Your blogs

  • The Jewish Advocate

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jan 6, 2010

    If you have been following The Times' correspondence this week on Pope Pius XII and the Jews, you will have seen references to Pinchas Lapide, who is cited without exception in every Catholic defence of Pius's wartime attitude towards the Jews and their Nazi persecutors. Lapide is the sole source for claims that Pius saved at least 700,000 Jews from the Nazis, a claim for which there has never been any proof and which is even an embarrassment to some of those Catholics who claimed Pius was a defender of the Jews.

    Lapide is variously described as an "Orthodox Jewish rabbi and historian" (in one reference as "an eminent Orthodox rabbi") or "a leading Israeli scholar who was Israel Consul in Milan." The diplomatic posting is a fact. So was Lapide's employment as a lecturer at Bar-Ilan. I first met him in the Israel Government Press Office in Jerusalem in the mid-'60s where he occupied a small office whose door seemed perpetually closed, except to admit Christian clergymen who usually arrived muffled up so as not to show their collars or crosses.

    Lapide wrote a string of books, in German and published in Germany, examining in detail, with extensive references from medieval Jewish scholars, "the Jewishness of Jesus" of which he was a fervent proponent. Curiously, for one described as an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, Lapide proclaimed his belief that, while not the Messiah, Jesus was indeed resurrected from the dead by God. He was a not unsurprising defender of the Vatican's wartime record. Lapide died about 13 years ago. His widow, Ruth Lapide, has been widely honoured in Germany, where she lives, for her own writings on the Jewish roots of Christianity.

  • No angels here

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jan 5, 2010

    The end of December is not the time for a Jew to go in search of church architecture (some would day it is never the time), but, having heard much of Sherbourne Abbey's fan vaulted roof - a really splendid creation of man - and being nearby, I dropped in to have a look. But, in the end, it was not the vaulting which engaged me, but something much closer to the ground: a nativity sccene such as can be seen in many venues at this time of the year. But this one was different. Down the centre was a stark, wooden divider. But let the accompanying church notice explain:

    "The walled nativity set, made by Palestinian wood-workers in the town where Jesus was born, is a reminder of the 230-mile, six-metre high wall topped with barbed wire and lined with guard towers, that encircles Palestinian land, including Bethlehem. It demonstrates that this Christmas the shepherds and the Wise Men would not have made it to the stable.

    O sad and troubled Bethlehem
    We hear your longing cry
    For peace and justice to be born
    And cruel oppression die."

  • Missed me?

    Naomi Bloomer
    Dec 9, 2009

    Hi. It’s been a while. Missed me?

    Some haven’t. At all. You know what? I’m okay with that. I’m controversial. But I’m one person, in a very big world. If you can’t handle what I say, what chance have you got when you go out into the big wide world?

    One of my very best friends here at university is a most amazing person. She’s kind, she’s beautiful. She’s compassionate and puts everybody else’s feelings above her own. But that’s her problem – she doesn’t want to concentrate on herself. She takes such an emotional investment in everything and everyone around her that it piles up on her, and I think that coming to university to do such a demanding course was a bit of a stretch too far on an already strained heart. What can she do? If she can’t indeed handle these “little” things at university, what’s it going to be like in the big wide world? Well, that’s the thing: Nothing is little. Nothing is too little. Your feelings are never, ever, EVER, insignificant or silly. If you feel it, it’s important. It’s your life. And yes, your friends will force you to talk about how you feel. Your friends will force you to talk to your personal tutor and be honest – it’s getting a little much, sometimes. You won’t want to talk about it, at all – you’re too kind-hearted and want to look after others, you feel less important or less valid or even silly for feeling sad sometimes. But you’re not silly. Of course not. You’re who you are and I love you no matter what. Feeling sad is okay. It’s normal to feel sad. The only thing that matters is that you feel happy more often than you feel sad. And I’ll be there for you, forever, until that happens, and forever after.

  • The X Factor - An exploitation of the naïve?

    Michael Sophocles
    Nov 12, 2009

    Having come from a reality television background, I am fully aware of being exposed to a nation thirsty for blood.

    Of course, as candidates on The Apprentice we knew what we were getting ourselves into, but being cautious is not a quality one exhibts when facing a 'life changing’ opportunity.

    The X Factor of course is a very different animal to a business show. Despite both shows being labeled under the genre of 'reality television', the nature of X Factor makes me feel altogether frustrated and even a little uneasy.

  • What on earth is going on?

    Naomi Bloomer
    Oct 30, 2009

    What on earth is going on? What happened to “JewCL”? The only Jewish Society things that are going on, as far as I can see from the sparse emails (the first of which was only to say “give us money”), are actually Hillel events. That’s no kind of Jewish Society at a university where a very high proportion of the students are Jewish.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’ve met the JSoc leaders and they are absolutely lovely. They made a great impression on me at the Freshers’ Fayre (where all societies try to attract you to joining, with sparkly freebies including pens and badges). I was so excited to start life at a university where the JSoc seemed so interested in me, in looking after Jewish students.

    But there has got to be something going wrong when I’ve got more emails coming in about something happening in Golders Green when UCL is in Camden! It’s been a month now, JSoc, get your act together and start some UCL stuff up! And not just pub crawls please, as when you don’t drink or you don’t like schlepping around from bar to bar when you’re clearly too inebriated to stand, let alone walk, is… well, it’s just not cricket.

  • Stepping up

    Naomi Bloomer
    Oct 23, 2009

    In stark contrast to last week, this week I am quite a happy bunny.

    I am now a proper full-on real-life grown-up student! I handed in my first essay. It was awful, and makes me want to cry thinking about it, but I did footnotes and EVERYTHING. A bibliography!

    Having only done bibliographies for AS and A2 English coursework, and never having done footnotes, I discovered that doing them properly is my ‘Nam. The most horrendous experience. Worse than the essay itself. In fact, I think most of it was footnotes… I remember very little about the actual essay. The topic was a comparison between the biblical Flood story and the Babylonian Flood stories.

  • Oo-err missus

    Naomi Bloomer
    Oct 16, 2009

    I’ve been ill all week. I warn you, here and now, that I’m going to be very complainy moany whingey this week.

    I had Freshers’ Flu in, well, Freshers’ week. That got better. But on Saturday I went to Hampton Court with Mummy and Daddy (had a scone, lovely), and I started coughing slightly. I was so tired I went to sleep on the grass in one of the massive gardens (imagine Versailles with someone taking a nap in the fountain, that’s how weird it looked), and when I woke up I was hacking my guts out. It was quite unnerving, gripping my neck in pain, while about 200 meters away from where Henry VIII decided to lop off Anne Boleyn’s head. Oo-err missus. (I’d quite like to bring that phrase back into usage, if anybody would like to help me? No?)

    Anyway, I went back to uni and slept. Sunday, I slept ALL DAY. I have never slept so much in my life.

  • The carefree joys of student life?

    Naomi Bloomer
    Oct 9, 2009

    Buy this book. Buy that book. Photocopy this page. Learn that vocabulary sheet. Read such and such a page of such and such a book. In its original language. You don’t know what it means? Just read it out loud. How do I know I’m saying it right? Oh I see, you’ve not been listening to anything I’ve been teaching you, is that it? Get out of my class. You’re banned. You’re expelled.

    And that’s how my most recent sobbing fit happened. Well, it didn’t even happen like that, actually. I imagined that entire conversation. I imagined it? No, I dreamt it. Yes, dear reader, I’m dreaming about having crying fits in lessons.

    I also dreamt that someone stole my bag from me on the street, looked in it, threw my purse and phone back at me and ran off with my notes. I woke up in a cold sweat. And it’s only week two. What am I going to get like during exam period?

  • Let's make it a good one, lads!

    Naomi Bloomer
    Oct 1, 2009

    This week has been crazy.

    I moved in on Saturday, and within twenty minutes was already talking to five different people as if we had known each-other for years. Within a few hours, I had met someone on my floor in halls who I had known two whole years ago from going out with his best friend. Then, someone from school last year. In the Union later, another friend from school had popped up and perhaps 20 new “Best Friends Forever” – BFFs – were made.

    Everyone talked like we were BFFs and we would be together forever. You could go up to anyone and instantly talk genuinely and with more enthusiasm than I think I had for any other random person in my entire life. I said “I love you so much! You’re my best friend!” probably around 30 times in one evening.

  • Wrong end of the hose

    Geoffrey Paul
    Sep 17, 2009

    While the UK Fire Brigades Union, long-time experts in matters of foreign policy, as we must all be aware, were busy whipping up their comrades to support a boycott of Israeli goods, the Egyptian Petroleum Ministry was planning to increase Egypt's gas exports to Israel to 120 trillion British thermal units in the coming year, a major increase in supply over the current year. It is not unreasonable to suppose that Egyptian gas is used by Israel in its manufacturing industry. So is the Fire Brigades Union, and its foreign policy savvy TUC allies, now going to extend its boycott to Egypt? Will it become verboten to visit the pyramids or take cruises down the Nile? And will the unions forbid British soldiers the life-saving benefit of a new Israeli discovery of a sort of "glue" which stops bleeding from battlefield wounds? Even firemen may one day be thankful for this new medical technology. Should Israel refuse it to them? Good moral questions for this time of the year. Shanah Tovah!