Chairman’s message 17 June

Chairman’s message 17 June

Dear Friends,

I spend a lot of time at home reading the newspapers and last week they were full of news triggered by the death of George Floyd. Each day brought information on protests in America, here and round the world and the start of a change in our society. This week, so far the predominant headlines are about how many people are going to the newly opened shops and what they are buying. This does not mean that the issues have gone away and I hope that you listened to Rabbi Altshuler’s sermon last Shabbat. If you did not, you can still hear it on our BelsizeLIVE Archive. Rabbi Altshuler reminds us that each of us should try to do something to reach out and change things and that racism is not acceptable. Your lay leadership was silent last week about this, deliberately allowing Rabbi Altshuler to lead us. However you should know that your Board in its entirety stands against prejudice of any sort. At this time the focus is on our support to the black community but we condemn any prejudicial actions that are driven by the colour of a person’s skin, their religion, their job or their disability.

On this subject, I wanted to share two things with you. The first is a story that I read in the Times last week, which made me smile about a very serious subject. “A far right blogger called Laura took to twitter to praise Yorkshire Tea for not having a statement about the Black Lives matters protests. Almost immediately Yorkshire Tea replied: “Please don’t buy our tea again. We stand against racism. #blacklivesmatter.” “So now I’ve got to buy PG Tips?” huffed Pamela another twitter user trying to stir things up. This sucks”. Five minutes later the PG Tips official account responded: “Yeah, it does suck, Pamela. If you’re boycotting teas that stand against racism, you’re going to have to find two new tea brands now #blacklivesmatter. #solidaritea”.

The second is a clip of Bridge over Troubled Waters jointly sung by two choirs one Black and one Jewish in Park Avenue Synagogue, New York. Please watch it on this link, it is very uplifting:

This coming Shabbat we are celebrating the Bat Mitzvah of Nina Freudenheim. Nina has recorded her portion at home and I hope that you will watch her on BelsizeLIVE. Nina is a long-standing member of our youth choir and you will hear her sing Avinu Shebashamayim with her friends in the Youth Choir (thank you Cantor Heller for using your editing skills to make this happen!). On behalf of the Community I hope that she and her family have a wonderful Shabbat.

If you are enjoying our services on BelsizeLIVE and have experienced technical issues in the last couple of weeks, this may be due to some upgrades that we have been working on to improve the picture quality and sound. We hope to have these resolved and a new camera in place for Friday. We’re sorry for any inconvenience that was caused.

As you know last week we had a Board meeting and we discussed both the re-opening of our Synagogue and the High Holydays. We are still waiting for the Government guidance to places of worship and the date quoted for this remains no sooner than 4th July. The Board has taken the decision that as a result we are unable, for now, to give you a date when we will reopen for general services. Your safety is our prime concern and once the guidelines are published we will need a little time to study and implement them. For now please continue to watch on BelsizeLIVE.

In relation to the High Holydays the Board has decided that we will plan for two types of service. Firstly over the summer, we will prepare Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services for BelsizeLIVE recorded transmission. This means that if we end up having a short notice lockdown or if guidelines on gatherings suddenly change, then we will be ready with services that we can watch from our homes. At the same time we are working on how we can hold live services in our Synagogue, which of course will be transmitted on BelsizeLIVE. We don’t know yet what the Social Distancing guidelines will be but to help us plan we will be contacting you shortly to ask whether or not you would want to attend a service, (and which ones), if we were open or if you would prefer to stay at home in any event for your own safety.

The Board has also taken a decision that both the Youth Services and Kikar Kids will take place on Zoom this year. It would not be safe to fill the Hall as we usually do but it is important that we do hold those services.

As things continue to be uncertain, I felt that we should be able to anchor ourselves in something familiar. I have chosen Challah! Our member John Brook is a “star” Challah maker and gives Zoom lessons. He has agreed to give lessons to the Community with a maximum of 10 people on Zoom at any one time. These will take place on a Friday morning starting at 8.30am for half an hour to make the dough and again at 10.30am to learn how to plait it. John is happy to run as many Friday sessions as needed, with the first on Friday 26 June. I have put a list of ingredients that you will need after the Gardening Tips but you are also welcome to sign up and just watch if you don’t want to actually bake. Please contact Adam Rynhold to book a place

This coming Sunday, 21 June from 4-5pm, Caroline Loison, our Head of Cheder and Youth, will be running to run a B² (BSS Youth) “Music quiz”. All you need is Zoom, paper and something to write with. The music quiz will have something for everyone – Disney, musicals, nursery rhymes and, of course, some Jewish/Israeli music in there too! Please contact Caroline for log in details: A perfect way to spend Father’s Day afternoon with the family.

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:

I hope that you will indulge me this week because I have a big smile on my face with two firsts. One in the garden and the other on the allotment.

At home I have a cottage garden, a little wild but full of flowering plants, some of which I planted others where the seeds flew into the garden or from cuttings taken from friends. For three years I have been watching Acanthus leaves growing in four areas of the garden. The leaves each year have been getting bigger and bigger and this year, they have all flowered for the first time. That is a big smile on my face. I attach here below a photo of one of the bushes.

My second smile comes from the allotment. Growing fruit and vegetables can be a science but I view it as an enjoyable experiment. We have to cope with clay soil which, at the moment is rock hard, we can add compost, manure, liquid feed to break it up and that is what most people do but what we can’t do is control the weather and so each year, some things grow and others don’t. Last year my strawberries came into flower in April. There was frost and only a handful converted to fruit. This year I have already picked 3kgs, so strawberry and gooseberry jam are on the menu for the Chanukah Market and if that does not take place, we will arrange a mini market. But that’s not what has put a smile on my face. I inherited a mini orchard at the back of my plot, four fruit trees, two varieties of apple, one Victoria plum and an English cherry tree. In the six years that I have had the allotment this tree has only produced a handful of cherries which the birds have picked off before I could get to them. But this year I have just picked a large box of ripe cherries. See photo below of my bounty on Sunday.

Flowers and fruit punnets

And the moral of this tale is that keep going with all the ups and downs of gardening. It will be a surprise and pleasure every year and never boring.

From John Alexander:

  • It’s not too late to plant summer flowering bedding plants to fill the odd space in the flower beds.
  • Continue dead-heading roses and pick off dead blooms from all annuals and perennials to keep them tidy and encourage new blooms. (unless, as suggested by a member, you want to leave the rose hips for the wildlife to enjoy or make rose- hip jelly: “takes hours to make and seconds to eat!”).
  • Prune rhododendrons and camelias but only if they need tidying up.
  • Continue to tie in climbers, including fast growing vegetables such as tomatoes.
  • As the last of the colour leaves the Alliums the stalks can be cut back.
  • Now as the garden settles into summer there is less work to do so more time to sit and enjoy it, weather permitting – but keep watering regularly.
  • Lastly, this is British Flowers Week (June 15-21) so the perfect time to enjoy your flower gardens.

Challah Ingredients

This makes 2 good sized challahs or one challah and eight rolls

  • 500 gm strong white bread flour
  • 60 gm caster sugar
  • 60 ml Sunflower oil
  • 10 gm salt
  • One whole egg
  • One egg yolk
  • 175 ml warm water
  • 10 gm dried yeast

You need a set of accurate kitchen scales and also preferably (but not essential) a dough scraper/cutter which you can buy on line.