Being preoccupied with my daughter's imminent wedding, for the first time in ages I hadn't listened to the news last night and was therefore shocked and shaken to read the remarkable leading article in today's Times about the Cameron family and the death of their dear son, Ivan, aged six. Here is a typical article from today's paper.
Having just booked the tickets for our own daughter's May wedding in Israel (an event which one hopes will be life-giving and joyful), the contrast with the death of a six-year-old couldn't be more poignant. The reaction of Gordon Brown and other politicians in cancelling Prime Minister's Question Time was exemplary, and augurs well for the future of this country, despite all our current problems. Even the Times' usually sardonic and hilarious Ann Treneman compared the atmosphere inside the Chamber to that of a church:
Then I heard that the mother of a friend in Haifa had died just before her 100th birthday. This was a lady who had emigrated to Israel from London about three years ago and had attended some of my classes. She had had all her faculties and was full of joie de vivre. We had enjoyed a Shabbat meal with her just last August and had admired her tremendous zest and enthusiasm.
But to make up for this, it was truly wonderful to learn that Ruth Gledhill, the Times religion correspondent, is one of two of their journalists (the other being Daniel Finkelstein) to be shortlisted for a British Press Award for 'Digital Journalist of the Year':
I remember the day Ruth invited me to London to discuss her desire to start a blog. This must have been in 2004 or 2005. One of the reasons she cited was her tremendous concern about the rise of anti-semitism in this country, and especially when this is disguised as anti-Zionism. Later, Ruth encouraged me to start my own blog and picked my brains once or twice on matters to do with Judaism and/or Israel.
Very recently, it is Ruth who has doggedly used her blog to investigate the views of the recalcitrant Catholic Bishop, Richard Williamson. This is almost a personal quest for her. As someone who is used to views expressed by people like him and his friend, David Irving, maybe I'm immune to his fantasies:
But Ruth is right. For the sake of the Catholic Church, people like him, however obscure, must be brought to book. And the Pope must be more sensitive to the sensibilities of fellow Catholics and Jews alike, who have been hurt by his disregard of their feelings in his quest for Church Unity.
Ruth has also exposed the plight of the Bahais of Iran, whose main centres are now in Haifa and nearby Acco, northern Israel, and whose director told me that the Bahais in Iran are being treated just like the Jews.
Most of all, she is totally dependable and reliable and never ever betrays a trust. For this alone, she deserves an award, and I hope that she wins it.
And, this afternoon, as I sat in our beautiful synagogue library, researching an article on the Psalms, I couldn't help thinking that the best antidote to atheism - the idea that 'there probably isn't a God' - was the atmosphere in Parliament yesterday and the serious suggestion that Ruth's Articles of Faith should win an award for its digital excellence:
Truly, a marriage of science and religion in the month of Adar, the luckiest month in the Jewish calendar: