Chairman’s message 1 July

Chairman’s message 1 July

Dear Friends

During lockdown I have been re-watching the Harry Potter films, all of which I loved first time round and still do. The books and movies stress the importance of teams and how each individual contributes to the overall success of the group. Where would Harry be without Hermione, Ron and Dumbledore (and everyone else who helps him)? Pretty much every time Harry tries to accomplish something on his own, he is relieved to find Ron and Hermione at his side. As a team, they are able to come together and accomplish what appeared impossible. This theme runs all the way through the eight books and subsequent films and I find it a joy to look out for it, amongst the rough and tumble and excitement of the storylines.

I first thought about teamwork in lockdown when we set up the phone rota and so many of you volunteered. Thank you! Next came the Zoom Board meetings and Zoom Executive meetings and various Zoom Committee meetings and the BelsizeLIVE recorded services and the regular Sunday discussion group and Cheder and Kikar Kids and the work of our Ministers, Caroline Loison, Adam Rynhold, the office, Eve Hersov, Gordon, and, so much more… Gosh, we are good at this! However, I want to single someone out from all of this and publicly pay tribute to and thank Lee Taylor our Chief Executive. Lee is the ultimate Ron, Hermione and Dumbledore all rolled into one person. He is available at all times, supportive of all of us, good-natured even when under pressure with his family responsibilities. I could go on but just want you all to know how hard he works and how much he is appreciated as part of our Synagogue team.

This last week I have spent many hours on Zoom calls discussing how we can safely re-open our Synagogue. Another example of great teamwork! As you know our Planning Committee started work weeks ago but Government guidelines for re-opening places of worship were only published this week. Your safety is the most important thing for us and we are planning in detail for a possible re-opening. The Planning Committee met last week, as did various sub-groups to discuss all the guidelines and our planning recommendations. Lastly the Executive met to review the plans in their entirety. We have agreed that we will have rehearsals of the “new normal services” before we open to you, in order to make sure that those who do attend are safe.  We will also be producing a full risk assessment that will be available before we open and which will cover all the government guidelines.  We want to make this work, so please be understanding that it is taking some time to look at everything thoroughly and we will not open on 4 July (the earliest opening date set by the government).

We know that we can only open with 2m social distancing and we have worked out what this will look like in the Synagogue.  I am attaching two pictures so that you can see what this means for us, the white lines on the floor mark the areas where you can walk and will be a one-way system. 

Social distancing system
Seating and floor marking

For now please continue watching our services on BelsizeLIVE. This Friday I am really happy to say that Cantor Heller will be accompanied by Ben Wolf on the organ.

This Shabbat is Josh Gaberman’s Bar Mitzvah. Josh was recorded on the Bimah, as the government guidelines have permitted us to do so. He made this pre-recorded service a family event, with grandparents, uncles and cousins from the USA participating by recording different parts from home. Good friends Valerie and Peter Sussmann read the prayers for the Queen and Israel from their beautiful garden. This is, as I said above, true team work (albeit with social distancing!) I need to thank all our B’nei mitzvah families for being so collaborative with the pre-recordings and understanding of the situation that we are all in. And as with all of our recorded services, thank you to Cantor Heller for putting it all together.

Some of you may not have a Chumash. In Belsize Square Synagogue our main Chumash is Etz Hayim, if you would like to buy a copy of this it needs to be ordered from America, so please email Adam on . However I have been contacted by Jerusalem the Golden in Golders Green as they have a sale of Artscroll books with 25% off all titles until 15 July. If you want to find out about the Artscroll Chumash or other books then please contact them on 020 8455 4960. They can post to you, if you don’t want to go in to the shop. We have a stock of our own Siddur in the office and I will write again soon about how you can purchase them if you want one.

You may be interested to know that this Shabbat is Green Shabbat. The Synagogue has been a member of the ECO Synagogue movement since it started. You will have seen the plaque on our wall marking our progress towards being an environmentally appropriate community. Hopefully we will all be together next year for a ‘Green Kiddush’.

A member of our community has brought to my attention an organisation called The Bridge. A rehab and after-care residence, The Bridge, are offering free on-line counselling for drink, drugs or eating disorders through its website: Lockdown is a new word and concept for many people and the restrictions have taken a long time to get used to and caused anxiety to many. The Synagogue is not endorsing the services of The Bridge and if you use them it is “at your own risk” but I wanted to bring it to your attention in case it is useful for you.

Another of our members, Beverley Herman, has run a recruitment business for over 20 years. Beverley is offering guidance to anyone searching for a job, including help writing a CV. She can be contacted by email at

That is all from me for this week. Stay safe and stay well


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Gardening Tips

Just to remind you that whilst they are not experts, both Henny and John have agreed to answer any gardening questions that you may have.  Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at and he will pass them on.

From Henny Levin

The weather has turned cooler and we have had some rain, so the garden/allotment is all under control!!! The fruit is ripening, and some are ready for picking.  I hope that if you have taken up the challenge of growing some fruit and vegetables and that you enjoy the fruits of your labours. When picked or dug up they may not look as uniform or as large as those you can buy in the shops but in most cases, they will taste more flavoursome and most importantly YOU grew them. Hopefully, you will be able to carry on through the year and into the future.  The satisfaction will be worth the effort.

As we are all hopefully more aware of our environment, investing in a water butt or bucket to collect rainwater will help the planet and will be especially good for house plants. A bin with lid or compost bin for all your fruit and vegetable peelings will turn into compost for next year.  Two small things that will help to make a difference. 

From John Alexander 

  • Even though it’s been raining and is a little cooler, hanging baskets and potted plants outdoors still need watering daily, but not so much that the pots or baskets drip.
  • Grass should be left a little longer in hot weather to maintain a greener lawn. However brown grass will recover quickly after rain so no need to water the lawn.
  • There are two schools of thought about watering gardens. I’ve always thought one should water in the evening so the sun doesn’t burn the wet leaves and the water has a chance to soak into the ground before the sun rises to dry it out. An alternative view is that one should water in the morning so the water can get to the roots during the heat of the day when the plants need it most. I don’t think there is any hard and fast rule about gardening generally. This is just another example of two gardeners and two views!
  • The hot humid nights combined with the luscious new growth of seedlings and bedding plants is a delight to the slugs – continue to put down pellets each week, but sparingly, and keep the pellets off the leaves.