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                                                                                              Newsletter of
                                                                               Newcastle Reform Synagogue

                                                                                                              Ner Tamid

                                   September/October 2009 –Ellul/Tishri/Cheshvan 5770/5771

From the Rabbi
I have just moved.

It is very difficult to muster deep thoughts when sitting amongst the treasures and detritus of one‟s life, in
boxes and in bags, awaiting their places, awaiting their assigned locations. Re-establishing a home is
exhausting, time-consuming, fraught with both sadness for what was, and anticipation at what is to come.
There is also the sorrow of broken connections, the people you know who are not quite friends, but with
whom you have chatted, commiserated, celebrated, walked dogs, and whom you know you will not see

I have moved often in my life, but my moves have been voluntarily undertaken, sometimes for adventure,
sometimes because something has come to an end, sometimes because something new is beckoning. I
have never been homeless and never really lost more than a few books, chatchkes, a scarf; and no damage
was greater than a scratch on the sofa or a broken, but mend-able, cabinet. Once I have finished unpacking
and putting things away, my home will be lovely, and I will become embedded in my new neighbourhood.

Not so for everyone, my own grandparents included, all of whom were refugees from pogroms and
persecution. This past month of August, the Jewish world has rallied to support two nations whose people
have suffered displacement through tragedy. One is the Congo, where war and rape and massacre have
caused terrible loss, of life, of limb, of livelihood, of home, of friend and family. I, in conjunction with other
rabbis in the MRJ and LJ, signed a petition to the government to ensure that saving the Congo is a cause
they will support. Each Shabbat in July, congregations added prayers to commemorate the victims of the
brutality there and our own Bar Mitzvah, Gabriel Milne, made his own efforts to add to the appeal to help the
Congo as one of his Bar Mitzvah projects.

And then, floods in Pakistan, devasting the country, unleashing not only homelessness on an enormous
scale, but the diseases that come in the wake of the flood, and hunger that makes it difficult for people to
observe their fast of Ramadan. World Jewish Relief is one of the organizations committed to helping the
Pakistani people, and I am proud that we Jews are doing so. I lived through a natural disaster once, the ice
storm of Montreal. So many of us were homeless for a time, out of work, wandering around looking for a
place to sleep, electricity, warmth, water. It was eerie, unsettling, and it was a sobering lesson in empathy.

By the time you read this, my home will be in order and I will be carrying on with my normal life. Not so for
others, the people of the Congo, the people of Pakistan, and many others here and abroad who have no
home of their own. As we move through the High Holy Days, and particularly the festival of Sukkot, with our
temporary and symbolic homelessness, let us respond to the charities that help those without a roof, in
honour of our own happy and settled lives.

Rabbi Barbara Borts

   Focus deadline           for the next issue is Friday 15 October. Please send articles, notices etc to
 Anna Round. If possible, items should be sent as MS Word documents. If you want to submit an item but
                              do not have access to email, please call Anna.

           Newcastle Reform Synagogue                Focus 1                   Website:
       From               the Chair
„Sorry‟. „Oops‟. „Forgive me‟. All words we use to signify that we want to be excused
from something. Maybe something as minor as standing on someone‟s foot in the
Post Office queue. Maybe a „tiff‟ between husband and wife. Possibly a difference of
political opinion.

Sometimes, when we say „sorry‟ we are behaving in an automatic fashion – being good mannered… well
brought up. Occasionally I catch myself apologising when, in fact, someone else has bumped into me! It‟s
a kind of reflex action.

So I am glad that, as we approach the High Holy Days and I am able to enter a period of reflection and
renewal, that I have the opportunity of putting right any wrongs I have done over the past year. I can
really think about what „being sorry‟ means to me and use the words thoughtfully and carefully.

My favourite Aunt (Esther Niren, daughter of Sophie Geneen, in Glasgow!) had an expression which I
continue to use. When she was in a situation which needed a quick response she would always urge
caution. „Before opening mouth, first engage brain!‟ I can still hear her saying those words, although she
passed away 18 years ago. She knew the power of the spoken word. She knew how easy it was to say
something in haste and then regret it later.

There‟s another expression, „sticks and stones may hurt my bones but words will never harm me‟. Not
true, I think, because bruises will fade and the pain go but our memories can recall the hurt caused by
hasty and unkind words.

So, where is all this leading, I hear you ask. To an apology from me for any distress I have caused by
anything I have said and done this last year. It‟s easy to apologise when you know you have upset
someone… this I have always tried to do. It‟s not so easy to know when something you have said or done
unwittingly has caused offence.

It would be wonderful if we lived the kind of lives where we didn‟t need to apologise. Where we all
behaved impeccably and kindly and were always gentle and considerate. It‟s a bit of a pipe dream, I think,
but one for which we can strive. However, I do know, as Yom Tov draws near, that I will be able to
approach a New Year with a clean slate.

The High Holy Days offer the opportunity of righting wrongs, of facing up to one‟s shortcomings and to try
and improve. I welcome the chance to do this and wish you all
                                              Chag sameach


                                                    Welcome the New Year
                                                 with Brian & Brenda Dinsdale

                                                     Lunch to follow the service
                                                      on Thursday 9 September
                                                     Please confirm with Brenda
                                                       if you will be attending
          Newcastle Reform Synagogue              Focus 2                  Website:
                 High Holydays 5771/2010 @ NRS
                   Service Times                                          Selichot
                                                      One of the most beautiful moments during the
                                                      season of teshuvah is selichot, a midnight
Saturday 4 September                                  service which occurs a few days before Rosh
7:30pm – Havdalah, followed by                        Hashanah. Rabbi Borts and the Ritual
             learn the Yontiff melodies               Committee invite you to attend our
9:00pm – Selichot service                             selichot service on Saturday night, the 4th of
                                                      September. We'll begin at the earlier time of
Wednesday 8 September                                 19:30, with havdalah and a chanukkat habayyit,
6.30pm – Erev Rosh Hashanah service                   as we affix a mezuzah to the front door of our
                                                      shul. The case was made in Ethiopia by the
Thursday 9 September                                  people of the community whom we are
First day Rosh Hashanah                               supporting in our Kol Nidre appeal. Over
                                                      refreshments, there will be a chance to learn
10.30am – Services begin
                                                      some High Holy day melodies, followed by the
4pm – Tashlikh (venue to be announced)                selichot service itself at around 21:00.

Thursday 10 September                                 During the aseret y'mei teshuvah, the 10 Days
Second day Rosh Hashanah                              of Repentance, we focus with more intensity on
10am – service in Darlington                          our teshuvah, the changes and repairs we wish
                                                      to make as we prepare for Yom Kippur. On
Friday 17 September                                   Sundat, 12th of September, Rabbi Borts will
Fast commences at 7pm (19.00)                         conduct a session called 'Preparing to Forgive:
                                                      Others, Ourselves, God.' Through classical
7pm – Kol Nidre service
                                                      texts and modern writings, we can help each
                                                      other to begin Yom Kippur with integrity and
Saturday 18 September                                 purpose.'
Yom Kippur
10.30am – services begin with Shacharit                            Building the Sukkah
11am – Children‟s Service                                     from 5.30pm, 22 September
Fast ends at 8.10pm (20.10) followed by               Come and help finish decorating the Sukkah on
              breaking of the fast                    the evening of Sukkot! This will be followed by
                                                      a service in the Sukkah and a chavurah supper.
Wednesday 22 September
                                                      We need any branches and cuttings from your
5.30pm – Erev Sukkot: Sukkah decorating followed
                                                      trees and bushes to help decorate the Sukkah.
            by a service and chavurah supper          Please bring any cuttings you have to the shul
                                                      on the afternoon of Wednesday 22 September
Thursday 23 September
First day Sukkot                                                     Cheder Yachad!
10.30am – Services begin
                                                       We hope you will be able to join us during the
Thursday 29 September                                           High Holy Days services.
6.30pm – Erev Simhat Torah, followed by Kiddush
            in honour of the Chatan/Kallah              Family friendly Tashlich service (Big Waters
                                                       Country Park) after Brenda‟s Rosh HaShanah
Friday 30 September
Simhat Torah/Shemini Atzeret
                                                        Children‟s service at 11am on Yom Kippur.
10.30am – Services begin
              Chatan Torah - Mr Tony Benson            Play room in the Rabbi‟s office from Selichot
              Kallat Bereshit - Ms Gaby Mandell        until the end of Yom Kippur morning Service.

                                                      Make decorations and help decorate our Succah
                                                         on September 19th and on Erev Sukkot.

        Newcastle Reform Synagogue          Focus 3                  Website:
                       Chatan Torah and Kallat Bereshit

It is the custom to honour outstanding members of the community with the titles „chatan/kallat
torah/bereshit‟. I am delighted that this year Council has chosen Tony Benson to be our chatan torah
and Gaby Mandell to be our kallat bereshit.

Tony is a great asset to our shul. Quietly going about his „work‟ he has done many different jobs; he
wardens, escorts school parties round our shul, is unfailingly helpful giving lifts to services when
required and takes a great part in keeping our shul spick and span. Whatever task he is asked to do, he
unfailingly responds with good humour and efficiency. We are, indeed, fortunate to have him as a

Gaby is our shul secretary – the person who really keeps us together. Gaby combines her organisational
skills with a great sense of humour. Her legal mind ensures we do things properly, and her attention to
detail means we know the shul is running efficiently. Our kallat bereshit is, indeed, an eshet chayil.

The symbolism of chatanei torah is that of „communicating and joining with heart and soul‟. Tony and
Gaby have demonstrated, by their dedication to NRS, their continuous commitment to NRS and to

On behalf of the community, I wish them mazal tov.

Brenda Dinsdale,

  Don't forget the synagogue shop if you need your own High Holiday Machzor (better than
         sharing with someone else) or for New Year cards which are now available.

                                     Contact Sylvia Rowlands
                                       to place your order

      Newcastle Reform Synagogue              Focus 4                  Website:
                                      KOL NIDRE APPEAL
It is the custom at NRS to highlight 3 organisations to receive donations from our Kol Nidre Appeal. As usual,
the shul is one of the recipients. NACOEJ is the Jewish charity and Brainwave our non Jewish charity.

Newcastle Reform Synagogue
Last year it was decided that all monies received would go towards the refurbishment of the Torah scrolls,
and we intend to continue with this project. It has proved to be more expensive than we first thought but it
is vital that we keep these precious religious items in good condition – not just for us now but for the future

British Friends of NACOEJ (the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry) is a UK registered charity
dedicated to helping Ethiopian Jewry by supporting the work of NACOEJ, a US non profit making organisation
founded in 1982 with 4 mandates:
To help Ethiopian Jews survive in Ethiopia
To assist them in reaching Israel
To aid in their absorption in Israel
To help preserve their unique and ancient culture.
For further information, please see their web site:

Brainwave provides personalised therapy programmes to 450 children with disabilities throughout the United
Kingdom. The Brainwave Programme is aimed at realising the potential of children with Developmental
Delay, a brain injury or a genetic condition and who are aged between 6 months and twelve years of age.
For further information, please see their web site:

And, finally,
We will continue our „Clothes Collection‟ for refugees and asylum seekers. Clean clothing, in good condition,
will be distributed after the High Holy Days.
For further information, please contact Tony Benson

      Acts of loving kindness - A chance to contribute to your Synagogue
We all have the chance to play an active role in nurturing the Synagogue. With the exception of the Rabbi
and occasional assistance, the Synagogue is run entirely by dedicated member-volunteers.
 There are roles which require a lot of time and some which need only a few hours now and then.
 There are roles that relate to services and simchot; others that involve cooking or maintenance or writing,
   or just lending a hand to set up for an event.
 There are positions on Council and committees.
 There are also people who are happy to be called upon once or twice a year to help with practical matters.

There is a role for everyone and whatever the role, each and every one is a vital part of keeping NRS going
and helping it to thrive. At our AGM in May, the membership of NRS decided to embark on an
exciting one-year project – to energize the shul and give everyone a chance to become
involved. It starts right away. Here are a few specific ways that you can help. Just contact the
person listed and they will coordinate with you.

   Transport - Help someone to get to and from shul services and events. Contact Monica Stern or 0191 284 2502
   Visit people who are home bound or in hospital – Contact Gay Bernstone or 0191 266 0410
   Bring a cake or other nibbles to share for a Kiddush – Contact Liz Wortman or 0191 548 4450
Join in now; help your Synagogue and your fellow members. And enjoy yourself!

GabrielleNewcastle Reform Synagogue               Focus 5                   Website:
                        NEW YEAR GREETINGS
             5771 ‫לשנה טובה תכתבו‬
                                      GOLDBERG – Beverley, Stephen      NOVAK – Elizabeth and Paul wish
                                      and Samantha Goldberg together    the Rabbi, family and friends a
                                      with Simon, Clare and Izzy wish   happy and healthy New Year and
                                      their friends a happy New Year    well over the Fast.
                                      and well over the Fast.        ROSS – Best wishes to all
BEECHAM – Brenda and Jeremy JACOBSON – Nonek, Danny members and friends of NRS for a
wish their dear family and friends and Mark wish all members of happy and healthy New Year, from
a happy, healthy New Year and Newcastle Reform Synagogue a Benny Ross and family.
                                   year of good health and mazel ROWLANDS/ANDERSON                   –
well over the Fast.
                                   tov.                              Sylvia and Michael, together with
BERNSTONE – Gay, Elena and
Joshua     wish     Rabbi   Borts, LANDAU – Beryl and Eric wish Mannie Anderson, wish Rabbi Borts
members of the community, Rabbi Borts, Brenda and Brian, and all members of NRS a healthy
family and friends a happy and and all our friends at NRS a very and happy New Year.
healthy New Year.                  happy, healthy and peaceful New SCOTT - Linda and Colin Scott and
                                   Year.                             family wish all a Happy New Year
BORTS - Rabbi Barbara Borts
wishes everyone a year of peace    LIPMAN – Carmel wishes all her and well over the Fast.
and understanding.                 family, Rabbi Barbara and all her STERN – Gaby and Freddy Stern
                                   friends at NRS a very happy, wish Rabbi Borts, the Chairman
CALLER – Pat and Ian Caller
wish Rabbi Borts, family, friends healthy and peaceful New Year and the Committee, family and
and all members of Newcastle and an easy Fast.                       friends a healthy and happy New
Reform Synagogue a happy and LOBLE – Eve and George send                Year and well over the Fast.
healthy New Year.               all of their family, Rabbi Barbara      STERN – Monica, Gerald            and
Council of Christians and Borts and friends in both                     family wish their parents         and
Jews       –   The     Honorary Newcastle Communities their             friends at NRS a happy            and
Presidents,   Honorary     Vice very best wishes for a happy and        healthy year and well over        the
President,   Chairperson   and healthy New Year and well over           Fast.
Honorary Officers of the North the Fast.                      WIZO – The Executive and
East England Branch, wish all  LUPER – David, Liz, Daniel and Committee wish all members and
                               Chloe Luper would like to wish supporters a happy, healthy New
their members and their families
a happy and healthy New Year   Mum and Fred, Dad and Year and well over the Fast.
and well over the Fast.        Dorothy, Nana, Sarah, Michael,
DINSDALE – Brenda and Brian Samuel and Harriet a healthy,
Dinsdale wish Rabbi Borts, and happy and prosperous New Year
all members of the community a and well over the Fast.
happy and healthy New Year and LUPER – Peter and Dorothy
look forward to welcoming Luper with David, Liz, Chloe,
everyone at lunch on Rosh Daniel and Kelly, Sarah, Michael,
Hashanah. Chag sameach.        Samuel and Harriet, Jonathan
                               and Jane and all their friends
HEYMAN – Ruth and Bob
Heyman and family wish Rabbi well over the Fast and good
Borts and all members of the health for the coming year.
community a happy and healthy
New Year.

We gratefully acknowledge donations in lieu of greetings from:
Maureen Fishkin, Peter and Trish Gilbert, Raymond Goldman, Philip Stock

         Newcastle Reform Synagogue                Focus 6                 Website:
                                        Education Programme

                                 ‘Swimming in the Sea of Talmud’

                                      Beginning 19 October on Tuesday nights

This is a series of 7 sessions exploring various themes in the Talmud, and ways to apply its messages and
                                          values to contemporary life.
Photocopies will be made available, but you might like to purchase the book we will use, called Swimming
                       in the Sea of the Talmud by Gershon Schwartz and Michael Katz.
                    Please let Rabbi Borts or Pauline Statt know if you would like a copy.

                                                  Pirke Avot
        There will be no Pirke Avot session in September. The next session will be on 23 October.

                                              The Rabbi’s Tisch

                                On the 2nd shabbat evening of each month, beginning in October,
                                         join us for The Rabbi's Tisch.
 There will be no formal service that night; we'll sit around a table and sing shabbat zmirot, songs, and tell
                                      stories, over our chavurah supper.
Please join us, bring your friends and family, bring some food to share as we celebrate shabbat together as
                                                the NRS family.

                                Tikkun Olam: getting things going again
Following a long delay, the Tikkun Olam committee and activities should start in earnest following the
High Holy Days. The committee was established to determine what we as a community can do to help
„heal the world‟. This covers a wide range of issues from environmental, to social and economic. For
example, how can we measure and reduce our carbon footprint, how can we get food to the needy, how
can we make the Shul and its land a better place to visit, and many other issues.
We undoubtedly have the passion and expertise within our community to undertake this work, and be an
exemplar to the wider Reform Movement and all Jewish and other communities around the world. I am
sure all have been undertaking their individual activities to help us „repair the world‟, but as a community
there was a positive interest in previous meetings, and ideas going forward.
These ideas were categorised as:
      Transportation                            Food and water
      Energy                                    Waste and recycling

We developed a system that will help us all implement and measure how we are positively contributing
as individuals and a community.
All those interested in taking part and learning more are welcome.
The re-start meeting will be in October, with a proposed date nearer the time.
Many thanks, Craig Rose

         Newcastle Reform Synagogue                  Focus 7                   Website:
                                Getting to know your Council
Have you ever wondered who your Synagogue Council members are? What their backgrounds might
be? What motivated them to serve NRS? Now is your chance to find out. There are currently 12
members of Council. Six of them are profiled here and we hope to present the other six in the next
issues of Focus.

Sylvia Rowlands
New Members Secretary
Welcoming new and potential new members to the shul to help us grow

Born in Newcastle (in what is now Philip Cussins House, the Jewish Home),
Sylvia lived in South Shields from the age of 7.
Sylvia had trained as a Social Worker, but gave it up a few years later, as it was, as
she put it, „destroying me‟. However, before that, she worked as a Welfare Officer for the Leeds Jewish
Board of Guardians for 2 years and also in a Jewish Settlement in the East End of London with the
elderly and with maladjusted teenagers. She then did a Graduate Secretarial Course in London, which
enabled her to walk into a job at the BBC in London, which she loved. Back in the Northeast, she
worked at the BBC in Newcastle in School Broadcasting.
After 14 years at home, bringing up her children, Sylvia went to work for the NSPCC in Primary Schools
and then went into the family bed business with her husband, until they retired in 2002 and handed the
reins over to Brenda Dinsdale! „Now I am a full-time grandma and also care for my 95-year-old father.‟
Once the Rowlands joined NRS, some 25 years ago, Sylvia served the synagogue in many roles,
including Secretary and Vice-Chair. She has also run the shop for many years.

George Loble, MBE, JP
Honorary Life President
Ongoing commitment to the health and life of the community
                                       A founding member, George has served NRS in many
                                       capacities. He is pictured here with Rabbi Borts.

                                       In 1939, George came to the UK as a 12 year old refugee from
                                       Germany. He recalls being given „permission to land and move
                                       to Gateshead, on condition that our family open a factory, to
                                       employ local labour, in light industry. This was a „distressed‟
                                       area (30% unemployed) at the time with very little work for
                                       women, other than in shops.‟

At the age of 14, George left school to become an engineering apprentice and eventually a chartered
mechanical engineer. For over 40 years, he ran the family‟s manufacturing plant, on the Team Valley
Trading Estate. In 1963, with some friends, like the Jacobsons and George‟s late brother, Ronny, they
founded NRS. Their children attended the NRS Cheder with its progressive minhag. George chaired
the Council roughly from 1972 to 1982.
Along with Nonek Jacobson, George has long held the position of Hon Life President.
He says his motivation is „when you start something, you finish it.‟ He knows what it takes to keep the
synagogue running and admits that he worries that more members are not involved. His own
responsibilities today range from serving as Secretary for Marriages to arranging funerals, to
conducting visits. „I have devoted my life to creating and maintaining the NRS,‟ says George. He
encourages everyone to get involved in one of the many ways to support the congregation.

       Newcastle Reform Synagogue               Focus 8                   Website:
Council biographies – continued

Gerald Stern
Maintaining the financial routines and health of the shul

Coincidentally, Gerald was born in Newcastle - in fact at the Ashleigh Nursing Home
(it no longer exists) very close to NRS, Elmfield Park, Gosforth. His involvement at NRS
really began when he was 8 or 9 years old. Gerald was a founder member of NRS, as
his parents were among the original members at the foundation of the synagogue.
In 1968, Gerald was one of the first children to be Barmitzah at NRS, by Rabbi Henry Brandt (the Rabbi at
Sinai Synagogue in Leeds). Ten years later, Monica and he were married at NRS by Rabbi Marcel Marcus.
Gerald graduated with a BA(Hons) in Graphic Design in 1976 but quickly went into marketing and then
business. In 1981, he and his father founded a sealants and adhesives manufacturing business. Over the
years the business grew both organically and through acquisition, with over 100 employees and factories in
Washington and Leicester. He says he was fortunate to sell in 2003, before the current economic woes!
Gerald has also served as a Justice of the Peace for over 21 years.
Gerald was elected Honorary Treasurer at the AGM in May. He says that he „took pity on Carmel (who was
ready to retire), had a little time to spare and wanted to continue to help the community.” Gerald recalls,
„shortly after Monica and I were married, I was approached to join NRS Council and within a short period I
became Honorary Secretary, holding this position for over 15 years. Since that time I have twice been
Chairman, each time for 3 year periods. I have been vice Chairman but never until now Treasurer!‟

Tony Wortman
Social Committee Chair
Bringing fun and social dimension to the life of the synagogue

                                 A resident of the North East for 30 years, Tony has been on Council for seven
                                 years, chairing the Social Committee. During this period he also served as Vice
                                 Chair of Council for two years.
                                 Born in London then educated at Manchester Grammar, Tony left school at 15
                                 and joined Marks and Spencer as a youth trainee and later an Assistant
                                 Manager. He worked for several companies as Sales Director and eventually
                                 started his own business and opened Retail shops selling Ladies‟ Fashions.
„At the time I decided to be Chairman of the Social Committee,‟ Tony says, „very little was being done to
arrange events that would bring the Congregation together. Over the years we have had a number of
successful events and well attended my members of the Congregation. We have at the same time raised
money on behalf of the Synagogue.‟

Gay Bernstone
Welfare Officer
Looking after the health of our members within a caring congregation
Born in Newcastle, Gay qualified as a State Registered Nurse at Newcastle General
Hospital and did Midwifery in Liverpool. She then emigrated to Canada where she
lived for two years. She recalls that although the salary was 300% better, she missed
ancient buildings and the 'Geordies' and returned home. She got a Sisters post back
at the NGH and two years later Raymond Bernstone, her future husband, entered her
life. Gay had the privilege of nursing his late father through his terminal illness and that is how they met.

About a year after their marriage, Gay told Raymond that she had decided to convert to Judaism. „I think he

          Newcastle Reform Synagogue                  Focus 9                  Website:
Council biographies – continued

might have been more enthusiastic,‟ she says, „was it not for the fact that he had to attend classes with
me every Friday night after the Shabbat service! Of course he really was very happy and encouraged
me in every way.‟
Gay‟s first job on council was in Rabbi Willy Wolff's time. She was secretary and says she used to type
the minutes as soon as she could in case she forgot something important.
Gay has been Welfare Officer for the Synagogue for over a year now and according to her, this is by far
and wide the best job on Council. As a nurse, Gay explains, most people are happy for her to visit them
if they are ill in hospital or at home, or if they live alone or cannot get to Shul easily. She always asks
first as she has no desire to be intrusive and anything they tell her remains confidential unless they give
her permission to do otherwise.
„I don't think I made a choice to serve on Council,‟ Gay claims, „but rather I was coerced in the nicest
way possible!! Seriously though, looking after people who are unwell is my job and so it is just an
extension of what I love to do.‟

Gabrielle Mandell
Coordinating the work of Council, governance and in membership data management

Gaby, as she is generally known, came to Newcastle in 2000 and was immediately welcomed by Brenda
Dinsdale who promptly and kindly made her an „adopted niece‟.
                  A native of Toronto, Gaby‟s background is in law and community development.
                  One of her first work experiences was actually teaching in the Religious School at Holy
                  Blossom Temple, where her family has been members for three generations. Before
                  leaving Toronto, Gaby was working part-time as the Social Action Coordinator for the
                  Canadian Council for Reform Judaism, while spending the rest of the week with a legal
                  aid clinic for youth.
                  She came to Newcastle to work with an international charity, doing peace education.
                  programmes around the world. Still in this rewarding and challenging position, Gaby
                  has become an honorary Geordie.
Having joined NRS when she first arrived, Gaby gradually became involved in leading services, a Hebrew
conversation group, the Jewish Book Group and is now in her fourth year as Secretary. As you can tell
from her background, she has always been active in the Jewish community and, „I have felt so at home
and warmly welcomed by NRS since I arrived.‟ To many , doing minutes and drafting AGM documents
might not sound like an exciting task (or so Gaby has been told), but „I‟m quite happy doing that and
am pleased to be able to contribute to the congregation.‟

            Are you or someone you know experiencing financial difficulties?

               North East Jewish Community Services may be able to assist

The Welfare Section formerly known as The Newcastle Jewish Welfare Society has assisted by helping
to alleviate poverty and distress for one hundred years. This section is administered by persons
appointed by the Executive who consider each case on its individual merits and so ensure clients are
aware of and receive appropriate welfare rights and benefits. Assistance in the completion of grant
forms is often given, if relevant.

All enquiries are dealt with in strictest confidence and applications for assistance should be made either
Len Gatoff or Bernard Shaffer.

        Newcastle Reform Synagogue                Focus 10                  Website:
                                            Jewish Life in Germany Today

My name is Sally-Ann Wieber and I am the daughter of Mrs Martha Lukes (deceased in 1989) who is mentioned in the
article by Gerald Stern „Is anti-Semitism still alive in Germany?‟ which appeared in Focus July/August 2010. I have been
living in Germany since 1980 and I therefore feel that I am in a good position to be able to give my own personal answer
to Gerald Stern‟s question.
Firstly, I would like to comment on his question „why would anyone want to return…?‟ Indeed, many survivors did not
wish to return. However, many Jews did in fact return to their homeland. They wanted to „go home‟ and above all they
wanted to prove Hitler wrong. These were the people who founded new communities and because of them, Jewish life
flourishes again in Germany today. Our community in Cologne started with 100 members after the War and then
gradually grew to 1,200 members. In the nineties Russian immigrants started arriving and today we have approximately
5,000 members. We have a Kindergarten, a primary school, an old age home and an active social, cultural and religious
community. My children have grown up in this community, they have gone to Hebrew school, have had Bar Mitzvah and
Bat Mitzvah and are able to live their lives here as Jewish citizens.
Gerald then goes on to mention that he has located several small Jewish cemeteries „hidden in forests and perched on
slopes‟. In Germany today, the Jewish communities are to be found in the larger towns and cities. Before the Nazi
Regime, they were scattered all over the country. Jewish people worked as cattle farmers and traders and as butchers in
small villages. Many of these villages had their own Jewish cemetery. Tragically, as there are no survivors to come and
care for the graves of their ancestors, these cemeteries have been forgotten. In my opinion this can be called ignorance
or even neglect but this is not anti-Semitism.
My husband and I located my Grandfather‟s grave in one of these ancient cemeteries. The grave had sunk and the stone
had fallen down. We eventually found the warden and arranged for everything to be cared for. In October last year when
we visited the grave, we were delighted with the results.
In Meudt there is a rather different story. Kurt Falkenstein was born in Meudt and returned as a survivor of the camps.
He personally ensured that the Holocaust would not be forgotten there. In Meudt there is a large memorial plaque with
the names of all those citizens of Meudt who perished in the camps. The Jewish cemetery is cared for and every three
years there is a memorial service when the children and grandchildren of the victims of the Holocaust return to the town
of their ancestors. Jews and non-Jews come together to discuss the past and the present. It is a moving occasion.
Last year when my American cousins were here for the ceremony in Meudt, we arranged a visit to Euskirchen, where my
Mother‟s family lived. We were shown around the town by an official of the Town Council and made to feel very welcome.
In the jurisdiction of the Cologne Synagogue, there are 45 cemeteries. The Synagogue staff have neither the time nor the
resources to care for them all and therefore the local authorities are brought in to help. Mowing the grass, keeping weeds
at bay and general maintenance work is a never-ending task. Daily care would really be required. So one can understand
why many cemeteries show signs of neglect.
Now to return to Gerald Stern‟s article. Stolpersteine or Stepping Stones are a rather controversial subject here in
Germany. This is a project where small brass stones are installed in front of the former houses of residents who were
victims of the Holocaust. There are many such stones in various German towns but other places have rejected them.
Even the President of the Jewish Board has refused them for her town on the grounds that one would walk over the
names of the victims.
As to the subject of the street name „Judengasse‟. We have a Judengasse here in Cologne and I am sure this street name
can be found in other places too. In my opinion, the particular case which Gerald mentions shows an example of
bureaucracy and a lack of historical conscience rather than a proof of anti-Semitism. As for the gentleman who honked
his horn on seeing Gerald Stern, I am unable to comment on the reasons for this action. In my opinion, one cannot and
should not attribute everything in Germany to anti-Semitism.
Finally, I am glad that Gerald had the opportunity to watch a DVD telling the true story of what happened in Montabaur.
In German television there are many films about the Holocaust. Last week, I watched a film about the Eichmann trials.
School children here learn about what happened in History and the Holocaust is not allowed to be forgotten. There are
tours of the Synagogue, discussion groups and exchanges with students from Israel.
On 9th November there is a Memorial Service for the Kristallnacht. Many non-Jews and politicians come to the Synagogue
to attend this service. In summer there is an „Israel Day‟ party in the city centre where everyone can come and celebrate
Israel‟s birthday. At Chanukah a large menorah is set up in town and the Rabbi lights the candles. I have recently spent
some time in Berlin where there is a very interesting Jewish Museum and several imposing Memorials to the Holocaust.
In conclusion, I would just like to say that I personally have never encountered any anti-Semitism here. Naturally, as in
every other country all over the world, anti-Semitism exists here too. The Synagogue for example is under constant police
surveillance but so is the Synagogue in Rome, in Paris….. The communities have grown and are very active and there is
Jewish life here again. I think one should view this in a positive and optimistic light. Every year the City of Cologne invites
survivors of the Holocaust to come back and visit their city. Every year the people come with doubts and fears but go
home with quite different feelings. They have been welcomed back.

           Newcastle Reform Synagogue                     Focus 11                     Website:
                       Sharing Responsibility – the Community Security Trust
 Above all, the purpose of CST, the Community Security Trust, is to ensure that any member of our community is able to lead
 the Jewish life that they choose. CST is part of our community, so it can only succeed if our community takes its share of
 responsibility. Sharing responsibility means a whole range of things. It means contacting your local CST and asking what role
 you can play with our local security teams. It means understanding why we do security and co-operating with our local teams.
 Sharing responsibility also means keeping a sense of perspective about where things stand. Antisemitism should not define
 our lives as British Jews, not now and not ever.
 Today, our community is largely able to express its Jewishness in whatever way it wishes. That can be religious, cultural,
 political, charitable, sporting or whatever sort of Jewish life you do, or do not, wish to have. Our community is, on the whole,
 successful and well integrated into the rest of society. We have come a very long way indeed since the newly arrived
 immigrant generations of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
 However, we often see rises in antisemitic incident levels when Jews or Israel are in the news. These are mainly directed
 against the most vulnerable and visible parts of our community, whether it is people, property or community groups. In
 recent years, the threat of terrorism is something that all of our society has come to understand and find a way of living with.
 The fact that these terrorists have also targeted Jews is what underpins all of CST‟s work.
 We sincerely hope that CST‟s efforts help our community to feel confident that someone is standing up in defence of its rights.
 We take responsibility for the physical security of the community; and provide a professional and confidential reporting service
 for the minority of people who are unfortunate to suffer antisemitic hatred. It is not CST‟s wish to tell individuals how they
 should feel about the situation. How you react to all of this is up to you. Some people regard it as unimportant, but others feel
 real fear and are deeply concerned for their own, or for their children‟s, wellbeing.
 Because of our work with the victims of antisemitic crime, CST regards its work as being about people‟s physical and
 emotional well-being, not about statistics. It is the human aspect that makes us all the more determined to work against
 antisemitism; and against the fear that antisemitism causes. We want to deter those who wish to harm our community, and
 we work with politicians, police and others in ensuring that our community‟s concerns are understood, heard and acted upon.
 CST, however, can only be as strong as the community that we serve. We rely upon the community for our volunteer
 personnel and for co-operation with our work: whether that is in schools, synagogues, community events and rallies, or
 wherever. In total, we secure over 1,000 events each and every year, across the community. In the last two years we have
 installed security upgrades at hundreds of communal buildings, including shatter-proofing for windows. We do not charge the
 community for our services and rely upon charitable donations for our running costs.
 All of this relies on partnership between CST and our Jewish community. We want you to join us in that

New Israel Fund is proud to be hosting our Human Rights Awards with Achinoam Nini (Noa)
and Mira Awad in Concert and Films by Tomer Heyman on
                          Sunday 10th October 2010 at the Arts Depot Gala Dinner and concert
Details are available at:                                              from £175
                                                                       New Generation Reception &
                                                                                               from £75

            Newcastle Reform Synagogue                      Focus 12                      Website:
                                          Memories of Gerda

 Many readers of Focus will remember Gerda Lawrence with affection and admiration. Although I knew
 Gerda for only about 12 of her 93 years, I would welcome the opportunity to share a few memories of a
 remarkable and inspiring person.
 Gerda was born in Vienna in the historically fateful year of 1917. As a young woman she made aliyah to
 Palestine, a move which may well have saved her life when the Nazis annexed Austria to their Reich.
 Later she lived in London and elsewhere, settling in Cramlington and finally moving to Osborne Villas with
 her beloved cat.
 Gerda‟s life was touched by tragedy and hardship not just once but many times. Her parents and some
 other relatives were murdered by the Nazis. Twice she knew the anguish of losing a daughter. Had her
 education not been interrupted by the fascist onslaught, she would surely have achieved a glittering
 medical career. Instead, she worked long and hard at a variety of jobs, including a stint with some of the
 earliest programmable knitting machines. She endured the intense cold and shortages of the harsh winter
 of 1947 – conditions which our pampered generation can scarcely imagine tolerating.
 Yet whatever the troubles and tragedies which life threw at her, Gerda remained one of the most loving
 and positive-thinking people I have ever been lucky enough to know. She responded with tolerance and
 humour, but also with great determination, to every obstacle and illness.
 Conversations with Gerda could range over her memories of nine decades, from loving reminiscences of
 her parents and their cultured Viennese home full of books and music, to her last visit to her son and
 grandchildren in Australia at the age of 92. Always her tone was cheerful and humorous, seeing and
 appreciating the good in everyone and laughing off the annoyances and afflictions which would have
 reduced most people to gloomy complaints. A half-hour chat with Gerda could dip into German, Hebrew,
 Yiddish, French and even Viennese dialect – but what never passed her lips in any language was self-pity
 or moaning about anyone‟s failings.
 At a training course in Cramlington a few years ago, I happened to get talking to someone who worked
 for the community association there. Knowing that Gerda had been very active in this body, I asked
 whether she knew her. The response was immediate, warm and enthusiastic: „Yes, she‟s a really lovely
 person, she is always so helpful and friendly. How does she like her new flat?‟ Being Gerda, of course the
 answer was that she loved it and had made of it a comfortable and elegant home in which she would
 offer visitors coffee, cake or her typical Coca-Cola.
 Gerda brought up her children with tremendous love and generosity of spirit, and it was moving to see
 her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren making innumerable long journeys to help care for her in her
 final illness. Even then, she remained recognisably herself, always taking a genuine interest in the people
 who came to see her. The last time I visited, she had great difficulty speaking, but managed to say “Sorry
 I haven‟t been very chatty.” She died in the peaceful surroundings of St Oswald‟s Hospice, leaving her
 friends in both Jewish congregations and elsewhere with a rich store of memories.
                                                                                                   Benny Ross

                              Leo Baeck College – New Website!
                  LBC’s new website was launched on Wednesday 28 July 2010

Features include:
    Easy to use flip menus on the home page, customized for users
    CollegeNet – intranet facility for staff, students and faculty for storing information
    College events calendar
    Sign up for weekly D’var Torah
    Information on the rabbinic programme and degree and diploma courses
    Join our LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook groups
Please take a look and send us your feedback!
         Newcastle Reform Synagogue               Focus 13                  Website:
News from Udi

Many readers of Focus will remember Udi Ojiako, a former member of NRS.
Ruth Heyman has kindly passed on an email describing his recent trip to Israel…

just back from first ever trip... 5 days in Haifa and 5 days
in Jerusalem....

In Jerusalem, I only went to the bazaar in the old city..I did not manage to go to the
main market (is it mahane Yehuda..???) . A lot of time in the arab and druze
quarter....the druze traders are 'nuts' and the best swindlers in the world...they can
sell u anything if ure not careful...i just enjoyed haggling with them...

the rest of the time was spent at the Kotel davening..what else could i do...

on wednesday and thursday i attended perhaps 10 bar mitzvah's at the Kotel...was a bit
tipsy drinking kiddush staggered back to the swindled by the
'Rabbis' tying red strings and asking for 20 asked for dollars when I told
him I didn’t have any shekels!

..I was at the Kotel on erev shabbath and it was really crazy with all the wild
dancing...i ended up in more than 3 minyans...including being dragged off by
Chabad.....I was completely lost...poor Hebrew but kept up with the Amen!

to be honest with u...going to Israel made me know that the idea of 'movements' in
Judaism is crazy and meaningless... I also felt really good about my Judaism....and yes,
beginning to think....should i....or not...Aliya???

         Welcome to the                           Vuvuzela
    Newcastle Jewish Book Group
                                                  Buzzing blue-bottles to accompany
Our next meeting will be                          A melody of passes, tackles and shots:
                                                  Theme music of sporting talent
Tuesday, 14 September,
                                                  Show-cased today in a new continent.
7:30 p.m.
                                                  Tomorrow will bring chances
at NRS                                            That till now were only other people‟s.
                                                  In the well-polished trophies of yesteryear
At our last meeting we                            Where today‟s dust falls
discussed My Name is                              Tomorrow‟s glory is not yet discernible.
Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok.
We all liked it so much that                      Vuvuzela, vuvuzela
we decided to read the sequel.                    Trumpet blast as old as Methuselah
                                                  Take stock, get your bearings
If you have not read either, you have plenty of   Ssh! The first cuckoo call,
time over the summer to catch up. Please join     Ice-cream jingle, ring-tone, door-bell
us for the September meeting, when we will        Police siren hurtling forward
be discussing:                                    The reversing van beep-beeping
                                                  Look out!
The Gift of Asher Lev,                            Tekiah Gedolah: wake up. Live your life well.
by Chaim Potok.
                                                  Vuvuzela, vuvuzela
Please be sure let us know if you plan to         A Sudoku of syllable
attend by contacting Gabrielle                    Assembled as a sure-fire Scrabble winner.
                                                  Yesterday the word fell strange on my ears.
                                                  Tomorrow‟s treaties will be drafted in language
                                                  Whose grammar we struggle with today.
                                                  Time ticking will take us from the now we know
                                                  To a tomorrow tracked by trust,
                                                  Confidence and planning together.
                                                  To create an perfect oratorio of passes, tackles and goals.

                                                                                                 Denise Robson

         Newcastle Reform Synagogue               Focus 14                 Website:
to the family and friends of the late Gerda Lawrence          Friends of NRS
                                                              May we remind our members that non-Jewish partners
Refuah Sheleimah                                              can support the Synagogue by becoming paid-up
to Brenda Beecham, Teddy Berg, Jenny Benn, Chaim              „Friends of NRS‟. For further details, please contact our
Nagelsztajn and all Members and Friends of NRS who            Treasurer, Gerald Stern.
are unwell. If you know of a Member who would
welcome a visit, please contact:                              FOCUS
Gay Bernstone                                                 Thank you to all our contributors. The deadline for the
or Rabbi Borts                                                next issue is Friday 15 October and items received
                                                              after this date will not be included. Please send
Rosh Hashanah lunch                                           articles to Anna Round. If possible, articles should be
                                                              sent as an MS Word attachment.
Brenda and Brian Dinsdale warmly invite everyone to
their home for lunch after the morning service on First       Donations and Bequests
Day Rosh Hashana – Thursday 9th September. Please let         Remember your synagogue on anniversaries, Simchas
Brenda know by Wednesday 1st September if you would           or by a bequest in your will. Contact George Loble for
like to attend.                                               further information.

Kitah Aleph and Mini Cheder                                   Contact Points
5th Sept - 10.30am Kita Aleph only
                                                               Rabbi                    Barbara Borts      284 8621
19th Sept – 11am joint Mini Cheder/Cheder session:
            decorating Succah or making decorations
3rd October – 10.30am Kita Aleph, plus new                     Chairman                 Brenda Dinsdale
             class for 4-5 year olds
17th October - Kita Aleph, 4-5yr olds and mini Cheder          Vice Chairman            Monica Stern

                                                               Hon Secretary/PR         Gaby Mandell
Basic Judaism
Every Sunday in September and October except for               Treasurer                Gerald Stern
Sunday 19 September.
                                                               Ritual                   Bill Fleming

                                                               Security                 Ian Cohen

                                                               Buildings                Colin Scott

                                                               Welfare                  Gay Bernstone

                                                               Guild                    Liz Wortman

                                                               Focus                    Anna Slowe
                                                                                        Anna Round

                                                               Rep Council              Brenda Dinsdale
                                                                                        Carmel Lipman

                                                               Adult Education          Pauline Statt

                                                               Children & Family        Jo Edwards

                                                               Life Presidents          Nonek Jacobson
                                                                                        George Loble

                                                               Synagogue Shop           Sylvia Rowlands

                                                               Darlington Hebrew        Peter Freitag
                                                               Congregation             (Chairman)

           Newcastle Reform Synagogue              Focus 15                        Website:
              Head-Office and Works
Mooredge Road, Shiremoor, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE27 0HU
              Tel: (0191) 253 3222

   Entrance Free Sun/Mon 11am to 5pm, Tues/Sat 10am to 8pm

         With best wishes from
          David, Liz, Daniel                                              CHINA SOLUTIONS
                                                                           Chinese product sourcing specialists
            & Chloë Luper
                                                                                      All enquiries to

          Miss L. M. Beckmann
             B.A., G.D.N.S.M., L.G.S.M., P.G.C.E.                             With best wishes from
   Clarinet, Flute, Saxophone & Piano Teacher
                                                                               the Cussins family
                 Tel: 07867 803980

   FRANK FAGLEMAN                                                                             Dolphin Stair Lifts Ltd.
                                                                                         Showroom – Unit 16F, Airport Industrial Estate
 Dealer in Gold, Diamonds and Antique Jewellery                                          Kingston Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 2EF
    99 CLAYTON STREET, NEWCASTLE                                        We supply straight, curved, new or nearly new stair lifts.

          Telephone: 2323 0917                                              For helpful advice telephone     0191 271 2600

         With best wishes from
          Pat and Ian Caller

         Newcastle Reform Synagogue                          Focus 16                          Website:

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