Geoffrey Alderman

Why we really need the Queen

By Geoffrey Alderman, October 17, 2008

Shortly after he became Prime Minister, Gordon Brown announced that there was to be a "national conversation" on constitutional reform. This was the time (how very long ago it seems now) of the "Brown bounce", when Mr Brown actually enjoyed a modicum of national popularity. He was determined (his spin-doctors assured us) to sweep away the heavily cobwebbed constitutional niceties that the country had inherited from long ago.


I’ve found my inner builder

By Geoffrey Alderman, October 10, 2008

Succot reminds us that life isn't all about brain work - there's divinity in manual labour


The extremists are taking over

By Geoffrey Alderman, October 3, 2008

Charedi activists are trying to ban ‘non-kosher' music and force women to dress more modestly in Israel


A Reform chief rabbinate soon?

By Geoffrey Alderman, September 26, 2008

The real threat of the latest call for unity is that signatories will set up their own United Reformed Synagogue

So much has already been written about the Statement of Community Collaboration jointly authored by the Reform, Liberal and Masorti movements that I hesitate to add to the discussion. I do so only because I don't think that the significance of the Statement can be properly understood without taking a long-term view of its origins and meaning. Blame the historian in me if you like.


Playing politics at the mikveh

By Geoffrey Alderman, September 19, 2008

A proposal for a ritual bath in Cambridge is being obstructed, for no good reason

Being an Oxford man, I do not travel to Cambridge very frequently. But there are some remarkable similarities surrounding the Jewish presence in both these ancient seats of learning.


Why I’m optimistic about peace

By Geoffrey Alderman, September 12, 2008

The Palestinians may finally be accepting that ‘armed struggle' is futile


For the first time in years, the prospects are looking rosier for a peace - of sorts - in the Middle East.


Hate material online? Let it stay

By Geoffrey Alderman, September 4, 2008

There is no point to Andrew Dismore's attack on WH Smith for selling the Protocols on the web - other than publicity


The Hendon parliamentary constituency contains a larger proportion of Jewish voters than any other parliamentary constituency in the UK. So it is only natural that the Hendon MP should cultivate his Jewish clientèle. And Andrew Dismore - the Labour MP in question - does so.

Mr Dismore is not a slave to the Jewish vote. Nor should he be. But on what we might call the "core" issues he is sound.


We all need a secular education

By Geoffrey Alderman, August 28, 2008

Ofsted is right to demand better non-religious teaching in Charedi schools: it helps children learn right from wrong.

ive years ago, a welcome change in government policy meant that although independent schools were under no obligation to teach the national curriculum, they would all henceforth be subject to government inspection. This year, so far, Ofsted reports on 14 privately funded Jewish schools have been published. As Simon Rocker's analysis in last week's JC demonstrated, some of these audits make grim reading.


Yes, bury the absurd eulogy rule

By Geoffrey Alderman, August 21, 2008

The decision of the United Synagogue -- or rather the recommendation of its Rabbinical Council - to relax the rule that only rabbis or ministers be permitted to deliver funeral eulogies is a welcome triumph of common sense over common nonsense. What puzzles me is that the rule was ever introduced in the first place.


King David’s food policy is nuts

By Geoffrey Alderman, August 14, 2008

In defiance of any logic available, King David Primary is angrily defending its packed-lunch ban

Big trees from little acorns grow.


Fund intolerance? No thanks

By Geoffrey Alderman, August 7, 2008

Charedim in Israel can now opt out of teaching about democracy, but take public money


On July 23, a law was enacted in the Knesset more squalid in its conception than any passed by Israel's parliament since the state's re-establishment.


Iranians are in denial on Israel

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 31, 2008

The Islamic media insists that Ahmadinejad never called for the destruction of Israel. They are wrong


Addressing the Knesset last month, Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a number of hard-hitting statements. Those of you who pay attention to the Islamic media will know that, of these, the ones that have caused most consternation pertained to Iran.


Our 150 years of wasted power

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 24, 2008

What have Jewish Parliamentarians ever done for the community?

This past week and next mark two important 150th anniversaries. It was on July 23 1858 that Parliament enacted legislation enabling professing Jews to sit in the House of Commons. Five days later, Lionel de Rothschild, at the climax of an 11-year campaign, was finally able to take his seat in that chamber as Liberal MP for the City of London.


The POW swap was a bad deal

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 17, 2008

Freeing the murderer Samir Kuntar has shown Hizbollah that kidnaps pay

In a deal brokered by Germany, the government of Ehud Olmert has turned over to the terrorist organisation Hizbollah the bodies of around 200 Lebanese killed during the 2006 war, plus four still living Hizbollah terrorists currently held in Israel, and the convicted murderer Samir Kuntar.


It all looks different from Israel

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 10, 2008

Our columnist pays his first visit to the Holy Land in 10 years, and is impressed

‘So, what do you make of all this political corruption? Why do politicians behave this way? They’re all in it for themselves — for what they can get out of the system, eh?”

These were the opening remarks of a fascinating conversation I had just a few days ago with an informed and talkative taxi-driver. But the journey I had booked was not in the UK. It was in Israel.


I too have a problem with The Jews

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 3, 2008

A documentary about Stamford Hill Chasidim took too many answers at face value

I was fascinated to learn of Chanoch Kesselman’s complaint to the BBC about the recently-screened documentary focusing on the life and ethos of the sectarian-Orthodox Jewish community of Stamford Hill.  Or rather, I was surprised to learn that his complaints addressed not so much the detailed content of the programme, as the fact that the documentary had been made without prior consultation with “community representatives”.


We must harass Jews for Jesus

By Geoffrey Alderman, June 27, 2008

The only way to defeat missionaries is to beat them at their own game

A funny thing happened to me on the Edgware branch of the Northern Line last week.


The conversion row: pure politics

By Geoffrey Alderman, June 19, 2008

Religion is not the prime reason for the recent spate of conversion annulments

Three weeks ago, in a Shabbat sermon about which he must have thought a great deal, Naftali Brawer, rabbi of the United Synagogue at Borehamwood, launched a ferocious attack against those of his colleagues — in Israel and elsewhere — who have proudly claimed responsibility for, and enthusiastically supported, one of the most malevolent rabbinical decisions of recent times.


Let them eat packed lunches

By Geoffrey Alderman, June 12, 2008

Why is a Jewish school stopping its students from bringing in food from home?

Next Friday I shall attend the formal opening of Yavneh College in Borehamwood. The ceremony will be graced by the presence of a host of Jewish and non-Jewish dignitaries, chief among whom will be the Secretary of State for Children, Families and Schools, Ed Balls.


When blame hits history

By Geoffrey Alderman, June 5, 2008

Journey to Nowhere
By Eva Figes
Granta, £14.99