Short Thought @ Stenecourt


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From Rabbi Benjy and Anna




Vayakhel , 21st February 2013

This week,On Tuesday, I attended the annual conference of the Rabbinical Council of The United Synagogue (fondly known as RCUS)

It was held at the Hellidon Lakes in Northamptonshire, a really lovely location.

This was the first since Rabbi Mirvis became Chief Rabbi

There were a number of innovations, including an inspiring shiur by “the Chief Rebbetzen “–Mrs Valerie Mirvis to around 100 Rabbis. She is a senior social worker with Barnet Council and was able to share her academic knowledge and vast communal experience

Many aspects of community life in the Uk were discussed, and many ideas shared.

The Scholar in residence was Rabbi Shaul Robinson from Lincolns Square shool in New York.

I was greatly privileged to have a personal meeting with the Chief Rabbi to talk about Stenecourt and its place in Anglo Jewry-and ideas for the future. He also noted with admiration the programmes, events and minyanim that take place at Stenecourt

He is warm and inspiring and I felt motivated and encouraged by his advice and support and I hope that the foundation was laid for a productive and cordial relationship between the new Chief Rabbinate and Stenecourt.

Later on Rabbi Mirvis held an informal session with the Provincial Rabbis (“RCP”) when again problems and ideas were “shared and halved”-See photo below.

Rabbi Benjy



ACHDUT SERMON- 8 February 2014

Rabbi Benjy


We wish to take the opportunity on this Shabbat, of expressing our thanks to this wonderful kehilla for the trust and confidence which you have placed in us this week. We consider it an exceptional honour and privilege and we sincerely hope, wish and pray that G-d will help and guide us to advance the community and actualise the ideas and vision which we set out two weeks ago, and to create a reality out of dreams.

There is a powerful question asked regarding the series of sidrot we are now reading, from Terumah till the end of Shemot.-five sidrot dealing totally or in substantial part, with the construction of the Mishkan.

It is startling that the Torah devotes so much space to this topic, so many words of intricate detail, first in the instruction and thereafter repetition, of the details when the actual construction takes place. Contrast this with the fact that, in other areas of Jewish Law .many complex details are derived from extra letters or words, but here we have seemingly free use of words. WHY?

Secondly, surely the sections dealing with the mishkan belong in the levitical canon, in the book of Vayikra ,connected with the Avoda(Service),why here in the book of the Exodus,which is about the historical formation of the Jewish Nation.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks answers these questions simultaneously. The book of Shemot till now, tells the story of Exodus and law giving. This story is punctuated by serious internal strife and complaining.

Now ,G-d comes and commands” they shall make for me a sanctuary”-LET THEM BUILD SOMETHING TOGETHER-this simple command transformed the Jewish Nation.

To grow and mature, they change from a passive state of receiving miracles, to the active one of uniting in a creative project.

This is the call of G-d to responsibility.

Thus so much emphasis is placed on this project, in command and fulfilllment..To reiterate, emphasise, and inculcate a powerful lesson that is hard for the Jewish Nation to actualise-a real challenge .Also that is why it is in the book of Shemot -because this was part of the nation building of the Jewish people, a direct follow on to exodus-critical to nation building

AND SO TO STENECOURT-our call to responsibility and achdut;”THE HOME WE SHALL BUILD TOGETHER,”

The community has, we are all aware been through a difficult and somewhat divisive period.

I would like to make a heartfelt, passionate and sincere call for the kehilla to come together, to move forward. to build ,grow,develop,change.

We can stand up proudly, with a clear identity, confidence and mature responsibility-to build our mishkan-with common purpose, and commitment.

How can we achieve this? The Jewish poet Rabbi Elazar Azikri,(author of Yedid Nefesh) famously said “Belevavi Mishkan Evneh”-In my heart I shall build a sanctuary”-the spiritual development has to begin within our individual selves. Myself included.-

To create achdut we have to engage individually, personally, intimately and inspire and educate ourselves to eclipse and eventually eradicate dysfunctional petty argument-what could, might, or should have happened. What this one did or did not say or do and so forth.t

Not just a cosmetic fix. Not just saying “achdut”but meaning and actualising it. There is a story of the proud Jewish father describing his son as a most wonderful, professional doctor. The father needed an operation which he could not afford, and the father commented that his son was such a good doctor that he
solved the medical problem by touching up the xrays.The achdut we create within ourselves should be real.

“Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh” -in my heart, in our hearts we build the mishkan.The command which transformed the Jewish Nation. Motivating and inspiring, let this clarion call resonate within us at Stenecourt to promote our communal construction, onwards and upwards, Together.



The sedra opens with the world toldot - normally translated as "generations".  It records the transmission of Jewish Heritage from one generation to the next.

The calendar has placed us this year in an unusual situation, the clocks did not revert to BST until the Shabbat of Chayei Sarah so the first week of Avot Uvanim - worldwide is "toldot" - generations

It is estimated that there are 90,000 Jewish Children across the continents taking part in this programme.

How powerfully apposite, when parents ring fence time for their children, that is commendable. When parents ring fence time to learn with their children, that is sacred and precious. We are connecting with our children at a spiritual, emotional and intellectual level and showing that they, our children, matter to us, and that special hour in the week creates a bond that is on an entirely different, more elevated and enduring level than when we take them on an outing, to the park or just relaxing at home with them.

"These are the generations " at Stenecourt our programme includes mums, daughters and grandparents.
"These are the generations" The values we pass on will forge the future ...

“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see."  
John W. Whitehead,



Laughter and Laughter

Vayera ,October 19th 2013


Laughter is a powerful tool ,that can help us through life,and equally a tool of the sceptic.Avraham and Sarah laughing symbolises happiness,the fact that something naturally impossible was going to become a reality,a symbol of the Jewish People and the Jewish journey.


In addition, to quote Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch “The first jewish child was called Yitschak because he brought a sceptical smile to those who did not believe in Divine Providence and miracles.This derisive laugh heard at the cradle of the Jewish People, is the same as that which accompanies us …throughout the centuries of history,It will accompany them until the realisation of the Biblical prophecies.

The laugh of the future will not be a mocking derisive laugh,but a laughter of gladness”


Mirth is God's medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it. ~Henry Ward Beecher



This was a "first " for the shul and very informative and enjoyable, quite a pleasure to be in Liverpool!.Thank you to the organisers.

will recommence on Tuesday 29th October after Maariv at 8pm


This recommences on the first SHABBAT in November-details to follow 



NOACH( 5th October )


The olive branch has become an almost universal symbol of peace .

Is the origin in this weeks sedra.,where the bird flies back with the olive branch,do we interpret this as the “peace” that now existed between G-d and mankind after the flood?

The ancient Greeks and Romans used the olive branch as a sign of peace and it appeared on coins.

Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch refers to the Rabbinic teaching quoted by Rashi-the dove preferred to be independent-and live off the bitter olive tree-than have better tasting food and be dependent on humans.It thus teaches the preference of independence with moderation.



There is a farewell event at BA this Monday at 7-30

Anyone who can,please try and go to show our appreciation to him for the contribution he has made to the Manchester community and especially to Stenecourt ,over the years.We are sorry to see him leave and wish him well.

SHABBAT 16th November

We have arranged a civic event,welcoming the local MP Graham Stringer.There will be a special Kiddush with an open session on issues relating to the Jewish Community.







We are familiar with the celebration of the Simchat Beit Hashoevah during Sukkot,at which we recall the similarly named event in the Beit Hamikdash when the special water was drawn on the evening of the second day ,amidst intense religious joy and fervour.The water was drawn and brought to the Beit Hamikdash to be poured onto the altar the following day.

Rav Kook ,amongst others ,questions why there was such a celebration of the water drawing which was only a preparatory act,the actual mitzvah was “the pouring.”

Rav Kook points out that we often distinguish between “means” and “ends”,elevating the “end” and downplaying the “means”.However,this distinction may often been very artificial.”When we santify our actions....and perform them with a pure motive....then even that which only facilitates the mitzvah is elevated to the level of the final goal”

Our kehilla has been through the wonderful experience of the Yomim Noraim-we now move to the “rest of the year”.Have we not all felt elevated through our Tefillot and unified atmosphere in Stenecourt ,the warmth ,the ruach,singing together at NEILA?.This experience is our “means” -our preparation ,for the forthcoming year-focusing and concentrating our spiritual resources,for the “end” of advancing our lives journey as loyal members of Klal Yisrael..We start the “rest of the year “ here and now “with the intense joy of Sukkot.

Many of the ladies are involved in preparing for Sukkot;food preparation,shopping and endless organising.The whole family gets involved in building and decorating the succa..All these acts of preparation ,are more than “means” they are important in themselves, elevated and elevating..

wishing you all a chag sameach.


Please try and continue this\during Sukkot,a number of people may be away but we will try and send a reminder


As many of you know there has been a delay in the activation of the Eruv, due to technical issues.  The Eruv committee, several of whom are members of Stenecourt are working very hard to finalise the work, and all necessary moral and appropriate finanacial support should be given.  Whilst we would all have liked the eruv by now, it is well worth waiting for.  Our Kehilla is firmly behind this.


Arutz sheva

About 250 Yom Kippur prayer quorums, or minyanim, were held throughout Israel by the Tzohar rabbis' organization, for the benefit of secular Jews. More than 750 Tzohar volunteers took part in the minyanim which are a part of Tzohar's mission, to make Jewish religious ceremonies and services available to all Israelis.
Tzohar organized services in a wide variety of locations, including in cities like Tel Aviv, Modi'in Eilat, a large number of kibbutz communities, and towns in Judea and Samaria and northern and southern Israel.
Two new groups that joined the Tzohar family this year were an Ethiopian congregation in Gedera in southern Israel, and a group at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. Organization volunteers were present to help run services, and volunteers also traveled to kibbutz communities for residents there, in some cases for the first time.
Dozens of residents of the Gush Etzion town of Elazar spent Yom Kippur at Kibbutz Ga'ash in central Israel. The Tzohar organization organized the prayers, and visitors from Elazar will also conducted a special lecture on music in Judaism. After the fast, residents and visitors participated in a special musical event at the kibbutz.



On Rosh Hashanah we remember some very special women from Jewish History.  
Sarah, Rachel and Channah

The crowning moment of the life of SARAH was the birth of her son Yitzchak, unexpected and miraculous. On Rosh Hashanah we reflect on life and the ebb and flow of time - but also contemplate that we should expect the unexpected, and refresh our belief and strength to face unexpected challenges and respond to unexpected opportunities.

The Haftorah of the second day tells us how G-d reassures the Jewish people in exile, with beautiful prophetic words which depict the return and restoration of all our people. This is done through a conversation with Rachel - who as we are told by tradition, saved her sister Leah from almost unimaginable embarrassment, and in so doing, relinquished, at least temporarily her marriage to her beloved Yaakov. We learn that our ultimate return and rapprochement to G-d will be achieved through unconditional acts of love, kindness and sometimes to our own immediate disadvantage. We rebuild our nation by showing how we value others.

The style the sages have adopted for the Amida, silent prayer, originates from Channah. What, surely, can be more indicative of the value and sincerity of women’s prayer than this fact? We find Channah engaging with G-d on a level that becomes the model for millions of tefillot over millenia, a point worth reflecting upon.

In the autumn, date to be confirmed, we have arranged an event when the “Shuls local MP” will be joining us on Shabbat Morning and there will be a Kiddush and open session on matters of Jewish interest.

I recently attended the CST yomim noraim briefing. There is a genuine threat to the Jewish Commmunities of Europe from several sources and we should take this issue seriously. There is a great deal that simple precautions and vigilance could achieve and also prove a deterrent to opportunist attack, G-d forbid. I have joined the security rota so you may see me out of Shul or on the street for a good reason.

Wishing you all an inspiring
Yom Tov and a happy, sweet New Year


Mon, 26/06/17 | 2 Tammuz 5777

 Shabbat Korach

Shabbat begins at 9:27pm

Candle lighting is between 7:56 pm and 8:05 pm

Shabbat ends 11:00 pm





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