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From the Tradition an Analysis of the Relationship Between mSanhedrin 4

5, Four Traditions about Adam Attributed to Rav in bSanhedrin 38a-b and Psalm 139

Alexandra Wright

Midrash arises out of many different and often opposing readings of Scripture. The importance of the dialogue between texts from different historical periods is clearly important, but so too is the organic development of legends, themes or motifs which can be read back into scriptural texts. The association of the themes of creation and in particular, the legends connected with the first human being, are important in discussing the relationship between our three texts. As Irving Jacobs points out, though, there is also a third element in this conversation between texts and their ideas, 'the people for whom the text was intended'. How a congregation listens to a text, the way in which a generation brings its own concerns and perceptions to legal or aggadic texts and imbues them with new, multiple and complex meanings, is as important as the textual relationship itself.

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'On the Slaughter'

Bialik Confronts God after Kishinev, 1903

Alexandra Wright

The supremacy of Chayyim Nachman Bialik’s poetry derives from the nature and life of the poet himself. Born into a very traditional, large and impoverished family, Bialik sought a more comprehensive and secular education outside the discipline of talmudic studies. He read Russian poetry and European literature and while still studying in a Lithuanian yeshiva, joined a secret orthodox Zionist student society, Netzach Yisrael. In 1891 he left Volozhin and went to Odessa, the centre of modern Jewish culture in Southern Russia and became part of a literary circle around Ahad Ha-am until his return to the family home where he found his grandfather and brother both dying.

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Alexandra Wright

Rabbi John Rayner was born in Berlin on 30 May 1924. He died in London on 19 September 2005, having made a significant contribution to the cause of Liberal Judaism in Great Britain. As Senior Rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue (LJS) for nearly thirty years, and Emeritus for nearly sixteen years until his death, his influence on the congregation which he served was immeasurable. He was the leading exponent of Liberal Judaism in Great Britain, seeking throughout his life to strengthen and reconstruct the Liberal Jewish movement in Britain that had been founded by Claude Montefiore and Lily Montagu and led by Rabbi Israel Mattuck, the LJS’s first rabbi.

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Alexandra Wright


Both the texts and music of Bach's St Matthew and St John Passions portray the Jews in deeply negative ways, baying for the blood of Christ. While there are strong arguments against seeing these works as having any kind of positive influence on Jewish–Christian relations, there is also an argument for examining the different layers of texts – from the Gospels to contemporary Lutheran poetry – as well as diverse musical expression in both works in order to elicit and understand profound, universal themes of sin and repentance, confession and forgiveness, life and death. Public performances of the Passions need to be undertaken responsibly with detailed programme notes and talks that draw out the journey of the individual worshipper and tackle the difficult problems of the Gospel texts and the music.

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Rabbi Alexandra Wright

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Jonathan Magonet, Helen Freeman, Albert H. Friedlander, David J. Goldberg, Dow Marmur, Sanford Ragins, Sheila Shulman, and Alexandra Wright

A Survey of New Year Sermons

Facing Fundamentalism

Meditation for Friday, September 15

Israel between Ethics and Politics

‘Truly the Times I Live in Are Dark’

We Must Not Give Up

Some Words for Erev Rosh Hashanah


After Judgement: Freedom