Yearly Archives: 2021

AJR Kristallnacht Service

 

We were delighted to welcome back the AJR for their annual Kristallnacht Service last week. Rabbi Botnick and Cantor Heller were honoured to lead the Service and our very own Peter Summerfield was one of the guest speakers.

Here is a selection of photos from the event. Photos by Adam Soller Corporate Photography.

 

Mitzvah Day

 

Mitzvah day is fast approaching on Sunday 21 November and we are excited to take part again!

This year we will again be collecting for the Camden Foodbank who are looking for donations of the items set out below. You can bring any donations from 1st November during synagogue office hours or on Sunday mornings during Cheder hours (please ask for Jennifer in the office).

If you have items to donate and cannot or would prefer not to come to the Synagogue, please let us know and we will do our best to arrange for someone to collect them from you directly.

The latest list of items that they have requested is set out below. For any questions please contact the Synagogue office.

CAMDEN FOODBANK REQUESTED ITEMS                                                   

Tinned fish and meat

Tinned fruits

Tinned vegetables

Biscuits

Crisps

Chocolate

Pot Noodles / Packet noodles

Gluten Free Food (Pasta, Cereal, Noodles)

Ghee

Tea & Coffee

UHT semi-skimmed milk

Juice / Squash

Shampoo & shower gel

Washing powder

Toilet roll

 

High Holydays at Belsize Square

 

We are delighted to announce that Belsize Square will be open for High Holyday Services. Due to the work of our dedicated team, members are able to book a seat for one of our Services across the holiday period. If Services are fully booked you will be placed on a waiting list.

All services will be streamed via BelsizeLIVE so if you are unable to attend you’ll be able to watch from the comfort and safety of your home.

Service Times

Erev 1st Day Rosh Hashanah
Monday 6 September at 6.45pm

1st Day Rosh Hashanah
Tuesday 7 September at 9.30am

Erev 2nd Day Rosh Hashanah
Tuesday 7 September at 6.45pm

2nd Day Rosh Hashanah
Wednesday 8 September at 9.30am

Kol Nidrei
Wednesday 15 September at 7.00pm

Yom Kippur Shacharit, Mussaf & Mazkir
Thursday 16 September from 9.30am-1.45pm

Yom Kippur Minchah
Monday 28 September from 3.15-4.30pm

Yom Kippur Mazkir & Neilah
Monday 28 September from 5.45-7.55pm

Rosh Hashanah Message from Board of Deputies

Rosh Hashanah Message

Marie van der Zyl – President, Board of Deputies

September 2021 / Tishrei 5782

This past year has been a difficult one for the Jewish community. Like the rest of the country, we have had to cope with disruption, and for many, the heartbreak of the ongoing pandemic. On top of this we have also had to deal with a frightening upsurge in anti-Jewish racism.

When there is conflict in the Middle East there are usually consequences for Jews in the UK but this year what we experienced was beyond anything I can remember. Antisemitic incidents rose by 500 per cent and none of us will forget the convoy of cars driving through our streets with shouted threats and misogynistic abuse plus other well documented attacks.

This is intolerable and the Board of Deputies acted quickly to ensure that the Government was aware and prepared to take whatever measures were needed. The Jewish community held meetings with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel. I called for the proscription of Hamas in its entirety. We also called for the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism by social media companies and their new regulator Ofcom. I am glad to report that the Government has now written to social media companies to request them to adopt the IHRA definition.

While the epidemic has ebbed and flowed we have worked with the Government to share important messages in order to keep everybody safe and we have advised on safe numbers for prayer and religious occasions. We have also had the sad but necessary duty of collating numbers of deaths. Our community has enthusiastically embraced the vaccine which is one of the main reasons why numbers of deaths has been mercifully few in the past few months.

Those who know the Board of Deputies will understand we work on a diverse set of issues. It is impossible to list everything in a short message. However, I will give a mention to the Commission on Racial Inclusivity which reported this year and which made 119 recommendations, with profound implications for UK Jews. I would also like to thank all the new organisations which have joined this year, making us even more representative of the community. We will continue to work just as hard on your behalf in the coming year.

Shana Tovah

Marie van der Zyl
President

**Deborah Cohen, Peter Strauss and Dilys Tausz are Belsize Square’s representatives to the Board of Deputies. If you would like to discuss any matters relating to the Board of Deputies with them, please contact the office for their contact details**

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE CST

 

Dear Community

I am writing to tell you what Community Security Trust is doing to protect our community at this difficult time, and how you and your family can help.

All of our work is done in partnership with schools, synagogues and communal groups across the country. We thank them all and we thank you also for cooperating with our united effort. If you are going to synagogue or to any other Jewish location, please comply with all the security procedures and follow the instructions of the security guards and volunteers on site. Please read our latest Security Notice.

What we are all going through right now is something that happens whenever there is conflict around Israel. It is a disgrace that there should be such antisemitism here (and in other countries), but the reality is well known to CST, schools, synagogues and other communal bodies. It is why our security measures are in place. We have been through similar times before, we plan for them and we focus on the job of protecting our Jewish community. The antisemitism began to really worsen almost two weeks ago and our staff, volunteers and those assisting in security rotas have worked exceptionally hard since then.

Our security operations have increased greatly and we will keep pushing through until this hopefully comes to an end. CST’s 24/7 National Security Control Centre is connected by CCTV and radio to over 450 sites across the country has been especially busy, including all through each night. Our non-operational staff are helping with the flood of calls from our community so we can give every caller what they need.

The number of antisemitic incidents reported to CST has risen by 500% in the past two weeks, which is consistent with previous conflict situations. We have also received a rise in reports of suspicious activity near to Jewish locations. We need these reports so that we can help you and protect our community. Please report all antisemitic incidents or suspicious activity to CST and to the police – please see details of how to report an incident. In an emergency call 999 and the CST 24/7 emergency number 0800 032 3263. Our specialist incident support staff can help and advise you.

Our role is to support people affected by antisemitism, to act wherever possible against antisemites and to give a sober, reliable picture to our community, police, politicians and media of what is happening. CST is professional, calm and determined, giving physical and moral support that we hope helps make our community less nervous and more robust. Police, government and media are receiving daily updates from CST of antisemitic incidents, extremist incitement and our security needs. If you report antisemitism to us, it makes CST’s briefings to police, government and media more comprehensive and more accurate: meaning we all get better protection. It means our concerns are heard and acted upon. For example, the Jewish community and CST received support from the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer, and the Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday.

This week I have discussed our concerns with the Home Secretary and one of the most senior Metropolitan Police operational commanders. The police response is a strong one, with officers stationed in our 24/7 control centre as necessary and much strengthened visible policing in Jewish neighbourhoods. I stressed that we cannot have another situation where a large convoy of cars is driven through Jewish neighbourhoods with the clear intent of intimidating and threatening Jewish people.

CST’s security work is visible and obvious, both the guards and the equipment that we have helped install at schools and shuls all over the country. All community locations and guarding companies have received regular updates from CST, seeking to ensure that the measures we have in place for these situations are fully implemented.

CST’s security work is intelligence based, but this happens behind the scenes. Our expert researchers are finding extremist incitement online and passing it to police and government on a daily basis. Some of the evidence we have gathered has contributed to important arrests in recent days for antisemitic hate crimes that we hope will result in prosecutions. Other investigations are ongoing. We want to ensure that there is always a cost for people who attack, threaten and harass our community. Your role in this is vital. If you see or hear something, take down the details and report it to CST. Please help to be our eyes and ears.

We know that all this antisemitism and extreme anti-Israel hatred is affecting our young people particularly badly. Jewish children and students are facing abuse and being singled out, in primary and secondary schools, online and on campus. For children, we have long partnered with Maccabi GB in running Streetwise. If you scroll down their website you will see educational materials that we hope will help keep children safe and enable them to better understand all of this. Streetwise has a specific programme for children in non-Jewish secondary schools, called Stand Up!, which provides education about antisemitism as part of a broader approach to discrimination. For students, we have a dedicated Student Security Coordinator who works closely with the Union of Jewish Students and Jewish Societies across the UK. There is more information about the support that is available for young people on the CST website.

We have also packaged a large amount of our own previous educational resources, now available on the CST website, to help teach people about antisemitism. The CST Blog has a strong public statement that analyses the situation and explains what we are doing.

One important difference now compared to previous difficulties is the amount of material being shared on communal Facebook and WhatsApp groups. It is right that we all stick together at this time, but some of the things being shared in these groups are exaggerated or simply incorrect. CST’s public statements seek to be accurate and sensible. Please follow us on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.

Please appreciate that this email only scratches the surface of what we are doing, both publicly and privately. Obviously our work will continue for as long as it is needed, both in the current situation and beyond, but together we will get through this as we have done before. We all deserve to live proudly, confidently and safely as Jews in our country, and this is what CST is here to ensure.

Shabbat shalom,

Mark Gardner

CST Chief Executive 

Welcome Rabbi Botnick

 

We are delighted to introduce Rabbi Gabriel Botnick and family to our Synagogue.

Rabbi Botnick will be working with Rabbi Altshuler for the next few months as we get to know him.

Rabbi Botnick grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where his family are active members of the B’nai Jeshurun Congregation, which was founded more than 170 years ago by Hungarian Jews to bridge the gap between the early German Jewish community and the newer wave of Russian Jewish immigrants. It is a synagogue with an organ and choir and a history parallel to ours. Rabbi Botnick’s mother served as the first female president of the synagogue, during which time she recruited all three of its current clergy.

Why did he become a rabbi? Rabbi Botnick says that after university, he returned home to work in the family jewellery business and eventually to take it over. He had already been involved in BBYO and Hillel and became Youth Director of his synagogue. He told himself that he would go to rabbinical school upon retirement – not to serve as a rabbi, but simply to engross himself in Torah study. Then, having moved to Los Angeles, Rabbi Botnick re-evaluated this decision, inspired by a desire to connect with others, in order to bring the depth of our Jewish heritage to life for them. He studied in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Botnick comes to us from the Mishkon Synagogue, located in Venice Beach, California, founded more than 100 years ago as the first synagogue serving Jews on the west side of Los Angeles. Unlike in London, during Lecha Dodi the Community would open the front doors, overlooking the ocean, to welcome the Sabbath bride!

He has come to London with his wife Rabbi Rose Prevezer and daughter Lev. While Rabbi Botnick has not lived in the UK before, Rose grew up in Hampstead Garden Suburb and attended South Hampstead High School, after which she read Archaeology and Anthropology at St Hugh’s, Oxford, and stayed on at Oxford for her Masters in Visual Anthropology. Her rabbinate is focused on the intersection between arts and spirituality and she has just started working at JW3. Rabbi Botnick has visited London regularly to see his in-laws, so knows our city well. Lev loves dancing, playing football, making music, reading – and building LEGO.

Welcome to Belsize!

Shabbat Services – Booking Procedure

 

We are now taking bookings for Shabbat Services from Friday 19 March.

Services will begin at the regular time, 6.45pm on Friday evening and 10.00am on Saturday morning. All Services will continue to be streamed on BelsizeLIVE.

Various measures have been put in place to ensure that the building and Services are compliant with government regulations, and that everyone attending feels as safe as possible. Here is a sample of the measures that have been put into place:

  • Seating is grouped into family bubbles
  • There are 2m spaces between each group
  • All seating is allocated in advance
  • A one-way system within the building
  • Sanitising stations at entrances/exits
  • A full clean and sanitization of the building immediately after the service
  • Strict arrival and exit procedures including taking the temperature of each person before they enter

 

To book for a service could not be easier. You can email Adam (adam@synagogue.org.uk) in the synagogue office or call him on 020 7794 3949. Please let us know which service you wish to attend and how many people will be attending. You will receive a confirmation email with full instructions. Please note that your booking has not been confirmed until you receive the confirmation email.

We are restricting bookings to one service every three weeks so that everyone has a chance to attend but you are welcome to put your name on the reserve list for other services. We do not expect to be fully booked every week and we will let you know if a space becomes available . As a member you will be given priority over non-members who wish to attend.

Bookings can be made up to 12.00pm on a Friday. We cannot guarantee a response to any emails sent after that time.

There will be no age restrictions in place so if you wish to bring along children that would be fine. We will not have our regular toys and books out and the playground is not available.

If you have any questions or wish to be sent a copy of our full risk assessment then please call or email Lee (lee@synagogue.org.uk).

 

Full details of our coronavirus response.

Donations to Israeli Charities

Making a donation could not be easier.

  • To donate via debit/credit card click here to be transported to our secure payments page
  • If you would like to donate via cheque or make a bank transfer, please send a text message to 07876 340059 or email lee@synagogue.org.uk, stating your name and the amount you wish to pledge. You will be contacted by a member of our team within the next 48 hours to redeem your pledge.

 

GIFT AID – Gift aid means we can make your donation go further. Your donation increases by the rate of tax applicable at the date of your payment with no extra cost to yourself. Gift aid will be added to your donation where possible and if we hold a valid gift aid form on record.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Board of Deputies Passover Message

 

Pesach Message

Marie van der Zyl – President, Board of Deputies

February 2021 / Nissan 5781

This time last year I wrote in my Pesach message about the pandemic which had suddenly overtaken all of us and which was already taking a heavy toll on the Jewish community. I am very sad that one year later this terrible virus is still claiming lives in our community and affecting the way we live.

Once again, Seder Night will not be the packed, joyous family event we all love. We will, for the second time, be holding intimate events with our closest family and then only if we are lucky enough to live in the same house or bubble. My thoughts are with all of you who are alone at this time or unable to see your nearest and dearest. This past year has taken a toll on all of us but I have seen great acts of generosity and kindness. In some ways, this terrible situation has brought out the best in people – from the small things, like a grandchild baking for her grandparents who are shielding, to those such as Captain Tom, whose fundraising made millions for the NHS, before his sad passing earlier this year.

Now, with millions already vaccinated and infection rates falling, we have a sacred duty to ensure that lives are saved. Every death in our community has been a tragedy for someone’s family. We must ensure that we do everything to save lives. This is the most fundamental imperative of Judaism.

Over this year, the way the Board of Deputies operates has changed, with home working for our staff and Zoom for our plenary meetings. Our online BoDCast  events have engaged thousands of people from across the country and across the world  and  our achievements have continued to grow.

We continue to work with all parts of the Jewish community to ensure that they have access to the best available information about the Coronavirus pandemic and make decisions about when to open and when to close facilities. This has included working with the Cabinet Office to get guidance translated into Yiddish for sections of the Charedi community who do not have English as a first language.

We have been working tirelessly to ensure that the Labour Party, under its new leader Sir Keir Starmer, acts firmly and decisively to excise the antisemitism which had flourished under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. On this, good progress has been made but we need to see even more.

We have also worked hard this year on ensuring that Jews do not face hatred online, by coming up with proposals to ensure that new Online Harms legislation protects us all from abuse social media platforms. Online is the new frontline in the fight against antisemitism – and not just antisemitism, but misogyny, anti-Muslim hatred, homophobia and racism and bigotry against other religions, ethnicities and minority groups. We are working hard to ensure we are better protected. In the meantime, we have acted to stop antisemites selling their poison online by working with Amazon to ensure Holocaust denial works are removed from its platform.

We may be the Board of Deputies of British Jews but some of our most important and successful work has been in support of a group which are neither British nor Jewish. The Chinese Uyghur Muslims are subject to terrible persecution, and I was not the only one to see echoes of the Holocaust in their treatment by the Chinese authorities. I wrote to the Chinese Ambassador following a harrowing interview on the Andrew Marr Show and as an organisation we worked tirelessly to persuade MPs to support the Genocide Amendment to the Trade Bill, which would allow Uyghurs to get around the broken UN system and be able to take their call for justice in a British court.

In a year in which the world mourned the racist murder of George Floyd in the USA, we felt a responsibility to ensure that our community was one in which Black Jews and Jews of Colour do not feel alienated. To this end we set up the Commission on Racial Inclusivity in the Jewish Community with Stephen Bush as Chair. We hope that the recommendations that the Commission makes will make our community a model of inclusivity in the coming years.

Despite the tragedy in the world there have been some beacons of light in the past 12 months. I have seen our community come together like never before. Despite the physical distance, we have been looking after each other and this is has been so necessary and heartwarming. We have also seen remarkable progress in Israel’s relations with its Middle East neighbours. The Abraham Accords were signed between Israel the UAE and Bahrain. We also saw an agreement with Morocco. One of the highlights of my years was lighting the Chanukah candles in an online event with the ambssadors of the UAE and Bahrain – something I never thought I would see.

We have been enduring difficult times. It is my earnest wish that we all stay safe and look forward, as we always do at this time, to better days ahead.

Pesach Sameach to you and your families from everyone at the Board of Deputies

Marie van der Zyl
President, Board of Deputies of British Jews

**Carol Cohen, Deborah Cohen and Robert Sacks are Belsize Square’s representatives to the Board of Deputies. If you would like to discuss any matters relating to the Board of Deputies with them, please contact the office for their contact details**

Shutdown of Services

 

It is with regret that we have taken the decision to close our Shabbat Services to congregants during the current lockdown period. The Rabbi and Cantor will continue to stream services live on a Friday night and Saturday morning through BelsizeLIVE.

We have not taken the decision to close lightly. You may have read the new guidance released by the government which permits places of worship to remain open during the lockdown and we fully understand that many of our members still want to attend and have felt extremely comfortable with the measures that we have in place. However, after consultation with the Ministers, we feel that with the current message asking people to stay at home, it would be wrong to invite people into a setting that increases their risk of contracting the virus at this time.

We thank you for understanding and hope that you are able to join us on BelsizeLIVE for the next few weeks.

Please stay safe and well.