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MELAVA MALKA – 3 FEBRUARY 2018

Ruislip Synagogue held a Melava Malka at which Rabbi Hershi Vogel was the invited speaker. Before the talk the 35 + guests were served a tasty three-course meal which was provided by the Ladies Guild.

Rabbi Vogel is currently the Rabbi of Ealing United Synagogue and is also Chaplain to Heathrow Airport.

He explained his background and how he had first been sent by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, to Venezuela for 2 years. Even in the 1990s it was a corrupt country and not safe to openly wear, in public, his suit or any Jewish accoutrements.

He then moved to Brooklyn, became a Rabbi and married his wife, of 26 years.

In 1995 he became Rabbi of the Croydon Federation Synagogue and in 1998 he went over to the United Synagogue and finally became Rabbi of Ealing Synagogue.

According to Rabbi Vogel, an Anglican Chaplain had approached the then Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, and asked why there was no Jewish Chaplain at Heathrow Airport. In 1999 Lord Sacks asked Rabbi Vogel if he would consider this position. He accepted and has been in this situation ever since.

The job is entirely voluntary, and he gave examples of some of the variety of situations where he has been asked to intervene. Many dealt with immigration problems, especially lack of visas and of course bereavements. His ability to speak Yiddish and Hebrew is an advantage when he is assisting the ultra- orthodox from Israel or the States. He also visits the detention centre at Harmonsworth, where he says many non-Jewish detainees claim they are Jewish because the kosher food is far better than the usual meals provided!

Rabbi Vogel is on call 24/7 and is one of 26 Chaplains at Heathrow. They have all formed a Whatsapp group and help each other out regardless of faith.

The evening was enjoyed by all.

Liz and David Koten, Rabbi Hershi Vogel, Rabbi Stanley and Rosalind Coten, Menachem and Helene Briskman.

RUISLIP SYNAGOGUE’S CHANUKAH SPECTACULAR CELEBRATION 2017

Hillingdon Youth Jazz Band entertained us at the Ruislip Ladies Guild’s Chanukah Celebration held on 17 December 2017, in a scintillating and vibrant fashion. The 21-piece group of boys and girls, aged between 13 and 18, as well as featuring our own home-grown talent of Samuel Davis (on the keyboard), showed the 100 plus people crowded into the hall, what it was to be part of a ‘big band’.

Melvyn Care – their mentor – reformed it in 1986 from what it was in the 70’s, and since then it has gone from strength to strength – mainly he says, due to the quality of dedicated staff teaching in Hillingdon schools. The band has been involved with ‘Youth Makes Music’ at the Royal Albert Hall and they play music across the genre from all of the great composers. Melvyn, himself, has just been awarded the Michael Craxton Award for 2017 for outstanding contribution to the Arts in the London Borough of Hillingdon.

Rabbi Coten welcomed Melvyn and the Band and said how the conductor/mentor had galvanised youth. Rabbi Coten lit the six candles and read the blessing, incidentally teaching the non-Jewish participants some Hebrew as well. Andrea Batsman, Chairman of the Ladies Guild, then added her thanks to the group for their time and efforts, and expressed her thanks to Melvyn for coming ‘from his sick bed’ as the show must go on and he wanted to support his band of talented youngsters.

There then followed musical arrangements – ‘Fly Me to the Moon’, ‘Hallo’, ‘In the Mood’, ‘Don’t know why’, ‘Pick Up the
Pieces’ and ‘Watermelon Man’, all interspersed with further information about the band. Melvyn also introduced, to the audience, many soloists – too numerous to identify by name in this article.

The final, before the interval, ‘Bird Land’ had some history behind it. This was played originally to mark the end of the existence of the band, but fortunately, like the phoenix, it rose again and the band continued.

After a very satisfying repast of Viennas, baked potatoes, Israeli salad and other accompaniments, we ended our meal with donuts and satsumas followed by tea and coffee. It is a tribute to the Ruislip Ladies Guild’s efficiency and hard work that the 100 plus people were served very swiftly and they deserve an accolade for their efforts.

The second half of our musical journey heard the band play Count Basie tunes, including ‘Chameleon’. The final arrangement was that of ‘Sing, Sang, Sung’ which was greeted with rapturous applause. Thus ended a musical journey which was very professional and much enjoyed by all. I can personally vouch for the fact, that despite warnings, it was not really too loud!!

A raffle concluded the evening which was well patronised by everybody.

MITZVAH DAY 2017

Ruislip Synagogue marked Mitzvah Day on 19th November by joining the United Synagogue Chesed to collect food for the Chipping Barnet food bank. The food bank provides nutritionally balanced emergency food for hungry people in crisis. We were given a crate for this purpose, and our members filled it to capacity.

RUISLIP’S SENSATIONAL SHABBAT UK! 2017 – Report by Angela Feuer

Ruislip celebrated Shabbat UK on Friday 27th October 2017 in a fine style with over 80 people seated enjoying a wonderful repast and singing their hearts out accompanied by the talented Chazzan Yossi Saunders who had come back to Ruislip specially for this event.

Rabbi Stanley Coten acted as the Master of Ceremonies for this event and regaled the throng with some very good jokes, as well as expressing the background to Shabbat UK. He mentioned that it was initiated in South Africa last year and Chief Rabbi Mirvis called for all Jews across the UK, regardless of their level of observance, to celebrate a Shabbat unlike any other, on the last weekend of October. This was an incredible opportunity to join with fellow Jews all over the world, to experience the beauty of Shabbat, and this initiative has brought many thousands of Jews across the UK together celebrating a Shabbat like no other.

Rabbi Coten then mentioned Chazzan Yossi who would entertain Ruislip members and their friends and said he needed no introduction as he was a ‘returner!’ and extremely popular. We were then regaled by many songs starting with a rousing Shalom Aleichem and branching out to a variety from Fiddler on the Roof to Italian epics. The crowd was enthusiastic and what is more participative – a member of the Synagogue, Lawrence Taylor, even joined the Chazzan to sing ‘If I was a rich man’. This took guts!

Congregants and friends were treated to a wonderful repast which was supplemented by wine provided by Esther and Martin Taffel with an enormous cake decorated in honour of Martin’s 90th birthday, which was on that same day.

This was really a truly auspicious evening which we all enjoyed, and hopefully Ruislip will have many more events of this calibre.

BALFOUR TALK – 13 September 2017 – Report by Angela Feuer

On Wednesday 13 September Ruislip Synagogue was proud to welcome Rabbi Aubrey Hersh, Senior Lecturer at the Jewish Learning Exchange, whose talk was about the Balfour Declaration and the momentous events leading up the birth of the State of Israel.

He spoke eloquently of the different elements of the historical puzzle that took place in 1948 and reminded his audience of the worth of watching documents about ‘above and beyond’ pilots from the USA who volunteered to help Israel in 1948 and who then became part of Israel’s fledgling airforce.

One of the keynotes of Rabbi Hersh’s lecture was that we see the power of individuals who have changed the course of history, for example – a single individual set off a chain of events by the assassination of the crown prince which led to the first World War, and subsequently to the Second World War. Not all these people were in favour of the creation of the State of Israel but they all had an effect.

Rabbi Hersh explained the background to the years leading to the Balfour Declaration in 1917, in that the Yishuv in Ottoman Palestine hoped that a British victory would help advance the Zionist dream of re-establishing a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. The creation of an autonomous state was not necessarily a goal but was seen as a possibility.

He spoke of other influential Jewish individuals involved with the Balfour Declaration viz Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild and Chaim Weitzmann (in favour) and Edwin Samuel Montague who was against. As a scientist, Chaim Weitzmann gained enormous respect due to his development of a method to make acetone, which is essential to the production of cordite used in a variety of munitions, and crucial to the war effort.

Through his work he got to know all the powerful people, such as Lord Rothschild and Lord Balfour and Herbert Samuel, and through them propagated his wish for a Jewish homeland. However, Edwin Samuel Montague, a thoroughly assimilated Jew, who was a member of the Cabinet, was completely anti this concept. Despite this opposition the Balfour Declaration went through in 1917 and was then endorsed by the San Remo Conference in 1920.

But although the Balfour Declaration was ratified, Weitzmann was upset. Palestine was still under the British Mandate and governed by them.

Rabbi Hersh emphasized the power of the individual illustrated by a humble man – Eddie Jacobson, an American army man and his friend – Harry Truman. They opened an haberdashery shop together after serving their time in the forces. Unfortunately the shop collapsed in 1921 and Truman went into politics, subsequently becoming President of the USA while his erstwhile partner paid back the debts.

The Zionists wanted Truman to see Weitzmann and Eddie Jacobson, through his long association with Truman, was instrumental in getting the two together. There were disturbances in Palestine and something had to be done so the concept of partition was mooted and America was one of the main countries interested in a solution at the United Nations. At the end of August UNSCOP signed the report and map that would form the basis for UN Resolution 181.

In 29 November 1947 the partition plan was passed and this date should be remembered as the international acknowledgement of the Jewish right to settle a Jewish state in our ancient homeland.

However it took the Six Day War 1967 to cement the fact that the Jewish people did indeed have their own state.

The vote of thanks was given by Helene Briskman who thanked Rabbi Hersh for a wonderful exposition.

Alvin Barnett, one of Ruislip’s esteemed members then took centre stage, and presented a book of all his lectures and things he has done over many years to the Synagogue. ‘The Text Iluminated’ is his work which he has been doing for over 30 years, and he originally contemplated throwing away all his references, and then decided to make a book of these items for his son and grandson. In effect – it was a labour of love! The first copy of the text was presented to the family Wolfson at the Wolfson Memorial Lecture earlier in the year and was so popular they want extra copies!!

The meal was sponsored by United Synagogue and the 50 participants had a most interesting evening.

Ladies Guild Summer Event – 18 June 2017

One could argue that fate had conspired to have a wonderful sunny day for the Ladies Guild Event held on Sunday 18th June – in fact, it was the hottest day of the year on record! even beating Tel Aviv’s 28 degrees!!!

Andrea Batsman welcomed the assembled throng of 50 congregants and friends and said how pleased she was to see us all for the function, and introducing Stephen Lieb, virtuoso on the piano/keyboard and singer, entertainer de luxe. As if this was not enough, Stephen also is the son of one of our congregants, so it kept it – as one could say – within the family.

There was an enormous buffet, and magnificent food created by the Ladies Guild members who worked like Trojans in the morning and late into the afternoon preparing the feast which was appreciated by all. Stephen entertained the group in his own inimitable style with selections from Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady and others. He even put on the mask for Phantom of the Opera which was very well received, after which he entertained us all with a medley of old time music hall tunes.

Rev David Wolfson z”l 7th Annual Memorial Lecture 2017

The Rev. David Wolfson’s z’l Memorial Lecture, on Wednesday 26 April 2017, our guest speaker was Rabbi Geoffrey Shisler. ‘The title of his talk was ‘Things you never knew about the Siddur.Menahem Briskman welcomed one and all and said how pleased he was to see Rev Wolfson’s family and Rabbi Shisler on this auspicious occasion. Rabbi Stanley Coten pointed out that it was also the very first lecture that Ruislip Synagogue had hosted as members of the family of the United Synagogue, and he trusted that there would be many such occasions in the future. Rabbi Shisler reminisced that Rev. Wolfson z’l presided over Ruislip’s congregation from 1974-2010, and that he remembered David Wolfson as having the twin virtues of humility and the ability to make friends – these attributes endearing him to all who knew him. He then went on to ask (rhetorically) several questions- “what is in our prayers? why do we say things”, and he also posed the question of the history of the prayer book and from whence it came.

Melave Malka at Ruislip Synagogue 2017

As part of, or as a continuation of Ruislip Synagogue’s 70th Anniversary celebration year, congregants were invited to a Melave Malka on Saturday 14 January at 7.30 pm. Incidentally, it was the coldest night we have experienced so far in 2017! Despite the inclement weather 40 plus guests enjoyed the warm welcome, food and entertainment by Chazan Eliot Alderman, accompanied by Samuel Davis on the keyboard.

Rabbi Stanley, acting as Master of Ceremony, thanked everyone for coming, and explained the meaning of Melave Malka. After introducing Chazan Eliot and Samuel Davis, he congratulated Samuel Davis on his attaining Grade 6 violin with merit, which was wonderful news.