The Diary

Oil's well that ends well

By Simon Rocker, December 17, 2015

Outnumbered, "they proved that freedom can prevail over tyranny. Hope can triumph over despair. Light can prevail over darkness," said American President Barack Obama at the White House Chanucah do. "That sounds like a description of the new Star Wars movie." After The Force Awakens, what next - The Dreidel Spins?

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Tree top surprise for JNF

By Simon Rocker, December 17, 2015

The JNF knows a thing or two about trees - it's planted 240 million of them in Israel.

But how this young ash (as I am told it is) came to make its home on the roof of JNF UK's London HQ remains a mystery to staff.

Now they are debating whether to transplant it to the Lord Sacks forest in Israel or let it stay put. I go for the JNF roof garden.

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His finger on Mr Trump’s pulse

By Simon Rocker, December 17, 2015

If Donald Trump were elected US president next year, at 70 he would be the oldest incoming incumbent. But age should be no impediment.

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Not quite Aston Hezbollah

By Simon Rocker, December 17, 2015

Here's a case of lost in translation. At a recent Aston Villa match, BBC's Match of the Day remarked on the presence of the club's ex-chairman Doug Ellis in "his Villa scarf". But, as the Birmingham Mail reported, the Beeb had to apologise for subtitles for the hard of hearing that said it was great to see Mr Ellis "with Hezbollah".

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A very merry Chrismukkah

December 10, 2015

Every year, Sharmini Selvarajah brings out the mince pies and latkes for a "Chrismukkah" party for family and friends.

From a British-Asian background, she grew up with Diwali and Christmas but after marrying her American Jewish husband, festivals like Pesach also entered the mix.

On Sunday week, she looked at the experience of mixed-faith celebrations in a Radio 4 programme, Chrismukkah and

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Israelis are in with a shout

December 10, 2015

If you're doing business with Israelis, you'd better learn how to shout and wave your arms.

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Break point

December 10, 2015

Our wishes for a speedy recovery to developer of the Shard, Irvine Sellar, who was due to attend a World Jewish Relief business breakfast but had to pull out after a mishap at tennis - he broke his nose when he ran into a wall.

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Pears picked

December 10, 2015

One of the top family trusts, the Pears Foundation, which donates £13 million a year, received the Directory of Social Change's Great Giver's award this year for its support of the Step Up To Serve campaign for youth social action.

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Pickling Nigella's fancy

December 10, 2015

Nigella Lawson may not be known for her traditional Jewish cuisine - her beer-braised pork knuckles spring to mind. But at JW3 on Monday night she revealed a "love for pickling" that attested to strong Ashkenazi roots. The cookery writer said her hobby for pickling veg had become so extreme that a Greek friend recently labelled her a "torsimaniac".

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Tranvested interest in Tel Aviv

December 10, 2015

London Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith found this to admire about Israel, as he recalled at a Conservative Friends of Israel lunch this week.

Staying once at a boutique hotel in Tel Aviv, he said: "When I arrived, I felt I was the only man in the room - it certainly felt like women's night.

"Then it dawned on me after a few moments, that it wasn't women's night.

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