Author: Lee Taylor

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.