The Diary

Lasers for bug battle

By Simon Round, April 14, 2009

It’s kashrut inspectors meets Star Wars in the Israeli town of Tiberias, where shomers are to be armed with laser guns in order to fight the good fight — not against Darth Vader but against bugs in salad.

The guns zap the insects with a lethal beam. Every inspector will be required to be armed during de-bugging missions.

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Chabad’s matzah mules

By Simon Round, April 14, 2009

Chabad is not normally the kind of organisation to be involved in organised crime, but over Pesach it mounted a huge smuggling operation into Iran.

Chabadniks turned Matzah mules to import secretly large quantities of unleavened bread into the country to keep Iran’s 20,000 Jews supplied over the festival.

While the authorities allow Jews to practise freely, the import of any goods from Israel is strictly forbidden, which is a problem for Jews who have been unable to bake enough matzah to feed the entire community.

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Tesco’s PR problem

April 7, 2009

This week’s report on Tesco’s Israeli goods helpline may have revealed a deeper problem with the supermarket’s approach to Jewish issues.

After calling the company press office last week, our reporter was told: “It’s Friday afternoon, I would have thought you lot at the JC would have the afternoon off.”

When the reporter replied that the office would soon be closing, the spokesman replied: “Lucky you.”

Tesco claims “Every little helps”, but presumably this level of assistance was not what Jewish businessman Jack Cohen had in mind when he founded the company.

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An age-old tradition

By Simon Round, April 7, 2009

Brit milah usually takes place at the age of eight days. However, this week two men who missed the eight day mark — by more than 80 years — had the procedure carried out in Israel.

An 87-year-old man and another aged 81 were circumcised by the Achim-Brit Yosef organisation.

Better late than never.

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Israel in dog house

By Simon Round, April 2, 2009

There is both good news and bad news for Israel’s relations with Jordan (the country not the model).

The good news is that, even in the midst of Israel’s Gaza offensive, Jordan’s King Abdullah felt able to ask Israel for help… in treating his pet dog. The sick hound was secretly rushed to Israel for emergency treatment at the country’s most advanced veterinary centre — the Beit Dagan Hospital..

Unfortunately for the dog and possibly for Israeli-Jordanian relations, vets at the clinic were unable to save King Abdullah’s beloved pooch.

But they did say sorry.

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Nigella’s winning sat- nav recipe

By Simon Round, April 2, 2009

In a poll of (presumably male) drivers, the rather breathy and seductive tones of Nigella Lawson have made her Britain’s favourite sat-nav voice.

Not only can Nigella instruct you on how to make the fluffiest sponge cake, she can also get you from Hendon to Gants Hill. Talk about multi-tasking.

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Sir Alan: some jews are miserable (but not me)

By Simon Round, April 2, 2009

In a recent interview in The Guardian, Sir Alan Sugar commented on the fact that while he had been left out of the JC’s Power 100 of this country’s most influential Jews, the JC had attempted to make amends by declaring him The Most Entertaining Jew on TV. Sir Alan said (rather miserably, we thought): “Well, it’s not hard to be number one entertaining Jew. Some of them are quite bleeding bloody miserable, really.”

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The hot dog riots

By Simon Round, March 26, 2009

There have been some unusual disturbances over the years but there cannot have been many more bizarre than the Brooklyn hot dog riot which broke out at a New York restaurant this month.

Customers at The Shawarma King deli spotted a non-kosher frankfurter wrapper, then spotted a cook barbecuing the sausages on the grill.

In the ensuing disturbance the cook was surrounded by angry customers.

He flourished an electric knife to fend off the crowd.

One man told a news station: “I was petrified. I want to live. I don’t want to get stabbed for a hot dog.”

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Yes Minister goes dutch

By Simon Round, March 26, 2009

Thirty years after the first episode of Yes Minister was screened, Dutch TV has finally decided to buy the rights to the series.
But in the Dutch version Sir Humphrey Appleby will be… a woman.
Jonathan Lynn, the Jewish co-writer of the comedy said: “Why not? Jim [Hacker, the minister] would be even more reluctant to confront Humphrette.”

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Prayer? We’ll do it for you

By Simon Round, March 26, 2009

Technology is certainly making things easier for observant Jews. Among the most recent innovations is a website for those too busy to pray — it says it will to do it for you.

Informationageprayer.com claims that it can recite Jewish, Christian or Muslim prayers for only $1.99 per month.

Although it has had more than 15,000 hits in a week, very few people have taken the service up so far, said co-founder James Mcarlos.

Meanwhile, Yiddish speaking Israelis with sense-of-direction issues can now buy a Yiddish satnav.

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