Judaism features

Anatomy of our identity — what JFS case exposes

By Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer, August 6, 2009

The Jewish educational establishment in this country has been gripped by alarm since the seminal JFS ruling last month. The Court of Appeal determined that it is unlawful for Jewish schools to admit pupils on the basis of a parent’s Jewish status. Much has been written about the practical administrative ramifications of this ruling as well as its wider social repercussions. What so far has been missing from this wide debate is theology, the religious rationale for retaining the original entry policy.

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The rebel Messiah who was an early Zionist

By Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, July 23, 2009

When President Obama spoke in Cairo last month, impressive as his speech was, it betrayed an ignorance of Jewish history. The implication that the justification for a Jewish state was the result of the atrocities that the Germans and their European allies inflicted on the Jews, flies in the face of 2,000 years of history. It might have been a justification in non-Jewish minds, but never in ours.

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The deep wrongs that lie at heart of JFS case

By Jonathan Wittenberg, July 16, 2009

There is something wrong with the state of Judaism in this country.
The world exists because of the breath of children studying Torah, proclaims the Talmud. How, then, have we turned education into an instrument of exclusion? No one should have to go to law to seek the right to gain a Jewish education for a Jewish child at a state-funded Jewish school.

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Meet the world’s first female Orthodox rav

By Simon Rocker, July 9, 2009

L’Chaim!” Reb Mimi Feigelson raises her glass of water for the umpteenth time and takes a sip. Fighting off a cold, she has sustained her voice for well over an hour, leading a late-night session on Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev, the Chasidic master, at the Limmud conference.

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Why it’s a disgrace if you don’t say Grace

By Rabbi Pete Tobias, July 2, 2009

When you have eaten and are satisfied, then you shall praise the Eternal One, your God, for the good land you have been given” (Deuteronomy 8:10). This is the biblical instruction on which is based the obligation to give thanks after a meal.

Jewish tradition has developed numerous variations on the blessings to be said, based on the type of food eaten, the number of people who have eaten it and the context in which it has been eaten. That same tradition even ascribes authorship of the different blessings to Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon and Rabban Gamliel.

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JCoSS is non-Orthodox, not ‘cross-communal’

By Rabbi Harvey Belovski, June 25, 2009

The scheduled opening of JCoSS (the Jewish Community Secondary School) next year has generated unprecedented interest. Adorned with the slogan “excellence, choice, openness, inclusion”, its website describes it as “the first cross-communal Jewish secondary school in the UK”. JCoSS takes pride in its admissions policy, which “will treat on an equal basis all pupils recognised as Jewish by any of the UK’s mainstream movements” and its intention to deliver Jewish studies “while being non-judgemental between the various mainstream Jewish traditions”.

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What future for the Jews left in Ethiopia?

By Rabbi Sybil Sheridan , June 10, 2009

The synagogue is packed. The chazanim slowly take the scroll out of the ark and process back to the reading desk. They open the scroll but read the portion from a Bible… in Amharic.

We are in Gondar, Ethiopia, working with what is left of the Jewish community. It is a rather different community to the old-style Beta Yisrael (Falasha) congregation. Known as Falash Mura, the people consider themselves Beta Yisrael; part of the original Ethiopian Jewish community, but ones whose grandparents converted to Christianity.

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Why the Talmud can’t be left to the yeshivah

By Rabbi Dr Norman Solomon, June 4, 2009

Never, in the history of British Jewry, has so much Talmud been studied by so many people with such enthusiasm. It is studied in the yeshivot, it is studied in the universities, it is studied on buses and trains. I once got in a lift in a hotel in Warsaw and by the time I reached the first floor, a brief glance revealed that the man standing next to me had his eyes glued on the daf yomi, the daily page (available online, with commentary) for those who read Talmud on a roughly seven-year cycle; a friendly greeting, and I picked up his Mancunian accent.

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A Shavuot mystery: the angels with four faces

By Mordechai Beck, May 28, 2009

The opening chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, with its mysterious image of a heavenly chariot of four-faced creatures, is read as the haftarah on the first day of Shavuot. But the reason is not immediately apparent.

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Why the rabbis worried about criticism of Israel

By David Aberbach, May 14, 2009

The idea that, as William Blake put it, “opposition is true friendship”, has been one of the faint consolations in Jewish martyrology. Opposition by the ancient pagan world, by Greece and Rome, by Christian Europe and Islam, though often painfully unjust and criminally destructive, has in some ways fructified Judaism and enabled it to adapt to change, and to survive and grow.

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