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Shabbat message from Rabbi James Baaden

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Shabbat Shuvah Message from Rabbi James Baaden

Return! That’s the message of Shabbat Shuvah, often translated as “The Sabbath of Return”. It’s actually named after the Haftarah this week, which begins with a call to the whole community of Israel summoning them to return. And sometimes it’s called “Shabbat Teshuvah” – as Teshuvah, repentance, the main theme of this season, is indeed very closely related in Hebrew to the idea of returning, going back, turning around.
Quite a few years ago, I remember, I spoke at Rosh ha Shanah about the story of Dick Whittington, not just three times but in fact four times Lord Mayor of London in the Middle Ages. According to legend, when he was a dejected young man, feeling himself to be a failure here in London, he set out for home (Gloucestershire)- with his cat. Trudging up Highgate Hill, he heard the bells of London calling to him to turn around and go back – to London, and future mayoral glories.
Of course, he was already returning, or trying to return – to his childhood home in western England. That was halted. He stopped – and stayed here. Return is truly relative. At all sorts of moments we are both returning and going forward. When we return we are also advancing: in time, in life. Yes, we may be going back to something, someone, somewhere. But … time has passed. It will be different. They will be different. We will be different. Changed. And the process of return itself will change us.
We cannot turn the clock back to the time “before Coronavirus”. Some dimensions of that era are gone forever. And we ourselves are changed, different. What are we called to return to at this season? What sort of world do we seek, do we need, to return to in our current context in September 2020? The answers lie within us – as we identify and honour where we came from, all that was good in the past, everything and everyone that we have loved and valued and learnt from – and go forward.
Shabbat Shalom and Shanah Tovah
Rabbi James Baaden

Days of Awe 2020 / 5781

By | Festivals

We look forward to welcoming you during the Days of Awe; Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur, as well as Sukkot and Simchat Torah.

This year’s Days of Awe Services are going to be unlike any other which we have experienced. Although our building may be physically closed, we are open online and will be offering an exciting programme of services and events and look forward to welcoming you to them.

Details of the key times of all the events can be found here, and on our Facebook page. If you need any further information you can contact us either on 020 8445 3400 or at

As usual we will have a variety of services on offer and they can be accessed on zoom, either in our normal main channel – or our 2nd channel at For more information about how to connect please click here.

It is important to note which prayer books are being used for each service.  If you don’t have a copy of the prayer book you can access them all online at Reform Judaism –



All services will be via

Services marked ‘Zoom Channel 2’ will be via

Further information on how to connect please click here

To listen to the beautiful voices and music of our choir singing a selection of songs for the Days of Awe click here.


Rosh Hashanah

Selichot, Saturday 12 September, 9.00 pm

A creative and inspiring beginning, featuring the unique and beautiful melodies of the Sha’arei Tsedek choir led by Louise Katin, Musical Director. Service led by Rabbi James Baaden and Rabbo Shulamit Ambalu. Rabbi Ambalu will give the sermon.

Erev Rosh Hashanah, Friday 19 September, 6.45 pm

Welcome Rosh Hashanah in your own home and join with others for a short and musical service led by our clergy and with music from Louise Katin and the choir. Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu will give the sermon.

Rosh Hashanah I, Shabbat 20 September

10.30 am   Community Morning Service

Join Rabbi James Baaden, Louise Katin and our virtual choir for this Classical Reform Rosh Hashanah community morning service. Rabbi Baaden will give the sermon. Service will be followed by virtual Kiddush.

Zoom Channel 2 –

10.30 am  ‘Off The Page’ 0-120 Creative Service

A ‘book-free’ creative celebration of Rosh Hashanah for anyone aged 0-120 with Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu and Natasha Kafka. This service ends at 11.30 am so that the whole community can join together to hear the shofar in the main service.

Rosh Hashanah II, Sunday 20 September

Outdoor Taschlich in the community

Unfortunately due to new government guidelines around social distancing we will be unable to meet for Tashlich outdoors in the Community.

If the situation changes before Sunday 20 September we will publish further information here. Members will be updated via internal newsletter.

Erev Shabbat Shuvah, Friday 25 September

6.45 pm   Erev Shabbat Shuvah Service

Shabbat Shuvah, Saturday 26 September

10.30 am  Shabbat Shuvah Morning Service


Yom Kippur

Kol Nidre, Sunday 27 September

6.33 pm   Fast begins

7.00 pm   Kol Nidre Service

A reflective, moving and musical service with Rabbi James Baaden, Louise Katin and the Sha’arei Tsedek choir. Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu will give the sermon.

Yom Kippur, Monday 28 September

Main Zoom Channel –

10.30 am  Classical morning service

With Rabbi James Baaden, Louise Katin and the Sha’arei Tsedek choir. Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner will give the sermon.

1.00 pm    Mussaf

This powerful and participatory service, with Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu and Louise Katin takes place in the heart of the day.

2.30 pm   ‘Off The Page’ Creative 0-120 Afternoon Service

This entirely new, ‘Off The Page’ book free service, for everyone aged 0-120, features a new drama based on the book of Jonah written by Liam Schriebmann. Led by Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu and Natasha Kafka.

4.00 pm   Boost your Yom Kippur Resilience, a study session with Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner reads from her new book, Bitesize Resilience. A Crisis Survival Diary, which she has just published in a personal capacity.

5.30 pm   Yizkor 

We remember all those we have lost. Service led by Rabbi James Baaden.

6.30 pm    Neilah 

Our community joins together to end Yom Kippur together with music, words and feeling. Fast ends at 7.32 pm.

Zoom Channel 2 –

10.30 am Pre school fun

With Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu and Roz Levenson

11.15 am  Creative ways to say sorry 

With Natasha Kafka School years 2 to 6

12.35 pm ‘How does being Jewish make all the difference to posting on Insta or Tik Tock?’

With Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner. School years 7 and beyond

2.30 pm   Our Very Own Golems, a study session with Gill Lazarus

According to legend, Rabbi Judah Loew created a man out of clay, a Golem, whose task was to serve and defend the beleaguered Jewish people of Prague. The Golem had a mind of his own and, before long, was out of control. In modern times, we find other ways of defending ourselves but do we need to defend ourselves from the defenders?



Community Sukkah Building – Wednesday 30 September, 4.00 pm

Please contact the Office if you would like to help decorate the Sukkah. Contributions of foliage and fruit will be gratefully received. Please contact the Office to arrange drop off any donations.

Erev Sukkot, Friday 2 October

6.45 pm   Erev Sukkot / Shabbat Service

Join us online for an evening service beamed to you from our own community sukkah. Build a sukkah in your own garden this year, and join us from yours.

Sukkot, Shabbat 3 October

10.30 am   Festival Morning Service – from our sukkah to yours. 


Simchat Torah

Erev Simchat Torah, Friday 9 October

6.45 pm   ‘Off The Page’ 0-120 Community Service

Join us for creative and musical celebratory service, for all ages from 0-120.

Simchat Torah, Shabbat 10 October

10.30 am   Community Simchat Torah  Service 

We end as we begin, celebrating the cycle of Torah with our Rabbis Shulamit Ambalu, Colin Eimer and James Baaden; musicians, and wonderful Sha’arei Tsedek members; join us for this unique creative online celebration.