Judaism features

Would the rabbis allow teachers to go on strike?

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, July 7, 2011

When Judge Brandeis saw the behaviour of Jewish workers, he was shocked. While touring the New York slums to investigate the 1910 garment workers strike, he expected to see the usual displays of deference by workers towards their employers, but the Jewish workers were different.


How the stars can shed new light on the Torah

June 30, 2011

Recent scientific advances have transformed our understanding of the universe and our place within it.


The Jews who take off their shoes for shul

June 23, 2011

In August a rare event will take place in Daly City, California: after a year of intense study, some 20 people from across the world - including Russia, Australia and the UK - will swear fealty to Karaite Judaism.

It will be only the third known conversion ceremony since 1465 performed by the Karaites, the ancient sect that differs from Orthodoxy in not recognising the divine authority of the O


What do we want from the next Chief Rabbi?

June 10, 2011

Chief Rabbi Hertz once remarked, "Chief Rabbis never retire and only rarely die." That is not quite true anymore; they do retire now, but just as infrequently. Britain has had only six Chief Rabbis since Nathan Adler arrived in 1845.


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).