Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • 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.

  • Glad to be alive and kicking

    Danny Caro
    Sep 4, 2008

    The future of junior Jewish football has been in doubt for some time now. With the leagues in London, AJY and Maccabi Primary League, and Manchester struggling for numbers it appears that youngsters have fallen out of love with the game.

    In my day, kids couldn’t get enough of football. I remember playing in Hendon Park until 10pm when our floodlights were the lamp-posts. It didn’t stop us from diving, shooting and yelling in a John Motson voice.

    It’s hardly surprising that numbers are falling. That said, figures of those playing five-a-side have never been better. With PSP’s Wii’s and the pressures of modern day society, it appears that players of all ages are finding ‘better things to do with their time’.

  • Locking up the women - in the name of modesty

    Miriam Shaviv
    Sep 4, 2008

    Four years ago, Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, chairman of the rabbinic court in Bnei Brak, asked righteous women to kindly leave shul before the service was over, for reasons of ‘modesty’ – ie so that they should not mingle with the men.

    But what if the women didn’t want to leave early? A shul in Tzfat has come up with a rather ingenious solution:

    New guidelines imposed at the Breslover Shul in Tzfas determine women must leave after Shabbos morning Davening before Aleinu, or they are locked inside the women's gallery until men make their exit. According to the new rule, after Aleinu the women's gallery is locked for 15 minutes, during which the men make their exit. The women's gallery is then reopened to allow those who didn't make it out in time to leave.

  • Tony Blair's sister-in-law: 'I'm a celebrity, get me out of Gaza!'

    Miriam Shaviv
    Sep 4, 2008

    So Lauren Booth – journalist and, rather more famously, sister of Cherie Blair – is stuck in Gaza after being turned away from the Israeli and Egyptian crossings.

    She arrived in the Palestinian territory last week on a boat with 45 other activists, aiming to defy Israel’s blockade of the Strip – and to show solidarity with the Palestinians.

    Now she is complaining that she can’t leave.

  • Barack Obama's Jewish mishpocha

    Miriam Shaviv
    Sep 4, 2008

    So who is the most ‘Jewish’ presidential candidate in America? Now that Joe Lieberman has missed out on being named Republican running mate, the slot is wide-open.

    And according to the New York’s Forward, the unexpected answer is….. Barack Obama. Not only was he once a Shabbos Goy – his wife has a bona fide rabbi in the family:

    Michelle Obama, wife of the Democratic presidential nominee, and Rabbi Capers Funnye, spiritual leader of a mostly black synagogue on Chicago’s South Side, are first cousins once removed. Funnye’s mother, Verdelle Robinson Funnye (born Verdelle Robinson) and Michelle Obama’s paternal grandfather, Frasier Robinson Jr., were brother and sister.

  • Who won the Free Gaza boat affair?

    Daniella Peled
    Sep 1, 2008

    So who won in the "Free Gaza" boat affair?

    This band of activists was determined to sail to Gaza to break the siege with balloons and hearing aids – and they did. Israel wanted to avoid a media frenzy featuring scenes of nuns arrested by Israeli sailors and crying Palestinian children seeing their hearing aids consigned to the briny depths. They also succeeded.

     But it is interesting to note just how seriously the Israelis, who tend to underplay such supposedly well-meaning, do-gooder efforts, took the whole Free Gaza saga. Hasbara bodies were briefing like crazy. Groups like Bicom were mobilised to inform foreign journalists just why this siege-busting attempt was not only illegal and dangerous but also equivalent to a denial of Israel’s right to exist.

  • Is the Crocs craze finally fading?

    Candice Krieger
    Aug 29, 2008

    What has the British and Israel summer had in common this year? It certainly hasn't been the weather.

    The answer in fact, could be lying at your feet.

    Crocs. Yes, those hideously unflattering plastic clogs-cum-sandals-cum-flippers that have been stomping all over the streets.