Issue 41
29th October 2021
The Kindness Muscle
 
Although this week’s Torah portion is called Chayei Sarah and begins with the death of Sarah, it is also our introduction to the next matriarch in the Management Committee of the Ancients: Rebecca.
 
It is a Parashah of kindness. First from the Hittite people who urge Abraham to take the plot of their land on which he wants to bury Sarah (although he does eventually insist on paying them for it) Then from Rebecca, who runs to draw water from the well to refresh not only the stranger (who unbeknown to her, has arrived in her village to seek a wife for Isaac) but also his camels. (Our Etz Hayyim notes, with amusement, that hers was indeed a monumental act of kindness. A single camel can drink 25 gallons of water after a long journey through the desert and the servant is described as having brought ten along for the trip!)
 
Kindness and empathy are hardwired into the human brain. It is why even very young children may burst into tears when seeing another child getting hurt. And yet people are not always kind. Like a muscle, kindness becomes stronger through regular use. Just as pandemic induced inactivity led (at least in my case) to wobbly glutes, so it has become more of a struggle in recent months to be kind, perhaps, as some studies suggest, because a person first needs to be happy. We are so tired of COVID and the excuse is that we don’t have reserves to spare for anyone except ourselves.
 
But kindness is not, in fact, the same as selflessness. In Judaism, we translate the words gemilut hasadim as acts of loving kindness. The G-M-L root of the word indicates reciprocity, in other words, implicit within our generosity is the expectation of a return. Service can and should be valuable in some way to the person engaged in it. We owe our UHC volunteers, not least among them the Management Committee Elect, enormous gratitude for their kindness in stepping up for us but it’s reassuring to feel that they will also derive their own benefits from the experience, whether it be a sense of community or belonging or a career boosting entry on the CV.
 
What was Rebecca’s reward? It’s unlikely she imagined that fetching a drink for a thirsty camel would enable her to found a dynasty and lead to her name being chanted in prayer for two millennia. She was lucky that she and Isaac later fell in love - their marriage is the first reference to romantic love in the Bible - but she couldn’t have predicted that either. Perhaps her reward was merely respite from the monotony of daily life? If every day she drew the same water from the same well with the same bunch of women, the unexpected opportunity to help a stranger might have blown a whiff of adventure into her life.
 
Like Rebecca, our Groundhog Day (at least in Singapore) goes on. The same two person, one social interaction rule. One of the ways in which we can change that narrative is to flex our kindness muscle. Invite two new members of the community to the Shabbat table. Volunteer for a UHC Committee or make a donation. Take a neighbour out for coffee or send a long overdue WhatsApp to ask a friend how he or she is doing. Just as with exercise, the emotional equivalent of endorphins will, sooner or later, kick in to reward us. Kindness equals gemilut equals reciprocity.
 
And if, like me, you’ll never be able to compete with the gym bunnies to show off a six pack, quietly caress your circuit breaker curves and take comfort instead from your daily use of six of the many attributes of kindness: empathy, compassion, generosity, friendship, affection and giving.
 
Shabbat Shalom! 
News and Events
Rabbi Beni and Rabbi Miriam can be contacted as follows:
Rabbi Beni: rabbibeni@uhcsingapore.org
Rabbi Miriam: rabbimiriam@uhcsingapore.org
IMPORTANT ***UHC AGM*** IMPORTANT
 
The AGM wil be on Tuesday 9th November at 7pm on Zoom. Please register your attendance here. The AGM will include:
 
Review of current financials
Reports from the committees
Update from the Nominations Committee on filling the vacant board positions
Voting in the new Management Committee slate
Voting in a new Financial Oversight Committee
Review of proposed changes to the constitution and bylaws
Introduction from the new UHC President
Updates from Rabbis Miriam and Beni Wajnberg on plans for the forthcoming year.
 
Registration details for the AGM can be found here and all AGM documentation  can be found here.
 
If you are unable to attend in person, please ensure that you vote in advance. Cary Horenfeldt, as the meeting chair, will serve as your proxy. The proxy vote ballot can be found here.
 
Please be reminded that attendance and voting at the AGM is only open to paid-up, current UHC members.
VACANCY ***UHC Administrator***
 
UHC is still urgently seeking an Administrator.

The candidate will report to the UHC President but will also assist the Rabbis and volunteers with administrative or organisational task associated with running the UHC community. 
 
A full job description can be found here
 
The applicable candidate must be a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident.
Services
Thursday mornings:

Weekly Thursday minyans have moved back online during the current period of heightened restrictions. The Rabbis and Gabbais look forward to welcoming you to the office again, as soon as regulations permit. Join at 7.30am on Thursdays for morning prayers, Torah reading and an opportunity to say Kaddish.

For next week's Zoom link, click here

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

Friday Evening:
Please join our regular Zoom Shabbat service at 6.30pm every Friday. Led by one of our Rabbis with assistance from upcoming B'Nei Mitzvot students. Zoom link for regular services available here
 
Our next in-person services (regulations permitting) will be held on:
 
Please sign up here to attend in person. Advance registration is mandatory. No walk ins will be allowed.
 
An online version of the Friday Siddur can be found here
For non members or anyone unable to access the website, please contact Rabbi Beni
Friday evening service for tots ***NEW***
Play, sing songs, listen to a story, and meet other young families in the UHC community.
 
This 30 minute service is specially planned for kids under the age of 5 and their grown-ups.
 
Friday 19th November @ 5pm
 
One adult per child. MOH safe management measures will apply. Please register here
Saturday mornings: ***NEW***
 Hybrid In Person and Zoom Shabbat morning service
 
Sat 27th November @ 10am
In person places strictly limited and subject to prevailing MOH guidelines. More details / registration here 
 
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 11th December: Eli Sobol
Thursday 23rd December: Delaney Stein
Festivals
Chanukah is coming!! Light your first candle on Sunday 28th November and get ready for 8 nights of UHC dreidls, doughnuts, latkes, light and song. The Shabbat and Festivals Committee is planning some COVID appropriate festivities. If this is your favourite festival of the year or you would like to help out in any way, please contact Ros
UHC News & Events
Book Club:
The UHC Book Club is reading Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean by Edward Kritzler.
 
Please join us on Zoom to discuss the book on Sunday November 28th, 7.45pm - 9.15pm
 
Register here or contact Simon for more details.
 
Over the next few months, the Book Club plans to cover the following books. If you have a favourite, be sure to check the website for the meeting date and sign up nearer the time:
December 2021 - January 2022: Exodus by Leon Uris
February 2022: Let My People Go: The untold story of Australia and the Soviet Jews 1959-89 by Sam Lipski and Suzanne D Rutland 
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 (except for Tuesday November 9th, due to the AGM)

 

The next one will be held on November 16th and the Zoom link can be found here. 

Ladies:

The Rosh Chodesh meeting which was planned for Tuesday November 2nd has been postponed again, due to the current restrictions on gatherings. Instead, consider geting together with one or two other ladies from the group and raising a glass of wine to better times!

 

This group is for all women in Singapore with a connection to Judaism. Please contact Dina if you would like more information.

Babies:

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

 

Community
Member Snapshot:
Meet the Graboi family who have been active members of UHC for more than ten years. Anne has served as Co-Chair of UHC School and, in April this year, the community was privileged to share in Patricia's Bat Mitzvah on Zoom.
 
What are your names?    
Anne Rifkin-Graboi, Misha, Patricia (13) and Benjamin (10) Graboi
 
Where are you from? 
We are American although Ben was born here in Singapore.
 
What brought you to Singapore?     
We usually say: Misha’s work brought us here and Anne’s work kept us here.
 
How long have you lived here?     
12 years
 
What's your favourite city? 
That’s tough. San Francisco is pretty high up there for all of us. 
 
What are your hobbies?     
Collectively scuba/ snorkelling; skiing ; bike riding (some of us do more mountain biking than others). Various ones of us also like jogging, swimming, playing basketball and other sports, hiking, reading, baking, board games, video games, singing, and playing guitar. Not sure if family dance parties also counts!
 
What's your favourite restaurant in Singapore?
Khansama, Blu Kuzina/Bakalaki, Wild Honey, Madrina Italiano (because the waitress - Paula is fantastic), Shake Shack and Jim Thompson’s. . . to name a few! British Curry Hut and The Mediterranean in HV are also quite good .
Welcome to:
UHC extends a warm welcome to the following new members who have recently joined our community. Please give us a wave on Zoom, we are looking forward to being able to meet in person soon.
 
Georgina Mallory and George Hudson
Marcelo Alcantara
Mazal Tov to:
Joey Ungerman who celebrated his Bar Mitzvah on October 23rd.
Farewell:
UHC is sad to say goodbye to the following members who have left, or will soon be leaving Singapore:
 
Gavin and Marissa O'Leary
Gayle Rosen
 
We hope that the power of Zoom services will continue to connect us.
UHC School
It was great to be back in person last Sunday. If you missed Rabbi Miriam's parent welcome presentation or have not yet signed your child for UHC school and would like more information, please find the slides attached here or contact UHC School
 
Please find all term dates here.
 
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 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: Alice Teo  
+65 6909 0469  
 admin@uhcsingapore.org  
www.uhsingapore.org  

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