The Diary

The Chief Rabbi's successor

By Simon Rocker, September 24, 2009

While the Chief Rabbi prepares to don his ermine next month, speculation is growing over who is likely to succeed him as mainstream Orthodoxy’s spiritual supremo.

The soon-to-be Lord Sacks of Aldgate is due to retire in three and half years on reaching 65. But whereas he was tipped for the top job long before he was chosen, seasoned rabbi-watchers are finding it hard this time to name a frontrunner.


Stung by fake honey

By Simon Round, September 17, 2009

In the run-up to Rosh Hashanah, Israeli Ministry of Agriculture officials are warning consumers to beware fake honey. Consumers have been, er, stung, by a brand of honey, manufactured in central Israel, which was found in tests to have been nowhere near a bee.

The works — a hive of criminal activity — was also found not to meet minimum sanitary standards.

Hopefully the charges will stick.


VW Beetle is Jewish

By Simon Round, September 17, 2009

The Volkswagen Beetle was always said to have been the personal work of Hitler himself.

However, it now seems that the people’s car was designed by… a Jew. Dutch writer Paul Schilperoord alleges in The True Story of the Beetle that the car may well have been designed by a Jewish engineer called Josef Ganz.

“Even the name Volkswagen was originally Ganz’s,” says Schilperoord.


Bevis and the banks

By Simon Round, September 9, 2009

Last week we reported that Rabbi Nathan Asmoucha had been suspended by the mahamad (executive) of the Spanish Portugese Jews’ Congregation because he had taken part in an interfaith rally against high bank interest rates.

A disciplinary hearing found that he had taken part in a political event without the proper authorisation from the congregation’s spiritual head, Rabbi Abraham Levy.

We were surprised therefore to see the same Rabbi Levy’s words in the latest edition of The Sephardi bulletin. “We have lost faith in many of our bankers,” he says.


Israeli is challenged

By Simon Round, September 9, 2009

On this week’s University Challenge, Imperial College London was captained by Gilad Amit from Israel. Imperial won easily and Amit was very good — except when he was asked, “What is the area of land that Jordan held between 1949 and 1967 and that Israel calls Judea and Samaria?” He looked confused but with a little help from his colleagues he got it. Yes it is the West Bank.


Why Lipman abandoned ship

By Simon Round, September 9, 2009

The Daily Telegraph’s Mandrake column suggests that Maureen Lipman pulled out of a cruise organised by The Oldie magazine because she could not stomach the thought of spending time with Richard Ingrams — a vociferous critic of Israel.

Completely wrong, Lipman tells us. “I’m not going on the cruise because I have to work and also because I was not happy with the way they advertised it as ‘cruise with Maureen Lipman’.

“I regularly tell him [Ingrams] what I think of him but it would not have stopped me going on the cruise.


Warning blast

By Simon Round, September 3, 2009

Rabbis in Israel are warning shofar blowers to avoid cheap imports from Morocco and China.

The Tel Aviv Religious Council’s Ritual Object department has called on the general public not to use shofars made in these two countries.

Moroccan shofars, which have been increasingly seen in the past year, tend to be glued with polyester, making them unsuitable. And as for the Chinese ones, they are even worse — some are said to be smeared with pig fat.

Looks like Israelis will need to swap them for kosher shofars if they are not to hit the wrong note over Rosh Hashanah.


Baby, what an invention

By Simon Round, September 3, 2009

If you are the kind of person who absent mindedly leaves your small child in the car at the end of a journey, Israeli scientists have an invention for you.

Idan Nahami and Moshe Attias developed a system which delivers a warning to take the child out of the car. More to the point, the system will also tell you if you have left a carton of milk on the back seat.


Three pints and a falafel

By Simon Round, September 3, 2009

Britain, it seems, is becoming more Israeli — in one important respect at least.

According to a new survey, falafel is fast becoming the post-pub fast-food of choice.

Manchester’s famous curry mile is fast becoming falafel central, says Professor David McEvoy, who has been tracking the city’s immigrant population for 20 years.

Middle Eastern restaurants are fast taking over from Indian eateries — up 13 per cent in the past seven years. And the common denominator among them is falafel.


Pantomime dame?

By Simon Round, August 27, 2009

You have seen the newspaper reports and read the book — now you can hear the play.

Shirleymandering, commissioned for Radio 4, will tell the story of Dame Shirley Porter who as leader of Westminster Council, was involved in the “council homes for votes” scandal.

According to Andrew Hosken, who wrote the book on which the play is based, the part of Porter is about to be cast with Imelda Staunton tipped to get the starring role.

Surely, there will ultimately be a musical based on the affair. Someone call Maureen Lipman.