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News and Announcements
Berkshire Community Cheder welcomes new and existing students to its second year since moving to JCoB Central. We are starting a new Hebrew reading class this year, so this is a great time for your child to discover the joy of Jewish learning. To find out how your child can begin his or her Jewish learning journey, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome back to all the Jewish Students at the University of Reading. Rabbi Zvi enjoyed meeting new and existing students at the Fresher’s Fayre last week. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbyx_ll57ec. Students are welcome to attend Rosh Hashanah services and we would love to host you for meals. Contact Rebbezin Shira.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
We are excited to be offering services for a second year at JCoB Central led by Rabbi Zvi and Gavriel (our wonderful ba’al shacharit). Full details are in the calendar above. Last year’s services were inspiring and uplifting beyond all expectations. All community members are welcome to attend and there is no charge or need for tickets. Please contact Rebbezin Shira if you wish to book a yom tov meal.
Succot services will take place again this year, and we are excited again to host Rabbi Ariel Abel and his family over the festival. We will again obtain Lulav and Etrog sets for the community. This year, we have been offered student sets for only £16.50! (only for students). Standard sets are £20 / £25 and as usual extra nice etrogim are always available at a premium. If you wish to order a lulav and Etrog or other succot supplies such as schach, email Rabbi Zvi by the morning after Yom Kippur at the latest.
Yom Tov Meals at JCoB Central
As always, you are welcome to join us for meals over yom tov. We have the largest Sukkah in Berkshire and it is always a hub of activity. As always, we ask for a contribution so that we can afford to have an open house. Please email Rebbezin Shira to let her when you wish to join us.
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, suggested donations are: Dinners £15 Fancy lunches £10. Light lunches £5.
We welcome your sponsorship so that we can continue to offer hospitality.
Traditionally, this time of year is one for acts of charity. Traditionally, three things: prayer, repentance and charity, can alter the divine decree, or to put it another way, they can tip the scales to make possible a better world. Please consider supporting the following causes with a donation before Yom Kippur:
The “Valediction Memorial ” in Prague is a project to honour the memory of all the parents brave enough to have said ‘good bye’ to their children sending them by trains into the arms of strangers knowing that this was the only way to save their lives during World War II. It will be a bronze copy of a door from a train of the time mounted on a bronze plinth with an inscribed message. Thanks to the permission of the Czech Railways it will stand on Hlavni Nadrazi – the Prague main railway station. For more information or to support this cause, visit http://valedictionmemorial.org/
Magen David Adom is Israel’s only national medical emergency, disaster, ambulance and blood service, and since June 2006 Magen David Adom has been officially recognised by the International Committee of the Red Cross as the national aid society of Israel. For more information or to make a donation, visit http://mdauk.org/
KOSHER FOOD NEWS
Just Kosher (justkosher.co.ouk) will be delivering food to Reading on Sundays 9 and 30 October. If you need only a few items or urgently need challot or other essentials, contact Rebbezin Shira.
We publish a list of sick people (cholim) every week so that the community can pray for their recovery. For reasons of privacy, this is not published online but is in the emailed version of the newsletter.
Time for a change (On Nitzavim 5776)
Doesn't time fly when you're having fun. There is a famous quotation from Albert Einstein. "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity."
As we go through our lives we realise that time varies according to our age and activities. Yet there are many different ways of measuring time. In the ancient world the observation of the sun and moon, sunrise and sunset were the most accurate. Seasons were measured by the procession of the constellations. The Egyptians used candle and water clocks. In the Middle Ages, the mechanical clock gained ascendancy. Then with the scientific age of telescopes and chronometers, people were able to measure time even more accurately.
The railway gave rise to standardisation, the first war to daylight saving time (British Summer Time or BST here in the UK) and then atomic time, even more accurate than Quartz, where clocks are beamed the accurate time from a research establishment.
Yet we Jews also have another measure. It's not the time to eat a fishball or a beigel, although the rabbis do talk of כדי אלילת פרס the time taken to eat a loaf of bread. It’s not even the length of the rabbi's sermon or the service on Rosh Hashanah. It's the time of year.
Jewish time is both linear and cyclical. We move through the High Holy Days and feel the time of year through the tunes, the words, the sounds and the food. We re-visit the old themes and hope to move forward in our relationships as we approach the festivals. The last year has been bruising - but we have something special and look forward to continuing the growth of our community - we have new people coming to us and it should be a great year for growth.
So re-visit those old tunes, remember those good times, review the past year, and let us all work together in 5777 to build our JCoB further, just as it has grown in 5776.
Rabbi Zvi Solomons
(the article below is reprinted as Rosh Hashanah is on Sunday night)
New Directions (On Rosh Hashanah 5777)
There is a saying oft attributed to Einstein that the definition of an idiot is someone who does the same experiment over and over again, expecting a new result each time. People often post this comment on social media when they come across a troll who repeats the same tired old argument, but never seems to learn anything from the interchange.
We human beings are creatures of habit. We love doing things the same way and get into ruts of ritual. It is uncomfortable to do something new, to strike out in directions which are different to what we are used to. Our comfort depends, to some extent, on the surroundings and actions which we are used to. Inertia, more than anything, is responsible for lack of innovation. The argument that “it’s always been done that way” is seductive, because it smacks of tradition.
At Rosh Hashanah however, we are asked to break our bad habits, and to strike out in new directions. We are encouraged to become entrepreneurial in a personal sense, by overcoming the stasis and the poor choices we tend to make in our lives due to that inertia. On Rosh Hashanah we are told to wake up to the opportunities we have in our lives, and to try to make a difference; to ourselves, and to the rest of the world.
This is what we mean by Teshuva – a Hebrew word which means “turning”. Some consider it to be turning back to God or back to our true selves, but in the sense that I am speaking about it really means, turning off the beaten track. This is that time of the year when we can get out of the rut we often wear ourselves into, and start to make a real difference to ourselves, our families, our community and our country. We start with ourselves, but this is an ongoing project.
Here at JCoB we have taken a new path. We are reaching out to many young Jewish adults, and offering a different model of Orthodox Judaism for Berkshire Jewry. We offer inclusion, unity, friendship, hospitality and a thumping good musical environment for our prayers. As a community we support each other and invest in our future success.
A year ago we held our first High Holyday services here at JCoB Central. We weren’t quite sure what we were letting ourselves in for. We put up the marquee, and prayed that we would make minyan over the Chaggim. This year we remember the warmth, the ruach (atmosphere) and the wonderful joy of celebrating together, culminating in a Ne’ilah so packed there was barely standing room in there. We are looking forward to doing this again, and at the same time hoping that in the coming year we and every Jew in Reading and the wider Thames Valley area can strike out in a new direction, can grow, and can enjoy the celebrations along with us.
Wishing everyone Chag Sameach, and a K’tivah v’Chatima Tova – may you be inscribed for a happy and healthy New Year.
The only Orthodox Rabbi in Berkshire