Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • An Israeli yeshivah head’s view of Limmud

    Simon Rocker
    Jan 6, 2012

    Rabbi Herzl Hefter, head of Harel Yeshiva in Israel reflects on his recent appearance at Limmud in his weekly email letter:

    “Early Friday morning I returned home to Israel from the Limmud Conference in the UK. Jews of all backgrounds, secular, Orthodox, Masorti, Reform and Liberal attended. I say 'attended' and not 'were represented' because we were all there as individual Jews, representing only ourselves, united by a thirst for Torah and community. Limmud had managed to create a wonderful “safe space” where Jews could simply encounter one another as fellow Jews. Coming from Israel, the experience was inspiring, almost intoxicating.

    So why am I depressed? Because I had to write “coming from Israel…” To what did I return home? I returned home to haredi violence in Beit Shemesh and a haredi boy dressed by his parents with a yellow Star of David. According to reports, his father said that the Nazi-Zionist government's persecution of the haredim is worse than what was carried out by the Nazi regime. What would my father, who witnessed his mother being taken to be shot, who alone survived of nine brothers and sisters and unknown number of nephews, nieces and cousins, what would he say?

  • Nobody knows what’s going on: Happy New Year

    Orlando Radice
    Jan 5, 2012

    If you have been following reports about the state of the British economy over the past month or so, you could be forgiven for believing that even if we are not already in a recession, the UK is lurching towards a double dip.

    But some snapshot figures about the state of economic play, out today, tell another story. The latest CIPS/Markit survey of the services sector – which makes up 75 per cent of the UK economy – showed a jump to 54 in December, up from 52.1 in November. Readings above 50 indicate growth.

    In other words, things moved fairly strongly in the opposite direction to the one expected.

  • Secular Israelis like ‘Mixed Multitude’

    Simon Rocker
    Jan 5, 2012

    A very disturbing post on the latest religious unrest in Israel on the website Failed Messiah.

    Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman reportedly denounced secular Israelis as a “mixed multitude” who hate the Jews – a biblical reference to Egyptians and others who left Egypt with the Israelites and were regarded as a bad spiritual influence by commentators.

    According to the website, Rabbi Steinman declared: “Now that we see the violence, the baseless hate, the harassment [against Charedim], we know and we understand that their ways are not like our ways, and that we certainly must distance ourselves from them, for their inside is not like their outside [ie their internal state is not like they try to appear]. They are a mixed multitude who hate the Jews.”

  • Ken's kosher campaign?

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jan 4, 2012

    Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone has, for whatever reason, decided that the best way to fill his campaign coffers is to give his mission some meat.

    No, not substance of the political kind, but of the poultry variety. His site now boasts a "fundraising chicken". Something about Boris Johnson being too chicken to debate him.

    How droll. But the real question is, is it kosher?

  • A Chanucah story - with a little help from Friends

    Jennifer Lipman
    Dec 20, 2011

    The festival of lights is upon us and with that in mind, I feel it is time to share my "top Jewish moment of 2011".

    I was at a party earlier this year, when the subject of Chanucah traditions came up in conversation with someone for whom, it's safe to assume, December 25 is a pretty awesome day.

    We discussed the usual - oily foods, eight days of presents (I wish), lighting candles - when he said (in total seriousness):