Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Are old camel bones really a blow to Zionism?

    Simon Rocker
    Mar 13, 2014

    An investigation into ancient camel bones in Israel caused a good deal of excitement recently.

    According to the Israeli archaeologists, the remains suggested that camels were domesticated only much later than the time of the patriarchs according to Jewish tradition. Hence the early Bible stories in which camels appear could not be true.

    Among those who seized on the findings were Andrew Brown, editor of The Guardian’s online Belief section, who wrote a blog entitled “The Old Testament's made-up camels are a problem for Zionism”.

  • How far will the Chief Rabbi go on women?

    Simon Rocker
    Feb 20, 2014

    Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis this week spelt out the reasons for his opposition to partnership minyans at the annual conference for United Synagogue rabbis.

    Two months ago he announced that PMs – semi-egalitarian Orthodox services where women can read from the Torah – were inappropriate to hold on US premises.

    On Tuesday he led a shiur which examinied in greater detail why these new-style services are an innovation too far.

  • Love to hate Valentine’s Day? You’re not alone

    Sandy Rashty an...
    Feb 14, 2014

    If you’re a single Jewish girl, you’ll experience one or more of these things today:

    1) You wake up to a box of chocolates and note … from your mum. The note ends with a JDate subscription and ticket to a Jewish Care Jew-do – that you pocket for later.

    2) All single friends WhatsApp each other: “Happy Galentine’s Day, girlieeeees." You cringe, but send back the obligatory xoxo.

  • Where were Lubavitch?

    Simon Rocker
    Jan 10, 2014

    Leading Orthodox outreach organisations gathered at conference in Watford last weekend, pledging to work more closely together in a spirit of unity.

    But guess who was missing from the event, which was put on by Aish, the Jewish Learning Exchange (which is connected with Ohr Somayach) and Project Seed?

    Rabbis from the United Synagogue, Federation and other organisations such as Kesher were listed as attending. But there was no mention of Lubavitch.

  • Limmud - what the international Jewish media said

    Simon Rocker
    Jan 8, 2014

    Here's the views of some guests from abroad at the Limmud conference published over the past few days:

    "The weather was awful, and the food not much better- but everything else about this annual British-Jewish mega-event was fabulous” “Judy Maltz of Ha’aretz

    “Too often Jewish commitment is translated as simply writing a check, and these days even that behavior is sadly diminishing. What if we learned from Limmud, and expected more of each other — more of our time, our brains, our creativity and commitment? The best of Jewish life isn’t necessarily free. The young leaders of Limmud taught me that.” Jane Eisner of The Jewish Daily Forward

  • All aboard the Harry Styles bandwagon

    Marcus Dysch
    Jan 7, 2014

    As a supposedly hard-nosed hack I tend to stick to reporting on events of a political and criminal nature rather than delve into the murky world of "showbiz".

    But sometimes my mask slips, and I munch on the same diet of One Direction, Lea Michele and Miley Cyrus gossip as your average teenager.

    The apparent phenomenon over Harry Styles' Jewish credentials has regularly pricked my attention.

  • The Gateshead Rav on Limmud

    Simon Rocker
    Jan 6, 2014

    The Gateshead Rav, Rabbi Shraga Faivel Zimmerman, has returned to the question of Limmud, in an article in last week’s edition of the Orthodox weekly, the Jewish Tribune.

    Rabbi Zimmerman, you may remember, was one of the signatories of an open letter in October which condemned Orthodox participation in the cross-communal conference following the decision of Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis to go there.

    The release of the letter brought a furious riposte from Jewish Leadership Council chairman Mick Davis and other community who denounced it as “a shocking failure of leadership”.

  • The next chief?

    Simon Rocker
    Dec 31, 2013

    As we forecast last month, Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence of the Great Synagogue, Sydney, is set to come home to take the pulpit at Finchley United vacated in spring by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

    Rabbi Lawrence’s likely return had been on the cards for some name - his name had previously been linked to another United Synagogue congregation.

    His prospective appointment to one of the US’s biggest congregations will lead to speculation that he might even follow Rabbi Mirvis and become chief rabbi himself.

  • Anelka and the 'quenelle' - this is only the beginning

    Marcus Dysch
    Dec 29, 2013

    West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka’s antisemitic goal “celebration” has plunged English football into its third race row in as many years.

    The Frenchman’s “quenelle” salute – described by his country’s sports minister Valérie Fourneyron as an incitement to racial hatred, and by journalist Philippe Auclair as “cretinous” – brings to football stadiums in this country a controversy that is spiralling out of control across the Channel.

    The rise of the antisemitic signal – part Nazi salute, part “up yours” gesture – has been so rapid that French authorities want to ban its creator, antisemitic “comedian” Dieudonné from performing in public.