Newsletter Feature

Pesach Services at Mosaic

Services for Pesach will be held at Stanmore Hill on the following dates and times (click links for more information)

Erev Pesach (Monday 22nd April): No services

1st Day Pesach (Tuesday 23rd April): Masorti – 9:45am, Reform – 10:30am, Liberal – 10:45am

2nd Night Communal Seder (Tuesday 23rd April): All Mosaic – 6:00pm

2nd Day Pesach (Wednesday 24th April): Masorti – 9:45am

Erev 7th Day Pesach (Sunday 28th April): Reform / Liberal – 7:00pm (Zoom only)

7th Day Pesach (Monday 29th April): Masorti – 9:45am, Reform – 10:30am, Liberal – 10:45am

8th Day Pesach (Tuesday 30th April): Masorti – 9:45am

April 11, 2024

Thoughts for the Week

PURIM

Purim celebrates the deliverance from extermination of the Jews planned by the wicked Haman, Vizier to Achashveros, King of Persia and Media. The plot was thwarted by the interventions of brave Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai as we read in Megillah Esther – the Scroll of Esther.

Traditionally we celebrate the Purim with much cheerfulness, fancy dress, and a comical Purim Spiel. This year however, as Israel is still enmeshed in a war against an enemy who, appears to ascribe wholeheartedly to the aims of Haman, and as we are still praying for the safe and immediate return of the hostages, it doesn’t feel right to celebrate Purim with the usual cheer.

Instead, this year we would like to highlight some of the other mitzvot attached to Purim. Traditionally these are the following four mitzvot:

  • Keri’at megillat Esther – the public reading of Megillat Esther
  • Mishloach manot – exchanging of gifts of food
  • Mattanot la-evyonim – donating charity to the poor
  • Se’udat Purim – eating a festive meal

We will be reading the Megillah on Saturday at 7pm – you can choose between a Masorti or a joint Reform and Liberal Erev Purim service – as well as on Sunday morning at 8.30am in the Masorti shacharit service.

The services will be followed with some usual nosh and on Sunday morning with fun activities for the whole family organised by HaMakom.  Non-HaMakom attending families are more than welcome to attend as well.

We would like to encourage everyone to focus this year particularly on the mitzvot of Mishloach Manot and Mattanot la-evyonim, by donating generously to our two charities: Goods for Good and the Harrow Food Bank. Baskets are available near the entrance of the shul office.

We wish you Chag Purim sameach

Rabbi Kathleen

March 21, 2024

Thoughts for the Week

TU BISHVAT

Tu Bishvat is a funny old holiday. I have always been a bit cynical about it myself. After all, the Mishnah actually records four ‘new years’: in Nissan, Elul, Tishrei and Shvat. Our society marks its own multiple new years – for Taxes, schools, football seasons etc; whilst Rabbinic Judaism especially turned over new calendars to count the reign of Kings, the dating of documents, and the Tithing of animals (in Elul) and crops (in Shvat). So that’s what Tu Bishvat is: the Rabbinic agricultural tax year.

 

And yet. How deep are the transformations and rituals which have grown from such arid soil! Tu Bishvat has become a signal moment for Jews to rally around ecological causes – responding to God’s call to keep and protect the only world we get (l’Ovdah u’l’Shomrah). For early Zionists especially Tu Bishvat provided the ritual setting to celebrate Jews’ reconnection to the soil in developing Palestine. For the Kabbalists of Sfat, Tu Bishvat became a moment of unification, drawing the supernal life-force down through the four worlds, bythe tikkunim (repair) of divine sparks nestled in the growth of the Holy Land. It is to those Kabbalists that we owe the tradition of a Tu Bishvat Seder.

And so, despite myself, I move past cynicism into interest with what Tu Bishvat might mean for us and our community. I have enjoyed thinking through and putting together a new and stripped back Tu Bishvat Seder for us to enjoy together at the synagogue on Wednesday, 24th January, at 6.30pm. Please let me or the office know if you are interested in attending so we can get catering right – this will be about an hour and a half with a little bit of study, a bigger bit of discussion, and lot of fruit, snacks, wine and grape juice.

 

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Anthony

 

January 18, 2024

Thoughts for the Week

CHANUKAH

In the Talmud (Shabbat 21b) there is an interesting discussion regarding how, when and why the Chanukah lights are lit.

In those days, it appears, there was a variety of traditions, depending on people’s religiosity. The basic tradition was that on Chanukah each household lit a light every day. Others lit a light a day for each member of the household. Only the most religious would adjust the number of lights daily.

Regarding this last tradition there was a dispute between the Beit Hillel and Beit Shamai: Beit Shamai advocated starting Chanukah with all 8 candles lit, reducing the number by one candle daily. The reason given, to make it correspond to the number of bulls sacrificed daily on the festival of Sukkot, which was also reduced by one each day (acknowledging the fact that during the period of Greek oppression it had not been possible to celebrate the festival of Sukkot with the appropriate sacrifices).

However, according to Beit Hillel we should start with one candle and each night add another one, until we have all 8 candles burning on the last day. His reason being that in matters of holiness, we add and do not take away.

We know of course that Beit Hillel’s argument won, for this is the universal practice to this day.

It is surprising that on Chanukah we follow the tradition of the most zealous: one light every night would have sufficed!  Chanukah, however, evokes a deep sense of identity in us, even though it is only a minor festival, and it is not only because for many it serves as a Jewish alternative to Christmas.

Chanukah inspires us because of the enduring symbolism of hope embodied in the act of daily adding a little more light to dispel the darkness in a unpredictable and dangerous world.

It is a symbolism that we can so easily emulate in how we treat others at this time, by conscious acts of kindness and tzedakah, and of course also, by just coming together as a community as we light our Chanukiyot each night in Halsbury Close; whether it is for the lunch on Thursday, potluck dinner on Erev Shabbat, Havdalah on Saturday, a musical service on Sunday, the interfaith gathering on Tuesday or the young people’s drop in on Wednesday afternoon, we look forward to seeing you there.  Chag Chanukah sameach!

Rabbi Kathleen

December 7, 2023

Thoughts for the Week

AJEX REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY

We are seeing horrors every day on the tv. Last year Ukraine and Russia, which was horrific and this year in 5784, we are seeing horrors that seem much closer to home. Many of us in MJC know of people who have lost their lives in the recent war in the Middle East.  I know that our rabbis are around, around the clock, to help those in the community, who are in need of an ear and a shoulder, and I thank the team for being there. It is sadly going to be a task that is not going to be remedied in the coming months.

 

This thought played on my mind on Sunday as I, along with some other Mosaic members, attended the Act of Remembrance service in Pinner.  It was a damp and chilling air as I stood there looking at the very large and diverse age crowd. I think I am a young fellow but I was in the minority and it was heartening to see people, both younger and very much younger, than me, paying tribute to the fallen plenty.  Prayers were said in English, Jain and Hebrew and I thought of people in foreign lands saying prayers for their war fallen too.  The following exhortation was recited

They shall grow old as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

A truer phrase cannot be said and this coming Sunday many of the Jews of the UK will gather at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, to show that “we will remember them” and, in particular, the Jewish people who died in past wars to make it possible for me to grow up and live, in the UK, in peace. I will also be thinking of people who live in Israel who are mourning their family members who in 5784 are among those who are perishing leaving their families and their country to live in peace. History repeats itself and in our lifetimes.  I can only speak for myself and those from Mosaic Jewish Community who march alongside me to salute the war dead, as we pass by the Cenotaph. Please come along and support your past family members who served in the Great Wars, as well as in other wars and who paid a heavy toll.  I derive great inspiration from seeing the young people from Emmanuel College, JFS and other schools, as well as the Scouts, Guides and JLGB take part in this ceremony and showing visual support, which I am sure those who are still alive and able to attend the ceremony, from the last war, will appreciate too

The Kohima Epitaph, which is recited in every memorial ceremony throughout the land from John O’Groats to Lands End, both last week and this week in Whitehall, reminds us of the fallen, as if they were speaking to us today, in person.

When you go home,
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today.

 

The MJC members taking part look forward to seeing many of you, at Whitehall, on Sunday.

Edwin Lucas, Chair Mosaic Masorti

November 16, 2023

Sign Up To National Websites

Mosaic is of course concerned that congregants are informed as quickly and as widely as possible about current events beyond Mosaic but we do not have the resources or desire to bombard members with emails..

It is therefore suggested that the best way to achieve this is to recommend congregants sign up to national websites which can provide up-to-date information faster than we can.  The following are suggested.  Additionally you may choose to sign up for any other organisations that meet your requirements.

Liberal Judaism   https://www.liberaljudaism.org/

Movement for Reform Judaism  https://www.reformjudaism.org.uk/

Masorti Judaism    https://masorti.org.uk/ and

The Board of Deputies https://bod.org.uk/

October 26, 2023

Rabbi Alexander Dukhovny Visits Mosaic

Rabbi Alexander Dukhovny, Ukraine’s Chief Progressive Rabbi, currently living in Israel, but having been in Kyiv for the High Holy Days, is in London for a few days.  He will be coming to our service on Shabbat morning, 21st October, and is will speak to people in the community afterwards.  Please stay for the light kiddush lunch after the services so that we can spend some time with him, hearing about his recent experiences in Ukraine and Israel.

October 19, 2023

Message From the Mosaic Jewish Community Rabbis

These past six days have been profoundly painful and challenging, as the shocking and terrible news from Israel continues to unfold and we learn that, at the latest count, more than 1,200 Israelis have been brutally murdered by Hamas terrorists.  We are all affected by this and, for many of us, it directly affects our family and friends in Israel.

We mourn those who have died, we pray for the healing of the thousands wounded, and for the immediate release of the hostages in Gaza.  Our hearts go out to the bereaved families, and to all those who are living with this awful new reality, not knowing what the future will hold.

If you or your family have been directly affected by the attacks, please let us know so we can offer you support.

If you need to talk to someone about how this is affecting you personally, please contact us directly in confidence.

Here at Mosaic Jewish Community, we need to be more aware of security than normal.  If you have been asked to do security, please turn up for your shift and many thanks to those who have done so recently.  If you experience or witness antisemitism, please ring the police first on 999 and then the CST on 0800 032 3263.

We remind you of opportunities to donate to funds set up specifically to respond to Operation Iron Swords, such as MyIsrael https://myisraelcharity.org/project/emergency-appeal-war-israel, UJIA https://ujia.org/#donate, and Magen David Adom UK https://donate.mdauk.org/Donate/Landing.aspx?content=Ironswords&_gl=1*ls6k3g*_ga*MTQxOTAzNzMwMS4xNjk2Nzk1NTc1*_ga_SMMMTJ9LYV*MTY5NzAxODk5OC4yLjAuMTY5NzAxODk5OC42MC4wLjA.&_ga=2.236522117.524881185.1697018999-1419037301.1696795575#.

We pray with all our hearts for an end to the violence, for all hostages to be returned to their families, and we pray fervently for stability and peace to come to both Israelis and Palestinians.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may those who love you be at peace. May there be well-being within your ramparts, peace in your citadels. For the sake of my family and friends, I pray for your well-being…” (Psalm 122:6-7)

Rabbis Anna, Anthony, Kathleen and Rachel

************

Rabbi Charley Baginsky, CEO of Liberal Judaism, spoke at the vigil that took place outside Downing Street on Monday afternoon – the full video of the event can be seen here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_IS-m9lLTk 

 

The world-wide Reform and Progressive Jewish Movement held a Webinar on Monday evening.  This is the video, which was both moving and informative: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_HwBkLmhFQ

October 12, 2023

Thoughts for the Week

SHEMINI ATZERET

בַּיּוֹם֙ הַשְּׁמִינִ֔י עֲצֶ֖רֶת תִּֽהְיֶ֣ה לָכֶ֑ם כָּל־מְלֶ֥אכֶת עֲבֹדָ֖ה לֹ֥א תַֽעֲשֽׂוּ:

And on the 8th Day you shall have an Atzeret and do no labouring work. (Numbers 29.35)

The passage from Parshat Pinchas which we read as a maftir during Sukkot describes the 8th day of Sukkot as an Atzeret, without really explaining what that is. Amongst his three proposals, Rashi’s final explanation, derived from the Midrash Sifrei Bamidbar, is his most beautiful: the 70 bulls offered during the festival of Sukkot represent the 70 nations of the world, as Sukkot celebrates God’s relationship to all creation. The 8th is a day in which only the Jews are requested to remain in Jerusalem as if God is saying: ‘Please, just make a small final banquet for Me, so that I may celebrate just with you.’

Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg, in his commentary HaKtav v’HaKabbalah, expands this idea. Humans have ‘a very powerful desire for worldly goods, and expend great effort labouring for them.’ But the more time we invest in gathering riches, the less time we have to work on ourselves and our spiritual lives. One of the main points of the Torah, for Mecklenburg, is to give us days and times when we are prohibited from worrying about things which are only things, and can come closer to things which have deeper and more lasting value. This is why the rare word Atzeret is applied in Torah to the last day of Pesach, the last day/day after of Sukkot, and the festival of Shavuot (after 40 days of Omer counting). Atzeret indicates that after a festival, or a period of significant time, when we have strived to be closer to Judaism and our community – rather than rush straight back off to the world of trade and phones and hurry and chaos, we should pause, take a breath, and hold ourselves in the special atmosphere of the Jewish festivals.  Judaism gives us moments of calm, and encourages us not to run away from them, but rather to cherish them whilst they are here and hold the memory with us when they are gone.

This weekend we will all celebrate Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah – the Liberal and Reform synagogues over a single day; and the Masorti over two. Please do join on Friday night with Mosaic Reform (6pm) and/or Mosaic Liberal (7pm), on Saturday morning at our usual times, on Saturday night with Mosaic Masorti at 6.45pm and on Sunday morning with Mosaic Masorti at 9.45am. Really, you might as well just stay at the synagogue for the duration… Wishing you well over these final Yamim Tovim, and a happy return to normality thereafter.

 

Chag Sameach

Rabbi Anthony

 

October 5, 2023

Thoughts for the Week – Sukkot

The transition from Yom Kippur to Sukkot, in the heart of the High Holy Day season, is a special time.  Yom Kippur is a day of profound reflection, introspection, a day on which we suspend normal living, through such acts as fasting, only to be restored to life and quiet joy in the resolution of the day.  The depth of joy of Sukkot, five days later, grows out of this.  Only when we have experienced the fragility of life can we truly appreciate its preciousness.

One of the names of the festival of Sukkot is z’man simchateinu, ‘the season of our happiness’.  ‘You shall rejoice before the Eternal One your God’, we read in Leviticus 23:40.  The building of the Sukkah, the smells and sights of the foliage, fruit and flowers that adorn it, the lulav and etrog, our gratitude for the bounty of nature, welcoming guests into the Sukkah… all contribute to the lightening of our mood.

Our Sukkah looks amazing, so well done – kol ha-kavod – to the builders who worked so hard on it.  ‘If we build it, they will come…’ – let’s hope that is so!    We had a lot of fun making decorations for it, on Tuesday afternoon, and hanging the decorations and fruit, ready for the festival which begins on Friday evening.

The book of Kohelet – Ecclesiastes – is traditionally read on Sukkot.  The author’s message, given probably in the autumn of his years, about the transience of life, links powerfully to the themes of fragility and impermanence of this festival.  Sukkot combines both the serious and the joyful, a fitting festival to act as a bridge between what has come before (Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur), and the spiritual free-wheel of Simchat Torah that lies ahead.

Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur gave us opportunities to take stock of where we are in our lives, and Sukkot, in placing us outside our comfortable lives, at the mercy of the elements, reminds us about the blessings we have – how fortunate we are to have clothes on our backs, a roof over our heads, and food on our tables – and encourages us to share those blessings with those less fortunate than ourselves.  Please give generously to the food bank and bring your donations to place in the basket in the synagogue.

We look forward to seeing you at our Sukkot celebrations over the weekend.  On Friday evening, there will be a pot-luck dinner in the Sukkah after services.  We will all try to squeeze into the Sukkah for Kiddush on Shabbat.  And PLEASE do come along to the Open Day at the Synagogue on Sunday, from 3:30-5:30pm, to welcome our neighbours into our shul, and into the Sukkah, to share food, good companionship and for a chance to shake the lulav and etrog.

Chag Sameiach to you all.

Rabbi Rachel

 

September 28, 2023