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Comedy Night – 14 February 2016

The only Charedi stand-up comedian – Ashley Blaker – has been engaged in a UK-wide tour of synagogues and Jewish organisations. One port of call was Hull synagogue. Max Gold from Hull rang to ask if anyone from LIM wanted to attend on the evening of Sunday, 14 February. Ruth, Natan, Jane, Micky and I went.

The room was set out for about 100 people and it was clear when we arrived that the place would be packed. There was a hubbub of excited chatter because this was a rare experience and we were not sure what we were in for. Having watched many stand-up comedians, we wondered how blue the language might be, how he could fill the 90 minutes with just Jewish jokes and how someone from a very strictly orthodox background could even be doing a comedy shtich.

With this being an orthodox shul and most chaps in the audience wearing kippot, it seemed entirely appropriate that Ashley would make his entrance, kippa and tsitsis to the fore and in a tie-less, open-neck white shirt, Israeli-style. Anglo-Saxon language and topics that would make your Grandmother blush were definitely off the menu. Instead, we enjoyed 90 minutes of light-hearted and often very funny monologue about himself, his work, on being Jewish, on being an ultra-orthodox comedian and on many topics that only a Jewish audience would appreciate, often using phrases and colloquialism only a Jewish audience would understand.

After the performance we took the opportunity to have a photo taken with him for our records and our website. In all, it was a very enjoyable evening and well worth the 45-minute drive across the Humber Bridge to attend it.

Visit to Lincoln Mosque – 7 February 2016

When several members of the Lincoln Muslim community attended the Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration last week they extended on open invitation for us to visit the Mosque during its annual Open Day, organised by the Islamic Association of Lincoln . Ruth and Natan, Micky and I took up this offer on behalf of both CCJ Lincoln and the Lincoln Independent Jewish Minyan.

We arrived to a room filled with visitors from all walks of life including members of the local Civic Party, the MP for Lincoln and at least one Christian member of the clergy. Our hosts were there in such large numbers that we were able to engage in one-on-one conversations exploring both the Islamic faith and explaining our own.

All round the walls were many posters explaining aspects of Islam, the prayers, the 5 pillars that underpin their faith, their attitude towards, for example, Jesus and the progress they were making towards the building of a new Mosque and Islamic Centre elsewhere in Lincoln.

But the real value of the visit was the ability to speak directly with the members of the Mosque. When our interlocutors learned that we were Jewish they made us even more welcome and wanted to explore our attitudes towards Islam, compare sacred texts and generally get to know more about Judaism. We were very happy to answer their questions and seek to fill the many gaps in our own knowledge of Islam. This was a very heart-warming meeting of minds, celebrating so much that was similar in both our faiths and respecting the differences that we would always recognise as being immutable, such as the dietary laws.

In addition to light refreshments that were available, they had a table loaded with pamphlets explaining all aspects of their faith such as ‘Islam at a Glance’ and ‘Muhammad (peace be upon him) A to Z’, plus English translations of the Qur’an.

From both a LIM and a CCJ Lincoln viewpoint, this was a very important link we had created with the Islamic community and one which we intend to foster further. Our thanks go to the Imam, the Islamic Association of Lincoln and their members for making us so welcome.

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