My friends and family think I’m bonkers. Despite being eight months’ pregnant, I’m still doing regular exercise classes at the gym. For one thing, I don’t want to let myself go. My stomach’s circumference might rival that of one of those new planets they have just discovered, but I still want to show off toned arms and legs next to my cumbersome torso. And I spent too much of my youth being out of shape to want to scupper all my good work now.
So throughout pregnancy I have been attending aerobics and Body Pump classes at my local Virgin Active gym in Holloway, north London.
If you have spent the past decade or so slogging it out in the gym, putting yourself through your paces on the tennis court or diligently doing lengths in the municipal swimming pool in the hope of getting rid of those excess pounds — you may be wasting your time, according to some experts.
Any visitor to the remote town of Jedwabne, in north-east Poland, is going to know something about its horrifying past.
On the outskirts there is a memorial that marks the site where hundreds of Jedwabne’s Jews were burned alive in a barn in July 1941. It is the only reason to visit this colourless place.
Today, the memorial no longer attributes the massacre to the Nazis. It was changed in 2000 after it was revealed that it was not the occupying Germans who wiped out the Jewish half of the town, but the Jewish victims’ gentile neighbours.
Dan Patterson, TV comedy producer, was barmitzvah in 1973 in Oxford: “Because Oxford Synagogue was being rebuilt I had the ceremony in St Aloysius Church. The lunch was at St Cross College and the dinner was at St Giles House, so it was probably the most saint-invoked barmitzvah of all time.
Peter Marks ran his family bakery business in north London for 22 years. But the combined competition from internet shopping and a new Tesco Metro forced him to sell up in June 2008. He continued to manage the store but earlier this year, it closed for good and the 51-year-old became jobless for the first time in his working life.
Marks is not alone. Jewish workers have been victims of “operations streamlining” or “office downsizing” since the recession hit, just like everyone else.
Would you entrust your children to the care of an au pair you had met, interviewed and hired over the internet?
When a friend first suggested the idea, I was horrified. How could I leave my kids with a stranger I had never laid eyes upon? A businesswoman and herself a mother of three, she assured me the web offered good, affordable childcare and that she had recruited several reliable au pairs this way.
For the past four seasons the terraces of Betar Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium have noisily exalted their saviour. When Arkadi Gaydamak, the controversial Russian-born tycoon, arrived from nowhere to buy the struggling team, he was heralded for restoring the club’s former glories. The fans ignored his colourful background, and lapped up the success. “Arkadi is the Messiah!” they would sing as he bought them back-to-back championships.
I’ve always been fascinated by Yiddish. Though it wasn’t my mame-loshn (“mother tongue” — the name Yiddish speakers give to Yiddish), it was my Mama’s loshn. As a kid she used to do things like stand over me when I was eating and say: “Shlof gikher, ikh badarf dos kishn” (“Sleep quicker, I need the pillow”).
‘We must teach the children to live in peace,” says Muhammed, “and we must start when they are young children at school.”
Muhammed — who lives in an Arab village in the Jerusalem hills — is speaking from experience. When his three grown-up children were still at school he took the brave step of enrolling them in a ground-breaking scheme encouraging contact with Jewish children.