Just arrived back today from an amazing Shabbat in Jerusalem, in which Iwas called up to the bimah for the first time in my life - and had to read some words from the Torah - an experience I can't even begin to describe.
My friend read beautifully from the Sedra, hamishi.
When the service was finished, the entire community had kiddush together. Then it was time for my dvar Torah (I can't think of another word in English for 'sermon', but dvar Torah is much more intimate, really), which seemed to go down quite well. Although some of the congregation apparently thought that my talk about journalists and academics who are hyper-critical or Israel referred to some on the Israeli left and not to the British unions!
After the dvar Torah, there was an hour-long discussion about the Israeli education system, which was both fascinating and very informative.
At the end, I had a quiet word with the president of the synagogue, originally from France, who I knew was very concerned about the UCU boycott attempt. A great many members of the synagoguge routinely attend international conferences.
I tried to reassure him that I didn't think that the UCU boycott was government policy. I did point out for instance, that the British Embassy's Consul General had posted on my blog as long ago as last September that she was firmly against boycotts of any sort and that the
British Minister of Higher Education
would be arriving here on Sunday:
It had been noticeable during the discussion on the Israeli education system that when it had moved on to discuss the education system in other countries, such as France and the USA, Britain was not one of those mentioned.
I do hope that the UCU vote has not put Britain beyond the pale in Israel, although there are one or two people I know who are no longer buying British-made goods.
Which is why I think it is interesting that
Anthony Julius QC (the late Princess Diana's divorce lawyer)
has got together with American
to combat the UCU's pathetic attempt to derail a whole country - by which I mean Britain, not Israel.
Meanwhile, Melanie Phillips is, as usual, spot on:
whilst Adloyada has a very useful and up-to-date summary of events: