Judaism features

The shofar's many voices

By Rabbi David Lister, September 18, 2014

Rosh Hashanah is almost upon us. 5774 has been a difficult year, riven by conflict and cacophonous with lies, half-truths and hostility. Like many others, the Jewish people are desperate to draw a line under the past and make a new start.

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What the shofar's wordless cry tells us

By Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, September 18, 2014

At the heart of the Rosh Hashanah service is a cry with no words. It isn't even a human cry, but the strangely evocative sound made by directing the breath through the hollowed-out horn of a ram. Scripture provides no reason for blowing the shofar on the New Year; it doesn't even name it as the instrument to be used on what it tersely describes as Yom Teruah, "a day of sounding the horn".

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The rabbi behind the American Jacobs affair

By Simon Rocker, September 11, 2014

The New London Synagogue, founded by Rabbi Louis Jacobs after his exile from the United Synagogue, has been celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

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Why Baruch Spinoza is still excommunicated

By Simon Rocker, August 28, 2014

The year 1656 is usually remembered as the date of the readmission of Jews to England. But something else happened then, regarded by some as an infamous act that remains a lingering stain on European Jewry.

Amsterdam's Sephardi authorities pronounced a cherem, a ban of excommunication, on the rationalist philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

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It's a religious duty to stand up for Israel

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, August 27, 2014

It’s been a testing time for Jews everywhere.

International concern for the welfare and safety of innocent Gazans has morphed into anti-Zionism and from there, it’s been a short hop to antisemitism. With boycotts, desecration of communal buildings and antisemitic outbursts, the climate has turned increasingly hostile, leaving many of us feeling vulnerable, unsure of how to respond.

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Why Sharansky is wrong to write off European Jewry

By Barbara Spectre, August 18, 2014

“I believe we are beginning to see the end of Jewish history in Europe”
Natan Sharansky, JC July 25

Dear Natan,

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Dark story behind the festival of love

By Simon Rocker, August 11, 2014

Tu b’Av, which falls today, is probably the least-known festival on the Jewish calendar. Probably only regular daveners of shacharit will notice because the prayers of supplication which would normally be said that morning are omitted.

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Keeping watch over Citizen Cain

By Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, July 31, 2014

The roads are blocked with broken masonry, the paths through the city are twisted: this sounds like a war-shattered city in the 20th century; in fact, it's Jeremiah's depiction of the desolation of Jerusalem 2,500 years ago. The Hebrew Bible, which opens with a majestic paean to creation, is not afraid to describe the brutal realities of destruction.

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The ethical defence to Israel's actions in Gaza

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, July 24, 2014

Earlier this month the Unite union passed a resolution denouncing Israel as an apartheid regime, supporting boycotts against it and accusing it of "feeling able to commit war crimes with complete impunity". When Israel launched its latest operation in Gaza, the union issued a statement to "unreservedly condemn the continuing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people".

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Even in desperate times we never gave up hope

By Rabbi Dr Raphael Zarum, July 20, 2014

We never give up. No matter what is done to us, however horrific, demeaning or undermining, we struggle on. Hope surely is at the heart of Jewish survival. And yet, after the Second Temple was destroyed almost 2,000 years ago, there was a moment when some Jews thought it really was not worth continuing.

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