The Diary

Our yiddishe madam

By Simon Rocker, January 7, 2010

I thought Big Brother had been put out of its misery but Channel 4 is inflicting one last celebrity version on us.

For followers of small screen Jewry, among this year’s entrants is Heidi Fleiss, whose claim to fame lies largely in having being jailed in the 1990s for supplying call girls to Hollywood’s rich and famous.

Her activities have since included running a laundrette in Nevada. The programme-makers must hope she’ll be washing her dirty linen in public.

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Pork's not all white

By Simon Rocker, January 7, 2010

Retired Israeli cardiologist Eli Landau is doubtless causing palpitations among his countrymen with the publication of a cookbook about his favourite food: pork. He claims that The White Book is the first in Israel devoted to the euphemistically called “white meat”.

Asked about the likely reaction from his religious compatriots, he replied: “I don’t bother them, they shouldn’t bother me. Live and let live.”

Advice not applied to the pigs, a stuffed specimen of which he was sewing up with surgical thread when his Sky News interviewer found him.

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Hornby’s second thoughts

By Simon Rocker, December 30, 2009

Author Nick Hornby has revealed he considered changing the Jewish identity of a key character in his new film, An Education, for which he wrote the screenplay.

It is based on journalist Lynn Barber’s memoir about her relationship as a teenager with an older man, called in the film David Goldman (as played by actor Peter Sarsgaard, below). Goldman is a dodgy wheeler-dealer whose contacts include the 60s racketeer Peter Rackman.

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No show Oborne

By Simon Rocker, December 30, 2009

One man unable to make Limmud was journalist Peter Oborne, presenter of Channel 4’s recent attempted expose of the Israel lobby in Britain. He was invited to speak at the conference. but was too busy on assignment in Zimbabwe to complete his application form in time.

Or was the Israel lobby secretly out there on safari?

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Limmud table talk

By Simon Rocker, December 30, 2009

Lots of feelgood fraternising at the Limmud conference where United Synagogue Rabbis Michael Rosenfeld and Natan Levy breakfasted with Liberal Rabbi Danny Rich, and Jewish Leadership Council chief exec Jeremy Newmark and his team courted the grassroots at the bar till 2am.

“Who says we are remote?” tweeted the still sober JLC head.

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Lock up your dummies

By Simon Rocker, December 30, 2009

On Edgware K, an email forum where kosher folk advertise barmitzvah lessons or announce the latest addition to their brood, the following message was posted: “Seeking a pregnant mannekin”.

Is some new golem on the loose in Middlesex? Or could there be any link to another message on the forum seeking loan of a “maternity wedding gown”?

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Yiddish test for Yentob

By Simon Rocker, December 30, 2009

Alan Yentob’s TV foray into Scrabble last week saw him take on the word game’s top woman player in a test to pick out genuine words from a list. “Kittel,” he was heard murmuring, “I’d rather like that to be a word”.

Kittel indeed is one: the white robe worn on High Holy Days by some Ashkenazim, which might explain its unfamiliarity to the Sephardi Yentob.

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Nude bikers' cold reception

By Simon Rocker, December 23, 2009

Riding bicycles may be ecologically sound but not in New York’s strictly Orthodox enclave of Williamsburg.

Chasidic residents successfully lobbied for the removal of a bike lane, citing parking problems and reportedly the invasion of scantily-clad riders.

In response, two-wheeled objectors had planned a protest last Saturday with a topless ride through the area.

But providence, and the weather, intervened: the downturn in temperatures forced the stripped protesters to cover up.

Is there a prayer for frost?

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One over the eight in Essex

By Simon Rocker, December 23, 2009

I hope you had yourselves a merry Chanucah. They certainly did at Buckhurst Hill Chabad House in Essex, with this whisky-filled menorah.

The 7ft lamp was made of pipes containing 65 litres of single malt donated by the Tullibardine Distillery in the Scottish Highlands.

A tap fitted to the stem of the menorah ensured that Rabbi Odom Brandman (pictured) and company could enjoy a regular flow of l’chaims.

Beats doughnuts any day.

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Mandy amid the latkes

By Simon Rocker, December 23, 2009

Although Gordon Brown was off in Copenhagen trying to cool the planet, Lord Mandelson was on hand to dispense good cheer at last week’s Downing Street Chanucah party.

Premier latkas all round for those there to enjoy them. But while entertainment types such as Josh Howie and Vanessa Feltz were present, many a communal official was miffed at not being on the guest list.

Still, there’s always Purim.

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