All posts by Graham Berkman

Upcoming Events

We are participating in three events to commemorate International Holocaust Memorial Day, which marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.  This year is the 75th Anniversary of that momentous event.

There are two events in Peterborough, both on Monday 27 January 2020.

The first is the Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration service at 12 noon in St John’s Church, Cathedral Square, Peterborough.  Attendees are asked to be seated approximately 10 minutes before the start. 

This is a Civic event and is preceded by a procession from the Town Hall, led by the Mayor of Peterborough and representatives of all religious groups, which will set off at 11.50am.  The procession will pause at the Guildhall to see a performance by students from St John Fisher Catholic High School, and then proceed to the Church.

This year’s theme for the event is ‘Stand Together’, and will include prayers, readings and performances by faith representatives and students from several local schools. 

As ever, PLJC is participating in this event, and this year, we are really fortunate that Rabbi Danny Rich, CEO and Senior Rabbi of Liberal Judaism, has agreed to join us and contribute to the event.

The second event, also in St John’s Church on Monday 27 January 2020, at 7.30pm, is the Holocaust Memorial Day Concert, featuring the Kol Echad Choir from Beth Shalom Reform Synagogue in Cambridge, and the children’s choir from All Souls Church.

The third event is the Stamford Holocaust Memorial Day event, which will be held in St Michael’s Churchyard (corner of High Street and Maiden Lane), at 11am on Friday 31 January 2020.

Chrissie Hassell, the Chair of PLJC, will be among those laying  a small spray of daffodils, the six petalled yellow flowers symbolising the yellow Star of David that Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis.  There will be the playing of ‘The Last Post’, a 2 minutes silence, followed by Reveille. There will be a Christian prayer as well as Kaddish. The outdoor proceedings will conclude with a shofar blast of ‘Tekiah Gedolah’. Tea will then be available at the Town Hall, where it is hoped there will be a display of work by students from the local schools.

It would be good if as many of our members and friends as possible could attend these events.

Communal Seder 2019

This year’s communal Seder was held once again at Glapthorn village hall and a record 47 people attended. The Seder service was taken from the latest Liberal Jewish Haggadah and Graham  led us through the confusing mire of dual-numbered pages, accompanied by Janet Berkman who helped us recall the customary traditional songs. Tables were arranged for groups of eight and this made for a much more social occasion for families to sit together, acquaintances renewed, and new friends made. It was also good to see so many children at the event, making quiet and good use of their goody packs and who vied to locate the Afikomen after the meal. Graham and Janet did such a good job that before very long, we were singing Chad Gadya and the service drew to a close. In a short speech Community President, Dennis Guttmann, said he was amazed at the number of people who had taken part. He then went on to thank those who had helped to ensure the event ran faultlessly. Special thanks went to Chrissie who provided just about everything for the customary meal, which was enjoyed by all, as well as to Alex and Will who ably managed waiting-at-table and the inevitable washing-up.

Once again, Elijah failed to materialise, so we continue to wait… Next year in Jerusalem? Next year in peace…


PLJC Members Attend Archbishops Interfaith Supper


Last week The Archbishop of Canterbury came to Peterborough to meet with faith leaders in the city. Here he is with PLJC Chair, Chrissie Hassall, and our Ba’alei Tefillah (lay leader), Graham Berkman, together with Jaspal Singh from the Sikh community and an Imam. During the evening the Archbishop spoke about how those of different faiths can be friends who acknowledge their differences and show how it is possible to ‘disagree well’.

Civic Award For PLJC Member

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On the 3rd April  Di Nicholas received a Civic Award from the Mayor and Mayoress of Peterborough at a presentation ceremony at the Town Hall for her contribution to developing interfaith relations in our city. Mazel Tov, Di! We are proud of you!

Christchurch Show Of Solidarity

 #InSolidarityWithChristchurch. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to all those affected by this tragedy.

PLJC members stood in solidarity at a vigil held at Peterborough Cathedral Green organised by Cllr.Ansar Ali  for all communities in Petetrborough to come together to remember those killed in the terrorist attack in Christchurch NZ.

Also through our local Peterborough Nisa-Nashim group, the friendship and action group for Jewish and Muslim women, of which several of our members belong to.