Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks is an unusual type of public intellectual. He is an outstanding teacher, with enormous personal authority; a more than prolific author; a source of advice for leading politicians; a moralist, a biblical and talmudic scholar and a philosopher.
Sitting on the train reading comedian Mark Thomas's book, Extreme Rambling: Walking Israel's Barrier, I'm approached by a young woman who wants to know where to get it. "I'm a fan," she says, "and so is my brother, who lives in Israel. I think it will be interesting, not that there'll be any surprises. He is so pro-Palestinian."
When she was interviewed for the Radio 3 programme, Private Passions - in which guests tell Michael Berkeley about their favourite pieces of music - Nicole Krauss worried why she had chosen such melancholy pieces. Berkeley reassured her: "They are the pieces that move us most."
Back in the day, a New York detective's station boss was known - in the jargon - as his rabbi. Well, when it comes to the movies, Philip French is mine. Okay, his reviews, which have appeared regularly in the Observer for longer than I can remember, are not holy writ, but they are surely talmudic.
David Bezmozgis's stunning short-story collection Natasha traced a Latvian-Jewish family's bumpy adjustment to life in 1980s Toronto. In this witty, assured first novel, which makes good on Natasha's promise, his characters never reach their destination.