At our AGM, we're making big decisions about biscuits

By NWJew, September 17, 2009

I’m not going to pretend that our synagogue annual general meetings are the friendly, supportive events that the rabbi hopes for, in vain, each year. However, he ought at least to be relieved that only a tiny fraction of the membership bother to turn up for this ancient and honoured ritual, often referred to as “bashing the lay leadership and taking a barely concealed sideswipe at the spiritual leader while you’re at it”.

I suspect that my shul is similar to yours and that the following portraits of AGM stalwarts will be familiar.


Now Tel Aviv is under attack, at the Toronto Film Festival

By Gil Troy, September 10, 2009

In the relentless attempt to demonise and de-legitimise Israel, the latest flashpoint is the Toronto International Family Festival.

The TIFF is toasting Tel Aviv’s 100th birthday as “a young, dynamic city that, like Toronto, celebrates diversity”.

In protest, the Canadian film-maker John Greyson withdrew his film from the festival, comparing honouring Tel Aviv films to “celebrating Montgomery buses in 1963… Chilean wines in 1973… or South African fruit in 1991”.


Wear a Feng Shui pig? Ok, I’m a monotheist really

By Stephanie Brickman, September 10, 2009

Perhaps it was a terrible idea from the start to draw on the services of a grand master of Feng Shui, but it is indicative of my levels of despair at the state of our flat, or Battleship Domestica, as I like to call it.

Said battleship has been listing rather more than usual recently, having been regularly broadsided by assortments of children and my scientist husband, whose habits I won’t go into here.


My dreams also have small print

By Tracy-Ann Oberman, September 10, 2009

I wake up every night having the same recurring nightmare. I’m covered in sweat, unable to speak and the bedclothes are a tangled heap on the floor.

Before I give you a graphic account of my night-time terror, let me tell you the back story. When I found myself catapulted from solid working-class actress into the public eye, courtesy of EastEnders, I suddenly became a “celebrity”.


Hatred of Israel is a European pathology

By Robin Shepherd, September 10, 2009

How and at what point do isolated events start to form a pattern? Hold that thought as you consider the following examples.

On August 18, the Guardian ran a commentary by the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek which argued that Israel was attempting to eradicate Palestinians from the West Bank. In a clearly calculated attempt to Nazify the Jewish state, the writer used, and the Guardian editorial team allowed, the word “Palestinian-frei” — a blatant inversion of the Nazi term Judenfrei.


The crack in Oxfam's charity halo

By Dan Kosky, September 10, 2009

Ironically, for a charity aimed at combating inequality and promoting fair trade, Oxfam is big business. Its network of more than 700 shops across the UK effectively makes it a serious retail chain. And Oxfam’s high-street cred received a major boost when Sheffield rockers Arctic Monkeys released their latest single in the charity’s stores.


In search of the lost - and last - Rebbitzen of Landau

By Aimee Birnbaum, September 3, 2009

Besides being the largest wine growing region in Germany, Landau is a town crazy about art. The Palatinate landscape with its Tuscan atmosphere has always inspired artists, and Landau homes are bursting with art of every description.

But during the Third Reich, Landau was the scene of ghastly crimes, so it was with mixed feelings that I accepted an offer to organize an exhibition of British artists to be hosted by Landau families. Would my hosts be anti-semites? How should I tell them I am Jewish?


Swine, bears, boys and other perils

By Peter Rosengard, September 3, 2009

In July, my 13-year-old daughter Lily flew to Camp George, a URJ summer camp on a lake near Toronto. Swine flu was at its peak. Naturally I was a little concerned: “Did I just hear you cough?.. You sweating Lily?”

“Dad, Stop being paranoid!”

It was her first unaccompanied flight. We’d packed all the essentials: flashlight, 20 bikinis, iPod, a course of Tamiflu.

In T5 departure lounge, I drained my 12th espresso. One more and I’d also be flying to Toronto.

The next morning I read a headline: “American camps hit by swine flu. Campers in quarantine.”


What a wonderful summer's bat mitzvah

By Zaki Cooper, September 3, 2009

Born in Johannesburg, he grew up in the UK and graduated from Durham University in 1998. Since then, he has settled in north London and forged a very successful career. His surname is Strauss. But, much as we’d like to claim young Andrew as a nice Jewish boy, don’t expect to see him in shul over Rosh Hashanah. The England cricket captain will be away basking in his team’s recent victory over Australia.


Mutual candour can bring peace

By Naomi Shepherd, September 3, 2009

The obstacles to the “two-state solution” to the Israel/Palestine conflict are well known. Can they be removed by international intervention?