January 2012 Tevet/Shevat 5772
2011 Kabbalat Torah group
KT 2011 L to R: Maya de Mello, Hollie Walton, Hannah-Rose Posner, Nellie Kirsh, Abby Posner, Rachel Renak, Miriam Quinn.
Inside this month: Rabbi’s Word reminisces over KT classes past on page 2 Letters to the Editor in response to last month’s thought provoking edition on page 8 Brand New Council’s Opinion on page 3 - a space for your Council Members to share their anecdotes and observations PLUS Don’t forget that, unless you request to continue to receive a paper copy, as of next month Hakol will be emailed direct to your inbox. See page 6 for more details.
f a picture is, to use the well-worn cliché, worth a thousand words, then the rabbi is happy to present several thousand words’ worth of pictures this month. A pictorial tribute to all those young people who have celebrated Kabbalat Torah at The Liberal Synagogue Elstree since 2005. December saw the 7th consecutive Kabbalat Torah service led by TLSE’s first ever allfemale group. It was a wonderful ceremony, demonstrating all that is best in Liberal Judaism. As you can see from the photo on this month’s front cover, each of the girls made their own tallit and they made one for the rabbi as well! The services they led, copies of which are available to read (and they make fascinating reading) focused on the role of women in Judaism. It was the climax of a year of study and conversation, exploration and eating
that has seen these seven young ladies learn more of their Jewish heritage and their relationship with it. There is a meeting at 12.45pm on Sunday 22nd January to discuss the arrangements for Kabbalat Torah 2012. A total of 47 young people have celebrated this moving ceremony in the past six years. It’s unique to Liberal Judaism: an opportunity for our young people to explore their Jewish identity and take their place in the chain of Jewish tradition. As the prayer that has been read by all those KT participants pictured here states, they have contemplated how each of them can play their part ‘...in the unfolding story of the Jewish people.’ The next chapter begins this month, and
the Kabbalat Torah services for 2012 will be on the weekend of December 15th16th. I look forward to welcoming the 50th young person to celebrate KT with me at TLSE - and many more!
Rabbi Pete Tobias
Council’s Opinion Inspired by the Rabbi
lease don’t tell him, but I don’t always find Rabbi Pete’s articles as interesting and thought provoking as his contribution in December. But this one was, to use a silly phrase of mine, right up my street! Pete wrote of the challenge of Liberal Judaism’s response to the demand from a young generation of Jews looking to reconnect with their tradition. If I understood him correctly, the suggestion is they are looking for the convenience of a modern reform (small r) Judaism but at the same time the comforts of orthodox traditions.
Liberal Judaism could fit the bill, it has a license to modernise and as far as I have seen is not looking to sever its links with the traditions of our race’s past. The problem comes with the kosher chicken question and it’s a story I can certainly relate to, along with the issues that arise from it.
So here’s a very personal story involving my brother and I. We were brought up in a traditional, non-orthodox United Synagogue family. Kosher home (and when we went out kosher too), Friday nights, Hebrew classes and Bar Mitzvahs etc. Moving swiftly to the present, for all intents and purposes, my brother has retained these practices and since our Mum died, he goes to Shul more often than he did previously, and in this way is more observant than our parents; especially for example as our Dad had to work Saturdays. While I never exactly lost touch with my Jewish roots, I became a great deal more engaged when I joined TLSE, Hertsmere Progressive at the time. There was no religious motivation. We joined because we weren’t members anywhere and at the time we wanted our daughter Hollie to go to Clore Shalom and we thought this would be a shoe in. Without looking for it, I ended up ‘reconnecting’ with my Judaism because I was stimulated by the intellectual challenge laid out by Liberal Judaism to which Pete refers and I continue to be to this day. So, my perspective has changed enormously from when I first joined, when being a Progressive/Liberal was just a soft option, Jewish-Lite so to speak. I now understand a little more of what we stand for, the reasons for these very convenient short services (not just to give us a lie in Saturday morning or keeping us from getting too bored) and even why Kashrut is not a priority. cont. on page 7
Religion School Here we go again! Religion School for 2012 kicks off a new term, working on Hebrew and looking at Rabbi Pete’s new prayer project. We meet on these dates in January: Sunday 8th Sunday 15th Sunday 22nd Sunday 29th
10.00 am – 12.15 pm 10.00 am – 12.15 pm 10.00 am – 12.15 pm 10.00 am – 12.15 pm
Religion School Religion School Religion School Religion School
And parents: please join us at 12.15 pm for that brilliant Religion School service to end the morning!
Bar-/Bat-Mitzvah Class The bar-/bat-mitzvah class welcomes several new members for 2012 and meets on these dates in January: Saturday 7th Saturday 21st
9.30 – 10.45 am 9.30 – 10.45 am
Participants in the bar-/bat-mitzvah class are expected to remain for the Shabbat morning service, accompanied by at least one other family member.
Kabbalat Torah The initial meeting for the KT 2012 group for parents and KT participants takes place following Religion School on Sunday 22nd January at 12.45pm. As well as deciding the times for the class to meet, we will also look for dates for the 2012 edition of the Almost Legendary KT Trip to Berlin.
Adult Education Basic Judaism discussions continue to take place regularly with one class on a Friday evening and one on a Saturday lunchtime. Although these classes are primarily intended for those converting to Judaism, other members are
welcome to join the group, which meets after the service on the following dates:
January 2012: Saturday 14th: Praying to God: the origins of worship Friday 20th: The Jewish experience of history On the Friday evening, the service commences at 8.00 pm and will be followed by the study session which normally concludes no later than 9.30 pm. On Saturdays, the class will also follow the 11.00 am service, starting at around 12.45pm and ending at 1.45pm. Refreshments will be available. Please note that those involved in the conversion programme are expected to attend the service as well as the class that follows it: attendance at services is an integral part of the conversion course.
Thursday Nights At TLSE Our Thursday night adult education programme for January and February will be looking at the Dead Sea Scrolls: the story of their extraordinary discovery, their contents (some of which we will study in depth) and the light they throw on the history of a critical period in the development of Judaism. Using a combination of video material, texts of the scrolls themselves (in English!) and independent historical sources, we will study together and try to piece together why Rabbinic Judaism was the version of our ancient religion that emerged from this turbulent period to shape the Jewish heritage for the next 1500 years.
January 2012: January 12th January 19th January 26th
7.45-9.15 pm The Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls - video followed by discussion 7.45-9.15 pm The Dead Sea Scrolls: an introduction to Qumran 7.45-9.15 pm â€˜What did the Romans ever do for us?â€™ How the Romans divided the Jews.
Services For January 2012
Fri 6th Jan 6.30pm Erev Shabbat service Sat 7th Jan 11.00am Shabbat morning service 4 Ex 12:21-42; 51; Maggid’ Marge Piercy Theme: Jewish History Fri13th Jan 6.30pm Erev Shabbat service Sat 14th Jan11.00am Shabbat morning service 5 Ex 13:17-14:30; Psalm 106:7-12 Theme: Jewish Identity Fri 20th Jan 8.00pm Erev Shabbat service Sat 21st Jan 11.00am Shabbat morning service 1 Ex 15:1-2;1The Other Shore – Shira Rubenstein Theme: Redemption Fri 27th Jan 6.30pm Erev Shabbat service Sat 28th Jan 11.00am Shabbat morning - Holocaust Memorial Day service Ex 15:22-16:26; Biblical commentaries on manna Theme: Holocaust
Hakol On Line
Don’t forget - To save the cost of postage, as of February 2012 Hakol will be sent out via Email only UNLESS members make a specific request to recieve it by post. Please let Rebecca at the TLSE office know if you would like to continue to receive it by post.
Mazel Tov! Callum Lee on his Bar-Mitzvah on Saturday 14th January
Happy Birthday! India Mizelas Jack Bernstein Adam Ben Oliver Mendelsohn Sophie Foux Joshua Alpert Joel Jaffe Molly Wingate Zach Jaffe Zoe Marcus; Callum Lee Joseph Kutcher Louis Hochenberg Sophia Clucas Emily Clucas
cont. from page 3 And now we approach the climax to this little tale. Until very recently, I hadn’t eaten meat since around 1995, so keeping kosher wasn’t much of an issue. Fish was OK with me and because of my upbringing shell fish was a huge no no, as fundamental as pork. However....for years I had a bit of a yearning to try Lobster; something to do with a Woody Allen film. Anyway, with new found confidence in my Judaism, and a diminishing fear/guilt complex, I lapsed and luxuriated in a lobster. One thing led to another, and quite soon I had embraced the prawn too. I knew this would be no light hearted matter for my brother, and when I told him what I was now eating we came the closest we have ever come to falling out. In his opinion, by eating shell fish I was betraying all our mum stood for and breaking a fundamental rule of Judaism, because my brother, like many Jews, sees Kashrut as a foundation of Judaism. I think it’s fair to say he can’t relate to a form of Judaism that does not include this observance. From my perspective, the dietary rules are no longer significant and I prefer a Judaism that is defined by an ethical and principled approach to life. As an epilogue to this account and drawing it closer to the wider points made in Pete’s article, my brother does respect the rest of my brand of Judaism and on a rare moment of intellectual conversation that didn’t involve either of our opposing football teams, we discussed my view that it was in some ways ‘harder’ to be a Liberal compared to an United Synagogue Jew. In particular, when I expressed the liberal standpoint that God didn’t write the Torah but this is neither an act of disrespect nor a view that diminishes the importance of the work, as I have heard Pete often recount, it is reflection of the questions of the people who lived at the time it was compiled, and the meaning they were seeking in their lives. These issues are no less relevant today and it is a responsibility of all future generations to similarly strive not so much for the answers but to ask equally challenging questions, albeit in way that reflects the world we live in today. Having a license to ask these questions and freely attempt to find some answers for ourselves without having to take the words of the Torah literally is a great challenge and one, quite surprisingly, my brother does not seek. For him, as in the profile of young Jews given in Pete’s article, he wants the comfort of knowing the chicken’s kosher, and he certainly doesn’t want to question the essence of his faith or belief system. Now that’s what I call Judaism-Lite!
Letters to the Editor
TLSE enjoys a close relationship with Clore Shalom primary school. Therefore we are delighted to learn that as a result of new classes opening in 2012 in other local Jewish schools, a larger number of TLSE nursery-age children living a greater distance from the school are expected to get places.
ear Editor, Two comments on the contents of December’s Ha Kol: First, re “The Rabbi’s Word”. By quoting Rabbi John Rayner, who, himself, quoted Rabbi Israel Mattuck, our rabbi gave us the lead to how we should be thinking. I believe that quote came from John Rayner’s address at Liberal Judaism’s Centenary service in 2002. I consider that we have done pretty well to last 109 years so far and we are still going strong. To quote a couple of cliches, the founders of Liberal Judaism in this country were later accused of “throwing out the baby with the bath water” so the “pendulum swung back” a bit more towards traditional practices. I think we have probably got it about right now-- but that does not mean there should not be further changes -- there is always room for new ideas and meaningful practices. That is what we should encourage our young people to consider. Additionally, we need to educate them in the intellectual honesty of Liberal Judaism and to appreciate its integrity. As for the kashrut of chickens and the covering of mirrors, I suggest that those who ask those questions should be instantly enrolled in the synagogue’s Adult Education courses and/or forced to read “Liberal Judaism: a Judaism for the Twenty First Century” by a certain Rabbi Pete Tobias. Secondly, a more parochial matter. I was unhappy to read the item on page 8, saying that, unless requested otherwise, Ha Kol will, from February, only be available on line. While I appreciate that this is a decision to save expenditure, I feel it is not a good decision on a community basis. Most of us these days are computer literate but we are inundated with on line material which we might read on screen (or sometimes not) but which we won’t bother to download and print. Additionally, is it also proposed to deal with the six issues a year of “LJ Today” (by which we know what is happening nationally in Liberal Judaism) in this way? The weekly e bulletin from the synagogue is easily read on screen because it is brief, but I do feel that our monthly magazine should remain a paper magazine. I do hope the Council will reconsider the decision.
Rosita Rosenberg 8
ear Editor, The problem with thoughtful essays is that it makes one think! Pete’s Word in the December Hakol is one such piece that deserves recognition and wider discussion. I would add that this was the most thoughtful and wellargued case for Liberal Judaism I have read. The idea that most people prefer illogical certainty to intellectual uncertainty comes as a surprise, perhaps because I hadn’t thought about it in the religious context. Clearly he is right as we can all find similar examples of rules v reason. The problem he highlights is not the issue - it is the solution that should concern us. Is the answer, as Pete suggests, a liberal orthodoxy? Is sticking to one’s principles in fact just a different form of rigidity? Is this as difficult to accept as Orthodox Judaism? Liberal Judaism’s intellectual flexibility has to me seemed to be its greatest appeal. Having therefore turned two somersaults I think I must therefore side with Pete in that this is the only way to retain integrity, even if the majority of people don’t in fact want the flexibility. Unfortunately we are living through uncertain times which makes more people look for any certainty they can, to make themselves feel better. The pursuit of members should be secondary to the principles by which the congregation exists. If life wasn’t complicated enough already, I now have to think about how my tradition isn’t what I thought it was. Thanks Pete.
ear Editor High Holy Day Appeal It was pleasing to see in December’s Hakol that the total raised in 2011 is more than in 2010. What concerns me though is when Michael says that the generosity is due to a relatively small percentage of the community and then, as in previous years, we have the list of members who have given along with “and numerous anonymous donations”. This feels to me like a kind of pressure on those members who cannot or choose not to support the Appeal, which makes me feel uncomfortable. The themed reading in Siddur Lev Chadash on Giving (page 337) discusses giving and to highlight just 3 of the quotes in the reading; “They must give, as far as possible, anonymously. “One who gives in secret is greater than Moses” As arranged by Maimonides, there are eight degrees of charity, one higher than the other. “The second best is to give in such a way that the giver does not know who the recipient is, and the recipient does not know who the giver is”. On this basis would Council consider ending the list of donor’s names that appears in Hakol at this time of year?
Name & Address supplied 9
Music Survey Q1 Age Group
Q6 Does It Enhance the Service
Q7 Is It Easy to Join the Singing
Q2 How Long TLSE Member
Q8 How Could We Make it Easier Choir to stand; musical accompaniment; choir leader; singing lessons; familiar melodies; CD with tracks on to buy Q9 Is There the Right Amount of Music
Q3 Attend Shabbat Services Q10 Would You Prefer More of Anything Q4 Childhood Jewish Upbringing
Q5 How Important is the Music
Q11 Absence of the Organ
Q12 Do You Prefer the Organ or Not
Q13 Do You Like the Intro of GuitarLed Pieces (KN/YK)
Thanks to all who completed the music survey
Security Rota Sat 7 Jan 10.15am
Sat 14 Jan 10.00am
Sat 21 Jan 10.15am
Sat 28 Jan 10.15am
Comments Choir needs more female voices; music enhances services; links the choir; rabbi should not play; less amplification; organ music as background; no more choir; choir was better at memorial/concluding service; organ to be played softly to encourage people to sing; bring back the cellist - very spiritual and moving; separate booklet for the songs; children brought up with musical tradition; guitar as background to singers other instruments to be included; new organist needed; different types of music makes it inclusive for all ages; choir to sit amongst congregation to encourage participation; a balance as YK is solemn service;
Sun 8 Jan 9.15am
Sun 15 Jan 9.15am
Sun 22 Jan 9.15am
L De La Cour
Sun 29 Jan 9.15am
The Abbeyfield Camden Society
Belmont Lodge 59 Belmont Road, Bushey, Herts
A very sheltered home for the elderly En Suite - Kosher Catering – Communal Sun Lounge We offer friendly homely, secure and loving care for our residents along with many stimulating weekly activities. • Bridge • Discussion Group • Handicrafts • Growing Plants for our lovely garden • Visits to local places of interest and much more
VERY REASONABLE RATES. Do you have a relative who may be interested in becoming a resident at Belmont Lodge? Would you like to join our vibrant team of volunteers who organise, transport or escort our residents on various outings and friendship clubs? If so please contact: Jane Kessler 0208 455 3652
House Manager Margaret 01923 213964
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web: yzphotography.co.uk email: email@example.com
Tel: 0800 234 3290
Walks Time: 2:00 for 2:15pm Date: Saturday 21st January Leader: Lisa & Leigh Renak
Welcome New Members! Braham & Susan Hochenberg, Louis & Benjamin Laris Yungerman & Tom Amanda Linke & Gregory Thorneycroft
Meet at : Shul The deadline for copy for the next issue is Wednesday 18th January
Diary For January 2012 Tue 3 Jan Fri 6 Jan
Sat 7 Jan Sat 7 Jan Sun 8 Jan Tue 10 Jan Wed 11 Jan Thu 12 Jan Fri 13 Jan Sat 14 Jan Sat 14 Jan Sun 15 Jan Tue 17 Jan Thu 19 Jan Fri 20 Jan
09:30-10:45 11:00 10:00-12:30 10:00 20:00 19:45 18:30 11:00 12:45 10:00-12:30 10:00 19:45 20:00
Sat 21 Jan Sat 21 Jan Sat 21 Jan
09:30-10:45 11:00 14:00-14:15
Sun 22 Jan Sun 22 Jan Tue 24 Jan Thu 26 Jan Fri 27 Jan Sat 28 Jan Sat 28 Jan
10:00-12:30 12:45 10:00 19:45 18:30 10:00-10:40 11:00
Sun 29 Jan Sun 29 Jan Tue 31 Jan
10:00-12:30 18:00-20:00 10:00
Pilates Kabbalat Shabbat and supper: bring food as we welcome Shabbat and eat together as a community! Bar-/bat-mitzvah class Shabbat morning service Religion School Pilates Council meeting Thursday night at TLSE Erev Shabbat service Shabbat morning service incl Callum Lee bar-mitzvah Basic Judaism:the synagogue liturgy Religion School incl MGM at 11:15 Pilates Thursday night at TLSE Erev Shabbat service followed by Adult Education: The Jewish experience of history Bar-/bat-mitzvah class Shabbat morning service Shabbat walk led by Lisa and Leigh Renak. Meet at TLSE at 2pm for 2.15pm start Religion School KT 2012 meeting Pilates Thursday night at TLSE Erev Shabbat service Tots' service followed by activities Shabbat morning service for Holocaust Memorial Day incl birthday blessings Religion School Our Space Evening In Pilates
Holocaust Memorial Service 11.00am Saturday 28th January 14
Our ANNUAL QUIZ with David Blake Tuesday 28 February
Harry leads a discussion Please telephone Carol Hurst to reserve your place 020 8950 1862 so that we can plan food and lifts.
t was great to see that TLSEâ€™s Our Space got involved in Mitzvah Day. Maybe next year a group of TLSE adults could also take part. Ideas anyone? We were invited by the Womenâ€™s Inter-Faith Group of St Albans to join them on Mitzvah day for an inter-faith tea and chat at a local Church. This group was developed from the Council of Christians and Jews, to promote inter-faith understanding. It is normally for women only, to encourage Muslim women to attend, although on this occasion men were also invited. It proved to be a pleasant afternoon, providing us with the opportunity to explain Liberal Judaism to a range of Church members, Quakers, Muslims and non-believers, as well as an opportunity to gain greater understanding of range of views held by other religions.
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Help In Bereavement JBCS is the Jewish Bereavement Counselling Service Telephone number 020 8951 3881 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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Most people need support following bereavement, and often family and/or friends can fill this need. Sometimes, however it may be helpful to talk to someone who is not emotionally involved but is there to listen and care. Bereavement counsellors have specific knowledge of the grieving process and can provide support, which may assist you to: • Understand your feelings • Identify additional support available • Readjust to a different life situation
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Saturday February 4th 2012 Curtain up at 7.30PM Popcorn and Soft drinks supplied. Singing and dancing optional but highly recommended....
CONGRATULATIONS, MGM! (Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah)! Mazal tov to TLSE’s new youth venture, the monthly mitzvah team, for their first event last month – a toy sale that raised more than £50 for the TLSE youth fund. Next month’s venture will be on January 15th – watch out for details of what our enterprising young people are doing for their community.