The Diary

He's clear, certainly

By Simon Rocker, February 24, 2011

Pity poor Robert Fisk, whose judgement has been made to look, er, rather strange by recent events.

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Mel the man for Madoff?

By Simon Rocker, February 24, 2011

Hollywood is reportedly planning to make a film about fraudster Bernard Madoff, now in the second year of his 150-year jail term.

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The poncho you can pray in

By Simon Rocker, February 18, 2011

After the Coen coat and the Shalom top shown here in recent months, could this be the ultimate in Jewish chic?

The spring offering depicted below is on sale here in high street fashion chain H & M.

But the Swedish-based company claims its designers did not draw on the synagogue.

"A Jewish prayer shawl was not used as inspiration," said an H & M spokesman. "The poncho style top was designed with current trends in mind. This one in particular is inspired by the '70's."

Still, I shudder to think what some rabbis will make of the garment if they spot it in the ladies' gallery.

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A lost tribe calls from Fiji

By Simon Rocker, February 18, 2011

Since King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, according to the Bible, it is not surprising that many peoples claim the energetic sovereign to have been their ancestor.

The representative of a new group of reputed descendants has emailed us for help, from Fiji. The Itaukei Jews - itaukei means "indigenous" in Fijian - wish to be recognised as of the faith and request a visit from our "chief president" to research their history and genealogy.

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St Matthew goes to shul

By Simon Rocker, February 18, 2011

Shul-goers were left wondering over the United Synagogue's leaflet on the weekly Torah portion last Shabbat. A helpful illustration of the High Priest's costume came with a quotation from an unexpected source, the Gospel of Matthew.

Could the Archbishop of Canterbury be making a bid to be next Chief Rabbi?

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A woman named Netanya

By Simon Rocker, February 18, 2011

What with Channel 4's The Promise and a documentary on children in Gaza, TV coverage of Israel was grimmer than usual this week. But a moment's relief came on BBC1's Graham Norton Show on Monday. A young woman in the red chair slot, where members of the public tell anecdotes, introduced herself as "Netanya" from Norfolk.

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The aliens reach Jerusalem

By Simon Rocker, February 10, 2011

Never mind if the Israelis and Palestinians cannot make peace because the matter is about to be taken out of their hands. A UFO (see bright light above) has been spotted over the Temple Mount - to the excitement of Michael Cohen of allnewsweb, the "world's only intergalactic daily news service". Veteran Scottish guru Benjamin Creme thinks the visitation sign of the impending arrival of the Messiah, or the Maitreya as he calls him (who he once believed to be living incognito in Brick Lane).

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No whisky galore

By Simon Rocker, February 10, 2011

The Liberal Jewish Synagogue, St John's Wood has a reputation for music and the singing at its centenary service last Shabbat by all accounts lived up to the occasion. But there are some things the Liberals still have to learn from the Orthodox. At the sumptuous kiddush afterwards, one guest reached for a shot glass of amber liquid which he thought was a whisky - only, to his horror, to down a tot of apple juice.

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Rabbi blue gets a call

By Simon Rocker, February 10, 2011

Why would Sir Patrick Stewart be wanting to have a word with Rabbi Lionel Blue?
His agent approached us for Rabbi Blue's contact details this week. Could the actor, who has traversed galaxies as Star Trek's Captain Picard, played mutant Professor X in The X-Men and soliloquised over invisible daggers on the Shakespearean stage, be thinking of making a biopic of Thought for the Day's most famous contributor?

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Chicken soup for Samantha

By Simon Rocker, February 10, 2011

Samantha Spiro, fresh from winning the Best Female Comedy Breakthrough Award for her portrayal of the dopey aunt in the sitcom Grandma's House, is heading for a more serious role this summer.

She will star as the Jewish matriarch Sarah Kahn in the Royal Court's long-awaited revival of Sir Arnold Wesker's Chicken Soup With Barley. The play, set amid the turbulent politics of the 1930s, was last staged by the Royal Court 50 years ago.

Spiro appeared in its sequel Roots as the non-Jewish Beattie a decade ago but she returns to Wesker, several awards and two daughters later.

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