Judaism book extracts

The Diaspora is Doomed

June 26, 2009

Demographs have asserted that diaspora Jewry has lost a million of its sons and daughters in intermarriage and assimilation during the last two decades. They predict that in fifty years’ time only one and a half million of the present seven and a half million Jews will remain in the diaspora as a result of intermarriage and assimilation. Presently we are losing 60,000 young men and women every year.


What the Talmud says about converts

May 27, 2009

The Talmud, A Selection, a new translation with an introduction by Norman Solomon, Penguin Classics, £16.99

Rabbi Solomon writes:

The anecdotes about Hillel and Shammai in Shabbat 31a indicate a strongly encouraging attitude towards converts, but the baraita below suggests caution, perhaps necessary when converts to Judaism lapsed and slandered Jews to the occupying authorities, or if they joined Christian or heretical sects and made a nuisance of themselves. This may be what lies behind Rabbi Chelbo’s caustic yet ambivalent comparison of converts to a “scab”.


Where was God during the Crusades?

February 25, 2009

By the end of the 14th century the persecutions of previous centuries created among the Jews the need for a special prayer. It would be said for those parents, children, and the masses of co-religionists who had been killed while sanctifying God’s name. Speculation is that the need was caused by the fact that their gentile neighbours, who had also been affected by the plague, had special prayers for mourning and suffering, and the Jews needed their own versions of such prayers.


The Power of Positive Thinking

December 9, 2008

Clearly, thoughtful optimism breeds success. Take a room full of CEOs, millionaires and others who have reached the pinnacle of their goals, and you’ll almost certainly find a room full of people who are, by their nature, optimistic and positive.


The Origins of Kabbalah

December 9, 2008

The origins of Kabbalah are ancient.

According to Jewish tradition there are four levels of Torah knowledge. The first is called peshat, which means the plain or literal meaning of the text.

One must begin with the peshat before even beginning to contemplate moving beyond on to the next level. The second level is remez, which means hint.


The Siddur That Saved A Life

November 7, 2008

The real sermons in life, those which have the greatest impact, are not those which are delivered from the lofty tower of a pulpit to a congregation who are, for the most part, disinclined to be influenced by what they hear.

The effective sermons are those that take us unawares, sideways, without our realizing that we are listening to something that will change our lives.


The Power of Teshuvah

September 29, 2008

In an extract from his new book, Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer looks at the key High Holy Day theme of repentance.

The idea of a divine soul is central to the Jewish understanding of man, not only in the sense just described but also because it means that, at his core, man is pure and good. The body is temporary, as is the animal soul; the godly soul is eternal and, in that sense, the essence of who we really are.


When Jacobs met Jakobovits

September 23, 2008

In an exclusive extract from his new book, "Faith Against Reason - Religious Reform and the British Chief Rabbinate 1840-1990", the Jewish Chronicle's former Judaism editor Meir Persoff records an historic meeting in 1966 between Lord Jakobovits, then about to become Chief Rabbi, and Rabbi Dr Louis Jacobs, ousted from the United Synagogue two years before over his views on the origin of the Torah.