What Does Sukkat Shalom Reform Synagogue Have To Offer YOU?


Welcome to our shul.

Sukkat Shalom R. S. is now over 30 years of age and is a continuously growing community in Wanstead London E11 1UL.

...but above all friendship
Regular Services & Torah Lunches
Friday Night Chavurahs
Bridge Play
Text Study Classes & Hebrew Classes for Adults
Cheder Classes
An Effective Council of Trustees
A Great Rabbi
Torah Lunches

Join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/52808691567/

Should you be interested in joining our community or are a school wishing to visit the synagogue please contact our Administrator by email at admin@sukkatshalom.me.uk

For more information press Read more

From our Rabbi March 2014


Why did the chicken cross the road?

To get to the other side.

Why did the bigamist cross the aisle?

To get to the other bride.

Almost every society has formal, ritualised (whether religious or not) ways of recognising adult members who have entered into legally binding, long term, committed relationships. In English we call these marriages. I am always surprised at the vehemence with which people assert that their form of marriage is definitive, unchanging and ordained by God. This despite the clear evidence that what constitutes a marriage undergoes a vast multitude of changes across societies and across time within societies.

I had intended to give examples of this at this point but to do so adequately would require a booklet so large that it would have to be delivered via a forklift.

I am sure that everyone reading this will know that British law is undergoing a change which will extend marriage and its associated legal conditions to people who wish to establish and affirm such relationships with members of their own gender and that religious institutions (with the exception of the COE) will be permitted but not compelled to perform such ceremonies. I would love to discuss the merits of this in great detail but the tome required to do the topic justice would be so heavy that I am afraid that even a forklift would break down under the weight of the argument.
Nonetheless it is worth letting people know how this will/may affect our congregation.


A message for Pesach from MRJ Chair Robert Weiner.

Jewish World Keywords: 

We have celebrated many landmark events over the last six months. Firstly, the collaboration between Middlesex New, Harrow & Wembley Progressive (Liberal) and Hatch End (Masorti) Synagogues to create Mosaic, a new, joint community serving the outer reaches of North and West London. Mosaic will share many synagogal tasks whilst continuing to observe denominational differences via individual services and religious functions. Sinai Synagogue in Leeds are celebrating their 70th anniversary and Newcastle celebrated their 50th anniversary.

Quiz Supper on Sunday June 8th at 7.00pm


There will be a Quiz Supper on Sunday 8th June 2014 in the synagogue.

The Quiz will be preceded by a deli supper and tickets are £15.00 per person.

Please speak to Simon Sugarman or Mitzi Kalinsky for tickets.


BOD - Prime Minister's Holocaust Commission


"The Holocaust is unique in man's inhumanity to man and it stands alone as the darkest hour of human history."

So states the Prime Minster's Holocaust Commission website, set up to investigate what measures should be taken to ensure Britain has a permanent and fitting memorial to the Holocaust.

Our responsibility is to make sure that the *Jewish voice**,* specifically, is heard. We need to ensure that the Holocaust remains, once all the survivors are long gone, embedded in British society appropriately commemorated and with its lessons continuing to be learned. Specifically as Jews, we may want to raise: education, types of commemoration, restitution, location of lost graves, legacy.... and this is our chance. This is a once in a lifetime chance to feed the Jewish voice on Holocaust into government.

Finally, the Commission provides an opportunity for us to think more about our own focus on the Holocaust and how we want to move forward as a Jewish community, with the legacy.

*What are we asking you to do now?*

Send the submission document on the link below to *everyone you know* and encourage people to send it in to the Cabinet Office as directed.

Attend the open meeting (approx 16-25 year olds) to be held at JW3 in north London on *Wednesday 23rd April*, to
express their views.

If you need help, please contact me or Andie, our project manager. We apologise if you receive this information more than once - we are trying to reach as many people as possible. *Note the closing date for submissions is Friday 30th May 2014.*

*This is the link:


Eileen Sheppard's Doctorate


Many people in the local community have asked me about my research. I have managed to keep it quiet until Frank got to know that I have been awarded my PhD, and requested a piece for the newsletter.

Afternoon Tea at the Synagogue 20th July 2014


“Afternoon Tea at the Synagogue”

on Sunday July 20th

between 3.00pm and 6.00pm

Sukkat Shalom Reform Synagogue
1 Victory Road Wanstead E11 1UL

This is an opportunity to come along to the shul and meet friends, colleagues, members, Council members and Rabbi Becker. Tea, Coffee, pop, nice food, fun and treats for the children will be available.

  • I have just joined the shul with my family and children and I would like to see what the community has to offer.
  • I have a very busy life but I would like to feel part of the community and help in some way.
  • I wish to learn more about the shul’s Adult Education Programme.
  • I would like to find out more about the shul Cheder (Religion School).
  • I have been a member of the shul for ages and I am a bit out of touch these days.
  • I would like to get out of the house and into the fresh air and meet some interesting people.
  • I am interested in learning about the beautiful Grade 2 listed building that is our shul.
  • I have a friend who wishes join and they would like to come along and see what we are like.

Rachel Savage on the Board of Deputies


The Board of Deputies of British Jews exists to represent the Jews of the United Kingdom. It consists of Deputies – nearly 300 at last count – elected by “constituencies” for a three-year term (known as a triennium). Most of the constituencies are synagogues, but an increasing number represent other communal bodies such as Jewish charities, the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and the various movements (for example the Movement for Reform Judaism has a number of Deputies).

I was elected as Sukkat Shalom’s Deputy for the 2012-15 triennium.

Structure of the Board

The Wedding of Howard Cohen & Melanie Markham


Howard Cohen & Melanie Markham were married at Sukkat Shalom on Sunday 2nd March.


The Wedding of Julie Harris to Mark Finch


The wedding took place last weekend of Julie Harris to Mark Finch was a fabulous occasion and all went well. The ceremony was at The New London Masorti Synagogue Abbey Road NW London and the party was held at The Barbican.
Julie married Mark Finch from Hampstead. They shared a gap year in Israel 8 years ago and have been together ever since.
We all remember Julie as one of our Bat Mitzvah girls and an assistant at the Cheder.
We would like to wish Clive & Ruth Harris many congratulations.


"Jewish London" by Rachel Kolsky & Roslyn Rawson


A new guidebook to Jewish London, co-authored by Rachel Kolsky and Roslyn Rawson, will be published shortly and in the bookshops from 1st March. Sukkat Shalom is featured in the Jewish London Further Afield section, complete with full colour photos and details of our wonderful shul.

They particularly wanted to mention the heritage of the building and have included an image of Beverley-Jane Stewart's gorgeous painting of the synagogue at the Tottenham Home and Hospital so that readers can see the paneling in both its original and current setting.

The page for our feature looks quite stunning. Let me tell you a little bit more about the book. It has 224 pages containing all anyone would need to know about Jewish London. They have included where to tour, stay, eat, shop and pray.

They are hopeing it is written in a lively and fresh fashion with over 200 colour photographs, art works and archive images together with detailed maps and practical advice such as travel information and opening hours. Special features include eight easy to follow self-guided walking tours, restaurant reviews of over 40 eateries for all budgets and tastes, information on 44 synagogues of all denominations and sections dedicated to the Jewish Museum, Holocaust memorials, Jewish art and artists, Judaica, films and literature, Jewish cemeteries, major historical personalities such as the Rothschilds and Disraeli and day trips out of London.

The authors have arranged a series of 'Meet the Authors' presentations and some of you might like to attend.

The next Chavurah Supper & Service will be held as shown below:-


Chavurah Supper & Service Friday 4th April 2014 from 7.00pm

A Chavurah Supper & Service will be held on Friday 4th April 2014 from 7.00pm. Why not come along and bring some food to share. These evenings are always enjoyable and very sociable.........So....why not give it a try ?????

Why not come along and join us for a very enjoyable and social evening. Bring some food to share (no meat please)

Also on Friday 2nd May 2014 7.00pm.


Community Development Manager Vacancy


Community Development Manager

Can you help us grow a vibrant Reform Judaism?

The Movement for Reform Judaism is looking for a creative, energetic and committed individual to join our Community Development Team. We work with 42 synagogues across the country, delivering the Movement's mission of enabling the growth of a vibrant Reform Judaism, inspiring individuals and communities with Reform Jewish values and traditions.

Working in partnership with the rabbis, cantors, professionals and lay leaders of our communities you will help them to think strategically to realise their potential.

Using your skills and experience gained within a not-for-profit organisation or synagogue, you will also help to create and deliver national and regional events that promote Reform Judaism and to find opportunities for outreach and growth across the UK.

You will need to be a competent and credible communicator, at ease with both one to one meetings and in leading groups. You are likely to have some experience of running a synagogue (either in a professional or voluntary capacity), or hold a recognised community development qualification and have an understanding of the dynamics of working with clergy, lay leaders and professionals.

Your normal working week is likely to include regular evening and weekend work. We are open to the possibility of varying work patterns. If you are a real people-person who can empower others to make a difference in our communities and are happy to work flexibly as part of a professional team, please request an application form and full information pack. Excellent package available for an excellent candidate.

Grace Watch Bat Mitzvah Saturday February 8th


Grace Watch was Bat Mitzvah in the shul on February 8th 2014. Her Drasha explained the portion of the Torah which dealt with the importance of sanctuary, community as well as describing the makling of the holy garments for Aaron and his sons.

Her study Passage was a piece written by Simone Weil which is about the importance of roots.

She went on to say how she feels very much a part of the Sukkat Shalom community as she has been attending shul she she was 4 years old and how she considers the shul part of her "family".

Grace took the whole of the first part of the service in a very capable manner and she sang beautifully.

She read her Torah portion well and was a credit to her tutors and her father Alan Watch read the Haftarah.

Rabbi Becker gave his sermon which was extremely interesting an humorous as usual and Melvyn Pedro presented Grace with her Bat Mitzvah certificate in his usual casual way.

All in all a splendid service was capped of with a lovely Kiddush provided by Karen Watch and her family.


From Rabbi Becker


I am writing this on the day before I will be reading the Song of the Sea in Shul and I thought that I would write a piece that is related to the Parasha.

Usually I begin these pieces with a joke. This should have been easy to do as, after all, there are many jokes related to the Exodus and the crossing of the Yom Suf. But on the news there were more of the steady diet of stories about hungry and frightened refugees, this time from South Sudan and Syria. In 2013 many fleeing from the string of seemingly endless tragedies in that part of the world drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to safety in substandard boats.

Is it any wonder that our ancestors were too afraid to enter the sea without boats and only the promise of an unseen God to protect them?

Then there were the stories about people trying to recover from natural events like floods, weather events etc.

The book of Exodus tells us nothing about the shelters available to the Israelites as they were battered by heavy winds and foul weather. If they had had any shelters at all they must have been flimsy, only increasing their sense of vulnerability.

The Bafta award nominations recently announced include 10 for the film 12 years a Slave which tells the true story of a free Black man forced into slavery in the pre-Civil War American South.

This brought to mind all of the news stories of 2013 about slaves in modern Britain. The past is not past.

Having spent many years as free people in Egypt the Israelites were enslaved for 400 years in Egypt.


Bridge Group


Currently the Bridge Group plays at Woodford Progressive. 

The Woodford Progressive Group plays on Wednesday Nights from 7.30pm at Marlborough Road South Woodford and usually has enough to play. However more people are welcome both as beginners and improvers.

Both Jocelyn Shepherd and Frank Godson currently play at Woodford on a Wednesday evening.    


A Beautiful Version of Adon Alom



A lovely version of Adom Alom which we have sung on Shabbat in the synagogue.


Inspirational Steps


Inspirational Steps

Inspirational Steps is an 8 week pilot programme. It will take place in a lovely setting (Valentines Park) and start gently with a walking course of 2.5km. There will be 3 sessions per week (choose one or more). Over the 8 weeks we hope you will be inspired to extend the length of the walk to complete 5km in less than 1 hour!

Who is it for?
• Primary school children with their parent/s
• People wanting to lose weight
• People who have not done any meaningful exercise for a period of time

When is it?
• Saturday Mornings 10am to 11am Starting 8th February 2014
• Tuesday mornings 10.30am to 12.00pm Starting 11th February 2014
• Thursday afternoon 4pm- to 5.30pm Starting 13th February 2014

• Valentines Park by the Valentines Café ~ nearest gates Melbourne Road or Cranbrook Road (Ilford end)

For more information and to book your free place (as sessions will only take place if there are confirmed participants) please contact
Harmander Singh:

Faith.forum@redbridge.gov.uk or harmanders@btinternet.com
Tel: 0208708 2478 Mobile No: 07958 946868


Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner's major address to the Board Of Deputies plenary on Sunday, 19 January.


Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner gave a major address to the Board Of Deputies plenary last Sunday, 19 January. The address spoke to the entire Jewish community, transcending movements, setting out a vision of how we can nurture Jewish life in times of enormous change.

This is just one example of our work promoting Reform values and ensuring that these values have an impact on the national Jewish debate. Rabbi Laura was very warmly received by the packed plenum and Laurence Brass, Treasurer of the Board, paid tribute to her in his vote of thanks noting that “she is a golden thread running through the Jewish community.”

This feels familiar or - more accurately - familial.

I never expected to follow my father and grandfather here. It’s both a personal and a professional privilege to speak at this Plenum. I was brought up as part of the Board family and have been recently welcomed back into it, working with my outstanding colleagues Joseph Moses and Rabbi Natan Levy and alongside the dedicated team of the Board’s lay leaders.
I value the Board because it is our prime democratic institution, expressing different voices and views that reflect the vitality and diversity of our community.

Just like any rabbi, my role is to build and sustain our community. This is what I want to talk about today – how we nurture our changing community.

From the Rabbi December 2013


How much are you worth?

Usually when this question is asked the answer is given in terms of the presumed monetary value of one’s financial assets.

Would you give up your live for your material possessions? If not why are we so willing to see someone else put their lives at risk to protect our material possessions?

Sometimes the answer is given in terms of the economic value of what one gives to the community. If someone is disabled or has skills that are of little commercial value are their lives less valuable? If someone is capable of creating vast financial wealth even at the cost of great suffering to others, are their lives of greater value than someone who brings joy without financial reward?

Sometimes the answer is given in terms of the commercial value of the chemical elements which go into making up our bodies. A recent estimate that I have seen gives the value of an average sized person at $160. Would you kill for $160? Wired magazine estimated that a human being’s components, organs, bone marrow, DNA etc would be worth up to $45,000,000. Would you kill for this amount of money? How many others would kill a stranger for this amount? Do you feel as safe as you did before reading this article?

Some claim that our worth is based on our good deeds. How do we measure the value of a good deed? What if a good deed unintentionally causes great harm? Is the value based on the intent or the result? Who measures and how?

Some see the world as mechanistic with our all of our actions based on heredity and other outside forces. They maintain that there is no free will and no such thing as self. If this is true, how can you be seen as being worth anything at all?


Charlie Godson aka Moses



In time for Pesach. I thought that I might share this with you. My grandson Charlie Godson in New York in conversation with my son Matt Godson


The Movement for Reform Judaism - 2013 in review


2013 was another busy and exciting year for the Movement for Reform Judaism.

'Haggadateinu' was launched – the first ever UK Reformhaggadah for the whole Movement embodying our core values. The L’Chaim adult education programme got underway, helping people define and raise confidence in their Reform Judaism: "Completely engaging and inspiring" said one participant.

The second MRJ Music Conference took place in the summer - an energetic, inspiring experience to enrich the musical and spiritual life of our communities.

Robert Weiner of Alyth was elected as MRJ Chair and Gary Copitch as Vice-Chair. Tribute was paid to outgoing Chair Jenny Pizer, noting her outstanding contribution over nine years both as Chair and as a Board member.

‘Hubs’ have been launched in the North – serving the eastern and western regions they allow communities to work collaboratively, pooling resources and sharing knowledge. The Northern Communities Weekend was a great success. “Such a special weekend”, said one participant, “I feel nourished and re-invigorated”.

Some familiar faces have taken up new roles in MRJ. Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers has joined us as our Community Educator, helping ensure Reform values are cascaded to all ages throughout the Movement’s communities. And Charlotte Fischer, a former RSY-Netzer madricha (leader) became the first London Citizens Jewish community worker promoting grassroots activism within MRJ and fostering alliances between faith communities and other groups.

Torah Lunches


Torah Lunches

After one Saturday service per month there is a Torah Lunch where we share morsels of food and knowledge in an informal environment. If you have young children and would like to attend the Torah Lunch please let the Rabbi know so that we can arrange for the children to be looked after by one of our Madrichim.


Nelson Mandela


The Movement for Reform Judaism and the Council of Sukkat Shalom Reform Synagogue were saddened by the news of the death of Nelson Mandela. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the people of South Africa at what remains a difficult time.

The dignity with which Nelson Mandela overcame imprisonment and the brutality of Apartheid is an inspiration to us all.

The love of God knows no barriers of religion or race; his legacy must be that all of us continue to fight hatred and prejudice wherever we find it, to continue in our work of tikkun olam, repair of the world.

Tree of Life


The synagogue has a Tree of Life in its foyer. Commemorative gold leaves can be inscribed for special occasions, e.g. births, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, weddings, anniversaries, a life etc.

Contact the Administrator for more details on admin@sukkatshalom.me.uk


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