The Diary

Bad call for shul visitors

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

Bar- and bat-mitzvahs may bring lots of people to shul but visitors still appear to struggle with Shabbat etiquette.

Security staff at one United Synagogue confiscated a staggering 45 mobile phones and two cameras at the door on a recent Saturday morning.

In another instance, the warden of a synagogue was asked by a visitor if his shul had Wi-Fi. But the biscuit must be taken by the man who managed to smuggle his mobile in to the service and was caught texting for a takeaway.

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Champion envoy

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

After her car was set upon by protesters during a visit to Manchester University, Israel’s Deputy Ambassador, Talya Lador-Fresher, may be glad her tour of duty is coming to an end here. But she can content herself with a job well done: Israel’s Foreign Ministry has just voted her its employee of the year for 2009.

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Game on at Chanucah

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

Here's how to while away those midwinter nights later in the year: a new board game for those who devour doughnuts and latkes rather than mince pies.

Maccabees pits Judah and his band of brothers against the evil Seleucids as they try to gather enough oil to relight the menorah.

The Chanucah game is being previewed next Tuesday at the "Christmas in July" exhibition in London's Camden Centre.

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Vanessa’s shrinking feeling

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

Vanessa Feltz hopes finally to have beaten those unwanted pounds. The radio hostess revealed this week that, after various failed diets, she has already shed 16lb from more than 16 stone, thanks to her new gastric band. The device that she believes can convert her into a “model of abstinence” was fitted by a Dr Focquet of Zottegem in Belgium.

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Niche service

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

When my colleague Nick Herman asked Amazon to deliver an order to the JC, the online company gave him the following tracking number: YID54857.

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Stacey, the embassy pin-up

By Simon Rocker, June 24, 2010

Stacey Solomon has a fan at the Israeli Embassy: press attache Amir Ofek has been sporting photos of the Dagenham diva as a screensaver on his computer.

The X Factor finalist is due to sing at the Zionist Federation's late Israel Independence Day concert in London on Sunday - delayed because the volcanic ash crowd prevented the travel of Israeli guests in April, notably headline act Achinoam Nini, aka Noa.

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Play it again, Shlomo

By Simon Rocker, June 24, 2010

South Hampstead’s African-born Rabbi Shlomo Levin apparently offered to blow a vuvuzela for a shofar at Rosh Hashanah if South Africa or England won the World Cup. What greater motivation could England want?

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And yes, pigs will fry...

By Simon Rocker, June 24, 2010

Irayne Paikin certainly knows how to make a sausage sizzle but I'm afraid I can't recommend you her prize-winning bangers.

Not only do they fail to carry the imprimatur of the London Beth Din - but some are made from pork.

Although Irene, 44, grew up in a kosher household in north London, she fled the city with her husband to Todenham Manor Farm in the Cotswolds, where they rear cattle and pigs and run a butchery.

Being Jewish remains "a real part of my identity", she says. "Every Friday night we have Shabbat on the farm, and we get fresh challah delivered."

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Keegan and the evil eye

By Simon Rocker, June 24, 2010

Was TV soccer pundit skipper Kevin Keegan wearing a chamsa(a hand-shaped amulet to foil the evil eye) during the England v Algeria game? Our resident charm squad is pursuing inquiries with a so far coy ITV.

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Martin Amis's blond moment

By Simon Rocker, June 24, 2010

One of the week's highlights was Martin Amis's talk at London's Wiener Library about his Shoah novel, Time's Arrow. Amis, arguing that the Nazi genocide defied explanation, said he was re-reading Sir Martin Gilbert's history of the Holocaust with the same incredulity as when he had first read it 20 years before.

He asked his first questions about the Nazis when seven years old. "Don't worry," his mother had told him. "You are blond, with blue eyes. Hitler would have loved you."

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