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I'm into Reform, not retirement

By Tony Bayfield, April 15, 2010

Retiring? Me? "It's not a characteristic I associate with you", someone said. And I'm not. Not only do I still have 15 months to go but, in July 2011, I start the next chapter of my career.

The Reform movement has come a long way over the 37 years since I first became a congregational rabbi in Weybridge, Surrey. Back then, the UK's Jewish community was very different both in demography and composition. It had barely started to face up to the challenges presented by being a tiny minority in an aggressively secular society and by the sheer diversity of needs.

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Jews are the Marmite of the world

By Tracy-Ann Oberman, April 8, 2010

Mr O and I have a regular tussle over the condiments that appear on the breakfast table. Stifle your yawn, reader, this is going somewhere. He cannot think of a morning piece of toast without thinly spreading a layer of butter and a layer of Marmite. For him this is breakfast heaven. It is my idea of breakfast hell. And don't even get my three-year-old on the subject. "Yuk, mummy. It's horrid and sticky and black."

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Jesus and the importance of being Jewish

By Rebecca Abrams, April 8, 2010

The day before Passover, under the gorgeously painted ceiling of a packed Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, the novelist Philip Pullman spoke for an hour about his new book, The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ. Despite the fact that this is about one of the most famous Jews of all time, the words "Jew" and "Jewish" were not mentioned once, either by Pullman or anyone in the audience. The omission was both striking and revealing.

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Yom Hashoah: hope out of grief

By Lord Jonathan Sacks, April 8, 2010

The echoing irony of the Holocaust is that we have still not found an adequate way of giving its remembrance religious expression, in the way we do for the exodus on Pesach, or the destruction of the Temples on Tisha b'Av.

Almost everything else that can be said or done, has been said or done. There are Holocaust histories, conferences, seminars, university courses, exhibitions, museums, memorials, documentaries and films. There was a time in the 1980s when one out of every four books published on a Jewish theme was about the Holocaust. Yet this one lacuna remains.

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The Yiddle in the middle

By Simon Rocker, April 1, 2010

As the cricket season approaches, it is time to tell of a little-known episode of Ashes history - the encounter between the demon bowler and the Jewish knight.

In 1932, England went out to Australia and regained the Ashes with a thumping 4-1 win against a team that included the incomparable Sir Donald Bradman. The English triumph resulted partly from a new tactic, short fast-pitched bowling aimed at the batsman's body - hence the name, the Bodyline Series, by which it became known.

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Schools need to keep faith in liberal education

By David Conway, April 1, 2010

Faith schools are seldom out of the news. Parents whose children have been denied entry to them take legal action to force changes to their admissions policies. Others object to the state funding or even tolerating them.

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You may be your worst enemy

By Stephen Pollard, April 1, 2010

There's a no doubt apocryphal story about Herbert Morrison, the former deputy prime minister - now probably better remembered for being Peter Mandelson's grandfather. Ernie Bevin is supposed to have overheard a private conversation in which someone said that "the trouble with Herbert is that he is his own worst enemy". To which Bevin responded with a loud: "Not while I'm alive, he ain't."

The complicated, ever-shifting, inter-mingling nuances between our community, the government and Israel remind me of that conversation.

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Which is better, Pesach or Easter?

By Simon Round, April 1, 2010

This weekend, Easter and Pesach coincide. This gives us the welcome opportunity to compare and contrast the two festivals and come to a firm conclusion about whether Christians or Jews have the better time.

On the surface the assumption is that the Christians win hands down. They get to eat chocolate eggs whereas our eggs are hard-boiled… and have salt water over poured over them for good measure. Plus they get chocolate bunnies and we don't get any bunnies at all, even with salt water on.

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Come on, women, let's get equal

By Michele Vogel, April 1, 2010

Last month's International Women's Day helped bring to the public's attention the government's dismal record in relation to the lack of women in senior management roles. At the present rate of progress, it is anticipated that gender equality will take 60 years to achieve.

As far back as the early 1900s, Jewish women were striving to become community leaders and create gender equality. This coincided with renewed vigour for the creation of a Jewish homeland - in which men were dominating all activity.

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Mazeltov Sacha, but why get hitched?

By Bryony Gordon, March 25, 2010

They said it would never happen; that there was more chance of Gordon Brown bursting into show tunes during Prime Minister's Question Time. But finally, after eight years together, a six-year engagement, and one small child, Sacha Baron Cohen has made an honest woman of Isla Fisher.

"We did it - we're married!" wrote Isla in an email to friends. "It was the absolute best day of my life and in so many beautiful moments I missed you all so much. I thought of you as everything was happening, but Sacha and I wanted no fuss - just us!"

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