Our Jewish Moments

My Jewish Moments: Alain de Botton

September 22, 2009

Alain de Botton is a Swiss writer, television presenter and entrepreneur

Most significant Jewish moment?

Deciding to base a central theme of a new book around Judaism. I realised that I knew more about Islam and Christianity than my own religious tradition, and that this was becoming shameful.

Which biblical character would you like to meet, and why?

I am drawn both to King Samuel and Saul — and for this reason, have named my children after them. I have sympathy for their strengths and weaknesses. They are essential, recurring human types.

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My Jewish Moments: Sir Martin Gilbert

September 22, 2009

Sir Martin Gilbert is a historian and biographer of Winston Churchill.

Most significant Jewish moment?

Sitting in the then-Soviet city of Leningrad in the winter of 1982-83 at a clandestine Hebrew class, and realising the extraordinary courage of the Jewish people, and the strength of Jewish unity.

Which biblical character would you like to meet, and why?

Moshe Rabbeinu, who, beset by doubts and weaknesses, had the perseverance to lead and cajole, punish and inspire a fractious people, and keep before them the vision of a God-inspired ethic and peoplehood.

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My Jewish moments: Linda Grant

September 22, 2009

Linda Grant is a journalist and novelist.

What is your most significant Jewish moment?

A conversation with the Israeli novelist Aharon Appelfeld in Jerusalem in 2003, which has stayed with me for his insights into antisemitism.

Which biblical character would you like to meet, and why?

Moses. I’d give him satnav.

What is your favourite mitzvah?

I think there’s one about building a parapet around a flat roof. Very wise.

Israel for me is…

Davka.

When was the last time you went to synagogue?

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