Judaism features

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?


Nathan or Dathan? How to pick a Hebrew name

By Rabbi Harvey Belovski, August 4, 2010

The story is told of a boy travelling with his mother on a bus in Israel. He escaped from his mother’s grasp and ran off down the bus. His mother called, “Esav, Esav (Esau), come here.” Responding to the other passengers’ astonishment, she asked, “What’s your problem? It’s a biblical name!”

While even in the most secular circles, such lack of sensitivity to Jewish history and tradition is rare — Esau is the archetypal Jewish enemy — this story illustrates the importance attached to names.


Limmud Fest's mystical quest

By Simon Rocker, July 28, 2010

There is a mystical theme to this year's Limmud Fest, which takes place in Sussex at the end of next month: Pardes, meaning "orchard", a richly symbolic idea in Jewish tradition.

"The orchard is a mystical place for coming close to God, for finding connections and delving into multi-levels of meaning," explains artist Jacqueline Nicholls, who has jointly overseen the event's programme.


A shivah is not the time for a tea party

By Rabbi Barry Marcus, July 22, 2010

A colleague once told me about a call he received from a congregant informing him of the death of a family member. Before the rabbi could even offer his condolences, he was asked if he could recommend a good caterer for the one-night shivah.

All communal rabbis face a daily challenge in dealing with the lifecycle events in their communities, whether births, bar/batmitzvahs, weddings or sadly, bereavements. All these events are charged with various levels of emotion which demand sensitive handling.