Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • This is not Zionism

    Simon Rocker
    Jun 3, 2009

    Rabbi Sidney Schwartz, writing in the Jewish Week,exposes a disturbing incident that took place on this year’s Salute to Israel parade in New York:

    “Then a band launched into a rousing rendition of Am Yisrael Chai. I spent more than 25 years as an activist for Soviet Jewry. This was our theme song signaling solidarity both with the history of our people and with all those oppressed Jews in the world whose cause we championed. A group of young men in their 20’s with kippot and tziztzit were right in front of me dancing in a frenzy. But they alternated the verse that meant ‘the people of Israel lives’ with ‘all the Arabs must die.’ It rhymed with the Hebrew. Given the way all joined in, it was clear that this was not the first time it was sung.

    “I leaned over to a young man who was next to me, also wearing a kippah and tzitzit. I nodded at the dancers and asked: ‘Does this song bother you?’ He looked at me with a suspicious look and replied: ‘This is Zionism.’”

  • The real danger of the BNP

    Marcus Dysch
    May 28, 2009

    I’ve never liked Rotherham.

    It was my first 'patch' as a trainee reporter in south Yorkshire. On the first day I was pounding the streets in search of news stories when a driver decided to purposely speed through a sizeable puddle at the side of the road, thus drenching me.

    Also, on the first day of the 1998/99 season I travelled to the town to see Hull City take on Rotherham. It was the start of Mark Hateley’s second season as Hull manager. He’d been built up as the saviour, the ex-England striker who would fire us up the Football League. This was going to be our year.

  • The 210 bus must go that extra mile

    James Martin
    May 28, 2009

    Orthodox residents in Golders Green and Stamford Hill desperately want a direct bus service between the respective areas, but the capital’s transport operator, Transport for London, is unlikely to listen to them.

    A four-month survey by transport watchdog London TravelWatch, which was published on Tuesday, shows there is heavy demand for either an extension to the current 210 bus route, which runs between Brent Cross and Finsbury Park, or a new route.

    However, the operator, which doesn’t have to adopt recommendations from London TravelWatch, is standing by its previous stance that “the cost of introducing a direct bus link can’t be justified”.

  • And this is our dictator range...

    Marcus Dysch
    May 28, 2009

    I’ve found myself working on some bizarre stories in my short career.

    Meeting a chap who had a full-size replica cow dumped in his garden, interviewing a dog which had been banned from a care home and meeting Billie Jean King are all fairly high on the list.

    But this week's case of a man complaining that his underpants featured an image of Hitler could be my new favourite.

  • He's ronery

    Stephen Pollard
    May 27, 2009

    I'm not sure why the commentators appear so unsure of North Korea's intentions.

    Everything was made very clear in that fascinating documentary a few years ago, Team America. As the astonishing undercover footage of Kim Jong Il showed, his motivation is straightforward: 

    I'm so ronery. So ronery. So
    ronery and sadry arone. Dere's
    no one, just me onry, sitting on
    my rittle throne.

    I wook rearry hard and make up
    great plans. But nobody
    listens, no one understands...
    Seems that no one takes me
    And so... I'm rone-ry... A rittle
    rone-ry... Poor rittle me.

    Dere's nobody I can rerate to.
    Feel rike a bird in a cage. It's
    kind of sirry...But not rearry...
    Because it's firring my body
    with rage!

    I 'm the smartest most clever,
    most physically fit but nobody
    seems to rearize it.

    When I change the world maybe
    they'll notice meeeeeeeeee---
    until then I'll just be
    lonely...poor little me...
    I'm so rone-ryyyyyy.

  • More Britain's Got Talmud

    Simon Rocker
    May 27, 2009

    The Talmud is second only to the Bible in religious importance for Jews: or as Rabbi Norman Solomon elegantly puts it, “If Scripture is the sun, the Talmud is the moon that reflects its light.”
    Today, there are probably more Jews than at any time in history seriously studying Talmud, but still its language and difficult style make it inaccessible to the majority.
    But now you can take a dip into the debates of the ancient rabbis more easily. A selection of Talmud has just come out as a Penguin Classic, translated with an introduction by Rabbi Solomon. You can sample an extract in our Judaism section.

  • A mystery

    Jenni Frazer
    May 27, 2009

    I have just tried to find an Israeli residential phone number via international directory inquiries.

    I was in the middle of spelling the town name when the (very nice) operator stopped me. "I'm sorry," she said, "but I can't look it up. It's all in Hebrew. Business numbers are in English, residential numbers are in Hebrew." And, she added, trying to be helpful, "Hebrew is a very difficult language."

    Is this a new development? And if so, at whose instigation?
    I'd like to be told.