The Diary

Mitzvah mobile: The iPhone app that checks your Jewishness

By Simon Round, February 25, 2010

It is said that there is an application for everything on the Apple iPhone. So what about an app to make you a holier Jew?

Well, now there is.

From America comes the mitzvah app - which is set to take the community by storm. The Orthodox world, which has traditionally been suspicious of digital technology, is embracing this development, although there is a minority that feels that the new app will herald a Big Brother culture in Judaism.

More..

Stacey pigs out on ITV

By Simon Rocker, February 25, 2010

I am sure Stacey Solomon must have had many an offer to sing at simchahs since X Factor stardom, but she certainly won't be advising on the catering.

Not after her appearance on Monday's This Morning show on ITV, where she was invited to sample the recipe of the day.

"This is the reason I came," cooed King Solomon High School's most famous graduate as she took a mouthful of the dish - belly of pork with shallots and gherkins.

More..

Ali for Jerusalem?

By Simon Rocker, February 25, 2010

Could Muhammad Ali be bound for Israel to take part in trials to treat Parkinson's Disease at Hadassah Hospital next year?

The boxing legend's daughter Rasheda Ali sits on the advisory board of Israeli company BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics, which is looking at stem cell treatments.

More..

Privy to US secrets

By Simon Rocker, February 25, 2010

What do the great men of the United Synagogue turn to for inspiration?

Spotted in the gents at the organisation's headquarters last week was a copy of Pulled Off At Half-Time, a collection of "football's finest quotes and funniest quips" with a foreword from former England international, Rabbi Rodney Marsh.

Next week: inside the loos at the London Beth Din.

More..

My yiddishe Mozart

By Simon Rocker, February 25, 2010

Music-lovers will be thrilled to hear that Sadler's Wells is to stage its newly completed version of an unfinished Mozart opera in the summer.

The genius composer wrote two acts of the work which is called Zaide before he put it to one side. He must have been waiting for Booba.

More..

Bedding down for Israel

By Simon Rocker, February 25, 2010

Much eye-popping online at the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students' new campaign to promote Israel to their fellow campusites.

Called "Size Doesn't Matter", it was launched with a video featuring a man in bed naked but for a strategically placed brochure of Israel, along with a woman making cheesy puns about oral sex.

It is "pretty provocative", agreed the federation's Rebecca Cherniak. But it is "a quick and witty way to grab the attention" of students many of whom "can't even pinpoint where Israel is on the map".

More..

Our friend, Chairman Ken

By Simon Rocker, February 18, 2010

It is reassuring to see that some in football's high places are acting to stamp out antisemitism on the terraces.

I bring you Leeds United chairman Ken Bates, fresh from Tuesday's game v Walsall, where he referred in the programme to a complaint from a fan about the chanting at the recent cup tie against Spurs.

"The substituting of 'Auschwitz' and 'Belsen' when the Spurs fans were singing that they were 'on the road to Wembley' is so old hat," he wrote.

More..

Driving rabbis quackers

By Simon Rocker, February 18, 2010

If you can't tell the difference between a mallard and a muscovy, you could be in trouble.

A poultry abattoir in New York's strictly Orthodox enclave of Kiryas Joel was recently ordered by rabbis to recall a consignment of doubtful ducks.

Now, the Torah specifies only what birds you cannot eat and duck is not among them. Later rabbis, however, instituted a rule permitting only birds where there existed an established local tradition of consumption.

More..

Lube milk for China

By Simon Rocker, February 18, 2010

A first for China- no longer will strictly kosher residents have to make do with powdered milk to dispense on their cornflakes.

A group of Beijing cows have been persuaded to lend their udders for the production of chalav Yisrael, fresh supervised milk. The dairy impresario is British-born Rabbi Shimon Freundlich, head of Lubavitch in the Chinese capital.

More..

Going for Goldie

By Simon Rocker, February 18, 2010

Goldie Hawn has apparently charmed the Tories with the idea of importing some of her education methods into UK schools.

Her charitable foundation promotes "deep belly breathing" and other exercises designed to help children focus better.

The goldilocked actress has a longstanding interest in Eastern spirituality as a Jewish Buddhist, or Buju - or should that be Jubu?

More..