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George Eliot & Judaism

George Eliot (whose real name was Mary Ann Evans) has always been one of my favorite English novelists. She combined command of the language with a gift for a great story and an acute observation of the inequalities, and social hypocrisies of her age. Last week was the 200th anniversary of George Eliot’s birth. To celebrate it there is a…

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Pompeo’s gift

Good news. Bad news. The US has declared that settlements on the West Bank are not illegal according to international law, despite nearly everyone else claiming they are. “After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate,” Mr. Pompeo told reporters, “The United States has concluded that “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per…

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Truth

“What is truth?” is the question Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea, asked two thousand years ago. Possibly the most famous question of all time! Truth is what you think to be the truth. That is the best answer modern philosophy has to offer. What does the Torah say?  The Biblical word for what we call truth is Emet. It is…

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Maimonides

It is a well-known saying that “ From Moses to Moses, there was no one as great as Moses.” The second Moses the saying refers to is the Moses known as “Rambam”. Which is an acronym of Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon. Or, in secular usage, Maimonides.  He was born around 1135 in Cordoba, Spain.  At the time, Spain was a relatively moderate Muslim kingdom…

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The Balfour Declaration

The Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, was the first recognition for two thousand years that Jews had as much right to a homeland of their own as any other nation or people. It was a statement of British support (in principle) for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” It was made in a letter from Arthur James Balfour, the…

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Impeachment

In 1599, a group of London merchants got together to petition Queen Elizabeth 1st to grant a charter to “trade on wares, jewels or merchandise in the East Indies.” A year later, it was granted. And so began the life of the East India Company (EIC).  Over time, and from very inauspicious beginnings as a private company, it came to rule…

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