Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Manners maketh

    Jenni Frazer
    Aug 8, 2011

    Just when London and the metropolitan manners are getting truly awful, a timely reminder that there is life outside the Great Wen and, indeed, it is courteous.
    I spent part of last week in Scotland, on the Isle of Arran and in Glasgow. The really striking thing about both places was the friendliness and politeness in shops, public transport, and restaurants. Not just regulation pleases and thank-yous; genuine, unforced greetings, people stopping in the street to help, incredible service in shops, whether we were buying or not. My friends and I asked someone the way in the street; she thought about it, told us, and then, realising that she had misled us, ran after us to re-direct us, and then waited at the place to make sure that we got there safely. Fairly extraordinary behaviour if one is used to the sheer surliness of the London commuter.
    I'd like to swank and say that my fellow Scots are known for their devotion to politeness but I don't actually believe that to be the case. Rather, London is so full of bile that any departure from the "norm" is a much appreciated surprise. Almost certainly most places outside the capital are like this. We just forget, unfortunately.

  • Jody McIntyre and the Tottenham riots: quelle surprise

    Jennifer Lipman
    Aug 8, 2011

    Two days after the worst rioting in Tottenham since the 1980s, and the facts of what happened are slowly coming together.

    What's already fairly clear is that not all the rioters were locals; as David Lammy MP noted in the Times: "Many of the people arrested weren't from Tottenham. The grief of one family must never be hijacked to inflict grief on others."

    Coming after months of social unrest and protests, particularly in the capital, the idea that a peaceful protest could be hijacked by the more anarchic elements in society should come as no surprise.

  • Talking won't make all the bigots shut up

    Jennifer Lipman
    Aug 2, 2011

    Ten days on from the horrific massacre at a Norwegian youth camp and the debate about the far-right, extremism and multiculturalism continues to rage on the comment pages and blogosphere.

    Libby Purves, writing in The Times on Monday, raised a good point, arguing that compulsory English lessons would integrate immigrants and undermine the extremist cause.

    She writes: "One thing would - and must - make a difference, and that is language. Communication. Humans are social animals, and once you converse with a person - however different - you create a bond and open the way to partnership, even friendship.

  • The subtle delegitimisation of Israel

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jul 28, 2011

    It was with a heavy heart that I wrote this story – about the curious absence of Israel from Pull and Bear's global list.

    I like the chain and shop there sporadically; in fact, the very reason I noticed the board was because I was buying a pair of Pull and Bear jeans (grey, a £20 bargain, since you ask).

    I'm not going to stop shopping there; I don't believe in boycotts and don't consider it a step in the right direction to fight ignorance with the monetary equivalent of stamping your feet.

  • The Sacks Chumash

    Simon Rocker
    Jul 28, 2011

    The Chief Rabbi’s eagerly-awaited new Rosh Hashanah machzor should be reaching the shops within a week or two.

    It is published by Koren, who have already produced a version of his (green) Singer’s siddur for the international market.

    It should be followed by a new Yom Kippur machzor next year and the complete festival set by the time he leaves office in 2013.

  • The Times and Amy Winehouse's Jewish funeral

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jul 27, 2011

    Following Monday's moan about the Mirror and its not-entirely-accurate report about Amy Winehouse's funeral, here's another.

    The Times today dedicated the majority of a double-page spread to the "celebration of an 'angel' played out in public glare".

    The reporters noted: "The day began with an Orthodox Jewish funeral service in a synagogue in Edgware: Winehouse, despite her feistiness and rebellion, was always a woman who recognised tradition."

  • Israel - a "holiday" from Hell?

    Marcus Dysch
    Jul 25, 2011

    Admittedly I’m not a regular reader of the West Sussex County Times, but something in this week’s paper caught my eye.

    The paper has an exclusive, headlined “Woman describes her Israel trip from hell”, on page six of this week’s edition.

    It sounds a fascinating tale – the intro alone reveals how a West Chiltington woman told of her “ordeal in an Israeli prison”.

  • Deafening silence

    Jenni Frazer
    Jul 25, 2011

    The United Synagogue has a website called You and US, from which this week the aroma of sour grapes can be detected.
    It reprints on the site a letter from the registrar of the London Beth Din, David Frei, in response to a news story in the previous week's JC. This contribution is headed "Silence is Golden from the JC." It has already elicited one comment from someone signing himself "Creative Genus" [sic], applauding the US's move, which was made because the JC turned the letter down for publication.
    Now it is perfectly true that the US is entitled to use its own website for its own purposes. What is unfair is that the US did not tell its readers the reason the JC refused to publish Mr Frei's letter.
    Our reporter had repeatedly, over a period of a week, attempted to get David Frei to talk to us in order to reflect the position of the Beth Din in a complicated story about a get.
    Mr Frei was given every opportunity to speak to us, but chose not to do so. Instead, he sent a letter for publication after the story had appeared. This is called having it both ways, and the JC was not prepared to allow him this privilege.
    So US members who look at its website are only getting half a story. They might want to suggest to David Frei and, indeed, members of the Beth Din, that a more direct response to a legitimate media enquiry would be far more productive than this kind of behaviour.

  • The Mirror and Amy Winehouse's Jewish burial

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jul 25, 2011

    It seems clear that troubled star Amy Winehouse will have a Jewish burial, after a post-mortem examination.

    While a hungry media waits for more details: when, where, who will attend, will there be a shiva (OK, that one is less of a concern for the media at large), one newspaper decided to explain to its readers how Amy's behaviour in life could impact her death.

    From the Mirror: