• on June 15, 2017

By David Simon from the North East Jewish Recorder, 14-9-12

I have to start by admitting some difficulty.

After 14 years, I really do not know with certainty what I have covered in past articles. I do know however that I have previously mentioned en passant the Anne Frank Teachers Training Pack which was a remarkable document produced largely by Karen Adams a great supporter of the Jewish community. The Pack contains information about Anne and her family. It deals with our local communities historically, the guiding principles of Judaism and the major Festivals.

There is advice for teachers as to how the material should be presented to the pupils with suggestions in regard to written exercises. It is a valuable instructive guide to educational work. Part of my input was to include quotations from the Chief Rabbi and the Talmud – I rather liked ” IF YOU STRIKE A CHILD STRIKE HIM ONLY WITH A SHOELACE. Sadly Karen’s husband Frank Adams died some years ago. She remarried and is now Karen Loehn.

I got involved in the distribution of the Pack and eventually presented a copy to hundreds of schools in Middlesbrough Stockton, Redcar and North Yorkshire. So it is not surprising that a copy sits on my desk in the lounge. Recently Carolyn Judah came to see me. She has returned to Middlesbrough after years elsewhere. She saw the Pack and told me she had stayed with Mr Frank and his second wife. At one time she was working in Brussels and decided to write to Mr Frank in Switzerland. She was invited to call. She did and they became friends.

At a later date she went to stay with the Franks. I have suggested to her that she should write a piece about them, her stay and their friendship which I thought would be of interest to everybody. We shall see.

In regard to Topics the question arises as to what area I am dealing with, in other words what is Teesside? I think I am entitled to a little literary licence and can make mention of Darlington and Hartlepool upon occasions. So let me tell you about excitement in Darlington, where the shul celebrated in July a barmitzvah. We here in Stokesley are envious. Despite a lengthy search of our records back to 1066 I cannot find any evidence in the shul records of a barmitzvah nor even a batmizvah. I must talk to my members and see what we can do to remedy the situation in the future.

As to Hartlepool I know who was the last barmitzvah boy but I do not want to embarrass Martin by naming him. In the meantime hearty congratulations to Peninnah and her family. As to Services I have been giving thought to the Holocaust Memorial Service. It is of course well ahead but I decided to email the 5 local MPs and Mayor Mallon as people get booked up with so many commitments well ahead.. I was trying to get the Bishop of Whitby hoping that he might address the congregation but no such luck. What is surprising is that he is moving on to be Bishop of Chichester even though he has only been the local Bishop for two years. He is in effect the local Bishop living in Stokesley. Long ago the father of John Snow was the Bishop and a descendant of Lloyd George’!! My son-in-law not that one but the delinquent one has explained to me about Bishops – it is almost as complicated as Rabbis and that causes me problems when seeking a Rabbi for Stokesley.

Whitby is only the place for a suffragan Bishop who does not have a cathedral and unlike Chichester is not in the Premier League. To complete the local scene Middlesbrough does have a Bishop but he is Roman Catholic whereas the Bishop of Whitby is Anglican. So now we are all in the picture. From time to time I listen to the radio programme Last Word and so it was that I heard a remarkable tribute to Gillian Hush who died in July. She was bom in Middlesbrough and her father Ernest was an outstanding member of the local community – remembered by me in an earlier article. Gillian had a fascinating and impressive career detailed at length in press obituaries as an important player in the BBC production team. Amazing.

As I zigzag each day around the house I had no idea of my additional linkage with Abraham,  no not Abrahams this time. Here in Stokesley not far from the shul we have a ziggurat yes we have. And this creation was erected just too late for Shavuos but in time for the celebration of the Jubilee – the jolly old Jubilee. Do you know what it is?

Well ours is a wood and metal structure decked with flowers and tubs proudly standing there for all to see. When Abraham left the Ur 4000 years ago he left the Great Ziggurat. It was a stepped pyramid of tremendous height. The word ziggurat is Semitic and means the house whose foundation creates terror. Martin, Brenda and Betty have seen our version.

PS What a good question. No I have found no connection between zigzag and ziggurat DAVID SIMON STOKESLEY OF THE CHALDEES.

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