The Diary

Acclaim for Israeli chef

By Simon Rocker, April 29, 2010

Israeli cuisine has gained international recognition after Food & Wine magazine listed Tel Aviv's Yonatan Roshfeld at the top of its most promising chefs for 2010.

His first restaurant, Herbert Samuel, has a neo-Middle eastern flavour, while Spain meets Israel at the second, Tapas Ahad Ha'am. They are named after the first High Commissioner of Palestine and the champion of cultural Zionism.

A rather loftier choice of name than The Fat Duck or El Bulli.

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Shellfish singles

By Simon Rocker, April 29, 2010

What is redder than a lobster?

Answer: a rabbi's face when he spots one on the menu of a Jewish organisation.

A reader from the North of England was exercised about an email shot he received from American JDate for a singles weekend in California next month.

Along with the promise of "incredible beach", "gorgeous accommodation", Martinis and women - apparently more numerous than men - there is, of course, the food: sushi, steaks and lobster.

Put the lid on the pot and give them a class in Leviticus, I say.

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Threatened prof wins out

By Simon Rocker, April 29, 2010

London-born academic David Newman, of Ben Gurion University, came in for some stick last autumn after appearing in a Channel 4 programme about the Israel lobby.

One Anglo governor of the university, Michael Gross, was so apoplectic that he emailed Professor Newman to say: "I will use whatever influence I have at BGU to have you thrown out… I hope you perish."

Lest the message was lost, he followed up with: "The sooner you are removed from BGU and the face of the earth, the better."

How much influence does the fulminating Mr Gross wield, you may wonder.

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Bagel eater beats volcano

By Simon Rocker, April 22, 2010

Let's toast Manchester businessman Martin Abramson who made it to Israel for Yom Ha'atzmaut, despite the flight embargo caused by the volcanic ash cloud.

While thousands of Israeli and other passengers were grounded, he took to the dusty skies in a tiny single-engined Piper Saratoga, which bore him from Pannshanger Airfield in Hertfordshire to Madrid in time to catch an El Al flight.

His pilot was former JNF chief executive Simon Winters who said: "I love flying and was pleased to be able to assist in a friend's hour of need."

It took them five hours to reach Madrid.

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Al Murray at the embassy

By Simon Rocker, April 22, 2010

Comedian Al Murray, best known as the Pub Landlord, is not the most obvious visitor to the Israeli Embassy. But he was due to visit its Kensington HQ yesterday at the invitation of Ambassador Ron Prosor.

Murray happens to be the great-great-great-grandson of the novelist William Thackeray, author of Vanity Fair, whose home the embassy once was.

Given the EU's stance on Israel, the Ambassador might well be tempted to borrow one of the Landlord's catchphrases, "Back off Brussels".

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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.

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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.

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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".

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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.

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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!

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