The Diary

Shining example of a horse

By Simon Rocker, March 18, 2010

Hurrah for Menorah the horse, which got this week's Cheltenham Festival off to a flying start with an unexpected victory in the opening race.

Much celebration at Mill Hill Synagogue where I am told many congregants took the advice of a seasoned punter to back the horse, which recorded a 12-1 win over odds-on favourite Dunguib on Tuesday.

Menorah's trainer Philip Hobbs did not know how the champion steed got his name although he knew it was something to do with a Jewish candlestick.

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A little boy remembered

By Simon Rocker, March 18, 2010

The opening of London's renovated Jewish Museum on Wednesday coincided with a poignant anniversary: it would have been the 70th birthday of Barney Greenman, who was murdered in Auschwitz with his mother Esther.

Barney's father, Leon, survived to become one of Britain's best known speakers about the Holocaust, a tireless campaigner against racism for 60 years until his death two years ago aged 97.

Leon's experiences form the central part of the museum's Holocaust section, with Barney's shoes and the toy truck his father made for him among its most moving exhibits.

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BBC keeps it in the family

By Simon Rocker, March 18, 2010

The BBC announced that the regular presenter of Radio Two's The Arts Show, Claudia Winkleman, will not be at the mike tonight.

Instead, a celebration of World Poetry Day and other features will be fronted by stand-in host, her mum Eve Pollard.

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Daft ideas from the US

By Simon Rocker, March 18, 2010

The United Synagogue is close to reforming its by-laws, a byword for antiquated bureaucracy. But the revised version of the rules may be no better.

Outling the changes at a meeting this week, US vice-president Peter Zinkin presented on his powerpoint: "Daft 25 key issues."

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Oscar winner's JFS link

By Simon Rocker, March 18, 2010

Jewish Oscar winners may have been thin on the ground this year but here's one at one remove.

Christoph Waltz, who won best supporting actor for Inglourious Basterds, Quentino Tarantino's film about a Nazi-killing hit squad, is not Jewish himself. But he was married to Muswell Hill Synagogue member Jacqui Waltz.

During the filming, Waltz - who played a Nazi officer - checked on Yiddish usage with his son, JFS-educated Leon, who is studying in yeshivah in Israel.

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Mrs Grant strikes back

By Simon Rocker, March 11, 2010

Aussies moaning Israel's alleged use of their passports in Dubai have been put in their place by Tzofit Grant, wife of soccer boss Avram. "It’s so sexy to be Mossad, isn’t it," she told the Daily Telegraph. "I’m so proud of them. I feel more safe now I know they can kill bad people. But why should the Australians criticise? They sit on a beach, taking drugs, living like hippies, doing nothing… they don’t have any problems, except for kangaroos."

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Golda Meir's deadly head

By Simon Rocker, March 11, 2010

As we've reported, David Miliband is due to attend the reception to celebrate the renovation of the Israeli Embassy in Kensington.

But perhaps they should call in Llewellyn Lawrence Bowen first because one visitor shown round was distinctly underwhelmed by the décor.

The building was once William Thackeray's home and its prime feature is the music room with paintings of musical instruments on wood-panelled walls. But the new glass table and white chairs will have traditionalists wincing, believes our guide to good taste.

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Nigella's chicken soup date

By Simon Rocker, March 11, 2010

Along with BBC culture king Alan Yentob, the joint guest of honour at the reopening of London's expanded Jewish Museum is to be Nigella Lawson.

But I doubt whether she will have had any role in setting up one of the exhibits, "chicken soup being prepared in an immigrant kitchen".

In her TV recipes, the Domestic Goddess displays a pronounced fondness for dishes that would have the steam coming out of Moses's ears.

Don't mention the k-word, anyone.

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School's out for BNP

By Simon Rocker, March 11, 2010

The British National Party was all set to hail a victory it no doubt hoped presaged great things to come in the next election.

Its website had an item reporting a mock-election at top London school UCS, where the BNP contender came second.

It was all a joke, the school explained: the BNP candidate stood to satirise the party and its agenda - and attributed his good poll showing to the fact that he handed out biscuits.

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Entertaining Mr Biden

By Simon Rocker, March 11, 2010

American Vice President Joe Biden was not best pleased that during his visit to Israel its Interior Ministry announced that 1600 new homes were to be built in east Jerusalem: he reportedly turned up 90 minutes late to dinner with Bibi Netanyahu.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai explained to Yediot Achronot: "I greatly regret that the Vice President took it personally. I want to emphasise that this is a technical matter. There was nothing deliberate against the Americans or against the Vice President here. I didn't know this was going to happen today."

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