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Reflections 2020

Chigwell & Hainault Synagogue hosts another all day marathon with its Reflections 2020 Programme 

At the beginning of the year a ground-breaking community initiative brought some of the best Jewish speakers to our Shul. Reflections was the clever name chosen by the hard working organising committee. Held on February 2nd the idea was 0202 for 2020. 

This all-day event attracted over 200 attendees. They were rewarded with an outstanding array of speakers including, Rabbi Baruch Davis, Rebbetzen Ilana Epstein, Rebbetzen Jacqueline Feldman,  Rebbetzen Shalvie Friedman, Rabbi Rafi Goodwin, Adam Green, Rabbi Dovid Katz, Rabbi Daniel Rowe, Rabbi Andrew Shore, Rabbi Daniel Sturgess and Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz.

Rabbi Rowe’s opening keynote talk addressed the subject of ‘The man in the mirror - how to see ourselves, G-d and the world around us.’ This fascinating subject set the standard and held everyone’s attention. Afterwards, the audience dispersed and had to choose 4 talks from a choice of 12. The range of options was amazing. Rabbi Katz spoke twice – about the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence and The Ethics of Pre-emptive strikes. Rabbi Sturgess, who was raised in our community, talked about how he stumbled upon life’s most important questions after going to Exeter University. Other choices ranged from Israel TV’s fascination with the ultra Orthodox world (Rebbetzen Feldman) to How to cultivate happiness (Rabbi Goodwin in his inimitable humorous way). Rebbetzen Epstein’s talk about Food in the Holocaust was especially moving. She talked about special handed down recipes that enabled the women to create as nutritious meals as possible in dire circumstances. 

Rabbi Davis gave a powerful and provocative talk on G-d, the Holocaust and Israel. Particularly enjoyable for the local congregants was a marvellous talk by home grown Adam Green about his work on the Israeli Bereshit spacecraft. It was particularly pleasing to see Sandra and Kevan beaming with justifiable pride. Rebbetzen Friedman spoke about Elijah and Rabbi Shaw gave a persuasive talk on how we are living in an age of miracles and perhaps not realizing it. Towards the end, Rabbi Dr. Tatz spoke twice in his own inimitable way. First about Free Will: The Ultimate Innovation and then he gave the concluding keynote talk in which he reflected on Moral Knowledge: How do we know what is right? 

Our team of helpers worked tirelessly on the day. Tea/Coffee, cakes and biscuits were available from several stations throughout the day. An excellent buffet lunch provided well needed nourishment and one could sense the enjoyment felt by people as they left. One lady from N.W. London told me “I was astonished both by the huge numbers attending and the quality of the speakers. You would never see a crowd like this at the Kinloss.”

An event of this size requires an immense amount of preparation. Our community owe a big thank you to everyone involved. All the hard work was justified on the day – this was a spectacular success. Events like this help us to justify our reputation, so beautifully described by the late Chief Rabbi Jakobovits when he called us “the jewel in the crown of the United Synagogue.” Let’s hope that we can do it again next year. If anyone can help or has suggestions for future events, please contact Rabbi Davis.

Ian Murray

AJEX Parade

Chigwell and Hainault’s monthly family breakfast met at Hainault station on Sunday morning. We got off the train at Embankment and headed to a large hall where a fabulous programme awaited us. There were many crafts and activities educating us about Jewish Soldiers fighting the war. We made wreaths covered in poppies, painted some poppies, wrote names of Jewish soldiers who were killed during different wars (on red ribbons) and sung songs that were popular during the war. There were also plenty of refreshments to keep our energy up as we all went on from the education event to the annual AJEX Parade. We were proud to see many of our community marching in the parade. This included some teens in the JLGB marching band, lots of Chigs members and some grown ups wearing their parents' or grandparents' war medals to honour their memories. We all answered Amen as the Kaddish prayer was recited in memory of the fallen Jewish soldiers.

The Bat Mitzvah Club

The Bat Mitzvah Club is a group of year 6 and 7 girls who meet monthly at the Goodwin’s home to learn through fun activities. This month we held a Friday night dinner at shul for them and their families. All components of the dinner were put together by the girls. This began with a challah bake on the Wednesday night. The challos were eaten at the dinner. Some girls were in charge of preparing the food, creating parsha themed centrepieces, saying a dvar Torah, setting the table and being MC for the night.  There was also a fun game led by Rabbi Rafi. A great time was had by all!


Harry Rothenberg, Partner of a Law Firm in New York, a graduate of Harvard Law School as well as attending Yeshivah for a number of years, spoke at a special breakfast at shul on Tuesday morning 21 November. The breakfast was kindly sponsored by Don Everitt and we are also grateful to the JLE who had co-ordinated Harry’s trip and did not ask for any payment. Those in attendance were treated to a unique perspective on the well known Joseph story. In what seemed 5 minutes but was actually 45, Harry set a scene whereby at first, nothing in the Joseph story made any sense. Why did the brothers detest Joseph’s words as well as his dreams? Was there a difference between the two? Why did Pharaoh select someone in prison, having been accused of a heinous crime, and of all people, a Jew, to interpret his dreams? Why did Pharaoh not kill Joseph on numerous occasions when Joseph was apparently providing recommendations well above his station? Why did Pharaoh appoint Joseph as Governor of Egypt for stating the obvious, that grain should be stored during the 7 years of plenty for the 7 years of famine?

In starting to answer these questions, Harry drew from some amazing sources. Of particular note was one of the piyutim, liturgical poems we read on the 10th of Tevet fast day, that perplexingly describes the innocuous baker in the story as one of the greatest enemies of the Jewish people. Harry went on to create a picture of Joseph as the master of dreams with an almost mystical, supernatural but ultimately G-d given power to use his power of interpretation into the reality that Joseph chose. That included shockingly, both the death of the baker in self-defence, as well as the interpretation of the seven ears of corn and the seven cows that was in the interests of both Pharaoh and Joseph. Further plots and sub plots thereafter intertwined and bounced off each other, leading to one of the most remarkable appointments in history – Joseph becoming the Governor of Ancient Egypt.

This was Harry’s second time at Chigwell & Hainault and we are already looking forward to his third visit PG

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