Summer Weekly Review


On My Blog

Lean Baked Falafels

A Year of Tai Chi

Philosophy: the 2013 Edition

Friday Fictioneers – Stockholms Slot

Elsewhere in the JBlogosphere

Pragmatic Attic shares some Cold Soups

Lorri reviews Children of the Ghetto: A Study of a Peculiar People

Club and Dulce et Decorum Est – Two stories by Freya

Leora shares more photos from Israel: Sabra Plants – Prickly and Sweet

A new Heblish post by Mrs. S.: Heblish: The “You Have a Blog?!” Edition

Does Jewish Law Permit Internet Surveillance? – a responsa by Rabbi David Golinkin

Balak – when animals speak – Zivah ponders on this week’s parasha

Web articles

Young, Orthodox, gay, out – a Times of Israel article

Respect to the Jewish refugees who gave us fish, chips and M&S – a JC article

Women’s prayers answered – another JC article

When the ultra-Orthodox advocate religious freedom – a Ha’aretz article by William Kolbrener

Shabbat Shalom!

The Jewish Museum – London


The Jewish Museum in London is the combination of two Jewish museums. One is the Jewish Museum which was founded in 1932 by Professor Cecil Roth, Alfred Rubens and Wilfred Samuel. Originally located in Woburn House in Bloomsbury, it moved to a building in Camden Town in 1994.

The other is the London Museum of Jewish Life which was founded in 1983 as the Museum of the Jewish East End with the aim of rescuing and preserving the disappearing heritage of London’s East End – the heartland of Jewish settlement in Britain. .

In 1995 the two Museums merged but between 1995 and 2007 the combined Jewish Museum still ran on two sites. Finally the museum bought a former piano factory behind the Camden Town site and raised the required funds to combine and remodel the buildings. The new Museum opened to the public on 17 March 2010.

The fist floor of the museum features a gallery entitled ‘Judaism: A Living Faith’, which is devoted to Jewish life through one of the world’s finest collections of Judaica, featuring objects used in all areas of Jewish religious life, in both the public and private spheres.

The second floor gives an insight into British Jewish history from 1066 to the present day. Jews first settled in England in 1066 after the Norman conquest and there were Jewish communities in many towns in the medieval period. However, in 1290 the Jews were expelled from Britain by Edward 1. They were only readmitted to Britain by Oliver Cromwell in 1656. This new community steadily developed until the late 19th century when it increased rapidly with the arrival of some 150,000 Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Many of the newcomers settled in London’s East End, which became home to a vibrant cultural and religious life. Numerous objects in the museum reflect this period.

The Museum’s Holocaust Gallery is made up of items and filmed survivor testimony from Leon Greenman, OBE, an English-born Auschwitz survivor who devoted his life to speaking about his experiences and campaigning against racism until his death in 2008.

The third floor of the building is for temporary exhibitions.

The Jewish Museum in London is a pleasant small-sized museum where you can spend between one and two hours, depending on whether you choose to visit the whole museum or focus on only one floor. It has a kosher café and a shop.

Gertruda’s Oath


Gertruda’s Oath by Ram Oren is a beautiful account of a true Holocaust story.

In 1938 Warsaw, Gertruda Bablinska sees a job ad that will change her life for ever. Jacob and Lydia Stolowitzky, a wealthy Jewish couple, are looking for a nanny for their two-year old son. Influenced by the antisemitism which permeates Poland, Gertruda is reluctant to accept the job but she desperately needs the money. She soon grows fond of Michael and becomes devoted to the family who employ her.

A year later the war breaks out and Jacob Stolowitzky is stranded in Paris. His wife Lydia is persuaded to leave Warsaw and flee to Vilna where the Jews hope thy will be safer in a Lithuania which is under Russian rule. Lydia’s health deteriorates and on her deathbed she asks Gertruda to promise that she will raise Michael as her son and eventually take him to Israel.

The book also focuses on Karl Rink an ordinary German who is married to Mira, a Jewish woman. They have a daughter and lead a quiet and happy life until Karl is laid off. Lured by Nazi rhetoric and the hope for a better life, Rink naively accepts an invitation to join the SS. He won’t listen to his wife’s fears and prefers to believe that soon everything will be back to normal.

One day Karl Rink is sent for by the Nazi hierarchy who demand that he divorce his wife but Karl loves her and doesn’t obey. When Mira disappears, he realizes it is high time to send his young daughter to a kibbutz in Israell and get her out of the country before it is too late. Troubled by his conscience, Karl Rink does what he little can to make life easier for the Jews he comes into contact with, one of whom turns out to be Michael.

The story develops and we follow Gertruda’s determination to be true to her word and find a safe place for Michael to grow up. Near the end, personal life story meets History when the two embark on Exodus 47.

As well as being a powerful account of Gertruda’s struggle to keep her promise, Gertruda’s Oath is a book about the choices ordinary human beings are faced with and how theses very choices can turn them into heroes.

The Koren Sacks Rosh Hashana Mahzor


After the Koren Sacks Siddur, Koren Publishers has now published the Koren Sacks Rosh Hashana Mahzor.

Rosh Hashana is one of the most important holidays of the Jewish year yet, because of its length, it is not always the meaningful and transformative experience it is supposed to be.

Like the siddur, this new Mahzor provides a spiritual guide to the different services through Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’s translation, introduction and commentary.

Those familiar with Rabbi Sacks’s weekly commentary on the parsha will recognize his powerful style and all will appreciate the introduction and the Chief Rabbi’s ability to provide insights that are most valuable to modern man or woman as they seek “to understand their place in the world and their places before God”.

The Mahzor shares a number of features with the Koren Sacks Siddur:

– The Hebrew on the left and the English translation on the right – I have already commented here that this is not a problem at all.

– An unambiguous and exhaustive table of contents that helps us navigate the prayer book.

– A very clear layout with more paragraphs than in most siddurim, distinguishing poetry from prose.

– References to Biblical passages in the margin next to the text and not in the footnotes.

– The commentary at the bottom of each page and the additional explanations at the end of the siddur.

In addition to the prayers and blessings to be said at home during the High Holidays, the Koren Sacks Rosh Hashana Mahzor provides the blessings for the Rosh Hashana seder, additional piyutim and a Halakh Guide.

The Koren Sacks Rosh Hashana Mahzor will certainly be a welcome addition to the Mahzorim already in use and should soon prove to be as valuable as the Koren Sacks Siddur for those looking for a Mahzor that provides the necessary understanding of the High Holidays.

I want to thank Koren Publishers for sending me a review copy of the Koren Sacks Rosh Hashana Mahzor.

My Race – a Book Review


When I read about My Race by Lorraine Lotzof Abramson in The Jewish Week, I knew I’d enjoy it and ordered it straight away. I have been interested in South Africa ever since I was a teenager, maybe because I had heard about it through my parents who visited this country in 1976.

My Race is an autobiography. Lorraine Lotzof Abramson whose grand-parents had immigrated from Eastern Europe grew up in South Africa. Regretting that she had not questioned them more about their lives, Lorraine Lotzof Abramson wanted her granddaughters to know about her life that’s why she decided to write this book.

The title is a two-fold reference to Lorraine’s status: she was a white Jew in South Africa and an athlete who was a national champion and a winner of nine Maccabiah medals – because South Africa has been barred from taking part in the 18th Olympic Games in Tokyo Lorraine, Lotzof Abramson never took part in the Olympics although she had been selected by her country.

Being written for her teenage granddaughters, My Race is a wonderful book for anyone who wants to know more about South Africa. Lorraine Lotzof Abramson relates her own story against the backdrop South Africa’s history.

She is also quite honest about her family’s ambiguous position in South Africa. Her mother was a liberal who regularly criticized the country’s racist government at home and as Jews they were never made to feel they were quite as South-Africans as the Afrikaners. Yet Abramson acknowledges that they enjoyed the advantages and privileges of the white population such as the right to vote, the freedom to move and settle anywhere in the country, a free education …

On a more personal level, there are beautiful passages in the book: Lorraine’s years in high school where she and the other forty Jewish girls were able to practice their faith, her romance with the American swimmer who was to become her husband, her lovely tributes to her parents.

My Race is a book I deeply enjoyed and which I strongly recommend.

Lorraine Lotzof Abramson on YouTube

JPIX – the Spring Edition

This is the Spring edition of JPIX, the Jewish Photo Bloggers’ Blog Carnival. Click on each thumbnail to access the full post. Special thanks to Leora for being so patient with me when I had problems putting JPIX together.

Photos by Israeli bloggers

Batya who blogs at me-ander and Shiloh Musings shows photos from both blogs:

– “Should I buy four dresses?”
– – The Last Brooklyn Trolley
– Rosh Chodesh Shvat at Tel Shiloh, A Treat for The Eyes and Soul

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– Dramatic, Photogenic, But No Connection to Their Cause
– B”H, The Rain Has Given Us a Beautiful Spring
– Mount Zion, Jewish For Sure

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– Tel Shiloh, Adar II, Blooming As It Should Be, B”H
– More Sightings! Jerusalem’s Lightrail is Chugging Along

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Mrs. S. who blogs at Our Shiputzim: A Work In Progress shares:

– Reason #12,902 for making aliyah
– National Park: Ein Chemed Edition

alyiah.jpg  fees.jpg  crusaderruins.jpg

At I Wish I Were a Photographer,Toby shares pictures from her kitchen window and blooming trees

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While Risa at at Isramom shows an Old House in Downtown Rehovot


Photos from the United States

Leora from Here in HP shares three paintings; one by her daughter, one she painted and one by Julie, a friend in Israel

esther.jpg  raritanavenue.jpg  lemontree.jpg

Mottel at Letters of Thought has loads of beautiful and fascinating photos: an unusual meeting in Crown Heights, a walk in Central Park and a mikvah in Baltimore

crownheights.jpg  centralpark.jpg  mikva.jpg

Photos from Israel and New Zealand

Noa who blogs at Sparrow Chatter shares:

– Lost in translation
– Is Nothing Sacred?
– Hort Lawn Cemetery

scotsman.jpg  jerusalem.jpg  hortlawn.jpg
Photos from the Ukraine

Leah at Chossid’s PhotoBlog shows Pesach Prep and Pesach photos

borcht.jpg  chaya.jpg  shmaya.jpg
kids.jpg  feather.jpg  matzah.jpg

Photos from France

Ilana-Davita shows photos from Paris: an old Jewish bookstore and an unusual state school

bookstore.jpg  school.jpg

Past JPiX carnivals: Leora – December 2010Robin – Fall 2010Toby – Summer 2010Leora – Spring 2010Pesky – Winter 2010Leora – Fall 2009Batya – Summer 2009Leora – Spring 2009Ilana-Davita – Winter 2009Rafi – January 2009Mother in Israel (Hannah) – December 2008

The next JPIX will be hosted by Leora at the beginning of October. Use this form on the blog carnival site to submit your post.

Unusual Parisian School





This small school is located in The Pletzl, the Jewish quarter in the fourth arrondissement of Paris. It was founded in 1844 by the city of Paris when it became clear that it was necessary to set up a secular school to cater for the numerous Jewish children who lived in the district.

The École élémentaire des Hospitalières-Saint-Gervais had several unusual features:
– although it was a secular school, it received some funds from the Central Consistory, the institution set up by Napoleon I to administer Jewish worship in France, but religious education was forbidden within the building.
– unlike other French schools, it was closed on Saturdays and Sundays, instead of Thursdays and Sundays, as was the case in all other French state schools.
– it used the Monitorial System of education
– the school was organized for Jewish children but not all students were Jewish.

Jewish Thinkers



As you may remember if you are a regular reader of this blog, I am a fan of Rabbi Joseph Telushkin and have read most of his books. I have particularly enjoyed the first two volumes of A Code of Jewish Ethics. Two authors that have also inspired me are Blu Greenberg and Eliezer Berkovits.

Yet, in the past few months I have not read anything that could compare to these authors. I am considering getting Torah Umadda by Norman Lamm which has just been reprinted for the 20th anniversary of the first edition (with an afterword by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks) and was wondering whether any of you had read it. More generally I would love to know what Jewish thinkers and writers inspire you the most.

Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm and Torah U’Madda, a post by Harry Maryles

Torah Umadda Is Better Than Ever, a review by Rabbi Gil Student