Category Archive: Uncategorised

  1. Shabbaton Summer Concert for Ukraine

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    Those that attended the wonderful concert on Monday evening given by the Shabbaton Choir along with Jonny Turgel and Rabbi Alby Chait, boy soloists and 3 school choirs from Immanuel Prep, Kerem & Sacks Morasha, will know what a treat it was.

    If you missed it, you can watch the full concert here!

    World Jewish Relief President, Henry Grunwald spoke movingly about the situation in Ukraine and money was raised for WJR.

    Summer Concert

  2. Kilburn Grange School visit Hampstead Shul

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    Kilburn Grange School visited Hampstead Synagogue in West Hampstead. Fifty children between the ages of 7-8 came to learn about Judaism.  Two volunteers explained about the Jewish Festivals, religious services and the design of the synagogue building.  They were fascinated by the Torah scrolls and wanted to know who made them and who wrote them. The final part of the tour was in the foyer of the synagogue where they were given explanations of the different memorials and plaques.

    The children asked many interesting questions during the 90-minute visit. A worksheet had been prepared for the children, by the administrator of the Synagogue, to take back to school.

  3. Camden Faith Leaders’ Forum Interfaith Event

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    “Can Faith Respond to the Challenges of the 2020s” was the topic discussed by a panel of religious leaders at Camden Council Faith Leaders’ Forum hosted by Hampstead Synagogue.  Those on the panel were Rabbi Dr. Michael Harris, of Hampstead Synagogue, Iman Fathi Labidi of the Muslim World League and Rev. Dr. Ayla Lepine from St. Martin’s Church, Gospel Oak. The chairman was Anthony Ostrin.

    Interfaith Panel

    Rev. Dr. Lepine, a priest and art historian, spoke about her project in conjunction with the National Gallery combining Art and Religion and how it brings people together.


    Iman Labidi’s presentation discussed the challenges of poverty in these unstable times.  How faith acts as a reminder to support each other.


    Rabbi Dr. Harris felt that society was currently overwhelmed by technology and indicated the connection between religion and the environment.


    Numerous questions, from the audience in the hall and via Zoom, were put to the panel ranging from, mistrust, fear, debt and the lack of faith. The meeting was closed by a vote of thanks given by the synagogue’s chair Madeleine Abramson.

  4. Fancy Dress and Hamantaschen at Hampstead Purim Festivities!

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    Last night we saw the shul buzz with joy as we celebrated Purim as a community. It felt like a pre COVID celebration with members participating in a community reading, a woman’s megillah reading, and even a sell out Young professional service!  It was wonderful to be back in person compared to last year’s Zoom celebration.  The women’s megillah reading sadly had a few last minute changes in those leyning due to Covid but we are so grateful to the participants who took on extra verses at short notice.  It was wonderful to see such a diverse group of people attend and take part from the youngest in his baby sling to those who have a few more years experience.

    Women's Reading

    Women’s reading with support for Ukraine!

    The party continued with Hamantaschen, food and drinks and a costume parade including pizza chefs, very imaginative couple dress as Toast Master, breakfast club, Cleopatra and alien so we have to shout out a big congratulations to those who won prizes for great fancy dress.

    In addition to the main party, Hampstead Shul put on quite a show for Young Professionals. A clear but pacey Megillah reading was called at 8:30pm for those returning back late from work. This was followed by a bubbly (pre-)drinks and hamantaschen reception before the crowd headed over to the Heads + Tails bar. Here they enjoyed exclusive use of the facilities with a specially crafted cocktails menu, and pumping Purim playlist.

    Young Professionals Party

  5. Hampstead Shul supports Afghan refugees this Mitzvah Day

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    Last weekend was incredibly busy here at Hampstead! We held our annual AJEX Shabbat where we were fortunate enough to be supported by the new Mayor of Camden, Sabrina Francis. We completed our service with a parade of the Standard and the Mayor laid a wreath at our memorial.


    This was followed by the return of Mitzvah Day on Sunday which was a roaring success! The Mayor joined us again both at the synagogue where we collected many coats and on West End Lane outside the supermarkets where we collected essentials for local Afghan refugees. Thank you to all who came along to support and we look forward to seeing you all soon at our future events!


    Mayor of Camden lays a wreath

    Mitzvah Day 2021

    Mitzvah Day 2021


  6. East and West, to the Ratline, and Beyond: On Memory and Identity.

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    The family of the late Sir Isaiah Berlin joined our synagogue after they moved to Hampstead in 1927.   He remained a member all his life.   A devout atheist, even after he moved to Oxford, he came to Hampstead each year on Yom Kippur for the day to sit and think, if not pray.   When he died, his Memorial Service was held at Hampstead and his family agreed that we should hold an annual lecture in his memory.   The first, in 2003, was delivered by the late Rabbi Lord Sacks, zt’l, and he has been followed by a very distinguished list of lecturers.   The 19th lecture, given this year by Professor Philippe Sands QC on Sunday 6th December 2020, was unusual in that it was given online rather than in our building.   It was entitled “East and West, to the Ratline, and Beyond: On Memory and Identity”.

    Philippe Sands is a remarkable man, Barrister, academic and author, he regularly appears in International criminal courts and tribunals.   His best known book, “East West Street”, is subtitled “On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity” and there is no one like him able to define and explain those laws in ways that mere mortals like the rest of us can understand.   Apart from telling the stories of two Nuremberg Prosecutors, Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin, who both studied law at Lviv University – as did Philippe’s own grandfather, it also tells the story of one of the Nuremberg defendants, Hans Frank, Governor-General of Nazi-occupied Poland, responsible for the murder of Lauterpacht’s and Lemkin’s families in and around Lviv.

    In The Ratline, Philippe tells the story of Otto Wachter, the Governor of Galicia, who was indicted by the end of the war as a mass murderer but who went on the run to avoid arrest.   Having hid for three years in the Austrian Alps, he made his way to Rome, where, assisted by a Vatican Bishop, he intended to travel to Argentina on the Ratline, the method by which many Nazis escaped from Europe to save their lives.   Before he could leave, he died unexpectedly.

    In his lecture, Philippe compared the different approaches to their respective fathers by the son of Hans Frank, Niklas Frank, and the youngest son of Otto Wachter, Horst, both in their identities and in their memories.  Niklas had faced up to the reality of what his father had done.   Horst had convinced himself that his father was really a good man.   Both born in 1939, they had had not dissimilar upbringings, their fathers both being very senior Nazi officials.   Their memories, however, were quite different, as were their identities in later life.   Philippe had spent a great deal of time with them both, but his relationship with Horst was vastly different from that he had with Niklas, mainly because Horst maintained that his father either was not aware of what was done in his name in Galicia and/or that his father disapproved of it.

    Because of Covid, the lecture was given online, rather than in person in our building.   That, however, did not prevent Philippe from capturing his, exceptionally large, audience, not only in the lecture itself but also in answering the many questions that came in from the viewers.

    There is no doubt that Philippe Sands earned a place as one of the best Isaiah Berlin lectures, we have had.   Please watch this space to discover who will follow him later this year.

  7. Welcome to Jack and Rivka Cohen our recently appointed Assistant Rabbi and Rebbetzen

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    What a time to welcome new members to the Hampstead team!

    Jack, our Associate Rabbi will focus (not exclusively) on young professionals and young families. He grew up in Mill Hill and, after studying for his degree in Philosophy at UCL, went on to Yeshivat Har Etzion for five years where he received Rabbinic ordination. Jack is married to Rivka who works as a computer programmer and has a degree in Maths and Philosophy from King’s College London. She grew up in Hendon and has spent time in both Nishmat and Midreshet Moriah Seminaries.

    Jack and Rivka, along with their son Itzik, look forward to meeting and working with the community.

  8. Eruv Project Update

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    Planning approved by Camden Council!

    The Eruv has now been approved by Camden Council and is in operation. It includes the Synagogue and details can be found on: –

    For more information, go to


  9. Hosting a synagogue visit for Imam Amir Khan

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    Imam Amir Khan heads up the large Mosque in Chichelle Road where they have 2000 people attend services on Fridays!  We gave him a tour and had a lovely discussion about the similarities between the two religions.

  10. Hampstead 125 Summer Tea

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    Hampstead Synagogue  Summer Tea  Party


    Hampstead Synagogue’s 125th anniversary celebrations continued with a summer tea held at the home of Madeleine and Richard Abramson. Sunny weather enabled sixty members of the community to enjoy the delicious afternoon tea which was served in the garden. Co-chair Adrienne Powell whilst welcoming everybody explained that the event was an opportunity to reminisce the history of Hampstead Synagogue and its community. She said that these special memories and photographs would be collected and form an important part of the Synagogue’s archive.

  11. Daniel Taub delivers 15th Annual Isaiah Berlin Lecture

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    Daniel Taub, Ambassador to Israel from 2011 to 2015, delivered the 2017 Isaiah Berlin Lecture (on Thursday 13 July) at Hampstead Synagogue entitled “100 years on: Lessons from the Balfour Declaration.”

    In front of a packed hall of over 250 people, including Lord Balfour (great great nephew of Arthur Balfour), Lord Kestenbaum (chair of the Balfour 100 committee) and Lord Turnberg (who initiated the recent Balfour debate in the House of Lords), Taub gave a wide-ranging lecture, drawing on a range of diplomatic and literary sources. Taub, who currently works as Director  of Strategy for the Yad Hanadiv (Rothschild) Foundation, was given access to the Rothschild archives and shared some behind the scenes  insights about the intriguing background to the Declaration.

    In the course of the lecture Taub identified a number of lessons which had relevance for today. One was that history was not carved in stone, but that it remained open to us to shape and influence it. “The Balfour Declaration was precisely that,” he said,  ” – a declaration,  not a binding document. As Lord Balfour himself said, ‘it didn’t give a land. It gave an opportunity.’ We were blessed to have had a leadership who knew how to seize this historic moment”.

    Daniel Taub speaks at the Isaiah Berlin Lecture July 2017 3

  12. Music for a summer evening with Robert Max and friends

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    Music for a Summer Evening. Robert Max & friendsMore than 100 people attended the Hampstead Synagogue Community Centre on Sunday 9 July to hear a recital given by Robert Max (cello), Hana Mizuta-Spencer (violin), Tim Crawford (violin) and Alinka Rowe (viola).

    They played Samuel Alman’s  Fuga Fantastica for string quartet and was the first public performance of the quartet since the 1950s. The music of Alman has a special meaning for Hampstead Synagogue as he was the choirmaster of Hampstead synagogue from 1917-1947.

    Beethoven’s string quartet in B-flat, op.130 was one of his ‘late’ quartets.   Robert Max spoke about the work and Beethoven at the time of writing this quartet.

    Refreshments were served after the recital when the audience was able to relax and speak with the musicians.

    R MAX

    Summer Concert 2 July 2017

  13. From the Steppes of Russia to the bright lights of Paris

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    Trioka, the Klezmer Hot Club take Hampstead on a klezmer journey

    Hampstead Synagogue’s 125th year kicked into full swing on Sunday 19 March, with a lively Klezmer Jazz Concert from Troika.

    Troika 2
    Over 130 people packed into the community centre as Wally Fields (piano) and his band took the audience on a musical journey from Paris and the USA of
    the 1930s, to the wild Steppes of Cossack Russia and into the 1920s Jewish Odessa. The audience were swept away with the exciting sounds of klezmer, expertly delivered by Wally, with Paul Gregory (Jazz Manouche guitar), Mathew Heery (guitar and mandolin), Mark Armstrong (Trumpet) and Allan Straton (bass guitar). A big thanks to them, our sponsors and in particular Tony Ostrin for pulling it all together.
    Troika 1
  14. What’s Rabbi Michael up to?

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    This article appeared inthe Hamodia newspaper on 16th February. It is about the Dayanut Programme which I began studying on a few months ago. The Programme is proving very stimulating and enjoyable and I hope to share in Shul some of what I’ve learned soon. So far, we have been focusing on issues in Jewish family law such as how Jewish status is established nowadays, the status of kohanim and special laws applying to them, and how Jewish Law developed from allowing polygamy to an insistence on monogamy in the Middle Ages.

    Making History. Hamodia

  15. Lindsay Simmonds – Scholar In Residence 2016-17

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    We are absolutely delighted that 
    Lindsay Simmonds will be our female Scholar in Residence for the new Jewish year 5777, 2016-17. Lindsay is an experienced and popular community adult educator.


  16. New Communities Minister visits Hampstead Synagogue

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    On Thursday (4th of August 2016), the Board of Deputies organised a visit of the new Communities Minister Lord Bourne to the Hampstead Synagogue in West Hampstead. The visit was part of a day of engagements for the Minister with faith communities across London.


    During the visit, the Minister was shown the features of the synagogue by Rabbi Dr Michael Harris and Co-Chairs Adrienne Rosen Powell and Michael Helgott.

    The minister was also briefed on issues facing the Jewish community by the Board of Deputies’ Gillian Merron, the Jewish Leadership Council’s Adam Langleben and the Community Security Trust’s Jonny Newton.

    Commenting on the visit, Board of Deputies Chief Executive Gillian Merron said: “Explaining Judaism and the Jewish was of life to our leaders in Government is a key part of the work that we do and it was an honour to arrange this visit for the new Communities Minister.”

    Communities Minister Lord Bourne said:

    “We are greatly enriched by the diversity of faiths that call our Country home.

    “Within an hour you can visit places of worship representing our largest religions, through to our smaller faiths, all of whom play an integral part in communities.

    “I was delighted to visit Hampstead Synagogue to learn more about Judaism and hear about the important work the Synagogue does for the wider community.”

    Read Lord Bourne’s own words about his day  in the Jewish News.

  17. Rabbi Michael takes part in the Maccabi Fun Run

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    Maccabi Fun Run Rabbi HarrisLast Sunday 19th June I took part in the Maccabi Fun Run to raise money for Tribe and for youth projects at our Shul. I am very grateful to all those members who kindly sponsored me.

    The run I participated in was the shortest, just 1km, but it involved being tied to another rabbi, Rabbi Alan Garber of Shenley United Synagogue.  Various other US rabbinic colleagues were running similarly tied. Poor Rabbi Garber was wearing shorts and after about half the distance the rope was hurting his legs, so we ditched the rope and ran the rest properly.

    It brought back happy memories as my previous run on that track (Copthall Stadium as it was then known) was the 800 meters for my House at Hasmonean School Sports Day some time in the late 1970s. I came second out of eight runners, which was the only sporting “achievement” of my entire school and university career (and indeed ever since).

    The atmosphere at the Fun Run on Sunday was lovely – a real buzz with many people running for many different worthy causes.

    To support this great cause donate here!

  18. Pre-Pesach British Museum Tour

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    EgyptRabbi Dr Raphi Zarum of LSJS will lead a tour of the Egyptian materials at the British Museum


  19. Rabbi Harris at Limmud

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    Having first attended Limmud Conference in 1994 at the then Oxford Polytechnic, and subsequently attended as Limmud  migrated to Worcester, Manchester, Nottingham and Warwick, I was excited to see how things would be at this year’s brand new venue, the hotels surrounding Pendigo Lake in Birmingham. (more…)