Your blogs

  • Fascinating Tosh

    Geoffrey Paul
    Aug 31, 2011

    I am ever fascinated by the world of the chassidim, especially when introduced to a dynasty of which I had no previous knowledge and which, in general, has managed to remain aloof from the outside world and struggles to keep it that way. So meet the Tosh (no joke, honest) and their venerable though ailing Rebbe, Meshullam Feish Segal-Lowy, great-grandson of the first Tosher Rebbe who sprang from a long rabbinic line and lived in the Hungarian town of Nyirtas, the last syllable of which provided the dynasty's title, Tas, sometimes Tash and most often Tosh.

    Now in his 90th year, the current rebbe lives in a town built around him and populated by several thousand of his followers. Named, not surprisingly, Kiryas Tosh, it was established in 1963 not in some Brooklyn suburb nor even in Israel, but, wait for it, in French-speaking Quebec, Canada, about a 30-minute drive from Montreal where its members previously lived. It is no surprise then that the main street of Kiryas Tosh is Avenue Beth Halevy.

    Rabbi Lowy took his followers to Tosh from Montreal so that he could preserve their life style and keep distractions at bay. He seems to have succeeded. Even in Catholic Canada, Tosh has one of the highest birthrates in the country. But is has not been without its heartbreaks. A fire last month destroyed a block of 18 apartments but caused no casualties. The local shomrim said all 200 flat-dwellers were rescued, 150 of them children.

  • Practise what you tweet? Not these activists

    Jennifer Lipman
    Aug 25, 2011

    I'm all for legitimate protest, so while I might view a group called UK Friends of Palestine & (dissident) Israel with suspicion, I wouldn't want to say they shouldn't have a platform.

    According to the mission statement on their twitter page, they want: "To raise awareness for non-violent actions to open Gaza and end the occupation."

    But, they add: "We work for equality, peace and one day lots more love again between Arabs and Jews."

  • 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 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."

  • An Israeli Autumn?

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jul 25, 2011

    A major dilemma is fast looming for that larger part of the diaspora which, if not subservient to the slogan 'Israel right or wrong', feels emotionally, ideologically, even, it might be said, tribally committed to total support of the Jewish State, certainly when face-to-face with a critical non-Jewish world. But it is going to be different and the adjustment will demand new approaches and mind-sets for, if we are not on the edge of an “Israeli Spring,” we are imminently going to see challenges to the Israeli government and the ruling parties which are without precedent.

    Within the last few days, Israel has experienced acts of civil disobedience unparalleled since the 'fifties and 'sixties. Thousands have marched and demonstrated in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa against the dearth of affordable housing. Roads have been blocked, tent cities have sprung up, and young families have taken to the streets in protest on a scale which has not been seen previously on a civil issue. These are not the disaffected “Black Panthers” of the Sephardi protests in earlier years. These are young men and women who are most decidedly in the mainstream.

    They have now been joined in protest, a different protest, by doctors, headed by the president of the Israel Medical Association, who say that the once highly-regarded Israeli health service is near collapse, with doctors being overworked and insufficient funds being invested to keep the service viable. The IMA head is himself planning to start a hunger strike on Monday to draw attentiom to the situation. There is even talk of a national strike on August 1 and the Prime Minister has called off a visit to Poland in which he wanted to seek support against UN recognition of a Palestinian state.

  • 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:

  • A helpful Yiddish guide to phonehacking

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jul 20, 2011

    For all that Jews are supposed to control the media, the News International / hacking / News of the World / Brooks / Murdoch scandal has so far played out without much of a kosher angle. But never fear, it can still be interpreted with one. Over to Matthew Norman at the Indy:

    "Andy Hayman is a schtick fleisch mit oigen (imbecile; literally, a lump of meat with eyes), James Murdoch a nebbish (sad loser), his father a schvuntz (there you must rely on innate feel for onomatopoeia), and Ms Brooks a rosher (dead naughty)."

    Do you agree? Candidates for the shmucks and schmerils of the scandal so far in the comments below.