Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • When George Clooney met a rabbi...

    Jennifer Lipman
    Mar 22, 2012

    When we think of Hollywood, we think of bright lights, red carpets, emotional speeches and fast-talking agents. We think of sparkly dresses and glamour, of put-upon-screenwriters and waiters waiting for their big breaks. We don't really tend to think of rabbis.

    But perhaps we should. Because, despite sounding like a contender for the "film pitch that is least likely to see the light of day award", have you heard the one about George Clooney and Rabbi Steve Gutow?

    Gorgeous George and Rabbi Gutow were among the motley crew of politicians and activists who were arrested last week during a demonstration outside the Sudanese Embassy.

  • Lord Sacks and the Whale

    Simon Rocker
    Mar 13, 2012

    I’ve heard quite a few people comment on the Chief Rabbi’s recent Jewish Book Week conversation with mathematician Marcus du Sautoy.

    I can't see that the Chief dropped any theological bombshells, although he did say, when asked about Jonah and the Whale, “No one has ever read these stories in the Jewish tradition literally.”

    Anyway, you can hear the exchange yourself because there is now a video of it on the Book Week website.

  • Chicken fun, all day long

    Jennifer Lipman
    Mar 1, 2012

    This is one for anyone in need of a distraction from work or study.

    Rosh Pinah Primary School (incidentally, the institution where I started my academic life) have set up a wonderful site with a live feed to the class pet.

    The Rosh Pinah ChickCam offers the chance to monitor these adorable fluffy fellows throughout the day. Enjoy.

  • Extraordinary

    Jenni Frazer
    Feb 27, 2012

    The news last week that there had been multiple resignations from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should have attracted rather more attention than it did. At least two of the resignations were whistleblowers who wanted to highlight the behaviour of a third colleague, the Prime Minister's bureau chief, Natan Eshel. Eshel has now resigned after admitting to sexual harassment of a female employee in the office.
    It really says something when the country's former president is in prison for multiple sexual harassment and rape, and still there are men who believe they can behave as inappropriately as they like towards women, secure in the illusion that they are untouchable because they are in positions of power.
    Eshel, plainly, learnt nothing from the Katzav affair. I do wonder, however, whether Mr Netanyahu himself has absorbed any useful lessons. He reserved his rage last week for his whistleblowing staffers because he had to learn about the Eshel situation from the media. Too much amour propre and not enough attention to what was going on, almost literally, under his nose.

  • Stop Iran? Easy, just ask 'em to

    Orlando Radice
    Feb 17, 2012

    Writing in this week’s New Statesman, former weapons inspector Hans Blix calls Israel’s use of the Stuxnet virus to hobble the Iranian nuclear programme and its assassination of the country’s nuclear scientists an “outrageous, gangster-style war”. So if you have solid evidence to believe that a country is developing the means to wipe you off the map, you are akin to a “gangster” when you seek to prevent that? Interesting argument…

  • Moral capitalism and the collapse of Jabe

    Simon Rocker
    Feb 15, 2012

    It is ironic when Prime Minister David Cameron and others have been talking of the need for moral capitalism that the Jewish Association for Business Ethics has folded owing to lack of funds.

    JABE successfully exported Jewish ideas on ethical practice to schools and offices well beyond the Jewish community.

    It grew out of an initiative, Integrity in Action, which was launched in partnership with the Chief Rabbi’s Office. And therein lay the seeds of its downfall.