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Oxford Menorah

Oxford Menorah is a quarterly magazine started in about 1970 containing articles of interest to the wider Oxford Jewish community (not just the Congregation) which is independent of, but subsidised by OJC. The editors welcome articles on a wide variety of subjects from members of the community and beyond, from all ages and covering many interests both topics of general Jewish interest and specific issues arising within the community. It also carries extended reports on events organized within the community, and on the personal achievements of members. It acts as a forum for comment and debate, and there is scope for development to include book and film reviews, more educational and imaginative writing and more contributions from the community's children.

Menorah comes out at the beginning of March, June, September and December, and is also available to subscribers. Rates (incl. postage): Free to members of the OJC; otherwise UK £15/yr, overseas £30/yr. For further information, or to volunteer to submit articles, please contact us at menorah@ojc-online.org  


 Examples of articles from Menorah magazine:

Menorah Magazine :  Issue 209 Page 12

Norman Solomon at Eighty
By Miriam Kochan

Me: Can I speak to Norman, please. It‘s about this article I‘m writing for Menorah.
Hilary: Sorry,I don‘t think he‘s landed yet.
Me: Landed? Has he been away?
Hilary: No, no, no. He‘s just having one of his flying lessons.
I should not have been surprised. This was not the first time that Rabbi Norman Solomon has shown an unexpected penchant for unusual physical activity. He ran both London and New York Marathons in his sixties, and when living by the river in North Oxford was often to be seen paddling his own canoe. A course of flying lessons was really an obvious gift for his chil-dren to give this father on his eightieth birthday.
Some birthday celebrations were more conven-tional. The Congregation sponsored a Kiddush in his honour and presented him with well-earned honorary life membership. He is, after all a pillar of the Orthodox minyan, doing more than his share of the Shabbat layning and always willing when an alternative minyan is running late to fill the waiting minutes with an impromptu address delivered diffidently, humorously and with a simplicity which masks his depth of knowledge and enhances ours. Not to mention his weekly Talmud shi’urim in term-time.
Other birthday events showed Norman the musician, for he is a musician as well as a rabbi. In fact he was a musician before he was a rabbi. He went up to Cambridge on the back of a narrowly missed music scholarship and took music for part two of the Tripos – but only after his mother had recommended he do something useful, as opposed to the Moral Sciences he read for part one. In this birthday year he threw a sumptuous party for our Friendship Club, entertaining his guests with their own private piano recital. Another recital at a Council of Christians and Jews soirée arose from the interest in inter-faith relations which in 1983 led him to embark on a second career as director of the Centre for the Study of Judaism and Jewish-Christian Relations, based in Birmingham, and which still leads him to play a leading role in many Oxford, national and international interfaith activities.

norman solomon

Not the flying, running and boating, nor yet the undoubted musical talent would seem to have a direct connection with Norman‘s choice of first career which formally began when he went to Manchester in 1961 as rabbi to the Orthodox Whitefield congregation. Even the religious practises in his childhood Cardiff home offer no easy explanation: He describes his Yiddish-speaking, Polish-born father as a Yom-Kippur Jew, well thought-of in the local Jewish community‘; his London-born mother as believing in organised religion for other people‘. He had two good teachers at Cardiff Cheder, but most influ-ence came from a handful of observant German Jewish refugees who had settled in the city. Such were their attractions that he accepted their invitations to join them for Friday-night dinners. This, he says, was his teenage revolt‘. It is interesting to note that his first wife, Devora, who sadly died in 1998, came from a similar German Orthodox milieu.
He survived for five years in Manchester, writing his PhD there on the Analytic Movement of R. Hayyim Soloveitchik and learning a lot, he says, about the intolerance of the Orthodox communi-ty. Norman recalls an occasion at this time when in the face of threats from several Orthodox colleagues he shared a platform with a Reform rabbi. Did this mark the start of what is possibly a second and permanent revolt ? Today, in his latest book Torah from Heaven, he describes himself as sceptical Orthodox‘.
Notwithstanding, Norman spent twenty-two years in the Orthodox rabbinate, moving from Manchester to Liverpool and thence to Denning-ton Park Road, Hampstead, before the switch to interfaith in Birmingham.
What we hope will be the final move, the last career change, came in 1995, the year he came to Oxford as a fellow of the Yarnton Centre and Wolfson College, and also became a member of the Oxford Jewish Congregation. Today, when he has retired from academia (he describes retirement as his fourth and best career) he is one of the most highly valued members of OJC. A rabbi who is not the rabbi is an indescribable asset in a community such as ours.
Many happy returns of the day, Norman. May you and Hilary enjoy many more happy years in our midst for your pleasure and for ours.

Picture by Alexander Massey

Menorah Magazine :  Issue 209 Page 19

Nina Salaman's experience in the synagogues in Oxford and Cambridge, from her Cambridge University manuscripts
Dr. Shira Koren, Bar Ilan University

Nina Salaman‘s interest in Jewish issues is well-documented in her reports on her visits to the synagogues of Oxford and Cambridge on two consecutive Saturdays which appear in typed pages in the Cambridge Collection. These re-ports are summarized below.

The Visit to Oxford1, Nov 28th, 1919
Salaman first describes the Friday service, which was very small – just a minyan (ten men) in the men's section and her alone in the women's pews.
It appears that nowadays, all visitors to the Jewish men at Oxford are "run" by the orthodox section, who, in fact, have the Synagogue and the Adler Society in their own hands. This means about a dozen to twenty men, of whom a few flitter between the two camps. But, rightly speaking perhaps, it is only the orthodox who can be called a camp – the others, about thirty, are scattered, and absorbed by the general life of the University. I think it is clear that the orthodox are not unbending enough, that they make a little eclectic society among themselves, and that the others, less versed in Jewish learning and therefore less enthusiastic, remain out in the cold, neither attending the services because they are in Hebrew, nor, as a rule, the meetings of the Adler Society because the one group monopolises the discussion and appears contemp-tuous of them.
She adds that the president of the Congregation "should make a bridge between" the two com-munities.2

The Visit to Cambridge3, Dec. 5th, 1919
Salaman describes a Shabbat they spent at a hotel in Cambridge with the community, which consisted of 50 men for Friday evening service. She gave a sermon there before the end of the prayer (Yigdal), as was described above. She praises the community there compared to Ox-ford's, but says that Cambridge has I.A. (initials of the leader) while Oxford is waiting for Herbert M. Loewe4 to return from India. She adds that "After lunch a number of men came in and lis-tened most intelligently to my paper on the He-brew poets, and there was quite a good talk af-terwards." Then she compares the two commu-nities:
The difference which strikes one most between the Jewish men at Oxford and at Cambridge is that the small orthodox group at Oxford show a learning and devotion, and a knowledge particu-larly of classic Hebrew literature which, I don't think, can be found, except perhaps in one or two men, at Cambridge, while the remainder take practically no part in Jewish affairs at all; whereas at Cambridge, interest and responsibil-ity in Jewish matters are far more widespread, almost every one taking his part to some extent, and some being well versed in modern Hebrew literature, but perhaps hardly one living such an absorbingly Jewish life as the little group at
Nina Salaman wrote a number of translations for the Routledge Machzorim

1. The Cambridge Collection, typed pages, Box 26.
2. Now the situation in the Oxford synagogue is very different. It is a synagogue for all types of Jews: Or-thodox, conservative and reform, and from my per-sonal experience there, it is remarkably tolerant.
3. The Cambridge Collection, typed pages, Box 26.
4. A great Hebrew scholar, son and grandson of great scholars, who wrote an obituary about Sala-man after her death.

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