Lifestyle features

Why I took a rabbi to war-torn Gaza

April 7, 2009

A rabbi in Gaza is not a common sight. The last time, to my knowledge, was in the 17th century. His name was Nathan of Gaza and he was waiting for the messiah.

On the Palestinian side of the improvised border checkpoint, the man wearing a kippah is causing a bit of a sensation. The Hamas police officers, five men crammed in a booth made of corrugated iron, are confused. They call their commander on the telephone, and he arrives an hour later. Four cars teeming with armed men stop in a cacophony of honking horns and screeching tyres.

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Apprentice Watch: The sandwich man fails to cut it

By MichaelSophocles, April 2, 2009

Celebrity chefs are fervent in the belief that anyone — even the most culinary illiterate — can be taught to cook and serve food to a high standard. This week’s episode of The Apprentice proved that the gastronomes may have got that one wrong.

The task was to prepare meals for corporate clients. It sounded like the programme had suddenly morphed into MasterChef, but there were two fundamental aspects of business being tested here — the ability to provide impeccable customer service, and the ability to keep control over costs.

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The day my daughter went mad

By Madeleine Kingsley, April 2, 2009

In 1996, Michael Greenberg’s 15-year-old daughter was, as he puts it, “struck mad”. “All the time Sally was hospitalised I could only sleep in 45 minute catnaps,” he recalls. “My hair went grey that summer.” Doctors diagnosed Sally’s condition as bi-polar 1, but Greenberg, a novelist from New York, expressly uses the word “madness” to describe her condition.

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Oi ref! Can’t you see I’m killing the game?

By Simon Round, March 26, 2009

After a long career in the media spotlight of Premiership football, one would imagine that spending a quiet Sunday morning watching your son play a junior game in the park would be the perfect antidote to the intense pressure of the professional game. This is not the case, however, for former internationals Chris Sutton and Graeme Souness, who have both, in the past week, made headlines for using foul language to abuse referees at junior games involving their sons.

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A refugee from the Ayatollah

By Alex Kasriel, March 12, 2009

When 18-year-old Jilla Youseffi said goodbye to her parents one morning in early 1979, she had no idea whether she would ever see them again. Youseffi was leaving her home in a well-heeled suburb of Tehran for the last time, heading for a new life in Britain where she would be safe from persecution by Islamic fundamentalists.

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Abraham Foxman: The man the Jew haters really hate

By Jenni Frazer, March 12, 2009

If ever a man had the ability to polarise opinion in the Jewish world, it is Abraham Foxman, the instantly identifiable and famously histrionic director of the Anti-Defamation League in New York, who has a justifiably fiery reputation. There is only one Foxman. Those who know him, even only slightly, nod knowingly when they hear I am to speak to him.

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From Mafia man to Orthodox Jew

By Alex Kasriel, March 5, 2009

He was a New York gangster, a “goodfella” who spent his life dodging the law. But Louis Ferrante — aka Big Lou — is pleased he wound up in a maximum security prison.

Because that is how he found Judaism.

The 39-year-old Italian-American, whose thick accent irresistibly brings to mind Tony Soprano, was a member of the Gambino organisation, working for one of America’s most ruthless crime families. He was heavily involved in racketeering and fraud, activities that from time to time required brutal violence.

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Oranges and us: a tale of sweet success

By Ruth Joseph, February 26, 2009

We sometimes take oranges for granted. They sit in the fruit bowl neglected in favour of a juicy peach or a bunch of grapes, and yet, now, like all citrus, they are at their seasonal best and good value.

The orange (Citrus Sinensis) probably originated in China and evidence of its existence dates from 2500 BCE. But it was a wild plant and its fruits would have been very sour. For thousands of years, oranges seem to have been enjoyed solely by the Chinese.

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My challah-baking experiment? Fell flat

By Alex Kasriel, February 18, 2009

Does anyone still actually make challah? Frankly, this tradition is rather time-consuming. All that proving and kneading takes a lot of work. And it is so much easier to part with around £1.60 at the local Jewish bakery for a loaf of the doughy stuff.

Shop challahs are often tastier and lighter — but they have been prepared under highly controlled conditions. The ovens are at the right temperature and the kneading machines do all the work. Meanwhile, the professional bakers have an agent in their flour to make it just the right consistency.

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Real Mills & Boon heroines

By Alex Kasriel, February 18, 2009

They were ordinary English women who had never met a Jew, let alone risked their lives for anyone; but with their courage and sense of justice, Ida and Louise Cook ended up rescuing dozens of would-be victims of Hitler’s death camps.

The die-hard opera fans would travel to Germany posing as tourists willing to go anywhere to hear their favourite singers. Then they would smuggle back diamonds and furs belonging to Jews to give them financial security when they arrived on British soil.

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