Jewish texts

Stolen scroll sheds light on exile days

By Simon Rocker, May 7, 2009

A 2,000-year-old papyrus fragment offering rare evidence of early Jewish history was seized by police in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Two men were arrested.

The 15 lines of Hebrew, written in the style of the Dead Sea Scrolls, contains a the phrase “year four to the destruction of Israel” — a reference possibly to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70CE or the Roman defeat of the Bar Kochba revolt nearly 70 years later.


British Library loses Ramban document

By Marcus Dysch, March 26, 2009

A 454-year-old edition of a book written by the 12th-century scholar, philosopher and rabbi, Moses ben Maimon — better known as Maimonides or the Rambam — is among 9,000 items missing from the British Library.

A library spokesman said the book, Letter on Astrology, is unlikely to have been stolen. Instead, it is thought to be missing somewhere in the 650km of storage shelves within the central London library. The library, which was formerly housed in the British Museum, moved to its new St Pancras base in 1998. The manuscript’s loss is believed to predate the move.


Dead Sea Scrolls go online

By Michal Levertov, August 28, 2008

To Mark the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is to provide online access to the full collection of 900 scrolls.

A pilot project currently is under way to photograph and image the thousands of scroll fragments in colour and infra-red by using cutting-edge technologies.


We need a literature that merges past and future

By Haim Watzman, July 2, 2008

Why are today’s authors so quick to abandon our great written tradition that defines us as Jews?

A wistful passage from the final chapter of the Mishnah’s Sotah tractate states, in poetic Hebrew: Nifteru ziknei Yerushalayim ve-halchu lahen.  In more prosaic English, it might be rendered: “The elders of Jerusalem got up and left.” The departure of the elders of Jerusalem, when examined in the context of this hauntingly literary tractate, signifies the relationship to past, present, and future that I seek in Jewish literature.


Triplets’ joy as music comes to aid of barmitzvah boy

By Alex Kasriel, June 20, 2008

Being severely disabled would rule out many people from having a bar- or batmitzvah, but it didn’t stop 13-year-old Ben Dawson from celebrating his coming-of-age ceremony with his sisters at Finchley Progressive Synagogue, North-West London.

Ben, who has quadriplegia, cortical visual impairment, epilepsy and global development delay, joined his triplet sisters Josie and Rachel on the bimah last month.


Mezuzah crime warning

By Simon Round, June 13, 2008

Your car may be protected by an immobiliser and your house alarmed, but there is another important item you need to protect — your mezuzah. 

Rabbis in southern Israel have warned people to be on the lookout for mezuzah thieves. Dozens of householders in Kiryat Gat, 50 miles south of Tel Aviv, found last week that the parchments from inside their mezuzah cases had been stolen. So if a dodgy geezer offers you a bargain mezuzah, you have been warned.


Sinai School celebrates Hebrew-reading pupils

June 13, 2008

A ceremony was held at the Michael Sobell Sinai School for the 90 Year 1 pupils who have completed a Hebrew reading programme. The pupils also performed a medley of songs they had learned during the year and each received a siddur which they will use at morning prayers throughout their time at Sinai.


Youth Direct's large Jewish literature collection

June 6, 2008

Youth Direct’s new library at its Manor Road centre offers a large selection of Yiddish and Hebrew books. Youth Direct’s James Field said: “There are more than 8,000 young people in the Hackney and Haringey Jewish community and many do not access public libraries. We hope providing an opportunity for young boys to borrow books to take home and giving them the space to explore Jewish literature in a socially accepting environment will encourage them to read.”


Demand for second Women of the Book course

April 25, 2008

Thirty-six women attended a graduation ceremony at the Marjorie and Arnold Ziff centre after completing a course entitled N’Shei HaSefer — the Women of the Book. English and drama teacher Shirley Ellis, who devised and led the course, said: “The course is an innovative step to introducing women to Torah.” Mrs Ellis had been inundated with requests to repeat the first course, held last year.


Students complete Torah La'am course

April 18, 2008

Seven students from the Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt have completed a “Torah La’am” course, led by regional student chaplain Rabbi Dovid Cohen. The seven-week course examined the five books of Moses and the students all gave a presentation on the Torah at the final session. Rabbi Cohen was “very enthusiastic about the results of this programme. I hope to run it again in the near future”.