Judaism features

How the rabbis turned swords into candles

By Mordechai Beck, December 15, 2011

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).


The Orthodox rabbi who loves Limmud

By Rabbi Dr Nathan Cardozo, December 8, 2011

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.


Will Israel have a religious majority?

By Simon Rocker, November 24, 2011

Israel has more than enough to worry about - the uncertain outcome of the Arab spring, the paralysed peace process, not to forget the nuclear ambitions of the theocrats of Tehran.


How Mitzvah Day gives a warm start to winter

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, November 17, 2011

'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".

Now Cheshvan has had a makeover.


Why it would be wrong to elect a Chief Rabbi

By Daniel Greenberg, November 10, 2011

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.


Why I held a funeral for a stillborn child

October 27, 2011

Sometimes not knowing what you cannot do is a dangerous thing, sometimes it is a blessing. The recent stories of families unable to bury and mourn their children - highlighted in the JC - tear at the heart strings and seem, at this perspective, unbelievably lacking in empathy.


The poor whom we can't afford to ignore

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, October 19, 2011

This week, we come in from the cold. A midrash suggests that our time spent out of the house living in a temporary hut is a kind of divinely imposed exile. It is an opportunity for reflection before the final judgment which takes place tomorrow on the festival of Shemini Atzeret (Yalkut, Emor 753).


We are so much more than what we own

By Rabbi Daniel Glass, October 11, 2011

A round the year 1845, the American writer, Henry David Thoreau, left his house to live in a log cabin in the middle of the forests of New England.


We cannot always rely on the voice of reason

By Naftali Brawer, October 6, 2011

This past August at the height of the London riots a 24-year-old university graduate named Natasha Reid stole a flat-screen TV from the Comet store in Enfield.


Why the longest day is the greatest of gifts

By Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, October 6, 2011

Many people are simply too busy for existential questions.
"The meaning of life? - I've half an hour to get the family dinner on the table!" "Meaning? I'll give you meaning! The lady next door's got chemo and needs a lift to the hospital." The hustle of everyday, caring for our neighbour: who has got time for philosophy?

These people are probably natural givers.