Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Chumra of the week

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 24, 2008

    First, we had Orthodox Jewish women wearing burkas.  Now, we have Charedi women coming back from weddings and other simchas being told they should wear 'overcoats' - because the sight of them in their best clothes in the street could be too much for some men. (According to the Kosover Rebbe of Boro Park, "Though it may be hot in warm weather, it is a good thing".)

    The burkas were bad enough - but at least (if there is an 'at least' when you are talking about women feeling they must cover up their own faces) the initiative came from the women themselves, and was really not supported by most rabbis or others in their community.

    But the idea of women having to cover up perfectly modest, but nice-looking clothes, comes from another source: a commercial company, called Modest Design, which came up with the idea, and then sought rabbinic precedent and approval.

  • The Russian revolution continues

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 24, 2008

    A few weeks ago, The Jerusalem Post's Calev Ben-David reported that the brand-new editor of Ha'aretz, Dov Alfon, was making substantial changes at the paper, toning down or getting rid of many of the best-known voices on the far left and firing (and then rehiring) its social affairs reporter, who focused on the plight of the poor.

    Ben-David explained at the time that:

     Like all print media nowadays, Haaretz is struggling to keep and attract readers and advertisers, and some of the editorial changes seem to clearly reflect an effort to make the paper a little less heavy, including reducing and putting less emphasis on its most radical voices. There is only so much space on a news page, and if you start focusing more on economic, consumer and lifestyle issues, it's going to come at the expense of other fields, including politics and social affairs.

  • Bring back the good old days

    Danny Caro
    Jul 24, 2008

    Is football’s bubble about to burst? Euro 2008 was a roaring success, even without England I should add. But the silly season is well and truly under way with talk of Ronaldo’s proposed transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid running on and on.

    I hate such scenarios where the papers have a series of tit-for-tat headlines but believe that agents are partly responsible. Surely there must be something else to write about.

    As a lifelong Liverpool fan, it annoys me to see Gareth Barry-gate and the Robbie Keane story getting daily coverage. Until the recent controversy with the Reds’ American owners, the Anfield club prided itself on keeping such matters private and confidential, but now it appears that nothing is secret.

  • Gordon Brown's speech defect

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 23, 2008

    Yesterday I reported that, according to Sky News's Adam Boulton, our prime minister has difficulty pronouncing the word 'Jerusalem'. Now The Evening Standard's diary adds,

    Sources at the Jerusalem Post note that Brown mangled his attempt at a Hebrew quotation before going on to pronounce "Auschwitz" as "ouchwhich".

    How do you think he would pronounce, "complete disaster as prime minister"?

  • The Obama show comes to town

    Daniella Peled
    Jul 23, 2008

    The Obama show has come to town. It’s a big day for the Democratic presidential candidate and all-round shiny wunderkind, which officially started with an 8 am breakfast with Defence Minister Ehud Barak.
    Then followed a mad rush to tick off all the requisite national icons – Yad Vashem, Ramallah, Sderot, Shimon Peres – before the finale at the Western Wall tonight.
    There will be no lack of kippah-wearing, Peres-hugging photo opportunities with which the presumptive leader of the free world can wow Jewish voters back home.
    Even better, Hamas issued a sneering accusation that Obama was trying to get to the White House “at the expense of the Palestinians".
    And some lovely Ramallah Democrat-loving Palestinian baker has even named a bagel after him.

  • Alter ego scenario is pure genius

    Danny Caro
    Jul 23, 2008

    South African bowler Andre Nel, who was 12th man for the first test against England, recently revealed that he has an alter ego called Gunter.

    This was one of the greatest insights into the mindset of a top sportsman I’ve heard for a long, long time. I think that top level sportsman need an alter ego to keep pushing them to the max.

    Not for one minute do I think that I’m a top level sportsman but I believe that there’s a place for alter ego’s in Jewish sport. Psychology is a major part of cricket and one of my problems used to be thinking too much about the condition of the pitch or which star players the opposition had before the game.

  • Why can't Gordon Brown pronounce 'Jerusalem'?

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 22, 2008

    Adam Boulton of Sky News is puzzled about one aspect of Gordon Brown's visit to Israel:

    He seems to have trouble with the word Jerusalem, repeatedly pronouncing it Joo-rislem. The only explanation we can find is that he’s trying to remember how his father, the Reverend Brown, named the Eternal City in Hebrew. I’m told that pronounced correctly in the local language the name should sound like Yerooshalyam (sic)

     Or is he making a political point: Jew-rislem?

  • Living in denial over Samir Kuntar

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 21, 2008

    Dion Nissenbaum visits Samir Kuntar, back home in Lebanon, and tries to explain the question haunting so many: How can the Lebanese possibly take pride in, even celebrate, a child-murderer?

    Clearly, many people - the majority - simply want to harm the Israeli "enemy". But Nissenbaum adds:

    Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a Beirut-based political analyst and Hezbollah specialist, said people here simply don't accept Israel's version of events.

  • Brown in the Holy Land

    Daniella Peled
    Jul 21, 2008

    So Gordon Brown is taking a quick gallop through Israel and Palestine this week – Yad Vashem, the Knesset, Bethlehem, and so on.

    Personally, if I hear Brown meander on once more about learning about the Holy Land at his father’s knee I will spit. Enough with the cheap Brownie points already.

    Sadly he doesn’t have that much more to offer. His big shtick - sorting out the peace process through economic support for the Palestinians – is already being done rather more effectively by his predecessor Tony Blair, for what it’s worth, which isn’t much.

  • Barack Obama, Shabbos goy

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 18, 2008

    Colin Powell and Elvis Presley are two famous Shabbos Goys – they were both employed, in their youth, by Orthodox families to carry out certain acts forbidden to Jews on the Sabbath, such as turning lights on and off.

     But are they about to be eclipsed by one Barack Obama? According to Newsweek,

    In 1999, while still in the Illinois State Senate, he shared an office suite with Ira Silverstein, an Orthodox Jew. Obama peppered Silverstein with questions about Orthodox restrictions on daily life: the kosher laws and the sanctions against certain kinds of behavior on the Sabbath. "On the Sabbath, if I ever needed anything, Barack would always offer," remembers Silverstein. "Some of the doors are electric, so he would offer to open them … I didn't expect that."