Judaism features

Is it still possible to believe in revelation?

June 2, 2011

The postmodern era in which we live poses unprecedented challenges to the foundations on which traditional faith is based. Those of us who received a conservative religious education were nurtured on the certainties of Jewish tradition as encapsulated by the opening words of Maimonides in his Mishneh Torah:

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How the English came to be a 'chosen people'

By David Aberbach, May 26, 2011

When the King James translation of the Bible was published in 1611, Jews had been barred from England for over 300 years. The dominant popular image of Jews at the time was found in Marlowe's The Jew of Malta and Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.

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How bonfires became a burning issue in Israel

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, May 19, 2011

My most extraordinary religious experience took place on a mountain top in the north of Israel. The winding path to Mount Meron was lined with holy men, charlatans and peddlers pressing me to buy blessings, trinkets, food and drink. At the summit were hundreds of tents belonging to Sephardi families who camp out for a week before the festival; tied to each tent was a young lamb.

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Why Orthodoxy needs its own Chief Rebbetzin

By Sally Berkovic, May 5, 2011

We need a Chief Rebbetzin. Not the woman who happens to be married to whomever is the next Chief Rabbi; nor a woman who is necessarily married to a rabbi, or indeed married. We need a Chief Rebbetzin with a parallel position to the Chief Rabbi, who will serve the whole community, bringing to her task a perspective on women's lives and their challenges that has been missing to date.

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Honour your parents .. and the in-laws, too

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, April 28, 2011

Buckingham Palace is ready and everything will be perfect for today's royal simchah. But with all the pressures on them, I doubt whether Prince William and Kate Middleton managed to find time to delve into the Jewish laws of respecting their future in-laws.

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Pesach celebrates the liberation of God, too

By Mordechai Beck, April 21, 2011

The dramatic telling of the biblical story of the Exodus from Egypt is interrupted by a seemingly unrelated command, to follow a new calendar: "God said to Moses and to Aaron, 'This month shall be for you the first month – the premier one among all the months of the year'"(Exodus 12: 1-2).

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Fast food that gives a true taste of freedom

By Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, April 14, 2011

I have always loved matzah, annoying everyone around me; even the dog looks disappointed when he does not receive his customary challah. But I have also felt intrigued by the paradox in the matzah's essence. What does it actually represent? Is it the bread of poverty and the fare of slaves, or the bread of hope and the food of the free?

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Tips for the Seder from the Book of the Dead

April 7, 2011

Last month I visited the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead exhibition at the British Museum. As well as being a fascinating glimpse into the fears, hopes and beliefs of ancient Egypt, it also gave me new insight into our Exodus story.

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A Torah haven in the Geordie heartlands

By Rabbi Harvey Belovski, March 24, 2011

I have just spent a week in Gateshead, a yeshivah town in the north of England, where my wife and I lived when we were first married and I was a student at the Gateshead Yeshivah. I remain eternally indebted to Gateshead for the outstanding Torah education I received there, and particularly for the encouragement I received to develop into an independent rabbi and halachist.

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Why Purim is more than a story of us and them

By Rabbi Natan Levy, March 16, 2011

Chosenness does not play well on television. The small screen is the place to pass the world a Coke, not to call them "goyim". So, when Louis Theroux asked a Jewish vintner if he, a gentile, might stir the kosher wine in the midst of his recent BBC documentary on West Bank settlers, the ensuing dialogue caught Judaism at its most disturbingly tribal.

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