The Diary

Punch and Juju

By Simon Rocker, November 5, 2009

Wanted: four to six “fairly observant” Jewish lads, aged between 16 and 25, willing to spend a weekend in Newcastle next month with some Muslim peers for a video project. Filmmakers Juju Productions want to record the “jovial rivalry” between the two groups, culminating in a trip to watch the world boxing title fight between Muslim Amir Khan and Jewish Dmitry Salita in the city on the night of Saturday December 5.

The young spectators are meant to bond in interfaith fraternity while their light-welterweight role models try to pound each other to a pulp.

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Cohen sings the carols

By Simon Rocker, November 5, 2009

Of course, next month’s Christmas Carol Singalong at London’s Albert Hall had to be led by one Jonathan Cohen.

The festive musician, whose credits include Playschool and Rentaghost, hails from the wouldn’t-have-got-into-JFS branch of Cohens, being of paternal Jewish descent, as well as a former church organist.So little chance of him slipping in Maoz Tzur between the herald angels and merry gents.

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Friend and F.O.

By Simon Rocker, November 5, 2009

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Arens found a warmer reception at the Foreign Office than on his last visit 20 years ago.

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Hats off to Lady Hayman

By Simon Rocker, October 29, 2009

A haimishe start for the Chief Rabbi at the House of Lords. When the new Lord Sacks of Aldgate, who took his seat among his fellow peers for the first time on Tuesday, acknowledged the Lady Speaker with a ceremonial sweep of his hat, Baroness Hayman responded with a greeting yet to be formally recorded in the etiquette books: “Mazeltov”.

The Chief had just come from over the road at the Supreme Court, where he and Lady Sacks had sat in for half an hour or so on the JFS case on some rather grand chairs especially reserved for them.

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Refreshes the peyot

By Simon Rocker, October 29, 2009

Allow me to introduce a beverage of indisputable uniqueness, the world’s first Cornish, organic, vegetarian and kosher-supervised beer.

Mashkeh Gold, brainchild of Emanuel Solinsky of Stamford Hill, has taken its place among Britain’s premier ales complete with Kedassia label.

Lest you wonder why anyone would want kosher, veggie beer, bear in mind that isinglass — from the non-kosher sturgeon — is used as a fining agent in the manufacture of some ales.

So now you know what the Adath Beth Din would settle down with to watch the footie — if they had a TV.

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Boy George back in shul

By Simon Rocker, October 29, 2009

This month’s celebrity shul-goer award goes to former Culture Club chanteur Boy George. Not only was he in synagogue in St John’s Wood over Yom Kippur, but on Sunday he turned up unexpectedly at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue for a ’60s social evening with friends Philip Sallon and New York singer Coby Koehl.

The visiting George apparently enjoyed the retro fare: hot dogs and fish-paste sandwiches.

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Common goals

By Simon Rocker, October 29, 2009

Cousins Assaf Gavron, an Israeli sci-fi award winner, and Jeremy Gavron, author of The Book of Israel, are not only both novelists. They both play for their respective national Writers’ football teams. Assaf skippers the Israeli XI, while Jeremy defends for England. When the two teams last met, Israel won 3-2.

The two will face up on a Jewish Book Week panel in spring. Let’s cut the lit-chat and have a penalty shoot-out.

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Miliband and the mensch

By Simon Rocker, October 22, 2009

Put David Miliband in a roomful of a Jewish leaders and you would expect the odd sharp word to fly.

Less than a month ago he uncanned the worms by suggesting that the Conservatives had got into bed in Europe with little better than the Polish and Latvian equivalents of the BNP. Cue outraged Tories, whispers of protest from the Board of Deputies, more outraged Tories, and members of the Jewish Leadership Council upset with the Board for upsetting the Conservatives.

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Mary, Mary, very contrary

By Simon Rocker, October 22, 2009

Here’s why the London Review of Books, house mag of left-leaning literati, has little good to say of Israel. Its Jewish editor Mary-Kay Wilmers told the Sunday Times: “I’m unambiguously hostile to Israel because it’s a mendacious state. They do things that are just so immoral and counterproductive and, as a Jew, especially as a Jew, you can’t justify that.”

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No Shnapps for shnips

By Simon Rocker, October 22, 2009

Knesset member Yariv Levin’s proposal to slap a ban on alcohol for minors has not gone down well with Lubavitch, who have never seen a problem with a l’chaim or two.

A Lubavitch website recently reassured youngsters going on shidduch dates that it was fine to enjoy a drink in a general bar – as long as they avoided slices of lemon or lime because they are cut by a non-kosher knife.

Bang go the G&Ts, then.

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