Lifestyle features

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.


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.


Taking the religion out of circumcision

By Simon Round, February 12, 2009

In many parts of the world, when couples choose to have a family there is a strong preference for a boy. Not among secular Jewish couples, though. Reform rabbi Jonathan Romain has noticed the opposite preference — they nearly always hope for a girl. It is not that this section of the community has anything against baby boys, but rather that having a girl frees them from the responsibility of worrying about circumcision.


Israel's cyber warriors

By Lucy Tobin, February 12, 2009

When Joel Leyden speaks about Israel, 89,000 people listen. His name may not be familiar, but if you have ever used Google to look up anything on the Middle East, then you have probably had your search results influenced by him. And if you are one of the 150 million users of the social networking website Facebook, then it is likely that you have read something written by him. You might even be one of the almost 100,000 members of his group called “I support the Israel Defence Forces in Preventing Terror Attacks from Gaza.”


Recipe for seduction

By Simon Round, February 12, 2009

What are the essentials for seducing a man? A splash of expensive perfume, perhaps? A little black dress? Seductive body language? Well, according to author Penny Lewis, it is none of the above. What you need is a nice piece of steak, a tomato and a spud.

Lewis, with co-writer Sarah Lockett, has written The Dish, which is intended to show women how to incorporate food in a strategy to win men over. You should cook for your date, she feels, but don’t go making elaborate soufflés or that perfect sauce hollandaise — because the key to success is simplicity.


I came, I saw, I haggled; and then I paid full price

By Alex Kasriel, February 5, 2009

I’m standing in Carmelli bakery in Golders Green smiling sweetly at the good-looking man behind the counter, trying to persuade him to give me some money off the price of two medium challahs.

“You mean, you don’t do anything like buy one, get one half-price. Or anything else?” I ask hopefully, knowing that buying two is actually what is expected.

“No,” he says.

“Oh, go on,” I say, uncomfortably.

“I can’t. I’m sorry.”

“What about if I get one big one for less?”

“I’m sorry, I can’t give you a discount.”


Do the Hokey Cokey? So that’s what it’s all about

By Alex Kasriel, January 29, 2009

‘You put your left foot in, your left foot out; in out, in out, shake it all about.” The words may be familiar, but for many Catholics, the Hokey Cokey is reviled as an anti-Papist song written by Puritans in the 18th century which has been an expression of sectarian hatred ever since.

The song was the subject of a controversy as recently as last month when the Protestant fans of Glasgow Rangers football club were banned from singing it at Celtic Park, the home ground of their bitter Catholic rivals, Celtic.


PR guru’s work-life message

By Alex Kasriel, January 22, 2009

The idea of doing the dusting while listening to newspaper podcasts in order to spend time more productively might seem like multi-tasking gone mad. But that is what self-confessed serial networker and public relations supremo Julia Hobsbawm recommends in her new book, The See Saw: 100 Ideas for Work-Life Balance.


The Anglican priest who had a bris

By Alex Kasriel, January 15, 2009

The vicar of Putney has an uncomfortable feeling that his son should have had a bris.

The Reverend Dr Giles Fraser, a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Thought For The Day, has two girls and a boy with his Scandinavian wife, Sally. So far, so normal, except for the fact that his father is Jewish and he himself was circumcised.


Writing on the wall for kosher eateries?

By Simon Round, January 14, 2009

One of the scariest statistics for restaurateurs over the past few weeks must have been the rise in the sales of televisions. People hit by the recession are planning to stay in a lot more in 2009, and are sorting out their domestic entertainment accordingly. When finances are tight, people start to cut back on going out - and that includes visiting restaurants. So is the kosher dining industry, which has always struggled with high costs and consequently higher prices, about to feel the chill of the economic downturn?