Why is Jewish burial so grave?

By Stephen Games, February 17, 2011

A few weeks ago, I attended a funeral at a church in London. I found the experience uplifting, consoling and appropriate to the emotion and sense of loss.


Awards aren't all a big yawn

By Tracy-Ann Oberman, February 17, 2011

The award season is upon us. There's been the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, BAFTAs and soon good old Oscar Night. Undoubtedly the best way to watch these events is sitting at home with the tea brewing, a loo nearby and some snacks to hand. And even then only the highlights. Because award nights are dull.

To watch is hard; to attend even worse. I've been to comedy awards, theatre awards, soap awards, fragrance awards and TV awards. I once accompanied Mr O to DJ Mag's technology awards, where categories included Best Amplifier and Best Turntable.


My catch and carry nights

By Simon Round, February 11, 2011

Ritual is important in most societies and ours is no exception. There is the ritual of prayer (three times a day), the ritual of Shabbat, the strict rituals revolving around food, festivals and walking on the cracks in the pavement (OK, there's nothing in the Talmud about walking on the cracks in the pavement, but there is a passage on just about everything else).

You would think this would be enough for anyone, but most of us add an extra layer of ritual to our lives.


I am a loyal Zionist and that is why I must criticise Israel

By Mick Davis, February 11, 2011

At Sinai, the Torah was handed down with its moral code, system of social justice and protections for minorities, and expressing the value of peace. A people was forged into a nation with the promise of a land. Israel was the heart of Jewish identity when the Children of Israel stood at Sinai.


The reason why Jews became intellectuals

By Jonah Lehrer, February 10, 2011

In 1919, the sociologist Thorstein Veblen was commissioned by a popular magazine devoted to American Jewry to write an essay on how "Jewish productivity" would be changed if Jews were given a homeland.

Zionism was then becoming a potent political movement, and the magazine editor assumed Veblen would make the obvious argument: a Jewish state would lead to an intellectual boom, as Jews would no longer be held back by institutional antisemitism.


Grants won't help

By Shraga Zaltzman, February 10, 2011

This year, the government launches its expanded New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) scheme, offering a package of up to £2,000 to unemployed people wanting to set up their own businesses. Through financial support, a business mentor and access to a start-up loan, the government hopes to create over 40,000 new businesses by 2013.


Is this Egypt’s Israel moment?

By Lawrence Joffe, February 4, 2011

"It's 1938", Benjamin Netanyahu is fond of intoning. The idea being that Iran is the new Germany, Ahmadinejad the new Hitler. But maybe events in the Middle East are more like 1958, when military officers overthrew the discredited Hashemite monarchy in Iraq; Egypt and Syria fused into a new pan-Arab entity, the United Arab Republic (UAR); Muslim nationalists threatened the fragile status quo of Lebanon; and nationalists demanded that the young King Hussein be toppled.


Alliance was social revolution

By Lyn Julius, February 4, 2011

A Jewish teacher journeys 1,000km from Paris to a remote community in southern Morocco. The boys whom he has come to teach sit on the floor in their djellabas, learning Torah.

This is how Jews were "educated" in Muslim countries until the Alliance Israelite Universelle (AIU), a schools' network founded in 1860 in France, transformed their lives.

In the early days of the AIU, teachers would sometimes build classrooms, provide meals and send for drugs to treat diseases.


A shameful Shoah whitewash

By Efraim Zuroff, February 4, 2011

A financially-strapped small Eastern European country is spending tens of thousands of pounds to sponsor an extraordinarily large number of political and cultural events - lectures, concerts, exhibitions and films - in London next week. Why? That is the obvious question for the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, several Lithuanian cultural institutions, and local UK partners.


My love affair with the city of peace and conflict

By Simon Sebag Montefiore, February 3, 2011

In the recent leaked papers about the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Jerusalem is central - always the universal city, the capital of David, Solomon, the Maccabees and Herod, the Holy one, Yerushalaim and al-Quds, the cradle of the three Abrahamic faiths, prize of empires, the setting for the Apocalypse, the heart of Judaism, centre of the world - and vital in 2011 more than ever.