Timetable Pesah 2015

First Days

Thursday Night April 2nd Check for Hametz

Friday April 3rd we stop eating Hametz at 10.50am
First Seder Candles 7.02pm

Saturday 4th April 1st Day Service 9.30am
Shabbat ends and Candles & Second Seder 7.59pm

Sunday 5th 2nd Day Service 9.30am
Festival ends 8pm

Second Days

Thursday 9th April Candles 7.09pm

Friday April 10th 7th Day Candles 7.10pm

Saturday April 11th 8th Day Service 9.30am
Guest Speaker Dr Richard Perl
Special Kiddush hosted by Nico Moinian & Leilah Mohktardzadeh
Havdalah 8.06pm

To sell your Hametz please email giving location before Friday morning April 3 - jeremyrosen(at)msn.com.


Shabbat Tsav

Shabbat Hagadol
Candles March 27th 6:55pm
Havadalah March 28th 7:51pm

The Shabbat before Pesach is always called “Shabbat HaGadol,” “the Great Shabbat.” It’s very unclear why. Explanations range from the past to present to the future.

The past:
The Exodus itself was such a miracle that it merited special treatment. Taking a sheep, sacred to the ancient Egyptians was an act of rebellion and the failure of the Egyptians to respond was a miracle.

Easter was the beginning of the season of persecutions when after hearing in Church about the crucifixion Christians were urged to avenge it by attacking Jews.

The Ka’arites believed that Pesach should always start on a Shabbat. So in order to distinguish our Pesach the rabbis called the Shabbat they called Pesah Shabbat HaGadol instead.

The present:
It was the occasion of extended study in preparation for Pesach. In Medieval times the rabbi would only give sermons, derashot, on this Shabbat and the one before Yom Kipur. It’s “greatness” lay in its emphasis on communal study.

The Haftarah from the book of Malachi (and Joel) mentions the Great Day of the Lord when we will be redeemed in the future and all able to live in peace. Shabbat HaGadol is that day.

The custom is Medieval in origin and probably was indeed a response to persecution. But in traditional rabbinic fashion their response was to look back to history and the past, to give the occasion immediate and present significance and to prepare and look forward to a better future.

That really is an encapsulation of the Jewish spirit, to revere tradition, to make it inspire and enrich our present and to strive to improve the future for us and our children.

Pesach begins next Friday night.


Shabbat Vayikra

Shabbat HaHodesh
Rosh Hodesh Nissan
20th Candles 6:48pm
21st Havdalah 7:44pm

Special Kiddush sponsored by Jonathan Zamir and Yaron Shemesh
Please come and bring your friends.

Featuring Shahar Azani
Executive Director, StandWithUs Northeast Region

This Shabbat we welcome in the New Month of Nissan. Pesah is two weeks away. The extra reading from the Torah is the chapter in Exodus where the Children of Israel in Egypt are commanded to prepare for their freedom by making preparations to celebrate the Seder Meal on the night of their freedom.

They were given the freedom, the opportunity to publicly identify with their people and their God. They were to do this in two ways. The first was to defy the Pharaoh by doing something that went against the dominant culture, taking the lamb to sacrifice, something that offended Egyptian sensibilities.

But they also had to daub blood on their doorposts to identify their homes as Israelite homes.

We know from the Midrash that many Israelites refused to identify. They saw themselves as more Egyptian than Israelite. The result was that large numbers assimilated and simply disappeared from Jewish history.

A similar challenge faces Jewry today. Not just the political challenge of those who regard Israel as the cause of the world’s problems but the cultural one too. We are losing large numbers who refuse to identify.

That’s why it is so important for us to do our utmost to identify and encourage and support those who work to keep as many of us involved as possible.


Shabbat Vayakhel and Pekudei

Shabbat Parah

Mevarchin Rosh Hodesh Nisan
Candles 13th 6:40pm
Havdalah 14th 7:36pm

The construction of the Tabernacle stopped for Shabbat and that is where we learn the principle of not doing manual labor on Shabbat. Most of the time when the Torah talks about Shabbat it is with reference to a cessation of work.

This week the Torah adds an extra law “Do not transfer fire in your dwellings on Shabbat.” This takes the prohibition of work out of the work place and into the home. But it raises a totally different category of what is forbidden on Shabbat.

We mistakenly think of life in Biblical period as primitive and in most parts of the world it was. We imagine that to get fire was difficult. You had to rub flints together. It was hard work. But that was what cavemen did. In the Middle East of those days Egypt was a highly sophisticated culture long before the Exodus. Think of the pyramids and other brilliant engineering feats. The Land of Israel was the meeting point between Egypt in the south and the great Hittite culture to the north and the Sumerian and Assyrian worlds of the east. All the latest knowledge and expertise flowed through that area where Israel is today. Making fire was as easy as matches are today. You had slow burning charcoal in metal containers. You just needed to put a piece if straw or wood in to the container, blow and voila you had a flame, not really what we would call hard work.

Fire was then like electricity is today. Imagine New York with no electricity. Everything would grind to a halt and with no television, computers, Ipads, elevators our normal life styles would be brought to a halt. If one had to think of only one item that enables our society to function it would electricity. And fire held that place then. Easily accessible it was what made leisure as well as war and industry possible. Fire was one of the four elements the Greeks thought the world was composed of.

Banning its use on Shabbat made a clear division between the material society around them and creating a totally different kind of atmosphere. Banning creating fire on Shabbat was a way of getting the Israelites to live in a completely different world for one day each week. Difference was what emphasized individuality and spirituality. The two factors that have preserved our separate culture to this day.


Shabbat Ki Tisa

Candles Friday 6th at 5:32pm
Havdalah 8th at 6:30pm

Next Shabbat 14th March former Ambassador and Member of the Knesset and visiting professor in foreign affairs at Yeshivah University, Danny Ayalon, will be speaking.

This week we read about the Golden Calf and then Moses going back up the mountain to receive the second copy of the Ten Commandments, carved into stone. This is the third quite separate narrative in the Torah that describes the process of the revelation of Torah.

Uniquely here, after the second period of forty days and nights that Moses spent communing with God, when he comes down his face is so distorted with rays of light that the people are scared to look at him. So he puts on a mask to cover his face and only takes it off when he communes with God. What is going on here?

Clearly what Moses experienced with God was something so powerful that it changed the way he looked. Perhaps his eyes were wild with ecstasy. Perhaps his skin shone with enlightenment. Or if one wants to be rational, the two sets of forty days and nights of fasting made him look positively skeletal. Whatever, it was, Moses had to cover his face when talking to the people.

One explanation is that genuine spiritual experience makes us forget the mundane controls of ordinary life. In our excitement we can sometimes look and behave strangely. Our eyes move and oscillate. Our bodies sway and contort. This is one of the reasons given for covering eyes when we say the Shemah or when the priests bless us so as not to distract those who might be looking at us.

Normally in most societies masks are there to disguise, or used to make one look fierce or powerful. Here uniquely the mask is used to make Moses appear more human, not less. In spiritual terms the mask reminds us that in our daily dealings we disguise ourselves, we put on masks all the time, not literally but figuratively. Often these masks get in the way of being a spiritual person. The aim of every spiritual person is to try to remove as much or as many of the masks as possible.