The Diary

A starry knight

By Simon Rocker, December 3, 2009

You would need a museum to house all the awards garnered by Sir Sigmund Sternberg for his interfaith diplomacy. And yesterday he was due one more. Already one of few Jewish papal knights (wife Hazel is also a dame), he is being upgraded with a star added to the knighthood — a “rare” accolade, according to an expert on Vatican honours.

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Paying out for Palwin's

By Simon Rocker, December 3, 2009

Supplies of Palwin have been in short supply this year, still one can only gasp at the lengths some people will go to lay hands on the vintage kiddush tipple. A bottle of No 4 fetched £85 at an auction at London’s Belsize Square Synagogue on Sunday. Its proud owner is reserving it for Pesach.

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Eilat hails vintage bentleys

By Simon Rocker, November 26, 2009

John and Edward are not the only twins making the running. Let me take you to downtown Eilat, where last Friday the crowds were roaring on the entrants in a European Cup triathlon to the finishing line.

Israeli triathlon champs, twins Ran and Dan Alterman, had predictably elicited the cheers but then spectators caught sight of another pair of twins further back in the field.

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The rabbi can wear a dress

By Simon Rocker, November 26, 2009

A controversy has been averted over Belsize Square Synagogue’s search for a successor to retiring Rabbi Rodney Mariner, who is 68.

There were rumblings among Liberal rabbis over a clause in the job description requiring the independent Progressive congregation’s rabbi to oversee male taharah (washing of the dead), which was taken to mean no woman need apply.

Further egalitarian hackles were raised when inquiries suggested that most congregants did, indeed, prefer a rabbi in trousers than a skirt.

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Christmas at the mosque

By Simon Rocker, November 26, 2009

The reindeer are glittering again on lamp-posts, office workers are placing orders for mistletoe and down at the East London Mosque they are making preparations for an “imams and rabbis’ Christmas dinner”.

The novel interfaith nosh-up has been arranged for the day before Christmas Eve by dialogue groups Children of Abraham and Scriptural Reasoning. No turkey though, just kosher and halal fish and veggie options, along with soft drinks of course and crackers pulled “in solidarity with our Christian friends”.

I am sure they will look lovely in their Santa hats.

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Pray with Easyjet

By Simon Rocker, November 26, 2009

If you recall, easyJet told us last week that they would be happy to allow a minyan on board their Tel Aviv-London routes but were unaware of any having taken place.

Well, I am pleased to update you. A Londoner flying back home has informed me that a few days ago he was approached by a member of the cabin crew asking him for the name of the evening prayer.

Whereupon an announcement duly came over the tannoy from the pilot inviting passengers to daven ma’ariv.

Now that’s what I call in-flight service. Wait till they making calls for grace after meals.

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Belle de Juives' pillow talk

By Simon Rocker, November 19, 2009

So now we know. Belle de Jour, the anonymous blogger and author of The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl, finally unmasked herself this week – as a now Bristol-based medical research scientist, Brooke Magnanti.

As we revealed three years ago, Belle was our Belle, who during an online interview fondly recalled Friday nights at her grandmother’s, Jewish youth summer camps and felafel in Israel.

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Two literary bedfellows

By Simon Rocker, November 19, 2009

Amos Oz and Philip Roth, both wrongly fancied for this year’s Nobel Prize, are up for another literary award, which, alas, is not one that they are likely to wish to add to the trophy store. They have been shortlisted by the Literary Review for the annual Bad Sex in Fiction award, set up to mock dubious descriptions of erotic activity.

Roth has been nominated for a scene in The Humbling, a tale of an ageing actor and a lesbian, while Oz for a novelist’s reveries about a waitress in Rhyming Life with Death.

I shall spare you further detail.

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What's the beef?

By Simon Rocker, November 19, 2009

A reader was perturbed by Gastropub owners Geronimo Inns’ plan to bring in some different cuts of meat, called clod, sticket, knuckle and “Jewish fillet”.

Does the last term not have some doubtful origin, he asked? It, in fact, refers to the forequarter portion popular in the kosher trade because the rabbis do not permit true fillet.

And why can’t you get kosher fillet? Don’t get me started on that.

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A foodian slip

By Simon Rocker, November 19, 2009

"This fantastic evening," said Norwood president Richard Desmond, introducing Carol Sopher, chairman of the charity’s annual dinner on Monday, "has been organised by Carole Sobell".

Whoops! Ms Sobell was not even the caterer, which was Tony Page. Made aware of the error, Mr Desmond continued, “Sorry Carol... What do you want to call me?”

The gracious hostess declined the offer. Any suggestions?

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