We wish long life to David Firsht on the loss of his sister.
Note that dates are omitted from many of the events listed below. Subscribe to this newsletter to receive full information.
JCoB invites you to a Havdallah And Movie Night. Havdallah followed by Charlie Chaplan’s masterpiece The Great Dictator. £2 donation for snacks.
The Berkshire Women’s Rosh Chodesh group will be meeting again at 8pm on 10 March. We will watch the movie Precious Life. For location information, please contact Rebbetzin Shira. For more about the movie, see http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/film/precious-life-a-feel-good-arab-israeli-story/article627666/
In preparation for Purim, JCoB invites you to a Whisky Tasting Evening. A chance to try out a few unusual drams and help fund the future of JCoB. £20 donation. Subscribe to this newsletter to receive full information.
PURIM IS COMING!!!!! Don’t miss the annual megillah readings Purim Evening, morning and a last chance in the afternoon at our Seudah / Party with the usual accompaniment of whiz-balloons. Subscribe to this newsletter to receive full information.
Chametz as Chesed: Please support the Reading Food Bank by donating your unwanted chametz (canned and dry goods only) in the run-up to Passover. Items will be collected at JCoB Central until Sunday 17 April.
Oxford Jewish Community invites you to hear David Aaronovitch (Journalist, Broadcaster and Author) in conversation with Rebecca Abrams (Award-winning author, critic, and Journalist). Award-winning Journalist David Aaronovitch describes his early life among communists in Britain, re-examines his own memories in his latest bookParty Animals: My Family and Other Communists. OJC Members £8, non-members £10, students £5.
For Tickets and enquiries contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07525 785 200
Oxford Jewish Community invites you to Mosaic Talk – Linda Dangoor in conversation with Rob Watson. Linda Dangoor is a designer, artist and writer. Born in Baghdad, she came to London as a child and continues to live and work there. She has participated in several BBC programmes about food and cooking. Her book “Flavours of Babylon” has received glowing reviews from Giles Coren and Claudia Roden. Rob Watson is the BBC World Service UK Political Correspondent. He reports on British politics for the BBC's international audiences on radio and television. He is a self proclaimed lover of food. For Tickets and enquiries contact email@example.com or call 07525 785 200
The Alyth Chamber Choir will be performing on Sunday 17th April 2016, 6:00pm for 6:30pm at a local church. Tickets £10. Subscribe to this newsletter to receive full information and directions.
Shabbat morning services continue to be held every third week. We appreciate your continued support in assuring an early minyan. . Subscribe to this newsletter to receive a detailed calendar.
Enjoy the warmth and good food of a Shabbat evening at JCoB Central. If you would like to come please contact Rebbetzin Shira and she will send you full information about how to book. As with all JCoB meals, students eat for free!
JCoB invites you to a special Shabbat afternoon of songs, stories (and a little bit of food) followed by Havdallah. Bring your own song or story to share or just come, listen, and enjoy. If you would like to sponsor this or a similar event, please contact Rebbetzin Shira. Subscribe to this newsletter to receive a detailed calendar with all dates.
Thanks to a generous donation, there is currently no charge for children, students or low income adults attending meals at JCoB Central.
For working adults, standard donations are: Dinners £15 Fancy lunches £10. Light lunches £5.
We welcome your sponsorship so that we can continue to offer hospitality.
KOSHER FOOD NEWS
JustKosher.com will deliver to Reading on Sunday 28 February, 13 March and 27 March (last chance to buy chametz). Contact Rebbetzin Shira if you require any items from Just Kosher or to inquire about the Rebbezin’s hamentashen for Purim.
· Just Kosher will be delivering Passover food to Reading on Sunday 17 April (and possibly also on 18 April). If you require any Passover items early, please let Rebbetzin Shira know as a community trip to London is planned for Sunday 3 April.
· Many items are also regularly available from Ocado.com as well as supermarkets but care should be taken that items are kosher for Passover and not just for year round. For advice on which products require certification, ask Rabbi Zvi directly.
· Information on how to sell your chametz will be sent out in March.
Volunteers (on Terumah 5776)
(As published in the Jewish News. http://www.jewishnews.co.uk/category/judaism/sedra/ )
This week sees the start of a series of parshiyot which deal with the construction of the Mishkan, a portable tabernacle in the desert. Later in the Tanach we read how King Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, and this is our Haftorah this week.
The question we need to ask when reading these parshiyot is one which slips the minds of most human beings, particularly those who build religious structures. Why on earth does God need these fine things?
Surely the Master of the Universe has no need of buildings in His name! The human baubles made to worship him, St. Paul's in London or the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the mosques and temples of all Asia and our synagogues are not houses of God but houses for humans. The gold and silver, beautiful art and architectural effort, are no more than adornment for our own purposes. What need Has God for rare metals, exquisite art and precious stones? He made them and they are all, ultimately, His.
Yet the Torah explains in great detail how the structure and the artefact are to be made. This is the core of the Book of Exodus. Our Rabbis even derived the Halacha of Shabbat from this fine handiwork; the headings of mal’acha (work) are drawn from the creation of this portable temple.
The answer is within the title of the Parashah. God asks for a contribution (terumah) from everybody.
The contribution involves treasure, skill and handiwork. However, the most important contribution is of time. And herein lies the greatest lesson of the long explanation and repetition of the scheme of work.
Terumah is an object lesson in what it means to share a mission, to have a common purpose. Terumah is the root of our community's strength: our volunteers. The terumah is the first and greatest example d volunteers coming together to create community.
A joint enterprise - be it the gold and silver work or the curtains - brings us together. Sometimes it is negative, what I call the Edifice Complex, where the purpose of a building is overtaken by the building itself - but above all Teruma is a permanent memorial to all who work hard for the good of the community.
It is worth more than all the gold and silver in the world. It is a gift of love.
Leadership (on Yitro 5776)
This week we read about an interesting character who played a pivotal part in the formation of Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses) as a leader. He was not a parent or an adversary, but a non-Jewish believer in God, who helped steer him through life.
The story so far: Moses has fled Egypt because he is a Wanted Man having slain an Egyptian slavemaster. He ends up in Midian, where he meets Zipporah and other daughters of the local Sheikh whose name is Yitro. On rescuing his family, the Israelites, and crossing the Red Sea, Yitro meets them in the desert.
In tradition, Yitro had dark skin. We know this because Zipporah is described by the Torah as being dark too. Yitro has other names in the Torah. He is known as the Priest of Midian, Reu’el (Sees God) Chovev (beloved) Yeter (like Yitro, meaning additional or super), Putiel (one who abandoned idolatry) and Keni (Zealous one). His names and his reputation distinguish him and his family as being good and godly people.
Our midrash paints Yitro as a very interesting character. We are told that Pharaoh had three advisors. They were Yitro, Eyyov (Job) and Balaam. Pharaoh asked them what he should do with the Chidren of Israel. The last of these, Balaam immediately advised Pharaoh to destroy the Jewish people. His end was to be killed, as the Torah records. Eyyov equivocated and his punishment was to be put to trial by God (see the Book of Job for details). Yitro, being the wonderful man that he was, told Pharaoh that he should treat the Israelites well and be good to them, for which he was chased out of the court.
Midrash has tell that Yitro recognized God and probably converted to Judaism. This is a tendency in Midrash – we collect converts by the dozen midrashically, whenever a non-Jewish person does a good thing or has a good idea. Yitro's good idea was to help Moses to organize his courts of law, and is a sound advisor. He ends up linked in eternity with the Jewish People, as our eyes in the desert. He is also said to be the father of the Kenites, of whom we read last week in the Haftorah, where Ya’el is described as the "wife of Hever the Kenite". She was so loyal that she put Sisera, the Canaanite general of Hatzor, to death with a tent peg, he being an enemy of Israel.
It was because of Yitro’s support of Moses during his time of refuge that Moses was able to return to Egypt, and because of him that Moses had two fine children through Zipporah his daughter. In his merit we name the portion where we receive the Torah on Sinai parashat Yitro.
Beshalach (Rabbi Ariel Abel)
(As published in the Jewish News. http://www.jewishnews.co.uk/sedra-of-the-week-beshalach/)
In recent weeks, a reader asked me to retract any mention I have made in my sedra columns of any flaws in the person or personalities of Biblical figures. Unfortunately I am unable to do so, as I would be lying about the Scripture itself and its plain meaning.
A short view into this weekly section may not be enough to appreciate the verse for what it stands. I shall demonstrate the importance of moral failings through a character who is popularly subject to criticism – Pharaoh – and then explain why even the saintliest of men and women are not spared criticism, and why we should not whitewash over faults mentioned about them in Scripture.
The seventh of the ten plagues was loud peals of thunder, fiery lightning strikes and hailstones which crushed the ripe grain.
That was enough for Pharaoh to declare that God was righteous and that he and his people were “the evil ones”. However, the Almighty was not pacified by this declaration.
Words are too easy to utter: it is in action that He wishes to see a change of heart. In this week’s reading, Pharaoh is on record as sending the people out of Egypt, but he then gives chase to the Israelites and only meets his end drowning in the sea.
Is the Pharaoh of the exodus therefore an irredeemable baddie whom we can consign to the trash heap of history? Certainly not. My teacher Tuvia Kiel points out the prophet Isaiah in chapter 19 prophesies that Egypt will eventually repent of their idolatry, serve God, speak Hebrew and earn the title of a “blessed nation”.
This means that God cares about the repentance of even of a condemned nation: in repentance lies true greatness.
As the book of Jonah also teaches, there is no virtue in zealotry, only repentance. When the Torah points out the faults of our leaders and ancestors, whitewashing over them is precisely to deny them the greatness which they truly earned though improving their morality, which remains as an instructive example for eternity.
This week’s reading also contains the Song of Moses and Miriam’s refrain. There is no action which is complete in religion if it is not complemented by female energy. All the male children were birthed by the midwives.
Additionally, the Midrash states that the women encouraged their enslaved husbands tirelessly. The Midrash therefore announces that it was the merit of women that our ancestors survived Egyptian slavery, and our future redemption relies upon their merit too.
Rabbi Ariel Abel
Rabbi Ariel Abel lives with his wife Shulamit, son Stefan and daughter Yasmin in Darwen, Lancs. Ariel and Shulamit both hold first class undergraduate degrees, in Semitics and Mandarin / Latin American studies respectively. Their ministry extends across Merseyside, serving the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation and the Southport community. Ariel's has ministered to important communities in London and set up the first and only Semicha programme to prepare rabbinic leadership for mainstream Orthodoxy at Montefiore College, Maida Vale. When in Liverpool, Shulamit and Ariel stay at St. Margaret's vicarage and offer kosher hospitality alongside a Christian effort to serve the community in the same way upstairs! Rabbi Abel's philosophy "Judaism sums up in the tent of Abraham, a place where everyone is welcome and can feel at home and be in company with a hot meal, benefiting from a warm spiritual environment without being judged or told what to do". If you would like to join us on a Shabbat and support our work on Merseyside, e-mail Rabbi Abel on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rabbi Zvi’s two-minute Torah on Parshat Mishpatim can be found on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP2Df1bM7rE&feature=youtu.be
Rabbi Zvi’s two-minute Torah on Parshat Yitro can be found on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgHDSXhDeQc&feature=em-upload_owner
Rabbi Zvi’s two-minute Torah on Shabbat Shira / Parshat Beshalach can be found on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpNownSMH9I&feature=youtu.be
Last week’s article by Rabbi Jeremy Rosen on A Rosh Yeshiva can be found on http://jeremyrosen.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/a-rosh-yeshiva.html
Jeremy Rosen’s article on Orthodox What? can be found on http://jeremyrosen.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/orthodox-what.html
Jeremy Rosen’s article on Primo Levi & Toni Morrison can be found on http://jeremyrosen.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/primo-levi-toni-morrison.html
The only Orthodox Rabbi in Berkshire