The language of Judaism is ritual and, as quintessential moderns, we Jews have lost our appreciation for its expressive power. For one thing, we’re not very good at it and like normal adults we don’t like doing what we don’t do well.
Over the past few months, the term “partnership minyan” or PM, has increasingly been on people’s lips Though rather clunky, it refers to a relatively new concept on the Orthodox prayer scene in which women play a larger role in tefillah.
It is Friday late afternoon and the synagogue is packed. Though we still have 10 minutes to the start of the service, we have to make our way to the very back of the women’s section — at least 400 have got here before us. Looking behind the curtain, we see that there are far fewer men.
Tu Bishvat in my Jewish primary school was celebrated as a largely Zionist festival, emphasising the importance of planting trees in the state of Israel. That was not an inappropriate slant; after all, Tu Bishvat was originally concerned with the trees and the produce of the Land of Israel.
I’m about to head to the Limmud conference, where thousands of Jews of every conceivable stripe will spend five days learning, debating, celebrating and socialising together. Coming hot on the heels of that other winter highlight, Chanucah, Limmud sets out a particularly fashionable message about contemporary Jewish existence.
When my son was a young boy, I wanted to read him some stories of Jewish interest besides the favoured pirate adventures. After all, Judaism has generally communicated its ideas and values through stories rather than systematic creed so where better than to start at bedtime?