12 Jul 2017

The final census of the Torah occurs in Parashat Pinhas. It appears, though, in a peculiar way (Bamidbar 26:1). There is a paragraph break in the middle of the pasuk! The pasuk begins “After the plague concluded,” and then upon starting a new paragraph the verse concludes “And G-d…

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16 May 2017

“Daniel Mendoza” What Does It Mean to be a Jew? Anglo Jewry has defined this in different ways. We will look at three very different types of figures all of whom emerged from Bevis Marks. Source sheet here Mendoza

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18 Aug 2016

It’s now been one year since I moved to London, and what a year it’s been! A new position, a new home, and a new culture all at once. While I miss friends, family and familiarity, I’m thrilled with the move and all that’s come along with it. I…

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13 Jul 2016

I write this post in the hope of answering a question that I’ve been pondering for the past few months. What is the world’s longest continuously running synagogue? I ask not about the oldest synagogue building, or about an uninterrupted religious tradition that may have survived geographic dislocation. Rather, I…

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28 Jun 2016

As an American living in England, I’m often asked about Donald Trump. Now as a resident of England, my American friends ask me about Brexit. From the lack of city workers in the London coffee shops midday on Friday, but from the very large crowds drinking outside the pubs,…

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23 Jun 2016

Every city is unique, each with its own climate, ebb and flow, culture and pace. As a rabbi, it is important for me to understand a place’s character so that I can better actualise its potential. London is of course no different, and it is not surprising that it…

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01 Jun 2016

The term parnas is usually translated as the president or prince of the community. Indeed, the head of the mahamad in London is even called the parnas presidente. However, the term parnas actually means much more. I’ve noticed that when some historians try to characterise the nature of the…

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23 May 2016

Touro Synagogue, Newport, RI The Jewish trial of the century has just concluded. The trial pitted the oldest American Jewish community against the oldest American synagogue. At stake was the legacy of America’s Colonial era Jews. The oldest remaining synagogue building in (what is today) the United States is the Touro…

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19 May 2016

One of the most noticeable features at many of the Spanish and Portuguese synagogues are the canonical robes worn by the rabbis and hazanim (often called ministers). They are striking because they are so similar in style to gowns traditionally worn by many Protestant ministers. Wearing them therefore seems to transgress the Biblical prohibition of ‘thou…

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05 Feb 2016

The Torah contains laws that govern slavery, whether captured in war or enslaved to pay off debts. In fact, it is no secret that Sephardim owned slaves. This is particularly true of the Western Sephardim of the 17th and 18th centuries, including those of the Caribbean, New York, Amsterdam,…

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