Rabbi David Schneider’s Weekly Words of Wisdom 5: Terumah

(Exodus 25:1-27:19)

Last week I wrote about a quite amazing letter of support I’d received from one Nelson Mandela. This has prompted outrage from certain quarters, by which I mean a rival synagogue where the Rabbi, Rabbi F, has nothing better to do with his time because his congregation has dwindled to two elderly ladies and that meshuggener with one tooth who walks along Golders Green High Street with the sign saying “The End of the World Is Nigh. Clearance Sale: Everything Must Go!”

Rabbi F insists there is no way the Nelson Mandela would write me such a letter. (more…)

Book Review: Aaron Lansky “Outwitting History”; Dovid Katz “Words on Fire”

lansky

Is Yiddish the new rock’n’roll – at least as far as Jewish culture is concerned? Is Yiddish the new black? If it is, then one of the people responsible is undoubtedly Aaron Lansky, the founder of the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachussetts. (more…)

Patrick Wright’s “Iron Curtain: from Stage to Cold War”

iron curtainEvery now and then, a public speaker uses a phrase which perfectly sums up the mood of the time – “the People’s Princess”, for instance, or maybe, who knows, “Bottler Brown”. In 1946, when Churchill made his famous remark in Fulton, Missouri that an iron curtain had descended across Europe, he may have been slightly ahead of his time. No longer prime minister, his remarks about a recent ally were initially tactfully condemned by both the British government and President Truman. But the metaphor was a good one and it stuck. So much so that I remember as a child insisting to my classmates that the Iron Curtain was the only man-made structure visible from outer space. It’s a miracle the Great Wall of China never sued. (more…)

Rabbi David Schneider’s Weekly Words of Wisdom 6: Tetzaveh

tetzaveh(Exodus 27:20-30:10)

What a wonderful week! “Happy are they that dwell in Thy house! They will ever be praising Thee!” And who are “they”?

“They” are not the editor of the Jewish Chronicle who insists I make it clear that I haven’t been receiving letters of support from Nelson Mandela. OK, oshamnu bogadnu, I made a mistake. On closer examination they’re from a man with terrible handwriting called Nathan Mandelbaum.  But they still count. (more…)

Rabbi David Schneider’s Weekly Words of Wisdom 7: Ki Sisa

ki sisa(Exodus 30:11 – 34:35)

It’s easy to criticize, to tell someone  “you’re no good”, “you smell like a drain”, “if your column doesn’t sort itself out in the next two weeks, I’m axing it, end-of-story”. But people who say such things, especially the last thing, should look at this week’s parsha, which deals with the Golden Calf.

Yes, I have occasionally lost focus in earlier columns, and yes, sometimes I have moved away from more traditional interpretations in favour of vicious name-calling and savage personal attacks, (more…)

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