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

Blog

  • Don’t forget Shmini Atzeret

    What exactly is Shmini Atzeret? It is hard for many of us to actually work out its identity. We sit in the Succah on Shmini Atzeret – but we do not say a blessing on it. We say the blessing of Shechechiyanu at kiddush signifying a new festival, and yet the day seems to be a continuation of Succot. Will the real Shmini Atzeret please stand up! Well let’s set the record straight – according to the Talmud, and according really to how one reads the Torah in a number of places, Shmini Atzeret is a separate festival called by that name. So when we add the special additional bit to our silent prayer on a festival, we add for… read more
  • From Yom Kippur to Succot

    We had a wonderful Yom Kippur in Muswell Hill, and there was so much great feedback from members as to how meaningful the prayers were in our Synagogue. Neilah was an inspiring experience and the feeling of a community together at such an important time was uplifting. It was a time also that I could communicate ideas to you all that are close to my heart. From Jewish identity to understanding modesty; from the breakdown of the family to lessons learned from the Yom Kippur War. Here are my sermons for you to have another look at. Please do email me any comments you have. My sermons do aim to inspire; but they even more aim to provoke conversation, discussion… read more
  • Happy Yom Kippur!

    Now you may be asking – do we really consider Yom Kippur a happy day! We fast on Yom Kippur. We dress in white on Yom Kippur with one idea behind this custom being to remind us of death and sober us up to correcting our ways. We mention on Yom Kippur the destruction of the Temple, the 9th of Av and many martyrs who were killed by the Roman leadership over Judea early in the Common Era. So there is plenty to be serious about. But the Talmud is clear – there are two days that are considered joyous beyond any others. And one of them is Yom Kippur would you believe! Yom Kippur is the day when G-d’s… read more
  • Rosh Hashana sermon Day 1

    You must excuse me on this special day, when we crown G-d as King, in mentioning a sketch from Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’. But it will set the scene for my sermons on Rosh Hashana and at Kol Nidrei. Each one of these sermons will be part of a whole, with different facets of a single, critical theme. If you remember, when Brian is heralded as the Messiah he runs from this mob chasing him to the desert. When he returns home, he still cannot shake off the large group of followers he has. And so he addresses them in the most serious part of the film…if there is a serious part. But he fails in persuading them that… read more
  • Rosh Hashana sermon day 2

    Yesterday, through the greatness of Monty Python I talked about the pendulum swinging between individualism and collectivism. If it swings too far towards individualism, then people forget their roles as part of a society or of a community. They forget their sense of duty to society and they forget the effects on others their actions have. If the pendulum swings too much towards collectivism, then people act on a sense of duty, possibly out of fear, and do not express themselves enough. It is a balance between satisfying our duty and expressing ourselves that we desire. And I think we have taken steps towards this. Let me explain. Many members of the United Synagogue, especially my generation, were not content… read more
  • Rosh Hashanah message

    Well I can say that I have broken a record – by having been here for 5 years I have now been here for a little more than my previous community of
    Kingston…and I think our community has undergone some really positive changes. A thriving Cheder, Trips to Poland, Yom HaShoah, Tisha B’Av
    programme, a great new website…and now I get a bright new office! This year I would like to refocus on Adult Education, so look out for some plans, projects and programmes to grow our communal learning. Rosh Hashanah I really look forward to seeing and greeting as many of you as possible in Shul over Rosh Hashanah. Let us make this together an uplifting and wholly communal… read more
  • A guest post – by Elisheva Mason

    Reflections of a modern Orthodox Jewish woman, Rebbetzin and a bit of Feminist Growing up in Poland, I didn’t know how orthodox life really looked like. I didn’t know that there were different ways to express oneself within the orthodox world. When my family started going to shul, we were surrounded by a minyan of men – all Holocaust survivors in their 70’s and 80’s – ‘the last Jews of Poland’. I remember them all very fondly – remembering their davening by heart, singing the tunes of the pre- was Chassidic Poland, still wanting to celebrate the festivals. None of them were religious and they were slightly sceptical about the new generation of young religious people like myself. My first… read more
  • The Dignity of Difference

    So yes, you will have noticed that the title of my piece this Rosh Hashanah is using the title of one of the most well known books that was written by Chief Rabbi Sacks in 2001. And there is good reason for this too. Rabbi Sacks really had a positive influence on the way I think as a religious Jew – and this book, and even more specifically Chapter 3 were of massive importance. The words that Rabbi Sacks wrote were to be honest liberating. Our specific mission was to be different, and to teach all other people about the dignity of being different. Our religious reality was not one that was an exclusive one – one was not only… read more
  • Kol Nidrei Sermon 5773

    I would like to open my sermon tonight by asking for forgiveness from those amongst you who may feel wronged by me. There may be different reasons for this feeling, but I respect its possibility and am sorry for any mistakes I may have made – I am who I am and am aware that not everyone is able to tolerate every style of Rabbi. I will say extremely clearly however that in all I do, I have the interests of our community in my mind always – a community that I have so much good feeling and respect for. A community that I have celebrated with and a community that I have mourned deeply with. A community that challenges… read more
  • Rosh Hashana Sermon Day 2 5773

    I would like to tell you all about a love of mine. A love maybe not as strong as that for my wife, my children, my parents. But a love that is strong nevertheless. It is a love that can give me immense joy, it is a love that can give me sadness and mourning. It is a love that can give me longing. It is the love for the Land of Israel. I lived there for seven years, was married there, studied there. I had the merit to visit many of the holy places of the land of Israel. And I along with Elisheva suffered also for the death of those who lived in the Land. It is a… read more