Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • My life as a graduate - unexpected but educational

    Tal Fox
    Jul 15, 2015

    Today marks exactly a year since I graduated from the University of Birmingham. My first year as a graduate has not been anything like I imagined it would be but somehow I managed to get to where I hoped I would be by now.

    While my social media accounts are filled with graduation photos and sentimental statuses, I fondly reminisce about my time as an undergraduate and how my experiences helped me in graduate life. Although I didn’t graduate with the coveted 2:1, I am excitedly waiting to begin my Masters in Newspaper Journalism at City University, London in September.

    University was incredibly fun and I’m still in touch with my friends – despite all returning to our own ends of the earth. I always look back with nostalgia but the graduate world isn’t so bad either. So with a year of wisdom behind me, these are the most important lessons I have learned:

  • Why I fought for the Psychoactive Substances Bill

    Maryon Stewart
    Jul 14, 2015

    It’s every Jewish parent’s worst nightmare to lose a child, especially needlessly. That sadly was my experience on 26 April 2009, when my wonderful 21 year-old daughter Hester, a medical student at Sussex University, was given a legal high. She wasn’t a drug taker, but a cheerleader and student mentor. Instead of surviving to become a doctor she went to sleep after an awards dinner and never woke up. Tonight, the House of Lords is hearing the debate on the Psychoactive Substances Bill.

    We all want our children to stay safe and well so that they live to thrive to lead happy and fulfilled lives. These days’ young people face many challenges during their teenage years and the party substances known as ‘legal highs’ are top of the list of pitfalls as many believe they are safe because, until now, they have been legal.

    In 2010 I founded the Angelus Foundation in Hester’s memory, to raise awareness about the dangers of ‘legal highs’ so that young people can make informed decisions and parents can have wise conversations with their children.

  • Antisemites - You Don’t Even Go Here

    Josh Jackman
    Jul 13, 2015

    On July 4, during a neo-Nazi demonstration which was met with the full force of Jewish and anti-fascist fury, there was one banner which stood out.

    Referencing to the 2004 classic film Mean Girls (natch), the sign read “You Don’t Even Go Here.”

    It was as hilarious as it was true. The fanatics, with their stereotypical skinheads and warped thinking, were an anachronism, completely out of place opposite the established democracy of Downing Street and two WWII monuments.

  • Omar Sharif: my secret crush

    Sandy Rashty
    Jul 10, 2015

    We all have Hollywood crushes.

    Omar Sharif was mine.

    I would not be able to tell you how many times I’ve watched Funny Girl – the story of a young Jewish woman who falls in love with a beautiful, but unattainable, exotic man.

  • The Board of Deputies shouldn't insult non-Jewish schools, nor the parents who send kids to them

    Keren David
    Jul 1, 2015

    ‘If you don’t live in a leafy suburb like Richmond,’ said the new president of the Board of Deputies, Jonathan Arkush, last week, ‘you just won’t send your children to the local schools. They are rife with problems – bullying, violence, drug-taking and racism.’

    In Mr Arkush’s day job he is a barrister, paid to construct clever arguments. In this statement, hidden within a double negative is a fearful view of the world outside a sealed sphere of privilege. For ‘leafy’ read affluent, for ‘local’ read working class and multi-cultural. Mr Arkush seems to believe that Jewish children can only be safe when removed from the mainstream. He speaks out against racism, but there is a disquieting undercurrent to his words that pulls in the other direction.

    I wonder why Richmond escapes his gloomy view of the world. Perhaps he has friends who live there who send their children to local schools. Maybe these children are clearly happy and well-adjusted, neither bullied or bullying and manifestly drug-free. Richmond, he allows is the exception to the rule. A utopia where Jewish children are free to mingle with their non-Jewish peers, unlike the dystopian hell that rules elsewhere.

  • Rally result is a victory for our community - not a time to score points

    Marcus Dysch
    Jun 30, 2015

    There will inevitably be a lengthy post-mortem into the various co-ordinated and un-coordinated responses to the antisemitic demonstration due to take place this weekend.

    The roles of campaign groups, security groups, politicians, police, the media, and more will all be assessed.

    There was, understandably, substantial concern within both the Jewish and local communities about the prospect of skinheads on the streets at the heart of our community this Shabbat.

  • Sacks and Violence

    Simon Rocker
    Jun 29, 2015

    Simon Rocker is Judaism Editor for the JC

    Lord Sacks’s new book, Not in God’s Name – Confronting Religious Violence, should be a must-read for any Jewish educator. Its central section is a close reading of some of the stories of Genesis, interpreting them in a way which shows how sacred texts can support conciliation between people of different faiths rather than confrontation.

    While he depicts conflict between Jews, Christians and Muslims as a form of sibling rivalry, it is not a permanent condition, he argues. Genesis begins with fratricide – Cain murders Abel – but ends with the reconciliation of Joseph and his brothers.

  • An Open Letter to those living in the UK

    Liora Resnick
    Jun 25, 2015

    This blog was first shared on Facebook as an open letter from 16 year-old Hasmonean student Liora Resnick

    Like all sixteen year olds my age, irrespective of my race, religion or ethnicity, I worry about normal sixteen-year old things: I worry about whether I have done the right homework and what to wear to the oh-so-important party next Saturday night. I worry about if I can afford those concert tickets that I am desperate to go to, and I worry about if that look that boy gave me that one time meant anything or not.

    But unlike most other sixteen-year old girls, I worry about something that is far bigger than any of those trivial things:

  • Experts failed to see this school-places shortfall coming

    Simon Rocker
    Jun 25, 2015

    The competition for Jewish secondary school places has clearly caught the community's educations leaders by surprise. With little over two months to go to the start of the new school year, you might have found a handful of children still waiting for places at this stage in the past few years. But there appear to be at least a classful this year.

    What has fuelled anguish even more is that many of these children are at Jewish primary schools and had expected to go on to Jewish secondary schools. It must be galling to have invested in your children's Jewish education and be left in the lurch, when other, less committed, families may have clinched places through the entry lottery simply by turning up to synagogue a few times.

    The opening of two new state-aided Jewish secondary schools in the north-west London area in the past decade - Yavneh College in Hertfordshire and the Jewish Community Secondary School in East Barnet - had led to fears of the opposite problem: too few Jewish pupils to fill them. Instead the reverse has happened in a relatively short space of time.