The Diary

Beach huts Brazilian-style

January 12, 2014

Brazil, the venue for this year’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, aims to make Jewish visitors feel at home, judging from this photo taken by a reader in Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro

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Obama's Yiddisher brother

January 12, 2014

President Obama has a Jewish half-brother, Mark Baker, who was interviewed by Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv the other day. His mother Ruth was one of the four wives of Barack Obama’s father.

Raised in Kenya, Mark Baker professes “a strong sense of secular Jewish identity”. A pianist and author of Nairobi to Shenzhen: A Novel of Love in the East, he now lives in China.

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BBC's alternative Dreyfus case

January 12, 2014

There was a strong Jewish angle to the opening episode of the new series of BBC1’s Silent Witness; about the only thing missing was a shot of the JC on the lounge table.

The pathologists’ drama — a showcase for the props department with its grisly representations of scarred, scorched, mutilated and dismembered corpses — featured not one, but two Jewish families.

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From Parker to Peppa Pig

January 5, 2014

Veteran actor David Graham, who spoke recently at the Doctor Who 50th anniversary convention — he voiced Daleks — is set to reprise his most famous character of all. He will be voicing Parker, the cockney butler to Lady Penelope, in ITV’s remake of the classic series Thunderbirds, which is due to air next year.

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BBC's upside-down Talmud

January 5, 2014

The Talmud is probably the last book you’d expect to see on TV on Christmas Day.

But not only did a volume of the debates of the sages appear, it actually lent its name to BBC2’s adaptation of a ghost story by M.R.James, The Tractate Middoth.

The story hinges on a coded copy of a will secreted by a malevolent Christian priest in his Talmud.

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Martin Lewis is Google hit

January 5, 2014

Money Mensch Martin Lewis, who sold his business for a fortune earlier this year, enjoys a rare distinction. The personal finance expert, whose advice helps millions of consumers keep more pounds in their pocket, is the most Googled person in the UK, according to the Sunday Times.

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Wrong call on Christmas

January 5, 2014

Every rabbi must have their mobile-going-off-in-shul story. One Orthodox rabbi at Limmud recalled how the service was interrupted by a phone in the women’s gallery one Shabbat morning which happened to coincide with Christmas Day. But at least the ringtone was appropriate: Jingle Bells.

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A penny for his thoughts

January 5, 2014

Veteran activist Gershon Baskin, whose book The Negotiator detailed his role in freeing Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity, is the latest author to turn to the web for support.

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Generosity shown in spades

December 15, 2013

United Synagogue chief executive Jeremy Jacobs, attending his final council meeting on Monday, would have been pleased with his parting gift: a decanter, a set of glasses and a bottle of malt. He is the ideal man to advise your kiddush club, as a member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

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Calling foul on Heston's fish

December 15, 2013

It seems an unwritten rule of television that pretty well every dish cooked by celebrity chefs is something kosher-keeping Jews can’t eat.

Take Heston Blumenthal’s Great British Food this week, which was devoted to fish and chips.
The programme mentioned its partial origins in the Jewish East End.

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