Issue 35
30th April 2021
Photo credit: Annalisse Walker, taken during quarantine in Perth
The Psychology of Counting
Each day, for the 49 days following the second night of Passover, we count. In Biblical times, the Omer was a measure of grain, the counting of which was relevant to the barley harvest. Today, we ascribe a spiritual significance to the period as we prepare for the giving of the Torah at the time of Shavuot. It is as if the days of the Omer are a spiral staircase. We ascend one day at a time, building on the steps which have gone before. Today, on Lag Ba’Omer, we can afford ourselves a small pause in our endeavours: to catch our breath, look down and draw inspiration from how far we have already climbed.
We take counting for granted and yet “numbers are a creation of the human mind”, according to  Numbers and the Making of Us: Counting and the Course of Human Cultures (Caleb Everett). The development of large societies wouldn’t have been possible without numbers, let alone the big data crunching algorithms which have taken over modern life. 
To me, what started as a way to quantify trade has taken on great psychological power:
1. Counting is motivating
If we feel better when that Fitness App shows we’ve done 10,000 steps, how much more energising is the knowledge that with each passing day, Rabbi Beni and Rabbi Miriam are closer to arriving in Singapore?!
2. Counting is a way to vent frustration
When you are late for that meeting and all the lights are red, tapping your fingers to count the seconds until the traffic moves again brings distraction and relief. 
3. Counting is calming
We count breaths when doing yoga or mediating or to maintain emotional control under pressure. We count sheep when trying to lull our overactive brains to sleep. 
4. Counting is discipline
Parents of toddlers will be quite familiar with “I’m going to count to 3 and then I want you to stop screaming”. Parents of teenagers might identify more with “I’m going to count to 10 before I answer that rude remark”!
Counting is attention. It is focus. It makes purposeful what we would otherwise ignore. “What gets measured gets managed” according to Peter Drucker, an influential thinker on management.
Yet there is one thing we are not permitted to count and that is ourselves.Although the book of Numbers has been translated thus precisely because it contains so many statistics, population counts and other numerical data, the censuses therein are not conducted by direct counting, just as today Orthodox communities will not count worshippers to determine if there is a minyan. Instead they recite a psalm with ten words, mentally checking off attendees as they go. There are various interpretations as to why we must not be counted. My favourite is that this elevates the group above the individual. When our good deeds and our sins are collectively judged, it makes it easier to pass the test. At UHC, our community is far greater than the sum of its parts. Just as we all help each other to climb the staircase of the Omer, making sure that no one gets left behind, we will all celebrate together when we reach the top, the Torah.
Happy Lag Ba'Omer!
Rabbi Beni and Rabbi Miriam can be contacted as follows:
Rabbi Beni:
Rabbi Miriam:
heir (virtual) door is always open. Weekly messages from the Rabbis can be found here
Rabbi Beni and Rabbi Miriam arrival in Singapore 
The countdown has begun.....!
The Rabbis' EPs and their children's DPs have been approved, flights are booked, schooling is sorted, quarantine and short term lodgings are ready and waiting.
We're on the home stretch and we can't wait to finally meet them both in person.
In person Friday night services are happening once a month, in accordance with all the prevailing social distancing regulations.
Please sign up for the next ones as follows:
Spaces are limited to 50 so please sign up as soon as you can.
The service on Friday May 7th will also be our traditional "Leaver's Shabbat" where we bid farewell to members of the community who will soon be leaving Singapore.
Although we cannot serve a meal after the service, small groups (6-8 per group), will be going to nearby restaurants.
Please sign up here by May 5th in order to be assigned to a group.
Alternatively, the cafe on the ground floor of the venue is availalbe for food. By informing staff there that you are part of the UHC community, you will receive a 10% discount.
Regular Zoom Friday night services, led by our Rabbis in the US with cantorial support from Dan and Sam and contributions from UHCs Bar/Bat Mitzvah class and other members of the community, continue every Friday at 6.30pm.
For Zoom link click here and for online Siddur here.
If you would like to contribute to the service in any way, please contact the Gabbai Team
Mark your diary now: UHC's annunal Pink Dot Shabbat will take place on 4th June at 6.30pm over Zoom. More information coming soon.
Please join our UHC B'Nei Mitzvot students as they celebrate at services over the next few months. Mazal Tov to all!
15th May: Alexandra Sallay
23rd May: Asher Bregman (note Sunday afternoon)
29th May 2021: Claudia Crossley (see Invitation below)
22nd July: Ryan Herman
31st July: Bodhi Ritzer
Online Saturday Siddur available here 
Mini-Tikkun Leil Shavuot
In the spirit of this, UHC is offering 2 x 30 minute online sessions, where our Rabbis will present their very different perspectives on the giving of the Torah, AND you can order a piece of cheesecake to munch on during the discussions too!
Date: Sunday May 16th
Time: 8.00 - 9.00pm
Please sign up for one or both sessions and the cheesecake here
If you prefer to make your own cheesecake, here is the well-used, well-loved recipe for the cake featured above:
Other UHC Events
Lunch and Learn
Mark your diaries for the events below. 12.00pm - 1.00pm on Zoom and, where possible, in person. Zoom links available upon registration.
Thursday May 6th: Up close and personal with Chloë Manasseh and her exhibition, CASA. Click here to register.
Please note that you can attend this event IN PERSON, as well as online. Up to 3 groups of 8 pax can be hosted for the talk and a light snack afterwards. Please register to receive location details
If you have ideas for future Lunch and Learn sessions, please contact Simon
Thursday morning minyan:

Zoom in on Thursdays at 7.30am for UHC's weekly minyan, which includes morning prayers, a Torah reading, a message from our Rabbis and an opportunity to say Kaddish.


Approximately once a month there is a hybrid in person / Zoom minyan. Details for next week's service here.

Please contact Dina for information about the next in-person event.

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

For Rabbi's message for this week, please click here

Torah Club:

Please join the virtual weekly Torah club every Monday @ 8.30pm. Zoom link for May 3rd can be found here

For all women in Singapore with a connection to Judaism, the next Rosh Chodesh meetup will take place on Tuesday 11th May @7.45pm for 8pm start. 


Please contact Dina if you would like to host or be an in-person guest for Rosh Chodesh Sivan, or sign up here.

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 in the same situation, please contact Emily


Member Snapshot:
Meet our unsung UHC hero, Jeremy Silverman, who not only serves as Treasurer on the UHC Management Committee but is also one of the co-chairs of the UHC School; his wife, Gitta, who also gives up many of her Sunday mornings for UHC school; and their kids, who are some of our most diligent Zoom participators, regularly joining in with online cookie bakes and story readings.
What are your names?
Jeremy, Gitta, Caleb (9), and Gabrielle Rose (5)

Where are you from?
Jeremy was born in Illinois, USA. Gitta was born in Jakarta, Indonesia. Caleb and Gabrielle Rose were both born in Singapore.

What brought you to Singapore?     

Gitta’s family came to Singapore for work. The rest of the family returned to Indonesia but she stayed in Singapore for school. Jeremy first came to Singapore as an exchange student and they met at NUS.
How long have you lived here?     

14 years for Jeremy, 24 years for Gitta

What's your favourite city?

What are your hobbies?    
Watching TV, playing tennis, going for walks, and travelling (hopefully soon). Caleb likes football, Gabrielle Rose likes ballet. 

What's your favourite restaurant in Singapore?
Bakalaki Greek restaurant in Tiong Bahru. 

UHC extends a warm welcome to the following new members:


Phil King and Rakefet Ram, and daughter Mia 

We look forward to being able to meet you in person soon

Mazal Tov:

Congratulations to UHC's most recent B'Nei Mitzvot, and to their family and friends from acros the world, who were able to celebrate with them through Zoom:

Patricia Graboi: April 3rd 
Theo Zuckerman: April 8th 
Nathan Golstein: April 17th 
Please join Ruth, Pete, Claudia & Alexi Crossley to celebrate Claudia’s Bat Mitzvah.
Services will be held at the Maghain Aboth Synagogue, 24 Waterloo St, Singapore at 6:45pm on Friday May 28th and 9:00am on Saturday May 29th, 2021.
Kindly register your attendance at services here by Thursday 27th May.

UHC members attending services must adhere to the prevailing traditions at Magain Aboth, including men and women sitting separately and men wearing talit and kippah.
Due to COVID constraints please join Claudia’s Virtual Zoom Bat Mitzvah Party on Sunday May 30th at 3.00pm.
All the links you will need to join the celebration can be found here.
If you have any other questions, please contact the Crossleys here
The Crossleys are looking forward to celebrating with you.


UHC extends condolences to:


Assaf, Natalie, Max, Ben, Evan and Charlie Tarnopolsky on the passing of their mother, mother-in-law and grandmother, Ruth.

Yelena Zemtsova on the passing of her mother, Luba.


May their memories be a blessing

UHC School
The Tikkun Olam committee and UHC Sunday School will be doing a beach clean up on Sunday May 23rd. All UHC members are welcome to join this outing. To find out more details and sign up for one of the sites, please click this link to register:
Reminder: there will be NO school on Sunday 3rd May
For Rabbi Beni and Rabbi Miriam's weekly message to UHC School, term dates and other info, please click here.
Wider Jewish World
2021 UPJ Biennial Conference:
“Progressing Judaism Eight Days a Week”:
This year’s conference will guide participants on a sometimes-arduous journey of being a Jew in today’s complex, modern, fast-paced society. The full program will include some of our region’s top speakers and authorities, promising to be another spectacular assortment of useful sessions and practical workshops designed to enhance our Jewish experience in 2021 and beyond.
Blended format via Zoom and face-to-face in Sydney. Be on the lookout for more details!
In the meantime, save the date! Friday 15th October to Sunday 17th October 2021
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  

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