Chairman’s message, 14 October

Chairman’s message, 14 October

Dear Friends

As I sit down to write this email I have realised that it is my 30th one! When I started I didn’t expect to be doing them for so long but thought I was just giving out some important information at a time of great uncertainty. Yet now, they have become a part of my life and my routine each week revolves around writing them. I scour the Sunday news for a relevant or funny story (no luck this week), I spend Monday thinking about the previous week and if anyone would be interested in what I have done, I spend Tuesday deciding that my life is not interesting enough and then sit down early on Wednesday morning to write to you. This week I find that my head is still full of Synagogue melodies and so this email isn’t about what I have been doing all week but it is about our wonderful services that started with Selichot and ended with Simchat Torah.

Our two Zoom Simchat Torah services were a joy to participate in. We had 30 screens joining in for each service. Stewart Kerry was our Chatan Torah and read beautifully. Rabbi Altshuler was Chatan Beresheit and it was an honour to hear him. An enormous thank you goes from all of us to Cantor Heller who organised the Zoom, produced some uplifting videos with songs for us to watch or sing at home and of course delivered the Zoom service as well. As I said on the Zoom at the Kiddush, I thank both Cantor Heller and Rabbi Altshuler for embracing screens, masks, social distancing, hand sanitising and of course technology and giving us the most wonderful experiences throughout this period.

I also need to thank the Choir and Ben Wolf, you may not be aware that not only did they sing at our services but they came in to record services in case we couldn’t have them live (indeed last weekend we had to use the recordings) and to record for Simchat Torah. Thank you!

This was the last year that Dilys Tausz will lead the Youth Services and I cannot thank her enough for all the hard work she has done with her team (thank you to all of you too) over the years in encouraging our youngest members to participate and in leading these services. Thank you also to Richard Pollins for leading Kikar Kids and continuing to do so.

I have already thanked many people over the last few weeks but don’t want to forget Gordon, Paul and all those who deep cleaned our Synagogue so many times over the last few weeks, so that those who wanted to could participate in live services. I will finish by thanking Adam Rynhold, David Pollins and Lee Taylor for all they have done in keeping our services Covid compliant and streaming to those at home.

Talking of the Pollins family, I am delighted to be able to tell you that Richard has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. Many of you will know that Richard was born without legs and that Vera, his mum, has Motor Neurone Disease. Last year Richard did a 40 kilometre “No Legs Walk” to raise funds for Motor Neurone Research and raised £66,614. He was honoured for this. I send congratulations on behalf of all of us.

This coming Shabbat we are celebrating the Barmitzvah of Max Slotover which will take place in the Synagogue. We are pleased that the latest restrictions have not impacted on our ability to host Bnei Mitzvah at the synagogue and look forward to welcoming Max’s parents, Victoria and Tim, their family and friends. If you attended services pre-Covid on a Shabbat morning you will have seen Max and his brother Joey at most of them. Please join on BelsizeLIVE to celebrate with the family.

On Sunday 25 October at 7pm, Music at Belsize is delighted to present an orchestral concert, which will be professionally recorded live in our synagogue and released as an exclusive video premiere on our website. The concert will feature the incredibly talented London Young Sinfonia, conducted by Elias Brown, with guest conductor being none other than our member, Philip Keller. The orchestra will perform Haydn’s sparkling symphony no. 90, followed by the epic symphony no. 4 by Beethoven. What a treat to have this available to us, particularly as this year is the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. The flyer is attached to this email.

You will already have seen the announcement about Mitzvah day which this year is on Sunday 15 November. We will again be running a number of activities both in the Cheder and also the wider community, including collecting and distributing food and other essential items for the Camden Food Bank, as well as putting on a virtual concert for the residents of the Wellesley Road Care Home in Camden. Please look out in News From the Square for the list of items most needed by the food bank as well as times for you to drop them off at the Synagogue on Sunday mornings from the start of November. We are also asking for volunteers who either play a musical instrument, would like to sing or tell some (audience appropriate!) jokes to join the concert and let the office know by 25 October so we have time to put a programme together. Please contact Adam Rynhold at if you would like to be included.

Lastly I have been asked by our member, Emily Marbach, to let you know that if you are venturing out, the Bulgarian Cultural Institute (located at the Bulgarian Embassy, 186-188 Queen’s Gate, SW7 5HL) have an exhibition inspired by the 77th Anniversary of the saving of the Bulgarian Jews from the Holocaust. Emily’s artwork is on display at the exhibition which finishes on 20 October.

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


Gardening Tips

Just to remind you that whilst he is not an expert, John is happy to try to answer any gardening questions that you may have. Please email questions to Adam Rynhold at and he will pass them on.

  • I was asked this week how to overwinter geraniums as the plants did so well this summer. The hardy geraniums, those wild looking plants with many single flowers that bloom all summer are actually perennials that can be left in the ground. Like all perennials, they should be cut back now or as soon as they have died down at the end of their flowering season.
  • Tender geraniums are actually pelargonium – this is what we all usually think of as geraniums – the ones that look so lovely in all the window boxes throughout France. They can be taken up and potted and then kept away from frost on a sunny windowsill in a shed, garage, kitchen or in a heated conservatory – anywhere with light, so long as they don’t catch the frost.
  • As soon as the earth has dried up a little, start planting spring bulbs outside – although they can go into containers now. However tulips must not be planted until after the first frost. They can be planted right up to the end of the year, until the soil is frozen solid. They rot and get diseases in warmer soil and only start putting out roots when it’s very cold. However, remember, squirrels love tulips – but not chilly powder!
London Young Sinfonia flyer