Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Locking up the women - in the name of modesty

    Miriam Shaviv
    Sep 4, 2008

    Four years ago, Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, chairman of the rabbinic court in Bnei Brak, asked righteous women to kindly leave shul before the service was over, for reasons of ‘modesty’ – ie so that they should not mingle with the men.

    But what if the women didn’t want to leave early? A shul in Tzfat has come up with a rather ingenious solution:

    New guidelines imposed at the Breslover Shul in Tzfas determine women must leave after Shabbos morning Davening before Aleinu, or they are locked inside the women's gallery until men make their exit. According to the new rule, after Aleinu the women's gallery is locked for 15 minutes, during which the men make their exit. The women's gallery is then reopened to allow those who didn't make it out in time to leave.

  • Tony Blair's sister-in-law: 'I'm a celebrity, get me out of Gaza!'

    Miriam Shaviv
    Sep 4, 2008

    So Lauren Booth – journalist and, rather more famously, sister of Cherie Blair – is stuck in Gaza after being turned away from the Israeli and Egyptian crossings.

    She arrived in the Palestinian territory last week on a boat with 45 other activists, aiming to defy Israel’s blockade of the Strip – and to show solidarity with the Palestinians.

    Now she is complaining that she can’t leave.

  • Barack Obama's Jewish mishpocha

    Miriam Shaviv
    Sep 4, 2008

    So who is the most ‘Jewish’ presidential candidate in America? Now that Joe Lieberman has missed out on being named Republican running mate, the slot is wide-open.

    And according to the New York’s Forward, the unexpected answer is….. Barack Obama. Not only was he once a Shabbos Goy – his wife has a bona fide rabbi in the family:

    Michelle Obama, wife of the Democratic presidential nominee, and Rabbi Capers Funnye, spiritual leader of a mostly black synagogue on Chicago’s South Side, are first cousins once removed. Funnye’s mother, Verdelle Robinson Funnye (born Verdelle Robinson) and Michelle Obama’s paternal grandfather, Frasier Robinson Jr., were brother and sister.

  • Who won the Free Gaza boat affair?

    Daniella Peled
    Sep 1, 2008

    So who won in the "Free Gaza" boat affair?

    This band of activists was determined to sail to Gaza to break the siege with balloons and hearing aids – and they did. Israel wanted to avoid a media frenzy featuring scenes of nuns arrested by Israeli sailors and crying Palestinian children seeing their hearing aids consigned to the briny depths. They also succeeded.

     But it is interesting to note just how seriously the Israelis, who tend to underplay such supposedly well-meaning, do-gooder efforts, took the whole Free Gaza saga. Hasbara bodies were briefing like crazy. Groups like Bicom were mobilised to inform foreign journalists just why this siege-busting attempt was not only illegal and dangerous but also equivalent to a denial of Israel’s right to exist.

  • Is the Crocs craze finally fading?

    Candice Krieger
    Aug 29, 2008

    What has the British and Israel summer had in common this year? It certainly hasn't been the weather.

    The answer in fact, could be lying at your feet.

    Crocs. Yes, those hideously unflattering plastic clogs-cum-sandals-cum-flippers that have been stomping all over the streets.

  • Kissing my football career goodbye

    Craig Silver
    Aug 28, 2008

    It's amazing how some things in life can change so suddenly. In my last blog I expressed my excitement as I waited for the new football season to begin. But just one week ago my football career was ended forever.

    I was playing a pre-season friendly, getting ready with my fellow team mates from Glenthorne United to compete in the great JC MSFL league which kicks off next Sunday (September 7).

    I like to consider myself a rough and ready defensive midfielder always trying to win the ball at any cost and spread the play to the wingers. My idol is Roy Keane a player who took no prisoners in his days as the Manchester United captain.

  • Israelis Beware

    Daniella Peled
    Aug 26, 2008

    Israeli travelers have been warned of a serious and heightened threat of abduction.

    Apparently Hizbollah operatives are keen to avenge the assassination of its head of operations Imad Mughniyeh, killed in a February car bombing in Damascus.

    The global threat to Jews and Israelis is nothing new. But this warning is especially diffuse, as it is fails to specify a particular country, or region, or even a continent where Israelis are at particular risk.

  • How one Orthodox rabbi joined Conservative

    Miriam Shaviv
    Aug 22, 2008

    The New York Jewish Week has a piece on Rabbi David Lincoln, a British-born and British-trained rabbi who has just retired from a Conservative shul in NY and is now davening in an Orthodox congregation.

     He recently angered the local Orthodox community by expressing surprise, on a Jewish cable television show, that “there was no sense of outrage” in Orthodox Jewry after a series of headlines about sexual molestation and financial scandals in the community.

    But what is really fascinating is how this rabbi – who received Orthodox semichah in the UK and who has the Chief Rabbi’s certificate, which allows him to serve in communities under the Chief’s auspices – ended up in a Conservative synagogue:

  • Is Jewish life in the UK really as bad as the Americans say?

    Miriam Shaviv
    Aug 21, 2008

    Dave Rich of the CST attempts to refute, in Ha’aretz, the accusation, heard mostly from American Jews, that Britain is a terrible place for Jews to live – beset by antisemitism, anti-Zionism, and Muslim extremists waiting to take over the country and convert us all.

    He argues that while antisemitism is, undeniably, on the rise, the community is prosperous and well-integrated, and that our defences against antisemitism – in terms of monitoring organizations like the CST, government awareness etc - are solid.

    “This is not the 1930s,” he writes, “and a sense of proportion and balance is vital.”