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Season of Fasts

We are now in the season of fasts. What actually happened on the fasts of the 17th day of Tammuz and the 9th of Av? Well, my dears, it depends whom you ask. According to the Mishna (Taanit 4:6) five things happened on the 17th of Tammuz. It is the anniversary of when Moses smashed the first set of stone…

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Balthus

I love art. I love the visual stimulation—being led to look at things from different angles, perspectives, and ideas. Naturally I value and enjoy some artists more than others. I can appreciate the brilliance of the Renaissance greats. Caravaggio is my favorite painter, Michelangelo my favorite sculptor. My school teachers dragged me and my classmates around national galleries on school…

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Halacha

Is Scotch Kosher?

Having been the rabbi of the Orthodox Giffnock community in Glasgow, Scotland, in the late sixties and early seventies I had a unique opportunity to study the way Scotch whisky was made, both as an interested party and a supervisor. And theoretically it is possible that processes have changed over time. There is a vested interest in finding reasons to…

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The Struggle for the Jewish Soul

Last week I wrote about the vast divide between communities of Jews totally at odds religiously and politically.  But there is another divide much closer to the home of those of us who live and value Jewish religious and spiritual life and wish to maintain it. Although it is not as catastrophic, it is still very troubling. It is an…

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Kaddish for Gaza

A few weeks ago a group of Jews gathered in front of Parliament in London to say Kaddish for those Gazans killed on the border in what was described as a peaceful demonstration. Was saying Kaddish appropriate? It is part of our religious tradition “not to rejoice when our enemies fall” (Proverbs 24:17). We reduce our pleasure at the Passover…

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Carmel College 

I have a childhood memory of a meeting in our London home at this time of the year, at the end of the month of Sivan, 70 years ago. My father, Kopul Rosen, the Principal Rabbi of the Federation of Synagogues in London, was preparing to open his brave experiment in Jewish education, Carmel College. He had established a charitable…

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