Shabbat UK at Hampstead

The second Shabbat UK was one of firsts for Hampstead Synagogue – the first shiur by Dina Brawer, the first of Josh Zaitschek’s Minyan@the Den and the first time in the last decade that Hampstead’s local MP came to address the community.

The celebrations kicked off on Friday night as Dina Brawer led us through an exploration of the holiness of Shabbat – is it intrinsically holy, or is it a day which is holy because of what we do? From the ultra rationalist Rambam to the mysticism of the Zohar, Dina Brawer gave plenty of us food for thought before more traditional Friday night fare.

On Saturday, the lower hall of the Community Centre was packed out as Josh’s  first ever Minyan@the Den service was held for 20s and 30s. With a mid-morning Kiddush (involving plenty of whisky!) and an intimate atmosphere, this was the first of hopefully many such services at Hampstead. It was great to see so many young people engaging in the Shabbat morning service.

Following all services, the main hall was packed for a fantastic lunch prepared by Josh and Yocheved. During the lunch, Tulip Siddiq MP spoke about how she got involved in politics and the experiences and difference that faith communities can bring to public life and getting things done. Following her talk, Tulip took questions on all manner of topics, including mental healthcare, interfaith relations and  (bravely) the relationship between the Jewish community and Jeremy Corbyn.

As co-Chair Michael Helfgott said in wrapping up the occasion, Hampstead’s approach to Shabbat UK aimed to symbolise its approach to Judaism and life – outward looking, open to debate, and welcoming of all.”