Chairman’s message 12 August

Chairman’s message 12 August

Dear Friends

Now that we have our Shabbat services running in the Synagogue I wanted to let you know about the plans for the High Holydays. I have been working with the Planning Group since April and I want to thank everyone (and their own teams) for their hard work and inspirational ideas. What we have achieved is a result of teamwork, creative thinking and commitment to the Synagogue. It is an honour and privilege to Chair these meetings.

For those of you who are planning to watch on BelsizeLIVE, we will be streaming all the services below as usual. If we are in lockdown or for some reason unable to hold a particular live service, then with the help of Cantor Heller we have spent the summer ensuring that we have recorded services which we can stream. These will be archived services into which Cantor Heller has added members who are leyning/chanting Haftarah and Rabbi Altshuler’s sermons.

For the live services we are now recording the choir and we hope to be able to use this, so that the services become more of what we are used to. When we do, the Choir will, of course, be on the streamed service as well.

This is what we are planning for you:

  • Selichot – Saturday 12 September: as this is a choral service with no sermon, we will be streaming an archived service. The Synagogue will not open. Before the service Rabbi Altshuler will hold a Shiur on Zoom
  • Erev 1st and 2nd day Rosh Hashanah – Friday 18 and Saturday 19 September: these services will be held in the Synagogue and streamed on BelsizeLIVE
  • 1st and 2nd day Rosh Hashanah – Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 September: these services will also be in the Synagogue and streamed on BelsizeLIVE
  • Kol Nidrei – Sunday 27 September: once again this will be a service in the Synagogue and streamed on BelsizeLIVE
  • Yom Kippur – Monday 28 September : in order to enable as many people as possible to attend on Yom Kippur we are dividing the day into three distinct parts, the idea being that we will be able to have three separate congregations attending, all socially distanced of course and quite small in number. As always, we will stream the day on BelsizeLIVE. Once everyone has left the building the Synagogue will be deep cleaned between each part of the service, so there will be a minimum of an hour and a quarter break in between each section. To make this possible Rabbi Altshuler and Cantor Heller have worked to take out some of the service to create the necessary cleaning gaps. We are dividing the day as follows:
    • 9.30-13.30: Shacharit & Mussaf
    • 14.45-16.15: Mincha – this year we will have young people taking the service as usual but will not be able to have the youth choir due to the current restrictions. However, we are recording the choir parts with the adult choir.
    • 17.30-19.30: Yizkor & Neilah. The fast ends at 19.32.

Lee will be writing to all of you next week with fuller details and information on how to book. If you come to Synagogue we will ask you to stay for the whole of your allocated service.

For those of you watching on BelsizeLIVE we hope to stream something in the breaks between the sections, we are still working on this.

Youth Services on 1st day Rosh Hashanah (starting at 11am) and Yom Kippur (starting at 11.30am) will be held on Zoom this year. They will be the same as if we would be holding them in the Synagogue Hall but without the choir parts, with shortened Torah portions and the Haftorah in English only. Next year we plan to be back in person and with our usual service in Hebrew and English and with the youth choir, but this year is an exception. Jeannie Cohen has kindly created a prayer book which we will put up on the screen during the Zoom services.

There will also be a Zoom service on 2nd day Rosh Hashanah at 11am which will be very special as it will be a teaching/fun service with a Kahoots quiz at various intervals during the service and asking questions that are appropriate to the prayers being read or the Torah and Haftorah portions. We will send out more information about this but……there will be prizes given out !

There will be live participation via Zoom on all days.

Kikar Kids:

  • 1st day Rosh Hashanah – Saturday 19 September: we will be holding our Kikar Kids on Zoom at 10am.
  • 2nd day Rosh Hashanah at 10am – Sunday 20 September: we will be holding our Kikar Kids on Zoom.
  • Yom Kippur – Monday 28 October : we will be holding our Kikar Kids on Zoom at 10:30am.

As these are on Zoom you will be able to participate.

Youth Activities on Yom Kippur
Our Head of Cheder and Youth, Caroline Loison, is in the process of planning a program of youth activities to run throughout the day on Yom Kippur via Zoom. Of course, she is making sure these don’t clash with the Youth or Kikar Kids services and a more detailed timetable will be provided nearer the time. At the moment Caroline is looking at offering four sessions split by age group (4-7s, 7-9s, 9-11s and 11-13s) and these will cover a wide variety of Yom Kippur appropriate topics/themes for help keep our young people focused on this special day and some of the ideas behind it.

Last week, I asked for people who are younger than me to send in some pieces to add on to this email. Caroline Loison has sent me a wonderful piece about arranging a Bar Mitzvah in Lockdown. Please scroll down below the gardening tips to read it. I haven’t had many replies, so if anyone of you would like to send me something, please do. I think it would be wonderful to be able to publish our experiences, whatever our age and circumstances.

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


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 John Alexander
In the words of Nat King Cole: “Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summerThose days of soda and pretzels and beer….”

There is not a lot that needs doing in a flower garden at the moment except clearing off dried leaves that have blown in, watering, deadheading and the occasional sprinkling of slug pellets.

So….enjoy the fine weather and take pleasure in the fruits of your labours!

Tales of a Jewish Mother from Caroline Loison

So my eldest son’s Bar Mitzvah is on 5th September. Such an exciting time and occasion for him, us and all our family and friends but an especially exciting time for me, his Jewish mother. I mean, I know that he will be the focus of everything on the day and that is absolutely the way it should be. And my husband and I (not forgetting his grandparents, uncle, aunts and great aunts etc), will be schlepping nuchas the whole day which is also the way it should be. But, as the Jewish mother, it’s me that gets to book the venue. Me that gets to book the caterer. Me that gets to book the entertainment. Me that gets to arrange the decorations. It’s a Jewish mother’s dream – I am in control of everything, just as I like to be! The Excel spreadsheet was designed and in place ages ago and I remember looking at the calendar in January and thinking how far away the Bar Mitzvah seemed and wondering when I needed to start doing a bit more planning. I hadn’t really planned that much for it at that point. Well, I had obviously booked the venue. And I had booked the food. And I’d booked the DJ. And I’d chosen the balloons. And I’d also reserved the present post box. And I’d designed the Logo. And I’d chosen the colour scheme. Actually, it sounds like I had done quite a bit of booking but, believe me, these days you can go completely “Meshugas” with accessories for your Bar Mitzvah. You can have doughnut walls, hot dog trolleys, ice cream factories, giant table football games, perfume bars, henna tattoos, photo booths or mirrors… The list is endless and can be quite overwhelming. Yes, even for an excited (and organised) Jewish mother like me! Anyway, I was just days away from making a few more phone calls… Peer pressure in the form of my best friend had dictated that I absolutely, definitely, no doubt about it, had to have a photo booth. And then Covid-19 hit. Schools were about to close. The country was about to go into Lockdown. Jewish mothers all over the world were desperately worried that their big “baby” boy or girl might not get their moment. I wasn’t worried. J’s Bar Mitzvah was in September. We wouldn’t be in Lockdown then. It would be fine. The Shul would be open again. Covid-19 would be a distant memory. My son would definitely get his moment. Of course he would. But then again, maybe he might not. In fact, it became apparent quite quickly that this would not be over by September. A lot of thinking and discussions took place between my husband and I. What should we do? Should we ask J what he wants to do? Should we make some phone calls to the people we have booked? Should we be praying for some sort of miracle to occur so that this horrid plague suddenly vanishes? Or should we just go ahead and cancel? In the end, we spoke to J and all agreed that cancelling the party would be the best thing this time and we would try to rebook a party for him at a later date. We hoped that the religious side of the Bar Mitzvah would still be able to go ahead given the recent easing of restrictions and the Synagogue’s plans to open up again. Maybe that would be our miracle?!?! I looked at my spreadsheet and made the phone calls again, this time starting each conversation with, “I’m sure I’m not the first person to call you to have to cancel because of Corona?” and everyone I spoke to replied in the same way – “No, it’s such a shame but I totally understand”. Sympathies exchanged, we then moved on to discussions about deposits being kept for the new date (August 2021 PG) and if the DJ or Post Box or caterer etc. would still be available then. Luckily everyone I called was free so everything booked was quickly rebooked. So, at the moment, we are waiting to see what happens about a second wave and if it’s on its way or not. And my Jewish mother self can relax again. Because August 2021 is ages away. Once again, there’s loads of time for me to redesign the spreadsheet, improve the logo, check the main course side dishes shouldn’t be changed, create the Israeli music playlist for the DJ… ?!?! Actually, maybe I should start the planning a bit earlier??? I might make a phone call or two next week… Just enquiring, of course! I will keep you posted on my plans, as long as you promise not to share them with J – I want them to be a surprise my son, the Bar Mitzvah boy.