Thursday, 21 July 2016

Religion School News

We have just launched our Buddy Scheme, which involves putting families in the congregation who have children the same age in touch with each other. We hope that when the children come along to SPS there will be familiar faces and the children will immediately feel at home in the community. Several families have been invited to take part in the Buddy Scheme.

We recently had a visit from LJY-Netzer, who spoke to parents and students about the youth movement and in particular Kadimah, the summer camp which will be running in August 2016. Some of our own teenagers will be taking part as youth leaders, and it's not too late to sign up for the camp.

This term we have had several successful Family Services, and a children Shavuot Service, which was followed by an Open Morning where visiting children were able to join in one of the classes and get to know the students and staff. 

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Words from the Rabbi: Rabbinic Feminism then and now

The Jewish world took one big leap forward last month when a group of eight women were ordained as Rabbi's in Jerusalem. 

Perhaps you will think that there is nothing unusual about ordination of women Rabbis. The first woman to be ordained as a Rabbi was Regina Jonas in Germany in 1935. Regina, who was a student of Rabbi Dr Leo Baeck, refused to make do with a teaching degree and wanted to be formally recognised for her knowledge and skills. It took the courage of Rabbi Dr Max Dienemann to provide Regina with a full Rabbinic ordination. Another glass ceiling was the reluctance of the communities to employ a woman Rabbi but Regina eventually overcame this obstacle to. Like many other German Jews, Regina's property was confiscated by the Nazis and she was sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. In the camp Regina continued her Rabbinic work by supporting those who has mental crises and suicidal tendencies. In 1944, nine years after ordination, Rabbi Regina Jonas was murdered by the Nazis in Auschwitz.

Regina led the was to consequent ordination of women to the Rabbinate. The second woman Rabbi to be ordained, and the first in the US, was Rabi Sally Jane Priesand in 1972. The first British woman Rabbi to be ordained in the UK, three years later; was Rabbi Jacky Tabick. Rabbi Tabick received her ordina<on from the Leo Baeck College, a Rabbinic ins<tute that carries the name of one of Rabbi Jonas’ teachers and was established by one of her colleagues and a refugee from Nazi Germany, Rabbi Werner van der Zyl.
81 years aAer the ordina<on of the first woman Rabbi, gender plays liEle role in the acceptance of Rabbinic students to progressive seminaries around the world.
Yet, in the Orthodox world progress has been slow and there has been strong resistance to the idea of women serving as Rabbis. Interes<ngly, even though she received her ordina<on from Liberal ins<tu<ons, Rabbi Regina Jonas defined herself as a tradi<onal Orthodox Jew. She felt that her choice of a career was directed by a Divine hand. She could not find any objec<on to women serving as Rabbis in Jewish texts. In her Rabbinic thesis she justfied the women, not by using Liberal claims but by focusing on Orthodox sources. The title of her thesis was ‘Can a Woman Be a Rabbi According to Halachic Sources?’ Based on Biblical, Talmudic, and rabbinical sources, her conclusion was that apart from prejudice, there was no Halachic obstacle to women ordinaton.
The Feminist Revolution has finally hit the Orthodox world this past month when eight women Rabbis received their semicha (Rabbinic ordina<on) from an Orthodox Rabbi. It was only in recent years that Orthodox women were even allowed to study Torah at a Rabbinic level. Yet, those who reached that stage had to make do with alternative titles such as ‘Halachic Consultant’ ‘Halachic Leader’ and even the very inappropriate <tle Rabbanit (‘the Rabbi’s wife’).
The Modern Orthodox Rabbi Daniel Landes who ordained the group of students, told them: “You will be acting in a post-modern environment... As Rabbis you must support the principle of respect for one another.”
The next great challenge for the nearly ordained is not dissimilar to that of Rabbi Regina Jonas. They will need to find communities who will endorse them as their spiritual leader. This will no doubt be an uphill struggle in a world where Rabbis are expected to wear a suit and grow a beard, and they will need to stand firm against vicious attacks from the ultra-conservative side of Orthodoxy. Yet, they cannot and should not become invisible and transparent.
It took Liberal and Reform Judaism nearly eight decades to remove the gender barrier when it comes to communal spiritual leadership. There are now a number of women Rabbis in senior posi<ons in this country. To name a few: Rabbi Alexandra Wright is the senior Rabbi of LJS, Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger is the senior Rabbi of West London Synagogue, Rabbi Laura Janner- Klausner is the Senior Rabbi at the Movement for Reform Judaism. Rabbi Jacky Tabick, the first woman Rabbi in the UK, is the convenor of the Reform Movement's Beit Din. 

This is a beautiful example of the progressive movement leading the way to the rest of the Jewish world. It would probably take a few more decades for the newly ordained Orthodox women Rabbis and their supporters to introduce feminism and egalitarianism to the Orthodox world. 

Monday, 4 July 2016

What's Going On?

What's going on between 4th - 10th July?

Monday        4th      7:30 p.m        Bridge

Monday        4th      7:30 p.m        Table Tennis

Tuesday       5th      8:00 p.m        Access to Judaism with Rabbi Yuval

Thursday      7th      10:00 a.m      Coffee and Learn with Rabbi Yuval

Friday           8th     8:15 p.m          Erev Shabbat Evening Service

Saturday      9th     9:30 a.m           Religion School

Saturday      9th     9:30 a.m           Coffee and Learn with Rabbi Yuval

Saturday      9th    10:00 a.m         Tots Service

Saturday      9th    11:00 a.m          Shabbat Morning Family Service

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Welfare Tea

On the "hottest day of the year" - so far - we held our annual Welfare Tea Party. As the sun blazed outside our 65 VIP guests were in for a treat, a super variety of sandwiches, homemade cakes, fruit and chocolates and that all-important cup of tea. Once again the floor show was provided by the talented Alonim Israeli Dance Troupe who not only danced for us but danced with us! The ever entertaining and enthusiastic Simon Gilbert performed a host of well-known songs and we all had the opportunity to join a good old fashioned sing-along. 

A big thank you to the welfare group and the house committee who, along with their willing team of volunteers, made the afternoon a great success. 

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Southgate Progressive Youth Club

SPY future dates;

26th June
11th September - Family Day everyone is welcome
20th November
11th December

SPY is for school years 5 and over. It is in the Schindler Hall, 6-8pm. 

It costs £3 and dinner is included.

please contact for more information

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Leo Baeck Youth Orchestra Visit

Recently students from the Leo Baeck Youth Orchestra from Haifa, Israel visited Southgate Progressive Synagogue to perform. Below is their message to us;


We, the members of the Leo Baeck Education Centre Youth Orchestra, which to send our heartfelt thanks to the Jewish communities of London and Birmingham for hosting us so warmly and generously. We greatly enjoyed performing in all the communities and meeting the wonderful people who arrived to listen to us. Our delight at presenting our everyday lives and experiences in Israel through the music that we so love was even increased by our audience's enjoyment and familiarity with the pieces (and laughter from our jokes). 

We were deeply touched and contented to observe that music can connect people from all over the world, even in difficult, conflicted times such as these. The community members' interest and curiosity regarding our personal lives, voluntary work at school, and musical experiences, and their willingness to expose us to their own Jewish lives, showed us that we were Israeli teens truly have a supporting community of well-wishing people all over the world. Thank you for sharing Purim with us (it was hard being away from home on this special holiday), thank you for feeding us (we are always hungry) and simply - thank you for everything. 

We sincerely hope that relationships between Leo Baeck and the British Jewish communities, be they long-lived or just budding, will continue to flower, perhaps leading us to visit and entertain you once again. 

Neta Barlam and Eitan Gronich


Monday, 30 May 2016

What's going on?

What's going on between 30th - 5th June?

Monday        30th      7:30 p.m        Bridge

Monday        30th      7:30 p.m        Table Tennis

Friday           3rd     8:15 p.m          Erev Shabbat Evening Service

Saturday      4th     9:30 a.m           Religion School

Saturday      4th    10:00 a.m         Coffee and Learn with Rabbi Yuval

Saturday      4th    11:00 a.m          Shabbat Morning Family Service