Shavuot at FPS - Tuesday 30th May 2017

“Ruth the convert, Ruth the Migrant” - Tikkun Leil

At Shavuot three North London Communities come together for a night of REVELATION.

Finchley Progressive Synagogue, Sha'arei Tsedek Reform & Southgate Progressive Synagogue invite you to join us for a night of spiritual, cultural, educational and culinary nourishment! There will be something for everyone:

● Inclusive Shavuot Service

● Chavurah Supper

●Tikkun study sessions

● Cheesecake Break

Programme & timings:

  • 18:30-19:30 Service
  • 19:30-20:15 Chavurah Supper
  • 20:15-21:15 Session 1 Panel Discussion - ‘Responding to the Book of Ruth’
  • 21:15-21:30 Cheesecakes & coffee
  • 21:30-22:15 Session 2
  • 22:15- 23:00 Session 3
  • 23:00 Midnight Spirituality

Bring & share non-meat dish, cheesecake or a dessert.

Please contact Lynda Cannon (, 020 8886 0977), Valerie Joseph at FPS
( or Janet Renton at Sha’arei Tsedek ( to coordinate the feast!


FPS Into the Woods

On Sunday 14th May some Ivriah students along with their parents (and some Grandparents!) were given secret directions to get to an unknown woodland location in Hertfordshire where we met for a fantastic day of fun. We parked at the Bricklayers Arms pub in Flaunden and armed with deckchairs and sausages, ventured into the beautiful bluebell lined woodland grove that lay just beyond.

The zip wire and tree houses were so much fun for us kids - the adults gathered round a large wood burning barbecue and cooked up a feast of sausages, potato salad and schnitzel (lovingly prepared by my Grandma!) Josie brought marshmallows which we then roasted on twigs and then sandwiched them between 2 digestive biscuits! The children also had a great time making dough and wrapping it around twigs and burning it in the fire!!We enjoyed it so much we asked Katherine (who owns this lovely patch of woodland) if we could camp there next year (if the weather is good) and she said “YES!” When we got home our clothes smelled of smoke but it was so much fun.

written by Maya Rose Stubbings

and Rabbi Rebecca writes:

Just occasionally one has a magical experience out of the norm and even the expected.

Last Sunday several FPSniks went to the woods. This is not the beginning of a story but a real day hosted generously by member Katherine Klinger. We pared down, switched off screens (no reception so wonderfully easy) brought sausages and dough to cook over the fire. We barely used plates, we sat in the sun, had different, relaxed conversations. Children ran free and slightly feral with home-made spears whittled there and then. It was a fabulous community event. Something special happens outside London in the outdoors. We had bluebells underfoot and zip wires in the trees, freshly joined and seasoned members spent time together. I was reminded, it is not just the social justice work we do; the prayers we gather for, the kiddushim we lay out, the classes we teach and the care we offer. Sometimes we think outside all of these and the expectations of a synagogue and do something magical. 

I hope we will manage more such moments. 

Prayer for Nature Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav

may it be my custom to go outdoors each day among the trees and grass – among all growing things
and there may I be alone, and enter into prayer,
to talk with the One to whom I belong.

Shabbat Shalom to everyone
Rabbi Rebecca

Susie Orbach - Sunday 4th June

SUNDAY 4th JUNE 11am - 1pm

Susie Orbach1.JPG


Talking Psyche, Bodies & Judaism

A conversation over brunch

Susie Orbach is a psychotherapist, writer and co-founder of The Women’s Therapy Centre. She is the author of numerous books including Fat is a Feminist Issue, her first book, which has been continuously in print since 1978. Her most recent book, In Therapy, is based on the critically acclaimed Radio 4 series of the same name.

Tickets: £15 member, £25 non-member available here.

Parashat Emor Leviticus 21:1-24:23

…fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The injury inflicted on another shall be inflicted in return. (24:20)

What happened to Adolf Eichmann after his trial one of my children asked the other day after Yom HaShoah. We were talking about the death penalty. And the enormous murder laid at his door. His trial was a momentous moment in Jewish history. It was May 1960, Israeli Security Service agents seized Eichmann, known as Ricardo Klement by then in Argentina, and took him to Jerusalem for trial in an Israeli court. Eichmann testified from a bulletproof glass booth. Presumably because of possible vigilante attacks.

The trial aroused international interest, bringing Nazi atrocities to the forefront of world news. Testimonies of Holocaust survivors, generated interest in Jewish resistance. The trial prompted a new openness in Israel; many Holocaust survivors felt able to share their experiences as the country confronted this traumatic chapter.

Eichmann was found guilty of crimes against the Jewish people and against humanity. He was sentenced to death. On June 1, 1962, Eichmann was executed by hanging. His body was cremated and the ashes were spread at sea, beyond Israel's territorial waters. The execution of Adolf Eichmann remains the only time that Israel has enacted a death sentence.

It became quickly apparent that it was not the death of Eichmann that was so fiercely desired but the trial itself and the judgment after the hearing. It was much remembered that Eichmann had displayed no reaction to his charges and during his trial.

This verse is understood as referring to financial retribution. Lex talionis, Roman law of retaliation is based on the principle that the punishment must fit the crime.

Maimonides anticipated the cathartic befits of admission and acknowledgement of guilt:

“No compensation is complete, no wrong forgiven until the person ...requests the victim’s forgiveness and has been forgiven.” Mishneh Torah: Nezikin; Hovel u-Mazik 5,9

Reinhold Hanning, a 92 year old former Nazi SS officer, was tried last year in Detmold and charged with being an accessory to the murder of 170,000 people. Silent for all of the four week trial, although willed by the defendants to say something he did finally speak ...

“I want to tell you that I deeply regret having been part of a criminal organization that is responsible for the death of many innocent people, for the destruction of countless families, for misery, torment and suffering on the side of the victims and their relatives”.

“I have remained silent for a long time, I have remained silent all of my life,” he added.

If this verse of Torah teaches anything in these millennia after it was written, it is that acknowledgement of a crime is more important than the punishment for it. Courts, trials and dignified processes of legal response have done much to elevate and develop humanity. We are witnesses to that.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Rebecca

House and Home

Tazria Metzora - House and Home

We love our synagogue being full on Shabbat. On occasions such as these.

We love the life cycle events that take place here and bring so much pride; b’nei mitzvah, chuppot, baby blessings. The learning and animated conversations. The kiddushim and the good work that sometimes gets done here within this sanctuary.

But it is likely something else that has maintained Judaism and Jewish people.

In 1990, eight Jewish leaders were invited to Dharamsala, India, to meet with the Dalai Lama, the political and spiritual leader of Tibet. The Tibetans had lost their land to China, their religious leader was in exile, and now they feared they would lose their identity as a people. Conscious of the parallels to Jewish history, the Dalai Lama had asked the Jews for help: “Tell me the secret of Jewish spiritual survival in exile.” The secret revealed to the Dalai Lama was the Jewish home.

In Judaism, God is found at home, encountered in family, celebrated at the kitchen table. Jewish spirituality is deeply embedded in family life. Jewish religious life is woven into the rhythms of the year and into the cycle of life through symbols and rituals practiced in the home. In Deuteronomy, just as we are commanded to love God with heart, soul and might, we are commanded to “teach these words diligently to your children, when you get up and walk out and lie down at night…in short in your house.” Spirituality, and the home are inseparable.

Homes are important. Where there is no synagogue, no school the Jewish can always exist.

Has the home restored and maintained Judaism?

Has it saved and sustained families too?

In our busy lives has the home become ever more important to us. More precious and needed?

During the last government I remember reading about several MPs praising the notion of rustic Sunday –when you stayed home and switched off … in all other other ways, wrote Jonathan Freedland , a Jewish home Shabbat experience. It is a powerful force for good.

The leprosy that Ned read about and commented upon so eloquently gives us pause for thought but perhaps less because of the red and green coloured streaks on the walls but, because IT REMINDS US OF the centrality of the home and what it means for us now all those years after the words of Torah.  

Our Rabbis stated in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 71a): “The house affected by the plague never existed and is not destined to exist. It was stated for the purpose of edification.” Meaning this strange description was always meant to be a lesson and today it is about the HOME.

Maimonides in Mishneh Torah agrees with how to read this outlandish description, The changes from the normal appearance has no parallel in nature but constitutes a sign and wonder that existed in Israel in order to warn them away from evil talk. He who indulges in evil talk finds that the walls of his house change color (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, N’gaim 12:5).

Deuteronomy insists we think carefully about the safety of our homes.

When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof so that you do not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone should fall from it (Deut 22:8).

Basically how we behave in our homes, what we try to make of them is what counts.

Jewish tradition has named it Mikdash Me’at. Not just because the Friday night table with white cloth and salt next to the bread echoes the altar but because it is a place of quiet (sometime) and calm.

Most of us would celebrate the home.

I noted this past year that Temple MICAH in Washington DC –a hugely political and thoughtful synagogue describes itself as a messy place with a heart. Emma loved that description and suggested it described the Colbey/Prinsley home in Wood Vale.

The Colbey /Prinsley home in Wood Vale is the first I visited as rabbi to FPS and so will always hold a special place in my heart. Emma uses her home to cook for others, something she does with enthusiasm and alacrity when called upon. Emma has brought that to all encounters here at FPS.

We all want to suffuse our dwelling with warmth and feeling.

Elizabeth Ehrlich reminisces about her grandmother’s kitchen:

“ my grandmother’s blue-and-white tiled Brooklyn kitchen, in which so much life had been lived, was her truest sphere. There she chopped, grated, salted, peppered. There she handed on traditions brought from the Old World and translated amidst the exigencies of the New. Much of my valuable learning took place in that kitchen and in other rooms like it….[These memories] came back to me when I became a mother. I wondered what to teach my children. I wanted to build a floor under my children, something strong and solid.”

So many of us trace our memories and our motivation stem from moments at home. [I visited Emma’s parents’ home in Melbourne was cooked for and even hung out in the kitchen doing the washing up. And in so doing understood the Prinsely family better.]

Ned’s Jewish memories are surely more rooted, I dare say, in roast chicken at home on Friday night than learning in his synagogue.

But the two are linked.

Achad Ha’Am, the pen name of Asher Ginsberg (father of spiritual Zionism ) wrote more than the Jews have get kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews. The same could be said of the home. More than we have kept home, the home has kept us. It has sustained, maintained and kept us, linked us back to generations and offers future memories for those that come ahead of us.

A blessing to the home and to generations ahead.

Rabbi Rebecca, April 2017

Shabbat Resouled is 10!

A chidush is a term used in Jewish learning that means a new way of reading or interpreting something. It comes from the Hebrew word chadash, new. Dean Staker and Rabbi Neil Janes brought a chiddush to the Kabbalat Shabbat service at FPS. A new Friday evening service that was musical, creative even shocking in its Irish services; drums electric guitar were not obvious bed fellows for Lecha Dodi and Shalom Aleichem. But magic happened once a month and Shabbat became resouled as the music grew and soared and folk flocked to be part of such a gathering.
Many communities have built their own with acknowledgment of the inspiration.
This Fridaywe celebrate ten years of Shabbat Resouled; it has brought blessing and joy to many, to those in the band and those who benefit from it. I hope Resouled will continue to do so.
Shiru L'adonai Shir Chadash let us sing a new song to God...
Shabbat shalom to all!
Rabbi Rebecca

Ned's bar mitzvah on 29 April

From our very own Ned:

This is me aged 7 lighting the havdalah candle.  My bar mitzvah is on 29 April, starting at 11am. I have enjoyed my lessons with my teacher Avi, learning about the Israeli-Palestinaian situation. I am the youngest of four children: Sarah, James and Melanie all had their b'nei mitzvot at FPS.

Melanie also read a portion in Australia for my grandparents. My Grandma Sasha is no longer with us and my Grandpa is too old to travel: he will be 96 in July.

I like playing football, playing with my friends and snowboarding, and I am learning the double bass.

I have guests coming all the way from Australia for my bar mitzvah and I would really like you all to come to celebrate my bar mitzvah at FPS.

Pesach at FPS

Pesach is fast approaching and FPS has a full programme of activities to offer:

Saturday 1 April

10am – children's seder in the style of the Spanish Inquisition! (No-one expected that.)

Tuesday 11 April

6pm – communal second-night seder, family friendly. Call the office to book.

Saturday 15 April

10am – matzah, play and learn for tots. Snacks included.

Monday 17 April

10am – Pesach storytelling for tots (sneak preview here!)

11am – creative seventh-day Pesach service

For any further information, please call us on 020 8446 4063 or email

Susie Orbach - Talking Psyche, Bodies & Judaism

Susie Orbach is a psychotherapist, writer and co-founder of The Women's Therapy Centre. She is the author of numerous books including Fat is a Feminist Issue, her first book, which has been continuously in print since 1978. Her most recent book In Therapy is based on the critically acclaimed Radio 4 series of the same name.

Sunday 4th June, 11am

Tickets: £15 member, £25 non-member

Available from