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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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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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Mysticism

“Mysticism,” so the saying goes, “starts in a mist and ends in a schism.” And mysticism has gained a very scurrilous reputation in all religions for misleading, abusing, and taking advantage of the credulous and superstitious, for money and indeed for sex (not to mention power and adulation). Yet it exists and thrives in every religion. Religions have two sides…

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Starbucks and Racism: Why Woke is Not

We now inhabit a new world of identity politics. It is not new, but different. There have always been identities of religion, nationality, and race. Too often they have led to war, genocide, and prejudice. Humanity has been divided between those who struggled to overcome the negative aspects of these differences without sacrificing that which distinguished them and others who…

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