Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • The Credit Crunch and the Jewish Question

    Anshel Pfeffer
    Sep 16, 2008

    The collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers over the weekend prompted an interesting debate in the online forum of the white-racist website Stormfront. Some posters saw the demise of the financial institution, founded by America's grandest German-Jewish banking dynasty 158 years ago, as the ultimate triumph. "Who said Jews were ever good at money? They run a Con Game. Jews can't even manage their own banks," wrote one of them. Others were less jubilant, since "Jews didn't own Lehman Brothers, shareholders did. You me and anyone that has a pension scheme or an insurance policy has lost. The Jews will have known it was coming and moved their investments to a safer place months ago." Still others argued that, despite the bank not being family-owned for decades, this was still a debacle for the Jews as its senior management were hook-nosed.

    Putting these rantings aside, it is still too early to say whether the subprime mortgage crisis is good or bad news for the Jews. Do the stories of Jewish-founded banks such as Lehman and Bear Stearns resonate differently than good ol' American household names like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae? Have internal dog-whistles gone off? It would be encouraging to believe that in the 21st century, outside of the depraved imagination of supremacists, Jews are no longer the prime suspects in international financial disasters, and indeed there are no signs of that happening yet. But ancient stereotypes are double-edged. In today's politically correct environment, saying that Jews are good with money can cost someone their job and reputation. But let's admit the truth: many of our chosen people have done quite well out of that image when trying to attract investors over the centuries.

    When the credit-crunch crisis is finally over, and the Chinese, Japanese and Gulf Arabs are energetically rebuilding the ruins of Wall Street and the City, will we finally be released from one of our oldest stigmas? The goons can always go back to using the blood-libel.

  • Who would win in a fist fight between Tzipi Livni and Sarah Palin?

    Daniella Peled
    Sep 15, 2008

    Who would win in a fist fight between Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin and Kadima leadership candidate Tzipi Livni?

    Thus ran the idle debate in the pub yesterday afternoon, where Mossad-trained Livni was deemed the sharper, swifter opponent, but Palin was ultimately ruled to have the muscular advantage, what with all that moose pie and elk steak she must eat (not to mention the hunting, killing and butchering of it).

    And yet the prospect of these two women actually facing off against each other (diplomatically rather than in a slapping contest) might not be beyond the realms of possibility.

  • Jewish women cooking up a storm for charity

    Jan Shure
    Sep 11, 2008

    One of the attributes that still amazes and impresses me when it comes to the women of Britain's Jewish community is their energy and sheer indomitable enthusiasm when it comes to supporting good causes.

    As, first, woman's page editor of the JC and then, until recently, as Community News editor, I was able to observe what they were doing to support and fundraise for a whole bunch of causes. There were the established groups such as Wizo, Emunah and the League of Jewish Women, as well as those like the 35s (now One to One), Jewish Women's Aid and the Mothers-and-Daughters Committee, most of which began at a kitchen table somewhere in Edgware or Clayhall or Prestwich, and would never have grown to make such an impact - nor to rake in such large sums of money - but for the sheer guts, imagination and determination of the women who set them up and then dragooned their friends to support them.

    One such group of female fundraisers is the Fabulous Food For You committee which supports Hazon Yeshaya, the Israeli soup kitchen founded 10 years ago by Rabbi Abraham Israel which now provides 400,000 meals a day at 60 soup kitchens, distribution centres and schools throughout Israel.

  • Translating the Bible - into Hebrew...

    Miriam Shaviv
    Sep 11, 2008

    In university, my version of Chaucer included a line-by-line translation of the Old English into more palatable modern English. Now, in Israel, someone has the same idea – for the Bible. According to Ha’aretz,

    A move is afoot to publish the Bible in contemporary Hebrew. In other words, to translate the Bible into Hebrew. To rewrite it, in the same language, using different words.

    This is a private commercial endeavor launched by a veteran teacher of the Bible, Avraham Ahuvia, and publisher Rafi Mozes of Reches Educational Projects. The entire text is vocalized, and each verse appears in the original form alongside the translated version.

  • Evil men, named and shamed

    Miriam Shaviv
    Sep 11, 2008

    The Israeli rabbinic court system has began publishing pictures and descriptions of men who have disappeared without giving their wives a get.

    Some of these men have fled Israel and may be living in your community. If you have seen them, please contact the Rabbanut immediately.

    And for once, credit where credit is due. The Rabbanut should be applauded for taking this important step in tracing these horrible men. Perhaps now, men considering leaving their wife unable to remarry and get on with her life, will realise that this will not just be treated as a private affair, but as a crime that will cost them their public reputations.

  • As good as it gets

    Danny Caro
    Sep 11, 2008

    Last night was without doubt the best England performance I have seen in my lifetime.

    It was as though I had forgotten how being a proud Englishman felt as the goals kept flying in. It was as though I almost had to pinch myself.

    Going into the game I expected a draw at best, hoping that England would give a resilient and gutsy display. No-one could have written the script of a 4-1 win against a country that had never lost a competitive home match.

  • Barking mad

    Miriam Shaviv
    Sep 8, 2008

    The Bark-mitzvah phenomenon – giving your dog a ‘barmitzvah’ party – has been around for a few years; but now  - just like real barmitzvahs - the celebrations are getting more expensive.

    One New Yorker has just made headlines after spending an astounding $10,000 on his pooch’s party – which was attended by 100 people, including Dr Ruth. Fur real.

    According to proud owner – parent? – David Best, the dog, Elvis, “has a great personality and everyone loves him”.

  • Sarah Palin sat through a sermon by a Jew for Jesus. Should we care?

    Miriam Shaviv
    Sep 5, 2008

    Barack Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, proved a huge problem for the Democratic presidential nominee – particularly (but by no means exclusively) amongst Jews. Now, Ben Smith of Politico puts the spotlight on Sarah Palin’s church – which, just a couple of weeks ago hosted David Brickner, the executive director of Jews for Jesus:

    Palin’s pastor, Larry Kroon, introduced Brickner on Aug. 17, according to a transcript of the sermon on the church’s website.

    “He’s a leader of Jews for Jesus, a ministry that is out on the leading edge in a pressing, demanding area of witnessing and evangelism,” Kroon said.

  • Ancient Jewish city found - in Russia

    Miriam Shaviv
    Sep 5, 2008

    Russian archaeologists claim to have found the capital of the ancient state of the Khazars - who, according to tradition, adopted Judaism as their state religion in the 8th century:

    "This is a hugely important discovery," expedition organiser Dmitry Vasilyev told AFP... "We can now shed light on one of the most intriguing mysteries of that period -- how the Khazars actually lived. We know very little about the Khazars -- about their traditions, their funerary rites, their culture," he said.

    At its height, the Khazar state and its tributaries controlled much of what is now southern Russia, western Kazakhstan, eastern Ukraine, Azerbaijan and large parts of Russia's North Caucasus region.