The Diary

Dominic Grieve reveals Jewish ancestry

July 20, 2012

A full house for Friday-night dinner at West London Synagogue last week, where guest speaker Attorney General Dominic Grieve revealed his Jewish ancestry.

His great-grandfather was Sir George Roberts, a philanthropist who made donations to charity under the name “Audax”.

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New UK poll: hostility towards Israel drops

July 20, 2012

Hostility towards Israel among the British public has dropped over the past couple of years, according to a survey conducted by foreign affairs think tank Chatham House and Yougov.

Respondents were asked to say which countries they felt favourable and unfavourable towards.

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British Olympian honoured in America

July 20, 2012

One of British Jewry’s rare Olympians has been singled out for a special honour by New York’s National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

Ben Helfgott, who captained the British weightlifting teams in the 1956 and 1960 Games, has won the Dick Steinberg Good Guy Award.

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Missing Dictionary

July 12, 2012

The British Library, which likes to keep a copy of every UK book, is having difficulty laying hands on a special version of the Oxford schools dictionary, adapted for use in Charedi schools. The one that omits words such as “homosexual” or “prostitute”. Can anyone oblige?

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A Soloveichik for Chief Rabbi?

July 12, 2012

Much excitement as rumours began to circulate among UK rabbis this week that the next Chief Rabbi could well be Meir Soloveichik, scion of one of America’s most famous rabbinic families.

The great-nephew of the revered Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik will be visiting the UK in autumn as guest speaker at Lord Sacks’s annual High Holy Day conference.

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Intifada at Rada

July 12, 2012

Alon Tiran is the only Israeli studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. As part of the college’s festival, he directed a play, Masked, by his compatriot Ilan Hatsor, in which he cast three half-British, half-Arab actors to play three Palestinian brothers.

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Grayson Perry is friends with the Israel Philharmonic

July 12, 2012

High-profile attempts to disrupt Israeli cultural performances in the UK inevitably capture the headlines. But don’t forget the many artists who do not sing the boycotters’ tune. Like, for example, the Turner Prize-winning potter Grayson Perry, who recently addressed a recent event on behalf of the British Friends of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Black Keys star likes chicken soup

July 6, 2012

This year’s Reading Festival will be graced by one of America’s hottest rock acts, the Black Keys, whose guitarist Dan Auerbach (below) is the son of a Jewish antique dealer from Ohio.

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Talmud party for South Bank

July 6, 2012

When much of the country will be glued to the Olympics at the end of the month, a rather different kind of marathon will be celebrated at the Royal Festival Hall.

A large crowd from Stamford Hill and other Torah-true centres will come to the South Bank to mark the end of a study cycle of the entire Babylonian Talmud.

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Small talk from Dr Ruth

June 28, 2012

Israeli President Shimon Peres’s annual conference in Jerusalem last week attracted political heavyweights such as Tony Blair and Henry Kissinger. The eminent assembly discussed the weighty issues of the day: Israeli social protests, American policy in the Middle East, the world economy going belly-up.

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