The Diary

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.”


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.”


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.”


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. 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.


Man gets maternity leave

By Simon Round, March 19, 2009

A Jerusalem resident has become the first gay man to be awarded maternity leave.

Yonatan Ger has received approval from the National Insurance institute to take 64 days’ “maternity” leave following the birth of his son to a surrogate mother in India.

Happily, father and baby are both doing well.


Is Mason racist in Yiddish?

By Simon Round, March 19, 2009

Unrecon-structed Jewish comedian Jackie Mason is in trouble for calling President Obama a “shvartze” during a performance in New York,

Mason used the term, which means “black” in Yiddish but is considered derogatory, during a performance at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency in New York City on March 12.

One audience member was quoted as saying, “He’s more offensive to the Jews than Madoff tonight.”

“I’m an old Jew. I was raised in a Jewish family where ‘schvartze’ was used,” said Mason. “It’s not a demeaning word.”


What a berko

By Simon Round, March 12, 2009

Just in case you thought that the phenomenon of the abusive football dad was confined to this country, here is a story from Israel.

One father subjected the coach of a school under-nines football team to such a vicious tirade of abuse that he has been sentenced to community service and ordered to pay compensation to the coach.

The offender was none other than former Premiership star Eyal Berkovic, who clearly has not mellowed since retirement. At least Berkovic was slightly more restrained than former West Ham team-mate John Hartson who infamously kicked the Israeli during training.


Mirren goes to cheder

March 12, 2009

Oscar-winning actress Dame Helen Mirren is taking her latest role as a former Mossad agent very seriously — so much so she has enrolled in Hebrew classes.

The 63-year old star is not only reportedly learning Hebrew in Israel for her part in The Debt, she is also reading about Israeli history.

So what next? Aliyah?


House prices at Purim

By Simon Round, March 12, 2009

If you are just off to buy a new mezuzah, having read in last week’s JC that the parchment-filled cylinder adds £10,000 to the price of of any property, perhaps you should be aware that Monday was Purim.

There was actually no survey indicating that houses increase in value if a mezuzah is nailed on the doorpost, and no website called


A cappel of autographs

By Simon Round, March 5, 2009

An American man has put on display what could be the world's most unusual collection of autographs.