Singing, Seder, Shofar – Rosh Hashanah 5780

“What can we do with three strings?” – Our Rabbi’s evening sermon

Our Rosh Hashanah celebrations got off to a musical start with a family-friendly Erev Rosh Hashanah service led by Rabbi René and Tammy Rich. The musical theme continued into Rabbi René’s moving sermon.  He told the story of the violinist, Itzhak Perlman.  Stricken with Polio as a child, Perlman needed two crutches to move around.  One memorable night, whilst giving a concert at the Lincoln Centre, a string broke near the beginning of Perlman’s performance. Rather than abandon the performance, or start again, he continued – giving an incredible performance using only the three strings remaining on the instrument.  At the end of the performance, following riotous applause, he said to his audience:

“You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left”.

This is what Rabbi René encouraged us to think about – what can we do with what we have?

Read his full sermon here.

Our first Rosh Hashanah Seder

For the first time at KLS, our Rosh Hashanah celebrations continued with a special Seder – a Sephardic tradition for the Jewish New Year.  According to this tradition, customary foods to eat are beetroots, fennel, dates and leeks together with the more common pomegranates, and apples with honey.

All of these were provided during the seder – but in place of the traditional lamb’s head we decided to provide a whole lettuce!

Finally, as is customary for this Jewish festival, we enjoyed a fabulous chavurah supper with all dishes provided by our members:

Morning Services – a powerful sermon and the call of the Shofar

On the morning of Rosh Hashanah the community gathered for our annual service. The morning’s sermon from our Rabbi opened with the story of twelfth century Rabbi Amnon and the Unetane Tokef prayer.  Explaining how this prayer is relevant to the whole process of the High Holy Days, he talked about the importance of repentance, prayer and good deeds. In powerful concluding words he stated:

“The High Holy Days are a journey towards our true selves, a journey that leads to tikkun haLev, repairing our heart, tikkun haNefesh, repairing the soul, and tikkun haOlam, repairing the world”

Read his full sermon here and Rabbi René also wrote about the Unetane Tokef prayer in this week’s Jewish News.

As is customary, our Chair, Craig Simmons, gave an appeal on behalf of the three charities for which we have chosen to raise funds this year – read more about these charities here.

Of course the traditional blowing of the Shofar was a highlight of the service, the call of the blasts telling us to wake up and not give into despair, according to our Rabbi.

In parallel with the morning service, our Beiteinu children attended a Family Service with music and activities.  They too learnt about our chosen charities and created artwork for each of them.  Following their service they presented this artwork to the whole congregation.

Rabbi René Pfterzel and family service leader, Bethany Stone (R) with young people from our Beiteinu school at the conclusion of the morning services


Our very own apples!

Young people from our Beiteinu school show off our home grown apples before dipping them in honey.
Our apple tree before we harvested

A highlight of this year’s celebrations was being able to serve apples grown from our very own tree. At last year’s Rosh Hashanah service a new apple tree was generously donated to our new garden by a member.  It has given us a really generous crop of apples, which we all enjoyed dipping in honey – in hope for a sweet new year!