The Diary

Missing Michael Winner

By Simon Rocker, January 27, 2011

A sell-out crowd of 200 waited for the speaker at the London Jewish Cultural Centre on Tuesday. And waited. And waited.

But instead of a good night's raconteuring from Michael Winner about his life in "movies and other places", the audience had to settle for a refund. Because he failed to show.

Such a thing has not happened at the LJCC since the Archbishop of Canterbury got the wrong North End Road and turned up in Earls Court rather than Golders Green - although he made it, an hour late, eventually.

More..

This cartoonist's no joke

By Simon Rocker, January 27, 2011

A caricature of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dressed as a Jewish settler appeared on the Guardian's "Palestine Papers" blog this week.

It was drawn by the Brazilian Carlos Latoff who, the Just Journalism website recalled, won second prize in the International Holocaust Cartoon Competition in 2006 - a cynical stunt staged by an Iranian newspaper and condemned by the United States as an attempt to "denigrate the horror that was the Holocaust".

More..

Rocking rabbi's record deal

By Simon Rocker, January 21, 2011

Put your hands together for Rabbi Danny Bergson of Glasgow's Newton Mearns Hebrew Congregation, member of a multi-faith singing group which has just been signed up by a record label.

The group, All Faiths, has been assembled by songwriter and promoter Jeff Chegwin and Nick Patrick, who has produced records for Katherine Jenkins and Russell Watson.

Other members include the chaplain for Derby County FC, a Buddhist nun and The Times religious correspondent Ruth Geldhill.

More..

The shabbat book snatcher

By Simon Rocker, January 13, 2011

A couple of men went to an Orthodox synagogue in London for a friend's son's barmitzvah. They both brought some reading matter for any longueurs during the service.

After one of them was called up to the Torah, he returned to his seat to find his book missing. The other guest's book also went awol, too.

When their friend later discussed the vanished volumes with a synagogue officer, he was told that books disapproved of were liable to removal.

One of the books was written by Martin Buber, the other by the Chief Rabbi.

More..

Your bet for Chief Rabbi?

By Simon Rocker, January 13, 2011

Bookies have begun taking bets on the successor to Lord Sacks as Chief Rabbi.

According to Paddy Power, Rabbi Harvey Belovski, the Oxford and Gateshead-educated spiritual leader of Golders Green United Synagogue is 6/4 favourite.

He is followed by Rabbi Shaul Robinson (ex-Barnet now at New York's Lincoln Square Synagogue) at 13/8, and Rabbis Naftali Brawer (Borehamwood and Elstree United) and Yitzchak Shochet (Mill Hill United) at 5/1.

But you can always take a punt on Lord Sugar 250/1 or Vanessa Feltz, David Miliband and Sacha Baron Cohen (below), each of whom 500/1.

More..

Beeb's man in Jerusalem

By Simon Rocker, January 13, 2011

It's taken him six months to get there. But finally the BBC's new man in Jerusalem, Kevin Connolly, arrived this week from Washington to take up the position left vacant by Tim Franks. We wanted to know if he looked forward to swapping hot dogs for falafel in his first Middle East posting but after six months' requests for an interview, he is still proving coy.

More..

Unlikely pairing

By Simon Rocker, January 13, 2011

In the photo gallery of strictly Orthodox newspaper Hamodia last week - usually a parade of generously bearded rabbis praying, dancing and greeting followers - came this item: a celebration of "the engagement of the son of the Kuzhmir Rebbe to the son of the Biale Bnei Brak Rebbe".

I suspect a misprint - or is there something the Charedi rabbinate isn't telling us?

More..

Of wealth and waist lines

By Simon Rocker, January 13, 2011

The Sunday Times went dipping into Jewish sociology last week. Here's restaurant critic A.A.Gill: "They say there are two types of hypochondria: French and Jewish. French hypochondria is the irrational fear that you're ill because you've eaten too much, and Jewish hypochondria is the irrational fear that you're wasting away because you haven't eaten enough."

More..

Rothschild wedding stars

By Simon Rocker, December 29, 2010

A high celebrity count at last week's marriage of Jessica de Rothschild and screenwriter Sacha Gervasi at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, St John's Wood and the Criterion Restaurant.

The bride is the daughter of Liberal Judaism patron Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, the groom the father of Spice Girl Gerri Halliwell's daughter, Bluebell.

The wedding party included actress Helena Bonham Carter and her partner, director Tim Burton, and Duran Duran lead singer Simon Le Bon, according to tweeting guest Sarah (Mrs Gordon) Brown.

More..

Cocaine on the brain

By Simon Rocker, December 29, 2010

It is certainly one of the catchier titles among next year's books: Freud on Coke.

David Cohen, who published an account of Freud's flight from Nazi-occupied Vienna, The Escape of Sigmund Freud, last year, takes a more obscure episode for his new book: the psychoanalyst's early experiments with cocaine.

On the subject of Jews and narcotics, I could hardly ignore legendary Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richard's tribute to his cocaine supplier for many years, the late Freddie Sessler.

More..