Monthly Archives: February 2018

Week of 22 February 2018 – Psalm 68

This comment is in memory of my late mother (Brainah Leah bat Moshe Aharon) and for all those who read Tehillim for the sake of others. [To see the full Mechon Mamre text, please click here.]

Psalm 68 is quite long at 36 verses. It is attributed to David and can be divided into 2 major themes. It begins with prayers against G-d’s enemies and in favour of Israel. The 2nd theme encapsulates many sub-parts, including poetically alluding to the Israelite journey from Egypt, through the wilderness to Mt Sinai, and then into the Land of Canaan. Overall, it expresses ‘the triumphant march of G-d through the past history of Israel’ and the hope that in future all humanity will recognise the Almighty’s authority over the earth.

Following Chapter 67 which had a Messianic focus, this Psalm too lends its interpretation to the same. Commentators disagree on when it was written but the dominant view is that King David wrote this to mark the occasion when the Ark was moved from the house of Obed-edom into a more permanent tent dwelling in Zion/Shiloh.

Metaphorically, some see this Psalm standing … ‘as a monument to the invincible faith and inextinguishable hopes of Israel, and as a prophecy of spiritual glories in part realised, in part to come.’ (The Psalms, A. Cohen p. 209)

The introductory verse echoes the prayer recited in most Ashkenaz synagogues when the ark is opened and the Torah is taken out to be read. It proclaims that the enemies of G-d should be scattered. And when the righteous perceive the equity of G-d’s dominion, they will rejoice.

יָקוּם אֱ-לֹהִים, יָפוּצוּ אוֹיְבָיו; וְיָנוּסוּ מְשַׂנְאָיו, מִפָּנָיו. Let G-d arise and scatter our enemies; let them that hate flee before [G-d]. (Psalms 68:2)

שִׁירוּ, לֵא-לֹהִים- זַמְּרוּ שְׁמוֹ: סֹלּוּ, לָרֹכֵב בָּעֲרָבוֹת– בְּיָ-הּ שְׁמוֹ; וְעִלְזוּ לְפָנָיו. Sing unto G-d, sing praises; extol [G-d] who rides upon the skies, whose name is the LORD; be exalted. (Psalms 68:5)

This next section alludes to Israel’s experience receiving the Torah at Mt Sinai and during the conquest over Canaan. David also seems to make a veiled reference to Jerusalem, ‘the mountain which G-d desired’.

אֶרֶץ רָעָשָׁה, אַף-שָׁמַיִם נָטְפוּ– מִפְּנֵי אֱ-לֹהִים: זֶה סִינַי– מִפְּנֵי אֱ-לֹהִים, אֱ-לֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. The earth trembled, the heavens also dropped at the presence of G-d; even Sinai trembled at the presence of G-d, the G-d of Israel. (Psalms 68:9)

מַלְכֵי צְבָאוֹת, יִדֹּדוּן יִדֹּדוּן; וּנְוַת-בַּיִת, תְּחַלֵּק שָׁלָל. Kings of armies flee, they flee; and she that tarries at home divides the spoil. (Psalms 68:13)

לָמָּה, תְּרַצְּדוּן– הָרִים גַּבְנֻנִּים: הָהָר–חָמַד אֱ-לֹהִים לְשִׁבְתּוֹ; אַף-יְ-הוָה, יִשְׁכֹּן לָנֶצַח. Why look askance, you mountains of peaks, at the mountain which G-d desired for an abode? Yes, the LORD will dwell therein for ever. (Psalms 68:17)

This final section reflects that events of the past formed a vision for the present and future. It suggests the world’s powerful nations would come in solemn procession to the Mishkan, giving thanks and paying tribute to the Divine Presence. It reassures Israel that G-d is in their midst and will perform miracles that inspire awe and reverence throughout the Earth.

בָּרוּךְ אֲ-דֹנָי, יוֹם יוֹם: יַעֲמָס-לָנוּ–הָאֵ-ל יְשׁוּעָתֵנוּ סֶלָה. Blessed be the Lord, day by day who bears our burden; G-d who is our salvation. Selah (Psalms 68:20)

בְּמַקְהֵלוֹת, בָּרְכוּ אֱ-לֹהִים; אֲ-דֹנָי, מִמְּקוֹר יִשְׂרָאֵל. Bless G-d in full assembly; the Lord, from the fountain of Israel. (Psalms 68:27)

יֶאֱתָיוּ חַשְׁמַנִּים, מִנִּי מִצְרָיִם; כּוּשׁ תָּרִיץ יָדָיו, לֵא-לֹהִים. Nobles shall come from Egypt; Ethiopia will hurry to stretch out her hands to G-d. (Psalms 68:32)

תְּנוּ עֹז, לֵא-לֹהִים: עַל-יִשְׂרָאֵל גַּאֲוָתוֹ; וְעֻזּוֹ, בַּשְּׁחָקִים. Ascribe strength to G-d whose majesty is over Israel and whose strength is in the skies. (Psalms 68:35)

נוֹרָא אֱ-לֹהִים, מִמִּקְדָּשֶׁיךָ: אֵ-ל יִשְׂרָאֵל– הוּא נֹתֵן עֹז וְתַעֲצֻמוֹת לָעָם; בָּרוּךְ אֱ-לֹהִים. Awesome is G-d from Your holy places; the G-d of Israel who gives strength and power to the people; blessed be G-d. (Psalms 68:36)

In the prayer liturgy of the Spanish & Portuguese community and others, this Psalm is sung on Shavuoth eve. Some individual verses are found in other parts of our liturgy, including Verse 20 in U’Ba LeTsion and Verses 35-36 in Pisukei DeZimra.

The Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie (1892-1975), who claimed descent from the Solomonic Dynasty, used the latter half of verse 32 in his Coat of Arms and as Ethiopia’s national motto.


CIVIL WAR IN SYRIA – 6 YEARS: Even though in the Talmud there’s a statement ‘Mi Shenikhnas Adar Marbim BeSimha‘ (when Adar arrives, Joy increases), it would be inappropriate to omit commenting on the latest horrifying escalation of violence in Syria. Now in its 6th year of civil war, the government of Bashar al-Assad which is fighting against ISIS-affiliated terrorists and its own citizens, this week began bombardment of a civilian neighbourhood in Damascus putting nearly 350,000 lives at risk. There’s worldwide condemnation and moral outrage. Let’s hope it will put a stop to the killings.

REMEMBER BAGHDAD – THANKS: Next, we offer sincere thanks to David Dangoor, Edwin Shuker and Dartmouth Films for enabling us to screen the film Remember Baghdad in Borehamwood this past Monday. Those who attended were emotionally moved by the sense of loss the film depicted. All the more reason to admire Edwin’s efforts to reclaim for his children and grandchildren (and all of us) a connection to their former home.

Week of 15 February 2018 – Psalm 67

This comment is in memory of my late mother (Brainah Leah bat Moshe Aharon) and for all those who read Tehillim for the sake of others. [To see the full Mechon Mamre text, please click here.]

Psalm 67 is unattributed, quite short at 8 verses, and not connected to any identifiable historic incident. It follows Psalms 65 & 66 which, according to some scholars, celebrated the miracle of the defeat of Sennacherib’s army.

Using the appearance of the word Selah as indicative of a change in subject, this Psalm contains 3 themes: 1) that G-d will be gracious to Israel, 2) that the nations of the world will recognise G-d, and 3) that the Earth will abundantly yield its produce, leading all humanity to be in awe of the Almighty.

Psalms 67 displays a universal praise of G-d. It employs a chiastic structure, where the earlier verses mirror the latter ones and where the 4th and 6th verses are identical, focusing the reader on the centre of verse 5; ‘let the nations be glad and sing with joy’.

There are hints in Verse 2 to the priestly blessing (‘Your face to shine towards us’). There’s also a notion that G-d’s graciousness to Israel will draw other nations to Divine worship.

אֱ-לֹהִים, יְחָנֵּנוּ וִיבָרְכֵנוּ; יָאֵר פָּנָיו אִתָּנוּ סֶלָה. G-d be gracious to us and bless us; cause Your face to shine toward us; Selah. (Psalms 67:2)

יוֹדוּךָ עַמִּים אֱ-לֹהִים: יוֹדוּךָ, עַמִּים כֻּלָּם. Let nations give thanks to You, O G-d; let nations give thanks, all of them. (Psalms 67:4)

In recognition of G-d’s mercies toward Israel and the miracle of their existence, other nations will be lead to pursue righteousness and to live in peace and happiness.

יִשְׂמְחוּ וִירַנְּנוּ, לְאֻמִּים: כִּי-תִשְׁפֹּט עַמִּים מִישֹׁר; וּלְאֻמִּים, בָּאָרֶץ תַּנְחֵם סֶלָה. O let nations be glad and sing for joy; for You will judge them with equity, and lead the nations upon Earth. Selah! (Psalms 67:5)

Rev A Cohen suggests that ‘the earth has yielded her increase’ is not to be taken literally, but is a metaphor for Messianic times when all nations will experience the morality of G-d’s world. In doing so, they will comprehend the purpose of Creation; for the highest spiritual accomplishment is when human beings are conscious, and in awe of, their Creator.

אֶרֶץ, נָתְנָה יְבוּלָהּ; יְבָרְכֵנוּ, אֱ-לֹהִים אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ. The earth has yielded her increase; may G-d, our own G-d, bless us. (Psalms 67:7)

יְבָרְכֵנוּ אֱ-לֹהִים; וְיִירְאוּ אוֹתוֹ, כָּל-אַפְסֵי-אָרֶץ. May G-d bless us; and let all the ends of the earth be in awe. (Psalms 67:8)

Because it has 49 words and the middle verse has 49 letters, there’s been a Kabbalistic fascination with this Psalm going back at least to the 14th century in which it is depicted visually as a 7-branched Menorah.

Psalm 67 appears frequently in our Tefillah (prayer liturgy). It is recited daily near the end of Pisukei D’Zimrah and at minha after the Amidah; it’s also recited on Saturday night at the conclusion of Shabbat, on Hanukkah after candle lighting and during Sefirat HaOmer.

Perhaps because of its Messianic association Psalm 67 has been put to music by artists of many backgrounds. Here are a few highlights for those who are ‘open minded’ to hearing (and seeing) varied performances. Jewish – ContemporaryMizrahi and S&P. Other renditions – EvangelicalAnglicanAmerican.

TRAGEDY IN AMERICA: Sadly, there was another in-school shooting in the United States yesterday senselessly taking the lives of at least 17 students in Parkland, Florida. It’s much too easy for people to acquire semi-automatic weapons in America. At some point, there will have to be legislation to prevent this. We share our profound sympathies with the families whose children were murdered.

OLYMPIC DIALOGUE: On a more upbeat note, the Winter Olympics 2018 got underway during half-term week, and despite complaints of severely cold temperatures and wind gusts, watching these remarkable athletes is mesmerising. Equally important was the effort of the unified Korean team, proving that perhaps ‘dialogue’ is a much better, safer way forward for this divided nation than threat and coercion.

ROSH HODESH ADAR: Finally, today and tomorrow are Rosh Hodesh Adar. In the Babylonian Talmud, if not earlier, there’s a statement ‘MiShenikhnas Adar Marbim BeSimha‘ (when Adar arrives Joy increases). We’re reminded that it’s only 2 weeks until Purim!

100 Years Since Women Gained the Right to Vote – 1 February 2018

Women’s Right to Vote

Prejudice comes in innumerable shapes and sizes. That historically women, who comprise roughly half the population, weren’t allowed voting rights is a perfect example of gender discrimination.

From the days of the great Athenian democracy to the 20th century, the rationale for restricting voting rights to men was linked to property ownership.

When in 1918 women in the United Kingdom were given the Vote, it was limited to those 30 years and older who owned property or had a university degree. Full suffrage equal to men would only occur in 1928. It would then take until 1958 before women could sit in the House of Lords.

Judaism on this count did slightly better – three and a half millennia ago, Miriam was a prophetess and national leader, and the Torah granted the Daughters of Zelophehad their father’s land inheritance. In the 12th century BCE, Deborah sat as the leading Judge of her generation, and 2500 years ago Judaism instituted the Ketubah (marriage contract) to protect women’s financial interests.

The award-winning film Suffragette portrayed the difficult battle to win the Vote. But, contrary to expectation, some women opposed this militant movement. Its leaders were arrested, imprisoned, physically and mentally tortured and at least one died.

Prejudice is unbecoming the nobility of the human spirit. Yet, there are those who will always feel the status quo shouldn’t be disturbed.

In facing bias and ignorance, we must ask ‘are we content to sit on the side lines or are we willing to voice our dissent?’ It won’t be comfortable, but the result often leads to improvements for those most in need.

One hundred years on, the United Kingdom has had 2 female prime ministers, and in the 2017 General Election, women made up an equal percent of the voting public. Yet there’s still a great distance to be covered. Of 826 peers in the House of Lords, only 199 are women, and of 650 members of the House of Commons, 191 are women.

With voting rights normalised, how long until women achieve pay equality?

Rabbi Jeff Berger serves the Rambam Sephardi Synagogue in Elstree/ Borehamwood and can be contacted at

Jezebel in the Bible – 17 January 2018


Not long after the death of King Solomon in 930BCE, a succession-feud broke out among his children and the kingdom was split into two.

The area surrounding Jerusalem and the Beith HaMikdash was known as the Kingdom of Judah, and the area further north was called the Kingdom of Israel. This schism persisted for more than 2 centuries until the northern kingdom was defeated by the Assyrians and exiled in 722BCE.

King Ahab was the 8th of 19 kings who ruled over Israel – all referred to as ‘evil in the eyes of G-d’ for embracing idolatry. He married the Phoenician princess from Sidon, Iizevel, or Jezebel.

Though accused of seducing her husband into abandoning the worship of G-d and luring him to the worship of Baal and Astarte, the text doesn’t bear this out. Instead the three main Jezebel incidents are reported in I Kings Chapters 16-22. She persecuted the prophets of G-d, publicly threatened to kill Elijah, and sinisterly plotted the false conviction and stoning of neighbor Naboth to acquire his prized garden for her disconsolate husband.

Though King Ahab ruled 22 years and was granted Divine aid during two major battles against the King of Aram, this royal couple’s end was bitter. Ahab was mortally wounded in a third battle, and 3 years later, Jezebel, the despotic queen mother, was defenestrated by her staff; her blood splattering the walls below and her flesh consumed by stray dogs (II Kings 9:30-37). Yet before meeting this grotesque fate, she notably put on her make-up.

Jezebel’s name over time became synonymous with idolatry, treachery and harlotry. Mythologized in paintings, stories, films and music, since the mid-19th century Jezebel-like characters have served as a public warning against the corrupting influence of immoral female power.

Regrettably, the late 20th century decline in social mores makes this reference an outdated cliché. Instead, the pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme, disempowering women and endangering them to male sexual harassment.

Surely, there must be a happier, safer middle ground.

Rabbi Jeff Berger serves the Rambam Sephardi Synagogue in Elstree/ Borehamwood and can be contacted at

Week of 8 February 2018 – Psalm 66

This comment is in memory of my late mother (Brainah Leah bat Moshe Aharon) and for all those who read Tehillim for the sake of others. [To see the full Mechon Mamre text, please click here.]

Psalm 66 is not attributed, though the opening looks very similar to those with David’s name. At 20 verses it is on the long side.

It is a Song of Praise & Deliverance that can be divided into 3 main themes: 1) general praise of the Almighty’s sovereignty, 2) praise for G-d’s benevolence to the Jewish people and 3) a specific thanksgiving for hearing the petitioner’s prayers.

Though there’s no recognisable event connected to this Psalm, the reference to ‘turning the sea into dry land’ reminds one of the miraculous splitting of the Reed Sea during the Exodus; and going ‘through the river on foot,’ to the crossing of the Jordan River in Joshua’s time.

לַמְנַצֵּחַ, שִׁיר מִזְמוֹר: הָרִיעוּ לֵא-לֹהִים, כָּל-הָאָרֶץ. For the Leader. A Song, a Psalm. Shout unto G-d, all the earth! (Psalms 66:1)

אִמְרוּ לֵא-לֹהִים, מַה-נּוֹרָא מַעֲשֶׂיךָ; בְּרֹב עֻזְּךָ, יְכַחֲשׁוּ לְךָ אֹיְבֶיךָ. Say to G-d: ‘How tremendous is Your work! Through Your great power Your enemies will dwindle away before You.’ (Psalms 66:3)

הָפַךְ יָם, לְיַבָּשָׁה–בַּנָּהָר, יַעַבְרוּ בְרָגֶל; שָׁם, נִשְׂמְחָה-בּוֹ. Turning the sea into dry land; they went through the river on foot; there let us rejoice [in the Almighty]! (Psalms 66:6)

G-d who made miracles in far-off days continues to oversea the Creation today and into the future. Rev A Cohen, in his work The Psalms published by Soncino Press, sees in these next verses references to the victorious battles of Gideon, Yiptah and Samson during the period of Judges. Often persecuted and harmed, the suffering of Bnei Yisrael cleansed them of impurity, preparing them for their mission to be a light unto the nations of the world.

בָּרְכוּ עַמִּים אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ; וְהַשְׁמִיעוּ, קוֹל תְּהִלָּתוֹ. O people, bless our G-d, and make the voice of praise heard; (Psalms 66:8)

כִּי-בְחַנְתָּנוּ אֱ-לֹהִים; צְרַפְתָּנוּ, כִּצְרָף-כָּסֶף. For You, O G-d, have tried us; You’ve refined us, as silver is refined. (Psalms 66:10)

הִרְכַּבְתָּ אֱנוֹשׁ, לְרֹאשֵׁנוּ: בָּאנוּ-בָאֵשׁ וּבַמַּיִם; וַתּוֹצִיאֵנוּ, לָרְוָיָה. You’ve caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and water; but You brought us out into abundance. (Psalms 66:12)

When attacked without reason, one might demand G-d’s justice and protection. But here the author chooses the word ‘hesed’ (unearned kindness and mercy) in offering thanks to the Almighty for answering his prayers.

לְכוּ-שִׁמְעוּ וַאֲסַפְּרָה, כָּל-יִרְאֵי אֱ-לֹהִים: אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לְנַפְשִׁי. Come and listen, all who fear G-d, and I’ll declare what was done for my soul. (Psalms 66:16)

אָכֵן, שָׁמַע אֱ-לֹהִים; הִקְשִׁיב, בְּקוֹל תְּפִלָּתִי. Surely G-d has heard; has attended to the voice of my prayer. (Psalms 66:19)

בָּרוּךְ אֱ-לֹהִים– אֲשֶׁר לֹא-הֵסִיר תְּפִלָּתִי וְחַסְדּוֹ, מֵאִתִּי. Blessed be G-d, who’s not turned away my petition, nor kindness from me. (Psalms 66:20)

There is a subtle notion that this Psalm is a continuation of Psalm 65 and if so, it may be acknowledging the defeat of Sennacherib and the Assyrian army (II Kings Chap. 18-19).

Verse 9 is familiar to those who pray daily. It can be found in the Emet VeEmunah paragraph following Shema in the Arbit evening service.


WINTER HOMELESSNESS: The subject of homelessness is on many peoples minds these days. In the cold of winter, it should arouse deep compassion to know there are human beings without permanent shelter – whether nearby in our own community or in places like Calais, Bangladesh, Ukraine or Syria. They are barely subsisting. All that they now possess has been provided by aid organisations. World Jewish Relief is a Jewish charity attending to these dire situations.

Among Sephardi communities of the Diaspora there was a rupture nearly 70 years ago that led to the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab lands. Lyn Julius’s new book Uprooted addresses this refugee issue.

A slightly more complicated topic to be addressed by Rabbi Ariel Abel, our Scholar-in-Residence this Shabbat, is the status of Anusim (those living in hostile countries who were forced to convert to Christianity or Islam but continued to practice Judaism privately).

The term Anusim (also known as Crypto-Jews) appeared in the Ashkenaz community during the time of Rashi, but it took on much wider implications during the period of the Spanish Inquisition. The number of crypto-Jewish communities today is surprising. Their desire to return openly to Judaism is potentially greater than the Exodus. Please join us this week for a fascinating talk and to explore this subject in more detail.

Week of 1 February 2018 – Psalm 65

This comment is in memory of my late mother (Brainah Leah bat Moshe Aharon) and for all those who read Tehillim for the sake of others. [To see the full Mechon Mamre text, please click here.]

Psalm 65 is a song of praise to the Almighty either for the daily miracles of an agricultural existence or specifically for the end of a severe drought. It is attributed to David and can be divided into 2 halves.

The first section acknowledges G-d’s glory, power and grace – hearing our prayers, forgiving our sins, protecting and supporting us and performing wonders and miracles. The second half focuses on G-d’s providential role toward Creation, raising up mountains, calming seas, preserving the seasons, providing rainfall and enabling an abundant harvest.

In Temple times, visitors looked forward with quiet reverence to ceremonial worship. The reference to Zion may indicate a universal hope for a time when all humanity will recognise G-d’s Temple. Priests would seek forgiveness for communal sins before commencing. This pattern goes back to the original Mishkan dedication by Aharon & his sons.

לְךָ דֻמִיָּה תְהִלָּה אֱ-לֹהִים בְּצִיּוֹן; וּלְךָ, יְשֻׁלַּם-נֶדֶר. Praise awaits You, O G-d, in Zion; and unto You the vow is performed. (Psalms 65:2)

דִּבְרֵי עֲוֺנֹת, גָּבְרוּ מֶנִּי; פְּשָׁעֵינוּ, אַתָּה תְכַפְּרֵם. The tale of iniquity is too heavy for me; please pardon our transgressions. (Psalms 65:4)

Making pilgrimage to the Temple was an annual requirement. It reminded the visitor of our spiritual role to the wider world; to be a Holy Nation and a Kingdom of Priests.

אַשְׁרֵי, תִּבְחַר וּתְקָרֵב– יִשְׁכֹּן חֲצֵרֶיךָ: נִשְׂבְּעָה, בְּטוּב בֵּיתֶךָ; קְדֹשׁ, הֵיכָלֶךָ. Happy is he who You choose to bring near, that he dwells in Your courts; may we be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, the holy place of Your temple! (Pslams 65:5)

At the conclusion of the crisis (whether drought or otherwise), Psalm 65 expresses the author’s gratitude for G-d’s salvation. Reference to the foundations of the physical world – its mountains, seas and heavens filled with rain – shows the Almighty maintains our world on principles of Nature and Justice. This gives humans confidence and a sense of great joy.

נוֹרָאוֹת, בְּצֶדֶק תַּעֲנֵנוּ– אֱ-לֹהֵי יִשְׁעֵנוּ; מִבְטָח כָּל-קַצְוֵי-אֶרֶץ, וְיָם רְחֹקִים. With wonders do You answer us in righteousness, O G-d of our salvation; You are the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of the far distant seas. (Psalms 65:6)

פָּקַדְתָּ הָאָרֶץ וַתְּשֹׁקְקֶהָ, רַבַּת תַּעְשְׁרֶנָּה– פֶּלֶג אֱ-לֹהִים, מָלֵא מָיִם; תָּכִין דְּגָנָם, כִּי-כֵן תְּכִינֶהָ. You remembered the earth, watered her, greatly enriching her, with the river of G-d full of water; You prepare them corn, for so You prepare her. (Psalms 65:10)

עִטַּרְתָּ, שְׁנַת טוֹבָתֶךָ; וּמַעְגָּלֶיךָ, יִרְעֲפוּן דָּשֶׁן. You crown the year with goodness; and Your paths overflow with fatness. (Psalms 65:12)

לָבְשׁוּ כָרִים, הַצֹּאן– וַעֲמָקִים יַעַטְפוּ-בָר; יִתְרוֹעֲעוּ, אַף-יָשִׁירוּ. The meadows are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered with corn; they shout for joy, yea, they sing. (Psalms 65:14)

Other commentators, including Ibn Ezra, suggest this Psalm wasn’t written by David but by a choirmaster on the occasion of the building of Solomon’s Temple. A third view is that it was written during the time of King Hezekiah after the retreat of the Assyrian army which was under the command of Sennacherib (See II Kings Chapters 18-19. The latter view is supported by comparisons with Psalm 46.)


Our sincerest thanks to Rivka David, Yuval & Ron Cohen, Etty Gafen, Aida Benhamu, Michael Ross, Sylvia Kozon, Dr Nathan Hasson and all who helped celebrate Tu B’Shvat on Tuesday night in Rambam Sephardi style. There was a discrepancy in the official total of fruits represented – but by all counts it was above 63!

Thanks as well to Rabbi Amos Azizoff for launching the evening with words of inspiration and to Rabbi Mino Lavi for joining our Seder. For a look at some of the photos and videos, please visit our website or Facebook page.

Tu B’Shvat reminds us that ‘Man is a tree of the field’ (Deut. 20:19) and that we have much in common with nature. A tree grows fruit and offers shade. It emerges from the harshness of winter each year, continuing for decades if not longer. Its fruit gives great pleasure but takes years to develop and mature, teaching us a lesson of perseverance. Finally, trees provide shade, protection and support, reminding us of our obligation to nurture others.

Here are a few other gentle but important announcements:

While the UK Prime Minister is in China negotiating trade deals, we’re looking forward this week to hosting Hazan David Hazan from Golders Green. David has enthralled us previously with his Bahgdadi hazanut. Please join us this week for what we hope will be an encore preformance.