‘Rabbi Zvi visited our school for a morning and we couldn't be more delighted in the workshops that he led our children in. Prior to the visit we had excellent contact with regards to the type of session that would fit best with our school as well as help with timetabling the event. We took part in the Succot, Synagogue and Shabbat workshops and all of these provided children with the opportunity to gain a broader understanding of these aspects of Judaism but they were also able to see the objects that are used as part of these. Within the Shabbat workshop, the subject was brought to life by the use of the chalot and Rabbi Zvi's very engaging teaching style. He was able to work with whole age range of children and we are hoping to see him again soon.
Michael Robinson, RE Manager at St Josephs Catholic Primary School, Newbury
The prosperity tables were compiled by the Legatum Institute by combining the wealth of an area with its performance in happiness ratings collected by the Office for National Statistics.
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If you are squeamish, look away now! What I’m talking about this week is not pretty. Have you walked around our city centres on a Friday or Saturday night? Thronged with people in various states of inebriation, the sights, sounds and smells of the inner animal let rip by the “creative juices” of alcohol are something you will not easily forget.
The sight of young women lying drunk in the streets, and young men squaring up to each other in drunken bravado is not pleasant. I doubt any of us have been spared the delights of the previous night’s congealed pavement pizza as we pick our way past the debris on the way to shul on a Saturday morning.
Traditionally, Jews have been less into inebriation, although the Booze for Jews events organised by university Jewish societies and the ubiquitous use of alcohol in kiruv (‘bringing close’) activities means this is clearly less the case.
This week’s Torah portion tells us something about the aversion we have to drunkenness.
Our ancestor Noah planted a vineyard when he came out of the ark and made wine. He got smashed and took all his clothes off to sleep in his tent. The story says that his youngest son Ham came into the tent and saw him naked. He went and told his brothers, who came in respectfully and covered up their father.
The rabbis read the phrase “and Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his youngest son had done,” understanding that he had possibly harmed his father. It would have been enough that he disrespected him by gazing on his nakedness – after all, the story tells us that the other two sons went in backwards with a blanket to cover up their father without looking at him – but the rabbis of the Talmud suggest Ham either neutered his father or abused him sexually.
Ham was, according to the emasculation theory, concerned that Noah would have a fourth son, and the result of his act was that his fourth son was cursed.
However that might be, it is clear that drink is not considered something to be indulged in excessively.
The Tree of Knowledge is considered by some in the Talmud to have been a vine. Wine-fuddled Noah and the prohibition of strong drink is juxtaposed to the deaths of Nadav and Abihu, Aaron’s sons who offered “strange fire” to God (an allusion to the pair perhaps being drunk).
Achashverosh is depicted as a weak drunkard, easily led and hard for women to please because of his excess.
Drunkenness gets a bad press in the Bible, and this is conveyed by the rabbis who talk about watering down the wine, and Maimonides who suggests sleep rather than wine being a way to fulfil one’s duties at Purim.
The weakness of Noah for his little tipple could have been harmless. The problem mankind has today with alcohol is, however, more than a little headache.
Rabbi Zvi Solomons
Jeremy Rosen’s article for Cheshvan is on http://jeremyrosen.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/rosh-chodesh.html
Rabbi Zvi Solomons stepped out of Reading this week to visit Woodlands Primary School in Maidenhead. The Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Berkshire (JCoB) is active in reaching out through the local schools to the local Jewish population, and finds several Jewish students wherever he goes.
"You would be astonished how often there is an Israeli family or a hidden Jewish family in a local primary school community. We are to be found everywhere!" explained the JCoB rabbi.
Rabbi Zvi offers a classroom Synagogue experience which is tailored to the Religious Education syllabus. "Rabbi Zvi and I are both experienced members of the local SACREs - RE committees - in the area," commented Rebbetzin Shira, "and there is a huge demand for authentic RE provisioning the area. We see it as an opportunity to support our local communal activities and to reach out to the local community, while discovering more Jews in the area. "
More details on Rabbi Zvi's outreach and communal work an be found on www.JCoB.org or by phoning 07828742282.
The Berkshire Community Cheder is launching a new class for younger children, starting after half term. If you have a child aged between 3 and 6, this is the perfect moment to enrol. Let us help your child to get the most of his/her Jewish identity. Contact Rebbetzin Shira. For information on our GCSE class in Jewish Studies, contact Rabbi Zvi.
JCoB invites you to a special Shabbat afternoon of songs, stories (and a little bit of food) on Saturday 17 October. Minchah 5:30pm followed by Seudah Shlishit and havdallah (at around 7:00pm). Bring your own song or story to share or just come, listen, and enjoy.
Shabbat UK 23-24 October 2015!!!
JCoB is holding a full Shabbaton for Shabbat UK, 23-24 October 2015.
Friday evening 23 October, there will be a special Oneg Shabbat, jointly with Reading Jewish Society, at Reading University. Candle lighting 17:40 at the Chaplaincy followed by Kaballat Shabbat and dinner. RSVP. As with all JCoB meals, students eat for free!
Saturday morning, 24 October we will have a Shabbat Morning Service at 9:30am in our JCoB Marquee. Join us for our last use of our marquee this autumn. Kiddush is sponsored by Mike and Liz Jacobs. As usual, lunch is available for a £5 donation (or free for students).
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 25 October. Contact Rebbetzin Shira if you require any items.
What was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? There is a long discussion in the Talmud about this topic.
Some say it was the fig, since they used those fig-leaves to cover up and make clothes. Some say it was corn, which grew to immense heights and came already ground in those days according to legend - a child who can eat bread is able to speak so it must have been that. Still others say that it must have been the vine, since grapes are innocent until fermented and then cause us to act up and do bad things without understanding what we are doing until later. The apple, malus in Latin, is really a Christian superimposition on the story, because its Latin name sounds like the word in Latin for evil!
Yet what does the story really tell us? Should we have stayed in our innocent pre-fruity state, sat in the Garden of Eden and sustained by God alone? Perhaps the story is trying to teach us something else.
A person is not a full person until they have made a mistake. We learn from those mistakes, and despite the fact that our intellects allow us to learn theory, the practical effect of learning by trial and error is often the only thing which allows us to grow as human beings. A person who is terrified of making an error will never develop properly. That is why it is good to allow children to make mistakes.
God set up Adam and Eve. They were put in a garden where they had temptation before them day and night. Adam misinformed his wife, but he knew himself what he was doing, and he nonetheless went ahead and ate that fruit. If you put a small child in a room with chocolate and tell him or her not to eat it, you will be unsuprised to learn that if you close the door and come back five minutes later the chocolate is unlikely to be there. So Adam and Eve are not expected to keep the commandment concerning the Tree and its fruit. They are to be an example of transgression but at the same time an example of human frailty and that fact that we all make mistakes, no matter who we are. This is human nature.
The biggest mistake, however, is not to learn from the mistake and do better the next time we are tempted.
The story of Adam and Eve is one of Teshuva, repentance.
We hosted a record number of events in their Sukkah this year. A large group of young people came to eat over the first days of the festival, and the Cheder saw new members taking the lulav for the first time prior to the annual Sukkah lunch party on Hoshanna Rabba.
Rebbetzin Shira Solomons commented, "Before we came to Reading there was no Orthodox Cheder for miles. Now, with Crossrail, we have a growing core group of young couples and families, who can afford to buy a home here in Reading and join in with all our communal activities."
JCoB relish providing Orthodox synagogue services and the only Orthodox Rabbi to the community in Reading and the wider region.
For more information see the Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus accounts or the JCoB website www.jcob.org - or call Rabbi Zvi on 07828742282.
The only Orthodox Cheder in Reading enjoyed celebrating Sukkot this week in the largest Sukkah in Reading and Berkshire. Reading's Jewish Community of Berkshire has two new families and is supportive of Jewish parents in Reading, Wokingham, Basingstoke, Windsor, Maidenhead, Slough, Newbury, Bracknell and the region.
Our little group hold synagogue services, Cheder, learning and socials. We have a strong group of young people who have recently moved into the area, and have been steadily growing over the past three months. For more information email contact@JCoB.org or phone 07828742282.
The only Orthodox Rabbi in Berkshire