Judaism features

Why did we sing when the Egyptians drowned?

By Rabbi Dr Raphael Zarum, April 18, 2014

With each of the Ten Plagues, God escalated the attack on Pharaoh, but it was the Splitting of the Red Sea which finally finished off the Egyptian menace. This occurred seven days after leaving Egypt, so we now read this story annually on the seventh day of Pesach. But why did Pharaoh and his army all have to drown?

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Why one is the Seder's special number

By Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, April 11, 2014

At the Seder table, we celebrate the fact that every single person can connect with our Torah tradition. We read in the Haggadah that the Torah addresses itself to four types of children who represent a cross-section of the Jewish people. “The Torah speaks to four children: one who is wise, one who is wicked, one who is simple and one who does not know how to ask”.

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Pesach frees us from the tyranny of time

By Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer, April 6, 2014

Last year during filming BBC1’s programme about the Seder, I was asked a question by one of the participants that challenged my thinking and enriched my Seder experience.

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The fruits of shmittah do not only grow on trees

By Rabbi Jeremy Gordon, March 23, 2014

A twig once delivered an epiphany. One warm Jerusalem evening I was part of an outdoor Friday evening prayer service. I felt a branch, from the tree next to me, brushing against my shoulder. I went to snap it off and stopped. It was Shabbat. On Shabbat I move and the twig lives to bud another day.

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The fateful rejection behind Haman's hate

By Benedict Roth, March 14, 2014

The nation of Amalek is presented in the Bible as a nihilistic, destructive force that attacks without mercy and without reason. Saul, Israel’s first king, had an opportunity to exterminate Amalek entirely but, whether because of compassion or because of greed, he stayed his hand and was punished for his hesitancy.

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Ritual is the DNA that defines who we are

By Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, March 10, 2014

The language of Judaism is ritual and, as quintessential moderns, we Jews have lost our appreciation for its expressive power. For one thing, we’re not very good at it and like normal adults we don’t like doing what we don’t do well.

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Partnership minyans are not going away

By Dr Miri Freud-Kandel, February 23, 2014

Over the past few months, the term “partnership minyan” or PM, has increasingly been on people’s lips Though rather clunky, it refers to a relatively new concept on the Orthodox prayer scene in which women play a larger role in tefillah.

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The secrets of successful synagogues

By Simon Rocker, February 16, 2014

The gap between practice and belief among UK Jews was again demonstrated in the new National Jewish Community Survey carried out by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

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Culture, not faith, is the key to continuity

By Rabbi David Goldberg, February 6, 2014

Last week, the JC summarised the findings of the largest-ever survey of UK Jewry. The results broadly confirm my own amateur observations, based on over 40 years in the Progressive rabbinate.

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We must not abandon the Jews left in Ethiopia

By Rabbi Sybil Sheridan, January 26, 2014

It is Friday late afternoon and the synagogue is packed. Though we still have 10 minutes to the start of the service, we have to make our way to the very back of the women’s section — at least 400 have got here before us. Looking behind the curtain, we see that there are far fewer men.

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