Judaism features

We can't eat eggs from mistreated chickens

By Ariel Abel, August 6, 2015

A few weeks ago the corridors of online communication were buzzing with a video clip of a sit-in protest at a Jewish chicken grinder plant in Israel. At the centre of the room was a macerator, a blender into which one-day-old chicks are fed and cut to ribbons. In this type of bone-crushing machine a chick can escape some of the blades ending up not quite dead and in unimaginable agony.


How words recreated what was lost in stone

By Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris, July 24, 2015

Fifteen hundred years ago, the ancient residents of the Bamiyan valley in central Afghanistan carved two giant Buddhas — each well over one hundred feet tall— into the side of a cliff, where they stood until one March day in 2001 when the Taliban set explosives at their base and toppled them. I remember the news that day clearly.


How can they say Reform is a sin?

By Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, July 16, 2015

Reform Jews may not know whether to laugh or cry. Fortunately, the Hebrew calendar offers quite a conspicuous clue.


The hidden Chasidic roots of Sigmund Freud

July 16, 2015

There were many Freuds: the scholar, the academic, the researcher, the neurologist, the founder of the new discipline and psychoanalysis, and the Viennese professional. All were noted for their rejection of religion and their identification with prevalent German culture. This was the picture painted by Freud's principal biographers.


We're too obsessed with the way women dress

By Felicia Epstein, July 9, 2015

Israeli girls in secular high schools recently wrote to the Education Minister to protest discriminatory dress codes in secular Israeli schools; girls, unlike boys, are banned from wearing shorts to school. Girls who wore shorts in defiance of the ban were reportedly sent home and not allowed to take their exams.


Love poetry shouldn't be on the forbidden list

By Rabbi Ariel Abel, June 25, 2015

When poems about falling in love appeared in a GCSE English exam this year, a number of Orthodox schools were unhappy. They felt their students were at a disadvantage because the subject was outside their cultural and social experience.


Head scarves: Why frum women have got wrapping

By Judy Silkoff, June 18, 2015

When I got married in the mid-1990s, it was obvious to me that I would be observing the mitzvah of covering my hair.What I didn't realise was that it would take me nearly 20 years to find a way of covering that I felt fully comfortable with.


The first woman rabba will not be the last

By Simon Rocker, June 10, 2015

In name, Rabba Sara Hurwitz is one of a kind. Six years ago she was the first woman to be openly ordained as a member of the Orthodox ministry. But she is not alone. Other women have followed along the trail she blazed, even if they do not carry the title "rabba".


Too much technology can switch off Shabbat

By Rabbi Ariel Abel, June 4, 2015

In recent months social media was buzzing with news of a revolutionary invention for Jewish homes: the KosherSwitch. A new frontier has been pushed back in halachic history - no longer may it be forbidden to turn on the electric lights on Shabbat and festivals. For observant Jews, reining in the everyday impulse to flick on a switch is a central pillar of how Shabbat is different from a weekday.


You don't have to be frum to study on Shavuot

May 21, 2015

At university one of the keenest consumers of our Jewish society's educational offerings was a practising Christian who would attend everything from Hebrew lessons to in-depth Talmud classes. I once asked him what the learning was like at church. He looked at me surprised, "We don't do learning".