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A very rocky road to spirituality

By Naftali Brawer, April 30, 2009

A study conducted by researchers at the Hebrew Union College (HUC) in Cincinnati Ohio has concluded that young American Jews are increasingly replacing ethnic identification with identification through spirituality. That is to say that, in the past, young Jews identified with Judaism on an ethnic level through such aspects as food, language, ritual practice and a sense of shared kinship with other Jews. Today, however, it seems this is being replaced by a quest for a sense of purpose and meaning, manifested in the growing interest in Kabbalah and such phenomena as Jewish healing.

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Board of Deputies: vote to stop BNP

By Henry Grunwald, April 23, 2009

I make no apology for the words that follow in this column. I am angry but also determined. In his JC column of April 3, Geoffrey Alderman made some uninformed comments, both about the Board of Deputies’ campaign against the BNP and the threat which the Jewish community faces from the growth of the far-right across the country.

I am not concerned to address every comment made in his piece, but rather to explain why, in my last campaign as president of the Board of Deputies, I am so committed to this issue.

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For Israel’s birthday, stop Iran

By Ron Prosor, April 23, 2009

Whereas on Pesach, the youngest present asks, “Why is this night different from all other nights?”, on Yom Ha’atzmaut, the entire Jewish people ask collectively, “How is this year different from all other years?”. As we celebrate the 61st anniversary of the state of Israel, this year’s differences include new governments in both Israel and the US, and a world that faces unprecedented global challenges, economically and strategically.

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Today’s destitute ‘slaves’ who need our help

By Edie Friedman, April 16, 2009

As we sat down last week around our Seder tables to re-enact the story of our redemption from Egypt, we had the opportunity to reflect on modern-day slavery. Poverty and destitution are forms of slavery because they make us powerless and deprive us of the chance to exercise control over our lives. Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg recently remarked that he was horrified that destitute asylum seekers have to exist on £5 a week. That was, he said, less than he spends on care of his dog.

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Our children are getting a raw deal

By Benjamin E Pearl, April 16, 2009

Last month saw that annual stressful ritual — a kind of Tisha B’Av — when large numbers of dejected parents receive the dreaded letter informing them that their child has not been accepted to the local Jewish school or, indeed, any Jewish school in the vicinity.

This sad state of affairs derives from the simple fact that the Anglo-Jewish community is not providing enough places to satisfy the demand from hundreds of committed young Jewish parents who seek to educate their children in a Jewish school.

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Bibi’s new government must be an April fool

By Uri Dromi, April 16, 2009

Mr Binyamin Netanyahu has just formed the largest government ever in the history of Israel: 30 ministers and seven deputy ministers. People have raised doubts about this government’s ability to function. A government spokesman agreed to address questions of the concerned public.

Q: Why so many ministers? Isn’t that just a pure waste?
A: On the contrary. This is a good use of taxpayer money. Had all these people not been ministers, they would be roaming around the Knesset, scheming against the government and trying to undermine it.

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Middle class and proud of it (really)

By Simon Round, April 16, 2009

Our right to protest is considered inviolable in a democracy. This is as it should be. However, I would suggest one modification to this fundamental part of our unwritten constitution — that people should have the right to protest only as long as they have something sensible to protest about.

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Lieberman and a quandary for the diaspora

By Bernard Josephs, April 7, 2009

It is hardly surprising that the appointment of right-wing firebrand Avigdor Lieberman as Israel’s new Foreign Minister has given many Israelis and their supporters nervous tremors.

For one thing, diplomacy is normally regarded as an essential qualification for any Foreign Minister and the Yisrael Beitenu leader is certainly no diplomat. Can a man who publicly tells the President of Egypt to “go to hell” and calls for a compulsory loyalty test likely to result in loss of citizenship for many Israeli Arabs, really be a suitable representative of Israel on the world stage?

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Do not confine Jews to the couch

By David Hirsh, April 7, 2009

A therapist guides us on a journey to the frightening places inside ourselves and helps us to find ways to live with our demons. While we might do well to examine our own crazinesses with our therapists, we do not expect to have to answer for them in public and we expect our therapist to be on our side. Philosopher Michel Foucault warned that the sciences of the mind are also techniques of power and they have hostile as well as healing potential.

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Church’s St George fear will let the dragon in

By Stephen Pollard, April 7, 2009

I’ve a question for you. When was the last time you were offended by someone celebrating St George’s Day?

No, me neither.

But apparently the Church of England thinks that we are unique amongst Jews. And Hindus. And Sikhs. And Muslims. And, presumably,

Zoroastrians, too. Because according to reports this week, “many in the Church of England have backed away from celebrating St George for fear of provoking a backlash from other religious and cultural groups in Britain”, as the Daily Mail put it on Monday.

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