Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • In praise of the endangered

    Jenni Frazer
    Sep 6, 2012

    Maybe it is a metaphor for life. But I am increasingly worried about the fate of the apostrophe and its place — and do, please note, how that three-letter word is displayed — in the firmament.

    We are long past, it seems to me, the amusement at the so-called "greengrocer's apostrophe", wherein sellers of fruit and veg decorated their shops and market stalls with notices suggesting there were "apples' and oranges'" for sale.

    No, things have degenerated. Lynne Truss couldn't publish her best-selling comic look at grammar and punctuation, "Eats Shoots and Leaves" today. Because unfortunately more and more people, even including those who are supposed to have had an education, are putting an apostrophe in a word to denote a plural. Thus such horrors as the "Israeli's" or "the Nazi's" when the - well, I hesitate to call them "writer" — means more than one such person.

  • Orient, here we come

    Simon Rocker
    Aug 24, 2012

    Next month's strictly Orthodox rally in London on the dangers of the internet has proved so popular that the organisers have had to move it from Alexandra Palace to Leyton Orient's football stadium.

    American Charedim have used sports stadia to stage events in the past but this is the first time I can recall that one has been hired in the UK.

    Perhaps we can have a Chasidim v Mitnagdim soccer match to kick off proceedings.

  • Home free?

    Jenni Frazer
    Jul 27, 2012

    After his deplorable reception of two of the Munich massacre widows on Wednesday night — my colleague Jennifer Lipman reported the two women were devastated and heartbroken at his response — Jacques Rogge may well be feeling pretty pleased with himself.

    To his Israeli and Jewish critics, he is able to spread his arms wide, shrug his shoulders and insist, yes, I did something — his "spontaneous" minute's silence at the Athletes' Village on Monday, during the ironically-titled event, Olympic Truce. Spontaneous my foot — rarely can there have been a man whose every move was so calculated as to its later effect.

    To the Arab representatives on the IOC, who very much did not want Rogge to agree to a minute's silence at the Opening Ceremony, and to the Palestinians who have attacked the idea as "racism" — I even heard a rumour that the Palestinians would only agree to a minute's silence provided it included those members of Black September who died in Munich — Rogge has delivered what they asked.

  • So let me get this straight

    Jenni Frazer
    Jul 23, 2012

    Jacques Rogge is president of the International Olympic Committee.

    Jacques Rogge, in this capacity, has consistently and repeatedly refused to hold a minute's silence in memory of the 11 murdered Israeli athletes. Their deaths, incidentally, took place at the Munich Games at which Rogge himself represented his country as an Olympian.

    As recently as Saturday, Rogge rejected yet again the idea of a minute's silence at the Opening Ceremony.

  • Kosher Mistress?

    Simon Rocker
    Jul 19, 2012

    Israel Hayom reports: “The Chief Judge of the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court, Rabbi Eliyahu Abergel, has ruled that in cases where a man has not fathered any children, and his wife cannot or does not want to bear children, the man may take a concubine.”
    Click to read more

  • I remember Jack

    Jenni Frazer
    Jul 16, 2012

    Jack Yaffe died last week, aged a staggering 103. He made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for being Britain's oldest shopkeeper, the owner of the eponymous Yaffe's hardware store in Prestwich, north Manchester.

    Given that he was 103 it's hardly surprising that I say I can't remember a time without Jack Yaffe - or Mr Yaffe as I was trained to call him. The shop, facing the Holy Law Synagogue on Bury Old Road, was a stock-taker's version of hell and a small child's idea of very heaven. Yaffe's was, and, I daresay remains, a kind of anti-shop. It had just masses and masses of STUFF, much of it almost nothing to do with hardware as we have come to know it.

    Every day, Mr Yaffe, summer and winter wearing a neatly buttoned up dark cardigan, would put out on the pavement outside the shop the latest gloriously gaudy offers, frequently with eclectic cardboard signs. The shop was plainly bursting, from floor to ceiling, from front to back. Hula hoops spilled out onto the pavement. Children's high chairs with wipe-clean folding tables. Highly coloured rugs. A net of beachballs. The mood was a market stall with an identity crisis.

  • Why rabbis should get on their bikes

    Simon Rocker
    Jul 16, 2012

    The first Rabbis Relay Ride which ended recently appears to have been a great success, raising £30,000 for charity.

    More than 20 rabbis took the saddle at various stages along the way from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

    What was significant is that the participants embraced representatives from across the board, Orthodox, Reform, Liberal and Masorti.

  • The Chief Rabbi on gay marriage: silence not an option

    Simon Rocker
    Jul 6, 2012

    The Chief Rabbi has come under fire for his opposition to civil marriage for gay and lesbian couples (see our front-page story this week).

    Since there is no question of the government forcing religious groups to carry out same-sex weddings, his critics say that Chief Rabbi simply should have kept shtum rather than plunge into a contentious and divisive issue.

    However, they overlook an important point. It is true that the commandments of the Torah are binding only on Jews. However, according to Orthodox theology, there are basic standards of morality which apply to all humanity known as the Seven Noahide Laws.

  • “The Left, the Jews and Israel”

    Winston Pickett
    Jun 25, 2012

    This is the subtitle of a new book by historian Robert Wistrich (University of Nebraska Press). As a stand-alone, its apparent neutrality gives little away, reminding me of T.S. Elliot’s Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. The topic appears cool and analytical, ‘like a patient, etherised upon a table.'

    Until, that is, you look at the full title: From Ambivalence to Betrayal.

    When talking about the Left, this pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?

  • Asma al Assad's new business venture?

    Jessica Elgot
    Jun 22, 2012

    Syria's first lady Asma al-Assad has a new business to propose to you. Look what dropped into my inbox this afternoon.

    From: Mrs. Asma al-Assad []
    Sent: 20 June 2012 07:37
    To: undisclosed-recipients
    Subject: Your Trust/ Interest