Monthly Archives: April 2020

Chairman’s message 29 April

For full details on the Synagogue’s programme, click here

Dear Friends,

Today is Israel Independence Day, Yom Ha’atzmaut. As I am sure you already know it is celebrated on the fifth day of the month of Iyar, which is the Hebrew date of the formal establishment of the State of Israel, when members of the “provisional government” read and signed a Declaration of Independence in Tel Aviv. The original date corresponded to May 14, 1948. Yesterday was Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day honouring Israel’s fallen soldiers. Whatever our politics and beliefs around Israel today, these two days always make me think of words such as endurance, support and compassion. I see this happening now, both on the large scale of Israel and in the smaller but equally important setting of our community. I hope you do to.

To celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, Cantor Heller has created a video with members of our Youth Choir. Together they sing Avinu Shebashamayim and it will be used on this Shabbat, Saturday 2 May during our virtual Shabbat service which is when we traditionally commemorate the State of Israel. Avinu Shebashamayim is the prayer for the welfare of the State of Israel sung to the music of Sol Zim and was sung by Cantor Heller with the youth choir at our 80th anniversary civic service. Please watch the service but if you would like to see the video in advance or indeed again afterwards it can be found with this link I have seen it and it is wonderful and uplifting. I send a huge personal thank you to all of the youth choir members who participated in creating it and of course to Cantor Heller.

I thought that you would be interested to know that last Sunday 21 members of the Adult Discussion group hosted a virtual visit with Marie Van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies. Marie spoke for approximately 20 minutes about the history and work of the Board of Deputies and then asked for questions. Marie talked about various interfaith projects, Charedi communities and more details of the workings of the Board. It was a very informative and enlightening meeting with good positive feedback. It especially highlighted what a hard working person Marie is and her difficulties as President of the Board of Deputies in trying to represent a very disparate Jewish Community.

Also last week, we held a regular but virtual meeting of the Executive of the Board and the Board itself will meet virtually on 14 May. The Board has taken a unanimous decision, after taking advice from our Constitution Committee, to postpone the Synagogue AGM, which is usually held in June, to 2 November 2020. We would all much prefer to hold the AGM in person than virtually.

As you know I am still asking for volunteers to offer events to the Community to brighten up our days. I have had two brilliant offers from the Jay family. Hannah Jay is happy to offer Maths and Science tuition up to GCSE level. Deborah Jay is offering French or Italian Conversation practice and is also happy to offer help to anyone who is trying to write a memoir and feels they could do with some guidance. If you would like to take up either of these offers please email Deborah on

I have also been contacted by Emma Alter, who is running online Feldenkrais group classes, (Improving your movement), via Zoom. Her usual class fees are £10, but she has kindly said that if people have had their income affected by the current pandemic they can join and pay only if they can afford it. To participate in Feldenkrais you have to be able to get up and down from the floor. If there is enough demand, Emma is happy to have a regular Belsize Feldenkrais Class and aim it in terms of ability towards what is needed, for instance, a seated class for those of us who are less mobile. For more information or to ask questions please email Emma at .

Can I also remind you of Claire Walford’s Zoom Kiddush which I wrote about last week. Several people joined and she would like some more of you to come along. You can contact her on

Finally our telephoning of members continues through the Tikkun Olam Committee and volunteers are now reaching out to everyone over 50. If you are over 50 and don’t receive a call but would like one, then please do contact the office.

As I started this email by talking about Israel and community, I finish it by saying that I hope this tells you that you belong to a thriving and supportive community. Keep the volunteer offers coming and below you will find some more gardening tips.

Stay safe


Gardening Tips

  • Give your plants (especially outdoor potted plants and bulbs) an extra boost by feeding them.
  • Soft, early growth on hydrangeas and Japanese maples can scorch when frosts occur after warm sunny weather; snip off any damage.
  • Pumpkins and squash are easy to grow and produce abundant, tasty harvests later in the year. If you don’t have seed, try growing from shop-bought vegetables.

Chairman’s message

For full details on the Synagogue’s programme, click here

Dear Friends,

It is only a short time since I wrote my last email to you on Friday and so I was worried that there might not be much to say. I was wrong!! Our Community is buzzing with ideas and it is wonderful to be part of such an active and thoughtful group of individuals. You may have noticed that I have changed my greeting from “dear member” to “dear friends”, this is because I feel that a positive that has come out of this most difficult period is that we have taken time to get to know each other and to talk to people that we might not have spoken to before. There is a great sense of community and belonging, at least so it seems from the emails that I get. For me this is such a positive and I hope it is for you to.

I want to start by thanking everyone who has volunteered to help with phone calls and also those of you who have volunteered in response to last week’s email. I will be sending out more information on activities over the next few weeks. Please keep the offers coming!! With this thanks comes an apology… the individual who emailed me about FeldenKrais, I am so, so ,sorry but I have lost your email and can’t get in touch with you. Please resend it.

One of the great offers that has been made came after discussion at the Tikkun Olam Committee. Claire Walford will host a Zoom Communal Kiddush each Friday night from this week. Many families are already doing this amongst themselves but if you are not able to participate with family or friends then please contact Claire on to let her know that you would like to join and she will email you with Zoom joining instructions each week. There will be candle lighting, Kiddush and HaMotzi and possibly a little time to Zoom chat. The whole event will take 30 minutes and will happen at 7.30 after the Friday night service ends. Everyone is welcome and you do not need to have any wine, candles or challah at home nor do you need to join each week, only when you feel like it.

If you find yourself with food in your fridge but are bored with your recipes or don’t know how to use up what you have, then email Claire on the above email address with a list of the ingredients and she will send you a recipe. No guarantees that you will like it but at least it will be something new to try!

For those of you who are interested in Limmud , you may like to know that the “Limmud Together UK” on line event will run on Sunday 3 May from 10:00-18:00. This will cost just £10, with a concessionary rate of £1 for those who have been financially impacted by Coronavirus. It is free for anyone who has volunteered for Limmud in the last year. If you would like to sign up here is the link :

I also wanted to let you know that, as you will have already read, earlier this year we created the Emeritus Rabbi Award to sponsor a young person who wanted to do volunteer work in Israel with one of our Charities. The global pandemic has sadly made this an impossibility and consequently the award will roll over to next year.

Finally, as promised in an earlier email our Cheder has gone on line with one to one Hebrew reading lessons and Jewish Study class lessons. Last Sunday was the first virtual Cheder and was a great success. Thank you to Caroline and everyone who is teaching, as well as to all the parents and children who are participating.

On the subject of children please do participate in the Kikar Kids Shabbat Zoom service (thank you to Richard and Sara Pollins) if you have children aged 0-9. This happens each Saturday at 11am.

Lastly, if you are interested please look below for gardening tips. I have not received many… more are needed please.

Stay safe and stay well


Gardening Tips

  • Bulbs aren’t just for spring! Plant common favourites such as gladioli, dahlias, crocosmias (or rarer beauties like Sparaxis and Tigridia) now for colourful displays in summer.
  • As they start to grow again after a winter rest, this week is the perfect time to give your houseplants some attention such as feeding or repotting to get them looking their best.
  • Now’s your last chance to prune late-flowering shrubs such as buddleias, hydrangeas and fuchsias; give them a tidy soon and enjoy flowers later in the year.