The Diary

Wembley's soccer shocker

By Simon Rocker, May 21, 2010

Football's authorities may have tried to kick racism out of the sport but this t-shirt slipped through the Wembley turnstiles at the FA Cup final at the weekend.

Jewish Chelsea supporter Michael Coplans spotted it as spectators left the stadium after the game.

Taking its wearer to be a fan of opposing club Portsmouth, he said; "I can only think the 99 is a reference to their financial problems and the Yid is a reference to [Israeli manager] Avram Grant.

"I was flabbergasted. I sent the picture to a couple of Jewish friends and they were appalled by it, too."

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Greybeard's revenge

By Simon Rocker, May 21, 2010

The Board of Deputies struck a blow for senior citizenry on Sunday when it removed the age limit on the presidency and officer posts.

Lest it ever be thought a gerontocracy, some years ago it imposed a bar on anyone standing for leadership roles after the age of 72.

Support for keeping the limit came from High Court judge Sir Michael Burton, who pointed out that judges retire at 70.

But by a single vote, deputies backed the motion to lift the cap from the ZF's Jonathan Hoffman, a spring chicken in his 50s.

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The BBC goes to shul

By Simon Rocker, May 21, 2010

The BBC has found an unusual way to mark the 200th anniversary of the world's first Reform service this summer.

It is staging a live broadcast of BBC Radio 4's popular Any Questions? from Wimbledon and the District Reform Synagogue on Friday evening July 16.

Shabbat does not come in until after the broadcast, which will be followed by a commemorative service.

According to the BBC, it is the first time the show has been hosted by a synagogue since it began in 1948.

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Fuming father of the bride

By Simon Rocker, May 21, 2010

I am not surprised that well-to-do American businessman Richard Gabrielson was angry about his son-in-law.

He reportedly had no idea he had one until he read online that his lovely daughter Alex had met 30-year-old Surrey divorcee Nick Bond in a Las Vegas bar and married him a few hours later.

She is a Catholic and her father apparently wanted a grand church wedding. Nick is Jewish and when asked by the Daily Mail whether his wife knew, he responded that he wasn’t practising.
But didn’t his wife notice he was circumcised, mused the newspaper. “It didn’t come up,” he said.

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Winner's daveners

By Simon Rocker, May 21, 2010

Veteran foodster Michael Winner revealed a new euphemism in his Sunday Times column: "Saturday boys". A "marvellous" phrase that he'd recently heard to describe Jewish men. "Because they go (in theory) to synagogue on Saturday," he explained.

See you in shul, Michael.

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Amber masters the latkes

By Simon Rocker, May 13, 2010

Who says that humble Jewish food cannot rise to culinary heights?

Eleven-year-old Amber triumphed this week in her heat of BBC children's channel CBBC's Junior MasterChef by offering "traditional Jewish latkes", as she explained them.

Co-judge, actress Nadia Sawalha, cooed over the "gorgeous crunchy potatoes", which were dished up with flat Greek meatballs and inspired by Amber's great-grandfather who used to make them.

Amber (the BBC is withholding surnames) was one of 31 nine to 12-year-olds chosen for the series out of more than 2,000 applicants.

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Mr None gets the habit

By Simon Rocker, May 13, 2010

And now we have a government, we can return to the more pressing issue of whether Mr None of the Above, who contested the Chingford and Woodford Green seat in Essex in the election, will revert to his former name of Adam Osen.

"It's a bit too soon to make decisions," he confided this week. But encouraged by his 202 votes as an independent, he said his "tentative game plan" was to resume in local politics after restoring his finances. "I haven't earned anything for five months. I want to build a thriving business to support any political ambitions."

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Votes abroad

By Simon Rocker, May 13, 2010

The Jewish community has lost one of its best parliamentary friends, Andrew Dismore, who failed to hold his Hendon seat in north-west London by just 106 votes.

But could he have squeaked home if he had gone to knock on doors in Israel?

World Zionist Organisation activist Martin Stern, who commutes between London and Jerusalem, offered to fly him there to canvas expat Brits entitled to vote in the general election.

But the Labour MP said he did not have time for a foreign foray close to the election.

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Isle of Man's lucky captive

By Simon Rocker, May 13, 2010

An Unusual exhibition is running on the Isle of Man, featuring the art of refugees from Nazi Germany who were interned by the British there during the Second World War. Just one of the 36 exhibitors is alive today, Ernst Eisenmayer, who will turn 90 in September.

Interned when he was 19, he left for Italy in 1975, but an account of his experiences was read at the opening of the exhibition, which marks the 70th anniversary of the internment camps.

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Tikkun Obama

By Simon Rocker, May 6, 2010

Once tikkun olam was an obscure mystical idea known only to Kabbalists, now it's the official culture of American Jewry.

In a White House proclamation announcing Jewish Heritage Month this month, Barack Obama saluted Jewish Americans who "today… carry on their culture's tradition of tikkun olam - 'to repair the world' - through good deeds and service". 

He signed it "in the year" 2010 rather than the usual formula, "in the year of our Lord".

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