Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • The challenge of London student life

    Dina Hochhauser
    Jun 5, 2015

    Having grown up in London, I was initially wary about spending the three years of my degree there.

    I had dismissed several universities based on the lack of Jewish life, but that this would be relevant in London never entered my mind.

    So I was surprised to find that, despite the wealth of Jewish activity in London, there were not a huge number of events that encompassed all Jewish students. Although I had been unsure as to the extent to which I wanted to involve myself in these large-scale JSoc events, it seemed that the choice was no longer mine. The few events held in the first term were diminished affairs compared to those experienced by my friends, attending universities boasting far fewer Jews than in the capital.

  • JFS mucked up again, but there is still hope

    Sandy Rashty
    Jun 4, 2015

    Again, I find myself playing the part of the JC’s token JFS graduate.

    Let’s be clear, this paper is not trying to make the school – my school – look bad.

    One audacious 16-year-old has just called the office and squealed. He was so riled up by our coverage of, the truth, that he went into a high-pitched rant only dogs could decipher.

  • Patek Philippe and the Sterns: A Jewish question

    Sandy Rashty
    Jun 4, 2015

    There we stood, a group of four, gormlessly peering into a glass cabinet which contained the Patek Philippe exhibition’s crowning glory.

    The Grandmaster Chime – which is now being displayed at the Saatchi Gallery on London’s King’s Road – is the most complicated wristwatch the luxury Swiss firm has ever made.

    The double-face reversible watch – launched to mark the company’s 175th anniversary – has proved to be the exhibition’s focal talking point.

  • Gay cakes and women drivers

    Simon Rocker
    May 29, 2015

    In Northern Ireland, a Christian-run bakery is appealing against a ruling that it broke the law when it refused an order to make a cake celebrating gay marriage.

    It’s a case that tests the balance between equality and religious freedom.

    A similar clash of principles is at stake in the story we have covered this week about a Charedi group in Stamford Hill saying that children will not be able to attend its schools if their mothers drive.

  • Come to the learning party this Shavuot

    Simon Rocker
    May 22, 2015

    Shavuot is often regarded as the Cinderella of major festivals that often slips by unnoticed. While shuls may be greened up and cholestorol levels rise with the proliferation of cheesecake, there are no home practices associated with it such as succah or Seder.

    But Shavuot has begun to enjoy a revival in recent years. More synagogues than used to be the case will stage a nocturnal study session, a tikkun leil Shavuot, tomorrow night to celebrate the joy of study. Even secular groups in Israel hold learning get-togethers.

    If you can't find a local tikkun leil to go, here's a DIY option. You can download this little study pack from Limmud and have a discussion among family and friends.

  • Shimon Peres, a true legend

    Sandy Rashty
    May 18, 2015

    Every year, communal organisations compete to secure the services of a top speaker who will bring in the crowds, and as a result, the big bucks.

    On Sunday night, the Zionist Federation pulled in a 900-person crowd, who flocked to the central London Grosvenor Hotel (at £250 a head) to hear guest speaker Shimon Peres in conversation with Israeli Arab journalist Lucy Aharish.

    The event, which is the ZF's largest fundraising dinner to date, turned into an outpouring of support for the former Israeli president. One guest told me: “I just had to come. I just had to hear him speak. He’s the most inspiring…” – and then she clasped her hand to her chest, and sighed. Another had heard Mr Peres speak in Israel. “I flew out there especially to see him. He spoke so well then, and so well now. I am so happy I have had the chance to hear him, twice!”

  • The rabbis have brought some hope back to Toulouse

    Naomi Firsht
    May 14, 2015

    A few weeks ago I was in Bergen Belsen concentration camp trying to comprehend the atrocities that happened over 70 years ago. This morning I walked into a children’s playground in Toulouse and tried to understand a horror that happened just three years ago.

    On March 19 2012, Muslim extremist Mohammed Merah forced his way into Ohr Torah (formerly Ozar Hatorah) school and shot dead three school children and a teacher for the crime of being Jewish.

    The buildings are low and square, in a cheerful orange coloured stone, nothing extraordinary, just your average school building. But the high surrounding walls, topped with barbed wire (added since the attack), and the line of policemen along the road outside, remind you that something awful happened here.