The Diary

Keegan and the evil eye

By Simon Rocker, June 24, 2010

Was TV soccer pundit skipper Kevin Keegan wearing a chamsa(a hand-shaped amulet to foil the evil eye) during the England v Algeria game? Our resident charm squad is pursuing inquiries with a so far coy ITV.

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Play it again, Shlomo

By Simon Rocker, June 24, 2010

South Hampstead’s African-born Rabbi Shlomo Levin apparently offered to blow a vuvuzela for a shofar at Rosh Hashanah if South Africa or England won the World Cup. What greater motivation could England want?

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And yes, pigs will fry...

By Simon Rocker, June 24, 2010

Irayne Paikin certainly knows how to make a sausage sizzle but I'm afraid I can't recommend you her prize-winning bangers.

Not only do they fail to carry the imprimatur of the London Beth Din - but some are made from pork.

Although Irene, 44, grew up in a kosher household in north London, she fled the city with her husband to Todenham Manor Farm in the Cotswolds, where they rear cattle and pigs and run a butchery.

Being Jewish remains "a real part of my identity", she says. "Every Friday night we have Shabbat on the farm, and we get fresh challah delivered."

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Martin Amis's blond moment

By Simon Rocker, June 24, 2010

One of the week's highlights was Martin Amis's talk at London's Wiener Library about his Shoah novel, Time's Arrow. Amis, arguing that the Nazi genocide defied explanation, said he was re-reading Sir Martin Gilbert's history of the Holocaust with the same incredulity as when he had first read it 20 years before.

He asked his first questions about the Nazis when seven years old. "Don't worry," his mother had told him. "You are blond, with blue eyes. Hitler would have loved you."

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It's kosher whisky galore

By Simon Rocker, June 17, 2010

Forget President Obama's huffing and puffing over the BP oil spill, here is a more grievous threat to peaceful transatlantic relations.

One of Scotland's finest malts, Glenmorangie, has agreed to accept kosher supervision - under America's OU label.

Surely this great British brand ought to be sporting the certification of a home-grown rabbinic authority.

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Nick Hewer goes to Israel

By Simon Rocker, June 17, 2010

Happily returned from his first visit to Israel is Nick Hewer of BBC Apprentice fame. "It was wonderful," he said. "I spent a lot of time in Jerusalem and I found the whole thing fascinating."

He visited earlier this month to attend the wedding of Nick Bildner to Natasha Orson. Her twin Anna Orson also got married in Israel a few days later to Adam Abrams.

But I doubt whether the pink shirt Lord Sugar's right-hand man wore for the occasion will be allowed many appearances in the boardroom.

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Mr Burt's reading list

By Simon Rocker, June 17, 2010

At a Foreign Office lunch for Jewish and Israeli journalists, the newly appointed minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, asked them which books he ought to read before visiting the region. He had put the same question to Arab journalists the week before.

If you have your own recommendations for the minister's reading list, send them in and I'll try to pass them on.

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The 'Israeli' ambassador

By Simon Rocker, June 17, 2010

Has Matthew Gould, Britain's new Jewish ambassador to Israel, gone native before he even gets there?

Speaking at Borehamwood Synagogue, the personable envoy was asked how he felt in a previous diplomatic posting in Pakistan. "Well," he said, "I didn't walk round announcing that I am Israeli."

Much audience chuckling before he corrected himself.

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Middle Eastern whispers

By Simon Rocker, June 17, 2010

The New Statesman reported that Tim Franks, the BBC's outgoing Middle East - and Jewish- correspondent, had revealed on radio that he was leaving because of rumours that he had got the job through Israeli lobbying.

Actually, all Franks did was to recall a remark at the news of his appointment (in 2007) by a non-Jewish family friend who had told a relative of his that it had come about because of pressure put on the BBC's director-general by the previous Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon. He certainly didn't cite that as a reason for going.

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World Cup Matisyahu

By Simon Rocker, June 10, 2010

Jewish interest in the World Cup may be confined to a couple of players in the USA team and there isn't even an Israeli referee (which may be just as well). But at least we can draw pride from the inclusion of reggae Chasid, Matisyahu, on The Official Fifa World Cup 2010 album.

His song One Day is one of the 12 tracks picked for the charity record and contains the words "It's not all win or lose, We all lose".

A consoling thought when watching England.

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