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
Judaism, Doubt and the Binding of Isaac
Rabbi David’s sermon Rosh Hashana Day 2 5778
When I had my second interview to become Rabbi of this community, about 40 members and past members of the Board of Management were invited to hear me and question me. That is a lot of Jews and a lot of opinions in one room – by the well known ratio that would have made 60 opinions I suppose. I remember distinctly one direct question – How will you answer halachic, religious questions that members ask you? My answer, was that if I could answer I would – but if I had a doubt which may well be the case, I would go and look it up in Jewish texts, or ask… read more
Teshuva, Psychotherapy and Mental Health
Rabbi David’s sermon Rosh Hashana Day 1 – 5778
When I was at University at the LSE, I undertook a process of becoming more religiously observant. I didn’t want to change in a radical way, more part of an organic process. I had been a good boy really as a child. I had been very actively Jewish. And then I went to yeshiva to study in 1993 where I saw many people whose shifts to religiosity were so quick and so sudden. I spent a number of years learning in yeshivot, and I remember the pressured atmosphere at this time of year. The word Ellul, the month leading up to Rosh Hashana, would already beckon in a period of worry… read more
Jonathan Arkush at Shabbat on the Hill
Last Shabbat we were joined in Shul by Jonathan Arkush, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. After the service Jonathan provided an overview of the role of the Board in the context of the wider community and an update of what it has been up to over recent months.
Jonathan described how the Board had been set up in 1760 as a vehicle for Jewish representation in the UK. As an elected body it is embedded in the democratic fabric of the country, with close links to politicians and to Whitehall. Indeed, Jonathan suggested that the Board may have a higher profile outside the community than within it.
Jonathan extolled the vibrancy of the Jewish community here… read more
Meet the new Chair
Now that Rabbi Mason has upgraded and is using video to share his thoughts with the community, he has agreed that the board can use the blog on the shul website to share news and updates with the community. I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you a little more about me and my hopes for the next year.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Karen Ackerman, I have been a member at Muswell Hill Shul for about 15 years when we moved to this area. I am married to Warren Taylor, and we have three children , Nathan, who is 17 today (happy birthday), Noa who is 14 and Aron who… read more