The Diary

Shalit activist's bare facts

By Simon Rocker, April 7, 2011

By June 25, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will have spent five years in captivity in Gaza after being kidnapped by Hamas.

Negotiations that at one time offered hope of his release last year appear to have stalled.

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Our favourite media friend

By Simon Rocker, April 7, 2011

Times editor James Harding, giving a talk to the Jewish Community Centre this week, asked the audience what they would like the newspaper to cover. "The new JCC," someone immediately piped up. Well, it had already done that, said Mr Harding, a member of Belsize Square Synagogue, in a long opinion piece by the paper's executive editor Daniel Finklestein.

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The politician and the punk

By Simon Rocker, April 7, 2011

Here's a gem for mishpachologists: housing minister Grant Shapps and Mick Jones, ex-guitarist of punk band The Clash, are cousins.

Jones was reportedly born to a Russian Jewish mother and lived for a time with her mother Stella in South London before joining the group, whose hits include London Calling and Should I Stay or Should I Go?

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Riddle of the Rosenbergs

By Simon Rocker, April 7, 2011

The programme of The Holy Rosenbergs, Ryan Craig's National Theatre play about an Edgware Jewish family, contains a four-page timeline of notable events in Jewish history.

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Jacobson on Corrie Street

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2011

You have probably heard enough about the absence of ethnic minority characters from ITV detective series Midsomer Murders.

But it prompted Howard Jacobson in his weekend Indie column to wonder why there are no Jewish folk on Coronation Street.

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Recognition for rugelach

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2011

There may have been no Jews in Coronation Street but the joys of Yiddish pastry have finally come to the attention of the custodians of the nation's linguistic heritage, the Oxford English Dictionary.

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A tale of two Tals

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2011

The Tal Ben Haim who scored the only goal in Israel's World Cup qualifier against Georgia on Tuesday was not the Premier League defender who is now languishing on the sidelines at Portsmouth because the club cannot afford his wages.

He was another Tal Ben Haim, striker for Maccabi Petah Tikva. We forgive the Guardian for muddling the two players up.

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Equal pray for women

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2011

The classical Greek comedy Lysistrata is about women starting a sex strike to stop their husbands going to war. But could the idea be taken up here? A participant at Sunday's Harrow Limmud, who complained of restricted opportunities for women in Orthodox synagogues, put forward the view that if men wanted women to share their beds, they ought to share the pulpit, too.

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High five for human rights

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2011

Last week we reported that four of the nine members of the new Commission on a Bill of Rights for Britain were Jewish.

Make that five. We mistakenly did not include the chairman of the panel, retired civil servant and Watford Synagogue member Sir Leigh Lewis.

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Paxman's Gaza withdrawal

By Simon Rocker, March 24, 2011

French author Bernard-Henri Levy out-jousted Jeremy Paxman on BBC Newsnight this week. After BHL recalled how he had phoned his president Nicolas Sarkozy from the Libyan rebel city of Benghazi, he was asked by Paxman whether he had not thought similarly about intervention when Israel had "laid siege" to Gaza.

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