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Islam and Jerusalem

Why is the Muslim world up in arms against Jerusalem being declared the capital of Israel? After all, Jerusalem is made up of different areas, just as Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island are all part of New York City. The part of Jerusalem that contains the Knesset and is the administrative heart of Israel is located on…

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Kosher Wine

Last year, there was not one single fatality on commercial airlines, and there hasn’t been a fatality on a US commercial flight since 2009. Whereas in 2016 road accidents accounted for 37,461 fatalities in the US and 335 in Israel. You may be aware that there is a special blessing called Tefilat Haderech, the prayer for travel, which one says before…

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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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