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If one takes a look at the list of nations that today makes up the United Nations, and compares this with the list of nations that the Torah list as developing from Noah – one will find very little similarity at all. Maybe one or two are recognisable names – China, Greece and a nation known as Ashkenaz, the name later given by Jewish sources to the German lands. But not many more are recognisable. The only similarity maybe this – the very existence of the concept of a nation.
We take the idea of a nation for granted. It is a given facet of existence that people are part… read more
Rabbi David’s Parasha: Bereishit and The Birth of Identity
Last Shabbat was the first parasha, the first portion of the new cycle of Torah reading. We read the Creation story, and traversed ten generations, up until the birth of Noah and G-d’s apparent regret as to the corrupt state of the world that He had created.
In Shul, I spoke about the beginnings of identity. Adam HaRishon, or the first ‘Adam’ was the first human being who was filled with the spirit of God. In other words he may not have been the first anthropologically categorised homo sapiens, but he was the first individual developed enough to have a conversation with God. And this is not all. Adam also understands that he is different. He is different from the… read more
Rabbi David’s Sermons
Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur were special in Muswell Hill Synagogue – true communal prayer gatherings. We were together as a community, and decorum on Yom Kippur was agreed by many to have been the best for many years. I was proud to be leading such a community.
Here are three of the sermons that I made over the Yamim Noraim:
First Day Rosh Hashana Sermon: What are we really in control of?
Second Day Rosh Hashana Sermon: The Middle Way
Kol Nidrei Sermon: A New Zionism
Please do click on the links, print them off and read them – either if you were able to hear them, or not. I really did appreciate the many comments on all these… read more
Rabbi David’s Tweets from Israel
Rabbi David was part of a mission of nearly 50 Rabbis organised by the Office of the Chief Rabbi. He will soon be writing up this fascinating tour which took in multiple perspectives. His sermon last Shabbat looked at the differing narratives that exist within Israeli society and how our narrative competes with that of the Palestinian people. For now, here are a thread of tweets that Rabbi David tweeted while in Israel. Can you recognise the Rabbi whose back we see while he is davening on the balcony of the Hebrew University Shul?
William Beveridge, later Lord Beveridge was a British economist who was born in 1879 and passed away in 1963. He put together a report on the state of the welfare system and on systems of social insurance in Britain, which is still today known as a watershed moment in the economic and political system in this country. It is the report which led to the setting up of the National Health Service here. Many say that it is the Beveridge report, completed in 1942 which brought about the fall of Winston Churchill in the elections of 1946. Churchill delayed acting on the report; the Labour party voted overwhelmingly in 1943 to move towards legislation. And the rest is history.
Not… read more
A guest blog from Karen Ackerman: Upstairs/Downstairs
Thank you to Rabbi David for letting me take over his blog this week to write about the panel I spoke on last night for US women at St John’s Wood Shul.
The event was part of a series, Women, The Rabbi and The Law and followed on from previous discussions about women in leadership, girls and Batmitvah and women and Megillah readings.
This time the panel consisted of myself, Rabbi Birnbaum from Hadley Wood, Rabbi Roselaar from Alei Tzion and Jazqui Zinkin from Golders Green synagogue chaired by Simon Hockhauser.
Rabbi Roselaar kicked us off and it was wonderful to hear both him and Rabbi Birnbaum talk about how important it is for them that women are treated equally… read more
Shabbat in Muswell Hill Synagogue
It was another fascinating and interesting Shabbat in Muswell Hill. The week before, January 11th, was itself amazing for our Shul. We had a guest in Shul called Eli Garshowitz who works as an Israeli reporter for Nikkei, a Japanese newspaper. He turns out to be the last person to have interviewed Ariel Sharon as prime minister, before his serious stroke. Given that Ariel Sharon passed away last Shabbat, this was incredible timing, a point not lost on all who were there to hear Eli give an impromptu talk after service. Here is an article about this interview.
And last Shabbat we welcomed Leonie Lewis, Director of JVN, Jewish Volunteering Network who talked to us about Jewish approaches and ideas… read more
Charity at the home of the Spurs!
Yes, you all know I support Arsenal. But this morning I stepped into the world of Tottenham. From Ardiles to Villa, from Greaves to Lineker and from Ginola to Bale – I saw them all, as well as one or two trophies and a great tour of the White Hart Lane Stadium. The breakfast was sponsored by Tottenham Hotspurs themselves, the Mayor of Haringey hosted and about 30 people came with their ticket price all going to the Mayor’s charity this year, helping disadvantaged and disabled children in the Borough of Haringey.
As on of the attendees, a Jew from Stamford Hill tweeted – charity brings people together. So this was a great experience for the last day of Channuka… read more
The Emblem of the State of Israel
Do you know what the Emblem of the State of Israel is? We all know the flag – but are we aware of the Emblem? It actually has a strong Channuka connection. It is the Menorah, the seven branched candelabra that stood in the Temple and was lit by the Cohanim there. In 1948, not long after the founding of the State of Israel, a committee was set up to decide on an Emblem. The majority suggestion was the Menorah, and here is the final decision in 1949 as to the Emblem, still in use today:
The Emblem was of course based on the Menorah in the Tabernacle and Temple. But although we knew that it had seven branches, three… read more
I Love Learning Talmud!
Learning Talmud. It is a challenge – but it is one of the most rewarding and exciting things one can do as a Jew. To learn the whole Talmud a page a day would take one about seven and a half years to finish and you would only be touching the tip of the iceberg in everything being covered.
Some brief basics. The Talmud is the name we give to a book at whose core are two texts.
Firstly a Code of Law known as the Mishna which was redacted in about the year 200 CE by a Rabbi in Israel known as Judah the Prince. He saw dangers to the unity of the Jewish people under Roman rule and… read more