The Diary

The phone call left hanging

March 2, 2014

One item proved too raw for London’s “richest annual banquet of writers” — Jewish Book Week.
The programme said that Andrew Sachs (Fawlty Towers’ Manuel) would tell his story, from his childhood in Nazi Germany to “the intrusion into his privacy by phone calls from Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross”.

More..

Naughty boys calendar uncovered

February 28, 2014

The annual Nice Jewish Boys calendar will appeal to Jewish mums eyeing up future sons-in-law. But there is a raunchier rival. The Naughty Jewish Boys calendar will go from “shirtless to nude”, its creator Duncan Pflaster promised Heeb magazine. “There won’t ever be anything pornographic, just beefcake shots like one might see in Playgirl, only with yarmulkes.”

More..

Delivered by male order

February 24, 2014

Some glass ceilings seem unlikely to crack. This flier promises a formidable cast of rabbis to speak a seminar on “Principles of Faith”— which is being held for women. If there is a female lecturer on the bill, she is being kept under wraps for now.

More..

Bafta star's no minyan man

February 23, 2014

There were extra smiles in Stanmore and cheers in Cheadle when Will Poulter collected his Rising Star award at the Baftas last Sunday.

The 21-year-old English actor had a Jewish mum, according to a Wikipedia entry. But tribal pride proved short-lived: after further inquiries, Mrs Poulter herself rang us to tell us that neither she nor her son happens to be Jewish.

More..

John Kerry's mitzvah days

February 23, 2014

One of the guests at last week’s special service at Westminster Synagogue to honour its collection of Czech scrolls was none other than the Jewish brother of US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Cameron Kerry was part of a delegation from Boston’s Temple Israel led by his wife, and its president, Kathy Weinman. Their community has one of the scrolls salvaged from the Nazis.

More..

Cone, shmone, do me a flavour

February 16, 2014

My favourite story of the week comes from Rabbi Gerald Skolnik, president of the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly, who was over here for the Masorti movement’s annual learning day.

More..

Spielberg on ice

February 16, 2014

Russian ice-skater Julia Lipnitskaia captivated spectators with her gold-medal turn at the Winter Olympics. But the 15-year-old champion raised an eyebrow with her music for one routine, the theme tune to Schindler’s List. I wonder what people would have made of it had she chosen something from The Producers.

More..

New home for Oxford Jewish centre

February 16, 2014

Behold the correct picture of the new home of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies from September — the Clarendon Institute, a late Victorian building once used by Oxford University Press. The photo that appeared in last week’s JC was of the separate Clarendon Building, which was also linked to OUP but opened in the early 18th century. Only a couple of hundred years out.

More..

Free passage for Czech Torah

February 16, 2014

This cargo on a flight from Canada to London was too precious for the luggage hold. It contains a rare Czech Sefer Torah brought by Vancouver’s Temple Sholom to a special service In London (see p15). Air Canada allotted two seats for it, free of charge.

More..