Author Archives: Alex Arenson

  1. Gordon Brown delivers Isaiah Berlin Lecture

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    Addressing an audience of over 500 people on the evening of Sunday 7th July, Gordon Brown delivered the 17th Annual Isaiah Berlin Lecture.

    Brown, who was Prime Minister from 2007 to 2010 and the longest-serving Chancellor in modern history, delivered a lecture entitled “Challenges of a fast-changing global society.” He is now United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and holds a number of other positions on global education.

    In the lecture, Gordon Brown said: “It’s a real privilege to be invited here this evening to be asked to give this very prestigious lecture in front of such a distinguished audience in such a sacred place which is so much part of the history of the Jewish community and the history of this country in honour of one of the great public intellectuals who was so close to this synagogue.”

    Addressing the Jewish community, he went on to say: “The Labour party owes you an unqualified apology. And that is only the starting point in repairing the trust that has been broken.”

    In the lecture, he spoke about three features of globalisation – economic discontent, cultural pessimism and anti-politics sentiment. He differentiated between generous patriotism and narrow nationalism. Drawing on Sir Isaiah Berlin’s thinking, he referred to the great liberal value of empathy, understand the other person’s point of view.

    Closing the lecture, Gordon Brown said: “Whatever the difficulties, the dangers, the risks and whatever problems we are going through, let’s not forget that it is only because we have forgotten about the evils that brought the need for cooperation, that people have thought that cooperation is not the better way forward.

    I urge you all to think that we have got to put the case for cooperation through education, not just in dealing with anti-Semitism and not just in dealing with the problems we now face in Britain but in dealing with these great global problems, to create a more empathetic community.”

    Synagogue Chair Madeleine Abramson said: “We were delighted to welcome Mr Brown to our synagogue and he gave a brilliant lecture. We were grateful for the support he expressed for our own community, and also the intellectual rigour with which he approached the subject matter. It was a special occasion for the synagogue and the wider community.”

    Lecture organiser Zaki Cooper said: “Mr Brown made us all think deeply about the big issues facing us today. He particularly spoke about the value of empathy, which of course is important in all human relationships and inter-faith. We were delighted to welcome a number of leaders from other faiths  our beautiful synagogue, as well as several other distinguished guests.”

  2. Eruv Project Update

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    Planning approved by Camden Council!

    Planning permission for the Camden Eruv was granted by Camden Council on 20th September 2018. They are in the process of completing the legal agreement with Camden before construction can begin.

    For more information, go to


  3. Meet our New Scholar-In Residence

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    Ma’ayan Raisel Freedman

    Raisel currently works as the Public Affairs lead at PaJeS, an organisation supporting Jewish schools across the UK. Her passion for education led Raisel to continue studying beyond a BA in Law and Politics to complete a Masters in European Jewish History with a Merit and distinction in her dissertation. To compliment this academia, Raisel undertook the Susie Bradfield Course and has now graduated from the new Chief Rabbi’s Ma’ayan programme.

    Married to Ben and with an almost 2 year old – Amitai, Raisel and her family are looking forward to getting to know the Hampstead community.

    Shiurim with Raisel:

    Shabbat 20 October

    • “Life Changing Opportunities and Dangerous Journeys”

    Shabbat 30 November – 1 December

    • Friday Night Service for women
    • “Too Holy to handle: A look at why and how we handle the Sefer Torah in the way that we do”

    Coming up in 2019:

    Look out for an evening of TED talks delving into issues of Muscular Liberalism, Universal Secularism, Protected Characteristics, The Equalities Act 2010 and Jewish Education. Plus, introducing ‘Laws of Attraction: What the Torah has to say about love and marriage’ – a series on Judaism, Intimacy, the mikvah and more.