Lifestyle features

Welcome to the ultimate blended Jewish family

By Simon Rocker, July 8, 2009

Shaking our shakers and jingling our bells, we try to keep up with the rhythm of our session leader. Sitting in a candle-lit circle, we are learning how to be “drummers of Zion” with Akiva the Believer, the soulful percussionist whose musical companions have ranged from the singing rabbi, Shlomo Carlebach, to Paul of Peter, Paul and Mary.


Interview: David Ariel

By Simon Rocker, July 2, 2009

Oxford University is probably the last place you would go to hear about old wives’ tales or, in that splendid Yiddish word for them, bubbemeises. But among the eight million volumes that make up the Bodleian Library’s vast reserves of knowledge sits a copy of the very first bubbemeise.


The biggest sins of spin

By Alex Kasriel, July 2, 2009

When it comes to political spin, the Israelis have a lot to learn from the Palestinians.

This is the view of marketing expert Jonathan Gabay, who has spent 30 years in advertising and whose new book, Soul Traders, looks at the impact of propaganda on popular culture.


Is this the real-life Jewish pirate who inspired Johnny Depp?

By Simon Round, June 25, 2009

If the key to getting attention for a new book relies to an extent on the title, Edward Kritzler has cracked it.

His new book is called Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean, which summons up visions of Yiddishe buccaneers, cutlass in one hand, tallit bag in the other, wreaking havoc on the high seas. It could almost be the title of a Mel Brooks movie.

But while there were indeed real Jewish pirates in the Caribbean, Kritzler, visiting London from his home in Jamaica, concedes the title of the book was “a commercial decision”.


I'm a man. And I’ve had breast cancer, honestly

By Gideon Schneider, June 17, 2009

I didn’t think a man could get breast cancer.” That was how most people reacted when Michael Rubenstein told them about his illness. Not that their surprise was the first thing on his mind. “I was too worried about having cancer to care too much about the fact that, usually, my illness only affects women,” he says.

The 59-year-old father of two from Enfield, north London was diagnosed with the disease in 2008. Male breast cancer is rare — there are only 300 new cases a year in the UK, compared to over 45,500 female cases.


A Shoah hero in the dock

By Leon Symons, June 17, 2009

Rudolf Kasztner is one of the most controversial figures of the Holocaust. To some, he is the hero who saved over 1,600 Hungarian Jews from the gas chambers; to others, a Nazi collaborator who bears responsibility for the death of hundreds of thousands at Auschwitz.

Since the end of the war, a debate has raged over the role of this Hungarian-Zionist leader in the tragic fate of his country’s Jewish community. Kasztner himself fell victim to the dispute when he was assasinated by a Holocaust survivor in Israel in 1957.


He won GPs their big bucks

By Michael Freedland, June 11, 2009

He is the medical man with 40,000 people who go to him when they are in trouble. He is the GP who has cases referred to him. He is, above all, the doctor you hear more on radio or television than any other or read about in the newspapers.


Off the ladder and down to business

By Alex Kasriel, June 4, 2009

Kim Schwartz
Was: Lawyer
Now: Tango teacher

Kim Schwartz, 33, worked as a corporate solicitor at international firm Norton Rose for four-and-half-years before she took a career break in Argentina to pursue her interest in tango. She returned three years later as a professional dancer and co-founded Tango Movement, a dance school and company, with her business partner David Benitez.


The oddest tribe in Judaism?

By Alex Kasriel, June 4, 2009

A ponytailed Filipino man in jeans is swinging his narrow hips as he pushes an elderly, Orthodox rabbi in a wheelchair. They arrive at a synagogue and while the rabbi discusses the Talmud with similarly aged and bearded clerics, his Asian carer sits to one side, singing along to Abba’s The Winner Takes It All on his personal stereo.

As culture clashes go, it is a fairly strange one. But what makes it even stranger is that the Filipino, Chiqui Diokno, is a drag artist in his spare time.


British olim in love with the Zionist dream

By Alex Kasriel, May 27, 2009

Politicians who can’t be trusted, a worsening international reputation and no peace anywhere in sight, Israel seems troubled. What do ordinary citizens think? We asked four emigrants from the UK:

The modern Orthodox Jew

Forty-four-year-old Simon Monk and his wife Nicole moved from Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, to Netanya 14 years ago. Their first child, Gabriella, was a baby when they arrived. Nicole, a teacher, and Simon, a banker and a member of the Netanya City Council, now have four other children.