Your blogs

  • Antisemitism on campus discussed at Nottingham

    Simon Friend
    Nov 21, 2008

    The chair of the All-Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism, John Mann MP, with Yair Zivan, campaigns director of the Union of Jewish Students, tackled contemporary antisemitism on campus this week in a panel discussion at Nottingham University.

    Attended by around 65 students, Jewish and non-Jewish, including some prominent members of the Nottingham Palestine Society and the student union executive, the panel offered a challenging discussion over issues of whether anti-Zionism and anti-religious statements should be deemed threatening, alongside boycotts of Israeli goods and prominent Israeli academics.

    Dani Orelowitz, of Nottingham University JSoc, said: "For such a large campus, it was very positive for us to be talking about the issues on our own terms, individual to this university." Mr Zivan said: "UJS is determined to continue to lead the fight against antisemitism on campus, and educating people is a key part of that effort. The message was positive around defining what antisemitism is and how all students can tackle it in their own personal way."

  • Bristol J-Soc's campus-wide variety show

    Simon Friend
    Nov 21, 2008

    What began as a small fundraising event run exclusively for Bristol J-Soc turned into a campus-wide variety show attended by more than 300 students.

    Spotlight Darfur, with the help of the student branch of the Aegis Trust - Britain's leading NGO campaigning against genocide - became the society's most successful function.

    A range of performing arts' societies attached themselves to the event, which showcased acts such as cabaret and pantomime, live jazz and improvised comedy.

  • Healed by Rolo-therapy

    Gideon Schneider
    Nov 20, 2008

    Claire circles the room and hones in on the unfamiliar face. She approaches. "I've put you on the list and will be back when I'm finished with my regulars." I'm attending a chemotherapy session at University College Hospital in London. Claire is there to offer patients complementary therapies while the drugs kick in. For anyone sceptical about the benefits, her warm smile is enough to melt all doubts.

    "Get your feet out," she says to Jenny, the 29-year-old girl seated next to me in the out-patient ward. Jenny slides off her striped socks to reveal metallic pink toenails. The two women chat about how Jenny - who was recently diagnosed with cervical cancer - has been getting on since last week's chemo session. Claire places the patient's feet - pink toenails and all - in her lap and begins to massage them. Reflexology stimulates blood circulation round the body. But, more importantly, it relaxes Jenny as potent drugs are dripped into her veins.

    As I offer Jenny a Rolo, she tells me that the hardest thing about her diagnosis was realising that she won't be able to carry a baby. She delayed addressing her cancer in order to undergo IVF treatment to store her eggs. Her mum, engrossed in the Times crossword puzzle, has been by her side throughout all her hospital visits. Jenny has also been amazed by how supportive her boyfriend of four months has been. She's relieved that the side-effects haven't been as terrifying as she feared.

  • The timing of the US election couldn't have been more perfect...

    Gideon Schneider
    Nov 13, 2008

    The timing of the US election couldn't have been more perfect. As all those reheated Amy Winehouse exposes dried up, my thirst for drama needed quenching. Headlines such as ‘Dizzy Broad Runs For Camden Pub' were replaced by the more compelling ‘Dizzy Broad Runs For White House'. For me, Sarah Palin's achievements as well as those of her victorious nemesis, confirmed the mantra that in America you can achieve anything. The trouble is, when anything is achievable, how do you know when you've achieved enough? My cancer helped me find an answer.

    Growing up in NW London, life's key objective was keeping up with the Jones-ovitzes. Other people's expectations of me reflected this. At twelve it was casually assumed by all that I should give up an hour of every evening, for one whole year, to learning the entire Torah portion for my barmitzvah. Decent grades were anticipated for GCSEs and A-levels; and as for university attendance, in the suburbs that wasn't expected - that was a given.

    Now the expectations feel weightier than ever. There's a list of boxes to tick: marriage, kids, career, car, counselling. For now though, that to-do list remains mostly unticked and my suspicion is, it doesn't even end there. If I do ever have children I'm sure I'll be expected to expect things from them too.

  • British students go to Brussels as delegates of UJS for Kristallnacht commemoration

    Simon Friend
    Nov 13, 2008

    Two British students went to Brussels this week as delegates of UJS for the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Aaron Kienwald, president of London J-Socs; and Aaron Collins, of Bristol University Jewish Society, joined 20 other members of the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) at a service which filled the Brussels Great Synagogue.

    The two-day introduction to the "Year of Tolerance", an initiative created under the auspices of former Polish Prime Minister Aleksander Kwasniewski, was attended by several hundred political and Jewish leaders from across Europe, members of the European Parliament, diplomats, and other dignitaries, as well as survivors of the Holocaust, and was the first of its kind on a European level.

     

  • "From Warsaw Ghetto to the Gaza Strip" event held at Goldsmiths

    Simon Friend
    Nov 13, 2008

    An event held this week at Goldsmith's University entitled: "From the Warsaw Ghetto to the Gaza Strip", follows the Palestine twinning campaign's success last year in pairing the university with Al-Quds University in the West Bank. Speaking at the event was Suzanne Weiss, a Holocaust survivor and member of a Toronto-based group, Not in our Name: Jews against Zionism, who claimed that Israel "uses many of the methods of Nazism to oppress the Palestinians".

    Goldsmiths' union campaigns and communications officer, Jennifer Jones, who is one of the administrators of the twinning campaign, hoped that "the few vocal Zionists on campus become involved in a more positive capacity to support those suffering under the occupation".

    But a spokesperson from the Union of Jewish Students said: "The Warsaw Ghetto and the Gaza Strip are incomparable. The event "cheapens the Holocaust for political gain".

  • Rule one: never, ever take a date to a gig

    Paul Lester
    Nov 13, 2008

    I've done some stupid things in my time. Forgetting to switch on the tape recorder during an hour-long interview with Blondie's Debbie Harry is way up there at the top of the list. Getting engaged in my first year at university to a girl from Clapham must merit contention, not because she was from Clapham - although the north-south divide did cause havoc with communication - but because it was, you know, my first year. At university. And I was about 10 (and therefore could barely afford a tube of Rolos, let alone a £20 ring from Zales). And going to meet my rabbi for counselling just after my divorce last year has got to be in the top five ("rabbi" in Hebrew means "teacher", not "expert on inter-personal relations with specific reference to psycho-sexual collapse").

    But one of the dumbest decisions I've ever made was to invite a lady to join me at a performance by the comedian Sarah Silverman.

    Now, I never take anyone, male or female, to gigs. There are good reasons for this. I dread running out of things to say in the car and even keep a list of conversation topics in the glove compartment just in case. During the concert you have to shout in your companion's ear because the music's so loud, and I hate shouting (and don't get me started on ears). Then there's the fear that you're going to bump into someone you've known for years but whose name you can't remember, and you've got the embarrassment of introducing them to each other so you have to turn it into a joke and make out you've forgotten both ("Hi, Thingie!" I usually say. "Meet Wotsit!").

  • Worry

    Paul Lester
    Nov 7, 2008

    I'm not sure if you noticed, hopefully you did, but my column didn’t appear in the JC today due to circumstances beyond my control. I say beyond my control because it really wasn't down to me, but who should ring at 9am this morning, five minutes after the shops opened, but my ex-wife, who called from the newsagent, wondering where the hell the latest instalment of Suddenly Single was.

    Don't get me wrong: I'm relieved that not only is she not annoyed by my mentioning her week in, week out, in the column but that she actively looks forward to it. I just wasn't expecting her to be annoyed by its non-appearance, as though it was somehow my fault.

    But then, as my far as my ex-wife is concerned - far - everything is my fault. The Suez Crisis? That was me being lax with regard to foreign policy. Climate change? I shouldn't have used so many aerosols in the '80s. The assassination of JFK? If only I'd been on that grassy knoll instead of being glued to the TV, watching I Love Lucy.

  • Waiting for my hair to go

    Gideon Schneider
    Nov 7, 2008

    In anticipation of my hair falling out, my hand kept on straying towards my scalp to check that all was still in place. Every time I passed a mirror I wondered whether my crown had thinned or if it was just a trick of the light. In the mornings, there were no escapee strands coating my pillow. Maybe a patch of night drool, but no hair. And as for the shower plug hole, that remained follicle free.

    "I feel a bit cheated," I said to Vered, "I'm missing part of the experience." She herself went through chemotherapy only last year, at the age of 17. "It was pretty gross, I guess," she said, with the air of a thrill-seeker recounting a recent adventure. "I had hair falling in to my chicken soup and coming out all over the place. I just had to scratch my head and whole clumps would attach themselves to my fingers." Eventually she took her brother's clippers and shaved off what little remained of her once luxuriant locks. "I wasn't trying to be rebellious, it was just easier than constantly picking up stray curls. But I really liked the look - much to my mother's horror."

    Friends could not understand how Vered could be anything other than horrified - but she found the situation funny. She fully encouraged her brothers' teasing when at the Friday night table they would ask her to "pass the salt, Baldy". She found it helpful that her family participated in her light hearted approach. "They took their cue from me."