Chairman’s message 10 June

Chairman’s message 10 June

Dear Friends,

As I sit down to write to you I have realised that this week has been the most difficult week of lockdown for me personally so far. I have worked out that it is because the Guidelines are changing and whereas before I did not really need to make decisions, now I do and sometimes with conflicting advice. We all have our different levels of risk taking and we also have our own home and family pressures. It is no longer “one size fits all” and so as the weeks go on we will inevitably hear different stories from our friends, which may make us question our decisions. At least now I recognise why I am more anxious and so I have decided that this week the email will also give details of things that we can still do from home and the only decision that we need to make is whether we are interested and have the time to do them.

Before I go on, here is a short update on the Synagogue re-opening and High Holidays. As I said last week, the Board meets tomorrow and will be discussing the High Holydays. Both Rabbi Altshuler and Cantor Heller will join the discussion. I will let you know next week what decisions have been taken. In relation to a general re-opening, the guidance remains the same, which is no earlier than 4th July and in the next few weeks we will receive more guidance from the Task Force. It is also very clear that each Community must make its own decisions about how and when they reopen. So we wait to see what comes next. You may have read that places of worship can now re-open for private prayer but as this is not part of what we do, the Synagogue remains closed.

On behalf of the Israel Dinner Committee, I am delighted to reveal that notwithstanding the difficult times we all face, thanks to your incredible generosity we have been able to raise £31,500 which is being sent primarily to our 3 designated charities – ASSAF, The Jaffa Institute, and Yemin Orde – as well as smaller donations which were specifically earmarked for The Israel Sports Centre for the Disabled and for the Association for Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers. As impressive as the funds raised, was the high level of participation with us achieving greater than 75% participation as compared to last year.

Emma Brookes, Chair of the Israel Dinner Committee, wrote to each of the charities this past week who were thrilled to receive our timely donation. ASSAF commented “we are honoured at the generosity of Belsize Square Synagogue in their continuing commitment to ASSAF’s Youth Club and ASSAF’s mission – especially in these very troubling times.” The Jaffa Institute wrote “Without friends like you, we wouldn’t be able to continue to thrive and offer ongoing support to thousands of children in our charge.” And Yemin Orde wrote “We are honoured that your synagogue and community is continuing its partnership, even during such unprecedented times in the U.K. and throughout the world. Thank you for being such dedicated partners!” We also received a lovely thank you note from The Israel Sports Centre for the Disabled.

The Jaffa Institute also sent us a wonderful video highlighting the programme we support which I would like to share with you.

We plan to continue to celebrate the wonderful work of our designated charities when our dinner resumes next year. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Emma and her Committee for working so hard to achieve such an amazing result and to thank you all for donating.

The 15-21 June is Refugee Week and I have been sent details of Insiders/Outsiders Online Events for that week. This is held in partnership with the Association of Jewish Refugees and Four Corners, London. There are events throughout the week but the one that may be of interest is on Thursday 18 June, 3.30pm, there will be a screening of the filmed version of The Ballad of the Cosmo Café, based on the sell-out live performances held at St. Peter’s Church Hall next door to us, last November. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the play’s director Pamela Howard. Events are free of charge but registration is essential as places are limited. To register go to: Zoom login details will be provided with the confirmation of your Eventbrite booking.

Also on Thursday 18 June at 8pm, Professor Paul Weindling has agreed to speak to the community. Professor Weindling, a research professor at Oxford Brookes University, is a leading expert in the Kindertransport from Vienna to the UK and has written numerous books on Kindertransport and the holocaust. He wrote a piece on the subject in the latest issue of Jewish Historical Studies which can be read here – We are very grateful that Professor Weindling has given up his time to speak to us, please put the date in your diary. The talk will be held using Zoom so look out for the details which will be sent out shortly. Thank you to Mike Schraer for organising this.

Lastly I have been sent a wonderfully funny clip of the ENO percussion section recreating Verdi’s Anvil Chorus for Il Trovatore . Even if you don’t like opera, it is worth clicking on this link

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


Gardening Tips

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

  • It was eight years ago when my son-in-law gave me a box of his home-grown vegetables. I had never tasted such tender and sweet carrots before. It gave me the incentive I needed to find an allotment. My friends suggested exotic items which are very expensive in the shops. I grew artichokes from seed. They were inedible and at that point I decided that the basic fruit and vegetables that I enjoy eating was what I wanted to grow. So, if you are in the mood to grow something in pots at home, in your garden or on the veranda/balcony why not try spring onions or carrots this week. They are easy to grow, just follow the instruction on the packet of seeds.
  • For the children, growing cress is a wonderful and easy beginning. All you will need is a clean plastic tub (maybe one that you bought fruit or vegetables in at the supermarket with or without holes at the bottom, some compost, the seeds and a small tray to put the tub on. Fill the tub with the compost, sow the seeds sparingly, sprinkle a little compost on top, water and place on a sunny windowsill. Water regularly and very soon you will all be able to eat egg and cress sandwiches.
  • Don’t forget to feed your tomatoes once a fortnight, instructions will be on the bottle.
  • Take out weeds if they are invading your plants.
  • If you are growing strawberries, they are now beginning to ripen. Don’t leave it too long to pick or the birds and the slugs will get there before you. If they come off the stalks easily, they are ripe for picking even if they are not red all over.

From John Alexander

  • Stake floppy plants.
  • Keep Peonies especially well watered and fed.
  • Cut new growth from herbs and Lavender and pot or plant cuttings to propagate.
  • Keep newly planted bedding plants and seedlings moist and water hanging baskets and patio pots daily.
  • Continually dead-head Roses.
  • Spray Box to kill the dreaded caterpillars.
  • Keep the trunks of Tree Ferns moist – water in the evening.