General Topics

Shaking Hands

I was brought up in Britain at a time when civility, good manners were regarded as next to godliness. Whether it was how you dressed, cut your hair, comported yourself, spoke and ate at table. Not knowing which fork to use or your napkin, relegated you to the level of barbarians. In a world of royals and aristocrats you needed…

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Israel & China

For as long as I can recall I have been an idealist.  I have always tried my best to support the underdog, the oppressed and the poor. Yet I am also a pragmatist. Sometimes banging one’s head against a brick wall is not a very sensible option. Back in the 1950s, I used to support the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).…

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Silence

The fourth book of the Bible was called Numbers by early Christian scholars. I guess this is because it starts off with a national census. But we call it B’midbar, in the wilderness, because it deals with events that led to the forty years a whole generation spent in the wilderness. The Hebrew root word of wilderness, MDBR, is exactly…

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Cheesecake

Shavuot is the poor relative of the three pilgrim and harvest festivals mentioned in the Torah. It has none of the range of special rituals of Pesah and Sucot. It is only one day in Israel. Two in the Diaspora. Originally it was just a harvest festival. It marked the transition from the barley harvest to the wheat harvest. Linked…

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Kill Them!

I have always been disturbed by the number of times the Bible declares “He, She or It, shall be put to death.” It doesn’t matter the severity of the crime. Being brought up in a liberal western society and having discovered how many innocent men and women have been wrongly put to death by judicial systems, I cannot accept the…

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Herman Wouk

Herman Wouk who died a few weeks ago at the age of 103, was one of the most successful American novelists. Surprisingly, he was also a practicing, orthodox Jew. Unlike the current crop of American Jewish novelists (who just love to demean and diminish their Jewish heritage and distance themselves) Herman Wouk was proud of his Jewish religious identity and…

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