It is not uncommon for yeshivah heads to come here in search of potential students. But Rabbi Dov Linzer, who will be speaking at several United Synagogues over the weekend on his first trip to the UK, is different. His yeshivah, Chovevei Torah, is based in New York, not in Israel.
We like our religion dark and dangerous, at least according to trends in contemporary fiction. Since Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code - the best-known example - a steady stream of conspiracy thrillers has fed our fascination with ancient scrolls, secretive sects and Templar knights.
Throughout much of the 20th century, cheder played a major part in Anglo-Jewish education. Particularly when Jewish schools were few and far between, or widely viewed as too religious, generations of Jewish children attended mainstream schools in the day and cheder on weekday evenings and on Sundays.
Chanucah, the festival of lights, is, in our own day, mainly the commemoration of a spiritual event. Its historical roots, however, as set out in the Book of Maccabees, were the celebration of a great military victory over the Syrian-Greek overlords.
The Talmud's description concentrates on the laws of keeping the Chanucah lights burning (Masechet Shabbat 21b-24a).
Judaism is the most astonishing and daring religion the world has been blessed with. It defies all definitions and stands heads and shoulders above anything else I know. It is not just a faith, a sentiment or a ritual, but above all an intricate and immense exploration of what we might call the holy dimension of existence.
'Now is the winter of our discontent", proclaimed Shakespeare's Richard III. Our rabbis agreed. Moving from an intense period of festivals and fasts, packed with commandments, to the first month of the winter which has no festivals at all, they felt deprived. They called this period Marcheshvan or "the bitter month of Cheshvan".
There has been a good deal of speculation how the next Chief Rabbi might be appointed. It seems likely that consultation within the community will be considerably wider than on previous occasions and it has even been suggested that an election might feature as part of the process.