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.

  • Antisemitism & Its Antidotes (5)

    Winston Pickett
    Jun 14, 2012

    How do you define a problem with antisemitism that seems to reside in the hazy domain of intellectual subtlety, inferred meaning and suppositions of ill will – so much so that engaging with it threatens to tie even the most experienced brains into knots?

    Welcome to the “Great GSCE Religion Question Controversy of 2012.”

    For those who may be tuning in for the first time (this includes readers of the NY-based Algemeiner, where this blog is also carried), a few preliminary remarks are necessary.

  • Antisemitism & Its Antidotes (4)

    Winston Pickett
    Jun 8, 2012

    If talking about antisemitism – and by that I mean discussing or engaging with it as a subject in verbal or written form – poses challenges all its own, certainly one of them is conceptual.

    Let’s face it. Antisemitism is a lousy word. Essays, prefaces, monographs and footnotes have all but exhausted themselves trying to explain what is, was or could be meant by the term. It has been parsed, dissected, etymologised and psychoanalysed probably more than any other ‘-ism’ in the dictionary. All of which, begs a strictly neutral question: If a word has been so ardently debated, what does that tell us about its precision?

    Aren’t terms – especially ones that are meant to describe a world-view or thought structure – supposed to be clear and unambiguous? If they’re not, does this render them less effective – or at least more problematic?

  • 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.

  • Antisemitism & Its Antidotes (3)

    Winston Pickett
    May 31, 2012

    Part of the joy that comes with investigation and research is the intellectual ride. You’ve got your topic. You may even have a working hypothesis to test. You prepare your field of inquiry and formulate your questions.

    If it’s a newspaper story, you line up your interviews. If it’s a research paper, you fire up your search engine.

    Now things start to get interesting. You start fine tuning your questions as your preliminary research begins to reshape the thrust of your inquiry. Your thesis begins to evolve and suddenly you discover a new angle that’s even more compelling than the one you began with.

  • 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: