General Topics

Aesthetics 

Aesthetics plays an important part in the theological and philosophical tradition that started in Greece and flowed right through the Christian intellectual world to the present. Such a concept is not referred to in classical Judaism. Does this mean that the aesthetic plays absolutely no part in Jewish life? Not at all. But it does mean that we need to…

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Churches

My Uncle Henry introduced me to Verdi’s Requiem as a teenager, and I have been hooked on church music ever since. Sure, I ignore the theology. I can repeat the Latin text, but the words have no more significance for me than birdsong. This time of the year I remember when, some 50 years ago, friends took me to a…

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Truth?

I like the Hebrew term for the Christian festival coming up this week: Hag Hamolad, Festival of the Birth. A virgin birth, quite unbelievable. It is an early example of fake news. But does it matter? For millions the story is inspirational. And if it makes them better human beings, isn’t that something to celebrate? This is just one example…

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Do we still need Zionism?

There have always been nationalist movements in Judaism. Chanukah celebrates that of the Hasidim, or zealots, who fought to retain their Jewish identity. But most people don’t think of the Maccabees as Hasidim nowadays. It has been purloined by a modern kind. What will we think of Zionism in two thousand years? It is now regarded as unremarkable to claim…

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Chanukah

Chanukah celebrates the Jewish rebellion against the Syrian Greek Antiochus IV. He called himself Epiphanes, which means the wise or godlike. His subjects called him Epimanes—the crazy one. The rebellion was initiated by Mattityahu in 167 BCE and went on until his son Judah’s death in 160 BCE. (Yes, UNESCO, there really were Jews in the Land of Israel in…

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Obsession

Time for a rant! Living in the USA today is to live in an atmosphere of obsessive neurosis. Wherever you turn, wherever you look, whatever you see, whatever you hear, you would think that the most evil man who ever walked the earth is running the affairs of the United States and is about to singlehandedly unleash an economic, ecological,…

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