Shabbat 7 April, 10.30 am

Please join us for special study session with Study Leader, Rabbi James Baaden who will be looking at questions of living with pluralism and difference - in the Torah and in Judaism today.

On Shabbat 7 April Rabbi James Baaden will be leading us in an imaginative study session dedicated to the memory of a highly popular leader of our community,  Arthur Bergner.  

Brunch and refreshments will be served.  Open to members and non-members.

Overview of Bruch Study Session

Nowadays we celebrate the value of diversity in many settings. Judaism has always been a diverse, pluralist culture. Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews do things differently—not least at Pesach.

Jews from India, Ethiopia and Greece all have rich and varied traditions. Orthodox and Masorti Jews see this date, Shabbat 7 April, as a festival date, Eighth Day Pesach—but for Reform and Liberal Jews, it’s a normal Shabbat. They eat Matzah today—we eat Challah.

But often we find that we have strong feelings about something—and we have a hard time dealing with the realities of difference.  They may be ‘big’ questions of status and acceptance, or ‘micro’ everyday issues of what we eat when.

Arthur Bergner, dealing with a potentially divisive issue, once said that transition isn’t a one-off challenge, it’s the status quo—the ways things are.

Arthur Bergner

18 September 1914 - 21 April 1997

Arthur Bergner was born on 18 September 1914 and died on 21 April 1997. He was our first Life President.

Arthur grew up in the East End and then moved to Hackney were he attended the Yavneh Federation Synagogue. In 1937 he married Esther in Stepney and they had a son, Adrian Tevyah who was born on 23 February 1943. Adrian died in June 1982 followed by Esther in February 1988.

Arthur’s Jewish education was comprehensive and he attended Yeshivah. He had wanted to become a rabbi but unfortunately World War II intervened.

Although he was not Scottish Arthur enlisted with the London Scottish Regiment and his family were very surprised when he arrived wearing a kilt. He ended his career as a Regimental Sergeant Major. He saw action in North Africa and in spite of the horrors he encountered there said that his most horrific memory was when he entered Rome as part of the liberating army and visited the main Rome Synagogue. His visit coincided with a service of cherem*, a sort of excommunication, of the Italian Chief Rabbi who had converted to Catholicism.

After the War Arthur lived in South London and he and Esther ran a working man’s café for some time.  Eventually they moved to North London. At this time he had become disenchanted with Judaism and flirted with other religions but finally returned to Judaism.  The family joined the community in 1969.

Arthur was a stalwart of our community and involved in virtually all its aspects. He was a regular attendee at all services. He was a warden and often conducted services; He was member of Council and a regular visitor at Alonim [where he was known as Uncle Arthur]. He also ran the charity shop; conducted shivas; regularly attended Religion School and helped develop Purim extravaganzas.

Arthur was considered, by many, as the “unofficial elder of the community” and was consulted on a range of matters. His opinion was much valued. He had a remarkable ability to relate to all generations and very often acted as arbitrator and  was a “roaming ambassador” for the community. He was regularly involved in recruiting new people to serve in the community.

Arthur was a strong character and always very determined to achieve what he set out to do. His death in 1997 left an enormous gap and feeling of loss at in the community. He is remembered every week on Shabbat when we use the 'Bergner' scroll. He is greatly missed by those who knew him.

By Melvyn Yude

For more information please contact Rabbi James Baaden on E: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or T: 020 8445 3400