Mishpatim – 29th January 2022 – Franz Fuerst

Today’s Torah portion Mishpatim with its rather stern list of divine statutes, ordinances and potential punishments may seem slightly at odds with a simcha, the joyous occasion of celebrating a bar mitzvah.  The BM boy’s dvar torah already hinted at the fact that not all of these precepts are easy to accept from a contemporary point of view. And yet, … Read More

B’shallach, 15th January 2022 – Did The Exodus Happen? – Leslie Wheeler

The vision that most of us have of the Exodus is typified by a quote from General Sir Richard Gale’s Great Battles of Biblical History (1): “The long trek over the arid desert was a grim undertaking for a tired and undernourished people. Thousands of them, old and young, men and woman, with their children, their sick and their lame, … Read More

Bo, 8th January 2022 – Mike Frankl

Those of you who have heard me speak before will know that if at all possible I like to put myself in the shoes of the characters involved. Today’s Sedra covers the plagues and the requirement that we remember and recreate Passover each and every year. So I would like to take us back through time some 3300  years and  … Read More

Vayechi, 18th December 2021 – Fred Diamond

This week’s portion, Vayechi, is the last one in Genesis/B’reishit – it so happens I gave a sermon on it just 2 years ago, right before Covid began affecting all our lives.  I spoke then about Jewish identity, partly inspired by Kwame Anthony Appiah’s book “The lies that bind: rethinking identity”. The link between the parsha and notions of Jewish … Read More

Behar-Bechukotail, Sabbatical and Jubilee, 8th May 2021 – Fred Diamond

One of the main features of this week’s portion – a double portion – Behar-Bechukotai is to present the laws of Shmita and Yovel: Sabbatical and Jubilee. I naturally associate the words in English with academic sabbaticals and regnal anniversaries. The biblical meaning is strongly tied to the land though: sabbatical is a Shabbat for the land every 7 years, … Read More

Parashah Va-yishlach, 19th November 2021 – Leslie Wheeler

Old Moishe Applebaum arrived at the post office with a post card in his hand. He approached the young counter assistant and said, “I’m sorry to bother you but could you address this post card for me? My arthritis is acting up today and I can’t even hold a pen.” “Certainly sir,” replied the young counter assistant, “I’d be glad … Read More

Parashat Nitzavim, 4th September 2021 – Leslie Wheeler

The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth and final book of the Five Books of Moses. By the time Deuteronomy starts, the Children of Israel have already left Egypt, stood at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah, built the Tabernacle and wandered through the desert for a total of 40 years. Today’s Parashah describes the Children of Israel camped on … Read More

Lights and Lamps of the Torah, 29th May 2021 – Leslie Wheeler

Introduction The importance of light and lamps mentioned in the Torah cannot be over emphasised. At the very beginning of Torah we are told: “And God said: ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good” (Genesis 1:3). Judaism has always considered light as a symbol of holiness, goodness, knowledge, wisdom, grace … Read More

Be-Midbar – Hosea 2, 15 May 2021 – Marc Saperstein

On Thursday evening, our Torah Study group met as we have done every Thursday evening for the past two or three years. Each week between 10 and 15 members of our congregation focus on the Torah reading designated by British Reform Judaism, and spend between and hour and an hour and a half discussing and analysing the texts, one verse … Read More

The Haggadah and the Purpose of Questions – Simon Eder

Redemption in Catalonia and Bosnia, The Sarajevo HaggadahWarren Berger, author of A More Beautiful Question, found that kids ask an average of 40,000 questions between the ages of 2 and 5. Adults on the other hand are known to ask on average less than ten questions a day which means that somewhere between primary school age and adulthood we lose … Read More