Lifestyle features

Interview: Grant Shapps

By Christopher Richards, September 2, 2010

Grant Shapps's rise to the front bench of the Conservative Party has been little short of meteoric - after all, he has only been an MP since 2005.

Many political commentators believe he is destined for big things; but what part does his faith play in his burgeoning career? The housing and local government minister is certainly in touch with communal life: he belongs to the Potters Bar and Brookmans Park Synagogue. However, he has an unconventional approach to religion.

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He put a mezuzah in space

By Paul Berger, August 19, 2010

On May 14, Garrett Reisman got out of bed, brushed his teeth and got into an old Airstream motorhome that took him, along with five other astronauts, to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida. At about 10.30am, standing in the shadow of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, he and pilot Dominic "Tony" Antonelli joked about how stupid they would look if they messed up their forthcoming 12-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

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I said kaddish for Elvis

By Jonathan Wingate, August 19, 2010

George Klein is probably in a better position than anyone to talk about Elvis Presley - he first met the singing legend in 1948 when they were classmates at Humes High School in Memphis.

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The Israeli keeping a watch over the settlers

By Ben Lynfield, August 12, 2010

If the Palestinians ever achieve a viable state, a young Israeli activist will be able to claim to have played her part. Hagit Ofran, a former student of Jewish history, spends her working day driving around the West Bank, monitoring the growth of Jewish settlements. Sometimes her findings translate into pressure on the Israeli government from abroad to stop the construction of further outposts. Ofran's official title is director of the settlement watch team of the dovish Peace Now organisation. Her job is to gather and collate information on how much building is going on.

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Why it's rough times for the Jewish golf club

By Angela Epstein, August 12, 2010

Stand on the club house terrace overlooking 100 undulating acres of tree-lined greenery and the view is, quite simply, breath-taking. Even the non-players who visit Manchester's Whitefield Golf Club - one of the country's oldest Jewish clubs - never fail to be impressed by the beauty of the course.

"Magnificent, isn't it ?" murmurs Anthony Harris, the club's current president and a member for over 45 years. "As a golfer it's perfect and as a Jew it represents an important part of our heritage. That's why we need it to survive for generations to come."

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The visionary Zionist who everyone misunderstood

By Colin Shindler, July 28, 2010

Vladimir Jabotinsky was one of the founding fathers of the modern Zionist movement. He was one of the great inspirers of discriminated and impoverished Jewish youth in Eastern Europe in the inter-war years. In a pre-television era, audiences would sit patiently for hours, enthralled and entranced by his rhetoric.

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Mandelson on Judaism, Lord Levy and his JC dad

By Jenni Frazer, July 22, 2010

Lord Mandelson's book, The Third Man, Life At The Heart of New Labour has enjoyed a heady reception in the week since its publication. He has the relieved look of someone who has run a marathon without keeling over, as well he might, since he reveals that he only finished writing two weeks ago. "It only came off the presses the day before the launch," he says. "It was a high-wire act. Now I'm used to living dangerously, flying too close to the sun, but even for me it was a bit of a daredevil project."

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The grow-your-own revolution

By Jessica Elgot, July 15, 2010

For a man with such an orderly allotment, Brian Berelowitz does not hold back on the flowery language: "I'm completely in love with my allotment. It has changed my life. It has given me such unbridled joy, working the earth and tending what I'm growing."

Berelowitz, a landscape gardener by trade, has rented his impressive allotment in Child's Hill, north London, for two years. He is one of the growing number of people turning their back on pre-chopped, plastic-packed vegetables from the supermarket in favour of growing their own.

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My tragic brothers, heroes of the RAF

July 8, 2010

I am the youngest of four brothers. Denis, the middle one, is five years older than me. The two eldest, Basil and Gerald, were twins, 11 years older. At the outbreak of the Second World War, aged just 17, they volunteered to join the Royal Air Force as aircrew. My father begged them to join something less dangerous, but they were adamant. If everyone chose the less risky options, there would be no RAF, they said. Moreover, as Jews, they felt strongly that it was their duty to risk their lives for their country.

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Self-help and shul-going - the Jewish way to tackle autism

By Robyn Rosen, July 1, 2010

'I have a memory of Josh, aged three, at home one day lying on the floor rolling himself in the carpet. Our second baby was screaming and I was just sitting there crying."

Joshua Harris, now aged 21, has severe autism. He cannot speak. He has obsessive and unusual habits and he requires full-time care. At the age of 10, he had the IQ of a two-year-old. For his mother Carole, a retired GP from Manchester, coping with his condition would have been even more traumatic had it not been for the help she received from her neighbours in the Jewish area of Broughton Park.

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