Chairman’s message 20 May

Chairman’s message 20 May

Dear Friends,

It is 8 weeks since we all went into lockdown and I am surprised at how quickly the days go. I seem to spend a lot of time catching up on things that I have been meaning to do for ages. This week we sorted out our books and 30 paperbacks went out into the street with a “take me” sign and were gone within a day. However, none of them were cookery books, I enjoy them too much! With Shavuot approaching next week I wanted to share with you my very quick and no-bake cheesecake recipe. I would love to say that it is an old family recipe but actually it comes with thanks to Mary Berry from one of her cookbooks and with a disclaimer that we like the cake and can only hope that you will too. You can find the recipe below the Gardening Tips.

Still on the subject of books, we have many authors in our community and if you have recently published a book please let me know and I will include it in my email. You will already have seen Victoria Slotover’s book in News From the Square under our new charities section. Two other books have also been published recently, although buying them does not include a charitable donation. Ben Ford, grandson of our members Helen Grunberg and Sue Arnold and son of Kim Milton has written a cookery book “Wings and Things: Lip-smacking chicken recipes” and our member Naomi Stadlen has written : What Mothers Learn: without being taught”. Both can be found on Amazon.

Last week I talked about our own planning work for the High Holydays and wanted to let you know that the Government have now established a Places of Worship Taskforce. This Taskforce will develop a plan to enable the phased and safe reopening of places of worship, which will happen “when the evidence shows it is the right time to do so” and in any event, not before early July. The Taskforce members are:

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Cardinal Vincent Nichols,
  • Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis
  • Shaykh Dr Asim Yusuf, The British Board of Scholars and Imams
  • Rajnish Kashyap, Hindu Council UK
  • Jasvir Singh, City Sikhs
  • Daniel Singleton, Faith Action

Cheder is now on a two week break for half term but families are invited to join Caroline Loison at 4pm on Sunday 24 May for a Zoom Dingbats session. Everyone is welcome and no previous knowledge is needed although you do need to be able to read. Please bring a pen and paper, plus any drinks and nibbles to enjoy, as Caroline leads adults and children alike through a fun world of word puzzles before she reveals all the answers. Contact Caroline ( for the Zoom Login details and feel free to invite other friends and family to join.

One of the hardest parts of lockdown is not being with your family and friends and for me the wider Belsize family. The Shabbat Candle lighting Zoom Group have been meeting for the past eight weeks. Numbers vary from week to week with so far a maximum of 14 people joining in. There is something magical about seeing all the candles lit simultaneously and singing Sholom Aleichem and kiddush together. The group start at 7.30pm straight after Cantor Heller’s Live Kabbalat Shabbat. If you miss talking with friends and other congregants, as you used to after services, this is an opportunity to do so. The group have got to know each other better and started developing new friendships which I’m sure will last long past this pandemic. All are welcome. If you want to give it a try (whether or not you have any candles) please contact

I want to remind you that Kikar Kids continues to zoom along every Shabbat for children 7 and under. It’s a lovely chance to meet up, sing songs, learn new ones and hear stories. Every Shabbat at 11am. If you haven’t tried it yet please come – complete with your own saucepan and toy food for virtual chicken soup making. And if you have come, then help to spread the word. Any questions or if you want the Zoom details then please – email Richard Pollins and if you want to be added to the Kikar WhatsApp group let him know too.

That is it from me for this week. Please keep your information about activities, books and volunteering opportunities coming to me, I love including them in my emails.

Stay safe and stay well


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Gardening Tips

From Henny Levin

Although the sun has been shining this past week it has been quite cool, especially at night, so don’t plant out very tender summer bedding plants for another week.

Wonderful news, Garden Centres are now open again. If you can get to one, why not try to grow some vegetables. The satisfaction of grow-your-own and the pleasure of picking and eating tender and tasty naturally grown vegetables is a wonderful experience.

  • Cherry tomatoes bought as small plants can be transplanted into a growbag, pots or a trough making sure the trough has drainage holes at the bottom. The plants will need to be staked as they grow so that all the tomatoes get some sunshine. Liquid feed once a fortnight also helps them to produce more fruit.
  • Peppers, again bought as small plants, can be potted on into a larger pot and kept on a windowsill. If it becomes very hot in the summer, the pots can be transferred into the garden.
  • A variety of mixed herbs can be planted in pots outside or inside on a windowsill and can be picked as and when needed.
  • And, finally, when buying plants always read the labels so that they are planted in the best place, sunny, half shade or shady.

From John Alexander

We are sadly missing out on our annual visit to the Chelsea Flower Show. A virtual show with specialist presentations can be viewed this week on . Also, most of the regular suppliers have their usual Chelsea offers available on line.

  • Some gardeners favour the ‘Chelsea Chop’ – cutting back some perennials now, such as sedum, to coincide with the Chelsea Flower Show, to lengthen their flowering season and create more compact, self-supporting plants with more (but usually smaller) flowers – but I’m not keen!
  • Use organic slug pellets weekly whilst new fresh shoots are growing.
  • Plant up pots for the patio now that frosts are behind us, and water daily. Annual bedding plants work well, including trailing lobelia, alyssum (scented) Nicotiana (tobacco plants- for evening scent) and Marguerite, Fuchsia, Lavender, and Geraniums.
  • If you want to propagate from existing plants, e.g. Buddleia, Fuchsia, Hydrangea, Lavender, Penstemon and Pelargonium, now is the time to take cuttings of soft, flexible, young shoot tips. Plant them into compost and keep it moist until well rooted, usually two to four weeks, then plant out. Alternatively you can just cut off growing stems and pop them in moist earth – some may take!

Mary Berry Easy Lemon Cheesecake

For the base
10 digestive biscuits crushed
50g melted butter or similar
25g demerera sugar

For the cheesecake
150ml single cream
1 x 379g can of condensed milk (do not use evaporated milk, I made that mistake once! The cake does not set)
175g low-fat soft cheese
Juice of 3 large lemons

Mix together the biscuits, butter and demerara sugar for the base. Put into a 23cm flan dish (or similar) and press evenly over the base and sides. Leave to set.

For the cheesecake filling, mix together the cream, condensed milk, soft cheese and then add the lemon juice a little at a time, whisking until the mixture thickens. Pour into the biscuit case and leave to chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours or overnight.