Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Auschwitz and Birkenau - context for a march that honours the dead and marvels in the living

    Rosa Doherty
    Apr 16, 2015

    Day two of my journey with the UK delegation involved a visit to both Auschwitz and Birkenau.

    On Thursday 11,000 people from all over the world march the three kilometres between the two camps, designed to contrast with the death marches which took place towards the end of the war.

    When the Nazis withdrew from the camps, inmates were forced to march hundreds of miles further west, while those who were too slow or fell were shot.

  • Krakow for Holocaust Remembrance Day: my journey

    Rosa Doherty
    Apr 15, 2015

    In Krakow, Poland the sun was shining, the wind blew pleasantly and a large group of Charedim pushed passed me as I disembarked the plane, ready for what one organiser had already promised was going to be ‘a deeply personal journey that would change my life’.

    Here we go; already a stranger talking to me about 'my journey' in connection to what I’ve heard cynics refer to as ‘Holocaust tourism’.

    As one of 250 British delegates taking part in this year’s March of the Living – an annual educational programme, which brings students from all over the world to Poland in order to study the history of the Holocaust – I was not sure what to expect.

  • A Passover Poem

    Charlotte Oliver
    Apr 2, 2015

    I’ll tell you a tale - you may already know,
    Of a biblical feat from a long time ago.

    The characters are strong, the story snappy,
    It may start sad – but hey, ends happy.

    First we have Moses, of manly brawn,
    Who at first turned up amid bulrush and thorn.

  • Dawkins, Sacks and Jewish Nobel laureates

    Simon Rocker
    Feb 20, 2015

    A year and a half ago Richard Dawkins caused more than his usual stir when he tweeted that the entire Muslim population had won fewer Nobels than Trinity College Cambridge.

    This week the scientist admitted that he had actually censored himself. In an interview on Newsnight, he said that he was originally going to write Jews rather than Trinity.

    Tackling him about the tweet, the programme’s presenter Evan Davis asked him why he had made such an invidious comparison.

  • UKIP’s family-unfriendly benefit policy

    Simon Rocker
    Feb 12, 2015

    UKIP tied itself up in knots last week, after announcing support for a ban on religious slaughter, only for senior party members to indicate they were looking for a way to backtrack.

    But it is not the only policy that would not go down well within the Jewish community.

    UKIP’s proposal to restrict child benefit to just two children – published on the party’s website would obviously hit large families without large budgets.

  • Ched Evans should be allowed to play football

    Naomi Firsht
    Jan 9, 2015

    After weeks of talks, much speculation and plenty of public opinion Jewish-owned Oldham Athletic football club have confirmed they will not be signing convicted rapist Ched Evans.

    What with the public backlash against Oldham and, previously, Sheffield United – Evans’ former team – it is unlikely that any other clubs will attempt negotiations, so no doubt the Twitter hordes and angry petition-signers, who opposed the proposed signing, will be happy. But they shouldn’t be.

    They have effectively overruled our justice system by deciding that what they think and feel is more important than the law. In denying Evans’s his right to rehabilitation they have chosen mob justice over actual justice. For if we are to believe in the justice system, which places an emphasis on the rehabilitation of criminals, how can we not support Evans’s efforts to regain meaningful employment and become a contributing tax-paying member of society once more?

  • Are old camel bones really a blow to Zionism?

    Simon Rocker
    Mar 13, 2014

    An investigation into ancient camel bones in Israel caused a good deal of excitement recently.

    According to the Israeli archaeologists, the remains suggested that camels were domesticated only much later than the time of the patriarchs according to Jewish tradition. Hence the early Bible stories in which camels appear could not be true.

    Among those who seized on the findings were Andrew Brown, editor of The Guardian’s online Belief section, who wrote a blog entitled “The Old Testament's made-up camels are a problem for Zionism”.

  • How far will the Chief Rabbi go on women?

    Simon Rocker
    Feb 20, 2014

    Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis this week spelt out the reasons for his opposition to partnership minyans at the annual conference for United Synagogue rabbis.

    Two months ago he announced that PMs – semi-egalitarian Orthodox services where women can read from the Torah – were inappropriate to hold on US premises.

    On Tuesday he led a shiur which examinied in greater detail why these new-style services are an innovation too far.

  • Love to hate Valentine’s Day? You’re not alone

    Sandy Rashty an...
    Feb 14, 2014

    If you’re a single Jewish girl, you’ll experience one or more of these things today:

    1) You wake up to a box of chocolates and note … from your mum. The note ends with a JDate subscription and ticket to a Jewish Care Jew-do – that you pocket for later.

    2) All single friends WhatsApp each other: “Happy Galentine’s Day, girlieeeees." You cringe, but send back the obligatory xoxo.