A couple of months ago, I had the great pleasure of spending eight days in Israel with my second daughter Tehilloh, who is due to celebrate her batmitzvah at the end of June. The trip, her first to Israel, was her batmitzvah present from my wife and me.
Women of the Wall (WOW) began in December 1988 when a group of 70 Jewish women from all streams of Judaism approached the Kotel with a Torah Scroll to conduct a prayer service. Some wore tallit, others did not. Although even at that service, there was some screaming and cursing from Charedi Jews both male and female, Rabbi Getz (the Kotel administrator of the time) did not stop the service, and was overheard telling a complainer "leave them alone, they are not violating halachah".
A general election campaign is one of the vital signs and expressions of a healthy democracy, but it can become a form of blood sport in which some 3,000 men and women participate while the rest of the nation waits and watches for one side or the other to attack. None of the 3,000 plus candidates will want for sufficient advice. It will be generously provided by the media, PR consultants, researchers, acolytes and sycophants. Wise, constructive and impartial advice, however, may prove to be frustratingly elusive unless they turn to rabbinic guidance.
The vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37), which we read in the middle of Pesach, is famous for its promise of resurrection and hope. But God's word has depths and nuances. Let us see what else Ezekiel's vision tells us.
I have always been fascinated by the rebellious, wicked child of the Seder and our relationship to him. Although part of the family, he gets a bad press. The rabbis were repelled by this questioner since in his question, he makes no mention of God; neither does he show any interest in the Seder, dismissing Judaism as tiresome "service" and when asking about the meaning of our rituals, he speaks about what the Seder means "to you", thus excluding himself from the community.
The Chief Rabbinate has run its course and an alternative form of leadership is called for which recognises both the plurality of the community and the application of inclusivism in deed as well as word. Anglo-Jewry's movers and shakers might well heed the advice of a far-sighted observer commenting, a century ago, on factional strife.
He looks just a regular Chasid among the strictly Orthodox legions of north London's Stamford Hill: his kippah is black velvet, he wears peyot and he is the product of Yiddish-speaking school and yeshivah.
But Pen Tivokeish - to give him his pen-name - harbours a secret. He is part of a religious underworld, the author of a blog where he records his true feelings as a Charedi man who does not believe in God.
Purim encompasses a paradox. On the one hand, we unashamedly celebrate the downfall of the wicked Haman - a descendant of the Amalekite nation whose memory the Torah commands us to "obliterate" - and exult in the victory of the Jews. On the other, we are specifically exhorted to blur the difference between "cursed be Haman and blessed be Mordecai" through drink and merriment; sending out an altogether different message of reconciliation and closure.
When Plymouth’s tiny Jewish community sold many of their antique artefacts at the end of last year to help pay for the upkeep of their 18th-century listed synagogue, there were the usual mutterings about Anglo-Jewry flogging off the family silver.
Historic items such as these often end up overseas; but at least some parts of the Plymouth collection were saved for the nation. They were bought by the British Museum in London and, now back from the conservators, they are going on view from Monday.
By Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah, February 11, 2010
If you walk into a Liberal synagogue, you will find an array of leaflets written by the movement’s rabbinate on all kinds of subjects: ageing, animal welfare, biblical criticism, ethical eating, the environment, genetic research, Jewish marriage, lesbian and gay Jews and same-sex relationships, miracles, and much more. But, to date, although Shabbat is a central feature of Liberal Jewish life, apart from the siddur, there is no Liberal Judaism publication on Shabbat.