Havdalah Spring concerts

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Join us for a Havdalah service followed by a beautiful concert.

Coming up:

Saturday 10th March at 17:30
Young members of FPS perform classic or modern music for your enjoyment, with a suggested theme of Purim and everything that is funny!

Saturday 24th March at 17:30
FPS musicians Dean Staker and Franklyn Gellnick join together to offer us a taste of modern liturgy.


Emeritus Rabbi Frank Hellner

On Shabbat 6 January, our Emeritus Rabbi Dr Frank Hellner celebrated his 2nd Barmitzvah! Rabbi Frank read from the Torah and recited the Haftarah just as he did for his Barmitzvah 70 years ago. The service was led by Student Rabbi Nathan Godleman.


As commented on by one congregant:

This has to be one of the finest and enjoyable services I have attended for many years. The service was carried out in Nathan's safe hands, there was so much love and good will, and what a Kiddush!


Mitzvah Day 2017

This year at FPS we turned inwards for Mitzvah Day and looked after our own community – building friendships and support networks within the shul, ensuring those who needed help felt supported, and the jobs that always fell to the same people were shared amongst all of us.

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We had 4 projects:

Gardening: this is part of a bigger project to make the back garden beautiful. If you’d like to join the team and garden for 1 hour a week please do get in touch!

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Caring and Repairing: looking around the synagogue, making the place beautiful – we polished lots of silver, tidied the bima and ark, and painted a beautiful mural to welcome visitors to the shul.

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Baking and Taking: we made delicious lemon drizzle cakes for members of the community who are struggling, lonely or needing a cake-based hug!

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Knitting: we made gorgeous mini kippot and tallitot for teddy bears – these will be given as welcome gifts for babies in our community!





An enormous thank you to everyone who joined us for the day, it was a lot of fun! If you’d like to get involved in our on-going mitzvot, please contact me on zoe@fps.org.

Zoe Jacobs
Community Education and Development Manager

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Israel's Six-Day War - 50th Anniversary Commemorative Event

Israel's Six-Day War

50th Anniversary Commemorative Event

Interview with Professor Colin Shindler (SOAS)

How the war changed the Middle East up to the present day

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·       Day by day film as events unfolded

·       Video message  from  Israelis who were there.

For more information, or to help, contact:

Alan Milner  07792778192       Stanley Volk 07871258557

£7.50 with Israeli-style refreshments

To reserve tickets, contact Pauline/FPS office …

Finchley Progressive Synagogue

020 8446 4063

        FPS 54 Hutton Grove N12 8DR

19th November 7.45pm 2017

Tickets also available on the door.

Eulogy for David Pelham

David Pelham was a mensch. A pillar of our community. A good man, committed to his synagogue he was raised in, Liberal Judaism, Kadimah, his artistic theatre work & commitments and most of all the beloved friends and family in his life.

It is a testament to David and the community he helped to nurture that we were all together when we heard the news of his death right after the Sukkot service. The outpouring of grief right there in our home-made sukkah was appropriate for a man who’s life was so much within the walls of his synagogue.
My inbox has been flooded with memories and stories and loving recollections of David. Of a man everyone remembers with objective clarity of his irony and stubbornness but his kindness and strong personality. That is a legacy.

I have tried to do justice to them all, especially the words - the eulogy that Ann put together for her David.

How to pay tribute to a man that gave so generously, had such strong loving affectionate relationships in his life and yet for everyone who loved him could be the most aggravating of people-opinionated and blunt but always straight.

David was nothing if not charismatic-rather like his namesake King David-charming-engaging and inspirational. 

It is hard to accept the finality of his death but today this hesped eulogy for him that takes into account the tears that have been shed and the impact he has made.

David was born in 1946 to Olive and Jimmy Pelham.

He often remembered very fondly his mother Olive who was a physiotherapist and was a very loving and caring mother who was very much involved in the women’s group at FPS. His father Jimmy who was an accountant and was a very traditional man – in his shirt and tie, using his butter knife, fish knife – everything done proper! He remembered him listening for hours to music in the front room.

David was very fond of his grandfather Arthur Block who lived in Rottingdean and David enjoyed many very happy childhood holidays there. For his 10th birthday Arthur hand made David a railway station for his electric train set – something that David has always kept and cherished.

David moved to what is still today the family home when he was 3 years old and has spent 67 very happy years there. He told of the days when there was no central heating only a fire in the front room and how in the hallway he could always see his breath in front of his face. He determined that the house would never be cold when he became the owner. He also told of tales of how he rode his bike around the garden and of how he wasn’t allowed to kick a football in case he damaged the flowers – another thing when Ollie came along that he was determined to change.

After attending a pre-prep school David joined Belmont and was in Saxon house just like Ollie is today. On entry,  the school were so impressed by David’s French ability (David’s parents were fairly fluent and had taught David well) that they put him in the year above, but alas all was soon to be revealed and within a few weeks he was back in his age appropriate year group – not such a genius!!! He progressed through Mill Hill senior school and went on to do a crash course in Accountancy – following in his father’s footsteps.

He joined the Arts Council of Great Britain as his first job – where he made many friends. This was very appropriate as David had a love of theatre and Opera. This did not however extend to dance – and he would often tell Ann that at least ballet had beautiful music to sleep through. David would always sleep through the first 10 -15 minutes of any production and often needed a nudge as his snoring became so loud! His love of theatre brought him to be a member of the board at the Soho Theatre.

David moved from the Arts Council to Theatre Projects and then with his business partner David Collison, David set up Hastings Heritage, and with a fantastic operations manager in Anne Donnelly he very much enjoyed his regular trips down to Hastings to The Smugglers Adventure, Hastings Castle and Underwater World. They also opened a crazy golf on Brighton beach – but this was a short lived enterprise and David was very amused that he swapped the cash register for 2 lobsters from a local fisherman to take home.  David Collison: "He was an excellent colleague -  pragmatic, reliable, calm, supportive, good humoured". Anthony Blackstock on his work with Tony Fields “A very modern manager you might say with old fashioned courtesies and manners”.


But it was the relationships that stand out from childhood until last week. People flocked to be with him.

A few recollections:

Vera Myers, Paul Silver-Myers’s mother recalls David introducing himself over the fence when they lived in Woodberry Way. "I am David I am 7 who are you" , and so a friendship ensued.

The Bernard family were like a second family to David; who were the first friends he introduced Ann to. He enjoyed many a trip to the South of France with them – laden with meat on the roof rack from Smithfield Market. It was on one such holiday that while sunbathing in a string vest and ending up looking like a lobster that he earned the name – Pinky by the Bernard family!

In later years he and Ann & Ollie enjoyed the Bernard family hospitality including David & Jacki and the rest of the family and David enjoyed the mayhem and madhouse of festival lunches – and generally David could be found asleep on the sofa for an after dinner schluff – often joined by Rosita!!!

His friendship with Jacqui goes back to his time as rather strict headmaster of the religion school then held at Squires lane –her memory of being terrified of him and rehearsing for her KT in Christchurch Avenue, with David’s shocked response;

Good Lord you can read Hebrew!   We can all hear him saying it.

David often told of the time when he was recovering in hospital from a shoulder op many years after the death of his mother and Carole rang the ward to see how he was – the nurse told him his mother had called.   Oh – he replied – that must have been a long distance phone call!!

The Schindler family were a huge part of David’s life and he enjoyed Christmas days with a huge family gathering round the table and later in the evening playing card games and poker. He enjoyed a camping trip with the family where he managed to wake the camp site with his snoring.

The Lassman family were very close. David recalled tales of Sheila's soups, of family holidays abroad and particularly to Devon, and of the children who he watched grow up. Sheila recalls just a sense of affection and love for David always connected and close and when he entertained them in Sussex-how proud he was.

David Lassman recalled memories of him as Fitness Guru and older brother/friend. But most of all as caring chaperone-with his hot Ribena and easy lovingness supporting him during his brief spell as child soprano and star and David nurtured him through it. David’s parting words to me; "I wish I had told himI loved him more-I still do".

Laura Lassman,  David’s student, recollects dry classes and David offering natural explanations for each of the 10 plagues clearly etched itself on her memory and shattered any childhood belief in miracles. There was little sense of fun in his stern teaching but they grew into close friends and he was the obvious choice to be Sam’s God Father, which he took so seriously. Even transporting a Beach Hut to the bottom of their garden.

He took Sam to NYC, Spurs. Dozing through the games and then animated car journeys on the way back listening to football phone-ins. Sam remembering to turn the radio back to Heart FM for Ann in the morning. Then Sam could drive and he’d collect David and it would be another place for David to fall asleep.

And now in perfect continuity Sam is God Father to Ollie.

David’s cousin Gail-who remembered the happiness in their family-modestly blessed with children-of watching David growing up and emulating much of what she saw. Again David’s huge generosity finding jobs for her and modelling successful adult life. He continued to love get-togethers with Phil, Gail, Buena & Cara.

David was very involved in Liberal Judaism – A true Liberal-not particularly pro-tradition or even Israel, or even pro-Hebrew. I will leave recollections of that to Danny and Andrew

He grew up at Finchley Synagogue – making a very early friendship with Josie to be continued through their lives. He went on to be Chairman of FPS for 4 years and treasurer of Liberal Judaism for 2 terms of office.  He also very much enjoyed being part of the ULPS sports days. Over the years he twice raised money for building projects at the synagogue.

David interviewed me around the dining room table at Christchurch Avenue. After a fairly aimiable conversation he fixed me in a solemn stare and asked my thoughts on Processing the scrolls.

I gave David the second best answer he was hoping for, which he accepted and I think we became friends at that moment.

A true liberal jew-uninterested in emotional hemishe style and rigerous with his expectations;  I valued his feedback and thoughts always and he was always generous in giving them!

Ann and David...

It was Laura who introduced David to Holly Park when her children were there– 27 years ago which is where he and Ann first met. At that time governors were attached to a class. David as the chair of governors suggested he would like to work with someone interesting!!! The then head teacher Barbara Thorne introduced him to Ann. “Oh no – she said to one of her colleagues – not him he’s so interfering” – little did she know how interfering !! Over the next few years he taught Ann all she needed to know about leading residential trips and they led about 16 together. He came to school to read stories, teach about Judaism, helped with athletics relay training and taught extension maths groups.

Their first date was a school trip reccie to Legoland!! David remained a governor at the school for about 15 years until Ann became part of the senior leadership and he thought it was a conflict of interest to be a governor.

Their courtship took quite some time. One of Ann’s friends gave her the advice to – jump him!!! But Ann knew it would be much more slow.

It took the petrol strike in 2000 where Ann persuaded David that she didn’t really have enough petrol to return home in order for her to spend her first night at Christchurch Avenue and then a few months later David offered to help her recover from a gall bladder operation at his home. Very soon the cats had moved in – and that was that!!

When Ann first met David she was amazed at how a single man with a relatively small extended family had so many friends and was never lonely and was always busy and out socialising.

In 2002 David & Ann were married in St Albans – it was a very joyous affair and Ann recalls how teaching David for their first dance was an interesting experience and a tall order – it didn’t take too much effort to see who was leading who!!

David embraced Ann’s family and friends – although he was never too keen to go north of the Watford Gap and always had comments to make about their accents – particularly – bath and path!!

In 2005 at the age of 57 and after many discussions about the pros and cons of having a child at a later age – Ollie was born – named Oliver James in memory of David’s parents Olive and Jimmy. Ollie was an unexpected gift and a joy for David – he often told how becoming a father on the 10th May was the best day of his life. At the NCT group – David was the oldest dad by far and that didn’t stop him moaning and whinging about having to get down on the floor and taking his shoes off.  It was David’s only regret that his parents never got to meet Ollie. David and Ann raised Ollie in the synagogue when Ann converted to Judaism under no pressure from David. He was thrilled when Ann suggested a chuppah at the synagogue.

David has a long and distinguished family history of Judaism, with many rabbis along the way and dating back to Isaac Iban Daud of the 6th century bc. But it was the birth of a son for David that really gave him a sense of l’Dor va’ Dor and a continuation of a long family history as he symbolically handed Ollie his family tree at the special service to enrol Ollie into Ivriah. I remember it well.

I recall Laura’s frustration as Chair when David would not come to Council because he needed to wait to have dinner with Ann-if she’d been delayed at school. He continued life as a newly-wed as long as I have known him.

David was a doting and loving father from the start– very hands on and practical and always enjoyed the middle of the night feed – just him and Ollie. As a retired stay at home father he would often cause a stir as the only man in the room at Tumble Tots or Arties. In fact when Ollie began at Grimsdell nursery aged 3yrs – Tony and David were generally the only dads amongst a sea of mothers waiting for the doors to open. – that didn’t phase David.

As Ollie moved further up his school at Grimsdell David became much more involved in the parent’s association. He moved on to be treasurer of the Belmont PTA and then one of the co-chairs. He absolutely loved it – he loved the community, the friendship, the chat. He loved being involved . Ann and David have made several very close and lifelong friendships through the school and the lovely ladies of the FOB (Friends of Belmont) It was testimony to the bonds that he made that Elli and Seema and Danni became the Nightingales at his bedside on a daily basis bringing him soup and company and warmth – ensuring he was being well looked after.

David was the Pelham family Domestic Goddess – cooking, shopping, washing, researching, running errands, arranging play dates – even bringing Ann emergency lunch to school at short notice

He was always completely supportive of her work and ever praising and encouraging. He understood her love of the school as a second home – although not always completely happy with her relentless late night working! He was a sounding board for advice, a good listener, an excellent proof reader and at one Ofsted inspection – was running round North Finchley looking for an assortment of objects that Ann needed to use in a spelling lesson. He put the outstanding lesson grade down to the use of resources he had collected!!!

David has passed down to Ollie a love of table tennis, a love of good food, a love of electric trains and of course a love of Spurs. Ollie was a dream realised that David may have never expected and such gratitude was manifest in all he did.

David enjoyed a good holiday. He was always busy researching and planning ahead for the next one. A marvellous trip to Egypt watching the faloukas by the side of the Nile, many trips to France – particularly eating crepes on the side of a stream at a creperie with Eric & Dudley, the many family holidays to Dorset and Cornwall and taking Ollie every year to a European city.  He particularly enjoyed planning the bi-annual ski trips with our lovely friends the Cucchiaras and Humayuns to La Rossiere and always enjoyed the silly evening games we played – as long as he didn’t have to draw!!! David enjoyed good food and always enjoyed Oslo Court, The Gavroche, The Grove, The Manoir and Chateau de Montreuil to name a few places!

Poppy the Pelham dog was another source of joy for David – who was the main dog walker. He thoroughly enjoyed his walks with Sharon and Gus. Over the last 3 years as his illness progressed the walks became increasingly shorter and the chatting and tea drinking became increasingly more!

David was a loving, kind, supportive, adoringand generous husband, always buying flowers, chocolate, jewellery and bubble bath as a token of his love. Ann’s extravagant choice of celebration cakes and the huge number of Amazon parcels that would be delivered were the only real source of contention in an otherwise extremely loving and caring relationship.

David was a forthright man – very grounded and sure of himself – confident and happy with his life. He was a tower of strength for Ann and a rock in a storm. He was not always the most discrete and often had to be told to ‘keep your voice down’ He was not known for his tact and would often say it how it was. In recent years he would complain about Ollie’s use of certain language – but as Ann said, David the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! He could however turn on the charm like a tap when required.

David didn’t like to follow rules or conventions and could often be a law unto himself – U-turns in the road anywhere he felt- the ’law according to Pelham’ it would be called. Whether in the car or elsewhere in his life.

In David's own words he would be pretty frustrated  that he will miss Ollie's bar mitzvah next year, but in typical Ann & David style - they have already had lots of fun lovingly planning it together and all is booked, guest list written, order of events sorted. And while Ann was engaged in colour themes and all the frills, David in typical accountant style made a spreadsheet of cost.

He will be part of this always, the Bar Mitzvah, the family, his congregation and his wider community.

Zichrono L’Vracha.


LJY-Netzer's tour to Israel - Summer 2017

Leah Pennisi-Glaser writes:

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I’m in a pair of borrowed size nine trainers (six sizes too large) and wearing an oversized black denim jacket. This is wholly inappropriate attire for my location, a scorching hot Middle-Eastern desert. There are also hornets, swarms of them, and twice as big as their English counterparts buzzing around my face. By rights, this should not be a recipe for success, yet somehow I’m beaming from ear to ear with the rest of my LJY-Netzer קהילה community.

Really, it’s an odd setup: three and a half weeks, touring Israel, hardly the safest country in the world, with forty-nine hormonal teens looked after, supposedly,  by students a few years older. Whilst a strict policy that the tour experience would be sans alcohol, smoking and drugs, my lapsed Catholic Italian father still needed a stiff drink when he heard about the planned trip.

We all arrived from the far corners of Britain: Birmingham to Bristol, Sheffield to suburban London with an interesting range of socio-economic backgrounds. Bar our Judaism the only thing that really united us seemed to be our left-leaning politics. Any Tory present was a closet Tory. Despite having limited initial common ground, our chemistry bubbled explosively as the tour settled down, just like the experiment so many of us had conducted wrongly in our GCSE classes. However, instead of the end product being a rotten egg smell, the end product was a strong, group friendship (we even had a meet-up on the 20th August, less than two weeks after we all bid our farewells at Luton).

LJY has deservingly earned a reputation for being the “lefty tour,” the other options are apparently becky or frum. One of the first things we were told by the leaders is that, “LYJ  Netzer is a socialist, feminist, vegetarian, Zionist youth movement.”

Great, I thought, this is going to be a ball of laughs. I’m as liberal as the next woman, but PC politics make me as irritated as the tour’s daily mosquito bites  did.

Despite my initial reservations, I found it pleasingly ironic how the world always sees Israel in a reactionary light, but everyone, especially our leaders were staunch, leftist  hippies. However, they preferred to describe themselves as, ‘social activists’. So, contrary to the views of my non-Jewish friends that I was embarking on a brain-washing tour, LJY was very clear that they, “wanted you to feel something, but that something can be anything.” This is where you could potentially have returned from the experience leaving your Zionism behind.

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Lectures were an important feature of the tour. They ranged over talks from Jews, Druze, Muslims and LGBT activists. My own particular highlight was the visit to the Western Wall. There I felt I was in direct touch with the history of my people. Afterwards, the Women of the Wall seminar gave me an educational subtext to the visit. Connecting with my history was reinforced by our visit to Yad Vashem , an experience that will live with me forever and one that no book can so forcefully deliver...

Of course, there were more light-hearted activities such as trips to the Dead Sea where a couple of us tried to float to Jordan (oddly enough, we didn’t make it) and desert camel rides (not to be repeated). All together, I think LJY stuck the right balance  between recreational and educational projects. We all left the country with our individual views on Israel. Certainly, in my case they are less biased and more informed that my non-Jewish friends’ opinions on the state that they were so suspicious about me visiting. They, in fact, would have greatly benefitted from such a trip. 


Mother and Rabbi

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On the occasion of her daughter Dora's Bat Mitzvah, Rabbi Rebecca writes...

Someone recently sent me an article that described rabbi’s children as B List celebrities. I thought this would please Dora immensely as she rather likes celebrities. Although probably more of the A list kind.

Rabbi’s children, so he wrote…. have massive extended family, are loved, reviled, watched critiqued and supported. This is fortunate as rabbi’s children may also be neglected by their parent. Cobblers children don't have shoes.

Charlotte Fischer friend of this congregation told me as she was preparing for her Bat Mitzvah she noticed her mother [rabbi SR] cancelling rather a lot of her Bat Mitzvah lessons so much so that she wrote her mother a letter and posted it to the synagogue

Dear Rabbi

I am a member of this synagogue and I have noticed I am having significantly less Dvar Torah meetings with you than other Bat Mitzvah candidates please can I be assured my lessons will be kept.

signed Charlotte Fischer.

Both extremes are true. they are minor celebrities and hugely neglected. I appreciate not many parents get to give a sermon on my daughter. But I hope you will indulge me.

Independent thinking is what we hope for in our young people coming of age -thinking for themselves-being aware.. We don’t want sassiness but we do want independence.

Like in the cartoon with a little girl being told:

Now do what you are told. Don’t you want to grow up to be a strong independent woman.

And this parasha is about being thoughtful and aware.

It contains a large number of the commandments in the whole Tanakh. Nearly one-eighth of the 613 are found here, 72 according to Maimonides. But the rules are about small things bound together by the verse Dora commented upon lo tuchal lehitalem-. onkolos, you have no right to hide yourself. Ethical and moral instruction and advice.

Domestic and personal injunctions that will make a difference; concern for the mother bird-to anticipate this maternal suffering of a bird is so detailed and the reward for doing so the same as honouring ones own parents - a long life; insistence on a balcony on the roof much used in a ancient near east home thus protecting the householders from accident; responsibility to your neighbours to behave thoughtfully to them-even if you do not like them.

Who can wear what and express who they are - the writers of Deuteronomy could not have anticipated how this verse might speak to a 13 year old in 2017. And the joy she would take in wearing her tallit as she reinterprets it. And the fun we would have tying the tzizit with delia - also instructed in your portion.

There is nothing so small that the Torah doesn’t speak to. These tiny rules make up a life that matters. The Judaism Dora has inherited and are committing to; is a Judaism of small detail. Where small acts of kindness make a difference.

Dora-you have grown up in synagogues where small acts of kindness transform congregations into communities. No more so than here.

Where food rotas spring into action for people going through hard times, where people are miraculously brought to services when they can’t bring themselves - to be part of things. Three people cook and we have a homeless shelter. Two write a play and we have a Purim Spiel.

How often I will arrive in hospital to visit to find many have come before me. And We have received such acts of kindness from this our community. Dora has grown up as B list celebrity perhaps but also experiencing kindness and concern from this congregation, always. It is wonderful to grow up with. And I watch you Dora now extend that to others. With your own small acts of caring:

Go out of your way to include a new comer-at school, shul or LJY NETZER. You stand up when others are being mistreated, you show kindness to adults who care for you by demonstrating your love so warmly.

You learned by heart Hilary Clinton’s words to little girls so you could remind your friends: "never doubt that you are valuable and powerful & deserving of every chance & opportunity in the world."

You are ready for this coming of age.

You have watched your grandmother always care for the fragile in her community ; leading KIT at her synagogue-always hosting and visiting people that benefit from being noticed and counted.

You have learned from your youth movement that creates connections for life-based on equality, friendship and tikkun olam-repairing the world with small steps…. and this your synagogue I watch you so proud of - does small things so well.

It was not an Ibn Gabirol, or a Maimonides or a Spinoza that did the most for the jewish mission-it was small nameless communities that maintained the Moral Law…so said Claude Montefiore in 1927. That is us in this synagogue and that is us in our Jewish families that sustain tradition and responsibility however small.

At a Bat Mitzvah it was Geffrey Salkin who created the idea of a a river of tears flowing from one generation to the next, connecting small deeds and expressions over the years. Tears are usually salty but these are sweet. And they flow today with joy. 

Dora you are Named for two great-grandmothers, Alma Birk and Vera Hageras and your great grandfather Ellis Birk. Daddy and I wanted you to have their spirit, audacity and kindness. You carried great anticipation and love. I visited their grave this week to unleash the river that might flow today.

It is hard as a parent once said to praise your child - it feels like praising oneself. But you are a marvel Our only girl endlessly kind but headstrong...Clever. But dreamy. Always gauging the impact of your behaviour on others. Always aware of people’s feelings-especially those in your family.

Daddy and I have always been so charmed and amazed by your fierce independence …you got here by all your own efforts. I can’t remember having to ask you, ever. You have been organised, focused and above all joyful. You bring so much love to everything you participate in-including this, your Bat Mitzvah. Even your tzedakah project is about small things making a difference: wigs of real hair for children who lose theirs and bathrooms for girls who otherwise couldn’t go to school.

You have been a blessing getting here to this day and I hope will feel blessed moving on from it. Your choice, your work, your vision, your ideas.

You bring such joy with you.  If your portions about noticing, watching and seeing. This is your blessing of what I have seen of you.


I see you standing in your cot leaning on the bars smiling waiting to be lifted out.


I see you riding your first red bicycle, always determined and independent, even when your brother knocked you off, accidentally.

I see you following Ruben - your superman copying whatever he was doing.

You blowing the trumpet so beautifully at 6 years old and continuing to do so when you’ll agree to pick it up.

I see you wearing a pink hijab on our trip to Jordan - because you could and they were there.

I see you fighting me fiercely, shouting Not Fair.

Our only girl between our two beautiful boys.

And embracing me in front of your friends. crying I love You Mummy.  Often.

I see you curled up in bed with your cat - both of you wrapped under the covers and on the electric blanket.

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Or dressed for Little house on the Prairie at Purim. A strong line in irony at the spiel and school play.

I see you eating grandma Toby’s chicken soup as a flexible vegetarian.

Or slung with your legs on my mother, your grandmother who you adore.

A golden day dreaming girl, your head always somewhere.

Or waving good bye with nonchalance when I drop you at Kadimah.

Your confidence overwhelms me, as does your sensitivity and the hurt you so easily feel. Both will be useful.

I see you this summer reading The Colour Purple, but pausing often to leap fearlessly off rocks into the sea.

And now I see you now becoming Bat Mitzvah, all your own work to get here. Never needing cajoling because you wanted this. You bring joy.… wearing your peach and yellow tallit you love so much, becoming something new and yet the same.

May you remember this day, the love that surrounds you and the skill you brought to this, your Bat Mitzvah.

Ken Yehi Ratzon

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