Thursday, 26 January 2017

Religion School News

The January term starts, as usual, with an INSET training day for Ruach staff. We attend a Limmud-style day, with a choice of sessions, for teachers working in religion schools within Progressive Judaism. The day is organised jointly by Liberal Judaism and the Movement for Reform Judaism. Apart from being a fantastic learning opportunity, it also gives us a chance to compare notes with our colleagues, and benefit from their experiences. 

Also during January, Ruach is holding one of its regular PACT mornings (Parents And Children Together). This is an opportunity for parents to spend part of the morning in class with their child, and to meet their teachers. 

When they do come into class, parents will find us preparing to make a short film as an entry for the Liberal Judaism LAFTAs competition. The film will be on the theme: what would your community look like in the Messianic Age? To prepare for making the film, we have been studying the special LAFTAs curriculum, designed by Rabbi Margaret Jacobi, covering the topics of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) and Justice and Kindness, as well as learning what we mean by the Messianic Age. 

Meanwhile, our parent and toddler group, Mini-Ruach, is running regularly. During December, we took delivery of some fantastic soft play equipment. Dates for Mini-Ruach sessions can be found on the SPS website and on the Mini-Ruach noticeboard in the Kiddush Room. 

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Come to your senses quiz

After months of planning, the SPS Fundraising Group took it upon themselves to hold a quiz with a difference, which involved using all of our five senses. We held five rounds plus an ongoing Marathon Round. 

We worked as a team to put together an evening of activities together with lots of laughter! The Schindler Hall was quickly buzzing with around 60 people, who started the evening with a Marathon round whilst indulging in a fish and chip supper, desserts, drinks and nibbles. 

Halfway through the evening, we held a raffle where many prizes were won. 

It gave us, as a group, much pleasure in seeing just how much everybody enjoyed themselves, after which we had a lot of positive feedback. 

In total, a figure of £660 was raised. It has been decided that £300 will be donated to Leo Baeck Education Centre to support 60 families who have lost all their personal belongings in the recent Haifa fires. 

The remaining £360 will be used by SPS. 



Amanda Lesley

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Faith's Got Talent

Over fifty representatives of diverse faith groups from around Enfield met in the Schindler Hall on Saturday 26 November for “Faith’s Got Talent”, a celebration of the rich and varied skills present in those communities.

SPS members mixed with members of local mosques, Hindu temples and Christian churches, amongst others. The talent on display included Christian rappers, Bahai singers and Hindu dancers. SPS’s talent was well represented both by Daniel Keren, who played not just the traditional shofar calls, but a selection of TV and movies themes on a variety of shofarot, and by our Singing Group, who entertained those present with spirited renditions of Shalom Alechem and Adon Olam.

After the evening Rabbi Yuval said “Interfaith work is an essenal part of our role as a liberal community. I was delighted that we were able to welcome our neighbours in faith to SPS.” Bob Dulin echoed Yuval’s remarks, saying “I’m already looking forward to next year’s event. From now until then, Freda and I will be practising our rumba." 


Thursday, 5 January 2017

Isreal Group

Members of the Israel Group attended the UK International Jewish Film Festival to see the film 'The Settlers' followed by a panel discussion. The director, Shimon Dotan, managed to interweave fascinating archival footage with contemporary interviews with settlers and academics. 

It was a historical overview, geopolitical study and intimate look at the people, which gave us a deeper understanding of one of the most difficult challenges facing Israel and the international community today. The film was followed by a lively discussion chaired by Keren Misgav Ristvedt with panellists Professors Colin Shindler and Yossi Mekelberg during which some of the audience protested that there should have been a panellist who represented the settlers’ viewpoint. It was certainly worth us attending the event. 

Peter Leslie (Chair of the Israel Group) 

We always welcome new members:

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Events at Southgate Progressive Synagogue

Every now and then we have events at SPS that have the wow factor; the “Come to your Senses” quiz in November definitely fell into that category. There was an air of mystery as to what the quiz was going to be all about, but when it started we soon found out, and enjoyed an evening of good food, and great company, that was by common consent one of best quiz evenings in the history of SPS. 

Whilst being a man of humble disposition, I was proud to be the dynamic leader of a magnificent all round highly intelligent team, who ended the evening victorious. Thanks to everyone who made the quiz such fun: girls and boys, you did a great job, and well done to everyone who came and helped swell the Synagogue’s coffers. There will be a more traditional style quiz in February, so come along one and all and try and dislodge the supreme reigning champions. 

Two other successful events took place on Saturday 26th November, after the morning service - a Lunch and Chavruta study session on “Responsibility”. The positive feedback from those who attended was that it was a very stimulating and meaningful afternoon. Many thanks to Phyllis Freedman and Joy Cox for organising the event; hopefully there will be more in the future. 

In the evening, sponsored by the Borough of Enfield as part of Inter Faith week, we hosted “Faiths got Talent". Over fifty affable people enjoyed a wonderful, warm-hearted, inspiring event. The evening included a friendly competition of music, readings, rap, poetry, and dance between Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and members of the Bahia community, who were the eventual winners. It showed that by putting politics and divergent ways of life aside for at least one evening, a number of varied faiths can sit down together and enjoy each other’s company in harmony and mutual respect. 

Hopefully the Synagogue will be involved in many more worthwhile occasions like this. 

Robert Dulin

So, having been ‘invited’ (arm behind the back job) to coordinate Mitzvah Day, and given all of 5 minutes to make up my mind, I thought I would give it a go. 

Having got over the hurdle of having to stand outside Asda (I mistakenly assumed that we would at least be in the lobby and perhaps should have donned more layers) the trusted team got to work. I took lessons from Michelle Golding in how to project one’s voice to request items and with the help of Gerry Ostermeyer and Jacqui Kane we collected a huge array of non-perishable items. Asda’s customers were incredibly generous and completely supportive of our collection for the Enfield Food Bank. 

It is always very grafying to feel that you are helping the less fortunate and the comments we received absolutely endorsed this. 

Would I do it again? I am hoping that they move Mitzvah Day to a scorching hot summer’s day which I guess is not an option. Can someone therefore direct me to the nearest shop that sells Arctic clothing! 

Jill Newton

Thursday, 15 December 2016

The Jews of Palermo

During a recent visit to Palermo in Sicily, I was intrigued to find evidence of Jewish prisoners in the cells of the Carceri dell’Inquizione. The first Jews to arrive in Sicily probably settled as traders in Syracuse during the final centuries of the Greek era. The Romans brought some Jews to Sicily as slaves or poorly-paid servants. By the time the Arabs arrived there were flourishing communies in a number of towns including Panormas (Palermo). The Normans were tolerant and even protective of the Jewish Population and the Jews of Sicily experienced relavely little overt antagonism from fellow islanders unl the fourteenth century.

Things changed in 1492 when an edict was issued in an atmosphere of zeal at a time when Catholicism’s influence, including the Inquision, had replaced those of the tolerant twelfth century. At that time there were about 20,000 Jews in Sicily of which 5000 lived in Palermo. The Jews of Sicily were told that they were no longer welcome and had to leave or convert to Christianity. In Palermo their synagogue was demolished without trace and a new road was built, cutting right through the Jewish quarter, so that it is hard to determine where it once stood.

When the Inquision arrived on the Island to hunt down heresy, the first wave of oppression was against the Jews (Crypto-Judaism) and there were 30 burnings at the stake by 1513. Of the Jews who had converted to Catholicism, many had only pretended to do so and then continued to secretly practise their religious customs. The Inquisition was particularly suspicious of these newcomers and willingly accepted the corroboration of neighbours who reported not having seen smoke during the Sabbath or on the converts eating habits.

The Inquision connued for hundreds of years and the Holy Office was only closed in 1782. The Carceri dell’Inquizione was built 1603-1605 because the ‘Philippine Prisons’ inside the Chiaramonte Palace weren’t big enough to hold the growing number of prisoners. There were 8 cells on the ground floor and 6 on the first floor and they contained drawings on the cell walls, which were covered with plaster in the 19th century when the building became a Criminal Court. In 1906 Giuseppe Pitre discovered these drawings made by Jews, herecs, monks, nuns or inconvenient intellectuals.
I was parcularly interested in the drawings made by the Jews. One consisted of a group of kneeling Jews with their names such as Simon, Jacob, and Abraam (sic) printed above them.

It’s well worth vising this Museum of the Inquision and to be aware of the suffering of so many people during this period.

We always welcome new members.

Peter Leslie (Chair of the Israel Group)

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Religion School News

During November, Ruach invited adult members of the congregation to come into class and share their memories with the students, as part of a History Project. 

We had a fantastic morning with our guests, and the session turned out to be both informative and fun for the students and for staff members, as well as an opportunity for Ruach and the regular congregants to get to know each other. Many thanks to Pearl, Jane, Jonathan and Bob for spending the morning with us. We hope that this will become a regular feature of the Ruach curriculum. 

Many thanks also to Jill Newton, who organised the SPS Book Sale, to coincide with Mitzvah Day. The Book Sale was for the benefit of Magen David Adom, the charity chosen by Ruach students as this term's tzedakah project. 

In December, we will be raising money again for Magen David Adom, and for Mini-Ruach, our parent and toddler group, during our Chanukah celebrations, with a cake sale and a toy sale on December 17th. We would like to welcome all children in the community to these Chanukah celebrations, so please do let Shelley know if you want to bring your child along: 

Meanwhile, our parent and toddler group, Mini-Ruach, has started up again, with regular weekly sessions, after a break during the High Holy Days, when the Hall was unavailable. Mini-Ruach is for babies and children under 5, accompanied by an adult, and is open to both members and to non-members.