Muswell Hill Synagogue
Haazinu 11/12 October 2019 6.02pm 7.01pm

Blog

  • Rosh Hashana Day 1 Sermon – The Importance of Crying

    I remember well Rosh Hashana in my days at Yeshiva. They were stressful and nervous occasions. Of course it was a chag. But up at about 6.30am to pray – and for someone who finds getting up earlier difficult it was torture – and then finished by well after 1pm. The pressure of thinking about God as judge and how I personally had acted over the last year. My first yeshiva was one where many who learned there had become religious. I suppose I was trying to hold on to a sense of being normal and anchored – but many pupils were going on journeys. And I remember one or two guys who I knew, crying at some point over… read more
  • Rabbi David’s Rosh Hashana Day 2 Sermon – Do we take too much space?

    In the heady days at the end of the Soviet Union, the thinker Francis Fukuyama spoke out, and wrote his now famous work about ‘The End of History’. In it he tempted the thinking that politics was evolving towards the existence and sustaining of Liberal Democracy, where freedom and rights would be central. This year, in his book ‘Identity’ he has updated his thinking and emphasised what he wrote in his 1991 work was actually a challenge to Liberal democracy – and that challenge was the issue of recognition. And recognition he now writes is connected firmly to identity. In today’s reality, people of identity, of whatever identity, want to be recognised at least as much as other identities that… read more
  • Our new eco policy

    There is a momentum in our society to consider the affect of our consumption and lifestyle on the environment which includes Religious communities and can be seen with the impact the Church of England has had on its communities. The concept of looking after our world is rooted in the story of the Creation of the World itself. When Adam is created, we are told that ‘God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, to work it and to guard it’ (Genesis, 13,15). Here we are told about two roles for humanity. We are not forbidden to work the land, to bring forth from the land benefits for humankind. But at the same time, we must… read more
  • What do the Chair and the Board actually do?

    As we approach this year’s AGM on May 19th, I thought it may be helpful to tell you how the board is made up and what it actually does in the hope that new people may be interested in joining the board or the executive at some point in the future. Firstly, we no longer have a Board of Management of the synagogue. The US bye laws have changed and it is now known as the Synagogue Council. We have 6 male and 6 female members of the Synagogue Council although we have this year co-opted more members to join as we were lucky enough to have more people who want to be involved and the US bye laws allow… read more
  • Muswell Hill Berlin Trip 2019

    Below, I am publishing my Facebook diary for our wonderful Synagogue Berlin trip – look out for any announcements of future trips! Day 1 of our Community trip to Berlin with Aubrey Hersh. First stop the Berlin Wall Museum. I am used to taking tours to Poland, where we see and memorialize where the Nazi exterminations mostly took place. But the orchestration happened here in Berlin. The walls I see in Poland are ghetto walls, to imprison a marked out population. Here, the wall was built by East German authorities to prevent its population from joining their brethren in West German effectively dividing between people of pretty much one ethnic group. We saw a stretch where 2 walls were laid,… read more
  • Torn from home

    Rabbi David’s address at the London School of Economics Faith Centre for Holocaust Memorial Day. I often visit Poland. It is actually where my in-laws live and I have often taken groups there from the Synagogues I have lead. Poland is a country with a small number of non Poles, of minorities and its government presently as we know has a very nationalist view of politics. But before the second world war, there were over 3 and a half million Jewish people in Poland. There are now maybe 10,000 although probably less than that. A large number of those were slaughtered in the Holocaust. Of those that stayed, most fled Soviet communist purges in 1956 and 1968. And so what… read more
  • Stephanie Brodkin’s d’var Torah

    Stephanie gave this d’var Torah on  Shabbat 9th June 2018 As I walked up here today many of you, I’m sure, were making assumptions about me, based perhaps on my age, what I look like and the fact that I’m a girl. We all do it – all the time. Sometimes assumptions make us seem foolish. If Kaiser Wilhelm were around today he would surely regret the moment in 1864 when he grandly announced in reference to the train: “No one will pay good money to get from Berlin to Potsdam in one hour, when he can ride his horse there in one day for free.” Although sometimes I do think my dad is close to agreeing with him. Or… read more
  • Voting for the new Board of Deputies President

    Four candidates are standing for election as the new president of the board of Deputies, in succession to Johnny Arkush.  As Muswell Hill’s Deputy, Stephen Games has asked the four of them to respond to four questions, to help our members get a better idea of where they stand on some key issues.  These questions, and the responses, are below – if you have a strong feeling about this issue, please email Stephen (read more
  • Balfour and Today

    Rabbi David’s Yom Kippur Day Sermon 5778

    In a number of weeks, there will be commemorations, throughout the Jewish world for the signing of the Balfour Declaration, which was sent by Lord Arthur Balfour, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, to Lord Walter Rothschild, on November 2nd 1917. We look at this document of course as the rubber stamp given by Britain, Imperial Britain, for the Zionist cause. The tragic Jewish writer Arthur Koestler would write about the Declaration that it was ‘one of the most improbable political documents of all time’. In fact, there is much intrigue around the genesis of the Balfour Declaration that has more to do with the trajectory of the First World War than a simple British… read more
  • It is not always good to want Utopia

    Rabbi David’s Kol Nidrei Sermon 5778

    Utopias are dangerous things. Well obviously, living in utopia would be amazing. Having and experiencing moments of utopia would be sublime. And they happen. Moments of connection and intimacy. Places we visit. Holidays. Success at work, at university, at school. But they don’t depict the fullness of our life. Our lives are not utopian. They are simply our lives. We build them up minute by minute, day by day, year by year. We experience them. We become through them. So why are utopias dangerous. Well they are dangerous when we are sold them as a dream and a tantalising destination. The American dream has got to be one of the most hackneyed utopias of… read more