Ok so I have found the UK branch of the Neturei Karta, the most strangest off shoot of Judaism I think ever.
These people are extremely hostile to the modern state of Israel.
The problem is this strange movement gives credibility to anti-Semites who say if these people hate Israel, then its ok for us to be as well.
In recent times, Jewish people and governments have produced what’s known as the “International recognised version of antisemitism” to have a clearer definition of statements and behaviour which clearly show Jewish people in a derogatory or threatening way.
I definitely do not think its ok, or you are “off the hook” to say “there are this group of Jews who hate Israel, so therefore so can I”
This group has much credibility to Judaism as The Westboro Church (those folks who hold up offensive signs at events) from Kansas in the US are to Christians.
This is a small building they meet in, so I don’t think there are more than 20 or so of them. I think its best to ignore this group. I’m not going to mention these on my blog again.
Like Westboro, who lost their original leader Fred Phelps who died in 2014, that group has largely faded away, and Moshe Ber Beck who started this group also passed in April of 2021, about the same time I visited Stamford Hill.
Several things have got me down this week. Fairly dreadful weather, one minute pouring hard and then stopping. Weather is funny, as some places are short of rain and get none at all between the months of April and October or so. Like when I was living in the middle east.
Also, I watch with great sadness as Jews and Arabs are at war in Israel, as I spent over four years living there. A ceasefire is in place which is good, but things are tense.
The real enemy of both Israel and Gaza, is HAMAS the radical Islamic group that controls the Gaza strip, that largely leaves its residents struggling whilst spending aid money on weapons against Israel. All too often, the media portrays Israel as the aggressor and bully simply because they have lost less citizens.
On Saturday, I met with a friend in a coffee shop in Palmerston Road, in Southsea, Portsmouth, about 2 miles from my house. Lock down has loosened up and now I can sit inside any catering establishment with still a few limitations, like masks etc.
Whilst waiting outside for my friend, I did notice, two different men, of western descent, wearing a kefyir, a red and white scarf made famous by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. They didn’t have any other items that make it look they were going to a political event, but I suspect that was the intention. I have seen rallies like these before in Portsmouth though.
The rain started to fall quite a bit on and off, so I stood under the canopy which is on either side of this precinct here. Later when I met my friend we could see it raining hard. So maybe ruining any event that might cause people in the west to glorify and join a bandwagon on a cause based on deadly radical Islam! It would be nice for rain to fall on the Holy Land also right now.
Later, today (Sunday 23/05/2021) I’m actually in my new church which is in Chichester, a city 20 miles away. Last summer, when I was planning on leaving London and moving back to my home town, I did get a dream of visiting a church I’ve never seen before in a large industrial factory type building. I’m now going to Grace Church, Chichester regularly now limited number of seats in church are possible again.
When one of the leaders (sorry don’t know his name, still new and masks make it hard to remember people!!) emphasised the need for prayer for our cities and community, some rain suddenly started hammering on the roof of the building (metal roof so its loud) this finished when church finished and we went back to the car park.
2 Chronicles 7 : 13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Rain has a lot of significance in scripture, and I think today also.
Israel is going through much troubles at the moment with the war stirring from the Palestinian Hamas group that runs the Gaza strip shooting rockets at Israeli civilians.
If you are a praying person, this needs your prayers a lot at the moment. This is not just a physical battle but one in the news where all too often in the news Israel is seen as the aggressor, as many news channels offer one-side commentary of things, some more than others.
As we passed through Spring, we go through a lot of Jewish holidays, some happy – Passover, Shavuot, Israel Independence day, and some sad like Holocaust memorial day, I just thought of something that happened about 3 years ago, not in Israel but in north west London, where I was working in a Jewish school.
Firstly, I didn’t plan to be there, I spent a number of years in London, doing IT support for schools, and after get tired out and drained from long hours, computer virus/ransomware attacks, seeing a projector fall off a wall mount, and endless vandalism of PCs and laptops, made me want to get out and look at a different type of career. As I was studying in my spare time for some new skills, I got an interview for a school in Hertfordshire, with me needing to be there the day after. I didn’t properly research watch sort of school this was, it was a Jewish school, interesting as I spent many years working with Jewish people in Israel. I was told the day after I had been accepted and I would be starting pretty immediately.
This private school was a bit hidden away from the main road with not much signage and tall fences and trees which made not obvious what the building was used for. Inside, there is an amazing main building with turrets on the rooms and spiral staircases, diagonal roofs over the classes, a really nice canteen with kosher food, anything you want for lunch for flat cost of £2. The schools has a really lovely family atmosphere and liked chatting and getting to all the staff there. All schools are hard work for the teachers and support staff and this place was no exception. I worked here for a bit over a year before my own personal studies paid off and I moved onto some new.
So one of the most interesting times was on Jerusalem day. As one of the three computer technicians in the school, I was asked by the teachers who wanted to book out a trolley with two large speakers, a mixing desk and a laptop, just for a drama and dance event, also an hour later for history lesson at the other side of the school estate. For the first event I sent up the computer and connected up the sound system and made sure the volume was at the right level for the event.
It was a nice sunny day, so this little bug decided to visit on the audio mixing desk. One of the teachers logged into the laptop and did a Youtube searched ‘Jewish celebration music’ and started playing this. They seems happy so I went off to do some of the other jobs I had to do, typically replace printer cartridges, swap out broken computers, do desk moves and other things.
5-10 minutes before the other classroom needed the computer and speakers next, I went to collect the equipment from the first class. Due to the way Youtube works, the music had obviously switched to some similar songs several times during the hour or so.
As I was chatting to one of the teachers, suddenly the speakers blaster out “Yeshua! Yeshua! Yeshua!” so one of other teachers named D and the kids decided to sing and dance along with it.
I stopped and stood open mouthed.
This was a religious Orthodox school, where there was Rabbinic teaching, and not Christian or Jewish people who believed in Yeshua (Hebrew word for Jesus)
D is a British Jewish lady and quite secular, a really lovely chatty person and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know Hebrew who even know what the word meant. Not did the kids I think.
Another teacher came in, who teaches Hebrew, just abruptly stopped the video and told me I could take away the computer as the next class needed shortly. I don’t know what she thought.
I’m just amazed at the timing, that this video (not sure which Youtube channel it was) broadcast just at this exact time and the staff and children decided to worship the Messiah without knowing.
Just a few years ago, I was doing IT work for schools. I did this for a few years for an IT service provider, and finally I ended up employed directly in a Jewish school which was a blessing as a Christian I’ve enjoyed working with the Jewish community before in Israel and here in the UK.
If you are a teacher or worked in schools, you probably know that schools never have enough space. So they bought a Portacabin which is a sort of cheap plastic office which can be put together simply and when space is needed. This was used for my team (3 of us) to maintain the school’s computer systems. The servers, disk storage, switches and routers kit sits in two different closets in different part of the school.
This one looked like this. There was me and my two colleagues in there. I got on well with these chaps as we had our own quiet place to work, but could easily get out to fix a classroom computer, set up an microphone or presentation or put a new toner in a printer.
On what particular day my boss was very stressed, with too many different projects and priorities on the go at the same time. This was taking a toll on his health.
During the late spring, it was warm so we had the windows open. I’m sat in front of my work PC, I decided to pray silently as he seemed like he was not having a great day.
Suddenly a white butterfly comes in the window, flies in a circle around our little office twice, and then goes straight out again.
This made my day seeing this little creature appear to be doing a double lap of our building to maybe symbolise the Lord being in control during a stressful time.
I do miss this school, I left this to pursue a different aspect of IT. There were many opportunities to be an ambassador to Jewish people as a Christian there. I could go into a religious classroom and hear the staff talking about who the Moshiach (Messiah) might be, whilst I am quietly putting a new cartridge in their printer.
So I’ve found the headquarters of Chabad, a popular section of Judaism.
In some ways this group are the Jewish equivalent of the Salvation Army with well organised outreach to the poor.
Founded in 1775 by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the name “Chabad” (חב״ד) is an acronym formed from three Hebrew words—Chochmah, Binah, Da’at ( חכמה, בינה, דעת): “Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge”—which represent the intellectual underpinnings of the movement.
One of the most famous people in the Chabad was Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the last Rabbi of his generation (he died with no children) His house is considered the worldwide headquarters of the Chabad movement which is in Brooklyn, New York, known as “770” after the number of the building in street.
Chabad has done excellent programs for the poor and the disadvantaged in the Jewish community, but a lot of its focus is on a man from New York, not someone is from Israel. These camper vans are driven around Jewish areas with the intention to help secular and non observant Jews to get back to religious practice, particularly wrapping Tefillin (prayer straps)
This is quite honourable though to get those off track from faith back into the fold.
Chabad is a large and well organised group that bless a lot of Jewish people, but I’ll explain later why I believe there are better plans for Jewish people, despite Stamford Hill being an intriguing sort of place.
For the last 6 years I lived in London, which initially was exciting, but is an often frustrating place to be. For numerous reasons I will explain in another post, I’ve moved back to Portsmouth 100 miles south, close to family and the sea where I am originally from.
The last 2 1/2 years of my time in London, I went to a Calvary Chapel church.
Here’s why I love the Calvary Chapel movement, which is a US flavour of church which has been spread all over the world.
There are lot of Calvary churches world wide, this is not because numbers are important, but successful plants of churches in different places which has shown good fruit of the gospel being spread and people being discipled.
Great biblical teaching. Always in kind way, but doesn’t avoid the tricky and challenging bits.
Humble and approachable leaders
Evidence of good fruit. Some countries in recent times like Hungary (My visit in 2018) has had a big spread of the gospel. Interesting as the Hungarian language is meant to be really difficult. From what I learned, Hungary has 13 churches from Calvary Chapel and the main one in Budapest has 3,000 people.
They use both rented plain buildings or dedicated church buildings. My church rented a church building from another congregation, therefore having two different church congregations with distinct leadership who just share the same physical bricks and mortar. After all, we know that ‘church’ is the collective group of people rather than the stone fabric that sits around it. Having said that, the building we use has amazing stain glass windows, original teak pews and two organs which entices people just for the history.
Actual church family. My congregation was small but had folks from Jamaica, Portugal, Poland, Ireland, Australia, Nigeria and more. Smaller churches like this, do have a special more intimate feel to them, and I think one people are settled, no one has to feel hard done by because of their background or look to some latest wokeness cause, with a good church with a great mix of different backgrounds.
They support Israel. Often, in other churches in London, I would hear messages like “God is done with Israel and the Jewish people.” Seeing as I have worked with Jewish people for 14 years, and I’m often reminded by passages in the NT like Romans 11 “I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means…..” I know that pastors I respect the most (including all the leaders I know in Calvary Chapel) know the importance of Israel in the bible is still relevant today.
I’ve been part of Assemblies of God church, the Anglican Church and Messianic Judaism (from when I lived in Jerusalem, Israel) there’s been parts of all of those I’ve liked, and there are many splinters of different styles of each of them.
Whilst living in London, this is been one of the place I’ve been most proud to want to bring my Christian and secular friends along alike.
This is a big mix of religious groups here – different from what you think, and it gets more interesting later on.
Got to love Vegans eh? some of these (but not all – erm, phew!) folks are on such an extreme obsessed, focused mission, they are practically a religion, this person has it as business on their car, maybe the two others (one is a Toyota IQ, the others are a Smart) are part of the same effort.
This is a Catholic church now used as a Mosque. This might make a number of people including myself sad, except on the left, they missed something! – Or, maybe its a listed building and they are prohibited from removing the original decorative pieces. Islam usually has a habit of trying to make its structures and symbols the largest and tallest. But here the cross is higher!!
This is another Catholic church, this one active on the outskirts of the main road of Stamford Hill. I like the look of this place as the message of the scripture here of Isaiah 2:4 “They will hammer their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into sickles.” Underneath is a message to stop youth carrying knives. They also do a service in Polish and Spanish.
The centre of Stamford Hill also has a Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall. This group might appear to be Christian, but they follow an earn your way to salvation, rather than the finished works of the cross, as their members are very busy knocking on doors of the public to spread a well intentioned but not genuine gospel message.
This is a little hard to see, but there is a message of “Jesus is Lord” on this building’s front. I like the sound of this place the most.
A bit further on, I will visit the strict Hassidic Jewish community, a bit later.
So, if you know me, I am a Christian who has worked a lot with the Jewish community. After living in Israel for 4 years, I also got to work in a really nice Jewish school doing their IT support, and also accidently find Israelis when I go and visit places like Munich Germany, Budapest Hungary, Dublin Ireland, and even the Great Wall of China. I think this is because of Israelis have a keen sense of adventure. I’ve also visited Morocco and Tunisia, which have had Jewish people who have almost completely left, mostly to Israel.
So at the beginning (April 2020) of the first part of lockdown, I decided to go exploring this special part of London, called Stamford Hill, which is home to a group of ultra Orthodox Jewish community.
I thought I’d show you around this place and how it compares with religious Jewish places in Israel and elsewhere.
So this was over an hour of walking from the place I was renting last year.
I worked in the election. I wanted to help my country, but also I was between jobs, so it was a good way to earn some casual extra money. I wrote the council, filled in a form, and attended a training event. You just have to be polite, customer facing and impartial.
Running the Polling station is fairly simple. It does take two people to run each table. One has to look up voters in a book put a line through them. They don’t need a voting card, just need to give their address.
If you work at the polling station, in this case was a church, you need to be there at 0615 and have the ballot boxes, envelopes, pencils are sharpened, then open up the building at 0700, and close the doors at 2200, and once cleared up we go home at 2230. Its a long day and my list of people covered streets A-K probably about 1100-1200 people, and the other table run by the other team covered L-Z, you need to make sure people put their vote in the right ballot box.
There are some posters put up with stern legal notices about voting on behalf of someone else without proper authorisation is a criminal offence.
We had lots of people come together as neighbours, who are from different backgrounds. Indians, Spanish, French, Turkish, Muslims (Arabic speaking and also some from Pakistan or Bangladesh) Greeks, Chinese and Jewish. When you look them up in the book you can gather a lot of details of the demographics. Folks also smile and say hello to their neighbours without actually divisiveness of when what people’s favourite or least favourite leader is put online.
Incidents at the polling station were a rarity. I only had one person sort of hostile, when he was told he couldn’t use his phone the building swore at us. People see you as a cold authority, not aware none of us work for the council and only employed as a one-off day. I see it as making sure the public can to have a say democratically where some places like China or North Korea don’t.
Ok, so 2020 was a challenging year for the UK. Now I’ve moved back to my home town of Portsmouth, after needing to leave London, I think I’m going to help out with the elections down here again in May, and can use some of the cash to buy a few things for my forthcoming new house or do another trip to Europe later this year.