Judaism features

Pay your taxes, says the Torah

By Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, June 28, 2012

The controversy over those who seek to avoid paying taxes may have hit the headlines recently, but is also to be found in the Bible and rabbinic literature.

Taxes themselves go right back to Leviticus, although in those days it was called a tithe, and was levied on the then major commodities: grain, wine, oil, cattle and sheep.

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If only our synagogues were more like spas

By Simon Rocker, June 21, 2012

When Rabbi Laibl Wolf was younger, he used to drop into an ashram from time to time. Not that he ever thought of giving up davening for yoga: he simply wanted to know why so many young Jews had fled the suburban Judaism of their childhood to seek spiritual gratification elsewhere.

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Wanted: a Kindle you can read on Shabbat

By Dr Harry Freedman, June 14, 2012

The Jewish relationship with books goes back to Moses. We are known as the People of the Book. So it’s a fair bet that Jews will play a significant part in the massive upheaval that the Kindle and other digital book readers are bringing about in the publishing world.

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The History behind the Prayer for the Royals

By Nic Abery, May 31, 2012

On recording his visit to a synagogue on Simchat Torah on October 13 1663, Samuel Pepys made two observations. Firstly the decorum was terrible and secondly a special prayer was recited in Hebrew for the King. How true are both today!

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Thank heaven for Shavuot

By Simon Rocker, May 24, 2012

Shavuot ought to be the most popular of the major festivals. There are no long services, like Rosh Hashanah; no fasting as on Yom Kippur; no rain-spattered meals in a draughty succah. And a slice of cheesecake is a lot more appetising than a week-long diet of matzah.

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Why I won’t be singing on Jerusalem Day

By Simon Rocker, May 17, 2012

When Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks issued his new edition of the Singer’s Prayer book, the United Synagogue’s standard siddur for the first time mentioned Jerusalem Day.

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Two heads are better for learning than one

By Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, May 10, 2012

An ancient Jewish system of learning is being suggested as the way forward for schools in the UK.

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The historical disaster the rabbis covered up

By Rabbi Dr Jeffrey Cohen, May 3, 2012

The traditional way of teaching the background of the Omer period, between Pesach and Shavuot, is that its original, joyful harvest spirit was suddenly transformed into a period of semi-mourning on account of a tragedy that occurred to the disciples of Rabbi Akiva (135 CE).

The talmudic account of that tragedy is significantly vague and is a tapestry of statements by different sages, rather tha

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How the Talmud's idea of equality got lost

By Benedict Roth, April 19, 2012

I srael's Declaration of Independence pledged "absolute equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race or sex". This pledge was surely derived from the age-old Jewish idea that all human beings are created equal.

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Abraham Levy: I've no resentment over the decision to retire early

By Michael Freedland, April 19, 2012

Abraham Levy has a problem with labels. As the spiritual leader of Britain's Spanish and Portuguese congregation, the Sephardim, he rejects the denominational categories that divide the rest of Anglo-Jewry. No Orthodox, Reform, Liberal or Masorti tags for him and his flock.

"I follow the halachah as Sephardim have kept it for 2,000 years," he says. "We are Jews without ideological adjectives.

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