Judaism features

Can it still be right to mourn for Jerusalem?

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, August 4, 2011

Legend has it that the Emperor Napoleon came to Jerusalem on the fast of Tishah b'Av.


How a library gained from a billionaire's gift

By Jack Shamash, July 21, 2011

At the back of the London Library, in a locked section of shelving in an area known as level seven, is one of the most unusual collections of modern Jewish literature. The Montefiore collection contains a diverse assortment of almost 4,982 pamphlets, dealing with everything from the condition of women in Judaism to the order of service for Progressive synagogues.


How Islam helped to beautify our shuls

By Stephen Games, July 14, 2011

The Synagogues of Britain and Ireland
Sharman Kadish; Yale, £45

Diaspora Jews have always built in the manner of the communities among whom they have lived. In fact, until the 20th century, most synagogue architects were non-Jews.


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.