Chairman’s message 24 February

Chairman’s message 24 February

Dear Friends

This week I have been smiling about the Weetabix PR campaign. You may have read that Weetabix posted a tweet showing two of their cereals smothered in baked beans with the caption: “Why should bread have all the fun when there’s Weetabix?”

It is the replies that have made me smile, even in a pandemic humour shines through from unexpected places and can lift our spirits. Here are my favourites:

  • Sussex Police said “nothing warrants this”
  • The Royal National Lifeboat Institute said “our volunteers are prepared to brave all sorts of windy conditions. But not this”.
  • Sainsbury’s told Weetabix that “Beans have no authority here, no authority AT ALL” (referencing Jackie Weaver and the parish council meeting of course!)
  • The US Embassy tweeted that the pairing was not the US-UK “collaboration we were hoping for”. To which the British Embassy responded with: “Strong opinion from the nation that makes tea in a microwave.”
  • Israel used its official account to say: “Finally something that all Middle Eastern countries can agree on. Just no.”

Turning to the Synagogue, we are looking at when we can reopen as the national vaccination programme starts to have a real impact. There is very little guidance that has been produced so far but we expect to have more news for you over the coming weeks. We also have a problem with our sound system in the synagogue, which we hope to have repaired ahead of returning. In the meantime our Shabbat services continue on BelsizeLIVE and as I have said for the last few weeks please do join us for Purim tomorrow at 7pm. (To tempt you, I understand that we may hear some jokes from Rabbi Altshuler so come and listen in person).

Another synagogue event for your diary was recently announced and if you didn’t see it, on Sunday 7 March at 7pm, Music at Belsize is very excited to bring you the Pizmon a cappella group, from the USA to your home! Pizmon is the co-ed pluralistic Jewish a cappella group of Columbia University, Barnard College, and the Jewish Theological Seminary. There is no charge for this event but Pizmon will include a payment link at the end of the concert for anyone who wishes to support them. If you are interested you can join on Zoom.

Following on from Rabbi Altshuler’s announcement last week, I am happy to tell you that Rabbi Botnick and his family are now living in the UK. There will be an article in the next Our Cong telling you more about them, so do read it when it comes out. In the meantime, Rabbi Botnick is taking this time to settle into UK life and I would ask you to please give him some space to do this. He will start with us after Pesach and although I am in contact with him regularly, I would ask that for now please do not contact him directly to ask him any questions. If you have anything you feel needs answering immediately, then please come to me by email or phone. As keen as we all are to welcome him, we need to be respectful of his personal life at this time.  

Lastly, this Shabbat is the start of Jewish Book Week and its Festival, if you are interested in finding out more about the programme it can be found on

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