Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Is alcoholism on the rise in the Orthodox community?

    Miriam Shaviv
    Aug 4, 2008

    Newsweek is running a piece on the supposed rise of alcoholism among American Jews, particularly Jewish ones.

    The assertion is unsupported by any real figures - numbers about "Israelis younger than 33" do nothing to shed light on trends in the Orthodox community in the diaspora - but anecdotally, I can believe there probably has been such a rise (no word on whether there is a similar trend in the UK).

    In addition, while the article goes some way to explaining why alcohol addiction among Jews has traditionally been low, it never really even attempts to explain why that might be changing now.

  • What to read today

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 31, 2008

    -- Ha’aretz is carrying an excerpt of an interview, which will be published in full over the weekend, with the son of one of the leading Hamas men on the West Bank. He has converted to Christianity, moved to LA, and has some very nice - yes, nice - things to say about Israel.

    --  Haim Watzman reveals the best advice he ever received as a soldier - shouted at him by his company commander. It’s not what you might think:

    “No matter how little time you have to sleep, no matter how miserable you are, don’t shut your eyes until you’ve washed yourself and changed your underwear. It’s not just hygiene – it’s to remind yourself that you are human being, not an animal.”

  • The conspiracy theories around Obama's Kotel note get murkier

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 31, 2008

    Charedi news blog Vos Iz Neias has posted a link to a video on YouTube which, it says, documents the moment at which the note Senator Obama placed in the Kotel was “lifted“. The blog explains:

    The videographer identifies himself as David Cohen, “a freelance photographer/videographer currently living in Jerusalem.” He reports that “Seconds after Obama left the stones, some of his entourage stepped up to the wall (dressed in suits) and I recorded a young man gathering notes in his hands in what appeared to be the search for Obama’s freshly placed personal note. He is joined by others who unwrap notes and read them. One person [is shown] walking away from the wall with a note that he unwraps as he tries to aggressively block the camera lens.”

    Cohen’s testimony provides new evidence that suggests that the alleged pilferer, dressed in the garb of a seminary student, may in fact have been a member of Obama’s entourage. If so, there would not need to have been an official authorization by the campaign to publish the note. The actual “pilferer” may have been working for Obama. This possibility would go a long way to account for the mixed messages emanating from both the Maariv and Obama spokesmen.

  • Are Charedi women at the back of the bus the modern-age Rosa Parks?

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 31, 2008

    About a month ago I wrote about a directive, issued by the Rabbinical Transportation Committee, calling on Charedi women to sit at the back of the bus.

    The Forward picked up on this last week, and adds an interesting angle to the story. The move towards segregated bus lines, it says,

    has sparked a row over who may lay claim to the legacy of Rosa Parks, the African-American civil rights activist who famously refused to obey an Alabama bus driver’s order to give her seat to a white passenger. Opponents of segregation say the mantle is theirs. But enthusiasts for segregation have begun to argue that by making their way to the back of the bus, they are actually Parks’s heirs.

  • So Goodbye Mr Olmert

    Daniella Peled
    Jul 30, 2008

    He held on, and held on, and held on - and then all of a sudden Olmert let go of power in a hastily-arranged, surprise press conference.

    "I believe with all my heart in my ability to continue to serve, the same as I believe in my innocence," he told Israeli prime time news on Wednesday night.

    Well sorry mate, precious few people agree with you on either point.

  • Overly Keane

    Danny Caro
    Jul 30, 2008

    As a Liverpool fan I don't want to rub salt into the wounds but spare a thought for Spurs fans who recently had Keane printed on the back of new home shirts.


    I'm not sure if the Irish striker will go down as a legend in the club's folklore but his departure is certainly a blow to everyone connected to White Hart Lane.

  • Reading into Obama's note to G-d

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 28, 2008

    The Israeli daily Ma'ariv is currently being blasted by all sides for publishing the (actually rather charming) note left by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in the Western Wall.

    The paper has been criticised by no less than the rabbi who supervises the Kotel for interfering in Obama's relationship with G-d and for acting in a "sacrilegious" manner. The Police have even been called upon to intervene. Meanwhile, one of the yeshivah students who supposedly took the note has apologised publicly, although one does wonder why he had to go on national television in order to make his regret known.

    A rare dissenting voice comes from blogger "Jameel", who asks whether Ma'ariv would still be in hot water for publishing Obama's kvittel  had the sentiments he expressed in his note been more politically loaded.

  • A Bit of The Wall is to Fall

    Daniella Peled
    Jul 28, 2008

    A High Court ruling means a 1.5 mile stretch of the security barrier is to be moved, after petitions from Palestinians affected by the route and human rights groups.

    The IDF was also peeved after it became apparent that the route of this particular section had been chosen to make room for a new settlement - not out of any security concerns.

    That's one of the many problems of the barrier. It's impossible to deny it has had security benefits for Israel. But it's also impossible to deny that large sections of its more than 250 mile route function as a political tool.

  • How blaming Israel can get you off the hook in a court of law

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 25, 2008

    This is one of the most worrying examples of anti-Israeli bias I have ever come across.

    Last month, six men were acquitted in a Belfast court of causing more than £300,000 of damage to an office belonging to an American arms manufacturer in Derry, Northern Ireland, in August 2006 (one was convicted of theft of two computer discs).

    They had broken into Raytheon’s building, destroyed its computer mainframe, damaged PCs, thrown documents out the window, and barricaded themselves inside the building for eight hours.

  • Cricket madness

    Danny Caro
    Jul 24, 2008

    What is the world of cricket coming to when a batsman can appeal against an umpiring decision?

    The English have always been great advocates of fair play but Sri Lanka batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan created history today when he had a decision overturned by the third umpire.

     I believe that goalline technology should be introduced in football and hawkeye is a great concept for commentators and spectators in cricket but an appeal by the fielding team should only be decided by the umpire in my book.