Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • What the rich list doesn't tell you

    Anna Sheinman
    Apr 25, 2013

    Anita Zabludowicz and her husband Poju may now be number 48 on the rich list, but perhaps more excitingly in December 1973 Anita was one of three girls presented with an Eshet Chayil certificate at the Gosforth and Kenton Synagogue for passing the examinations of the Hebrew Classes of the United Hebrew Congregation of Newcastle, set by the headmaster Rabbi M M Baddiel.

    Many know that Laurence Graff (31) began his work in the diamond industry as a diamond mounter in Hatton Garden aged 15. What only the JC archives remember is that in 1969 Laurence Graff (Jewellery Creations) Ltd. had almost completed their marketing plans for 1970 and were looking for “an above average Sales Executive, 30-50 years of age” to “help them complete their plans”.

    Mark Pears and his brothers Trevor and David (36) grew up in Hendon and run the William Pears Group, named after the grocery business run by their grandfather Bernard, who changed his name from Schleicher on emigrating from Austria. In 1987 the wedding of Mark and Debra Groves at Marble Arch Synagogue was reported in the JC.

  • Good luck, Mr Kerry

    Orlando Radice
    Apr 19, 2013

    Much has been written in the Western press about Israeli intransigence on the peace process in recent months. There are good reasons for this. Announcing new settlements in sensitive areas such as the E1 corridor – as the Israeli government did last November – is not the action of a side that has any interest in signing a peace deal.

    And withholding customs revenue destined for the Palestinian Authority in the wake of Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to apply for a status upgrade at the UN General Assembly was probably a major factor in causing the resignation of Salam Fayyad last week. It gave rise to economic misery in the West Bank, which Abbas leveraged to force Fayyad out. Fayyad, for all his faults, co-operated closely with Israel, renounced violence, was a key state-builder for the Palestinians and opposed Abbas’s unilateral push to secure statehood.

    So much for the Israeli peace drive. Less has been said, however, about Palestinian efforts to avoid negotiations.

  • Justin Bieber and Anne Frank: Why the fuss?

    Jennifer Lipman
    Apr 15, 2013

    Dear Kitty (as Anne Frank never wrote),

    "I'm soo sick of being stuck in hiding, because my dad keeps telling me to turn down the volume on my Justin Bieber CD. If only I could get out to go and see him on tour…"

    Clearly, Anne– the teenage diarist forced into hiding by the Nazis, who eventually died at Bergen Belsen – had more serious considerations than the average 21st century western teenager. In her diary, perhaps one of the most well-known examples of Holocaust-era testimony, she wrote of an everyday existence blighted by fear, death and hatred.

  • Land of the Locust Eaters

    Simon Rocker
    Mar 7, 2013

    The swarm of locusts which, showing no respect for borders, arrived in Israel this week from Egypt has triggered a good deal of online comment about whether you can eat them or not (though how you catch them I don't know - perhaps with an aeroplane with a very large net).

  • Goodbye to all that

    Jenni Frazer
    Mar 6, 2013

    Today is our last day in Furnival Street; our last day in the City. The JC is moving and as the paper does so, years worth of memories of life in this maddening, rackety building, come flooding back.

    When I joined as a (very) junior reporter there was a hierarchy which almost defies belief today. It was hard to work out who was who, from the ancient man who, apparently as a messenger of 14, had actually brought the Balfour Declaration to the paper for publication, to the several defiantly foreign men who mangled the English language in their speech, but who produced beautiful copy.

    There was an antique Dickensian whose clothes were so old they were dark green with age; he, it was rumoured, had once been Green Flag, a legendary travel editor. Our actual travel editor, when I arrived, was known far and wide as The Captain, a tribute to his near heroic appetite for cruises.

  • Eighth plague hits Egypt

    Jennifer Lipman
    Mar 5, 2013

    Here’s a mad pre-Pesach coincidence for you.

    Reports are emerging of a plague of locusts descending on modern Egypt – a catastrophe that, as you most likely know, marked the eighth stage in the ten biblical plagues visited upon Egypt ahead of the Exodus.

    Time magazine has the story:

  • A new voice in Israel

    Simon Rocker
    Feb 22, 2013

    Diaspora Jews generally pay little attention to what Israeli politicians say in the Knesset.

    But one speech has won the admiration of many in the Jewish world.

    It was the maiden parliamentary address by Ruth Calderon, one of the MK’s for Yair Lapid’s new Yesh Atid party.

  • Gove’s Philistines

    Simon Rocker
    Feb 14, 2013

    The Department for Education’s decision to ignore Jewish protests and refuse to recognise Hebrew as an official language for primary school teaching can only be described as an act of philistinism.

    It makes absolutely no sense to include Latin and ancient Greek (along with French, Spanish, Italian, German and Spanish) on the list of seven – but not Hebrew.

    Hebrew has long been considered one of the foundation languages of Western civilisation; as long as ago as the sixteenth century, Henry VIII instituted Regius chairs in Hebrew at Oxford and Cambridge.

  • Rabbi David Hartman

    Simon Rocker
    Feb 12, 2013

    The death of Rabbi David Hartman in Israel on Sunday has deprived the Jewish world of one of its most forward-looking thinkers.

    The Shalom Hartman Institute he founded endeavoured to find bridges between rabbinic tradition and the pluralism of contemporary Jewish life.

    Rabbi Hartman was one of the speakers at Traditional Alternatives, the symposium of Orthodox thought in London staged in 1989 shortly before Jonathan Sacks was appointed Chief Rabbi.