Category: Chairman’s message

Chairman’s message 5 August

Dear Friends

I usually start this email with something that has happened to me during the week. Well, this week I have had some feedback on these emails, which has made me think about them. Some young parents have said that whilst what I write is relevant to everyone, my weekly experiences do not “speak” specifically to them. Of course they are right, I don’t have young children or teenagers and can only imagine what the last few months must have been like. So, I am specifically asking younger members of the Community if you would please volunteer to send me pieces about your experiences up to now (or current as we move forward) that you would be happy to share. Whether you are a parent, single, teenager, University student, in a new job, job hunting or school age and would like something included please send it in. Nothing will be too small (just a few sentences will do) or too long (no dissertations please). I already have two volunteers, so you won’t be alone. So to those who sent in the feedback (you know who you are), thank you!

As you know we held the two trial services last weekend and have made a few changes as a result. Thank you so much to the volunteers who came and gave us feedback. I also want to thank Justyn Trenner and Carole Cohen who have been designing and testing our Security arrangements to make sure that we are both physically and Covid-19 secure. One of the things that I have consistently heard is that it is difficult for people to be in Synagogue without the choir singing. As you know we are bound by the Government guidelines that do not permit singing by a choir or by any member of the congregation. We are trying to see if we can record the choir in the empty Synagogue (this is permitted) and then add the recording into our live services. I will let you know how it goes but in the meantime please be understanding of our service limitations, they have been imposed upon us for our own safety.

By now you should have received Lee’s email on booking arrangements. If for any reason the email has not arrived please do contact him on We are also posting this information to members who are not on email.

This evening Wednesday 5 August at 8pm, Allan Morgenthau will be interviewing James Harding on Zoom. James Harding began his career as a journalist at the Financial Times in 1994 and two years later opened the paper’s Shanghai bureau where he covered the opening up of the Chinese financial markets, remaining there until 1999. In 2007, he moved on to the Times where, at 38, he became its youngest ever editor as well as first ever Jewish editor. He was ousted by owner Rupert Murdoch five years later and moved on to the BBC as director of news and current affairs. James argues that the demand for breaking news has led to “headline addiction” which is why he co-founded Tortoise Media of which he is also editor. Tortoise is a subscription service offering ‘slow news’ from award winning journalists. Allan is a member of our Synagogue and James grew up in it. If you would like to hear the interview please contact Adam on for log in details.

Our member Peter Summerfield BEM has published an interesting article “The Saga of the Useless Keys” on the Sussex University website. You can find it at
You may also like to know that Jewish Book Week have a number of recordings of events and talks accessible free from their website at

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


Gardening Tips

Just to remind you that whilst they are not experts, both Henny and John have agreed to answer any gardening questions that you may have. Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at and he will pass them on.

From John Alexander:

  • Just because we had some torrential rainfall last week, followed by a short heatwave, doesn’t mean your pots and hanging baskets had enough water. Check them daily and water them daily if necessary. Give them a liquid feed every week.
  • Keep rhododendrons and camelias well-watered, especially those in pots, throughout August as they require moisture now to produce flower buds for next year.
  • Continue to deadhead roses and summer annuals plus perennials such as penstemons to extend their flowering season.
  • Wisteria continue to put out long wispy shoots that need to be cut back to five or six leaves to encourage flowering next spring.

You couldn’t make it up….Keith Weed, the son of Mr Weed and Miss Hedge, has just been elected President of the Royal Horticultural Society! The product of a match made on Gardeners’ World? This may be the only weed to welcome into your garden this year! The mother of my school friend was Olive Bush! I’d love to hear of other fun names… me via Adam in the office.

Chairman’s message 29 July

Dear Friends

Another week has gone by and I am writing to you again. I am feeling very positive as I have finally had my hair done for the first time since Lockdown began. It is so silly that a haircut (and I have to admit colour as well) can make me feel so much better, but it does. I sat in the hairdressers thinking about how much we have all adapted to first of all the isolation, and now the uncertainty, and realised that there are a few things that I cannot change or adapt. Sewing – I couldn’t do this before lockdown and still can’t. Singing – I am still out of tune. Walking backwards – I still fall over. Cooked vegetables that aren’t soggy – an impossibility for me, as hard as I try. And yet, in the overall scheme of things these are not too important. What is important (at least to me) is family, friends, our community (you) and our Synagogue.

We are making progress in reopening and we are adapting to our new Synagogue “normal”. Last Friday night Rabbi Altshuler was in our Synagogue in person and on behalf of us all, I can say that we are all delighted to see him and Cantor Heller on the Bimah together. We know that we did not get the sound quite right and we are working hard on that for this coming Shabbat. The Synagogue was empty except for Ben Wolf, who was playing the organ, so Cantor Heller could still turn around for parts of the service. He will not be able to do that once there is a congregation in the Synagogue.

This coming Shabbat we will have our last rehearsal services and both Friday night and Saturday morning services will be transmitted on BelsizeLIVE. We will not be broadcasting an archived service on Shabbat morning, just the live one. We have a very small number of volunteers who will be attending so that we can practice how our security and exit arrangements work. It is possible that we may have to stop or slow down a part of the service or that you may see someone walk in front of the Bimah, these are all the things that we want to iron out. If you watch either or both services and have any feedback please do send it to me.

Please do not decide to just turn up this weekend, we will not be able to let you in. If everything goes well, you will be able to book in for services starting with Friday 7 August. Lee will be sending you an email on Monday and if you would like to attend, then please do watch out for it. We will still be transmitting on BelsizeLIVE for all of you who prefer to stay at home.

I have been in regular contact with Rabbi Mariner during this period and spoke to him today. He is not going out to Synagogue at the moment but sends his very best wishes to everyone.

I have already mentioned that the office has Siddurim which you can buy. We have books for Shabbat; the Festivals; Rosh Hashanah; Yom Kippur or you can buy a set. If you are interested please contact Adam Rynhold:

Last Sunday about 20 people joined Cantor Heller at Pound Lane Cemetery for our annual Tisha B’Av Memorial Service . It was entirely outdoors as the Prayer Hall is still closed and as always I found it very moving. We stood around the Holocaust Memorial for the service and I am attaching an old photo of it below. I did not take my camera with me but it has now been cleaned and restored and I want to thank Steven Bruck for working tirelessly to make that happen.

Holocaust Memorial

Tonight is our Zoom Tisha B’Av Programme and Service starting at 8:00pm with a Study Session with Rabbi Altshuler. This will be followed by a Ma’ariv (evening) service, Kinnot and Eichah (the book of Lamentations), led by the Cantor Heller, Chazan Stephen Cotsen and Rabbi Jeremy Gordon, both of New London Synagogue, with members of both congregations joining in. Adam Rynhold has already sent out an email with Zoom details on it. If you need it again please contact him:

That is all from me, everyone is busier as lockdown eases so I have not been sent any information on activities. Please do send me anything that you hear about.

As always please stay well and stay safe


Gardening Tips

Just to remind you that whilst they are not experts, both Henny and John have agreed to answer any gardening questions that you may have. Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at and he will pass them on.

From John Alexander

  • It is just the right time to divide Bearded Irises if the clumps have become congested. It’s a slightly tricky procedure but detailed advice is available on the RHS website at
  • Dahlias need staking and the growing tips pinched out when they reach knee height to encourage bigger flowers.
  • Collect seeds to plant for next spring from Aquilegias and Poppies as they ripen. Keep them in a sterile and airtight container in a cool place or refrigerator.
  • Keep Agapanthus well-watered and fed now to encourage flowers next year.
  • Feed Dahlias and Roses.
  • Spray Box again to protect against the fatal caterpillars.


Chairman’s message 22 July

Dear Friends

Today, 22 July, is the 1st of Av, the first of nine days leading up to Tisha B’Av the annual Fast Day which mourns the destruction of the Temple. During this period we all remember some of the terrible things that have befallen the Jewish people, for instance 22 July marks the first day of the Great Deportation of Jewish people from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka. However, I do not want to write an email to you that is solemn, although it would be fitting for this period. So I bring you some interesting Jewish facts about the 22 July and 1st Av.

  • Aaron passed away at age 123 on the 1st of Av in the year 2487, about 1274 BCE. This is the only time that the Torah mentions the exact date of a yahrzeit (Numbers/Bamidbar 33:38)
  • Emma Lazarus was born on 22 July 1849 into a wealthy New York family that was descended from Sephardic Jewish Americans. Her poem “The New Colossus” was chosen to be displayed on the base of the Statue of Liberty. It features the famous lines “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
  • On 22 July 1598 William Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, was entered on the Stationers’ Register. By decree of Queen Elizabeth I, the Stationers’ Register licensed printed works, giving the Crown tight control over all published material. (Yes, I know I am stretching this as a Jewish fact but it is the subject of the play!)
  • Lastly, not a Jewish fact, but very sweet, 22 July is Prince George’s birthday. He was born in 2013.

On the subject of younger people, Caroline Loison, Frank Joseph, Lee Taylor and I have also been working on when Cheder should physically reopen. The following plan has been approved and parents have been written to, but I thought you would be interested too. We considered re-opening Cheder “Live” at the Synagogue at the start of September. However, it would only have been possible to have three Sunday morning sessions at the Synagogue – 6th and 13th September and 18th October. The other Sundays clash with festivals. So instead of a rather disjointed start to “Live” Cheder, we have opted to delay the return to synagogue until November after half term and focus on the festivals. The timetable for the first half of term looks like this:
Sunday 6 September 2020 – Welcome to BSS Cheder Online
Sunday 13 September 2020 – Rosh Hashanah @ BSS Cheder Online
Sunday 20 September 2020 – 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah – NO CHEDER
Sunday 27 September 2020 – Kol Nidre – Yom Kippur @ BSS Cheder Online
Sunday 4 October 2020 – 2nd day of Succot – Succot @ BSS Cheder Online
Sunday 11 October 2020 – Simchat Torah – Simchat Torah @ BSS Cheder Online
Sunday 18 October 2020 – BSS Cheder Online
Sunday 25 October 2020 – Half-term – NO CHEDER
Sunday 1 November 2020 – Half-term – NO CHEDER

Online 1-2-1 Hebrew sessions will also continue in the first half the Autumn Term.

I want to express an enormous thank you to Caroline Loison, for all her hard work and Cheder leadership, it is much appreciated.

For the High Holydays we will be holding Youth Services on Zoom on Rosh Hashanah (led by Dilys Tausz and her team) and Kikar Kids (led by Richard Pollins). The Planning Group are also working on the design of Zoom services for younger people on Simchat Torah. Caroline, who as well as leading Cheder leads our Youth activities, is planning an informal programme that will run on Zoom during Yom Kippur. There will be short activities for anyone in the age range 4-13. Of course this will be in addition to our Youth Service. More information on all of this will follow in a few weeks.

You will shortly receive booking details for the August Shabbat services from Lee. I want to let you know that if you come by car, you will be able to book a place (subject to capacity) in our car park. You may need to wait in your car shortly before you can come into the Synagogue, as social distancing rules apply there too. Full information will be in Lee’s email.

The Planning Group have now agreed the lay out of the Bimah for Shabbat services, with Perspex screen protection for both Rabbi Altshuler and Cantor Heller. Neither will enter into each other’s space to make sure that they stay socially distanced and safe. We have also set up the Perspex screens along the front of the upstairs seating. Here are some pictures of how these will look.


Can I remind you that this coming Sunday is the Tisha B’Av Annual Memorial Service of the Chevra Kadisha at Pound Lane Cemetery. If you are planning to come, then please remember that it will all be outside and socially distanced. Please wear a mask and bring a folding chair if you would like to sit down. We will be handing out a booklet with the service in it, so you may want to wear gloves too but that is your decision. There will be no toilet facilities available.

I have been asked to let you know that there will be a Zoom “Limmud Together” taking place on 2 August 2020. The last one was very informative and fun. If you are interested and would like to sign up then please go to

Eve Hersov, our Community Care Co-ordinator has drawn my attention to Paperweight who continue to deliver amazing help to individuals. Paperweight offers guidance to those struggling with financial hardship particularly at the moment due to the COVID crisis. They help to manage credit card and other debts and to navigate the welfare and benefits systems. Their services include:
Financial support – managing debts, bills and budget planning. They can intervene with creditors to negotiate time to pay.
Welfare & benefits – to which benefits is someone entitled, and help is on hand to complete complex application forms.
Legal issues – support with family law (divorce and child custody) or civil law (home repossession or debt) processes.
Paperweight also releases regular Covid bulletins providing up to date information on all the latest government guidelines. You can find them at

Finally, a reminder that The Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) are surveying in particular how Jews in the UK have been affected by COVID-19. Their aim is to gather valuable insights into how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted on health, employment, social relationships and Jewish lives. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO TAKE PART

That is all from me this week, but if you have any events or information that you would like me to include then please do send the details to me. Stay safe and stay well.


Gardening Tips

Just to remind you that whilst they are not experts, both Henny and John have agreed to answer any gardening questions that you may have. Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at and he will pass them on.

From John Alexander

  • Watch out for suckers, particularly from rose bushes and standard roses, and tear them off at their base.
  • Seedlings of trees and weeds can be easily pulled up.
  • Keep climbers under control.
  • Don’t forget the slug pellets and water the pots and hanging baskets.
  • Continue deadheading perennials and bedding plants (just pinch off the faded flowers, or cut off if the stems are a bit tougher) – something that can done every couple of days as you walk around and take pleasure in seeing what plants are flourishing.

Chairman’s message 15 July

Dear Friends,

I have written before about the difficulty that I have in deciding what to do when coming out of lockdown. I am returning to that, as I find myself bombarded with contradictory advice from the Government, well-meaning friends, newspaper articles, Zoom discussions and social media. Every time I think that I have made a decision, I find that I am questioning myself because of the latest thing that I have read or heard. At the start of lockdown I was anxious about where was I going to get food from, then it was how am I going to stay reasonably fit without going out, now it is simply what is it safe to do? In the end I think that we all have to make our own decision based on our level of tolerance for risk taking, our age, our health, and the information that we have on safety. I am sad because we have just cancelled our annual family trip to Spain, with our Gibraltar family, as we have decided that we do not want to risk flying. We have not physically seen our daughter, son-in-law and four grandchildren since February, thank goodness for technology that allows us to speak every day.

Your personal decision-making is very important, as I am writing to tell you about the plans to open the Synagogue. I know that some of you will be desperate to come to a service and others would not want to come at all. The working group including Rabbi Altshuler and Cantor Heller, the Executive and the Board have developed the plans and we have put your safety and the safety of our Minsters at the heart of what we are planning. The services will be different from what you are used to as a result of working within the Government Guidelines. We have done a detailed analysis of all the Guidelines. I want to draw your attention to a few key points:

  • You have already seen the pictures of the limited numbers who can come to Synagogue with social distancing. We are introducing a booking system for Shabbat services and Lee will be writing to you about this shortly. The system will include a waiting list, so if you cannot attend a service having booked in, it is very important that you contact the office to let them know.  No-one will be allowed into the Synagogue if they are not on the pre-booked list.
  • Unlike some Synagogues, we are not banning any age groups from attending but leave it up to individuals to make their own decisions. 
  • There will be a strict one-way system for entry and exit in the Synagogue. You will have your temperature taken on the way in and if you have a temperature you will not be allowed in.
  • Current Guidelines forbid singing (so no Choir, just the organ) except by one Minister to lead the service (Cantor Heller). The guideline is that the singer should sing behind a Perspex screen to protect the congregation. To avoid this we have agreed that the Cantor will sing facing the ark at all times.
  • As a consequence of this, the ark will remain closed on Shabbat morning, no Torah will be taken out and all readings will be from a Chumash. Current Guidelines forbid chanting so everything will be spoken.
  • You will have allocated seating and will have to wear masks in Synagogue. Sadly, the current Guidelines do not allow you to sing or chant. You will need to bring your own Siddur and Tallit. If you need to buy a Siddur we have them and Lee will write about that.
  • There will be no call-ups. One warden only will be present to assist with decorum.
  • We are separating the Bimah into two areas, one for Cantor Heller and one for Rabbi Altshuler so they will not walk into each other’s space and will be able to avoid any airborne particles. 
  • We have developed a strict cleaning regime to keep you safe. The synagogue will be fully cleaned between the Friday evening and Shabbat morning services.

Having said all that, we are running a few rehearsals to check that everything we have planned will work both in terms of security and service format and plan to be open from Friday 7 August onwards.

We are continuing to work on the High Holydays and I will write about those in a few weeks.

On the question of Services I gave you the wrong date for Tisha B’Av Annual Memorial Service of the Chevra Kadisha at Pound Lane Cemetery. It will be on Sunday 26th July at 11.30m. Please make a note and I am sorry for any confusion. No booking needed.

You will have seen in News from the Square that the weekly Sunday Morning Adult Discussion Group is taking a break from its normal class and guest speaker formula, but will meet for discussion, debate and an open forum. Rabbi Altshuler will join the group on Sunday mornings at 10.00am and this is a new venture for us as usually the Group breaks over the summer. I want to thank Rabbi Altshuler and Claire Walford for all their enthusiasm and work with this group.

I have news of an event this Sunday 19 July at 7pm. The online Jewish Academy has invited Maxim Vengerov to be a guest speaker on Zoom. Our member Allan Morgenthau will be interviewing him. If you would like to see this interview then please contact Adam Rynhold on for the Zoom joining details.

The Jaffa Institute are running a series of Webinars about the Institute. This evening, Wednesday 15 July and next Wednesday, both are at 9pm. If you wish to attend please RSVP on this link:

The London based Institute for Jewish Policy Research have a number of interesting articles and projects. The Institute have launched a UK-wide survey designed to investigate how Jews have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The survey invites all Jews based in the UK and aged 16 or over to answer a series of questions about the pandemic’s impact on their physical and mental health, as well as their employment, finances, social relationships and Jewish lives. The goal is to generate data that can be utilised to help inform public policy, both within the Jewish community and at a national level, to help the community to steer its way through this crisis. If you would like to know more please go to their website on

That is all from me this week. As always please stay well and stay safe


Gardening Tips

 Just to remind you that whilst they are not experts, both Henny and John have agreed to answer any gardening questions that you may have.  Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at and he will pass them on.

From John Alexander

Now we are into summer proper there is little to do in the garden other than deadheading, watering and keeping slugs at bay. However, Dahlias do need some attention. New shoots that emerge may need thinning. Select out spindly growth giving it a sharp pull to break it off at the ground. You should be left with a maximum of 7-10 sturdy stems per plant. If you’re growing giant flowered dahlias, limit the number of stems to 3-5 per plant so you get fewer, but bigger blooms. When dahlia stems get to around knee height pinch out the growing point at a pair of leaves to get branching at this point. Once flower buds appear, if you’re growing for giant flowers or for cut flowers, nip out the smaller buds behind the central larger bud for better quality flowers. This isn’t so important if you are growing dahlias for the border or as bedding.


Chairman’s message 8 July

Dear Friends,

I read an article this week in the Jewish Chronicle which reminded readers that you cannot use anything electrical on Shabbat. It went on to say that Rabbi Menachem Perl of the Zomet Institute for Halacha and Technology near Jerusalem, has adapted a standard thermometer with a mechanism that programmes the device to automatically take a person’s temperature every four seconds. The article continues that the design has split the Rabbinate in Israel on whether its use is permitted on Shabbat.

This invention is very relevant to dealing with Covid-19 but to me it is also representative of what we are trying to achieve in re-opening Belsize Square Synagogue safely. In our discussions in the working groups with the Ministers we are re-inventing our services, so that they will fit within the current guidelines. For now, we are not allowed singing as you know, and no congregational responses. We also need to ensure that our Ministers remain protected from the virus when on the Bimah. Those things really change what we are used to having in our services.

However, be assured that we are making progress. We have ordered our supplies which will arrive over the next two weeks: hand sanitiser and dispensers, masks, Perspex Screens to run along the front of the seating upstairs to protect those sitting downstairs, tape for the floor, signage and more. We have started the upgrade of our Wi-Fi and have replaced the streaming camera with a wide angled one. We have a security plan. We have a first risk assessment completed but it still needs adjusting. We have worked out how to use the car park safely, with the required social distancing. We have worked out a “flow” to the toilets (sorry about the pun!). We have created a strict cleaning regime that will be in place for all services. We have agreed a booking system for attendance. We are working hard and will continue to Zoom meet this week. I hope to have more news for you in next week’s email.

In the meantime, as you might guess, the Jewish Chronicle article prompted me to Google “Little known Jewish Inventions”. I did not know that Conrad Hubert (born Akiba Horowitz), who came to New York from Russia in 1891, invented the flashlight. Eventually he turned his American Electrical Novelty Company into the well-known Ever Ready Company, famous for its batteries. Nathan Goldman, born in Oklahoma in 1898 ran a wholesale food store in Texas. In 1936 he patented the shopping cart (the article says “enough Shlepping!”) and later the milk bottle rack. Lastly Robert Adler born in 1913, arrived in America in 1941. Overall, during his lifetime he was granted 58 patents for inventions, the most famous being the TV remote control.

This is, however, a Synagogue email and you will have read last week in News from the Square that we have been working on a Tisha B’Av Zoom service for the evening of Wednesday 29 July. This is the third year in a row that we will hold the service jointly with Rabbi Jeremy Gordon, Cantor Cotsen and members of New London Synagogue. Members of both Synagogues will participate in chanting the chapters of Eicha, Lamentations. If you would like to be included in the list of individuals who are chanting, please email Cantor Heller on

On Sunday 2 August at 11.30am we will hold the Tisha B’av Annual Memorial Service of the Chevra Kadisha at Pound Lane Cemetery. The prayer hall at the cemetery remains closed, so the entire service will be conducted outdoors by the memorial. Everyone is welcome and no booking is necessary. We will need to observe social distancing and wear masks and if you don’t want to stand please bring your own folding chair. It is customary to have a small collection at this service in order to replenish the Chevra Kadisha funds. As we can’t do this for safety reasons this year, please contact Lee ( if you would like to donate.

This Shabbat we will celebrate with William Rosenberg who is having his Bar Mitzvah as an adult. William never had the opportunity to be Bar Mitzvah at 13 but has now prepared all the parts – D’var Torah, Maf and Haf and prerecorded them in the Sanctuary. I hope you will all watch the service to support William. I am very proud to be part of a congregation that inspires individuals to do this and send William and his wife Julie, very best wishes on behalf of us all.

On Sunday, 12 July at 4pm you can join Caroline Loison for Zoom Dingbats v2. No previous knowledge necessary – all you need is the ability to read, a pen and a piece of paper to write your answers down! And don’t forget to bring a drink and some snacks with you… A quiz just isn’t the same without these!!! Contact for the Zoom login details and she looks forward to seeing you virtually on Sunday!

Gardening tips are below. Henny is taking a break as she tells me that this is the time to sit back and enjoy the allotment. She will however still answer questions. John is still sending tips in and will also answer questions. Thank you both!

That is all from me and as always please stay safe and stay well.


Gardening Tips

Just to remind you that whilst they are not experts, both Henny and John have agreed to answer any gardening questions that you may have. Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at and he will pass them on.

From John Alexander

  • Clematis with large flowers which have finished flowering, can now be pruned lightly in the hope they may flower a second time this summer.
  • It’s not too late to plant autumn flowering bulbs such as Autumn Crocuses and Hardy Cyclamen. My favourite supplier is Bloms Bulbs who will post them to you.
  • Keep deadheading and putting out slug pellets.
  • Despite the cool, wet weather this past week, hanging baskets and pots still need watering.
  • We all know the expression ‘stop and smell the roses’. I looked up its meaning: ‘To relax; to take time out of one’s busy schedule to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of life.’ So go into the garden every day, or parks now that some of us are allowed out a bit more, and take pleasure in watching all the plants grow and the summer colours begin to show themselves. Enjoy and stay safe.

Chairman’s message 1 July

Dear Friends

During lockdown I have been re-watching the Harry Potter films, all of which I loved first time round and still do. The books and movies stress the importance of teams and how each individual contributes to the overall success of the group. Where would Harry be without Hermione, Ron and Dumbledore (and everyone else who helps him)? Pretty much every time Harry tries to accomplish something on his own, he is relieved to find Ron and Hermione at his side. As a team, they are able to come together and accomplish what appeared impossible. This theme runs all the way through the eight books and subsequent films and I find it a joy to look out for it, amongst the rough and tumble and excitement of the storylines.

I first thought about teamwork in lockdown when we set up the phone rota and so many of you volunteered. Thank you! Next came the Zoom Board meetings and Zoom Executive meetings and various Zoom Committee meetings and the BelsizeLIVE recorded services and the regular Sunday discussion group and Cheder and Kikar Kids and the work of our Ministers, Caroline Loison, Adam Rynhold, the office, Eve Hersov, Gordon, and, so much more… Gosh, we are good at this! However, I want to single someone out from all of this and publicly pay tribute to and thank Lee Taylor our Chief Executive. Lee is the ultimate Ron, Hermione and Dumbledore all rolled into one person. He is available at all times, supportive of all of us, good-natured even when under pressure with his family responsibilities. I could go on but just want you all to know how hard he works and how much he is appreciated as part of our Synagogue team.

This last week I have spent many hours on Zoom calls discussing how we can safely re-open our Synagogue. Another example of great teamwork! As you know our Planning Committee started work weeks ago but Government guidelines for re-opening places of worship were only published this week. Your safety is the most important thing for us and we are planning in detail for a possible re-opening. The Planning Committee met last week, as did various sub-groups to discuss all the guidelines and our planning recommendations. Lastly the Executive met to review the plans in their entirety. We have agreed that we will have rehearsals of the “new normal services” before we open to you, in order to make sure that those who do attend are safe.  We will also be producing a full risk assessment that will be available before we open and which will cover all the government guidelines.  We want to make this work, so please be understanding that it is taking some time to look at everything thoroughly and we will not open on 4 July (the earliest opening date set by the government).

We know that we can only open with 2m social distancing and we have worked out what this will look like in the Synagogue.  I am attaching two pictures so that you can see what this means for us, the white lines on the floor mark the areas where you can walk and will be a one-way system. 

Social distancing system
Seating and floor marking

For now please continue watching our services on BelsizeLIVE. This Friday I am really happy to say that Cantor Heller will be accompanied by Ben Wolf on the organ.

This Shabbat is Josh Gaberman’s Bar Mitzvah. Josh was recorded on the Bimah, as the government guidelines have permitted us to do so. He made this pre-recorded service a family event, with grandparents, uncles and cousins from the USA participating by recording different parts from home. Good friends Valerie and Peter Sussmann read the prayers for the Queen and Israel from their beautiful garden. This is, as I said above, true team work (albeit with social distancing!) I need to thank all our B’nei mitzvah families for being so collaborative with the pre-recordings and understanding of the situation that we are all in. And as with all of our recorded services, thank you to Cantor Heller for putting it all together.

Some of you may not have a Chumash. In Belsize Square Synagogue our main Chumash is Etz Hayim, if you would like to buy a copy of this it needs to be ordered from America, so please email Adam on . However I have been contacted by Jerusalem the Golden in Golders Green as they have a sale of Artscroll books with 25% off all titles until 15 July. If you want to find out about the Artscroll Chumash or other books then please contact them on 020 8455 4960. They can post to you, if you don’t want to go in to the shop. We have a stock of our own Siddur in the office and I will write again soon about how you can purchase them if you want one.

You may be interested to know that this Shabbat is Green Shabbat. The Synagogue has been a member of the ECO Synagogue movement since it started. You will have seen the plaque on our wall marking our progress towards being an environmentally appropriate community. Hopefully we will all be together next year for a ‘Green Kiddush’.

A member of our community has brought to my attention an organisation called The Bridge. A rehab and after-care residence, The Bridge, are offering free on-line counselling for drink, drugs or eating disorders through its website: Lockdown is a new word and concept for many people and the restrictions have taken a long time to get used to and caused anxiety to many. The Synagogue is not endorsing the services of The Bridge and if you use them it is “at your own risk” but I wanted to bring it to your attention in case it is useful for you.

Another of our members, Beverley Herman, has run a recruitment business for over 20 years. Beverley is offering guidance to anyone searching for a job, including help writing a CV. She can be contacted by email at

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


Click here for full information on how we are operating.

Gardening Tips

Just to remind you that whilst they are not experts, both Henny and John have agreed to answer any gardening questions that you may have.  Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at and he will pass them on.

From Henny Levin

The weather has turned cooler and we have had some rain, so the garden/allotment is all under control!!! The fruit is ripening, and some are ready for picking.  I hope that if you have taken up the challenge of growing some fruit and vegetables and that you enjoy the fruits of your labours. When picked or dug up they may not look as uniform or as large as those you can buy in the shops but in most cases, they will taste more flavoursome and most importantly YOU grew them. Hopefully, you will be able to carry on through the year and into the future.  The satisfaction will be worth the effort.

As we are all hopefully more aware of our environment, investing in a water butt or bucket to collect rainwater will help the planet and will be especially good for house plants. A bin with lid or compost bin for all your fruit and vegetable peelings will turn into compost for next year.  Two small things that will help to make a difference. 

From John Alexander 

  • Even though it’s been raining and is a little cooler, hanging baskets and potted plants outdoors still need watering daily, but not so much that the pots or baskets drip.
  • Grass should be left a little longer in hot weather to maintain a greener lawn. However brown grass will recover quickly after rain so no need to water the lawn.
  • There are two schools of thought about watering gardens. I’ve always thought one should water in the evening so the sun doesn’t burn the wet leaves and the water has a chance to soak into the ground before the sun rises to dry it out. An alternative view is that one should water in the morning so the water can get to the roots during the heat of the day when the plants need it most. I don’t think there is any hard and fast rule about gardening generally. This is just another example of two gardeners and two views!
  • The hot humid nights combined with the luscious new growth of seedlings and bedding plants is a delight to the slugs – continue to put down pellets each week, but sparingly, and keep the pellets off the leaves.

Chairman’s message 24 June

Dear Friends,

I recently wrote about the uncertainty created for me personally by the lack of clear guidance from the government and I have to say that this continues. However, as more information comes through on the eventual re-openings of cinemas, restaurants, art galleries, my thoughts turn to events outside of my house, although I am still choosing not to participate. Somehow this makes it even harder, knowing that others are deciding to go to places and pick up some of their lives in the “new normal”. I have come across an event that I can do from home this week and which I think is very comforting. This Friday 26 June is National Cream Tea Day 2020! Cream teas have been enjoyed by the nation since 1662 when Portuguese Catherine de Braganza married Charles II, bringing the custom of drinking tea at court with her. In 1706, Thomas Twining opened London’s first tearoom and before long, a flurry of tearooms appeared across the city in competition with the traditionally male coffee houses. The Duchess of Bedford, tiring of the long wait between lunch and dinner, took this further and invented afternoon tea, inviting friends to her country house. By the middle of the 19th century, afternoon tea was an everyday occurrence; a spread of sandwiches, cakes, scones, cream and jam – the first hint of cream teas as we know them today.

Why, you may ask, am I putting this in a Synagogue email, other than to unhelpfully encourage everyone to increase the size of their waistline. I was struck by the fact that Cornwall and Devon have been arguing ever since the 19th century about the correct way of putting jam and cream on your scone. Devon typically spread the clotted cream first followed by the jam, the Cornish tradition is to spread jam first followed by the cream. I just wanted to say that since lockdown started I have heard of many reconciliations between friends who hadn’t spoken for years and between estranged family members. So in spite of all the uncertainty, I am filled with optimism that wonderful things can come out of such a difficult situation. Maybe this will be the year for Devon and Cornwall too!

I am sure that many of you will have seen the Government announcement on the re-opening of places of worship. We are still waiting for the official guidelines as newspapers are reporting inconsistent and different things. Can there be singing? Is there a 30 person maximum at services? It is not clear. The planning group will meet on Friday to consider what we know and ideas, coming from that meeting, will then be discussed by the Executive on Sunday. At this point I have no fresh news for you.

I know that many members have family and friends buried at Pound Lane Cemetery. The cemetery is now open by appointment only and you need to give 24 hours’ notice if you want to visit a grave. It is open Sunday – Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Anyone wanting to visit needs to call Andy on 020 8459 1635 to make the appointment. Social distancing rules will apply.

Edgwarebury Cemetery remains open to visitors but please check with the cemetery office (020 8958 3388) before visiting to ensure there are no funerals taking place at that time, as you may not be allowed in if there are. Any visit to a grave involving more than one household will be limited to 12 persons, and must be booked in advance through the cemetery office. Social distancing rules will apply. In addition, the cemetery is now open for stone setting ceremonies but there will be a limit on the number of attendees, as there currently is with funerals. Any stone settings which have been cancelled recently can be rebooked by contacting Lee (

This Friday, 26th June, we are going to hold a BSS Cheder Kabbalat Shabbat at 6pm via Zoom. Please join Caroline as we mark coming to the end of a fantastic (and somewhat challenging) Cheder. We will light the candles together, bless the wine and the challah, sing some Shabbat songs and enjoy a story too. Everyone is welcome – Cheder Pupils and non-pupils with parents, grandparents and extended family too. We look forward to seeing you virtually on Zoom. Please contact Caroline ( to get the login details if you do not have the BSS Cheder ONLINE ID and password.

You may have noticed that in our pre-recorded Shabbat services we have been using last year’s bnei mitzvah services, which include some of our young people chanting “maf and haf”. Two weeks ago it was a great pleasure to hear Ellis Wantman and this coming Shabbat 27 June, Freddie Jerome will be on our screens. It’s a pleasure to hear our young people and remember the fantastic job they did. Please do log in to watch the service.

Last Thursday Professor Paul Weindling gave a talk on Zoom about the Kindertransport from Vienna to the UK and I thought that you would be interested to know that we had over 50 people log in to hear him. I have written to thank him for giving his time to us.

Last week I included I a link to a rendering of Bridge over Troubled Waters and as a result I have been sent a link to Miriam Makeba singing Erev shel Shoshanim. This was recorded in 1965 and is very uplifting. Miriam Makeba (1932 – 2008), was nicknamed Mama Africa, and was a legendary black singer from South Africa. You can find it through this link:

On the subject of things to do at home, can I remind you that John Brook is offering Challah baking lessons on Zoom on a Friday morning. Please do book in by contacting Adam on

That is it for this week, stay safe and stay well

Click here for full information on how we are operating.

Gardening Tips

Just to remind you that whilst they are not experts, both Henny and John have agreed to answer any gardening questions that you may have. Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at and he will pass them on.

From Henny Levin

  • We are now getting to the best part of the year, fruits are ripening and some are ready to eat. Vegetables are a little further behind developing their crops. There is nothing better that going into the garden or allotment to pick fresh strawberries, cherries or gooseberries at the moment. Rhubarb is nearly past its best but first potatoes can be dug up and enjoyed.
  • As we are having some rain, go for a walk in your garden with a hand trowel and fork and sweep up slugs and snails before they can get to your plants especially young dahlias. I throw mine over the garden wall into the street. There is no point in putting them in the bin. I tried that and they are such slippery characters that they can escape from anything. You can also use pellets obtainable from garden centres to control these pests.
  • There is still time to sow lettuce, rocket, radishes and spring onions and maybe also some carrots.
  • Feed your tomatoes and prick out the shoots between the main stem and their branches.

Below are some ideas for plants with variegated leaves which can be just as beautiful as flowers:

Varieties of coleus
Varieties of acers

From John Alexander

  • It’s still not too late to prune spring flowering shrubs.
  • Cut back to the ground the stalks of the last of your allium and bearded iris.
  • Stake drooping plants.
  • Dead head roses – especially after the beating they took in last week’s rain.
  • Start weeding before they set seeds – either by running a hoe over them or by pulling them out by hand.
  • Do not spray for greenfly or aphids any longer as the ladybirds have arrived to eat them.
  • Whilst the sun is shining this week, enjoy your gardens or parks – don’t fret about the garden chores, most can wait!

Chairman’s message 17 June

Dear Friends,

I spend a lot of time at home reading the newspapers and last week they were full of news triggered by the death of George Floyd. Each day brought information on protests in America, here and round the world and the start of a change in our society. This week, so far the predominant headlines are about how many people are going to the newly opened shops and what they are buying. This does not mean that the issues have gone away and I hope that you listened to Rabbi Altshuler’s sermon last Shabbat. If you did not, you can still hear it on our BelsizeLIVE Archive. Rabbi Altshuler reminds us that each of us should try to do something to reach out and change things and that racism is not acceptable. Your lay leadership was silent last week about this, deliberately allowing Rabbi Altshuler to lead us. However you should know that your Board in its entirety stands against prejudice of any sort. At this time the focus is on our support to the black community but we condemn any prejudicial actions that are driven by the colour of a person’s skin, their religion, their job or their disability.

On this subject, I wanted to share two things with you. The first is a story that I read in the Times last week, which made me smile about a very serious subject. “A far right blogger called Laura took to twitter to praise Yorkshire Tea for not having a statement about the Black Lives matters protests. Almost immediately Yorkshire Tea replied: “Please don’t buy our tea again. We stand against racism. #blacklivesmatter.” “So now I’ve got to buy PG Tips?” huffed Pamela another twitter user trying to stir things up. This sucks”. Five minutes later the PG Tips official account responded: “Yeah, it does suck, Pamela. If you’re boycotting teas that stand against racism, you’re going to have to find two new tea brands now #blacklivesmatter. #solidaritea”.

The second is a clip of Bridge over Troubled Waters jointly sung by two choirs one Black and one Jewish in Park Avenue Synagogue, New York. Please watch it on this link, it is very uplifting:

This coming Shabbat we are celebrating the Bat Mitzvah of Nina Freudenheim. Nina has recorded her portion at home and I hope that you will watch her on BelsizeLIVE. Nina is a long-standing member of our youth choir and you will hear her sing Avinu Shebashamayim with her friends in the Youth Choir (thank you Cantor Heller for using your editing skills to make this happen!). On behalf of the Community I hope that she and her family have a wonderful Shabbat.

If you are enjoying our services on BelsizeLIVE and have experienced technical issues in the last couple of weeks, this may be due to some upgrades that we have been working on to improve the picture quality and sound. We hope to have these resolved and a new camera in place for Friday. We’re sorry for any inconvenience that was caused.

As you know last week we had a Board meeting and we discussed both the re-opening of our Synagogue and the High Holydays. We are still waiting for the Government guidance to places of worship and the date quoted for this remains no sooner than 4th July. The Board has taken the decision that as a result we are unable, for now, to give you a date when we will reopen for general services. Your safety is our prime concern and once the guidelines are published we will need a little time to study and implement them. For now please continue to watch on BelsizeLIVE.

In relation to the High Holydays the Board has decided that we will plan for two types of service. Firstly over the summer, we will prepare Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services for BelsizeLIVE recorded transmission. This means that if we end up having a short notice lockdown or if guidelines on gatherings suddenly change, then we will be ready with services that we can watch from our homes. At the same time we are working on how we can hold live services in our Synagogue, which of course will be transmitted on BelsizeLIVE. We don’t know yet what the Social Distancing guidelines will be but to help us plan we will be contacting you shortly to ask whether or not you would want to attend a service, (and which ones), if we were open or if you would prefer to stay at home in any event for your own safety.

The Board has also taken a decision that both the Youth Services and Kikar Kids will take place on Zoom this year. It would not be safe to fill the Hall as we usually do but it is important that we do hold those services.

As things continue to be uncertain, I felt that we should be able to anchor ourselves in something familiar. I have chosen Challah! Our member John Brook is a “star” Challah maker and gives Zoom lessons. He has agreed to give lessons to the Community with a maximum of 10 people on Zoom at any one time. These will take place on a Friday morning starting at 8.30am for half an hour to make the dough and again at 10.30am to learn how to plait it. John is happy to run as many Friday sessions as needed, with the first on Friday 26 June. I have put a list of ingredients that you will need after the Gardening Tips but you are also welcome to sign up and just watch if you don’t want to actually bake. Please contact Adam Rynhold to book a place

This coming Sunday, 21 June from 4-5pm, Caroline Loison, our Head of Cheder and Youth, will be running to run a B² (BSS Youth) “Music quiz”. All you need is Zoom, paper and something to write with. The music quiz will have something for everyone – Disney, musicals, nursery rhymes and, of course, some Jewish/Israeli music in there too! Please contact Caroline for log in details: A perfect way to spend Father’s Day afternoon with the family.

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


Click here for full information on how we are operating.

Gardening Tips

Just to remind you that whilst they are not experts, both Henny and John have agreed to answer any gardening questions that you may have. Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at and he will pass them on.

From Henny Levin:

I hope that you will indulge me this week because I have a big smile on my face with two firsts. One in the garden and the other on the allotment.

At home I have a cottage garden, a little wild but full of flowering plants, some of which I planted others where the seeds flew into the garden or from cuttings taken from friends. For three years I have been watching Acanthus leaves growing in four areas of the garden. The leaves each year have been getting bigger and bigger and this year, they have all flowered for the first time. That is a big smile on my face. I attach here below a photo of one of the bushes.

My second smile comes from the allotment. Growing fruit and vegetables can be a science but I view it as an enjoyable experiment. We have to cope with clay soil which, at the moment is rock hard, we can add compost, manure, liquid feed to break it up and that is what most people do but what we can’t do is control the weather and so each year, some things grow and others don’t. Last year my strawberries came into flower in April. There was frost and only a handful converted to fruit. This year I have already picked 3kgs, so strawberry and gooseberry jam are on the menu for the Chanukah Market and if that does not take place, we will arrange a mini market. But that’s not what has put a smile on my face. I inherited a mini orchard at the back of my plot, four fruit trees, two varieties of apple, one Victoria plum and an English cherry tree. In the six years that I have had the allotment this tree has only produced a handful of cherries which the birds have picked off before I could get to them. But this year I have just picked a large box of ripe cherries. See photo below of my bounty on Sunday.

Flowers and fruit punnets

And the moral of this tale is that keep going with all the ups and downs of gardening. It will be a surprise and pleasure every year and never boring.

From John Alexander:

  • It’s not too late to plant summer flowering bedding plants to fill the odd space in the flower beds.
  • Continue dead-heading roses and pick off dead blooms from all annuals and perennials to keep them tidy and encourage new blooms. (unless, as suggested by a member, you want to leave the rose hips for the wildlife to enjoy or make rose- hip jelly: “takes hours to make and seconds to eat!”).
  • Prune rhododendrons and camelias but only if they need tidying up.
  • Continue to tie in climbers, including fast growing vegetables such as tomatoes.
  • As the last of the colour leaves the Alliums the stalks can be cut back.
  • Now as the garden settles into summer there is less work to do so more time to sit and enjoy it, weather permitting – but keep watering regularly.
  • Lastly, this is British Flowers Week (June 15-21) so the perfect time to enjoy your flower gardens.

Challah Ingredients

This makes 2 good sized challahs or one challah and eight rolls

  • 500 gm strong white bread flour
  • 60 gm caster sugar
  • 60 ml Sunflower oil
  • 10 gm salt
  • One whole egg
  • One egg yolk
  • 175 ml warm water
  • 10 gm dried yeast

You need a set of accurate kitchen scales and also preferably (but not essential) a dough scraper/cutter which you can buy on line.

Chairman’s message 10 June

Dear Friends,

As I sit down to write to you I have realised that this week has been the most difficult week of lockdown for me personally so far. I have worked out that it is because the Guidelines are changing and whereas before I did not really need to make decisions, now I do and sometimes with conflicting advice. We all have our different levels of risk taking and we also have our own home and family pressures. It is no longer “one size fits all” and so as the weeks go on we will inevitably hear different stories from our friends, which may make us question our decisions. At least now I recognise why I am more anxious and so I have decided that this week the email will also give details of things that we can still do from home and the only decision that we need to make is whether we are interested and have the time to do them.

Before I go on, here is a short update on the Synagogue re-opening and High Holidays. As I said last week, the Board meets tomorrow and will be discussing the High Holydays. Both Rabbi Altshuler and Cantor Heller will join the discussion. I will let you know next week what decisions have been taken. In relation to a general re-opening, the guidance remains the same, which is no earlier than 4th July and in the next few weeks we will receive more guidance from the Task Force. It is also very clear that each Community must make its own decisions about how and when they reopen. So we wait to see what comes next. You may have read that places of worship can now re-open for private prayer but as this is not part of what we do, the Synagogue remains closed.

On behalf of the Israel Dinner Committee, I am delighted to reveal that notwithstanding the difficult times we all face, thanks to your incredible generosity we have been able to raise £31,500 which is being sent primarily to our 3 designated charities – ASSAF, The Jaffa Institute, and Yemin Orde – as well as smaller donations which were specifically earmarked for The Israel Sports Centre for the Disabled and for the Association for Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers. As impressive as the funds raised, was the high level of participation with us achieving greater than 75% participation as compared to last year.

Emma Brookes, Chair of the Israel Dinner Committee, wrote to each of the charities this past week who were thrilled to receive our timely donation. ASSAF commented “we are honoured at the generosity of Belsize Square Synagogue in their continuing commitment to ASSAF’s Youth Club and ASSAF’s mission – especially in these very troubling times.” The Jaffa Institute wrote “Without friends like you, we wouldn’t be able to continue to thrive and offer ongoing support to thousands of children in our charge.” And Yemin Orde wrote “We are honoured that your synagogue and community is continuing its partnership, even during such unprecedented times in the U.K. and throughout the world. Thank you for being such dedicated partners!” We also received a lovely thank you note from The Israel Sports Centre for the Disabled.

The Jaffa Institute also sent us a wonderful video highlighting the programme we support which I would like to share with you.

We plan to continue to celebrate the wonderful work of our designated charities when our dinner resumes next year. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Emma and her Committee for working so hard to achieve such an amazing result and to thank you all for donating.

The 15-21 June is Refugee Week and I have been sent details of Insiders/Outsiders Online Events for that week. This is held in partnership with the Association of Jewish Refugees and Four Corners, London. There are events throughout the week but the one that may be of interest is on Thursday 18 June, 3.30pm, there will be a screening of the filmed version of The Ballad of the Cosmo Café, based on the sell-out live performances held at St. Peter’s Church Hall next door to us, last November. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the play’s director Pamela Howard. Events are free of charge but registration is essential as places are limited. To register go to: Zoom login details will be provided with the confirmation of your Eventbrite booking.

Also on Thursday 18 June at 8pm, Professor Paul Weindling has agreed to speak to the community. Professor Weindling, a research professor at Oxford Brookes University, is a leading expert in the Kindertransport from Vienna to the UK and has written numerous books on Kindertransport and the holocaust. He wrote a piece on the subject in the latest issue of Jewish Historical Studies which can be read here – We are very grateful that Professor Weindling has given up his time to speak to us, please put the date in your diary. The talk will be held using Zoom so look out for the details which will be sent out shortly. Thank you to Mike Schraer for organising this.

Lastly I have been sent a wonderfully funny clip of the ENO percussion section recreating Verdi’s Anvil Chorus for Il Trovatore . Even if you don’t like opera, it is worth clicking on this link

That is all for this week. Stay safe and stay well.


Gardening Tips

Whilst they are not experts, both Henny and John have agreed to answer any gardening questions that you may have. Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at and he will pass them on.

From Henny Levin

  • It was eight years ago when my son-in-law gave me a box of his home-grown vegetables. I had never tasted such tender and sweet carrots before. It gave me the incentive I needed to find an allotment. My friends suggested exotic items which are very expensive in the shops. I grew artichokes from seed. They were inedible and at that point I decided that the basic fruit and vegetables that I enjoy eating was what I wanted to grow. So, if you are in the mood to grow something in pots at home, in your garden or on the veranda/balcony why not try spring onions or carrots this week. They are easy to grow, just follow the instruction on the packet of seeds.
  • For the children, growing cress is a wonderful and easy beginning. All you will need is a clean plastic tub (maybe one that you bought fruit or vegetables in at the supermarket with or without holes at the bottom, some compost, the seeds and a small tray to put the tub on. Fill the tub with the compost, sow the seeds sparingly, sprinkle a little compost on top, water and place on a sunny windowsill. Water regularly and very soon you will all be able to eat egg and cress sandwiches.
  • Don’t forget to feed your tomatoes once a fortnight, instructions will be on the bottle.
  • Take out weeds if they are invading your plants.
  • If you are growing strawberries, they are now beginning to ripen. Don’t leave it too long to pick or the birds and the slugs will get there before you. If they come off the stalks easily, they are ripe for picking even if they are not red all over.

From John Alexander

  • Stake floppy plants.
  • Keep Peonies especially well watered and fed.
  • Cut new growth from herbs and Lavender and pot or plant cuttings to propagate.
  • Keep newly planted bedding plants and seedlings moist and water hanging baskets and patio pots daily.
  • Continually dead-head Roses.
  • Spray Box to kill the dreaded caterpillars.
  • Keep the trunks of Tree Ferns moist – water in the evening.

Chairman’s message 3 June

Dear Friends

I have spent the week looking at old photos and moving them from old style albums into photo books. It is a slow task but one in which I take great joy. I have been surprised at how I remembered the occasions but not all the detail and even more surprised at how many pictures there are of Synagogue events and my albums go back 40 years! The Bazaar in full flow (now Chanukah Market); brides outside the Synagogue arriving for their wedding; members taking in part in cabarets, quizzes, talks; the annual barbecue in a garden; bar and bat mitzvah celebrations; coffee mornings for new members; birthday celebrations; Cheder and Youth choir concerts; classical concerts; Cantorial concerts and I could go on. My sister-in–law recently sent me this which sums up beautifully what I am feeling, and I hope you are too. “My synagogue is open. It’s open every day because my Synagogue is not a building, it is the people who are helping each other and their community. It is the prayers for those who are struggling medically, financially and emotionally. My Synagogue never closed, it just opened in every home.”

Our Synagogue continues to thrive in many ways and last week we had 40 people participate in the Shavuot Tikkun Leil. We think that is a record number! Thank you to Rabbi Altshuler, Cantor Heller and all the speakers who made it such a success and of course to all of you who joined in.

This coming Shabbat we are celebrating the Bat Mitzvah of Daisy Kidson. Daisy worked hard with Caroline Loison to learn Hebrew and her Bat Mitzvah tutor, Susanna Freudenheim, to learn her haftarah, maftir and brachot and I hope that as many of you as possible will join the service on Shabbat to celebrate with her. I hope it will be as special for her and her family as it would have been in the Synagogue. As a Community we are very proud of Daisy.

We have another virtual Board meeting next week and we will continue to discuss what we are going to do for the High Holydays. No new guidance has been published by the Government Task Force but we do need to make some decisions. I will of course keep you informed.

One change that has happened with the easing of the lockdown, is that Edgwarebury Cemetery and Hoop Lane Cemetery have issued new guidance. The cemeteries will now be open to visitors ‪between 8am and 4.45pm on all days except Shabbat and festivals. The Cemetery have asked us to make it clear that they expect all visitors to strictly obey the current government guidelines. In particular, they expect visitors to be either individuals or members of the same household, and to observe social distancing at all times. This means that if you have had a funeral during the last few months attended by only a few mourners, they ask that you do not go in large numbers to visit the grave. Please also note that the admission of visitors to the cemetery will be restricted while a funeral is taking place in the grounds. The cemetery buildings including the prayer hall, tahara facilities, office and toilets will remain closed. However, outdoor hand-washing facilities do remain available. Stone settings still cannot take place and there are also restrictions on funeral attendance. Lee has the details.

If you are looking for an interesting lecture, Circle Sq. is a dynamic network that embraces life over 50 and was co-founded by our member, Nick Viner. The group hosts a series of events (currently online) that span a variety of interesting topics. As part of their Lunchtime Lecture series, the next event is ‘Painting with Glass’ with renowned stained glass artist, Ardyn Halter on Wednesday 10 June from 1.15-2pm. The event is free and non-members are welcome. If you would like to participate then you will need to register (

You might also like to know that the Wiener Holocaust Library is currently offering free virtual talks on Zoom. Our member Frank Harding is a trustee and the library staff have been to talk to us in the past. You do need to book a place and you can find them on ( ).

Last week I asked for volunteers to help with the website project. We are still looking for “ honorary photographers, please do think about this and contact Lee if you can help (

That is all from me for this week and as always stay well and stay safe.


Click here for full information on how we are operating.

Gardening Tips

From Henny Levin

  • The continuing hot sunny weather is marvellous for some plants and the lack of rain is taking its toll on others. As John has mentioned on numerous occasion in his gardening tips, watering morning and evening is best BUT water is precious so, if possible, point the jet of water at the base of your plants so that the water trickles down into the ground to feed the roots. If sprayed on the leaves, the sun might scorch them and the roots will get very little water.
  • Your grass may be dry, scorched and looking very yellow. This is natural in this weather. Don’t worry, grass is very hardy and will grow back either when it rains or later in the year when the sun is not so relentless. Do not use any Feed and Weed products as it may kill the grass which is already struggling. The proliferation of leaves on the ground are the plants and trees saving themselves by shedding some of their leaves so that they require less water to survive for the future.
  • Dead heading can be quite therapeutic. Doing it early morning or when the sun is going down helps the plants to retain their sap. Many plants will have a second and even a third flowing if you deadhead. Keep what you have cut off in a compost bin or, if you don’t have one, a plastic bag tied up. It will make good compost in the future.

From John Alexander

  • Keep newly planted annuals and seedlings moist.
  • Remember the Chelsea Chop – cut back floppy late flowering perennials to make them sturdy, e.g. Echinacea and Sedum.
  • Clip box and topiary yew to keep them tidy.
  • Tie back climbers such as sweet peas, clematis, honeysuckle and roses.
  • Prune spring flowering shrubs.
  • Bearded Iris benefit from dividing clumps every three years, about six weeks after flowering.