Your blogs

  • Succah, up and away

    Jennifer Lipman
    Sep 17, 2010

    After the kerfuffle caused by one Rabbi Mordechai Halperin when he flew to Germany with a suspicious shofar packed in his suitcase, it’s good to hear that lulavs and etrogs won’t meet the same fate.

    From the US Transport Security Administration:

    “Observant Jewish travelers may carry four plants – a palm branch, myrtle twigs, willow twigs, and a citron – in airports and through security checkpoints. These plants are religious articles and may be carried either separately or as a bundle. Jewish travelers may be observed in prayer, shaking the bundle of plants in six directions.

    "TSA’s screening procedures do not prohibit the carrying of such agricultural items through the airport or security checkpoints, or on airplanes. These plants are not on TSA’s Prohibited Items List."

  • Lady Gaga's bad taste

    Jennifer Lipman
    Sep 14, 2010

    Lady Gaga’s meaty costume choice at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday has according to The Times (paywall or I’d link) upset members of the Hindu community.

    It has also annoyed the animal rights organisation Peta, who described it as “offensive” to wear cuts out of a dead cow.

    Let’s refresh. Gaga, who has in her short career worn a dress made of Kermit the frog and offed her boyfriend in the video for Paparazzi, is supposed to do these things.

  • Kosher alerts

    Geoffrey Paul
    Sep 3, 2010

    I have now read two accounts of people being pulled in by airport security because they were transporting shofarot from one country to another. But neither of them matches the experience of a gentle rabbi of my acquaimtance who, taking his lulav to synagogue in one of those closed cardboard containers which give no idea of their content, was challenged by a policeman during a period of high alert to say what was in the box. “A palm frond. some willows and sprigs of myrtle,” he told the increasingly suspicious officer. “Oh, yes,” said the PC, “and you’re going to tell me that other square box contains a lemon!” It took some patient explanation and an escort to shul to avert a major alert in south London. But then I could tell you about the wartime occasion when my father was challenged by railway police in a closed compartment aboard an LMS train with the blinds drawn…he had just donned his tefillin!

  • Does Time magazine care about peace?

    Jennifer Lipman
    Sep 2, 2010

    Nobody yet knows what will come of the latest round of Middle East peace talks, although it seems everybody in the international media has an opinion. That’s to be expected; there is perhaps no topic that gets tongues wagging quite so much as Israel.

    But reasoned analysis is one thing. Quite another is what Time magazine have done this week. The cover of their September 13 issue reads, delicately encased in a star of David made of flowers: “Why Israel doesn’t care about peace”.

    Time is one of the biggest selling weekly news magazines out there. Which means that for the next week, on every newsstand and every magazine rack, across countless coffee tables and waiting rooms, the message is: “blame the Israelis for the failure of the talks”, or that “any progress comes despite them.”

  • Tour Ed?

    Jennifer Lipman
    Sep 1, 2010

    Labour’s would-be leader Ed Miliband gave an interview to the Evening Standard yesterday in which he laid out his views on marriage and his education policies. Then, despite stating that he was an avowed atheist, Miliband-the-younger added:

    “Obviously I'm Jewish, it is part of my identity, but not in a religious sense. I don't wish I had had a more religious upbringing.

    “But I have Jewish friends who were part of the Jewish community growing up, going to Jewish youth clubs and other things.

  • A priestly malediction

    Geoffrey Paul
    Aug 30, 2010

    I hope that leading rabbis, and not only Israeli ones, will raise their voices in total condemnation of the sickening, criminal even, outburst by the former Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel and current Shaas leader, Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef. According to Israeli press reports, in a Shabbat sermon he referred to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian people as “our enemies and haters... May they vanish from the world, may God smite them with the plague, them and the Palestinians, evil-doers and Israel-haters.” It is to the credit of Prime Minister Netanyahu that he immediately condemned the outburst. Yosef's purpose is certainly not to help the Prime Minister make Israel's case in the Washington peace talks which are imminent - Shaas is a major component of the coalition government which would have to endorse any peace deal signed with the Palestinians and brokered by the Americans. Jews have experienced enough vicious race hatred and incitement to genocide without suffering its utterance by one who is graced with the title of "spiritual leader" and who was for years a major teacher and scholar of Jewish thought. The only excuse that can be made for him is senility. There cannot be any other.

  • Beyond Babel

    Geoffrey Paul
    Aug 26, 2010

    It has taken 62 years but, at last, 200 Israeli schools from Haifa northwards, including 42 which are religious, are to start teaching the country’s second official language, Arabic, to students in grades seven to ten. And the promise is that the programme for teaching Arabic will soon be adopted by schools across Israel. “Too little and too late,” one prominent Israeli Arab academic commented to me. It is he who has also pointed out that a remarkable percentage of Hebrew speakers today are Israeli Arabs or Arabs under Israeli governance. That’s quite a thought - that there are probably more Arabs who speak Hebrew fluently than there are Jews in the Diaspora who can speak fluent Hebrew! But the great promise to me is that, in hopefully not too many years, Jew and Arab meeting at whatever frontier, or even sans frontiere, will be able to speak to each other in a language that both understand and respect.

  • Dough drama

    Jennifer Lipman
    Aug 25, 2010

    After last week's Manhattan bagel broiges, here comes another carb-related kerfuffle.

    In New York (where else) buying a sliced bagel will now set you back more dough than a closed one.

    As the New York Post reports:

  • Not the White House lawn again!

    Geoffrey Paul
    Aug 24, 2010

    I am not happy to be resuming blogging in a pessimistic mood (after time off with a broken arm). But I just cannot work up any enthusiasm for the pending direct talks about Israel-Arab peace which the US is promoting. Whether you read the stars or the tea leaves, none of the signs are in the right place. Unless the apathy which has seized most of Israel also extends to the settlers. Mr Netanyahu’s room for manoeuvre is small indeed. And unless Hamas is about to abandon every essential of its policy on Israel, Mr Abbas will be at the talks not as President of Palestine but as President of the West Bank. Rabin and Arafat could meet with some hope as both had the semblance of being strong men in charge of their forces. That hope faded because- under test - Arafat turned out to be a weakling. Netanyahu and Abbas are not even pretend strong men. With each going into the talks with one hand tied behind his back, about the best that can be expected is that they will be able to shake hands with the other one.

  • Let the 9/11 mosque 'breathe free'

    Jennifer Lipman
    Aug 23, 2010

    Daisy Khan, the wife of the imam behind the "9/11 Mosque", has compared the opposition to the plan to antisemitism. She’s absolutely right.

    When I visited Washington last year, what struck me was America’s passionate belief in the constitutionally-affirmed right to freedom of speech.

    Americans everywhere talk proudly of an ideology of tolerance, or refer to President Franklin Roosevelt’s "Four Freedoms" speech in which freedom of religion was proposed as a fundamental right. Where is that freedom now?