Judaism features

Queen Esther and the flap of a butterfly’s wing

By Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman, February 21, 2013

In the summer of 1666, the English physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton is said to have pondered the falling of an apple while in the gardens of Woolsthorpe Manor, his family home in Lincolnshire. This apocryphal story describes the seminal moment which prompted him to realise that there must be a force acting on the apple which draws it to the centre of the earth.


How the eruv liberated families on Shabbat

By Simon Rocker, February 7, 2013

Every morning when I walk to the station on the way to work, I pass a tall green pole outside a pub. It is linked from the top to a second pole on the opposite side of the road by a slender, almost invisible wire. It looks like the training apparatus for a lightweight tightrope walker. You probably wouldn’t notice it from the surrounding lampposts if you didn’t know why it was there.


The seeds of hope borne by the New Year for Trees

By Rabbi Neil Janes, January 24, 2013

This year Tu Bishvat, the New Year for Trees, Shevat 15, falls just one day before Holocaust Memorial Day. 
There is a famous story in the Talmud about the sage Honi in which he asks why a certain man is planting carob trees because he will not see them mature and bear fruit. The man reminds us that we do not plant trees for ourselves, but for our descendants perhaps 70 years later.


Business ethics are too precious to sideline

By Simon Rocker, January 18, 2013

The incoming Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, seems cut from a different cloth from his predecessor. Whereas Dr Rowan Williams is a poetry-writing scholar with better Hebrew than most of us, the Bishop of Durham’s pre-clerical career as an oil executive has marked him as a man of more worldly experience.


The internet rebellion shaking Stamford Hill

By Pen Tivakesh, January 11, 2013

It may seem like decades, but only three months ago thousands of Charedi men were marshalled into the Leyton Orient stadium for a ticketed event, although one quite unlike any football match, by the Union of Hebrew Congregations. The gathering was the brainchild of Rabbi Ephraim Padwa himself, the rabbinical leader of the UOHC.


What Rabbi Mirvis can do to make a difference

By Dr Ben Elton, January 3, 2013

The white smoke has gone up. Ephraim Mirvis is to be the seventh Chief Rabbi since the office was established in 1845. He is an unusual choice. He is 10 years older than most of his predecessors were when they started and is known as a pastor rather than a scholar. However, that brings certain advantages.


Why United Synagogue women can chair their synagogue

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, December 24, 2012

Many years ago, my elderly aunt was desperate to know why so many of her friends were abandoning the United Synagogue and defecting to Reform communities. Hearing that the head of the Reform Movement would be speaking at a public meeting, she went along to pose her question: “How are you enticing so many Orthodox Jews to join your movement?”.


The woman who cut off a general’s head

By Simon Rocker, December 13, 2012

Chanucah is the easiest festival to keep. What’s not to like about lighting candles and eating doughnuts? You don’t even have to go to the trouble of reading a book, as you do with Megillat Esther on Purim.


What the rabbis think about war and peace

By Rabbi Reuben Livingstone, December 6, 2012

By the time the Talmud codified the festival of Chanucah as we know it, the significant military dimension of the Maccabean triumph had become an embarrassment.


Are Jewish schools good for Judaism?

By Simon Rocker, November 29, 2012

In 1964 ITV launched a groundbreaking documentary, 7 Up, which interviewed a group of seven-year-old children from across Britain; seven years later the programme-makers went back to see how they were growing up and returned for subsequent series. Now comes what UJIA research director Dr Helena Miller is calling “our Jewish 7 Up”.