The Diary

The old ones are the best

By Simon Rocker, April 22, 2010

It's good to know the Guardian zealously maintains its reputation for classic misprints. Here's the paper's correction last Friday to an item about the expected line-up at the Glastonbury rock festival this summer: "The group Frightened Rabbi should have been the Scottish band Frightened Rabbit." Bravo.

More..

Return of travel boss

By Simon Rocker, April 22, 2010

Welcome back Rafi Shalev as UK and Ireland director of the Israel Government Tourist Office. Rafi had to be airlifted to Israel last year after a nasty motorbike spill in the Lake District.

I trust we'll see no repeat of one of the office's more risque stunts; guests at a travel convention here last summer received a goodie bag containing condoms with the slogan, "Come to Israel and be satisfied".

More..

Some like it glatt

By Simon Rocker, April 22, 2010

Among creditors of administration-placed Portsmouth Football Club is an unexpected entry: Kings Kosher of Manchester.

How come the FA Cup finalists owe it £858.37? Perhaps manager Avraham Grant enjoys a kosher hot dog after his Thai massage.

But I gather that the recipient of the "finest glatt kosher" meat is the club's Israeli international defender, Tal Ben Haim.

More..

Enter Lenny da Finchley

By Simon Rocker, April 15, 2010

Forget the Da Vinci Code. The Last Supper, the famous painting at the heart of Dan Brown's mystery bestseller, has an even greater secret to disclose: its creator, Leonardo Da Vinci, would have been able to make up a minyan.

That's at least according to a new booklet, Leonardo Da Vinci's Musical Gifts and Jewish Connections, by Italian musicologist Giovanni Maria Pala and his wife Loredana Mazzarella.

More..

Who knows tree?

By Simon Rocker, April 15, 2010

Inspired by David Baddiel's faith-change film The Infidel, Muslim journalist Sarfraz Mansour wrote engagingly in The Guardian of a month spent mixing in the Jewish community.

After a Purim knees-up at Rabbi Schochet's and a kosher cook-in with Denise Phillips, his adventures among the chosen ended at a JCC-sponsored "alternative Cedar".

Oh, those treacherous spell-checkers!

More..

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..

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..