Usually our “Hanukah messages” arrive in December, but not this year! Perhaps this is the earliest Hanukah on record, consistent with the early date for our Rosh Hashanah. The Hag Urim–the Festival of Lights again reminds us of the need to keep kindling the lights of our Jewish heritage so that future generations may benefit from the greatest gift we could leave behind for them—the treasure of our rich wisdom, learning and historical experience. Is there a legacy so enriching as the story of the Maccabees, who in the latter part of the 2nd century BCE believed that the freedom to be Jewish required a forceful response to their oppressors?
Their heroism enabled Judaism to survive then for all future generations and inspired our people throughout history to never take our precious existence for granted. In fact, it was the Maccabean resolve that has enabled our brothers and sisters in Israel to keep their heads up in a pool of enmity and to continue to battle for the right of differing peoples and religions to be free.
I am pleased to inform you about a charitable fund that is being revived thanks to the guidance of Peter Leon, David Rothenberg and Peter Summerfield who, together with myself, are the Trustees of the Fund. It is the Frieda Graumann Travelling Scholarship, and it will each year be providing one or two scholarships for worthy young persons here at Belsize Square Synagogue to further their Jewish experiences, including trips to Israel and elsewhere.
For those interested in applying for such a Scholarship of up to £1000 each, here are the requirements:-
- By the end of February 2014, our deadline, each applicant will send to me, the Rabbi, a summary of his or her involvement in some aspect of Jewish life: it can be academic, activity in the Jewish community, involvement with Belsize Square Synagogue, and any leadership qualifications. Each application must include the reasons why the applicant is deserving of the scholarship and how and where that individual would like to use any designated funds.
- Each candidate’s application will be evaluated by a Committee formed from the Trustees of the Fund as well as Cantor Heller and our Education Director, Jeanie Horowitz. Once a candidate is chosen, there will be a formal announcement made to the congregation and plans will also be made to honour recipients at a Shabbat service.
- Successful applicants will, after their travel adventures, be expected to write an article for Our Congregation or make some other presentation, perhaps to our Adult Discussion Group on Sunday morning, about what they learned during their travel regarding Jewish life, Jewish history, Zionism, or Judaism, depending on the nature and place of travel.
- We will be looking for those young adults who have invested or still invest in the life and future of this congregation and regular attendance at services, now or in the past, may well be a factor taken into account.
So, send in your applications. I would be glad to discuss your efforts in my office with each and every one of our candidates, with some helpful hints as to the course you should be pursuing.
To our young Maccabees, our future leaders of this community, may your efforts lead to success!
My wishes to all of you for a joyous and uplifting Hanukka, the first candle lit Wednesday night 27 November!
Hag Hanukka Sameach,
Rabbi Stuart Altshuler