Issue 43
31st December 2021
Pharaoh and the Pandemic
Last week’s Torah portion, much like last month’s COVID news, brought hope. Moses and Aaron delivered the message that God was planning to rescue the Israelites from slavery whilst, for us, infection numbers fell and new VTL routes opened up. For a brief moment, both the Israelites and the UHC community knew great relief and joy. Until, this week’s portion, when Pharaoh increased his brutal demands and this month’s world news, when Omicron took over.
This week, when Moses comes again to promise deliverance, the Israelites refuse to listen because “their spirits were crushed”. Everyone whose plans have been impacted by the new pandemic wave can understand that. Disappointment is all the more intense when it follows hope. Not only that, but excessive work gets in the way of dreams. The endless demands of every day are the enemy of spiritual introspection, we become so immersed in getting from one moment to the next that we forget to look up from the laptop or the hard labour of building bricks for Pharaoh’s temple to consider what truly matters.
This week’s Torah portion is a story everyone knows. Not only the Israelites but also the Egyptians scoffed at the idea that God could end the slavery and so God sent ten plagues to convince them (actually only seven this week, like all good soap operas we’re left with a cliffhanger and anyone who hasn’t read their Haggadah will have to wait for next week’s Torah instalment to find out if Pharaoh continues to yoyo between agreement and refusal)
Pharaoh’s wavering is pertinent to both the time of year and the handling of the pandemic. In the throes of each plague, Pharaoh agrees to change his ways. But as soon as the suffering abates, he forgets his promise. This is clearly a reminder to those of us over indulging during the holiday season! As we rise with groaning stomachs from the table, swearing never to overeat and drink again, to go to the gym every day and lose 10kg, we should try to ensure that, unlike Pharaoh, our  resolve does not fade around the middle of next week. Many countries might also find uneasy resonance in the wild swings between normality (think of the UK’s Freedom Day in July) and despair (a return to lockdowns and restrictions) Be like Singapore, not Pharaoh, don’t just wear those masks or free those Israelites when the going is tough, remain committed even when things seem to be getting better! 
Unfortunately, just like the Egyptians at the end of Parashah Vaera we are still suffering repeated waves of plagues: Alpha, Beta, Delta, Omicron, with no idea of how many more are on their way. Are we, like the Israelites, no longer able to imagine life without this cruel COVID task master? It is a somewhat depressing thought that the generation who finally escaped from slavery never saw freedom, particularly after the incident with the Golden Calf they were deemed not spiritually mature enough and died in the wilderness, leaving their descendants to inherit the land of Israel. So let’s damp down the hedonistic idea of the group of six for a while longer, trust that, as in Vaera, all this is part of God’s plan and truly hope that won’t take 40 years before we can reap the rewards of two years of pestilence.
Shabbat Shalom and a happy and healthy 2022 to all!
(Rosalind Arwas)
News and Events
Rabbi Beni and Rabbi Miriam can be contacted as follows:
Rabbi Beni:
Rabbi Miriam:
Thursday mornings:

Thursday minyan will resume every week starting 13th January 2022 at 7.30am. Please join for morning prayers, Torah reading and an opportunity to say Kaddish. Minyan is currently online but the Rabbis and Gabbais look forward to welcoming you to the office again, as soon as regulations permit. 

The Zoom link can be found here.  

To acccess the Thursday Siddur, please click here (please note, Siddur is no longer shared on screen during Minyan)

Friday Evening:
Upcoming services are as follows. All services start at 6.30pm unless otherwise indicated:
Friday January 14th: Regular Zoom Shabbat led by our Rabbis with assistance from upcoming B'Nei Mitzvot students. Zoom link for available here
Friday January 21st: In person Shabbat, 60 spaces available. Please note that, in accordance with regulations, all those aged 12 and above must be fully vaccinated. If you have not previously submitted your vaccination record to the UHC office, please do so when you register. For unvaccinated children under 12, attendance is limited to 20% of the total attendees (ie. 12) Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis so please register in advance here. Do ensure that your sign up accurately reflects the number of family members attending and contact Nikkolette if your plans change and you can no longer attend, so that those on the waiting list can receive your slot.
Friday January 28th: Tots Shabbat. 5.30pm start. Details TBC
Friday February 11th: Regular Zoom Shabbat led by our Rabbis with assistance from upcoming B'Nei Mitzvot students
Friday February 18th: Tots Shabbat. 5.30pm start. Details TBC
Friday February 25th: In person Shabbat
An online version of the Friday Siddur can be found here
For non members or anyone unable to access the website, please contact Nikolette
Please consider sponsoring part, or all, of an upcoming in person service, in honour of a loved one or a special occasion or simply as a Thank You to UHC.
To sponsor, please click here
Saturday mornings: 
Sat 26th February @ 10am
Details TBC depending on what regulations are in place by then.
Online Saturday Siddur available here 
Please also join our UHC B'Nei Mitzvot students as they celebrate at services over the next few months. Mazal Tov to all!
Saturday 12th February: Alexis Green
Thursday 24th March: Gabriel Cooperman
Tu BishVat
The birthday of the trees begins on Sunday 16th January and ends on Monday 17th January 2022.
Consider inviting your family and / or permitted number of guests to a Tu Bishvat Seder. Like the Passover Seder, this is rich in symbolism, involving the consumption of 4 different glasses of wine and 4 different types of fruit. For more details, see here. UHC resources are also available on request from Nikkolette.
Alternatively, you may wish to pay homage to some trees. There are 257 Heritage Trees in Singapore, 60 of which can be found in the Botanic Gardens. If you are interested in getting together on 16th January (in groups of 5) for a walk to admire some of them, please contact Rosalind. Alternatively, a guide to visiting 7 of the most spectacular can be downloaded here
UHC News & Events
UHC Whatsapp:
To improve UHC communications we use WhatsApp for news, events and updates. If you haven't registered yet, please use to this link
Book Club:
The UHC Book Club is reading Exodus by Leon Uris
Please join on Zoom to discuss the book on Sunday January 30th, 7.45pm - 9.15pm
Register here to receive the Zoom link or contact Simon for more details.
Looking ahead to February, the group will be discussing Let My People Go: The untold story of Australia and the Soviet Jews 1959-89 by Sam Lipski and Suzanne D Rutland. The book is not available from the National Library Board but can be purchased on Kindle here
Lunch and Learn:
Lunch and Learn is looking for inspiration, Jewish or otherwise. If you have ideas for future sessions, please contact Simon
Torah Club:


Virtual Torah club meets every Tuesday @ 8.00pm 


The next one will be held on January 11th and the Zoom link can be found here. 


In-person Rosh Chodesh meetings are still suspended, owing to the ongoing COVID situation. If you would like to be added to the mailing list or WhatsApp chat group, plesae contact Dina.


This group is for all women in Singapore with a connection to Judaism.


Calling all UHC teenagers! 


To join the Teen WhatsApp Group (teens only, no parents!) and find out what is going on during the first months of 2022 please send your phone number to Rabbi Miriam. Events will start in January.


If you have (or will soon have) a new baby in the family and would like to be added to a WhatsApp group to chat with others with young children, please contact Emily


Member Snapshot:
Meet some of UHC's most recent members, Noemi Rom, Ilan Oppenheim and their kids, who are already enthusiastic members of UHC School.
What are your names?    
Noemi, Ilan, Liv (7), Shelly (5)

Where are you from?
Zurich, Switzerland

What brought you to Singapore?   
The outlook of a new family experience! And Noemi‘s work as Head of Digital Business Consulting

How long have you lived here?      
Since September 2021

What's your favourite city?
San Francisco (N&I), Ftan (a small mountain village at 1650m in the SE corner of Switzerland (L&S)

What are your hobbies?
Friends & Sports, Arts & Crafts

What's your favourite restaurant in Singapore?  
MTR Singapore (N&I), Two Men Bagel House (L&S)
Mazal Tov:
UHC extends a huge Mazal Tov to our most recent B'Nei Mitzvot and their families.
Eli Sobol: 11th December 2021
Delaney Stein: 23rd December 2021
We also congratulate Rosita Goldstein on the publication of her second cookbook: 50+ Years of Taste: Singapore & Israel. Featuring 50 Singaporean and Israeli recipes, the book is availalbe for a donation of S$100, all of which will be given to UHC to support the development of a new digital home. To order the book, please click here
And finally a big Mazal Tov to Anne Rifkin-Graboi, who has once again been featured in the Straits Times for her work in childhood development. Read the article here
Welcome to:
UHC extends a warm welcome to the following new members who have recently joined our community:
Shifra Ansonoff, who is spending a few months in Singapore for work and has generously offered to be one of the sponsors of the January in person service
Hello, hello....?!!
UHC ties are strong, even when not in Singapore!
Longtime members of UHC, the Graboi and Yeo families were surprised and delighted to run into one another at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California over the winter break. 
UHC School
UHC School will resume on Sunday 16th January at 9.30am. Dates for the rest of the school year can be found here.
To view the colourful and creative entries submitted for UHC School's "Menorah Competition" last month, click here
UHC school is looking to hire another teacher to help teach small groups. If you know any teens who have a good Hebrew level and are comfortable teaching beginner Hebrew to children (with the guidelines and materials provided by the school) , please email UHC School. There will be a small honorarium for their work.
Hebrew Help:
One of UHC’s wonderful Religious School teachers is available for private Hebrew tutoring  during the week. If interested, please email UHC School for more details.
Resources for bringing Judaism into the home:
Rabbi Miriam has put together this document with resources; please check it out with your children.
****A reminder that UHC school is ALWAYS in need of volunteers - for sign in duty, security, help with festivals etc. Please sign up GENEROUSLY here.
(Note: This link has 3 tabs so you can sign up for Safety, Holiday, and/or Class parent roles. Because of new regulations, all volunteers will need to be vaccinated and may need to do a supervised self-ART (Covid-19 test) at the beginning of the school day)****
Wider Jewish World
Please note that links to the UHC website embedded in this newsletter can only be accessed by UHC Members and Prospects within their trial period. For membership queries, please click here. To unsubscribe from the Equal, please click here.

Questions or comments? Email us!   
The World Union of Progressive Judaism Website   
Asia Progressive Judaism Website  

Contact Details  
UHC Administrator: Nikolette Wee  
+65 6909 0469  

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