Category: Chairman’s message

Chairman’s message 21 October

Dear Friends

A few weeks ago I became an Honorary Freeman of the City of London. As it is an Honorary title it gives me no rights but it is interesting to know that were I not “Honorary” I could drive my sheep and cattle over London Bridge; have a silken rope, if hanged and carry a naked sword in public. I can’t say that I will miss any of those privileges!

I was given this honour by the Worshipful Company of Tobacco Pipe Makers & Tobacco Blenders, one of the City of London’s renowned Livery Companies. Like all Livery Companies, it encourages fellowship, supports charities and education, and plays an integral role in the City of London’s governance. The Company was originally founded in 1619 as a trade association tasked with regulating the manufacture of clay pipes. Since that time, it was twice dissolved and re-established, and so – despite its 17th century origins – it is now listed as a Modern Livery Company having been re-formed in 1954. John joined the Company in 1991 when he was granted The Freedom of The City of London. He was Master of the Company in 2009/10, hosting his Master’s dinner in Mansion House and participating in two Lord Mayor’s Shows. I was his Mistress (yes that is the title!) and so I am an Honorary Freeman as a past mistress (but I am pleased to say not yet a past wife).

I took my oath of allegiance on Zoom and quaked as I did it. It made me consider how we take for granted that members of our community are willing to stand on the Bimah and participate in or lead all parts of a service. I want to thank everyone, adult and youth who takes the time and trouble to learn our Trope, our Minhag and our music and who participates so wonderfully, without looking nervous at all. I also need to mention our Bnei Mitzvah and applaud the commitment it takes to stand in front of the congregation. This coming Shabbat is Rio Beckwith-Leever’s Bar Mitzvah who has been taught by Joe Hacker. Rio will be in the Synagogue with his family and if you are not attending please do join us on BelsizeLIVE to celebrate with them.

On this subject, I am delighted that our Joe and the Jews sessions led by Joe Hacker for Bnei Mitzvah will continue online on Zoom. They are happening on the 14 November and 5 December at 10am when the participants will discuss the parasha and other relevant subjects for our future bnei mitzvah youngsters.

You might be interested to know that the Executive met recently and discussed a number of matters including the fact that Cheder is remaining on line this term. We have a Board meeting in November where further discussions will take place.

I thought you would also like to know that our Honorary Officer, Rob Nothman, has been interviewed by Maccabi GB. Rob spoke about his career in broadcasting and answered some questions. If you would like to watch this it is on: https://www.facebook.com/maccabigb/videos/348085853305878

This coming Sunday 25 October there are two events that the synagogue is hosting – a quiz for the Youth and a Concert for the whole community:

  • Caroline Loison will be running an ONLINE Trivial Pursuit-style quiz for B²/BSS Youth this Sunday at 4pm. Everyone is welcome for an hour of fun. Questions will vary in difficulty for all ages. Please bring a pen and paper to write your answers down and a drink and some nibbles to enjoy whilst you quiz! Caroline will be ONLINE from 3:50pm – Please join her.
  • From 7pm, Music at Belsize is delighted to present an orchestral concert, which will be professionally recorded live in our synagogue and released as an exclusive video premiere on our website. The concert will feature the incredibly talented London Young Sinfonia, conducted by Elias Brown, with guest conductor being none other than our member, Philip Keller. The orchestra will perform Haydn’s sparkling symphony no. 90, followed by the epic symphony no. 4 by Beethoven. What a treat to have this available to us, particularly as this year is the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.

I have also been told about an event run jointly by InsidersOutsiders and the AJR on Sunday 25 October 5pm-7.30pm when there will be an online talk: Restitution: Gimpel vs the French Government – a Seven Year Saga. For seven years, the grandchildren of eminent art dealer René Gimpel (1881-1945) mounted a campaign to recover three paintings by André Derain, which they believed were seized from their grandfather in forced sales during the occupation of France. Finally, a verdict in the case – Gimpel vs the French Government – was reached on 30 September 2020, after copious research, forensic detective work and two high court proceedings. One grandson, also called René Gimpel, will recount this extraordinary saga, and describe how during the war his grandfather, his English wife and their three children were involved in Resistance activities throughout occupied France. This event is free but you need to register and to do so please go to the InsidersOutsiders website at https://insidersoutsidersfestival.org/event/restitution-gimpel-vs-the-french-government-a-seven-year-saga/

That is all from me for this week. Gardening tips are below.

Stay safe and stay well

Jackie

Gardening Tips

Just to remind you that whilst he is not an expert, John is happy to try to answer any gardening questions that you may have. Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at adam@synagogue.org.uk and he will pass them on.

  • Although there are still flowers in some gardens, such as fuchsias, dahlias, asters, chrysanthemums and even the odd stray rose, most perennials are ready to be cut down and tidied up for the winter. The ground in the beds should be cleared of debris and made ready for planting bulbs.
  • Climbing roses should be pruned by the end of the month.
  • Watch for the first signs of frost: leaves on plants such as dahlias and cannas beginning to go black. These plants, and begonias can either be cut back and lifted and stored in a dry, frost free place or else, if they are in a reasonably sheltered place, covered in mulch after being cut down and left to come back in the spring.
  • Containers with summer flowering plants that still look OK can be kept going for another two or three weeks before replanting for winter colour and spring bulbs.

Chairman’s message, 14 October

Dear Friends

As I sit down to write this email I have realised that it is my 30th one! When I started I didn’t expect to be doing them for so long but thought I was just giving out some important information at a time of great uncertainty. Yet now, they have become a part of my life and my routine each week revolves around writing them. I scour the Sunday news for a relevant or funny story (no luck this week), I spend Monday thinking about the previous week and if anyone would be interested in what I have done, I spend Tuesday deciding that my life is not interesting enough and then sit down early on Wednesday morning to write to you. This week I find that my head is still full of Synagogue melodies and so this email isn’t about what I have been doing all week but it is about our wonderful services that started with Selichot and ended with Simchat Torah.

Our two Zoom Simchat Torah services were a joy to participate in. We had 30 screens joining in for each service. Stewart Kerry was our Chatan Torah and read beautifully. Rabbi Altshuler was Chatan Beresheit and it was an honour to hear him. An enormous thank you goes from all of us to Cantor Heller who organised the Zoom, produced some uplifting videos with songs for us to watch or sing at home and of course delivered the Zoom service as well. As I said on the Zoom at the Kiddush, I thank both Cantor Heller and Rabbi Altshuler for embracing screens, masks, social distancing, hand sanitising and of course technology and giving us the most wonderful experiences throughout this period.

I also need to thank the Choir and Ben Wolf, you may not be aware that not only did they sing at our services but they came in to record services in case we couldn’t have them live (indeed last weekend we had to use the recordings) and to record for Simchat Torah. Thank you!

This was the last year that Dilys Tausz will lead the Youth Services and I cannot thank her enough for all the hard work she has done with her team (thank you to all of you too) over the years in encouraging our youngest members to participate and in leading these services. Thank you also to Richard Pollins for leading Kikar Kids and continuing to do so.

I have already thanked many people over the last few weeks but don’t want to forget Gordon, Paul and all those who deep cleaned our Synagogue so many times over the last few weeks, so that those who wanted to could participate in live services. I will finish by thanking Adam Rynhold, David Pollins and Lee Taylor for all they have done in keeping our services Covid compliant and streaming to those at home.

Talking of the Pollins family, I am delighted to be able to tell you that Richard has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. Many of you will know that Richard was born without legs and that Vera, his mum, has Motor Neurone Disease. Last year Richard did a 40 kilometre “No Legs Walk” to raise funds for Motor Neurone Research and raised £66,614. He was honoured for this. I send congratulations on behalf of all of us.

This coming Shabbat we are celebrating the Barmitzvah of Max Slotover which will take place in the Synagogue. We are pleased that the latest restrictions have not impacted on our ability to host Bnei Mitzvah at the synagogue and look forward to welcoming Max’s parents, Victoria and Tim, their family and friends. If you attended services pre-Covid on a Shabbat morning you will have seen Max and his brother Joey at most of them. Please join on BelsizeLIVE to celebrate with the family.

On Sunday 25 October at 7pm, Music at Belsize is delighted to present an orchestral concert, which will be professionally recorded live in our synagogue and released as an exclusive video premiere on our website. The concert will feature the incredibly talented London Young Sinfonia, conducted by Elias Brown, with guest conductor being none other than our member, Philip Keller. The orchestra will perform Haydn’s sparkling symphony no. 90, followed by the epic symphony no. 4 by Beethoven. What a treat to have this available to us, particularly as this year is the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. The flyer is attached to this email.

You will already have seen the announcement about Mitzvah day which this year is on Sunday 15 November. We will again be running a number of activities both in the Cheder and also the wider community, including collecting and distributing food and other essential items for the Camden Food Bank, as well as putting on a virtual concert for the residents of the Wellesley Road Care Home in Camden. Please look out in News From the Square for the list of items most needed by the food bank as well as times for you to drop them off at the Synagogue on Sunday mornings from the start of November. We are also asking for volunteers who either play a musical instrument, would like to sing or tell some (audience appropriate!) jokes to join the concert and let the office know by 25 October so we have time to put a programme together. Please contact Adam Rynhold at adam@synagogue.org.uk if you would like to be included.

Lastly I have been asked by our member, Emily Marbach, to let you know that if you are venturing out, the Bulgarian Cultural Institute (located at the Bulgarian Embassy, 186-188 Queen’s Gate, SW7 5HL) have an exhibition inspired by the 77th Anniversary of the saving of the Bulgarian Jews from the Holocaust. Emily’s artwork is on display at the exhibition which finishes on 20 October.

That is all from me this week. Stay safe and stay well.

Jackie

Gardening Tips

Just to remind you that whilst he is not an expert, John is happy to try to answer any gardening questions that you may have. Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at adam@synagogue.org.uk and he will pass them on.

  • I was asked this week how to overwinter geraniums as the plants did so well this summer. The hardy geraniums, those wild looking plants with many single flowers that bloom all summer are actually perennials that can be left in the ground. Like all perennials, they should be cut back now or as soon as they have died down at the end of their flowering season.
  • Tender geraniums are actually pelargonium – this is what we all usually think of as geraniums – the ones that look so lovely in all the window boxes throughout France. They can be taken up and potted and then kept away from frost on a sunny windowsill in a shed, garage, kitchen or in a heated conservatory – anywhere with light, so long as they don’t catch the frost.
  • As soon as the earth has dried up a little, start planting spring bulbs outside – although they can go into containers now. However tulips must not be planted until after the first frost. They can be planted right up to the end of the year, until the soil is frozen solid. They rot and get diseases in warmer soil and only start putting out roots when it’s very cold. However, remember, squirrels love tulips – but not chilly powder!
London Young Sinfonia flyer

Chairman’s message 7 October

Dear Friends

You may remember my story in the Spring of being on the roof of our shed. Well, I haven’t had to do that again but we have now cleared it out. Our house is small and so everything that we don’t use but “may need some day” ends up in the shed. It took us a whole day to do and meant that we filled up the car with black bags full of things that went to the tip. Some of it was easy to throw away, broken plant pots, footballs with holes in them, dried up paint pots, cushions that were never going to recover from the damp. Some of it was quite tough, riding boots that I hadn’t used for 15 years and never would again but kept “just in case”; the lost opportunity of seeds that we had bought at a garden show years ago but never got round to planting, so the mice had enjoyed them instead; a broken children’s tent where, looking at it, I could still hear the laughter over many years. Yet at the end of it, we had space (which we are already filling up with new “may need them some day” items) and a great sense of achievement.

I watched our Succot services on BelsizeLIVE and was thinking that yet again they were, thank goodness, what I have always known our Synagogue to be. We have not filled up a metaphorical car boot and thrown parts of what we do away, so that we can fill up with the new. We have managed to embrace a “new normal “ while keeping our minhag and sense of community. Our Ministers and Choir have played a large and key part in that but so have you. You have watched the services and emailed with comments and thanks, you have volunteered, you have attended, you have read my emails (!!) and for that I thank you all.

On thanks I wanted to mention and thank Justyn Trenner, Carol Cohen and everyone who volunteers for Security. Justyn stood outside the Synagogue for most of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and he, with support from Carol, organised all the Security protocols. Without them we would not have been able to hold our live services. Thank you!

Now that the Festivals are almost at an end, please do send me information on things that you hear about that people might be interested to follow as the days get shorter. If you have ideas for Belsize Community events or speakers that we might be able to hold on Zoom then please send them in.

You will have seen the booking email for Erev Shabbat & Erev Shemini Atzeret on Friday 9 October, and Shabbat & Shemini Atzeret morning service (including Mazkir) – on Saturday 10 October. These are live services in the Synagogue and if you would like to attend please do book but they will also be streamed on BelsizeLIVE.

Our Simchat Torah services will be held on Zoom this year, this is the first time that we are doing this, so please do try and join us. Rabbi Altshuler and Cantor Heller have been working hard on the content of these services and of course on the Saturday we will also hear and honour our Chatan Torah, Stewart Kerry and Chatan Beresheit, Rabbi Altshuler. The services are on Saturday 10 October at 6.45pm and Sunday 11 October at 10am.

I wrote several weeks ago to say that we were hoping to open our Cheder after half term. Last week, we held a meeting to discuss this and made the difficult decision that we would keep BSS Cheder ONLINE for the moment due to the current uncertainty surrounding the Pandemic and the direction that it is taking. We will, of course, be reviewing this situation on a regular basis and we will keep you informed of any updates as and when there are any. We continue to have an innovative and engaging online Cheder, and Caroline Loison is constantly coming up with new ideas, so whilst we would all like to be back in the building I am very proud of our Cheder online.

I have been sent a link to a wide range of free podcasts from the last Limmud. It does seem that there’s something for everyone. The Limmud sessions are available here

The Wiener Library have a new online exhibition : The Persecution of Black People in Nazi Germany: Ronald Roberts’ Story. This exhibition explores the life of Ronald Roberts, born in Germany in 1921 to a white German mother and a Black British/Barbadian father. You can find it on the Wiener Library website at: https://wienerlibrary.co.uk

That is it from me for this week but I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to email me or Lee about the Festival Services so far and to also comment on my community emails. It is all much appreciated. Please keep doing so.

So for now, the gardening tips are below. Stay safe and stay well.

Jackie

Gardening Tips

Just to remind you that whilst he is not an expert, John is happy to try to answer any gardening questions that you may have. Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at adam@synagogue.org.uk and he will pass them on.

  • Not wanting to trespass into Henny’s field (or allotment), Gardeners’ World is providing advice on what vegetable seeds can be sowed in October for next year’s crop of peas, salads, lettuce, broad beans and cauliflower. Check it out here.
  • Given the torrential rain of the past week the garden is too wet to plant bulbs other than in pots and containers. We’ll have to wait for a few dry days and perhaps even sunny spells. Until then keep any bulbs already delivered in open boxes in a dry and airy location. When planting, start with daffodils then hyacinths and tulips when its cooler.
  • Continue to keep the beds and lawns free of fallen leaves. Be considerate of neighbours if you feel it necessary to use leaf blowers or vacuums.

Chairman’s message, 30 September

Dear Friends

As I write to you, I still have the synagogue melodies in my head from Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur. Traditionally, I am given the honour of making the Board announcements on Kol Nidre to a packed Synagogue. This year there were no announcements but our Synagogue was still “packed” just split into many different locations. In our house we connected our laptop to our television, watched all the services and we stood up and sat down in all the right places. As I said last week, I felt a sense of belonging and that people were there with me even if I couldn’t see you. The familiar music and rhythm of the services kept me emotionally and spiritually engaged for the full period. I hope you had a similar experience.

Many of you have written in or sent messages saying how much you enjoyed the services too and I wanted to share a couple with you.

“We were glued to our iPad and were very happy with what we heard and saw. Rabbi Altshuler’s Neilah sermon was outstanding. We miss our London family. We have not seen each other for about six months. Zoom and WhatsApp are a help. And so was Belsize Square Synagogue. Shana Tova”

“I just want to write to say how much I enjoyed joining in the Live Stream services over Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur at Belsize Square Synagogue. I felt that I could really take part in the Yom Tov services and feel uplifted by them. So thank you to all at Belsize Square for widening your services to the wider community and enabling us to enjoy the Yom Tovim in these strange times.

We have also heard from you how disappointing it was that Livestream failed during Rabbi Altshuler’s morning sermon where we lost the sound and connection for a short period. I am happy to say that Rabbi Altshuler will be recording that sermon again this week and we will send a link out to you so that you will be able to listen to it.

For those of us organising the service the loss of Livestream was a tense moment and we were wondering if we would have to spend the rest of the day streaming our recorded back-up services whilst the “live” service continued in the Synagogue. Fortunately, Lee Taylor in the office at the Synagogue and David Pollins from home, managed to get Livestream working again. A heroic effort on their part!

As with Rosh Hashanah I thought you would be interested to know that we continue to have an astounding response to the BelsizeLIVE streaming. As I explained last week we count this by individual devices tuning in to a service, so when you read these figures please remember that we could have two or more people watching each device. We have had many messages from individuals who are not members who have told us how uplifting our services are and how grateful they are that we make it them available to the wider community all over the world. On Kol Nidre 1702 devices tuned in for the service with 698 devices the most watching at any one time; on Yom Kippur the maximum number we had at any one time was 597 and overall we had a total of 2040 different screens tuned in at some point during the day.

Another tradition in our Synagogue is that as Chairman I wait until the Simchat Torah Kiddush to make a speech thanking everyone who has participated in the services. I will write more after Simchat Torah but I want to thank Rabbi Altshuler now, for his thought provoking sermons and for the commitment he has shown in making Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur a memorable and involving experience for us all, wherever we are. As he reminded us, this is his last High Holydays before his sabbatical starts and we had all hoped to be in Synagogue with him during this period in order to honour him. I would like in some small way to honour him instead with this email message on behalf of us all and to say that he has a place in all our hearts.

Some of you will remember that on Yom Kippur last year Rabbi Altshuler announced that his friend Maxim Vengerov would come to our Synagogue to play Kol Nidre, before joining us in prayer. Sadly Covid-19 made that an impossibility but I wanted send a message to Maxim that he and his family are always welcome at Belsize Square Synagogue and we send them our good wishes.

On my early thank you list is also Cantor Heller, who has sung so magnificently and movingly over the Festivals so far. Over the last few months and quietly in the background he has also created back-up recordings of our services and recordings for youth services. We would be lost without him and “thank you” is inadequate but heartfelt.

I could go on but more will follow after Simchat Torah. In the meantime I can say that our Yom Kippur youth services, Kikar Kids and youth activities were also a success. Around 40 screens joined our Zoom services and the youth activities organised by Caroline Loison had 20 young people join the sessions throughout the day.

You will already have received the email about booking a place in Synagogue for our Sukkot services. Please do reply and if you prefer to be at home then please do watch on BelsizeLIVE. I am chairing a planning Committee meeting tonight to make sure that all arrangements for the remaining Festivals are in place. Can I also remind you not to bring Lulav and Etrog with you this year if you are attending .

This coming Shabbat morning at 11am we will hold Kikar Kids in the Synagogue Hall. The first “live” one was a lot of fun and if you would like attend then you must book a place. Please contact Adam Rynhold on adam@synagogue.org.uk

Many of you will not have seen the Yom Kippur Zoom Youth Service this year and I would like to end with a link to a recording that was used. It is our Youth Choir singing Adon Olam. I am very proud of them and they will producing another recording for Simchat Torah. Please go to https://youtu.be/CJqMlU1OBZo

That is it from me for this week, the gardening tips are below. Stay safe and stay well

Jackie

Gardening Tips

Just to remind you that whilst he is not an expert, John is happy to try to answer any gardening questions that you may have. Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at adam@synagogue.org.uk and he will pass them on.

  • It’s now time to plant spring flowering bulbs, except for tulips that should wait another month until the ground is cooler. It’s also a good time to move or plant new trees and shrubs to give them a chance to establish their roots before its gets too cold.
  • Keep deadheading to prolong the flowering season of asters, rudbeckia and dahlia.
  • Keep lawns clear of fallen leaves to avoid them suffocating the grass. It’s also a good time to repair patches of lawn by reseeding or replacing bare patches with new turf.
  • Do not prune spring and summer flowering shrubs and keep the dead flowers on hydrangea to protect next year’s flowering buds.

Chairman’s message 23 September

Dear Friends

Last week I wrote about how strange this Rosh Hashanah was going to be. I thought I wouldn’t enjoy the services for all the reasons that I gave last week and yet, I found myself easily following the services at home and humming along with the choir. No need to worry if I was out of tune, no concerns over whether I was whispering too much in the silent parts, no scramble to find my place in the prayer book if I got distracted. Above all though, I felt a sense of belonging and that people were there with me even if I couldn’t see you. I was “home” in all senses of the word, both physically and spiritually. I hope that you experienced this too, whether attending a service or watching on BelsizeLIVE.

I am pleased to say that all our services in the Synagogue over Rosh Hashanah were full and I have had wonderful reports from people who attended one. Rabbi Altshuler and Cantor Heller made it a moving experience and the choir sounded superb. For those of you who were not there and have asked the question, yes they were singing live, it was not a recording. One member who attended wrote to me:

“Thank everyone for an absolutely exquisite service. We were privileged to get tickets today and, moreover, to belong to such an international, wonderful Synagogue.”

We also had an astounding response to the BelsizeLIVE streaming. We count this by individual devices tuning in to a service, so when you read these figures please remember that we could have two or more people watching each device. On Erev Rosh Hashanah 272 devices tuned in; on Rosh Hashanah first day 698 devices tuned in ; on Rosh Hashanah evening 95 devices tuned and on Rosh Hashanah second day there were 506 devices tuned in. That is a total of 1571 screens tuned into services. We know that people watched from as far away as America, Israel, Australia & South Africa. We have had messages telling us how wonderful the services were, such as:

“I joined you via streaming for Rosh Hashanah. I live in Sussex and although there were Services being held locally, I am having to shield. I have to tell you that for me the Belsize Square Synagogue Services were beautiful. The Rabbi, the Chazan, the Choir all gave such Spiritual uplift and I really deeply appreciate the amount of work involved. Thank you all so much and I look forward to being with you on Kol Nidrei and Yom Kippur.”

Whether you were at home or in the Synagogue, I hope you agree that it was very special to be able to have Cantor Heller open our Ark and for us to see all the scrolls for the first time since lockdown.

A question that I have been asked this week by people who watched at home is, how could we have someone blow the Shofar in the Synagogue when it is against the guidelines? Well, I can reassure you that the Shofar was blown outside the Synagogue. There is an emergency exit door at the side of the Synagogue by the Bimah and Patrick Sciamma stood outside in the open air with a microphone and blew it from there. We had placed a plastic screen across the door so that no droplets would enter the Synagogue. You will also have seen Adam Rynhold moving screens and microphones during the services, this was so that they could be thoroughly cleaned between each person using them.

Our Youth and Kikar Kids Zoom services were also a great success. 20 young people took active parts in the Youth Service in Hebrew and English with many more watching with their families at home. On the second day Rosh Hashanah there was a Family Quiz related to the Festival with prizes. Here are some quotes from participants about the two days:

“ I just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed the Rosh Hashana youth services ……. I found Sunday’s service particularly warm and intimate, not an easy feat through a screen.”

“You still managed to ensure the children were involved, took part and felt comfortable through your encouragement as you would have done had we been doing it live.”

If you don’t have a place at the live services for Kol Nidre or Yom Kippur please do watch on BelsizeLIVE. The link is www.synagogue.org.uk/services/live. Don’t forget about Youth and Kikar Kids services and also all the activities for young people on Yom Kippur. Details are in the booklet that we sent out but if you don’t have them any more you can find it here www.synagogue.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/HH-Booklet-2020-v2.pdf

I thought you would like to know that before Rosh Hashanah three things happened. Firstly, between the Honorary Officers and myself we signed greetings cards with messages to every member (sometimes one card to the whole family). In addition, 12 volunteers baked 43 honey cakes that were delivered to some of our more elderly members who said that they would like to receive them. Thirdly, every member aged over 30 received a phone call or message from the Tikkun Olam Committee phone volunteers. Thank you to everyone who made this happen, baking, phoning, writing, delivering and organising. This is what defines us as a Community, we truly care for and take notice of everyone. I hope you know that even if we don’t see each other, you are still part of this wider family.

I am attaching to this email this year’s D’var Torah booklet containing the pieces written by each of our young members who have had their Bar or Bat Mitzvah. We usually publish this in hard copy but as you have it with this email please do take time to read it. It is inspiring.

I would like to finish by letting you know that the Board of Deputies have sent us the Rosh Hashanah messages sent to the Jewish community by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. You can find them at:

That is all from me this week. Stay safe, stay well and if you will be fasting then I hope you fast well too

Jackie

Gardening Tips

Just to remind you that whilst he is not an expert, John is happy to try to answer any gardening questions that you may have. Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at adam@synagogue.org.uk and he will pass them on.

  • Although many of the summer flowering plants are coming to an end, Fuchsias will keep going until the first frost. You can also buy Persian Cyclamen in flower, which will flower into the winter and winter flowering pansies which will flower throughout the winter and into the spring. However I’ve found that winter flowering pansies are best if bought now in full flower as in my experience they don’t put out many new flowers until the spring. Ornamental cabbages are a favourite of ours. They come in many different colours and should be planted now and will usually last all winter. Often in spring they produce a tall spike of yellow flowers which is a bonus.
  • The past week has been very dry and warm so gardens and pots still need watering. Even though rain is forecast it probably won’t be enough so do keep up with the watering.
  • Dahlias are in full bloom now, but as soon as the flowers fade cut their stalk down to the nearest leaves to ensure new flowers open.
  • Remember to order your spring bulbs as they’ll need planting before too long.

Chairman’s message 16 September

Dear friends

I am finding this week to be very strange as we come up to Rosh Hashanah. Normally I would be spending my time shopping for last minute fruit and vegetables for three large meals, cooking chicken soup (of course!), sorting out beds and toys for our Gibraltar family to stay and generally preparing to catch up with family and friends. I would also be checking our Synagogue service arrangements, looking at my Synagogue door rota and generally looking forward to catching up with everyone at Synagogue and hearing their news.

Whatever your usual plans are for Rosh Hashanah, I am guessing that for many, you are feeling the same as me. On the plus side (and I am always a “glass half full person”) I am definitely less stressed, I don’t have to fit in a visit to the hairdresser (I have a constant worry that someone will see my roots if they are sitting behind me, is that too vain?) or have my nails done (you can’t hand our prayer books with chipped nails!) or work out what to wear over three days. On the minus side, I just miss everyone. I miss the joy of seeing friends and acquaintances, meeting babies for the first time, squashing into the back of the youth service, popping into Kikar Kids and chatting in the tent after the service.

In case you think that this is a sad email at a time of celebration, I am immensely looking forward to watching the services on BelsizeLIVE and attending one service in person. It will be different but it will be what we each make of it. I intend to follow the services, listen to the Sermons and enjoy it. I shall think of everyone else who is also listening and for me that sense of belonging to a strong and vibrant community will fill my house and carry over all the three days. I hope it does for you too.

Our festival services started with Selichot and Rabbi Altshuler held a very successful Shiur for 20 people. More than 80 people watched Cantor Heller and the choir in the Selichot service. This is more than in a usual year and it was, I hope you will agree, a very uplifting service.

You might be interested to know that last week we held a Board meeting on Zoom and we approved our adult safeguarding policy and received training on this subject. We appointed Deborah Nerva-Cohen as the Synagogue’s designated safeguarding lead. We also reviewed the arrangements for all High Holyday services.

I wanted to let you know that Limmud have launched a digital publication, featuring submissions from across the community. It contains stories, pictures, recipes and poetry and is very interesting. It is free and can be found at isuu.com where you need to type in “Renewal by Limmud Festival”.

I have been sent the recent AJR newsletter and I am really pleased that they are letting their members know that they can access services through BelsizeLIVE. To the individual who has just joined our Congregation as they watch and enjoy our streamed services and wanted to support us, welcome and thank you so much. It literally makes me smile all the time to think of your support.

That is all from me, I wish you all a sweet year ahead, shana tova umetuka.

Stay safe and stay well

Jackie

Gardening Tips

Just to remind you that whilst he is not an expert, John is happy to try to answer any gardening questions that you may have. Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at adam@synagogue.org.uk and he will pass them on.

  • It’s an exciting month as spring bulbs I’ve ordered are being delivered. It’s a bit early for planting but it will be something nice to do during Succot! In the meantime it’s a good time to clear away debris that may have built up.
  • Deadhead Dahlias as flowers begin to fade, cutting back stems to the first leaves. Keep them staked so they don’t fall over in the wind or break under the weight of the big blooms.
  • Keep watering, especially in this lovely warm, dry weather. It’s interesting that we usually celebrate Rosh Hashanah in good weather. Let’s hope it is the start of a good and above all a healthy year for us all and enjoy this last bit of the summer!

Chairman’s message 9 September

Dear Friends

I read in the paper yesterday that Catherine Zeta-Jones, the actress, has collaborated with a company called Butterflytwists to design and promote a new line of vegan shoes. My first thought was that this was an act of kindness for vegan dogs and cats who might love shoe chewing (seriously, it was exactly that!!). Then I realised that actually these have been designed and launched with perfect timing, for all of us who do not want to wear leather shoes on Yom Kippur. Catherine will know about Yom Kippur as she is married to Michael Douglas whose father, Kirk Douglas, born Issur Danielovitch, was Jewish. Michael’s mother was not Jewish and he had no formal religious upbringing from either of his parents but he identifies as Jewish. You may not know that Michael was the 2015 winner of the prestigious $1 million Genesis Prize, granted each year in recognition of professional achievement, contribution to humanity and commitment to Jewish values and Israel. He was recognized for his cinematic work and advocacy for disarmament as a U.N. Messenger of Peace. He directed his award toward projects promoting diversity and inclusiveness in the Jewish world. So on Yom Kippur as you deny yourself leather footwear, you could be wearing something that will later on in the evening make your cat or dog very happy.

On a more serious note, you will have seen on the Shabbat booking email yesterday that we have a few members who are not social distancing at services and are standing chatting to each other and the Ministers. I implore you to take the social distancing seriously, as hard as it may be on you. The government guidelines are very clear, no socialising is allowed before or after a service. With the spiking of the virus that we read about daily in the press, if we are reported for this as it has been visible on BelsizeLIVE, we could be shut down. Please think twice before you go up to anyone to chat.

We held out first live Kikar Kids service in the hall. We have created another milestone! It was a great success with five families participating form their own space, each family had musical instruments to play and the Shofar was blown from just outside the Hall for everyone to hear. Do watch out for more information about Kikar Kids over the High Holydays and on the first Shabbat in October. A huge thank you goes to Richard and Sara Pollins for making this happen.

I know you have already seen a number of emails about things that are happening this week but I wanted to remind you that tonight at 8pm we are hosting Councillor Georgia Gould – Leader of Camden Council, in conversation with our Belsize member, Councillor Neil Nerva. Councillor Gould will share information on the impact of Covid-19 on local communities in Camden and beyond. My thanks go to Neil for organising this event.

On Sunday at 11am we will have our annual Kever Avot when we gather at Edgwarebury Lane Cemetery to remember family and friends who are no longer with us.

Also this weekend we have the Bar Mitzvah of Noah Jacobson. He and his family will be in Synagogue and if you are not attending the service please do watch on BelsizeLIVE. Noah has worked hard for this day having his lessons on Skype and will share the maf. and haf. with us. As always, I am so proud of our young people and grateful to their parents for choosing to encourage and involve them in the Belsize Square Synagogue wider family.

Lastly, we all heard the Government announcement last night on social distancing and only meeting six people at a time. I will write again if this has any impact on our plans, for now we have no clear guidance

Gardening tips from John Alexander are back, Henny tells me that her vegetable gardening only really starts in the Spring.

That is all from me, stay safe and stay well

Jackie

Gardening Tips

Just to remind you that whilst he is not an expert, John is happy to try to answer any gardening questions that you may have. Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at adam@synagogue.org.uk and he will pass them on.

  • Now September is upon us we are entering another busy period in the garden.
  • Make sure you’ve ordered your spring flowering daffodils, hyacinths and crocus for planting this month.
  • This is also the month to plant bulbs in containers for midwinter indoor displays of hyacinths, daffodils, crocus, amaryllis and the little Dutch iris. Some, like hyacinths, can be purchased already prepared for early flowering, others will need a few weeks in a cold dark place.
  • You can also plant new perennials outside later this month so order them now.
  • You can plant seeds of some hardy annuals directly into the ground now for flowering next summer. They may need some form of covering if we have a particularly heavy frost but it’s worth trying to get an early flowering next spring and summer. Try planting pot marigolds (they don’t need to be in pots, that’s just the name), cornflower, larkspur, honesty and some poppies – opium, Shirley and ladybird.
  • Keep your hanging baskets fed and watered.
  • With a warm spell ahead, keep plants, and particularly pots, well-watered and keep sprinkling slug pellets around.

Chairman’s message 2 September

Dear friends,

This Bank Holiday brought a great surprise to us. We were feeling very low before the weekend, cold weather, back in London from Cornwall and I forgot to mention last week that I had broken my little toe by stubbing it very hard on a chair in our Cornwall hotel. To cap it all we had just cancelled our next trip to Gibraltar, as we decided that we did not want to go through any airports. The phone rang late Sunday morning and my daughter in Gibraltar said she was flying in to see us that evening for 24 hours. She didn’t want to risk not seeing us for another six months and we hadn’t been together since February. We made the bed, brought out the masks, worked out what windows and doors we could keep open and she arrived. We lived outside in warm clothes for almost all the time she was here and it was wonderful. What a difference 24 hours can make!

Now that booking has closed I am hoping that all our plans for the High Holydays will bring you a feeling that Belsize is still as we know it, well almost. We have done as much as we can within the Government guidelines (we would all love to do more of our service, but we are not allowed to or cannot because of safety concerns for our two Ministers and of course you too) and have also tried to balance the experience of those in the Synagogue with those watching from home. Please do send me feedback as we move into the services.

As I said in my last email, the Planning Committee has met and we have decided that all Succot Services and Shemini Atzeret in October (Friday 2nd – Sunday 4th and Friday 9th – Saturday 10th ) will be held in the Synagogue and will also be streamed on BelsizeLIVE. Booking details will follow from Lee in due course. Erev Simchat Torah and Simchat Torah will be Zoom services so that you can participate and again more details will follow once the plans are finalised.

This weekend is Jack Loison’s Bar Mitzvah. I am sure that you remember the piece that Caroline wrote about planning for it a few weeks ago. Jack and his family will be in Synagogue, so please do watch on BelsizeLIVE if you are not coming to the service.

Cheder returns this Sunday online and in addition to the regular Sunday morning sessions we continue to offer one-to-one Hebrew lessons on line. If you are interested please contact caroline@synagogue.org.uk (but not until after this weekend!). As I said in my email last week, Kikar Kids is also back this Shabbat live in our hall. We really are up and running and I am so proud of all that we are doing!

Eve Hersov our Community Co-ordinator has reminded me that if any of you are looking for help with job hunting then Resource an organisation based in Finchley can help you, by providing expert tailored advice, mentoring, networking and training skills. Have a look at their website at www.resource-centre.org or ring them on 020 8346 4000.

I have not been sent any articles for this week but have seen a wonderful compilation clip of 1950’s artists (Fred Astaire etc) dancing to a modern song. It made me smile and so I wanted to share it with you. Go to YouTube and type in: Old Movie Stars Dance to Uptown Funk.

Still no gardening tips this week. So stay safe and stay well

Jackie

Chairman’s message 27 August

Dear Friends

This email comes to you a day late as I usually write it on a Wednesday. Yesterday we took the decision to come back early from our one week holiday in Cornwall and so I was on the road all day. We cut the week short having experienced 70mph winds on Tuesday, thanks to Storm Francis and with more rain forecast for the rest of our stay. I have to say that I have never experienced anything like strong winds and standing on a hill, in the storm, was one of the most exhilarating and terrifying moments of this year. Mind you most of the year has been spent indoors, so actually the bar is probably quite low!

Still on the subject of activities I am constantly impressed at the range of sports and thrill seeking activities that Mrs Klopstick undertakes. We hear about them regularly from her husband, Fritz, in News From The Square. Last week both of them were concerned that there will be no “chauffer blasting” at the High Holydays. I would like to reassure them and any of you who were concerned that we have agreed arrangements for the Shofar to be blown. It will occur just outside the Synagogue in the open air but will be clearly heard by all those in the Synagogue or on BelsizeLIVE. I am so impressed with all Mrs Klopstick’s activities that I would like to invite her onto our Planning Committee, so that we can harness her ideas. Perhaps Fritz could pass this on?

Please remember that booking for the High Holydays closes on Monday so if you would like to come but haven’t emailed yet please do so. For those of you who do want to attend you will hear from Lee by Friday 4 September.

The Planning Committee met again this week and we have now agreed that we will be able to have a small choir in our Friday evening services as well as Shabbat morning. The first service will be Friday 4 September. Another step forward! Plans are almost complete for Succot and the following Festivals and I will write again about those next week.

I am also delighted to say that Kikar Kids is coming back to Belsize Square from 5 September onwards, once a month. We think we are the first community to find a covid secure way of putting on a children’s service. Kikar will still start at 11am but will now be in the hall. As with the main service everyone will have their temperature taken when they arrive and all adults will need to wear masks. Families will sit inside a personalised square. It will be different and yet very special for young people and their families to be together again – even if in a socially distanced way! All bookings will be through the office – if you have any questions please send them to Lee or Richard Pollins.

I have been sent information on a JW3 evening ,which might interest you. The event takes place on line on Thursday 10 September from 8pm.The host for the evening will be Tracy Ann Oberman featuring the following guests; Boy George, Stephen Fry, Simon Callow, Shappi Khorsandi, Jim Carter & Imelda Staunton, Mark Ronson, Jason Isaacs, G4 and others. Visit the JW3 website and look for the “JW3’s Big Night In” page to watch the show on the night, when it will stream live. They are asking for voluntary donations.

That is all from me but I wanted to thank everyone who has written to me about their troubles with their bin collections. I am about to go outside to see if the bin was collected this week. There are no gardening tips this week but please do read the piece below by Sonny MacDonald who was the joint 1st place winner of the Cheder Writing Competition.

Stay safe and stay well

Jackie

Lock down by Sonny MacDonald

This year’s Passover was different. We weren’t going to our grandparents and seeing our cousins and eating the incredibly tasty dishes that my Grandma makes, or reading and singing altogether. Oh no – This year we were going to do it in a whole unique, new and exciting way.

It all started when we started the Zoom call. One by one, our family popped onto the screen. We were all fancily dressed up while our cousins wore casual jeans and colourful jumpsuits. Laid before the screen were plates of cinnamon balls, coconut pyramids, fruit, savoury dishes too. But standing majestically in all their glory were the two silver, detailed candles, like the King and Queen. We lit them and said the prayers, then opened the books. Images of Hebrew letters peered up at us, hopefully, as if begging to be read. Pictures of Moses and Israelites were also there.

After a few more pages, we came to the Seder plate. We ate the boiled egg in salt water, the parsley, the maror or bitter herb. It made my eyes water like a stream! We then ate the matzah with charoset which represents the cement the slaves used to build pyramids. Then we sat down and sang a song which was very funny as it kept going out of rhythm.

Then we focused on the plagues. We each had a mask to show the plague we represented. Now, my cousins are extremely energetic and sitting around must’ve felt like agony or holding up Mount Everest. So, the small one, Frankie, who is fabulous but frantic and funny, started running around my aunt and uncle’s dining room. What complete chaos and a total hullaballoo! This made my Grandpa furious, which made everyone else laugh. Then she mixed up the songs with random words which was even more humorous.

In the end, we were all contented, virtuous and cheerful. I never thought it would turn out to be so distinctive and fun. I just hope next year is better!

Sonny Macdonald

Chairman’s message 19 August

Dear Friends,

Since you received my email last Wednesday I have been arguing with the Council about the failed weekly collection of my brown food-waste bin. Every day on phoning the Council Complaints Section, we were given answers that varied from “it will be collected tomorrow” to “you didn’t leave it in the right place” (no, the place hasn’t moved from where you have picked it up for the last few years) to “you have rung too early in the day for us to do anything”. On Monday we were told that we would have to wait for the usual collection day this week, which is Thursday, and it definitely wouldn’t be collected before then. This, of course, meant it was collected yesterday, Tuesday!!

I cannot begin to describe the sense of powerlessness that this brought on and frustration with the system that wouldn’t do anything to help me. All this even though I know it is only a bin and in the scheme of things not at all important. However, the experience has made me want to reach out to those of you in our congregation who were due to take GCSE and A levels this year and who are now caught up in the Grades debacle. You must be feeling so many emotions and I just want you to know that as a community we are proud of everything that you achieve. I (we) hope that when this is over you have been given the grades that you deserve and that you can move on to whatever you want to do next. As you move on to new things, stay in touch with us, send us your news.

I hope that you have all received the booking information for the High Holydays that Lee sent out and that you are replying to Adam if you want to attend. I write with some good news. The Government has relaxed the restrictions on Choirs and so from Shabbat 5 September we will bring back a quartet for the Shabbat morning services. There will still be no choir on Friday evening. We have two Bnei Mitzvah Services on 5 and 12 September, so this is really good news.

We will also be able to have a live service with the choir and Cantor Heller on Selichot. In order to achieve this and to make it a good experience to watch on BelsizeLIVE, they will be on the Bimah with screens in front of them. To comply with the government guidelines on social distancing, we will not be able to open the Synagogue to the community that evening. Please plan to watch on BelsizeLIVE and don’t forget that before the service Rabbi Altshuler will be holding a Zoom Shiur. Please look out for further publicity.

During Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we also plan to have the choir present, although it will be smaller than usual, due to the need for social distancing. As I said, this is good news.

You may be interested to know that Friday 14 August was exactly 75 years since “The Boys” arrived in Windermere from the Camps. Individuals from our congregation were among them, namely Koppel Kendall, David Herman and Jan Goldberger. As well as Victor Greenberg – father of our member Alan Greenberg, and Zigi Shipper both of whom have spoken at events at the Synagogue.

I have been told that Limmud are organising an online tour of Britain. The tour will take place online on Tuesday evenings, from 7:30pm-10:00pm, 8 & 15 September and 20 & 27 October. Sessions will explore regional Jewish communities and history, as well as the usual Limmud mix of topics of national and global interest. Tickets are £5 an evening or with a10% discount if you book all four evenings. Go to: https://limmud.org/event/limmud-tour-of-britain/2020-09-15/ to book.

I have not been sent any more articles from members to publish but I am including below a piece from Ellen Polonsky who won joint first place in the Synagogue Cheder writing competition last term. The other first place piece by Sonny Macdonald will follow next week. There are no gardening tips this week but they will be back in September when there is more to do in the garden

Stay safe and stay well
Jackie

Lock down – Day 730 6am by Ellen Polonsky

In the morning it’s time for the world to wake up. Not in Lockdown. You can either sleep in till 10am or wake up at 4am, getting ready for a day of gaming. This family doesn’t do either. Their parents make them get up at 8am and put on their school clothes and do all their work at the right times.

After school is finished, they have to do some homework their parents set them. This family is called the Browns. Family members: George Brown (Dad), Emily Brown (Mum), Jack Brown (older brother) and Ella Brown (younger sister). The second the work is set, they print it out. The children have a set schedule and if they are even one second late, it’s detention for them. This is because their parents used to be teachers; that’s where they met but, a week later, they were fired after being so horrible to the kids.

After a year of dating, they got married, and had Jack and Ella. The parents thought it was paradise, while the kids thought they were being tortured. “Mum … 5 more minutes sleep, please…” said Jack and Ella in bed in the morning.

“NO! YOU’RE LATE! DETENTION!” said their Mum. Jack and Ella had already fallen back asleep. “UP! Double detention!” shouted their Mum. Then they quickly jumped up, got dressed and stood in front of their Mum.

“Good! Now into the detention room we go!” as their Mum pushed them into the living room. “For how long?” asked Ella. “Half an hour!” replied their Dad. The kids groaned. So, the kids sat down. They couldn’t sleep because there were cameras everywhere so their parents could watch their every move. But they were smart and covered up the cameras with a scarf. In a second they fell asleep but then, when some footsteps woke them up, they quickly took off the scarf and sat quietly.

When they were getting into bed, Ella had an idea! They could challenge their parents to a role swap when the parents would be kids for a day and the children would be parents! So, when the sun rose up, at 8am sharp they went downstairs and Ella told their parents the idea. They obviously said “Yes”, after all, they love challenges!

So, the next day, they got up and went to wake up their Mum and Dad. But, when they came in expecting them to be dressed and ready for a day of learning, they were just sleeping. So, they woke them up but they just groaned and started playing on their game console. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOUNG MAN?!” said Jack. “It’s the weekend.” Said his Dad. The boot was on the other foot now! So, Ella and Jack spent the rest of the day either sleeping or watching a movie.