Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Why we’ll be on the streets on July 4

    Gideon Falter
    Jun 11, 2015

    Just how accepting are we supposed to be of neo-Nazis? Should we repeatedly allow them to walk past the homes and families of Holocaust survivors? Should we indulge them as they desecrate the calm of Shabbat? Must we explain to our children that "never again" comes with a special waiver for "small" demonstrations?

    On April 18, the community ignored a small neo-Nazi demonstration in Stamford Hill, and Campaign Against Antisemitism did not disagree with that decision.

    The neo-Nazis go from community to community looking for attention, and the conventional wisdom is that the worst thing to do is to give it to them. Their demonstration in Stamford Hill was a damp squib; they wanted to demonstrate against Jews but to avoid arrest they had to settle for protesting against the livery painted on a Shomrim car. They demonstrated in small numbers, then went to a local pub.

  • Is UJS stronger than it was this time last year?

    Ella Rose
    Jun 10, 2015

    In my first week as UJS President I was told my only job was to handover to a President stronger than myself, with a Union that was better than when I first started. Whilst I have no doubt Hannah Brady will be fantastic, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Is UJS stronger than it was this time last year? I say yes. But this hasn’t been without its challenges.

    The week after I was elected the front cover of the JC read: ‘She’s the new head’. The media coverage focused on my gender first and my skillset second (if at all). It’s been challenging for me. I’ve been told numerous times that I’ve been offered opportunities because I’m both young and female, before adding an afterthought that it’s because UJS should be included.

    Regardless, the opportunities that I’ve been offered have given me the space to increase the profile of UJS. UJS has been at the forefront of the Jewish community this year, be that at the annual community meeting with the Prime Minister, or taking students to meet with key Israel thinkers such as Ari Shavit, showing that we are not just the leaders of the future, we are the leaders of today. And those leaders are doing amazing work on campus. They’ve hosted over 190 Friday night dinners, done amazing cross-communal education and run shabbatons for their fellow students. I want the community to know that the perception that students are lazy and immature could not be more wrong. Students dedicate extraordinary amounts of time to making sure that their peers have an amazing Jewish life on campus.

  • Galliano is fragile, I was told, we’re not here to put him on trial

    Sandy Rashty
    Jun 8, 2015

    Anyone who has ever been involved in organising a high-profile event — especially one in the Jewish community — will tell you there is always a mishigas going on behind the scenes.

    The inaugural Connect event, which hosted disgraced designer John Galliano as guest speaker, was no different.

    In April, I was asked by the organisers to compere the centrepiece of the event, a panel discussion featuring Mr Galliano and Israeli designer Ronit Zilkha.

  • The challenge of London student life

    Dina Hochhauser
    Jun 5, 2015

    Having grown up in London, I was initially wary about spending the three years of my degree there.

    I had dismissed several universities based on the lack of Jewish life, but that this would be relevant in London never entered my mind.

    So I was surprised to find that, despite the wealth of Jewish activity in London, there were not a huge number of events that encompassed all Jewish students. Although I had been unsure as to the extent to which I wanted to involve myself in these large-scale JSoc events, it seemed that the choice was no longer mine. The few events held in the first term were diminished affairs compared to those experienced by my friends, attending universities boasting far fewer Jews than in the capital.

  • JFS mucked up again, but there is still hope

    Sandy Rashty
    Jun 4, 2015

    Again, I find myself playing the part of the JC’s token JFS graduate.

    Let’s be clear, this paper is not trying to make the school – my school – look bad.

    One audacious 16-year-old has just called the office and squealed. He was so riled up by our coverage of, the truth, that he went into a high-pitched rant only dogs could decipher.

  • Patek Philippe and the Sterns: A Jewish question

    Sandy Rashty
    Jun 4, 2015

    There we stood, a group of four, gormlessly peering into a glass cabinet which contained the Patek Philippe exhibition’s crowning glory.

    The Grandmaster Chime – which is now being displayed at the Saatchi Gallery on London’s King’s Road – is the most complicated wristwatch the luxury Swiss firm has ever made.

    The double-face reversible watch – launched to mark the company’s 175th anniversary – has proved to be the exhibition’s focal talking point.

  • Gay cakes and women drivers

    Simon Rocker
    May 29, 2015

    In Northern Ireland, a Christian-run bakery is appealing against a ruling that it broke the law when it refused an order to make a cake celebrating gay marriage.

    It’s a case that tests the balance between equality and religious freedom.

    A similar clash of principles is at stake in the story we have covered this week about a Charedi group in Stamford Hill saying that children will not be able to attend its schools if their mothers drive.

  • Come to the learning party this Shavuot

    Simon Rocker
    May 22, 2015

    Shavuot is often regarded as the Cinderella of major festivals that often slips by unnoticed. While shuls may be greened up and cholestorol levels rise with the proliferation of cheesecake, there are no home practices associated with it such as succah or Seder.

    But Shavuot has begun to enjoy a revival in recent years. More synagogues than used to be the case will stage a nocturnal study session, a tikkun leil Shavuot, tomorrow night to celebrate the joy of study. Even secular groups in Israel hold learning get-togethers.

    If you can't find a local tikkun leil to go, here's a DIY option. You can download this little study pack from Limmud and have a discussion among family and friends.