This is the introduction to one of our newsletters
First of all, best wishes to everybody. This newsletter gives details of services and events until next Sukkot, so hopefully that's plenty of notice for everybody. There is always the possibility of changes and additions, though, to allow for special circumstances. We shall try to keep you informed, but when in doubt, use the 'phone numbers inside the front cover.
Services: By co-incidence, many of our Saturday Shabbat services will include birchat hachodesh, the blessing of the new month. For this reason there is information in the newsletter about the religious significance and traditions of this event. I hope you all enjoy learning about the rhythms of the Jewish year.
In addition, we are taking up Hilary Radnor's offer to lead some of the services. Hilary will in fact lead the Friday night service on February 5th,and the Saturday morning service on May 15th. On both occasions she will be using the Reform siddur.
Rabbi Susser will be with us again on January 10th. The cheder have decided not to meet then, because the parents find they have problems finding something to do, but we won't miss the opportunity, and this month shall have Mincha and Ma'ariv at 5.30 PM with Rabbi Susser, followed by a discussion and study group led by Rabbi Susser, and refreshments. Hopefully we can do this every first Sunday.
Parties: We have just had our Hanukah party at the Friends' Meeting House, one of the best we've had, and, as always, a special thank you to Sonia Fodor for the tremendous amount of hard work she puts in to make each party a success. I know you all enjoy her 'phone calls, inviting you to parties. That in itself is a colossal undertaking, in time and energy. No mean feat, especially as Sonia has not had the best of health over the past year, and family commitments have taken her away from Exeter. Hardly time for a rest, though. Soon it will be Purim, followed quickly by Pesach, and the Communal Seder. She has her band of loyal helpers, and our thanks go to them too. And thanks to everybody, for 'getting on with it', in the Exeter tradition. It was put into practice at the Hanukah party, and was very impressive.
This is the fortieth edition of the newsletter. The first was in June 1983, almost ten years ago. I had been a member of the shul for nearly two years, and Derrick Boam, then President, encouraged and helped me, providing the first list of names and addresses - I still have it, about twenty! - and the foreword. What he wrote then is still relevant:
'This first issue marks the start of an experiment in communication between ourselves, and gives the opportunity to express your point of view, or any observations you may wish to make… This is the kick-off. The ball is in the air. Which direction it takes depends on us the players.'
Well, the list is now 150 long, services are twice a month. I'm now one of the older ones, rather than a bright young thing fresh back from two years in Israel! The shul then had only recently been restored, and regular monthly services were a new idea, started by Harry Freedman, after a lapse following the war. We have lost many of the elders, people like Mr Rosenberg, Mr Collett, Mr Kauders, Mr Wilhelm, Mrs Weinberg and others, and we miss them. People have come and gone, the process of repairing and maintaining the synagogue continues, the grounds are well maintained and protected. Ellis Weinberger now visits the prisoners on our behalf, Sonia and Ellis (in the main) meet the large numbers of schoolchildren who are learning about Judaism. Shelley has got the cheder off the ground again, and it's going successfully. I'm encouraged that we are still thriving, and manage to stay - more or less - together, although we are all so different.
As I look back over these forty issues, it gives me encouragement for the future. I repeat what Derrick wrote then:
'The ball is in the air. Which direction it takes depends on us the players.'