Muswell Hill Synagogue
Nitzavim - Vayeilech 11/12 September 7.10pm 8.10pm

Blog

  • Trip to Ukraine – Day 1

    United Synagogue Rabbinic Trip to Ukraine – led by World Jewish Relief
    Day 1 – November 30th 2015
    A number of months ago, I felt that a story that was subsiding from media coverage was the conflict between Russian backed military groups, and Ukrainian military in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. I was having a conversation with Richard Verber of World Jewish Relief about our Shul’s twinning with Rovno and the Warm Home project there, when I asked about whether we could put together a Rabbinic trip to Ukraine to see how the conflict is affecting the lives of Jews who live there. And so here I am. I am staying in Zaporizhia with six of my Rabbinic colleagues, a town one… read more
  • Kol Nidrei – How Hard it Can be to Forgive

    Click here for a downloadable version of the sermon Nadine Collier lost her mother Ethel Lance this June in the killings in Charleston. Along with other representatives and relatives of those who were killed, she did something that many of us would find difficult. She forgave the killer. Here are her words which could be heard in court by the killer himself, Dylan Roof: “I forgive you. You took something really precious away from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you and have mercy on your soul. It hurts me, it hurts a lot of people but God forgives you and I forgive you.” Here… read more
  • Rosh Hashana Day 2 Sermon – On Being a Stranger

    When I was in my first year of University, back in 1991, I soon became Chair of my Jewish society. It wasn’t exactly a big task to become chair. Only one other Jewish student wanted the position – and we shared it for the year. I had a great year. Lots of speakers. Lots of student politics. Lots of angering the Socialist workers students. I had followed Dave Rich, who is a member of our Shul, who helped me and advised me greatly. Dave even worked a way that we could jointly propose a motion to our union together with the Palestine Society, which supported the Madrid Peace conference. The motion was not earth shattering – but proposing a motion… read more
  • Rosh Hashana Day 1 Sermon – Believing in Humanity

    I have to tell you all that I have had a most gratifying year. Obviously at the top of the list was seeing our oldest daughter Hodaya reach Batmitzvah a few days ago. A moving, emotional and exhilarating family experience and I am sure you will all agree that Hodaya did so well! Another gratifying experience high up the list is the studying of a Masters degree in Conflict Resolution in Divided Societies. Although I must say that I have read, researched and studied a lot more about conflict than about its resolution. It could be quite demoralising at times to learn about how many deep conflicts exist and how difficult it is to solve them. In fact many conflicts… read more
  • ‘Remembering’ the Holocaust

    Let us be clear at the outset – remembering the Holocaust is hard. The passing of time is often cruel, as it turns and transforms memories of the actual, into remembrance. Actual memories are fading and are affected by the subjective mindsets of the individuals who share these memories. Those who survived the Holocaust are passing on from this world; and those survivors that are still with us talk of their own perspective shone on the memories of those dark times. But, as the writer Marc Auge writes, ‘Memories are like plants; there are those that need to be quickly eliminated in order to help the others burgeon, transform, flower’ . In other words, it is not simple to learn… read more
  • The Pesach Hagada – Telling the story as yourself

    The Pesach Seder is often a long evening, and to remain aware and connected to it is hard. But after the meal, I am often ‘awakened’ by the paragraph we say before we open the door for Elijah. We all stand up and say ‘Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you’. Hard words indeed and words that many will feel uncomfortable to say. We probably mutter them in the Hebrew and not in their English – but we are meant to understand what we are saying. I would argue that as with other sections of the Hagada that we read, these words have a context. In other words, the Hagada is an accumulation of different… read more
  • Back to University!

    Twenty years ago, I left the LSE having studied a BSc and MSc in Econometrics and Mathematical Economics. Little did I know then that twenty years later I would  be passing LSE again regularly – to attend its rival, King’s College. I have been studying for an MA in Conflict Resolution in Divided Societies now for 2 terms of a 2 year course. It really has been an eye opening experience. A great group of students, a great group of teachers in the Middle East Studies Department and so fascinating courses. I have been a Hamas delegate in a mock Israel/Palestine negotiation, preparing now to be a UN mediator in a Syrian civil war mock negotiation, have studied conflicts that… read more
  • Parashat Noach – What’s in a nation?

    Click here for a downloadable version of the Parasha Blog. If one takes a look at the list of nations that today makes up the United Nations, and compares this with the list of nations that the Torah list as developing from Noah – one will find very little similarity at all. Maybe one or two are recognisable names – China, Greece and a nation known as Ashkenaz, the name later given by Jewish sources to the German lands. But not many more are recognisable. The only similarity maybe this – the very existence of the concept of a nation.
    We take the idea of a nation for granted. It is a given facet of existence that people are part… read more
  • Rabbi David’s Parasha: Bereishit and The Birth of Identity

    Last Shabbat was the first parasha, the first portion of the new cycle of Torah reading. We read the Creation story, and traversed ten generations, up until the birth of Noah and G-d’s apparent regret as to the corrupt state of the world that He had created. In Shul, I spoke about the beginnings of identity. Adam HaRishon, or the first ‘Adam’ was the first human being who was filled with the spirit of God. In other words he may not have been the first anthropologically categorised homo sapiens, but he was the first individual developed enough to have a conversation with God. And this is not all. Adam also understands that he is different. He is different from the… read more
  • Rabbi David’s Sermons

    Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur were special in Muswell Hill Synagogue – true communal prayer gatherings. We were together as a community, and decorum on Yom Kippur was agreed by many to have been the best for many years. I was proud to be leading such a community. Here are three of the sermons that I made over the Yamim Noraim: First Day Rosh Hashana Sermon:  What are we really in control of? Second Day Rosh Hashana Sermon: The Middle Way Kol Nidrei Sermon: A New Zionism Please do click on the links, print them off and read them – either if you were able to hear them, or not. I really did appreciate the many comments on all these… read more