News

Iberian Visitors

May 2017

Last Shabbat we were joined by three visitors from Spain (Valencia to be precise), (Maria) Elena, Jorge and Elena. They were welcomed at our Friday night service, followed by a shared chavurah supper. On Shabbat morning they had their first call up to the Torah following their visit to the Beth Din earlier in the week. It was a very happy, warm and lovely occasion. They were accompanied by their rabbi and teacher, Alona, and officers of the European Union for Progressive Judaism. It was a lot of fun and we hope to welcome you all again soon!


 

Stolen Torah Scrolls found

April 2017

Rabbi Larry Shir Hayim scrolls

The home of our Rabbi Larry and Rabbi Jackie Tabick was broken into on 22nd March. A metal safe was stolen, containing two of our Torah scrolls (they were insured, and our Czech Memorial scroll from Trebic was NOT one of them). When the intruder came face to face with their lodger, he turned and fled, taking a few other items of low value. The worry was that they would be dumped somewhere, as selling them would arouse suspicion.

Nothing short of a small miracle, about a week later our Torah scrolls were found in a field in Hertfordshire! Rabbis Larry and Jackie retrieved them from their local police station, finding them in good condition, not damp or wet, in fact, in almost perfect condition.

Rabbi Larry said,
“They had taken away the breastplate – because it’s silver – and they had taken off the [scroll] mantles. But when they saw what was inside, they clearly decided it wasn’t worth their while so they just left them. They were still in the cabinet. People have history with these scrolls, especially a community like ours that has so few. One family donated one of the scrolls that has been recovered. The other was acquired by the community through donations from a variety of people.”

We are very grateful to be reunited with our Torah scrolls.

 

Chanukah is coming!

Our Cheder group had a wonderful time getting creative and crafty, making these beautiful chanukiyot. They enjoyed a practice lighting session and sung Chanukah songs. Chanukah this year begins on the evening of 24th December 2016 – we can’t wait!

 

Trebic Scroll rededication

On Sunday 13th November we held a service of re-dedication for our Czech scroll (from the town of Trebic) after the completion of the scroll’s repair work. This service gave us an opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves to Torah and to our community, to remember the community of Trebic so cruelly destroyed. It also gave us a chance to honour some of our more illustrious members, to thank our Soferet (scribe) Avielah Barclay for all her hard work on our behalf, and to enjoy ourselves in a positive communal atmosphere.

It was a joyful occasion, as well as an educational one. We had a strong turnout of our members, and particularly of our cheder, parents and kids. We sung, we clapped and we danced! Special thanks to all our hardworking community people who helped to make this possible, not least all your honorary officers, spearheaded by Gay Jewell, secretary, and thanks also to our Security Team. We even made the front page of this week’s Ham & High!

 

Sukkot October 2016

Another successful sukkah building and decorating party by our dedicated Sukkah Squad this year:
shir-hayim-succah-2016-crop

And the dappled light percolating our lovely sukkah:
shir-hayim-succah-oct-2016

Thanks to all who came to help and spend time in our sukkah this year!

Rabbi Larry’s new book

Our own Rabbi Larry is the proud author of a new book. Entitled The Aura of Torah, and published by the Jewish Publication Society of America in conjunction with the University of Nebraska, it is an anthology of kabbalistic and hasidic comments on the Torah, with Rabbi Larry’s own introductions and comments. (In fact, it is based on sermons he has given at Shir Hayim over the years.)

You can order your own copy from Amazon or directly from the publishers on http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/product/Aura-of-Torah,675901.aspx

Trebic scroll on parade

Each year the Westminister Synagogue and the Czech Memorial Scroll Trust hold a service in commemoration of the arrival of the scrolls in 1964. This year, of course, marked the 50th anniversary, and for that reason, it was hoped that as many of the scrolls as possible might be assembled. In fact there were over 50, and ours, which comes from the town of Trebic in the Czech Republic was one. Here it is (on the left), accompanied by Mike Saunders, a Shir Hayim member. The man next to it, Tom Barth, is holding a scroll that came from the town of Klatovy, also in the Czech Republic, but which now lives in the North West Surrey Reform Synagogue in Weybridge. In point of fact, we used to have the Klatovy scroll, but swapped it with Weybridge because Tom, who was then chair of the community, has family connections with the town. For more information about Trebic, see below.

Rabbi Larry on the Radio

Rabbi Larry recently contributed to the BBC Radio 4 obituary series Last Word, after he was approached to say a few words about the late Rabbi Philip Berg, founder of the Kabbalah Center. Here is a link to the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03bsb9w

Trip to Berlin 2013

This June, a group of Shir Hayim-niks made a pilgrimage to Berlin, to follow in the footsteps of Michael Teper’s grandparents on their last journey. On Sunday 4 November at 4:30 pm at Hashomer House, they will share their experiences and their photos.

Trip to Trebič 2012

On Monday 18 June, a group of intrepid Shir Hayim members set off for Trebič, a little town in the Czech Republic near Brno. Trebič is the original home of our Czech Memorial Scroll, and we were taking the scroll back for a visit to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the deportation of the Jews of the town and the surrounding area to Therezienstadt (Terezin), and eventually to Auschwitz, where most perished. Trebič has a long history, with Jewish inhabitants as early as the 14th century. We had a tour of the Jewish Quarter, still largely preserved, and held a service on Wednesday morning in one of its two synagogue buildings, now a tourist centre. In the autumn, I hope we will share with you some of the many pictures we took so that you too can imagine yourselves there with us. In the meantime, here a just a few to whet your appetite.

Reading from the scroll in the Back Synagogue, taken from the women’s gallery

The Torah service in the Back Synagogue

At the home of Zuzanna Urbanova, the last Jew in the Quarter. She is sitting on the left.

Mr Pavel Herman, mayor of Trebič, spoke briefly at the service.

After the service, we displayed the scroll to our visitors, and took questions.