When Rabbi Laibl Wolf was younger, he used to drop into an ashram from time to time. Not that he ever thought of giving up davening for yoga: he simply wanted to know why so many young Jews had fled the suburban Judaism of their childhood to seek spiritual gratification elsewhere.
The Jewish relationship with books goes back to Moses. We are known as the People of the Book. So it’s a fair bet that Jews will play a significant part in the massive upheaval that the Kindle and other digital book readers are bringing about in the publishing world.
On recording his visit to a synagogue on Simchat Torah on October 13 1663, Samuel Pepys made two observations. Firstly the decorum was terrible and secondly a special prayer was recited in Hebrew for the King. How true are both today!
Shavuot ought to be the most popular of the major festivals. There are no long services, like Rosh Hashanah; no fasting as on Yom Kippur; no rain-spattered meals in a draughty succah. And a slice of cheesecake is a lot more appetising than a week-long diet of matzah.
The traditional way of teaching the background of the Omer period, between Pesach and Shavuot, is that its original, joyful harvest spirit was suddenly transformed into a period of semi-mourning on account of a tragedy that occurred to the disciples of Rabbi Akiva (135 CE).
The talmudic account of that tragedy is significantly vague and is a tapestry of statements by different sages, rather tha
I srael's Declaration of Independence pledged "absolute equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race or sex". This pledge was surely derived from the age-old Jewish idea that all human beings are created equal.
Abraham Levy has a problem with labels. As the spiritual leader of Britain's Spanish and Portuguese congregation, the Sephardim, he rejects the denominational categories that divide the rest of Anglo-Jewry. No Orthodox, Reform, Liberal or Masorti tags for him and his flock.
"I follow the halachah as Sephardim have kept it for 2,000 years," he says. "We are Jews without ideological adjectives.