What’s the pointing of fasting?

September 25, 2020 by  

Here are some of my thoughts on the significance of Yom Kippur. Read more

Repentance

September 18, 2020 by  

We are in the season of repentance. But what actually does repentance mean? What does it do? If repentance is intended to change us, make us better people, it does not appear to work. Read more

Betrayal

September 4, 2020 by  

The culture wars are raging around us. Anything or one who is unacceptable to the Culture Police is to be banned, silenced, and censored. Read more

How to deal with racism

August 28, 2020 by  

I want to look at the current debate about racism from the point of view and the premise that prejudice or discrimination, simply on the basis of skin colour goes against every fundamental in Judaism. No significant rabbinic authority has ever suggested otherwise. Read more

The Rebbe and Sociology

August 23, 2020 by  

There is no shortage of books that extol the influence and charisma of the late Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Read more

Finding Love

August 7, 2020 by  

Did you know that there is an ancient tradition that on two days in the year, unmarried girls used to go out dancing in the vineyards around Jerusalem in order to find a marriage partner? Read more

Jerusalem reborn

July 31, 2020 by  

The Jerusalem I first came to in 1958 was a very different and much smaller town than the Jerusalem of nearly one million it is today. Read more

An Even Worse Mess

July 24, 2020 by  

On the Seventeenth of Tammuz, we began the period known as the Three Weeks that culminate in the fast of the Ninth of Av ( this coming Wednesday night). Read more

Women Rabbis

July 17, 2020 by  

The issue of women rabbis in Orthodox Judaism has come to the fore again. This time, it has come through a petition before the Israeli Supreme Court on sexual discrimination in religious affairs. Read more

What a mess we made!

July 10, 2020 by  

The Fast of the Seventeenth of Tammuz we have just passed, initiates a three-week period of mourning for the loss, twice, of Jerusalem and the Temple. Read more

Statues and Idols

July 4, 2020 by  

All of a sudden it has become fashionable in the USA to take down or demolish statues. There is a case to be made that none of them should have been put up in the first place. Read more

More on prayer

June 26, 2020 by  

We are living in a fraught, unpredictable world of conflicting values and policies.  So I am returning to an earlier post about prayer. Read more

Wellesley Tudor Pole

June 19, 2020 by  

Plagues often bring out the soothsayers and those who predict the end of days. Why else is Nostradamus still popular? Read more

Jeffrey Epstein and Maimonides

June 12, 2020 by  

I needed distraction from hypocrisy, politics, demonstrations, and looting, this past week, so I watched a series on Netflix called “Filthy Rich.” Read more

Passion

June 5, 2020 by  

What has primitive medieval anti-Semitism got to do with us, here, now? Read more

Ruth and Shavuot

May 22, 2020 by  

The Book of Ruth, which is read on the Festival of Shavuot, is one of the shortest books in the Bible. Read more

Prayer in the time of COVID-19

May 15, 2020 by  

The great advantage of having to pray alone during this period of lockdown is that one can actually take the time to pay attention to the words being said and to focus on their meaning and relevance (rather than keeping up with the congregation). Read more

May 8th, 1945

May 8, 2020 by  

May 8th VE Day is the anniversary of the end of the Second World War in 1945. It marks the final defeat of the Nazis and an end to the worst crime against humanity in the history of the world. Read more

Yeshayahu Leibowitz

May 1, 2020 by  

My nephew Dov, a philosopher, scholar and rabbi of YAKAR Jerusalem, sent me a brilliant essay he recently published entitled “ On Social Distancing and deontology.” Read more

Israel and the Diaspora

April 24, 2020 by  

As we approach Israel’s independence day, the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora remains ambivalent. Read more

Religion and COVID-19

April 17, 2020 by  

There has been a great deal of negative publicity which religious communities in Israel and the United States were disregarding state and medical laws about social distancing. Read more

Pesach was always intended to be a challenge – To our way of life and our values.

April 3, 2020 by  

Egypt, the most advanced civilization of its time, was being challenged by a single man with a different way of looking at things. Read more

A walk in the park

March 27, 2020 by  

This past Shabbat, I went for a walk around Central Park. It was a beautiful day. The air was cool and fresh.  The sun was out and I was feeling good. Read more

The Economist

March 20, 2020 by  

I think there’s been enough written about the virus crisis. Here is something less serious, to relieve the tension. Read more

Covid? Don’t Despair!

March 17, 2020 by  

We are living under conditions that we have never experienced before. Read more

Eating an idol

March 13, 2020 by  

Eating plays a very important part in Jewish rituals, every day of the year. Read more

Poor Him

March 6, 2020 by  

Purim. Poor Him. But “poor” who? Ahasuerus the drunken incompetent sop of a passive king? Vashti the deposed queen? Perhaps all the virgins corralled into the king’s harem? Esther, the Metoo# nice Jewish girl who had to sleep with the king and face the chance that if she failed to please him she would be denied the starring role and end up an extra in the King’s seraglio? Or Mordechai whose refusal to bow to Haman (thus offending the express command of the King) and disobeying the king’s command not to appear at court in sackcloth, put the whole of the Jewish community at risk? Should we feel sorry for Bigtan and Teresh the incompetent plotters? Or is Haman, who overreached in his quest for power, driven by ambition and hatred, ended with his ten sons strung up on a scaffold? Take your pick. And people do. Read more

Vilem Flusser

February 28, 2020 by  

I met the Jewish Czech philosopher, Vilem Flusser, at a conference on Contemporary Judaism and Zionism convened by Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jackobovits in London in 1980. He stood out in a gathering of rabbis and academics. Despite the differences in our backgrounds, age, and religious commitment, I felt a very strong bond with him.  His eyes sparkled with delight in challenging accepted ideas. Like me, he was a maverick. Read more

Jewish Names

February 21, 2020 by  

We Jews are hyper-sensitive. Recently, several people have told me how embarrassed they are that Jewish names are so prominent in the current spate of legal cases involving sexual abuse. Read more

Deborah

February 14, 2020 by  

I have always been fascinated by the Biblical Deborah. Not the one in Genesis, but the most impressive one in the Book of Judges. Read more

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