“After the war, being Jewish meant I had to help my fellow Jews. I went to Belsen on the weekends to volunteer, to re create a Jewish identity which had been knocked out of people. I feel a strong connection to Israel because it is a country I helped to create.”
“Being Jewish means community, food, family and charity work — in particular, raising money for worthy causes. I have undertaken several sponsored sky dives for charity with the funds from my latest one going to Jewish Blind & Disabled and Marie Curie Cancer Care.”
“I made aliyah at 16 with my family. It was a huge upheaval but then I loved it. When I was ill, the waves of blackness swamp you, you leave everything else behind. Religion took a back seat. Now everything I do is Jewish, my work, social and home life.”
“My mother married a non-Jewish man when I was growing up. I had the best of both worlds — I went to synagogue and church. I could have chosen Christianity but there was always a pull towards a Jewish way of life. At 43, I chose to have an adult batmitzvah.”
Being Jewish means to me living my heritage; being respected by my colleagues for adhering to the principle of my faith, my love for Israel and running a traditional Jewish home, whilst at the same time being afforded respect by dayanim and rabbonim for my role as a judge.
Jewish values are the same values important to English lawyers, particularly judges. Compared with modern human rights, Jewish law emphasises duties over rights, as did English Common Law when I became a judge. Today rights and duties are complementary. Perhaps my Judaism helped me understand this.
Being part of a group which is prepared to swim against the tide. Helen Suzman fighting apartheid. Messrs Schwerner and Goodman giving their lives for African American Civil Rights. American Jews voting overwhelmingly Democrat against their own financial interests and for an Israel at peace with its neighbours.
Having just lost my parents within 12 days of each other, being Jewish means faith, spirituality and a careful order to things. It means the strength to endure the most severe of blows twice over. It means my parents will be together for eternity in the care of Hashem.
Being Jewish means living within an on-going argument governed by two Talmudic concepts: lishma – all learning is intrinsically valuable, regardless of practical application; teiku – not every dispute need be resolved. My Judaism thrives on the continuing dialectic between words on a page and life as it is lived.
Being a Jew means respecting my heritage and traditions. Understanding where I came from. Believing my family comes first. Supporting Israel. Loving Jewish jokes and culture. Passing on these values to our three sons. Being a Jewish lawyer means a heightened understanding of the need to fight injustice and discrimination.