Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Should the Chief Rabbi stay on?

    Simon Rocker
    Jun 19, 2012

    An online petition has been started calling for the Chief Rabbi to stay on beyond his scheduled retirement date. Lord Sacks is planning to move on after 21 years in office in September 2013, six months after his 65th birthday.

    The prospect of him postponing his departure seems unlikely. His close associates had long indicated he was minded to step down at 65. If he had wanted to remain for a couple of years or, like his predecessor Lord Jakobovits, until he was 70, the United Synagogue would surely not have turned down the offer.

    He will be able to continue doing what he does best, writing, speaking and broadcasting, regardless of whether he holds the title of Chief Rabbi or not: there seems no reason, for instance, why he would have to give up his Thought for the Day slot when he leaves office. His seat in the Lords will also guarantee him a national platform. In demand as a speaker internationally, he will be free to pursue engagements abroad without having to worry about ceremonial appearances or functional duties back home.

  • Bat Mitzvah nose jobs - according to the Daily Mail

    Jessica Elgot
    Jun 8, 2012

    Apparently my nose is newsworthy this morning. As a woman with a natural "Jewish" nose, I am pleased to report, I am part of a new phenomenon.

    The headline of the article by Victoria Wellman was "Young, Jewish and beautiful: Nose jobs decline as rhinoplasty's biggest fans no longer fear their defining feature". Apparently, we Jewish women who have longed dreamed of the cute button nose are learning to embrace our hook-nosed honks. Or something to that effect.

    The line comes from a cosmetic surgeon, once the darling of "young, affluent Jewish girls", who was quoted in a Tablet magazine article.

  • England squad visits Auschwitz - the right move

    Marcus Dysch
    Jun 8, 2012

    The England players who visit Auschwitz today are sure to have a moving experience.

    Ever since former boss Fabio Capello decided to base the squad in Krakow for the Euro 2012 tournament, the FA has worked hard to ensure the right tone is set.

    Their partnership with the Holocaust Educational Trust is an impressive one. Today’s visit is not just a quick tourist stop-off for Roy Hodgson’s men; it is the first step in an educational programme that will benefit not only the players, but thousands of British schoolchildren.

  • GCSE antisemitism: the hidden question

    Simon Rocker
    Jun 1, 2012

    There has been a sharp divergence of opinion among Jewish educators about the wisdom of the question set in a GCSE religious studies exam this year, “Explain, briefly, why some people are prejudiced against Jews”.

    Some believe it was an open invitation for children to express antisemitic views. Others point out that there was little risk of this since the question appeared in a Judaism paper and reflected a prescribed topic about stereotyping and scapegoating that those sitting the paper would have studied. The exam board says that so far responses to the question in exam papers show that students correctly understood its intention.

    Many of the 1,000 pupils who sat the paper would have been pupils at King David Manchester and JFS.

  • Avram's Journey

    Marcus Dysch
    May 30, 2012

    Avram Grant has in the past revealed elements of the remarkable story of how his late father, Meir Granat, survived the Holocaust.

    But last night BBC Radio Five Live broadcast a new, chilling documentary with Grant, retracing the steps his father and grandfather took more than 70 years ago.

    Football Focus presenter Dan Walker travelled with the former Chelsea manager to the Polish village where Grant’s family lived, and then continued their journey to Auschwitz, where almost the entire family was decimated during the Shoah.

  • Should Orthodox deputies cover their heads?

    Simon Rocker
    May 24, 2012

    One of the novelties of the vice-presidential elections at the Board of Deputies on Sunday was that they were live-streamed, enabling web spectators to follow events.

    The same was also true of the hustings a few days before, where the candidates also had to endure the sight of sometimes critical commentary on their performance being tweeted on a live screen by outside viewers as well as members of the audiences.

    Meanwhile, here is one view of Sunday’s events which was blogged by Bnei Akiva deputy Noah Nathan:

  • Spot the Israeli flags at the Champions League final? This lot did...

    Marcus Dysch
    May 22, 2012

    During Saturday night’s Champions League final some of you will, I expect, have noticed two Israeli flags displayed in the stands.

    I spotted them in the first half – hanging at pitch level just near the halfway line – and then thought little more about it. Every now and again when they flashed across the screen they caught my eye, but they were really rather secondary to the remarkable match unfolding before my eyes.

    But while I and more than 10 million other Brits were watching Chelsea win London’s first ever European Cup, others were busy enquiring as to why the flags were there.