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Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah 5784/2023: A collective memoir

Perhaps we should mourn the festivity that was taken away from us, just as we mourn the deaths and suffering that occurred during that festival. JewThink solicited contributions from British Jews reflecting on their experiences of the festival. Let us remember these ruptures even as we try and come to terms with the wider rupture.

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Jews & Crime

As any historian will tell you, one of the ways we discover Jews in far-flung places is through accounts of criminal activity both perpetrated by and against Jews. This series proposes to reflect on the relationship between Jews and issues of crime and criminality, opening up the hidden worlds of Jewish criminals and criminal behaviour. […]

HaTikvah – The Failed Hope?

So many versions of Israel’s national anthem are being sent on social media during these times of trauma. Its title, Ha Tikvah: Hope. The lyrics, written in 1886 by Galician poet Naphtali Herz Imber, to Samuel Cohen’s melody based on a theme from Bedrich Smetana’s Moldau, focus on two stanzas: To be a free people […]

Humanity and War

I tuned in to Radio 4’s Thought for the Day recently, and I heard Dr Chetna Kang discuss Hindu values in times of battle. Without referring to the war between Israel and Gaza, she said it was important never to forget the humanity of the enemy. If you forget their humanity, she said, the torment […]

The Holocaust as moral instruction? Holocaust survival and memory in Zionism and anti-Zionism

Parts of this article are adapted from the posts by the author on Twitter/X. “My grandpa didn’t survive Auschwitz to bomb Gaza”, reads a placard held by a Jewish woman at a protest in Mexico against a previous Israel assault on Gaza. A photo of the placard went viral on social media in 2021. More […]

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Painting Nuremberg

Gloria Tessler on the English impressionist who volunteered to paint the Nuremberg Trial. She was one of the best-known artists of the English Impressionist movement, celebrated for her figurative work, ballet dancers and circus performers. Then, as one of the few official women war artists during the Second World War, Dame Laura Knight painted women […]

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The Last Word

Nathan Abrams reflects on what he has learned about Stanley Kubrick from a new book of letters. Among Stanley Kubrick fans and scholars, author and screenwriter Frederic Raphael is well-known for having collaborated on the screenplay for that director’s last film, Eyes Wide Shut, which was released in 1999. He is also famous among them […]

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Dreamlike and Hallucinatory

Shai Afsai on Reading Bruno Schulz. Years ago, there was a small bookshop on Thayer Street in Providence, Rhode Island, near Brown University’s campus, called College Hill Bookstore. It had late hours — I recall the shop being open until eleven p.m. on weekdays and until midnight on weekends — and its motto was: Dedicated […]

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Glory Ride

Julie Carbonara reviews a new musical about cycling champion Gino Bartali. The other day I went to see Glory Ride, a musical about an Italian cycling champion from many years back, Gino Bartali. I had heard of Bartali who was famous for his Giro d’Italia and Tour de France victories before and after WWII, but […]

Television & Film

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The Last Word

Nathan Abrams reflects on what he has learned about Stanley Kubrick from a new book of letters. Among Stanley Kubrick fans and scholars, author and screenwriter Frederic Raphael is well-known for having collaborated on the screenplay for that director’s last film, Eyes Wide Shut, which was released in 1999. He is also famous among them […]

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Crooked TV Jews

Elliot Gertel reflects on some nasty recent representations of Jews on US television. “FBI: MOST WANTED”      FBI: Most Wanted definitely has it in for older, wealthy Jewish women. And the series reserves its biggest broadsides against this “type” for season closers. In 2021, it was a Southern Jewish heiress to a major grocery chain who was […]

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How To Cast Jewish

Here we try to provide some helpful guidelines on how to cast Jewish. As the debate on who can and who can’t play a Jewish role continues to rumble on, as provoked by our self-appointed spokespeople like David Baddiel and Maureen Lipman, we have decided to wade in here, to shed light on the debate […]

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The Shmuck and the General

Jennifer Caplan reflects on Mel Brooks’ long-awaited new television series. This week, comedy fans finally got the fulfilment of a promise 42 years in the making as Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part II came into being. Unlike its predecessor, which was a single, sketch-based film, Part II harnessed the power of the changing […]

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Eyes Wide Shut

Nathan Abrams considers the Jewishness of Jordan Peele’s Nope. Two alternative names have been suggested for Jordan Peele’s latest film, Nope, but which have already been taken: “Don’t Look Up” and “Don’t Look Now”. I am going to suggest an alternative if already taken title: Eyes Wide Shut. This is because in quoting Stanley Kubrick’s […]

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The Jewish mystical roots of His Dark Materials

The BBC and HBO recently aired the final episodes of the TV show His Dark Materials, based on the books of the same name by Philip Pullman, a self-described Church of England Atheist. When I first read the His Dark Materials trilogy 20 years ago, I knew the books were deemed as heretical. I read […]

Fred Melamed (left) stars as Sy Ableman and Sari Lennick (right) stars as Judith Gopnik in writer/directors Joel & Ethan CoenÕs A SERIOUS MAN, a Focus Features release.  Photo Credit: Wilson Webb

“No Jews were harmed”

Nathan Abrams reviews a new book about the work of the filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen. In a review about the Jewishness of the films of the brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, it would be far too easy to devote attention just to A Serious Man. This is their most obviously Jewish film and probably […]

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The Hollywood Chanukkiah

Barbara Borts discusses an unlikely Jewish Film Star. How does one signal to the public that the characters in a film are Jewish? ‎Well, let me introduce you to the unlit Chanukkiah, which made at least three different ‎appearances in three different films during the 2022 UK Jewish Film Festival.‎ In no particular order, this […]

Life after Covid

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Israel and Covid

Sue Fox charts the hassle of flying to and from Israel in the age of Covid. Israel here we come. Never mind PASSENGER LOCATOR FORM, what I need is a brain locator form. Flights to Israel were bought pre-Covid. It was barely two years ago but I seem to have aged another decade. When Israel […]

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Are our Jewish nightmares paling into insignificance?

Gloria Tessler asks has the pandemic deepened society’s consciousness and so we Jews have to worry less? Does it seem strange that during the pandemic so many important topics of conversation have suddenly assumed even greater magnitude? Racism in society, gender issues, women’s rights, everything is laid bare before us in terms that were muted […]

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Masks, Jews and the Holocaust

Nathan Abrams explores the similarities between rightwing Americans and orthodox Jews over their refusal to wear masks. The wearing of masks has evoked contradictory emotions and reactions. Some see it as an important means to halt the spread of Covid-19, as well as a sign of social consideration and altruism. Others have politicised the issue, […]

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If I am not for myself, who will be for me? A Profile of Yehudis Fletcher

Karen Skinazi profiles Yehudis Fletcher, a Haredi political and social activist who helped to found Nahamu, an organisation dedicated to fighting extremism. ‘What would you do if, say, a transwoman who used to be part of the Haredi community lost the right to see her children in the civil courts?’ I asked (admittedly, it was […]

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Lockdown and Motherhood

Miki Shaw, an artist, illustrator and graphic designer based in London, reflects on parenthood during lockdown. Lockdown, when it first came, felt oddly familiar to me. Not the large-scale and tragic backdrop of it, but the personal-scale isolation, and being stuck at home. I’ve been locked down in some ways since I first became a […]

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Streaming Rosh Hashanah

Nathan Abrams talks to Dr. Joshua Edelman about his new research project into how best to conduct religion online. As Rosh Hashanah looms, how do we conduct online religious services in the age of Covid? This is an essential question, as we prepare for what is, unquestionably, the most important period in the Jewish calendar. […]

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How Will This Rosh HaShanah Be Different From Every Other? It Won’t

Nathan Abrams reflects on how there will be little change to his Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. There is a great deal of talk about how Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur will be different this year for many people but for me it won’t. In fact, it will be better. I live in Bangor, in […]

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The Enduring Relevance of Avrom Radutski’s Poetry

Phil Alexander finds contemporary echoes in the poetry of Avrom Radutski. At the beginning of 2020, recently embarked upon a British Academy fellowship exploring Scottish-Jewish musical encounters, I was looking forward to days spent leisurely mining the Garnethill Synagogue Archives, the National Library of Scotland, the British Library, and so many other physical treasure chests.  […]

Politics

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A left response to left antisemitism: Is it too late for education?

Two recently-published books try and educate the left against antisemitism. Will they succeed?

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The Hard Work of Racial Inclusivity in the British-Jewish Community Starts Here

Lara Monroe, a Black-British Jew, responds to the publication of the report by the Board of Deputies Commission on Racial Inclusivity in the Jewish Community.

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It’s Time to Celebrate Jewish Power

Loolwa Khazzoom celebrates the Jews in the new Biden administration. I watched inauguration day with great emotion, for numerous reasons, including the fact that a Black Indian woman is in the White House, for the first time in history. I was equally excited not only about the corollary fact that there is a second gentleman […]

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We need better ways to speak to each other about campus antisemitism and Israel

Ken Stern argues that efforts to oppose campus antisemitism must be consistent with academic freedom and free speech, and this means rejection of hate speech codes such as IHRA.

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Corbynites prepare to reject EHRC findings

Dan Jacobs considers the likely reaction to the EHRC report by Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters. The report by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into Labour antisemitism is due to be released to the public within weeks, possibly days.   The report is unlikely to call for the removal of individuals and Jeremy Corbyn himself then […]

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A Letter from Portland

On the day I write this, we have witnessed 60 days of daily demonstrations in the streets of downtown Portland Oregon. After the murder of George Floyd by police, it was awe-inspiring to see myriads of thousands rise up across the US. Horrified by the blatant injustice, peaceful crowds in Portland Oregon, masked, observing safe […]

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Dang!

Artist and filmmaker Ruth Novaczek reflects on social media’s determination of hate speech — and the real hate it occludes. Dang, banned again! Yes, first it was 24 hours, ok not so bad, next it was 48, hmm, then finally 3 days. The worst aspect of this stupid Facebook algorithmic witch-hunting was the fact that […]

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The problem of love in Corbyn’s Labour Party: Reflections on Left Out

How Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire’s ‘Left Out’ shows how love was always a greater problem than hate in Corbyn’s Labour Party

As We Are

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Time To Heal

Emma Franks, a practising visual artist describes how her brother’s increased religiosity and Deborah Feldman’s Unorthodox inspired her commitment to producing work that explores the female narrative and perspective. In the middle of the global pandemic last year, when we noticed birdsong and the joys of being at one with nature people also discovered the […]

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