The Diary

Woody allen's chasidic romp

By Simon Rocker, March 15, 2012

Woody Allen's on-screen appearances are now few and far between but he has been persuaded to go in front of the camera for actor-director John Turturro's next film, Fading Gigolo.

The 75-year-old movie-maker, who won an Oscar for screenwriting this month, plays a pimp whose occupation does not go down well with his Chasidic neighbours.

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One to watch in Chief race

By Simon Rocker, March 15, 2012

The forthcoming visit of former Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior, who has been tipped as a possible successor to Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, will be keenly watched by pulpit pundits.

He is to speak at South Hampstead Synagogue on Wednesday week in a meeting hosted by doveish Israel group Yachad.

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Vic Reeves's daughter-in-law

By Simon Rocker, March 8, 2012

Kimberley Nixon, one of the stars of the hit Channel 4 campus comedy Fresh Meat, has an altogether different role in a forthcoming BBC sitcom, as a middle-class Jewish woman.

The Welsh actress (right) will be playing Clare, wife of an aspiring comedian in a series written by award-winning stand-up Jason Cook and based on his experiences; its title, Hebburn, is named after his home town.

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One green who's off our menu

By Simon Rocker, March 8, 2012

There was one guest on the Channel 4 show Come Dine With Me this week I certainly wouldn't eat with: the deputy leader of the Green Party in Wales, Pippa Bartolotti.

It was her gripe with Ambassador Matthew Gould that led MP Paul Flynn infamously to question whether a British envoy to Israel should be Jewish.

No less appetising is her account of meeting Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar in Gaza

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The lottery win that wasn't

By Simon Rocker, March 8, 2012

The name of Pinchus Yosef Friedman of Stamford Hill has been whizzing around the globe via the internet all week as the reported recipient of a 38.5 million euro lottery win.

"The phones started ringing at 4am – friends and family worldwide wanted to congratulate us," said his wife Leah.

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A purim gift to burglars

By Simon Rocker, March 8, 2012

Shomrim, the Orthodox protection service, warned Londoners to pick up any mishloach manot - packages of Purim gift food - they saw left on a neighbour's doorstep.

According to Shomrim, burglars have been known to strike when they spotted mishloach manot outside front doors, taking it as a sign that no one was home.

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No credit for Trinny & Su ad

By Simon Rocker, March 8, 2012

British fashionistas Trinny and Susannah, now household names in Israel, recently appeared in an advert for a local credit-card company, in which they advised - in Hebrew - a young woman to tell her boyfriend of her love of shopping.

But it didn't play well with Wizo, who shortlisted it for the country's most sexist ad of the year award.

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The charity that went upstairs

By Simon Rocker, March 1, 2012

It's not often that a Jewish charity gets name-checked in a peak time BBC series. But the Central British Fund for German Jews - later to become World Jewish Relief - has a role in the revived period drama Upstairs Downstairs (above).

Now set in the run-up to the Second World War, the show has a sub-plot about the Kindertransport and the plight of Jews in Nazi Germany.

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What Abbas should have read

By Simon Rocker, March 1, 2012

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had Israeli blood boiling with his comments at an Arab conference in Jerusalem this week, among other things appearing to cast doubt on the site of the Jewish Temple.

But such historical revisionism is a new departure.

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A long wait for a bar mitzvah

By Simon Rocker, March 1, 2012

The annual CST dinner was not just any dinner.

For the Chancellor, George Osborne, it was also his bar mitzvah.

During the speech, by Daniel Taub, the Israeli Ambassador reached under the table and pulled out an exquisitely wrapped box to hand to the Chancellor.

It was, Mr Taub told him, a bar mitzvah present.

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