Blogs

Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.


  • Sacks challenged over interfaith views

    Simon Rocker
    Jan 20, 2012

    A number of rabbis here have been talking about an article in the latest edition of Tradition, the American journal of Orthodox thought published by the mainstream Rabbinical Council of America.

    It is written by Alan Jotkowitz, who is director of the Jakobovits Centre for Medical Ethics at Ben Gurion University, and is a critique of the interfaith views of Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks.

    The author is an admirer of the Chief Rabbi whom he describes as “probably the world’s most foremost expositor of Jewish values and ethics”.

  • An Israeli yeshivah head’s view of Limmud

    Simon Rocker
    Jan 6, 2012

    Rabbi Herzl Hefter, head of Harel Yeshiva in Israel reflects on his recent appearance at Limmud in his weekly email letter:

    “Early Friday morning I returned home to Israel from the Limmud Conference in the UK. Jews of all backgrounds, secular, Orthodox, Masorti, Reform and Liberal attended. I say 'attended' and not 'were represented' because we were all there as individual Jews, representing only ourselves, united by a thirst for Torah and community. Limmud had managed to create a wonderful “safe space” where Jews could simply encounter one another as fellow Jews. Coming from Israel, the experience was inspiring, almost intoxicating.

    So why am I depressed? Because I had to write “coming from Israel…” To what did I return home? I returned home to haredi violence in Beit Shemesh and a haredi boy dressed by his parents with a yellow Star of David. According to reports, his father said that the Nazi-Zionist government's persecution of the haredim is worse than what was carried out by the Nazi regime. What would my father, who witnessed his mother being taken to be shot, who alone survived of nine brothers and sisters and unknown number of nephews, nieces and cousins, what would he say?

  • Nobody knows what’s going on: Happy New Year

    Orlando Radice
    Jan 5, 2012

    If you have been following reports about the state of the British economy over the past month or so, you could be forgiven for believing that even if we are not already in a recession, the UK is lurching towards a double dip.

    But some snapshot figures about the state of economic play, out today, tell another story. The latest CIPS/Markit survey of the services sector – which makes up 75 per cent of the UK economy – showed a jump to 54 in December, up from 52.1 in November. Readings above 50 indicate growth.

    In other words, things moved fairly strongly in the opposite direction to the one expected.

  • Secular Israelis like ‘Mixed Multitude’

    Simon Rocker
    Jan 5, 2012

    A very disturbing post on the latest religious unrest in Israel on the website Failed Messiah.

    Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman reportedly denounced secular Israelis as a “mixed multitude” who hate the Jews – a biblical reference to Egyptians and others who left Egypt with the Israelites and were regarded as a bad spiritual influence by commentators.

    According to the website, Rabbi Steinman declared: “Now that we see the violence, the baseless hate, the harassment [against Charedim], we know and we understand that their ways are not like our ways, and that we certainly must distance ourselves from them, for their inside is not like their outside [ie their internal state is not like they try to appear]. They are a mixed multitude who hate the Jews.”

  • Ken's kosher campaign?

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jan 4, 2012

    Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone has, for whatever reason, decided that the best way to fill his campaign coffers is to give his mission some meat.

    No, not substance of the political kind, but of the poultry variety. His site now boasts a "fundraising chicken". Something about Boris Johnson being too chicken to debate him.

    How droll. But the real question is, is it kosher?

  • A Chanucah story - with a little help from Friends

    Jennifer Lipman
    Dec 20, 2011

    The festival of lights is upon us and with that in mind, I feel it is time to share my "top Jewish moment of 2011".

    I was at a party earlier this year, when the subject of Chanucah traditions came up in conversation with someone for whom, it's safe to assume, December 25 is a pretty awesome day.

    We discussed the usual - oily foods, eight days of presents (I wish), lighting candles - when he said (in total seriousness):

  • One more and we'll have a set

    Jenni Frazer
    Dec 19, 2011

    According to the Mail on Sunday, disgraced MP Aidan Burley not only sat beside his friend who wore full Nazi uniform at the now notorious French stag party, but Burley actually ordered the uniform.
    This rather begs the question of not only Burley's own judgment, which we may accept is dubious, but in the Conservative Friends of Israel rush to cover him with the mantle of their blessing. "Not an antisemitic bone in his body," the CFI declared. That would be the non-antisemitic bones which persuaded him to order an SS uniform, I imagine.
    Who's kidding who, here?
    Burley himself, asked directly why he hadn't got up and left the event when someone appeared in SS dress, burbled something weaselly about its being difficult to leave somewhere when one was 800 miles up a mountain. Now we know: he was protecting his investment.

  • Here's to an apolitical Chanucah

    Orlando Radice
    Dec 16, 2011

    Today I am feeling light and serene. No, I haven’t just finished a course of acupuncture. It’s that I think I have been ideologically de-tethered. And it feels good.

    Let me declare an interest. Before I worked at the JC, I voted Labour. That was before I began to understand the pet passions of my local MP, Jeremy Corbyn. That’s right, the one who went to a jamboree in Beirut this summer with George Galloway and representatives of Hamas and Hizbollah.

    Over the past couple of years, Cameron jumped into a European Parliament alliance with a man with an allegedly antisemitic past, and the Lib Dems have been, well, the Lib Dems (Jenny Tonge. ’Nuff said).

  • A week of weakness

    Marcus Dysch
    Dec 15, 2011

    While our non-Jewish friends and colleagues wind down in advance of the festive period and we look forward to the joys of Chanucah, I find myself, as usual, rather disgruntled.

    Never mind the season of goodwill, this has been a strange week and one in which I’ve spent a considerable amount of time shaking my head in disbelief.

    When I first saw the story about Tory MP Aidan Burley’s presence at a Nazi-themed stag do late on Saturday night I was disgusted, as I expect were most of you. I felt sure that when the JC spoke to Jewish community representatives this week there would be outrage.