Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Why did Theresa May change her mind on immigrants?

    Josh Jackman
    Oct 7, 2015

    Three months ago, Home Secretary Theresa May told 420 guests at Hasmonean High School’s annual fundraising dinner that Britain was better off for immigrants - in fact, that diversity was the very reason for our success as a nation.

    Speaking with pride and certainty, she declared: “Britain is an amazing country, a thriving liberal country precisely because of the cooperation between peoples of different faiths and backgrounds.

    “It is at the heart of what makes this country such a great place to live, and is something we must always work hard to protect.”

  • Maccabi Tel Aviv were like rabbits caught in headlights

    Danny Caro
    Sep 17, 2015

    It was a bit like watching the school bully in the playground.

    Maccabi backed off and backed off until the bully hit them. Not once, but four times. And there were more than a few near misses too. In the end Chelsea were toying with them. And they didn’t need to break sweat.

    After 11 years in the wilderness of Europe’s elite, this was embarrassingly easy for Chelsea. Men against boys.

  • As Jews we should be outraged that Britain is not doing more to help refugees

    Josh Jackman
    Sep 3, 2015

    This could have been you. This could have been your family. In another time, during another war, while other people suffered this fate.

    These are humans, escaping death, poverty and the destruction of their homelands, risking everything they have to search for safety.

    Not for benefits, not for jobs or streets paved with gold. They come because the alternative is horrifying.

  • It is time to hush up the fear of exams and envelopes

    Charlotte Oliver
    Aug 18, 2015

    Envelopes still make me anxious.

    Eight years may have passed since I sat my A-Levels – but believe me, the foreboding still festers.

    I feel it as summertime beckons and April showers slip into the month of May, bringing with it the haunting flashback of devising revision timetables and committing myself to life chez library.

  • Should a charity ever turn down money?

    Josh Jackman
    Aug 12, 2015

    Not accepting money from a convicted paedophile sounds like a sensible idea, particularly for a children’s charity.

    But beyond the initial gut reaction, which is understandable - what justification is there for denying the most vulnerable children across the UK the care they desperately need?

    Barnardo’s works to banish the horrors of poverty, sexual exploitation, disability and domestic violence from the lives of children. For sure, it would be a PR disaster for the organisation to accept money from former Hasmonean pupil Miles Esterson, but cutting funding for these services cannot be the better option.

  • PC Rashty? It's no job for a nice Jewish girl

    Sandy Rashty
    Aug 6, 2015

    I have a confession to make.

    I once dreamed of joining the Metropolitan Police. It sounded like a wonderful career opportunity, a chance to make a difference and help people more vulnerable than myself.

    I thought of rescuing children who had been born into abusive homes, or women who were victims of domestic violence. I felt I had the strength of character and right demeanour to make a good officer. The danger the profession posed and the attacks officers face on a day to day basis, came, rightly or wrongly, as an afterthought.

  • Jews do community and youth leadership better than anyone else

    Nick Trapp
    Aug 5, 2015

    It was two years ago when I first came across the unique Debra Brunner, who masterminds the twinning programme between Finchley Reform Synagogue and the Jewish community of Polotsk in Belarus, and founded The Together Plan. Her proposition was that I and a friend (Jonathan Clingman, a big name in the twinning programme) spend July to September of 2013 there going native with the local community and helping them reconnect with their Judaism, a bit like something out of The Book Of Mormon.

    I'm not Jewish; why would anybody want to spend their summer holiday in Europe's last dictatorship, teaching a religion they didn't belong to for free? My reason was Russian. I had a deferred place to study it at university and had to fill my gap year with language practice. Belarus would be perfect immersion because it's practically foreigner free and none of our roles there involved speaking English. Before leaving I met up with FRS's Rabbi, went to a seder meal at Jonathan's and did some homework (who knew the festival of Kapparot involved swinging a chicken around your head?)

    Those three months were eye-opening. Belarus isn't third world, but it's poor. Polotsk was charming, but full of stray dogs and buildings in need of a repair. Hospitality is second nature to the Belarusians - I'm especially and eternally indebted to the family who put us up for three whole months. Along with the local madrichim I ran events for Jewish holy days, helped out at the town's children's shelter (for children whose parents are absent or in no state to look after them), translated prayers, learnt the Hebrew alphabet in order to draw and read posters, did what I could to support Jonathan as he taught his Bar Mitzvah group, and even fasted for Yom Kippur. The biggest event, though, was the summer camp, for which a group of English madrichim fly over for five crazy days.

  • How to respond to such harrowing events?

    Jessica Weinstein
    Jul 31, 2015

    It has been a harrowing couple of days in Israel.

    We went to bed last night after news of the stabbing of revellers at Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade. The attacker was a man who, ten years ago, had been jailed for attempted murder at the 2005 Gay Pride parade.

    We then woke up to the news that a baby had been killed in an arson attack by Israelis on Palestinian civilians.

  • Reflections of pre-camp at the European Maccabi Games in Berlin

    Danny Caro
    Jul 27, 2015

    It's very hard to put the last 48 hours into context. The first ever pre-camp at the European Maccabi Games has given everyone involved plenty of food for thought. Many questions have been asked, with one recurring theme - how, why and most importantly, never again.

    No sooner had we set off the plane in Berlin than we were heading to the Olympic Park. You can almost touch the history of a place that was rocking with controversy in 1936 when the great Jess Owens wrote his place in the history books, again all the odds.

    It was a first visit to the city for myself and a significant number of the Team Maccabi GB delegation who were clearly taken aback by tales of the atrocities in the trips to follow.