The Diary

Survivor plays on

By Simon Rocker, December 1, 2011

Remarkable would be too slight a word for Alice Herz-Sommer, thought to be the world's oldest Holocaust survivor, who celebrated her 108th birthday on Sunday.

The Belsize Park-based concert musician, who spent the latter years of the war incarcerated in Terezin, still plays her piano daily.

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Interfaith at the palace

By Simon Rocker, December 1, 2011

The Queen reportedly reads the Racing Post over breakfast every morning but it seems Prince Philip may enjoy a different publication - this one.

On Monday, 350 members of the British media gathered at Buckingham Palace for a reception to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee next year.

Spotting JC editor Stephen Pollard, the Duke of Edinburgh gestured towards him and told Catherine Pepinster, edi

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Thermal sheitl?

By Simon Rocker, December 1, 2011

Dedicated followers of frum fashion must not miss the "Winter Wig Fest" which is coming to Golders Green and Stamford Hill next week, courtesy of a New York bridal company.

I wonder what makes a winter wig different from its summer counterpart.

Fur-lined perhaps?

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Well-groomed wedding date

By Simon Rocker, December 1, 2011

American Steve Greenberg made history a decade ago when he came out as the first openly gay, Orthodox rabbi.

Now he has just become the first Orthodox rabbi to conduct a same-sex marriage.

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Mosque's Rabbinic result

By Simon Rocker, December 1, 2011

You won't see this very often but the other day you would have found Dayan Ivan Binstock of the London Beth Din, Masorti Senior Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Liberal chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich and Edgware Reform Synagogue's Rabbi Daniel Smith all happily sitting on the same panel and talking about Judaism.

Needless to say, this display of inter-denominational fraternity did not take place in

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Rabbi ties wedding strings

By Simon Rocker, November 24, 2011

Rabbi Stuart Altshuler, of Belsize Square Synagogue, was in the South of France on Sunday, officiating at the marriage of top violinist Maxim Vengerov to Olga Gringolts, from St Petersburg (sister of well-known classicist violinist Ilya).

The rabbi, a keen amateur violinist, became friends with Vengerov after going to a concert in Chicago and meeting backstage.

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Shek for the knesset?

By Simon Rocker, November 24, 2011

Could former Bicom head and Israel's ex-ambassador to France, Danny Shek, be shortly to swap the diplomatic bag for the ballot box?

Friends say that he has intimated of late that he would not be averse to seeking a Knesset seat with Kadima.

When we caught up with him, he said he was a party member and on leave of absence from the Foreign Ministry, but he would not confirm any electoral ambit

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Unaware of the protocols

By Simon Rocker, November 24, 2011

A copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was on sale at the weekend at, of all places, a bookstall run on behalf of the Morning Star at a Labour conference.

Ivan Beavis, who ran the stall, said that the communist newspaper receives hundreds of items donated by well-wishers to raise money for it.

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If you want to be chief

By Simon Rocker, November 24, 2011

Watch out soon for an advertisement inviting applications for the next Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations.

I don't know if the post – with a salary comparable to the Prime Minister's £140,000 - has ever formally been advertised before.

But the Chief Rabbi selectors have been advised to take the precaution because of immigration rules.

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Abbey tribute for Sir Simon

By Simon Rocker, November 17, 2011

It is not often that you will hear Kaddish said at Westminster Abbey.

But the memorial prayer was recently recited at a service of thanksgiving for the deputy mayor of London, Sir Simon Milton, by his civil partner Robert Davis.

Also taking part in the commemoration for Sir Simon, who died in April aged 49, were Rabbis Steven Katz and Baroness Neuberger.

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