Rabbi’s monthly message October 2013

Rabbi’s monthly message October 2013

A taster for the year ahead

Shalom Haverim,

This might surprise you. The most important month is not Tishri, the month of the High Holydays! The most important month of the year is this one, Cheshvan, better known as mar Cheshvan, “bitter” Cheshvan, because this is the only month of the with NO holidays, no fast days, no commemorations, just weekdays and Shabbatot.

So, why is this month of “bitterness” the most important month of the year? To teach us that the sanctity of our holy days must now be translated into the everyday of life – at work, at school, at home, every day, every hour.

The platitudes and vows we made on Yom Kippur to change, to be more involved with our community, to study Judaism, to correct the flaws in our souls, must face reality in our daily conversations, our hourly directives, our thoughts, our regular routine.

I hope this coming year is a good one for our Belsize Square Synagogue and I want you all to take note of what lies ahead. Here is a taster. Please, do contact me to offer your support.

UK Jewish Film Festival Comes to BSS

We have partnered with the UK Jewish Film Festival and begin our series with the showing of Live and Become on Sunday 13 October.

Sunday Morning Adult Discussion Class

1st term – a continuation of our class on a “Jewish Perspective on Islam”;

2nd term – Zohar study, an introduction to the Zohar and Kabbalah

Volunteer Shabbat

Once a month Cantor Heller and I will invite our talented lay people to lead parts of the service, including the delivery of sermons.

Women’s Participation in Services

Beginning the Shabbat after Simchat Tor ah, mitzvot during the Torah service will be available to all. This is an important milestone in the history of our congregation, difficult for some to absorb, a source of joyful tears to others. Now it depends on you. Call the synagogue office if you would like to be honoured with an aliyah.

Monday Night Conversion Class

Introduction to Judaism, 7pm each week. We welcome back members of our community who have studied for the past year or more and who have embraced Judaism and the Jewish people. Please contact me for more details.

Young People’s Concerts

This is a programme in its early stages of planning which, along with many other musical offerings, is due to the yeoman work of our new Music Committee and its chair, Phil Keller. In addition to a concert line-up, I am working, with the help of some very influential figures in music, on bringing leading Jewish wonder-children to perform at our synagogue. If you are at all interested in seeing this become reality, please let me know and we’ll get to work together!

75th Anniversary of Belsize Square Synagogue

Yes, on 22 March, 2014, we will be marking the 75th anniversary of the very first service held as a congregation. We have a highly distinguished rabbi-scholar due to be with us that weekend. I sincerely hope that some of you might be interested in helping make this a Shabbat and weekend memorable for the entire community. The rabbi-scholar in question is probably the leading authority on the history of German Jewry, including the history of the German backdrop of our own Belsize quare. I will need all available help to bring this to fruition.

Our Annual Bar/Bat Mitzvah Anniversary Service

This will honour our B’nei Mitzvah of 2013: The service takes place on 31 May, 2014.

Shabbat Dinners

We will be having more Shabbat dinners here at the synagogue. Anyone interested in helping in this direction, please contact me.


Our trip to Krakow in Poland in April 2012 was an enormous success and it is time to plan another Jewish heritage outing. If anyone is interested in helping this endeavour, please let me know. Where to? Berlin? Vilna? Jerusalem? France? Spain? Italy? Turkey? Tell me.


Step up and get i nvol ved. Our congregation needs you, your ideas, your renewed enthusiasm. Education, liturgy and ritual, membership, finance, youth? Let me help you choose where to help the most.

Tikkun Leyl Shavuot

Our next annual Shavuot study session, will be 3 June, 2014, 7:30pm till midnight! We were packed last year and will again have a great variety of sessions. Limmud, Belsize Square style.

As I said, there will be more surprises and events. Stay tuned and let’s make this year the very best for our beloved congregation. Spread the word about what we are doing here, bring in new members, enlarge our BSS family, and enjoy the ride!

A meaningful and uplifting Cheshvan to you and yours,

Rabbi Stuart Altshuler