Westminster Chai

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Westminster Chai welcomes 20 distinguished guest speakers to Kent House to celebrate Shavuot.For more information about Westminster Chai, please get in touch.

For under 5s we will have a creche (please note children under 3 must be accompanied by an adult) and for children LJY Netzer presents: Israel - Choose your Own Adventure! Join Sam and the amazing madrichim from LJY Netzer as they run a programme of activities for 6-13 year olds based on all things Israel. From creating your own Jewish nation, to an interactive experience encapsulating many of the conflicts, questions- and wonders of Israel today in synagogue and Hyde Park (weather permitting), this will be an unforgettable Israel experience for all.

Speakers and Sessions

10:00 - 10:40 Registration and coffee

Arts and Books - Janet Elf's Jewish Books and Kathryn Michael's Crafts - Throughout the day you will have opportunitiies to browse and purchase Jewish objects for all ages. Be it the story of Moses for kids, or Judaism 101 for adults, Janet's books will give you an opportunity to further your education after Chai is over. Or perhaps you're more a tactile person? Then Kathryn will have crafts for all occasions. Both stalls complement the day perfectly so make sure you take a look!

10:40 - 11:20 Welcome and keynote with Guest Speaker

Session One: 11:30 - 12:20 - Choose From:

Krav Maga -  Krav Maga (contact combat) is an eclectic fighting system developed in Israel and taught to law enforcement, military forces and civilians around the world. It is a modern self-defence and tactical system which teaches how to prevent, deal and overcome all kinds of threat and attacks. Join us as we learn some practical moves in this adult taster session

Four Misconception about the Nature of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Avi Jager Many in Israel and beyond remain convinced that the traditional model of the Middle East peace process has come very close to success in recent decades and that with some tweaks or twists, still further efforts along these lines might yield an acceptable outcome—if only both sides would make a few additional concessions. However, the model of change embodied in the Oslo Accords failed, and if tried again, it will fail again. Only a fundamentally different approach to change—call it bottom-up rather than top-down—can end the underlying conflict. The talk "Four Misconceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" will confront the mainstream arguments regarding why there is not peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and will seek to identify the necessary measures needs to be taken in order to achieve sustainable peace.

Israeli Cinema – a reflection of Israeli society  - Keffi Wyse -  By watching and analysing selected clips from Israeli films, we will have an intimate insight into Israel’s birth, growth and development. The cinema provides an ideal “lens” by which we gain a greater understanding of Israel’s society, multiculturalism , attitudes, dilemmas and challenges. The session is for people who are interested in the camera eyes view of Israel.

LGBT+ Life within Israel - Allison Zionts - KeshetUK works to promote equality and diversity, advance education and eliminate discrimination in relation to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) people in particular LGBT+ Jews within the Jewish and wider community. In this session, we will celebrate and discuss the role of the LGBT+ community within Israel, including highlighting the successes within the community. Be prepared to hear some heart-wrenching stories, see clips from the 'best of' LGBT+ Israeli life, and discuss what more can be done to support the community within Israel. 

100th Anniversary: The Balfour Declaration - Phillipa Bernard - By no means all of Anglo-Jewry was in favour of a national home for the Jewish people, but this session will try to assess the background of when – and where – such a home should be founded, with a look at those responsible.  After dealing with the historical factors which influenced the decision in England there will be an opportunity to discuss the rights and wrongs of the Declaration and the events that succeeded it. 

50 words in 50 minutes - Basic social interactions in Hebrew - Shai Groskopf - Come and experience how to conduct basic conversation in Hebrew in the span of 50 minutes. This is a taster session for people with no background in the language. During this interactive session you will learn to introduce yourself in Hebrew, ask and answer some basic questions, which should get you through basic social encounters. A crush word-list will be provided!

Tour of the Czech Scrolls - Museum Tour Guides - In February 1964, 1564 Czech scrolls arrived at Kent House from Prague. Saved during the Nazi era, these Torah Scrolls from the now deserted synagogues of Bohemia and Moravia were brought to Westminster Synagogue following an historic deal with the Communist government. Over the decades since their arrival, the racks grew emptier as one Scroll after another found a home in communities around the world.  The scrolls used by Westminster Synagogue come from Horazd’ovice and Prestice, small towns not too far from Prague.  They no longer have Jewish communities and our Scrolls are a poignant reminder of those communities that perished and now only live on through us.

Session Two: 12:30 - 13:20 - Choose From:

Come and create: Trees for all sorts, and for all seasons - Kathryn Michael You don't need to be able to draw to enjoy this session. Come and join Kathryn in a fun workshop inspired by the 'Women and their Olive Trees' project creating your very own tree. All ages welcome and all materials provided - just add you!

Furnival Street, Fashion,Fiction - Jan Shure Journalist, entrepreneur, author, wife, mother, Jan Shure is an inspiring role model whose life and career has been profoundly influenced by and bound up with Israel. Jan worked for 29 years as a senior editor at the Jewish Chronicle, famously based in Furnival Street, during the hey-day of print media. From affecting hearts and minds in UK Jewry at the JC for many years and her successful leap into the online fashion industry, to recovery from major brain surgery and the recent publication of her debut novel, 'If Not for You' in 2017, in which Israel and Jewish identity are key themes, Jan will share insights and perspectives gained through her rich and varied journey. 

Israel and Palestine Today - Youth Voices - Solutions not Sides - Our session will very much be focused on listening to the youth voices from Israel and Palestine and what sort of future they are hoping for. Solutions Not Sides is a non-partisan educational charity which aims to educate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through direct student interaction with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists. The educational sessions are designed to prepare students to make a positive, solutions-focused contribution to debates on Israel-Palestine. SNS has delivered conflict resolution training, provided education, and facilitated discussion on the conflict in the UK and Western Europe since 2010, engaging thousands of students in the process.

‘No contradiction’: Judaism and democracy in the Israeli Supreme Court - Gabriel Webber - Some of the most exciting Jewish writing today is coming out of the Israeli Supreme Court. It tackles the same modern legal questions that judges all over the world have to deal with, but it does it so Jewishly! Quoting the mishnah just as frequently as Israeli case-law, the Supreme Court grapples with one fundamental question: what does it mean to be Jewish and democratic? This session will explore the court's background and some of its recent decisions on a wide range of issues. No legal experience necessary: only a thirst to understand more about how Israeli society ticks Jewishly!

Maccabees, Herod, Romans and the Temple in Jerusalem? - Rabbi Dr Thomas SalamonMany of us know about the Maccabees - indeed one of our most joyful festivals, Chanukah, involves their story. However in this session, we will explore whether they were heroes or not and question whether they brought the final downfall of the Jewish Kingdom?

50 words in 50 minutes - Travel in Israel - Shai Grosskopf - Here's your chance to travel through Israel in 50 minutes, without leaving London. This is a taster session for people with no background in the Hebrew language. During this interactive session we will learn basic vocabulary relating to travel, which should allow you to board transportation and ask for directions, obtain your booked hotel room and order some food at a restaurant, as well as request help in an emergency. A crush word-list will be provided!

An Israeli Lunch with Israeli Music 13:20 - 14:10

Israeli Music - Tally Koren - Tally is a very well-travelled, multi-lingual, international Israeli-born artist who is extremely passionate about using her music and voice as a harmonic means to bridge the gap between different cultures. Her deeply felt understanding of the need to encourage integration between different cultures comes from her own personal multi-cultural upbringing from Syrian and Polish backgrounds. Award winner for Best Singer/Songwriter in the London Fringe in 2011, Tally was playlisted on BBC Radio 2 and her music has been played by Chris Evans and Steve Wright and on Aled Jones’ Good Morning Sunday, the Graham Norton ‘highlights of the year’ 2011 show, London Live TV and on the Virgin Media TV playlist. Tally will be performing both during lunch and at the morning welcome - don't miss out on this treat!

Sassi's Falafel - Packed Lunches will be available for every Chai attendee to take and eat wherever they fancy, but if you really want to add an extra bite to your Israeli Palet, why not try one of Sass Zecharia's falafel. The stand will be on offer with a selection of salads, tehina and topings so you can have your pita just how you like it.

Arts and Books - Janet Elf's Jewish Books and Kathryn Michael's Crafts - Throughout the day you will have opportunitiies to browse and purchase Jewish objects for all ages. Be it the story of Moses for kids, or Judaism 101 for adults, Janet's books will give you an opportunity to further your education after Chai is over. Or perhaps you're more a tactile person? Then Kathryn will have crafts for all occasions. Both stalls complement the day perfectly so make sure you take a look!

Tour of the Czech Scrolls - Museum Tour Guides - In February 1964, 1564 Czech scrolls arrived at Kent House from Prague. Saved during the Nazi era, these Torah Scrolls from the now deserted synagogues of Bohemia and Moravia were brought to Westminster Synagogue following an historic deal with the Communist government. Over the decades since their arrival, the racks grew emptier as one Scroll after another found a home in communities around the world.  The scrolls used by Westminster Synagogue come from Horazd’ovice and Prestice, small towns not too far from Prague.  They no longer have Jewish communities and our Scrolls are a poignant reminder of those communities that perished and now only live on through us.

Session Three: 14:10 - 15:00 - Choose From:

Women and their Olive Trees: A Unique Adult Art Class - Natalie Adams - A lesson using unusual techniques to capture the beauty of nature. This class will offer a taster as to how to achieve  interesting effects using techniques that will create something different and original.  The class is linked to WIZOu's Women and their Olive Trees exhibition which will be available during Chai. All levels welcome.

The Changing Map of Divisions over Israel in the Diaspora - Keith Kahn-Harris - In recent decades, Israel has increasingly become a source of division in the Uk and other Diaspora Jewish communities. A variety of different positions on Israel have emerged within UK Jewry that can be ‘mapped.’ The map is constantly changing though. In this session, Keith Kahn-Harris will explain how the map of Israel divisions has changed since 2014, when his book on the subject was published. 

Vegan is The New Kosher - The rise and blaze of plant based life in Tel Aviv, Israel, and across the Globe - Kristof Steiner - Living in Tel Aviv the question “where should we eat?” is probably the most common sentence we recite with my friends.
The White City is famous from being the Middle East’s most progressive culinary hotspot, thanks to the fabulous combination of Ashkenazi, Arabian and Mediterranian dishes. In Tel Aviv spirituality and veganism walks hand in hand: even the most popular restaurants are making efforts to become “vegan friendly”. Let's look behind the "trend" together and find out the secret connections between veganism, Judaism. Session by bestselling Hungarian cookbook writer and columnist of Time Out Israel, Kristóf Steiner of www.whitecityboy.com blog.

Seven Israeli Stories through Seven Recipies - Robin Moss - Think Israeli food is just falafel, hummus and shwarma? Think again! Israeli cuisine (or should we say cuisines) reflects the diversity of the society. Explore the melting pot of Israel via seven recipes that you can take away and make at home!

Does Talmud has anything to say about division of the Land? - Student Rabbi Igor Zinkov - How does Rabbinic literature affect modern Israeli politics regarding two-state solution? During the session you will explore how Israeli politicians and journalists use Talmudic passages and try to discuss their undercurrents.

Session Four: 15:10 - 16:00 - Choose From:

Give your peace a chance - Shelley Kielar - Peace is like a flower that blossoms first inside of us perfuming us and enticing others to want the same feeling. In the ever increasingly chaotic world, now is the time to give your inner peace a chance to blossom, grow and spread. Come and join Annapurna for a gentle hatha yoga class with oodles of deep relaxation. It's an opportunity to go within and connect to your source of inner peace. Class suitable for everyone, beginners included.  

John Offenbach From Architecture to Portraiture John Offenbach, is an award winning photographer who began his career in 1994 and is currently represented by agents in New York, London, and Paris. John will be in conversation with Gaby Wood, journalist and Literary Director of the Booker Prize about his career to date. From architecture and advertising to new work travelling the world photographing portraits of Jewish faces.

The Bahá’í World Centre in Israel Join us for a session that will explain the core beliefs of the Baha'i faith including: A presentation with visual images of the Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa and close to Akká; Why the Bahá’í Faith has its World Centre in Israel; The significance of the beautiful Gardens on Mount Carmel that are so synonymous; and the resting place of Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Faith, in Akká.

Jewish Parenting in a non-Jewish world; challenges and opportunities, tools and take homes - Rabbi Debbie Young-Sommers - Come and explore and share as we look at Jewish parenting in 21st Century London, and pick up some ideas and resources for Jewish reinforcement at home!.

Christiam Perpectives on Israel - Jacob Vince - To provide (i) Overview of theological positions which can lead to both positive and negative positions toward Israel, (ii) Examples of how they are influenced from Church history and current affairs, (iii) Summary of Christian Friends of Israel’s work.

Tour of the Czech Scrolls - Museum Tour Guides - In February 1964, 1564 Czech scrolls arrived at Kent House from Prague. Saved during the Nazi era, these Torah Scrolls from the now deserted synagogues of Bohemia and Moravia were brought to Westminster Synagogue following an historic deal with the Communist government. Over the decades since their arrival, the racks grew emptier as one Scroll after another found a home in communities around the world.  The scrolls used by Westminster Synagogue come from Horazd’ovice and Prestice, small towns not too far from Prague.  They no longer have Jewish communities and our Scrolls are a poignant reminder of those communities that perished and now only live on through us.

 

Click here to book tickets for Westminster Chai