Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Is there something wrong with today’s Jewish education?

    Craig Silver
    Jul 10, 2008

    Since joining the JC almost a year ago now I realise that my knowledge of Jewish sayings, words and portions have been heavily increased, mainly thanks to a certain Comments Editor. However, it does make me wonder: why wasn’t I given a better grounding of Jewish education in high school?

    From 11 to 18, I attended King Solomon in Essex. To be honest though, we only had one or two Jewish studies classes a week. I remember that not many students took them seriously. But we were always there, on time for our scheduled hour a week. That’s right, just one hour a week.

    I find myself lacking a lot of Jewish knowledge. For example, only a few months ago I found out what the word ‘nu’, a commonly used saying, meant. I had no idea. This was met with absolute shock from some of my colleagues. 

  • Gaza Ceasefire

    Daniella Peled
    Jul 10, 2008

    How long will the Gaza ceasefire hold? No-one has very high expectations, and neither side are putting great efforts into maintaining it. The armed Palestinian groups have been firing the odd rocket; and on Thursday, Israel killed an 18-year-old al-Aqsa Martyrs brigade gunman just by the border - the first fatality since the agreement was reached last month. The Kassams followed in quick succession.

    The big prize for Hamas would be the re-opening of the Rafah crossing to re-open, but it looks unlikely. Israel, for its part, does not expect this to happen. And Egypt, ever wary of being handed the responsibility for Gaza, has no interest in it re-opening either.

    Everyone wants the negotiations over captured soldier Gilad Shalit to be accelerated. But apart from that, there are few common interests in this ceasefire, beyond the civilians on either side of the Gaza fence who would like a precious bit of peace and quiet.

  • Frummer than the Chafetz Chaim

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 10, 2008

    A few months ago I wrote about how "modesty has moved from being about modest clothing to being about keeping women, and images of women, away from men."

    Here's the latest example. A historic picture of the great sage, the Chafetz Chaim, sitting in front of a building with two women standing behind him has had the women in the photo removed. Admittedly, I don't know when the Photoshopping took place, but the doctored pic was sent out recently by an American yeshivah as part of its fundraising efforts.

    Surely, if the Chafetz Chaim didn't mind the women milling around him, it shouldn't be a problem for us to see a fuzzy picture of the event? Or are we 'frummer' than the Chafetz Chaim nowdays?

  • The Zionists infiltrate al Jazeera

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 4, 2008

    Al Jazeera English is clearly falling out of favour with some Muslims - because it is too "pro-Israeli". A blogger on the website of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee complains that the coverage of the terror attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday was completely unbalanced:

    You need to see the TV coverage to understand my sentiments in full; I was genuinely sad about the needless loss of human life - three Israeli civilians dead and dozens injured. However, as I watched the coverage I became shocked at the pro-Israel bias, which included an interview with a representative of the Jerusalem Post.

    No such coverage was afforded to any Palestinian representative to negate the accusations of Palestinian ‘terrorism' nor did they provide any reference for contextual purposes, to the hundreds of Palestinians that have been killed since the start of the year.

     What's more, she is very angry at the short shrift she is given when she phones the station to complain:

    The initial point of contact listened courteously, acknowledged my comments and then put me through to someone who I understand has some editorial control. She was rude, abrupt and downright aggressive. She barked "Give me a break, lady" and said they were still working on the story as it was breaking news... This ‘editor' then advised me that they were showing pictures of the Palestinian's home and interviewing his family in later broadcasts. After a minute or two, she told me she couldn't spend hours talking to me as she had to work on the next bulletin and sarcastically said goodbye and hung up!! Clearly not Al Jazeera's greatest Public Relations asset. What a disgrace!!

  • Where have all the Jewish Sportsmen and women gone?

    Craig Silver
    Jul 4, 2008

    These days I have to say there is a seriously lack of professional Jewish sportsmen and women, and one has to question as to when the breakthrough is going to come.
    I am starting to worry, and rightfully so. This past week in the JC, Danny Caro interviewed the ONLY Jewish person to have won Wimbledon, over 50 years ago! Moving on from that, former Manchester City and Crystal Palace footballer Barry Silkman has been pretty much the only British Jew to play in the big time for a Premier League side.
    As far as I am concerned it is simply not good enough. Last year, I remember speaking to Silkman, now a football agent who also expressed his concern and told me: "Most of the kids these days are not playing football or other sports and have just been forced into going to work for their parents' businesses rather than play sports." I can't help but agree.
    Being a sports reporter working for the Jewish Chronicle, I would love to be reporting on someone who has just clinched their dream move to Spurs, Arsenal or even Manchester United, but I don’t see that coming anytime soon. The closet I have come to that, are the likes of Joe Jacobson, Sam Sloma or Scott Shulton who have all played or are playing professional football.
    Jacobson was big news when he first joined Bristol Rovers after an unsuccessful time at Cardiff. He was named by various newspapers, including us as ‘the first Jewish footballer in 25 years’. But at the League One side he has more than held his own, as their first choice left-back and has had the chance and in my view honour of playing at Wembley and in an FA Cup quarter-final.
    Sam Sloma, another player who has played for a selection of clubs, most recently helped Dagenham and Redbridge keep their league status in the Coca Cola Football League. Now at Grays Athletic, I am sure we haven’t heard the last of him and again he is another player who is living his dream everyday.
    Scott Shulton has only just begun his professional career, after signing a one-year contract at League Two's Wycombe Wanderers. He’s from Mill Hill and proves the point that you can achieve your dream if you work for it!

    There are also a few players playing in the JC MSFL, who I believe are good and young enough to go on and try-out for bigger and better teams.

    But there you go, that’s it! A few others crop up here or there but no one, who has made it to the big time. You maybe thinking, come on Craig its not that easy but to be honest I believe we have the talent to produce some new sporting talents, who could go on to become big stars. I am also hoping that London’s 2012 will prove to be a new introduction of new British Jewish stars that will go on to win the Gold medals.

  • 'Saved by a smelly tramp'

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 3, 2008

    Manchester reader Ya'akov Wise sends us the following update:

    A former Manchester woman was on the number 13 bus in Jerusalem at noon on Wednesday and was saved because she did not want to embarrass a smelly tramp who was sitting next to her. Corinne Silver, formerly of Tewkesbury Drive Prestwich and a part-time employee of the Manchester Beth Din, left the bus two stops before an Arab worker drove his bulldozer into it and overturning it.

    Mrs Silver who now works as a house mother at a seminary for girls near Jerusalem said: "I went to Jerusalem and after seeing my son Yosef got the number 13 bus from his office towards the central bus station. The bus was full but eventually I got a seat and then, a really smelly tramp came and sat next to me, the smell was overwhelming and I decided, 'ha just what I need...'

  • The Telegraph's "heartbroken killer"

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 3, 2008

    The Telegraph's coverage of the terror attack in Jerusalem yesterday is somewhat sickening. Accompanying a full-length report - which does not even name the victims, most of whom were named early evening UK time - is a box focusing solely on the murderer. And the paper seems to swallow whole the story spun by his family, that he was "heartbroken" following a failed romance with a young Jewish woman several years ago. As if this could ever explain or justify murder; as if this is where our sympathies should lie. What on earth are they thinking?