Blogs

Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.


  • Beans, not burgers

    Simon Rocker
    Jan 7, 2013

    Should the 21st century ideal of kashrut include giving up eating meat altogether? A recent article in the JC has reignited the debate between veggies and fleishniks.

    In a letter in this week’s JC, Masorti’s Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, puts the meat-free case.

    “I care deeply about kashrut. I appreciate the importance of shechitah as truly intended — the way to respect animals and cause them the minimum of suffering at their death. Were the right to practise shechitah again in jeopardy in the UK, I would of course join the community in defending it.

  • Out of touch in Stamford Hill

    Simon Rocker
    Dec 28, 2012

    The United Synagogue’s decision to allow women to chair synagogues has been largely welcomed but not everyone is applauding.

    In the Jewish Tribune, the Stamford Hill- based Charedi weekly, columnist Ben Yitzchok calls it a "most regrettable and major step backwards”.

    He speculates that it was taken before Chief Rabbi-designate Ephraim Mirvis came to office because Rabbi Mirvis would have “refused to take the halachically objectionable decision, so it was conveniently arranged before his appointment”.

  • The top 10 participants’ comments at Limmud

    Anna Sheinman
    Dec 27, 2012

    The best thing about Limmud is not the presenters, or the sessions they give, it’s the questions the participants ask afterwards, what they say later on in the bar or let slip over breakfast. Here are my favourites so far:

    1) Over breakfast: “Did you go to the rebbetzin’s disco?”

    2) A nine year old at lunch to a YAD with a Jewfro: “But you said we could stick forks in your hair?”

  • 10 things that could only happen at Limmud

    Anna Sheinman
    Dec 25, 2012

    1. One 20-something girl goes up to a 20-something guy in the cafeteria: “Sorry to bother you, I think you lead me on tour?”

    2. Matisyahu, a rabbi and an artist hold an in-depth conversation at 1am about God’s sphincter muscle and ask – is it different from ours?

    3. When asked how to confront anti-Zionism in the community, an MP responds, “Well, I would be happy to come and give a talk to whoever wants, come and get my number after this is over.”

  • Masorti on the fence over gay marriage

    Simon Rocker
    Dec 13, 2012

    The Reform and Liberal movements have both welcomed the government’s promise to press ahead with the introduction of gay marriage.

    The Chief Rabbi has made his opposition known, but he has certainly not been as vocal about it as Catholic leaders.

    But the Masorti movement remains undecided. It did release a statement this week in which its senior rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg said: “Gay people have long been subject to misjudgment, humiliation and exclusion, especially in religious life. A key Conservative responsum advocates full inclusion of gay people in all areas of Jewish life and leadership.

  • The proof is in the spanking

    Orlando Radice
    Dec 6, 2012

    If you were in any doubt that Bibi has made a boo-boo with the E1 settlement plan, here's the proof. Canada's Stephen Harper, probably the most pro-Israel prime minister in the world, has now also given Benjamin Netanyahu a spanking. Ouch.

  • Mazel Tov: a royal baby for Wills and Kate

    Jennifer Lipman
    Dec 3, 2012

    The wait is over. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their first child. According to St James's Palace: "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to announce that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby".

    With no word yet on whether the royal infant will be a boy or a girl, it's perhaps too premature to engage in a "will-they-won't-they" debate over whether they will choose to circumcise their offspring , as was once a royal tradition.

    But how did the Jewish communtiy react in 1982, when William was born? Well, as the JC reported on June 25 1982, we were rather excited.

  • The ally you never knew Israel had: Micronesia

    Anna Sheinman
    Nov 30, 2012

    The inevitable has happened. The PA has been upgraded in the UN General Assembly with a huge majority vote.

    Israel was against the motion, as was its eternal ally the US, and Canada presumably does as it’s told. The traditionally pro-Israel Czech Republic also said nay.

    Perhaps more surprisingly to the casual UN live feed viewer, also pitching their tents in the anti-upgrade camp were the tiny nations of Palau, Nauru, Micronesia, Panama and the Marshall Islands.

  • A view from Tel Aviv

    Danny Caro
    Nov 22, 2012

    A must-read piece from someone I know only as a footballer. Until now ...

    I have never done this before, so forgive me if its rambling and doesn't make perfect sense. I am not usually one to let people in general know how I feel, but I just needed to get a few things off my chest.

    I think I have always felt that I as a Jew was very different to other people I met. I certainly wouldn't say I felt I was better than them, but I definitely felt like I wasn’t one of them.
    ...
    I grew up in a typical middle class home in North West London, never really having to worry about much. The concept of anti-Semitism only ever got as bad as some of the kids from the local comprehensive snarling in my general direction. When you compare it is an upbringing to almost all previous generations before me I would say I must have had it far better than almost all those before me, yet I could never shake the feeling that I was still very different.

  • New York after the storm

    Jennifer Lipman
    Nov 16, 2012

    I filled the My Week slot this week with a piece recalling my trip to Manhattan after the hurricane hit, and during election week. All told, an interesting time to be there.

    ● I'm on holiday in Manhattan and Sunday starts with a time-honoured New York tradition - a leisurely brunch with friends. We have booked at a place in the Village, and despite being without electricity for days thanks to Hurricane Sandy, the restaurant is up and running by the weekend.

    ● Walking in downtown Manhattan, although not as far as the flooded areas, it is clear the storm has had a serious effect. The streets are eerily quiet, with the papers filled with stories of misery and miracle, people charging phones at pop-up sites in parks, and bars advertising post-Sandy reopening dates. Dismayed runners from various countries are jogging all over the city, the annual city marathon having been cancelled at the 11th hour. A friend who helped clean up the worst hit areas reports over Shabbat lunch how gefilte fish was handed out to the needy by Orthodox Jews. We try to imagine how desperate we'd have to be to feast on what was once a staple heimishe delicacy.