Jewish life

Winds of communal change

By Jenni Frazer, October 29, 2010

If a conference that took place in Berlin last weekend is anything to go by, Jewish leaders in the West need a rapid Russian language induction course — and an equally rapid re-think of how things get done.

Jonathan Joseph, the South African-born, British-based president of the European Council of Jewish Communities, may not have done the Russian Berlitz course yet but he has certainly got to grips with how things get done.

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Nachman's followers find utopia - in Ukraine

By Pini Dunner, September 16, 2010

This month sees the 200th anniversary of his death, but Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav's popularity continues to grow.

Over the past 20 years in particular, this growth has been exponential. Reviled in his lifetime, even by his own family - one contemporary Chasidic leader is said to have guaranteed paradise for any antagonist of Rabbi Nachman - his teachings and message are embraced across the spectrum of Jewish life, and he is revered by Jews of every level of observance.

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Shtetl show for Leeds children

By Jessica Elgot, August 5, 2010

Leeds is opening a Jewish educational centre where children can take a walk through time into a 19th century eastern European shtetl.

The Jewish Heritage Centre for Children, due to open in October, is the brainchild of Leeds Lubavitch education director Shoshana Angyalfi and her project co-ordinator Ruth Bell, who gave the JC a sneak preview of the museum.

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UK Jews more tied to Israel than American Jews

By Simon Rocker, July 22, 2010

Jews in the UK feel more attached to Israel than those in the United States, according to one of the leading academic experts on diaspora Jewry.

"UK Jewry is far more connected to Israel than American Jewry," said Professor Steven Cohen, research professor of Jewish social policy at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.

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Ultimately, converts will be the losers

By Seth Farber, July 22, 2010

Whatever happens in the end to the conversion law, the real losers are the potential converts. Neither the bill - which was proposed by Yisrael Beiteinu in an effort to ease the road for converts in Israel - or the virulent response of the North American Jewish community, which tried to kill the bill, was going to significantly improve the chaos that has characterised conversion in Israel for the past decade.

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Speed dating Jews? It's better than Freeview

By Paul Lester, February 18, 2010

It was either a famous Greek philosopher or an obscure Jewish divorcé who said that being married to a Jewish woman is one of those things you should try for a brief period, and then give up for the sake of your mental health.

One hesitates to use a word as loaded as "survivor" in this context, but what the hell - I was once married to a Jewish girl and survived.

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Why it’s a disgrace if you don’t say Grace

By Rabbi Pete Tobias, July 2, 2009

When you have eaten and are satisfied, then you shall praise the Eternal One, your God, for the good land you have been given” (Deuteronomy 8:10). This is the biblical instruction on which is based the obligation to give thanks after a meal.

Jewish tradition has developed numerous variations on the blessings to be said, based on the type of food eaten, the number of people who have eaten it and the context in which it has been eaten. That same tradition even ascribes authorship of the different blessings to Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon and Rabban Gamliel.

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The cost of Friday dinner

By Leon Symons, August 15, 2008

The cost of making a Friday-night dinner is continuing to soar as the credit crunch bites.

Increased food, utility and fuel prices have led to sharply rising costs of essential dinner ingredients.

Food prices alone helped to lift inflation to a 16-year high last month, the steepest monthly climb for a decade, according to economists. And nowhere is this felt more than the Shabbat table.

Many kosher bakers have noticed customers scaling back what they buy, even when it comes to staple items such as challah.

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You need a barmitzvah renewal every 18 years

By Scott Shay, July 18, 2008

Why stop at 13? Scott Shay urges ‘bar- and batmizvah-plus’ celebrations throughout life — and shuls are taking him up


Like many Jews, I don’t procrastinate: I put things off right away. This is especially true of spiritual and ethical pursuits, because of heavy career and personal responsibilities. How many of us have made plans finally to sit down and read Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, but just never got around to it?

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