The Diary

Oxford job for BBC man

By Simon Rocker, April 15, 2010

If Mark Damazer had followed in his father's footsteps, he would have been making kosher sausages in a deli in Willesden.

But after a sparkling BBC career - the last six as controller of Radio Four - he is leaving to become the new head of St Peter's College, Oxford.

He succeeds Professor Bernard Silverman, now the Home Office's chief scientific adviser (and an ordained priest, in case you ask).

More..

Roland to the hotel came

By Simon Rocker, April 15, 2010

Roland Loefler, once the JC's Swedish correspondent, has found new fame: as one of the faces of an ad campaign for a luxury UK hotel chain.

This portrait of him, specially painted by Rachel Constable, appeared in an ad for the Radisson Edwardian Hotels in The Times this week.

More..

Picasso the wizo-lover

By Simon Rocker, April 8, 2010

On first glance, this doodle of a menorah may seem of little significance but its creator was none other than Pablo Picasso.

In early 1958, he received a letter written on behalf of Wizo and he drew the menorah on the envelope to show his intention to help the organisation, according to Linda Morris, curator at Tate Liverpool - whose new exhibition, Picasso: Peace and Freedom, opens next month.

The artist gave not only money to Wizo but a painting to be sold at its Cannes conference in 1964.

More..

Come dine with me

By Simon Rocker, April 8, 2010

Asked by a newspaper to name her "dream dinner party" guests, actress Felicity Kendal came up with a suitably eclectic band: Byron, Ghandi, Marlene Dietrich and Eddie Izzard were among her chosen, along with Israel's only female premier, Golda Meir.

More..

Asleep on the job

By Simon Rocker, April 8, 2010

NuMa, the new group set up to find bright ideas for British Jewry, gets its name from the Yiddish nu and mah, Hebrew for "what".

But numa also means "go to sleep" in Ivrit. A compulsory afternoon shluff is an idea I warmly endorse. Zzzzzzz…

More..

Smack me, it's a kiddush cup

By Simon Rocker, April 8, 2010

Distant ritual memories returned to radical and highly secular poet Michael Rosen on a visit to London's revamped Jewish Museum. Reviewing it for the New Statesman, he was moved by the silver Judaica to write: "When my father died, among his things were two engraved silver cups. I had put them to one side, meaning to ask someone where, how and when they were used. And there they are! I smack my head, in the same way he used to smack his head: kiddush cups!

More..

Come drink with me

By Simon Rocker, April 8, 2010

No, your eyes did not deceive you. Channel 4 has confirmed that, indeed, it was a bottle of Palwin's that appeared in the latest episode of its popular home cooking contest, Come Dine With Me.

Quite how our favourite tipple – I stretch the point – ended up on the table of host Dave, a Weston-super-Mare artist cum rickshaw pilot, is anyone's guess. No doubt it complimented his main course of jacket potato and home-made beans. Perhaps he can spare a glass for Michael Rosen (see below).

More..

No passport, please

By Simon Rocker, March 25, 2010

Normally, as a security measure, the Israeli Embassy in London checks the passports of visitors.

So I wonder why at Tuesday's reception to celebrate the building's renovation, they asked guests only for driving licences.

More..

Tombstone Grand Prix

By Simon Rocker, March 25, 2010

A minibus driver must have thought he was Jenson Button at Bushey Cemetery the other day.

Ferrying a group of pensioners to a stone-setting, he took a corner too fast, clipped a stone and left three graves rather worse off.

More..

Pesach mice

By Simon Rocker, March 25, 2010

A pest controller, come to dispose of a colleague's mice, told her: "I do a lot of work in Stamford Hill but it's a bit of a problem. This time of year they insist the poison has to be kosher." And how do you make it kosher?
Just make sure it's wheat-free, she said.

More..