A more dignified election, please

By Simon Round, April 29, 2010

It was my first time. I had waited 19 years and I was understandably very excited. But when it actually happened it was a terrible anticlimax. Was that it? I thought to myself as I smoked a cigarette afterwards. Was that what all the fuss was about? The location - a synagogue hall, as I remember - was not the most glamorous and I was left wondering whether I had even done the right thing - after all I was only a teenager. Maybe I should have waited until I was older. Since then I've done it another four times and it has never been remotely satisfying.

Every time I cast my vote I


Jewish Vikings and Groucho Marx

By Peter Rosengard, April 22, 2010

'Have you got Trapped on a Small Island by a Huge Volcanic Dust Cloud?" I asked the assistant at Daunts bookshop.

"Who's it by?", she asked. "I'll look it up."

I got back on my red Vespa scooter, drove 10 yards down the street and parked outside Strada to have a single espresso.

"Got any spare change mate?", a very overweight youth in his late teens asked, waving a lager can in one hand.

"How can I possibly know?", I replied. "I haven't lived the rest of my life yet." I replied.


Do our schools make us better Jews?

By Simon Rocker, April 22, 2010

Whatever the pros and cons of school league tables, they have probably done wonders for Jewish day schools. The proven academic track record of Jewish schools year in, year out, must be one reason why parents have been turning to them in ever-increasing numbers to the point that six out of every 10 Jewish children in the UK currently attend one.


Lib Dems are only on one side: the side of peace

By Lynne Featherstone, April 22, 2010

In Hornsey & Wood Green in North London, there is a strong pro-Israel lobby and a strong pro-Palestinian lobby. When Jenny Tonge made her disgraceful and ignorant comments in the JC, calling for an inquiry into Israel taking organs in Haiti, I got emails from the pro-Israel lobby saying that the Liberal Democrats were pro-Palestinian.


Security comes before press freedom

By David Hazony, April 15, 2010

There is nothing more basic to the adult Israeli experience than taking your kid to his first day in the IDF. For his whole life you’ve preached about how important it is to serve. National pride, security, the Zionist mission, becoming an adult — all these are wrapped up together. And then, that fateful morning, you discover you are exactly like those other wimpy parents who seem to care more about their children’s welfare than that of the state. National security and Zionism be damned; just make sure my kid comes home safe.


David Miliband is my political porn star

By Bryony Gordon, April 15, 2010

I have a confession to make. What I am about to tell you I have kept to myself for a very long time - I have thought very long and hard indeed about whether to reveal it to you. But I cannot keep this secret for much longer. It has become a burden that is almost too much to bear. And so, taking the deepest of breaths - several deep breaths, in fact - I am ready, finally, to say it.

Brace yourselves. Find, perhaps, a chair on which to sit.

OK, here goes.

I have fallen head over heels for David Miliband.


Politicians alone cannot save the planet

By Mayer Hillman, April 15, 2010

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
And if I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when? (Pirkei Avot)

The accelerating impact of climate change indicates that we risk leaving an appalling legacy for the future - the planet in a deteriorating condition; widespread extinction of species and genetic variability; extensive water and food shortages; consequently huge, migratory, demographic pressures; and wars of survival and catastrophic losses of life.


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.


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."


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.