup is too thick, add a little bit of extra water. This soup is better thick, but the size of courgettes varies, so the final decision is up to you. 10. To serve the soup, garnish with a swirl of crème fraiche across the top and sprinkle with either croutons, seeds or nuts to add another texture.

Croutons Ingredients

» Whole-wheat bread (or any left-over white or brown bread) » Mixed herbs or any herb of your choice » Salt and pepper » Olive oil

Method 1.

Place the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 200°C/ 180° C fan.


Remove the crust from the slices of bread.


Cut the bread into small squares, keeping them a similar size.


Sprinkle with the oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Mix with your hands to coat well.


Put in the oven and bake for about 10 - 15 minutes until brown and crunchy.

Home & Away

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream by Gail Weinstein This is a quick and easy recipe that I have been making for many years. It originally came from my mother-in-law. My children looked forward to it whenever we went to South Africa and had a meal in her home. I always make more than I need as I know my children will keep digging into it whenever they feel like a treat. This is a non-dairy ice cream ideal for meat meals. You can adapt the recipe in lots of ways to make it look and taste different every time. All you need is your imagination.

Prep time: 20 mins Freeze time: 4 hours / overnight Yield: 10 people

Basic ice cream ingredients: » 4 fresh eggs » ½ cup sugar » 375ml Riches non-dairy whipping cream » 200g Menage baking chocolate

Additional ingredients: » Halva » Marshmallows » Kosher mint chocolate instead of ordinary chocolate » Hazelnuts etc

Garnish » Chocolate shavings or chunks

Method: 1. Separate the eggs. 2. Beat the egg whites until they are light and fluffy, then add ¼ cup sugar and beat together until they are stiff. Put it to one side. 3. Chop 150g of chocolate and melt in a double boiler or the microwave. Chop the rest of the chocolate into thick chunks and keep for later. 4. Whisk the egg yolks together with the ¼ cup of sugar. 5. Add the melted chocolate to the egg yolks and mix till well blended. 6. Add the non-dairy cream to the chocolate yolk mixture and whip together. 7. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. 8. Add the chunks of chocolate and any extra ingredients at this stage e.g. marshmallows, halva, nuts etc.

9. Place into a mould of your choice and freeze until ready to serve. A thick glass bowl will be safe to put into a freezer. In this photo, I put After Eight chocolates around the cake tin before I added the ice cream. 10. Garnish with grated chocolate, marshmallows etc

Variations: 1.

You can make plain white ice cream if you prefer by just leaving out the chocolate. 2. The mould you use can vary the presentation. Some suggestions are the following: glass bowl, loaf tin, ice cream mould, spring form cake tin. Just make sure that if you want to take it out of the mould, you have lined it first or the mould is flexible.

63 | Pesach 2021