Judaism features

Are non-Jews barred from learning Torah?

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, October 7, 2010

Chief Rabbi Jakobovits was a champion of Jewish education, so it was natural that when visiting schools, he would try to engage with the pupils and inspire them with a love of their religion. Legend has it that on one visit to a provincial Jewish school, he had a surprise. "Who painted this beautiful picture of a chanukiah?" he asked. "Mohammed" came the reply. Undeterred, the rabbi tried again. "Who drew this lovely plate of latkes?" he asked: "Ahmed" was the response.


The day that King Solomon overslept

By Mordechai Beck, September 28, 2010

The haftarah for Shemini Atzeret in the diaspora recalls the ceremony mounted by King Solomon for the inauguration of the First Temple. In this it provides a fitting climax to the careers not only of Solomon but also of his father, King David, who, in the parallel text in the Book of Chronicles, planned and devised almost every detail of its complex architecture. The amount of words lavished on the building's design in both sources only emphasises its supreme importance in the annals of ancient Israel's history.


Somebody, please find me an organic etrog

September 21, 2010

"It's concentrated poison." That was the bitter assessment on my proffered home-made etrog jam. Not because it tasted so bad, but because this particular guest was an avowed "greenie". As he put it, eating a batch of post-Succot etrog jam was equivalent to dipping one's liver in a barrel of weed-killer.


Death, a last act of faith

By Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, September 16, 2010

Martyrdom does not figure as prominently in Judaism as it does in other religions. There is no hint of it in the Bible until Daniel is thrown into the lion's den in Babylon. If Israelites died, it was defending their lands, conquering others or simply carrying out royal commands.


We don't need to bear the weight of our sins alone

By Rabbi Dr Raphael Zarum, September 16, 2010

The Yom Kippur Machzor is so long that as we turn page after page, our minds can easily wander away from essence of the day. But there is one little prayer that really gets to me and is a reminder of what Yom Kippur is all about. I am referring to the Thirteen Attributes of God, Yud Gimmel Middot. For many of us, just the first few words of this prayer evoke the traditional tune: Adonai, Adonai, El, rachum, v'chanun, erech apayim...


The High Holy Day tutorial - on how to be a happy Jew

By Lord Jonathan Sacks, September 7, 2010

It was an invitation I could not refuse. Next month I will be joining the Dalai Lama at Emory University for a seminar on happiness. It appealed to me first because the Dalai Lama is, like Nelson Mandela, one of those rare figures who has led his people through suffering by forgiveness.


Ringing the praises on the world's birthday

By David Lister, September 7, 2010

But why? Why is a blast on a horn the best expression of the national mood at the start of a New Year? And a ram's horn at that?


When Rosh Hashanah meets Ramadan

September 2, 2010

Danny: The first similarity that strikes me is that many Jews and Muslims who are not usually so observant are more concerned with these holy days than many others in the calendar - it seems that something about them has a broader appeal than many other festivals or rituals.


The rabbi who had his brit when he was 20

By Simon Rocker, August 19, 2010

One of the phenomena of post-War Judaism is the ba'al teshuvah movement. Thousands of young Jews from secular or moderately traditional homes have opted for Orthodoxy and a more devout religious lifestyle. But few can have made quite such a leap as Rabbi Jonny Hughes.

He is on the staff of Midrash Shmuel, a yeshivah in Israel popular with English-speaking students. He has just published his first book on one of the luminaries of the Torah world, Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik. But if you had suggested a decade ago where he would be today, he probably would have laughed in disbelief.


A vision of God for the twenty-first century

August 12, 2010

Radical Judaism – Rethinking God and Tradition
Arthur Green
Yale University Press, £16.50

One might have thought that in this hectic world of constant crises and urgent moral dilemmas there were better things to do than theology. Why waste time thinking about God?