Lifestyle features

Rabbis at the edge of the world

September 18, 2009

The lost Torah scroll
Ukraine
We stopped off at the home of a woman in Kralivets. We spoke for a while and ate apples from her garden. She then told us that she had a Torah.

Now, whenever anyone here says they have a Torah, they most likely mean a book with Hebrew writing. But we weren’t rushing anywhere so we told her that we would love to see it.

She came back with a wrapped-up scroll. It was a detailed sketch of a deer being attacked by wolves. In the corner was the date: 1943. We flipped it over. It was an entire section of a Torah scroll.

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Found — the lost Sephardim of Texas

By Daniel Kalder, September 17, 2009

The American West was built by settlers carving a life in the New World. Over a century later, that pioneering spirit survives in the form of 39-year-old Daniel Ramos. But rather than pushing open a new frontier, Ramos is blazing a trail back to a very old world, reconnecting with his identity as Anusim, one of the lost Jews of Texas.

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Succot, Beijing-style

By Samuel Selmon, September 9, 2009

It is Friday night and more than 100 people are crammed around three long trestle-tables singing grace after meals. A Shabbat meal of soup, challah, hummus and roast chicken has just been eaten, and the atmosphere is jovial as the rabbi delivers the after-dinner speech. But this is no ordinary Friday night at your local community centre. This group of Jews is eclectic — young and old, Orthodox and Reform, and hailing from many different countries. These are the Jews of Beijing.

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Seen a ghost - who do you call?

By Simon Rocker, August 27, 2009

Both the lollypop lady and the baker on his delivery round saw it from the street — visible through a bedroom window was an 11-year-old girl, floating, it seemed, in mid-air. The story of the Enfield Poltergeist has continued to intrigue ghost-hunters since the first reports some 30 years ago of a single mother and her children being afflicted by apparently unexplained phenomena in their north London council house.

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From the ghetto to the village green

By Gabrielle Jaffe, August 27, 2009

On 1 September 1939, as His Majesty’s armed forces made their final preparations for war, another section of the population was also getting ready to mobilise. Under a government scheme, a 735,000-strong army of schoolchildren was to be sent from the soon-to-be-bombed cities, industrial towns and ports to the safety of the British countryside.

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The woman who’s proving intelligent books can sell

By Gerald Jacobs, August 13, 2009

One of London’s leading literary agents recently suggested that, “intelligent, well-written fiction is in a state of crisis”. The big publishing conglomerates are not interested so much in the state of the culture as in what they perceive to be the state of the market. And what they perceive is that “pulp” sells and “literary fiction” — in which emotions and ideas are imaginatively conveyed in well-constructed sentences — does not.

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England will lose again, so get over it

By Simon Round, August 13, 2009

Next year is the football World Cup and we all know what is going to happen should England qualify. They will struggle through the group phase before losing (almost certainly on penalties) in the quarter finals. The nation will, as usual, be disappointed — but, according to football writer Simon Kuper, we should not be.

In a new book, Why England Lose and Other Curious Phenomena Explained, Kuper and co-author Stefan Szymanski apply economics, statistics and psychology to football topics and come up some surprising conclusions.

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How we got engaged: Readers' love stories

By Simon Round, August 13, 2009

Ruth Fireman and Daniel Bankover

Ruth, aged 30, and Daniel, 27, met at a party and clicked immediately. It was no surprise, then, that they decided to meet up again. But it was more than six months before they could find a convenient date for that first evening out.

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This software could help our son to talk

By Stephanie Brickman, August 6, 2009

Dr Ehud Reiter was watching his two-year-old son Moshe play with a child six months younger when he realised that something was not quite right.

“The other boy, Sidney, was talking much more than Moshe. Up till then, Moshe had always been ahead of him. So we knew there was something really wrong.”

Reiter sighs and pauses as he recalls that terrible moment in 2000. It was a year later that he and his wife Ann finally received the dreadful news that Moshe had full-blown autism and would need care for the rest of his life.

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Diane Samuels: what I learnt when I went back to school

July 30, 2009

It is early July 2009 and I am sitting in the staff room of King David Primary School on Beauclair Drive in Liverpool. The sound of children singing God Save the Queen rings from the assembly hall up the corridor. Then silence falls.

I look out to the playground which has not changed since I was a pupil here in the 1960s. I remember games of marbles, juggling balls and “Israeli skipping” with a large loop of elastic.

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