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Film ‘Above and Beyond’ Show and Meal – 10th June 2018 – Report by Angela Feuer

Film ‘Above and Beyond’ Show and Meal – l0th June 2018 by Angela Feuer

Nearly 50 people attended the film show on the l0th June at Ruislip Synagogue, and were treated to a nourishing and appetising Fish and Chip Supper which fuelled the inner man before the showing.

Carole gave a heartfelt tribute to Andrea, Chairman of the Ladies Guild, who had so capably organised everybody in her own inimitable fashion.

The story behind the film ‘Above and Beyond’ was of American and Canadian pilots together with some British personnel who helped after the Second World War, to establish the Israeli Air Force.

It was a very emotive experience listening to and watching the film trace the beginning of the State of Israel. In 1948 the British left Palestine leaving the Jews very little and indeed with no military aircraft. As soon as the British left others wanted to invade the land and take it over.

Ben Gurion went to the United States to plead for money to buy equipment, but Truman set up an embargo of goods and arms to Palestine, which tied Israel’s hands.

Al Swimmer who was an advocate for Israel realised that aircraft were urgently needed, and he provided $5,000 to purchase aircraft, which was a wonderful gesture.

However, Israel needed pilots to man the aircraft and preferably Jewish ones. There were many Jewish pilots in the USA, but Truman again discouraged them by stating that anyone who went to Israel to fly would lose their citizenship. Despite these setbacks Panama and Czechoslovakia helped, together with Italy’s Rome (which was in effect the Headquarters of the Haganah) and pilots came from the U.S.A and other countries to fly the aircraft for Israel.

One can truly believe Israel is an article of faith as it was meant to be…….

This film was dedicated to the volunteers and kept the audience spellbound as the events unfolded.

A wonderful evening which left the audience discussing the film and realising how much was done by so few.

Rabbi Stanley Coten thanked Andrea and the Ladies Guild for choosing the film and put forward the idea that Sixth Forms should see this epic as it would inspire them all. He also thanked Jeff for running the film. One could argue it was really a ‘family affair’!

THE HISTORY OF JERUSALEM THROUGH ART – 15 MAY Report by Angela Feuer

An illustrated Talk by Rebbetzen Ilana Epstein

Ruislip’s Chairman, Menaham Briskman, welcomed a very talented individual, Rebbetzen Ilana Epstein to be the speaker for the Wolfson Memorial Lecture in memory of Rev. David Wolfson who had been a stalwart leading the congregation for many years. The Rebbetzen, who is from Cockfosters and Southgate United Synagogue, qualified in History of Art and among her credits is being a member of the Living and Learning Team of the United Synagogue.

He also said how pleased he was to welcome visitors from other synagogues as well as acknowledging his delight at having the Wolfson family ‘tribe’ attending this event.

Rebbetzen Ilana explained that she was approaching her subject in a different fashion – through art and showing how Jerusalem is the centre of every map.

Her exposition which was original, and fascinating held everyone spellbound at the breadth of her knowledge of the artwork. To quote but a few: –

The first clover leaf map of 1581 showed Jerusalem at the centre point.

Abraham meeting the King of the city of Jerusalem by Rubens

Abraham and Isaac, the sacrifice at the Temple Mount, Jerusalem. This Chagall painting depicts blue angels, Isaac coloured in yellow, and Abraham red.

An 1860 wood carving depicting Jeremiah bemoaning the destruction of the first Temple of Jerusalem.

We learnt about the history of Jerusalem through the art chosen by the Rebbetzen, and various titbits of information which were hitherto unknown, for example

Alexander the Great gave permission for religious freedom to the Jews and male children of that era born to Priests were called Alexander in his honour.

Herod, Rabbi Ilana explained, was half Arab, half Jewish, and was the best builder of all. Unfortunately, most of his edifices were destroyed by Titus, but Titus’s Arch can still be seen in Rome.

This whistle-stop tour of Jerusalem also incorporated Titian whose artistic endeavours portrayed ‘Suleiman the Magnificent’ – the man who built Jerusalem.

Finally, the last painting gave an intimate glimpse into Rebbetzen Ilana’s personal history as it was a picture of the Old City of Jerusalem painted 4 years ago by her mother, who is herself an artist of some renown.
Rabbi Coten said he was delighted to give the vote of thanks and said, on behalf of all the assembly, that Rebbetzen Ilana had literally blown us away with her breadth of knowledge and complete mastery of the subject and by making sure that we all realise that Jerusalem is one of the most important places in the Middle East.

Helen Briskman presented the speaker with a plant and said how much she enjoyed the talk.

LIFE on the OCEAN WAVES OR the OTHER SIDE of the PORTHOLE! – Report by Angela Feuer

Daniel Edward, a young member of the Synagogue, is Assistant Cruise Director for Entertainment on the ‘Navigator of the Seas’. He gave a very interesting and amusing expose of life at sea on 1st May, after the Ladies Guild AGM.

The ‘Navigator’, his ship, is part of the Royal Caribbean Fleet of Cruise Ships, and the audience was treated to a peek at the functional areas for the staff which are set apart and a far cry from the luxurious accommodation provided for guests. The Navigator was built in 2002, and as a ship’s life is approximately 45 years there is constant checking and maintenance on every vessel to make sure it is seaworthy.

Safety is of prime importance for the ship as well as for the passengers and crew and is taken very seriously indeed with essential weekly training drills for all ship’s personnel. In case of an emergency the crew needs to know before the passengers. Daniel is in charge of evacuation. Then every crew member and passenger is checked. That is why it is essential that the passengers attend the safety drill briefing at the beginning of the cruise so that they know what to do in case of an emergency.

Daniel’s slide show featured the very basic accommodation given to junior members of staff, and it was to say the least – MINUTE! No wonder he wanted to advance his status and as such he has been promoted to better accommodation with much more space and even has a porthole! He has worked with this line since 2014, and has spent 650 days at sea. He works 10 hours a day 7 days a week, and has an entertainment team which varies from 6-10 persons.

All crew members do their own washing and ironing, except for their uniforms, so now you know why they always look pristine! The crew mess is virtually identical to the guests’ buffet, and food is good and plentiful. Due to the unpredictability of the hours staff work, it is open most of the time. Even though ships used to be very hierarchical this has changed and now senior staff and crew tend to eat together. There are many places for the crew to have a drink and let their hair down – cafes, dance areas, gyms etc. but in case you think it is totally glamorous there is a downside. Alcohol temptation sometimes raises its ugly head and once every two months a person loses his/her job due to being drunk and incapable. This inevitably puts pressure on the rest of the team who then have extra work to do.

On every ship they have a Friday Night Service for Jewish passengers, and on the ‘Navigator’, Daniel is to the fore organising the Challah, and attending the Service. He even received the ‘Do you know I’m Jewish’ Award! It is true to say that there are not many individual Jewish crew members on board, but Daniel certainly flies the flag, and is a wonderful example to follow.

He concluded his talk with a slide show of a few of his favourite places he has visited – Lisbon, Cadiz, Norway, Azores, Madeira and Agadir. Questions from the audience flowed thick and fast and he further explained many points which he had not covered in his talk.

Jackie Agasee gave the vote of thanks for an excellent, entertaining talk which the audience at Ruislip Synagogue did not want to end.

Daniel truly is an entertainer! and the only thing I can say now is “CARRY ON CRUISING”!!

TALK by LUKE AKEHURST – 26th April – Report by Angela Feuer

Luke Akehurst, Director of ‘We Believe in Israel’, the campaign wing of BICOM, former member of Labour’s International Executive Committee was our guest Speaker.

Menahem Briskman, who chaired the meeting, welcomed the audience, some of whom were so keen that they arrived very early in order to hear Luke Akehurst speak. He said he was especially happy to welcome those people from other synagogues and mentioned that the refreshments were sponsored by the Ruislip Social Club so that there was no charge for the evening.

Luke Akehurst first of all explained the current situation of the Labour Party. A passionate supporter of Israel, even though he is not of the Jewish persuasion, he stands in solidarity with his Jewish friends and colleagues, together with other like minded individuals. He has had a long association with the Labour Party post WWII, and visits Israel frequently, so he is well aware of the current situation.

He posed the question – how did Labour get in such a bad place, and explored the situation which led to the ensuing problems. He did not believe that it started with the election of Jeremy Corbyn, but had its roots many years previously in Israel seeming like an aggressor during the Six Day War in 1967, and indeed by the Iraq War in 2003, which caused a real anti-militaritistic attitude. Combined with these influences, Ed Milliband who was the leader of the Labour Party for a brief time, was a very secular Jew, and he made concessions at the Warwick Conference so that Israel would not be boycotted. He changed the way Labour elected its members, scrapped the system so that anyone could pay £3 and elect who they wanted. Unfortunately this did not work.

Luke considered several points which he explored in detail with his audience, viz:
Corbyn’s victory in 2015, partly obtained by mass recruitment using mailing lists of single-issue campaigns, including PSC and Stop the War Coalition. This was shared by key personnel.
Entry into the party of people previously involved in Greens and far left parties with anti-Israel ideologies.
Energising of a wider group of new members for whom being anti-Israel is de rigueur.
Long term movement to left and towards BDS of Trade Unions, especially Unite.
Ideology of Marxist Left – class analysis so against faith and national identification, anti-imperialism, anti-American, anti-Semitism, Trotskyist and Stalinist variants.
Separate but linked problem of Muslim antipathy towards Israel.
There has been a sharp upturn of anti-Semitic incidents in Labour and almost all are examples of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism – Israel/Nazi, blood libel, conspiracy theories and what is more other randomness about slave trade and the Shoah.
However, it was made clear that if a person is anti-Semitic they should be expelled from the Labour Party. There has, as a consequence, been a resurgence of JLM and the Labour Friends of Israel. Despite these influences the whole situation is a mess. There has been a launch of JVL, and rejection of IHRA.

Luke ended on a somewhat depressing note in that he said the Jewish fraternity and other allies need to stand up and be actively involved with counteracting these influences. In other words, report any anti-Semitism points to the CST.

Finally, he posed the question “Does one stay inside the Labour Party and fight from within, or stay out and try to influence others that way?”

There was a spirited rendering of questions and statements from the floor at the conclusion of Luke’s talk which was interesting and informative, and hopefully provided a vehicle for progression for the future.

The vote of thanks was given by Esther Taffel who in a succinct phrase ‘We are a lot wiser than we were before!’, summed up what we had heard in this scintillating talk by Luke, an impassioned advocate of Israel.

Ruislip Seder Service – 16 April – Report by Angela Feuer

On the first night of Pesach Ruislip Shul held a very successful Seder service. This was the first one we have held for many years. It was attended by 40 people from both Ruislip as well as our friends from local communities of Pinner, Northwood, Belmont and Wembley. The Seder Service was conducted by our Rabbi, Rabbi Stanley Coten.

It was great seeing the children with their parents and grandparents all enjoying and contributing to the evening. Rabbi Stanley got everyone involved in the Service and gave informative explanations on the text throughout the evening. Andrew Olswang sang the Mah Nishtana and the rest of us joined in.

The meal which consisted of the traditional egg and salt water, chopped liver, egg and onion, beef bourgignon, potato kugel, salads, fruit and chocolate brownies and was extremely enjoyable.

Traditional Pesach songs were sang at the end of the service and the Seder finished around 11pm.

We would like to thank our Catering Committee and volunteers without whom the Seder service would not have been a success.

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.