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I am returning to last week’s subject because its ramifications are still very troubling. The illogical, political, and personal attacks on Rabbi Joseph Dweck have already had the effect of his taking a leave of absence from the Sephardi Beth Din in London. The Sephardi Beth Din is made up of several different constituencies. Most are unduly influenced by Ashkenazi…

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Rabbi Dweck, Judaism, and Homosexuality

A few weeks ago, Rabbi Joseph Dweck gave a lecture in London on homosexuality. It was a brave attempt to grapple with the challenges that other cultures present to traditional Torah texts. He traced the history, the terminology and the ideas behind homosexuality in the pagan and post pagan world. He brought sources from Torah, Talmud and great post Talmudic masters to illustrate the nuances and variations in attitudes. And while expressing absolute commitment to Jewish Law he said that he was grateful for the challenges that current Western attitudes towards sexual matters have presented to Judaism. It was forcing traditional Jews to examine their core values and attitudes towards loving relationships. Nevertheless, his brave attempt to grapple with a problem rather than avoid it has brought the wrath of his enemies down on his head. [Click title to read more…..]

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Harvest Festivals

Once we used to celebrate Shavuot as the harvest festival that linked the first barley crop, which was dedicated on Pesach, with the wheat harvest 49 days later. I often hear people say pejoratively that our festivals and laws are based on earlier, primitive systems and are therefore somehow inauthentic. They may be, in the way that a modern automobile…

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More on Shechita

It comes as no surprise to me that more European countries are trying to make life difficult for Jews in various ways. But how should we react? Is it worth fighting prejudice? Should this be an issue of freedom of religious practice? But then what are the boundaries? The increasing attempts to restrict Shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter) and ban circumcision…

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How To Be Good

When I was a kid, I used to wonder why it was that some children in my circles seemed naturally better and sweeter than others, who seemed naturally evil and nasty. Why did some seem to be so much more religious and obedient than others? I found discipline hard to endure, rituals difficult to observe. I was a natural-born rebel,…

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Independence Day

Israel’s Independence Day, Yom Ha’atzmaut, brings out the best and the worst in us. We cannot agree on what it means, and we cannot agree on how to celebrate or recognize it. For all the biblical miracles, after 2,000 years of exile and oppression, the reconstitution of a Jewish independent state strikes me as the most miraculous of events that…

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